I just realized the reason we call our devotions devotions is because we’re expressing devotion to God when we do our devotions. This is the kind of brilliance you should come to expect here at Crave Something More.
This all makes sense. Setting aside a part of our day to focus on our relationship with God, to read His word, to hear from Him, to confess to Him, to share with Him, are all expressions of a loyal, affectionate commitment to God. We’re telling Him: You are important to me, and I want to spend time with you.
Of course, active devotion to God, the kind where we pick up our cross to follow after Jesus, is far more than the part of our day we set aside to focus on our relationship with God. This kind of devotion consumes and permeates the fullness of our lives. We live and breathe His word as we walk each step in His presence.
Renee Johnson figured all of this out a while back. She started writing devotions seven years ago, and she now has compiled these daily thoughts into a new release called Faithbook of Jesus (NavPress). I had the chance to get her thoughts on the role devotions should play in our daily walks with God. Enjoy!
Renee, you write for your own generation—the “twenty-something” generation. Why is that?
Why follow everyone else? I’ve read devotionals daily for the past 14 years, and I’ve read the same ones over and over for the past 7 years. Where are all the relevant devotionals for my generation? I know there are specific devotionals written for teenagers, or men/women only, but the ones written for women assume you’re married with children, which I’m not! Seriously though, I love encouraging other 20-somethings to read the Word daily. It’s the single most important thing you can do in your life!
Why is being in the Word on a regular basis so important?
Being in the Word daily helps establish a foundation for right living. It helps us line up our actions, behavior, and intentions when we otherwise might not have a clue. It encourages, saves, sharpens—there are so many benefits to being in the Word. I know when I miss out on being in the Word I find myself doing what I want, when I want it, which is not always good for me (pride). For instance, I speed more, spend more money, and am more impatient. Help me fill in the blank =).
What do you see as the differences between recreational reading of Scripture, devotional reading, and Biblical study, and why are those differences important?
On my nightstand I have a devotional book, One-Year Bible, journal, and other books I’m reading. For recreational reading, I’m enjoying your book Crave and 66 Love Letters. For devotional reading, I’m reading Streams in the Desert this year, and for Biblical study I enjoy reading the One-Year Bible. I can tell that when I spend more time reading recreationally, my mood doesn’t change, and I still find myself living the way I want. However, when I’m spending time in the Word and reading more in depth study of it, it’s different.
Where can devotionals serve the body and where can they hinder?
Devotionals can serve the body by expounding upon a Scripture, and the commentary is often encouraging and/or challenging. But they hinder when we use them as an excuse to not read the Word itself.
There’s a recurring theme in Faithbook of Jesus: one of a struggle to find our purpose or calling. Why do you feel this struggle is so prevalent in this age group?
I read the following in 66 Love Letters, where it says, “No matter how great your pain or how confusing and intense your suffering, live in the mystery of My love. Struggle to trust Me.” I think the struggle to find our purpose and calling is the greatest between ages 20-29. It is in those years that we take giant leaps of faith to move away from our parents, choose our career, and find the person with whom we’ll spend the rest of our life. I certainly hope that all of those decisions will not be made in haste and that the struggle to find our calling in Jesus is made carefully through being in the Word daily. This is my goal with Faithbook.
You draw on Psalm 27, saying that seeking and dwelling in the presence of the Lord and gazing upon His beauty is “worship in its purest form.” How do you see these devotionals as serving that end?
When we take time out of our busy schedule to practice the presence of Jesus by worshiping him through reading the Word, we transform our Sunday Christianity into daily growth. We don’t just worship corporately in a church with four walls, but rather in the comfort of our own home where we pray, and when we read the Scriptures, or when we spend time in community amongst our friends, or when we are in nature on a hike.
You end each devotional with a prayer to Jesus. In doing so, it seems you use Scripture as a prism to see Jesus in a different light each day. Why is that?
I love using Scripture as a prayer. When we personalize Scripture, it no longer becomes dead, boring, and lifeless, but rather a living double-edged sword with which to pierce the darkness of fear, hopelessness, and desperation in our lives.
What does Faithbook of Jesus exist to do? Or to say it another way, what is your mission with this book?
Faithbook of Jesus exists to help lead others into spending daily time with God. My mission is Hebrews 10:24, which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” When we are no longer focused on ourselves, but are instead living the Word daily, our lives become a catalyst into spurring others forward!
Besides Faithbook of Jesus, what are two other devotionals you recommend to people?
Streams in the Desert and Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.
You can find more info about Renee at Faithbook of Jesus.
Question: Do you read devotionals, and if so, why?