Jesus Calling. My Utmost For His Highest. Anything by Beth Moore. They’re devotionals that almost all of us have at least one copy of on our night stand, in our book case, or somewhere on our Kindle. Devotional books are meant to encourage you and help you grow deeper in God’s Word. They’re wonderful; they really are. But I see so many women who dive into their devotional books first thing every morning, soaking up every word, but rarely open their Bible. Is that what God is calling us to? I don’t believe so; I believe He has so much more for us! Are your devotionals actually distracting you from God? To find out, here are some questions to ask yourself.
#1: Do you read your devotional book more often than your Bible?
I know many, many women who read their devotional book every day, rain or shine, and I wholeheartedly approve of it! Why? Because they’re also reading their Bible every day. I’ve read some great advice in devotional books, but they have never changed my life like my daily quiet times in the Bible have. They may challenge me, but they can’t reach down and touch my spirit like God can with His Word. If you are reading your devotional book every day, and only reading your Bible every once in a while, you are missing out on so much that God wants to show you! He has such great treasures prepared for you, just waiting for you to read them in His Word.
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#2: Do you value the advice of the devotional above Scripture?
I see this one a lot, especially on Facebook. It is spoken out of love, I am confident, but it is not okay. Someone is hurting or needs advice, and a friend comments, quoting Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, or Sarah Young. They speak the words of an author in place of the Author of Life. This has its place, to be sure, but when you need advice, is the devotional where you turn? Do you value Joyce Meyer’s advice above Paul’s? Do you find yourself sharing quotes from every day’s devotional on Facebook, but never sharing a Scripture? It is not wrong to appreciate the words of an author, especially a Christian author speaking from a pure heart. But it is wrong to value those words far above what God is saying in His Holy Word.
#3: Do you find yourself lost when you finish a devotional and don’t have a new one to start immediately?
I’m a bookworm; I know this feeling. I know the feeling of finishing something that you loved so much and just wanting more of it. But when you finish a devotional, are you longing for more of the book or more of God? If you don’t have a new devotional to start immediately, do you begin to fall away from God? Devotional books are meant to draw you closer to God, to create a yearning in your heart for God and His Word. If that yearning is simply for another book, then God is not what you are seeking.
#4: In times of distress, do you turn to your devotional book or the Bible?
Many devotional books are organized by topic, and it can be a lot easier to flip to the lesson on depression than to search the Bible for what God has to say. But friends, trust me. The Bible is the Living Word of the Living God. He is alive, and He is pursuing our hearts. He sees when we are hurting, and He has already written what our hearts need. We simply have to allow God to show us what He is speaking to us. Seek out Scriptures that speak to your heart, and then go read what your devotional book has to say. If it’s a quality book, they’ll probably line up pretty well, and your heart will have peace, having been encouraged by both Scripture and by the words of the devotional.
Don’t get me wrong; I love devotional books. I received My Utmost For His Highest as a gift in high school, and my grandma gave me Jesus Calling when I graduated college. It was one of my favorite gifts, and I still enjoy reading it. But the moment that I reach for it before my Bible, I have a problem. You see, these books are written as a supplement to the Living Word of God. They are not meant to fill you each day; rather, they are like a cherry on top. When you are filled by the Word of God, the devotional is a wonderful addition. But if it is your only nutrition, your spirit will starve. I encourage you, test yourself. See where your priorities are and make changes if that is what’s necessary. I promise, God will bless you for seeking His true heart through His Holy Word.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite devotional book? Are there changes you need to make in your quiet time with God?