FIRST-PERSON: Are you OK with a warm fuzzy?

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- "Well, I try to do my devotional most mornings."

You'll likely hear that answer, or one very similar to it, when you ask someone, "How is your Bible reading time going?"

I ask, "How is your Bible reading time going?" because I know:

-- We are told to treasure the words of His mouth (the Bible) more than "my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

-- The Word is our guide ("a lamp to my feet," Psalm 119:05).

-- The battle is for the mind ("take every thought captive to obey Christ," 2 Corinthians 3:5)

-- We are instructed, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2).

-- Sanctification (a Bible word that can translate "maturing process") comes by truth. The Word of God is truth, thus spiritual maturity comes by meditating on the Word (John 17:17).

-- The Holy Spirit is Comforter and Counselor (two names of God).

-- The Word of God tells us that His Spirit comforts and counsels us, in part, by "teach(ing) you all things and bring(ing) to your remembrance all that I (Jesus) have said to you" (John 14:26).

-- What Jesus -- thus God by writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- has said to us is in the Bible.

In that context, let's break down the statement, "Well, I try to do my devotional most mornings."

"I try" and "most mornings"

No one is perfect and God is not an angry legalist, but "I try" is not "I do." I don't "try" to put my socks on every day. I do. I don't "try" to take a shower every day. I do. I don't "try" to eat every day. I do. Several times.

The tone we hear from some people about their time in the Word is that if it fits the schedule, they do it. It's a low-to-medium priority more in the "want to" stage than the "must do" stage. Many who say they are Christians acknowledge they spend very little time (5-10 minutes) per day in the Word of God. It is possible to know Christ and be miserable. That is one way how.

"to do my devotional"

We needn't be opposed to "devotionals" -- many Christians love Oswald Chambers, Max Lucado and others -- but they are "supplemental," not primary. Yet it is amazing how many people use them as primary. Chambers' devotional was written by a man, who quoted God and taught in a scriptural context. The same for many other devotional writers.

A devotional is a warm fuzzy, a brief encounter, something God may indeed use, but not from the direct source, and often not with depth. Better to go directly to the source and dig deeper into the truth that should shape our minds and hearts.

If you accept the biblical truths and professions at the outset of this column, you understand that knowing God, walking with God, identifying and proving God's will require more than dipping your toe in the water of the Word.

Do you want a warm fuzzy or deep, penetrating comfort and counsel? Do you want to know God or know a little bit about Him?

Do you want a two-minute back rub or a deep soul massage? You'll get the former if you spend little time in the Word or if you major on secondary material.

So many of our questions would be answered, so many problems solved, hurts comforted, stresses relieved, if we dug deeply into His Word, let it penetrate our mind and soul, let it wash over us with the comfort and counsel it gives. God promises that when we are deep in the Word the Holy Spirit will use it to "teach us all things and bring (it) to your remembrance" at just the right time, and after that will come peace -- His peace, not peace as the world gives (John 14:26-27).

Go deep. He's there with hope, answers, comfort, peace.

Victor Lee is pastor of care and counseling at First Baptist Concord in Knoxville, Tenn.
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