Delighting in Devotion

Do you take delight in devotion to the Lord?

The definition of devotion is “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.” It is in the loving, being loyal to, and having enthusiasm for, that we actually flesh out the true delight.

In my journey of recalibrating life, I am trying to make everything less complicated and overwhelming. I want it all to be less about doing and more about being. And learning to delight in devotion is totally about being.

First of all, delighting in devotion is about living out loving the Lord.

In Matthew 22:37 (NIV), Jesus tells us to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind.”

1 John 4:7-8 tells us “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We can show love to others by giving them honor and respect, giving them praise and encouragement, spending time with them, sharing with them, giving them gifts, and telling them how much they mean to us.

We can show love to the Lord in many of the same ways. We can give Him honor and respect as we go through our lives living out our moments according to His will. Honoring and respecting His name in our words and showing reverence to Him in our choices. We can praise His name as we converse with others and also in our prayers as we talk with Him. We can give Him gifts of sharing our time, of our presence with Him, and of our finances.

Secondly, delighting in devotion is about living loyal to the Lord. When we are loyal to others we show our faithfulness to them. We speak well of them and do not slander them, we keep our promises, and we make ourselves available to them because they matter to us. We journey through life with them.

Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

The Lord also has something to say about our loyalty to Himself as well.

2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…”

The Lord desires that His people give their hearts fully to Him. He wants us to be loyal to Him. And He promises in the above verse to reward our faithfulness by showing Himself strong on our behalf. The Lord also wants us to commit our plans to Him.

Proverbs 16:3 reminds us to “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
Proverbs 3:6 explains that we should acknowledge the Lord and He will make our paths straight. God wants us to be obedient like Peter who told those who wanted him to dishonor the Lord, “we must obey God rather than human beings (Acts 5:29).” Our loyalty to the Lord is very important to Him.

Thirdly, delighting in devotion is about enthusiasm for the Lord.

When we are devoted to the Lord we are enthusiastic about our relationship with Him.

Romans 10:11 “Don’t be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

In 2 Kings 20:3, Hezekiah tells the Lord, “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes…” I want to be able to say this to the Lord as Hezekiah did. I want to walk faithfully with wholehearted devotion.

Titus 2:14 says that we should be eager to do what is good, and 1 Peter 5:2 says that we should be eager to serve.

When you think of devotion, as you consider living out love, loyalty, and enthusiasm, do you see how our delight can be evidenced in these? It is all about living out the devotion and delighting in the opportunities that arise in doing so. Somehow I can’t help but think this is really what the Lord meant all along.

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Savoring the Sweetness of Soul-Restoration

Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul”

Last week I shared how I was knowing simplicity in my faith-walk through lingering with the Lord (The Luxury of Lingering). This week I want to share how I am knowing simplicity in my faith-walk through savoring the sweetness, as I am recognizing in slowing down, how the Lord restores my soul.

It is amazing to me how much you miss in life by rushing through and being too busy. Quite often I still am in that mode of rushing and busyness, but recently, as I have started to be intentional about slowing down, I began to notice the reality of soul-restoration. But before I recognized the reality of it I had to dig into what it really meant. I had studied Psalm 23 in-depth before, but this time as I looked at just this small portion of verse three, it wasn’t about learning for knowledge. This time it was about learning out of desperation and neediness. And there is definitely a difference between the two.

When you study for knowledge, you just want to gain information, most often head-knowledge. When you come to the Lord in His Word hungry and needy, desperate to find out how to receive what His Word tells you is reality, you look at the Word totally differently. It is personal, heart-to-heart, I no longer just want to know about it, I want it in my life.

So that is how it came about, I looked at those four simple words: “He restores my soul.” And I thought how much I need restoring, and how my life is in need of restoring. Then I began to look in Bible commentaries to learn what that could mean for me.

I learned that it literally means that “He causes my life to return to me.” “He causes me to live.” The word soul in this verse “refers to the spirit when exhausted, weary, or sad; and the meaning is, that God quickens or vivifies the spirit” at those times. The commentator clarifies that this has nothing to do with backsliding or wandering away from the Lord. Instead, it refers to “the life or spirit as exhausted, weary, troubled, anxious, worn down with care and toil…” This explanation spoke directly to my heart. The commentator went on to explain that in the restoration the Lord brings back the soul’s “vigor. He encourages it; excites it to new effort; fills it with new joy.” This explanation is taken from Barnes Notes on the Bible.

I took this all in hungrily, ravenous for this newness in my life. But. when would it happen? I didn’t know, and I took with me just a few words, a breath prayer for the day. “Shepherd Guide, Restore my soul.” And as I went through my day finding those times of depletedness (is that a word?) I cried out to the Lord.

It was a few days later when I was looking at Psalm 31:7 NLT “I am overcome with joy because of your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles and you care about the anguish of my soul.” (Sidenote, most versions say “I will be” rather than “I am.”) Hmmm, David again is sharing about his recognition of the Lord’s presence in loving him in the tough times and knowing what he is going through. It must have been all those hours out in the fields with the sheep, much time to reflect on the Lord, His loving presence, and His work in David’s life. You see that is the savoring I am talking about.

That verse there in Psalm 31 started me on a journey of hunting through my mind of how the Lord has shown me His unfailing love, and how He had demonstrated care for the anguish of my soul. And I began to write down those instances that came to mind.

I wrote how the Lord had provided step-by-step help throughout the process of moving my mom. First, it was a Christian liaison, a go-between for Mom and her doctor. This kind lady came to Mom’s house and gave us so many resources. One of those resources led us to our Christian realtor. What a precious blessing! Then when the realtor came to mom’s house, because I had a few faith talks with the him previously via phone, I suggested praying before we began discussing the business of selling Mom’s house and so I prayed. At the end of that visit he closed our time with a beautiful prayer for peace and guidance. Then a day-and-a-half after the house went on the market it was sold, what an incredible blessing. And just a few days ago when the realtor delivered the check for the house to mom, he said prior to leaving, “We began this process in prayer, I think we should complete it with prayer too.” And he proceeded to pray with Mom, a meaningful, heartfelt prayer and it meant the world to her.

So very precious is the unfailing love of our God. He truly knew the anguish in our hearts as we worried about selling the house as winter approached. He knew how my need to attempt to control everything would come to a halt as He taught me to begin to learn to abandon control and He has shown His awesomeness through it all!

The Lord helped me to realize so many more ways that He has recently shown His love for me. I am sad to say that in the moment I missed that they were of His unfailing love. They slipped by in my busyness, and I was unaware. But I am changing that too now in this year of recalibrating life. I am beginning to slow down and savor the sweetness of the way He restores my soul. Those little things like an encouraging word from a friend and the bigger ones like an unexpected helping hand from my husband in the midst of my overwhelm. Most recently I have been looking back at His sweetness to me and not always catching onto it in the moment. But since the day this verse made me look for Him, I am growing more aware of how His love touches my life and how He truly does know the anguish of my soul in very real ways.

I have known what a personal God He is, but I have often let it go by only to allow the next thing to discourage me and bring me down. But savoring the sweetness to me means that I taste and see His goodness and don’t set it aside, but instead remember and hold tight to the love He touches my life with. And then along with David I can proclaim that I too am “overcome with joy.”

How are you tasting and seeing the goodness of God? How are you savoring the sweetness of His soul-restoration in your life? It doesn’t have to be so complicated, our faith-walks with the Lord can be simplified in the lingering and savoring. When we take the time to slow down and realize His love He truly will lead us to be overcome with joy. I pray that you will find that to be your experience also! He restores my soul.