In the new year, we’re launching a new daily devotional titled, Exploring Your Faith. We wanted to tell you a little bit about it before we jump in.
Exploring Your Faith is not your typical devotional. It’s set up as a series of daily readings just like any other devotional. It differs from most, however, in that the daily readings are designed to help you work systematically through broad theological subjects (e.g. God, the Bible, Humanity, Jesus, etc.). Because of its focus, Exploring Your Faith could be categorized as a theological devotional. That raises an interesting question.
Why Bother with a Theological Devotional?
If you’re like most believers, you probably think of theology as a dry and boring subject that pastors are forced to study in seminary. But theology has gotten a bad rap. If you take the time to delve into it a bit, I think you’ll find it’s more interesting than you thought. More importantly, it has the potential to enhance your faith in ways you may not realize.
- Good Theology Promotes a Deeper Relationship with God: Because of our tendency to avoid theology, many of us know very little about God beyond the most basic truths we learned as kids in Sunday school. That’s a problem because it’s hard to have a close relationship with someone you don’t know very well. That’s where theology comes in. It promotes a deeper relationship with God because it helps us better understand who he is, what he’s done for us, and how he continues to work in our lives.
- Good Theology Strengthens Faith: Many of us are running around with wrong ideas in our heads about God and how he works in the world. Those wrong ideas are detrimental to our faith because they create false expectations about what God is going to do in our lives. And, when God doesn’t do what we expect him to do, we assume something must be wrong. The problem, however, is with our expectations, not God. Theology (good theology anyway) reverses the process by producing accurate beliefs about God, which leads to accurate expectations, and ultimately greater confidence in him.
- Good Theology Stimulates Greater Transformation: God wants to transform us into Christ’s image. Good theology stimulates that process because it helps us to see Christ more clearly. That’s important for our spiritual growth because the more clearly we see Christ, the better we understand his character. And the better we understand his character, the easier it is us for us to recognize the opportunities we have on a daily basis to be like him.
You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot of Time to Get Big Results
There are many great theology books out there. So why write a theological devotional? We’re all busy. As a result, we don’t necessarily have the time to sit down and do an in-depth theological study on our own for hours at a time. With a devotional format, you don’t have to.
Exploring Your Faith takes complex theological subjects and breaks them into nine monthly sections. Each of those monthly sections is then divided into four smaller weekly topics that are further broken down into five bite-sized daily readings you can get through in 10 minutes or less.
10 minutes a day may not seem like it could amount to much, but a little bit can really build up over time:
- In just a week, the daily readings will help you dig into the first topic.
- In just a month, the weekly topics will help you build a better understanding of an entire subject.
- In less than a year, the monthly subjects will help you construct a solid theological foundation that will support a deeper relationship with God.
Suggestions on How to Use this DEVOTIONAL
There are a couple of different ways you can work through Exploring Your Faith. If you’re just looking for devotional readings, work through the daily readings as you would any other devotional.
Pay special attention, however, to the challenges and reflection questions that follow each reading. They are designed to help you integrate the truths you’re learning into your daily life. Depending on your individual circumstances, not every challenge or reflection question will seem particularly relevant to your life. That’s OK. But when you feel like the Holy Spirit is highlighting a particular truth, write it down – paying specific attention to how he wants you to put that truth to work in your life. And then make sure you review those notes regularly to see how you’re doing on the “assignments” the Holy Spirit has given you.
Digging Deeper Topics
If you’re looking for something more than the daily readings, you’ll want to take a look at the Digging Deeper topics. This is where we discuss some of the more complex or controversial issues in greater detail. You might find yourself wondering when you’re supposed to tackle those Digging Deeper topics. The answer is: there is no right way to do it. If you want to read the Digging Deeper section in one sitting after you’ve completed the daily readings, feel free. But, if you want to break up the reading a bit, I have included a prompt at the end of a daily reading when it relates in some way to one of the Digging Deeper topics. If that topic sounds interesting, you can read that part of the Digging Deeper section and leave the rest until the next prompt. If you don’t find a particular Digging Deeper topic interesting, skip it.
A Couple of Reminders
Although I hope you will find this devotional helpful, I want you to know up front that you aren’t necessarily going to find a whole lot of new ideas in it. Theologians have been studying God’s word for thousands of years. I don’t claim to have found any novel truth others have missed. What I’ve tried to do instead is break down and explain certain theological truths in a way that is accessible for those of us in the Church who aren’t scholars.
For the most part, you’ll find that what we talk about in the daily readings and Digging Deeper sections fits easily within the evangelical tradition. However, as you are probably aware, not all evangelicals agree on every issue. As a result, it is difficult, if not impossible, to cover every subject in such a way that everyone will agree with me.
When I address those sorts of controversial issues (typically in the Digging Deeper section, as opposed to the daily readings) I try to explain the various views on the subject as best I can. When appropriate, however, I do state and argue for my own position. That doesn’t mean you have to agree. There are many scholars and devoted followers of Christ on most sides of most issues, so I don’t think I can object too loudly if anyone disagrees with me. Whatever your take on those issues, I hope you will still benefit from the book as a whole. Specifically, I hope it will help you to see how great our God is and draw you closer to him.