March 23 Devotional
Opening Prayer: O Lord, my God, be my first love and not merely one of many. Be the one true love of my heart and soul. You alone deserve that place in my heart. Amen.
Scripture Reading for the Day: Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Journal: What consumes most of your thought and energy these days? What does it tell you about the order of your affections? Why is it important to order your affections? What would it look like for God to be your greatest affection?
Reflection: God’s ultimate desire is to be the greatest of all our affections, not just one of many which all constantly compete for the top place in our hearts. When we give ourselves to these lesser affections, we rob him (the Great Affection) of what he made us for, and rob ourselves of the life that was intended for us. The problem is that it is not always readily apparent - to us anyway - when something, or someone (even the good things of this life - friends, family, ministry, etc.), has grabbed that top place within us that was intended only for him. When we do this, we become excessively attached to people, places, material possessions, occupations, titles, honors, achievements, and the acclaim or affirmation of others. These things are good in themselves when ordered and directed by the love of God. But they can become compulsions (or even addictions) and produce chaos when they push God from the center of our lives and become the key to our identity.
Therefore, the saints of old made a practice of ruthless self-examination. They intentionally made time and space to listen to God and, thus, to constantly examine their affections to assure they were in proper order. God must be first, before all else, and only then will we have the freedom to truly love others. Therefore, we might be wise to follow their lead.
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, is a campus organization that seeks to share the gospel with students through relationships, small group studies and larger events like retreats and mission trips. John Strange leads Cru at the University of Kentucky and was our guest at this month’s Global Mission Conference. Pray for today John, his wife Geralyn and their family.
Closing Prayer: O Spirit of God. We ask you to help orient all our actions by your inspirations, carry them on by your gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from you and through you be happily ended. Amen. - A Jesuit Prayer