A Scholar's Devotion

A Scholar’s Devotion with Ernest Lucas

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Rev. Dr. Ernest C. Lucas if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

My normal pattern of daily devotions is to read a passage of the Bible, think about what it is saying and prayerfully meditate on it and its implications for me. This often leads me into a ‘prayer conversation’ with God. I follow this by further prayer, usually using a pattern I was taught in childhood – ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication for other people, specific events and myself. As I do this I will think over the events and experiences of the day that has past and look forward to the day that is to come. While praying I pause for periods to try to listen to what God may have to say to me, by putting thoughts into my mind or in other ways.

In doing my Bible reading I normally use some Bible reading notes written by reputable Bible scholars and teachers. One reason for this is to ensure that I don’t just choose passages I like but have a structured reading programme that takes me through the whole Bible over the course of time. A second reason is that I think it is important the we ‘correctly handle the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15) and don’t just read into it what we want it to say or treat it as a ‘magic text’ from which we can extract phrases or verses to mean something which they do not mean in context. Occasionally I take time out from using the Bible reading notes and read through a biblical book of my own choice with the help of one of the briefer Bible commentaries.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ?

Deepening any love relationship requires spending time together, and that is why one’s daily devotional time is important. However, God is with us all the time, so I try to ‘practice the presence of God’ throughout the day by pausing at times to remember it, to thank God for something that has happened, to ask God’s help in some situation, to share some joy or disappointment with God. Doing things together is an important way of deepening any relationship. With regard to our relationship with God this, for me, means getting involved in various forms of Christian service, using the gifts and abilities that God has given me. Among other things this encourages trust in God, openness to God’s guidance, thankfulness for that guidance and for empowering in doing the service. All this deepens one’s love for God. Jesus said that those who love him will keep his commandments (Jn. 14:21-24) so a practical way to deepen one’s love for Jesus is to discover (by reading the Bible rightly) his commandments and to work out what it means to live them out in our daily lives.

Growth in love, of course, involves growth in knowing and understanding the loved one. A major source for this is the revelation of God in the Bible. As someone with a scientific training I also find a source for this in God’s ‘second book’, the universe which God has created (Ps. 8:3, 19:1; Rom. 1:20). One way of drawing on this is to spend time out in that creation simply enjoying it and marvelling at it and being grateful to God for it. Another, for me, is to continue to study it by reading scientific magazines and books, attending lectures, and watching TV programmes. These often prompt me to amazement and wonder at what God has done and God’s wisdom and power, which leads to the deeper wonder of this great God’s love for me shown in the sacrifice of his Son to deal with my sin. They may also prompt a sense of gratitude to God for putting us in such an amazing environment, and gratitude is a route to deeper love.

Ernest Lucas is Vice-Principal Emeritus at Bristol Baptist College. He has written commentaries on Proverbs and Daniel, an illustrated commentary on Daniel, as well as A Guide to the Psalms and Wisdom Literature. 

Thank you, Rev. Dr. Lucas!

Other Scholars’ Devotions

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