Series Code: RQRA
Program Code: RQRA000021A
00:01 I don't understand.
00:04 Why did this have to happen to me?
00:08 I feel like
00:09 I just can't make sense of things.
00:12 I need answers.
00:15 Where is God?
00:20 Hello and welcome
00:21 to Raw Questions Relevant Answers,
00:23 a program where we deal with real issues
00:25 that are crippling our young people
00:27 and dealing with them in a Christ-centered
00:28 and a practical way.
00:30 Today we are going to be dealing
00:31 with the topic of daily devotions,
00:33 how do we have communion with God,
00:35 what's the best way to grow in that communion with God.
00:37 And today we have
00:39 two good friends of mine as co-hosts,
00:40 Michelle Doucoumes, a college professor,
00:42 and Mark Paden, a freelance film maker.
00:45 So people have been submitting questions through Facebook
00:48 and we're gonna go ahead and start.
00:49 Our first question is from a college student
00:51 in Tennessee and this is the question.
00:54 "I am struggling with opening the Bible,
00:56 reading and studying it.
00:58 How do I overcome this?"
01:00 So they are kind of struggling to find the motivation
01:01 to do this to actually sit down and go through the process,
01:05 and they're asking, "How do I overcome this?"
01:06 Who'd like to start?
01:09 Well, I will say in my experience.
01:12 I've been a college student. I work with college students.
01:15 First of all, I know the struggle is real.
01:18 It is.
01:19 The tough thing is
01:21 that there are a lot of good and bad things
01:24 that just crowd into our lives and make it difficult
01:27 to make that time.
01:30 So there's a lot of different ways to approach this.
01:33 I think the first one is, I've seen in my life,
01:36 that what I choose to put first matters the most.
01:41 So think about it this way.
01:44 Like, if you're filling a jar with different things, rocks,
01:47 big rocks, little pebbles, sand, water,
01:50 the order actually affects how much you can put in.
01:53 If you don't put the big rocks in first,
01:55 you pot other things, you're not gonna have room
01:56 for those big rocks.
01:58 If you put the big rocks in first,
02:00 and the some little rocks, and then some water,
02:02 you will be amazed how much can actually fit in there.
02:04 And I've seen that with making time for God.
02:07 When I make time for God first, it just amazes me
02:11 how the rest of the day changes,
02:14 and how God works with that.
02:16 And so, you know, the first thing that I think of
02:18 is what really is most important?
02:20 Do I trust God?
02:22 That if I take the time,
02:24 even when I am busy and stressed,
02:26 that God is gonna work out the other things in my day.
02:29 You know, the other thing too that I found is just,
02:33 you kind of have to just make it a priority,
02:36 like you were saying.
02:37 What I found was that for a long time,
02:39 I tried to wait
02:43 until there is sufficient motivation to do it
02:45 which doesn't really work.
02:47 You have to recognize that, you know,
02:49 this is important and the only way
02:51 that you are really going to do it
02:56 is if you do it, right?
02:57 You can't just wait around and wait for you
02:59 to have the sudden inspiration every morning.
03:02 Like it takes the diligence to get up and do it, you know,
03:05 and there is other ways around it.
03:07 Like for me, reading at O dark thirty,
03:10 when I am still tired
03:12 and I can barely get my eyes open,
03:13 it's hard for me.
03:14 But I can listen to something, and that'll keep me up, right,
03:17 and that'll keep me engaged in what's going on.
03:19 So I think there're other things
03:21 like that that you can do.
03:22 One other verse here that I really love
03:24 is in Psalm 143:8.
03:27 "Cause me to hear Your loving kindness
03:29 in the morning, For in thee do I trust."
03:32 We can ask God to cause us to see His loving kindness
03:35 in the morning.
03:36 And when we wake up and just saturate ourselves
03:39 in the loving kindness of God, after a while,
03:42 it starts to become
03:43 that we don't want to do anything but that.
03:46 We yearn for that morning time with our maker,
03:50 and it's something in beauty and love
03:52 rather than just obligation and hardship.
03:56 I would say the motives matters.
03:58 In this particular situation, the purpose of devotions
04:01 to the best of my understanding is to connect with Jesus.
04:04 Not to become a scholar, our immediate priority
04:07 is to connect with our maker.
04:09 And that's one of the ways I find motivation,
04:12 to have devotions in the morning,
04:13 is that it's not a matter of, "I have to do this
04:16 or God's not going to be happy with me.
04:18 I know my day is going to be a disaster
04:20 if I don't start this way."
04:21 The main motivation for me is, I can't live without Him
04:26 and He is what I am seeking.
04:28 And so one of the ways I recommend people
04:30 when they are first starting is to connect directly
04:32 in the gospels.
04:33 There's going to be a time when you can move on
04:35 to other areas but if you're just struggling
04:36 to get started, start just in the gospels,
04:39 Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and repeat.
04:41 And just ask God, "Would you wake me up?"
04:44 And if you ask Him that, some of us may regret the way
04:47 we made this up, but He does.
04:49 And then two, spend time connecting with Jesus
04:52 because Jesus says that, if you've seen Me,
04:55 you've seen the Father.
04:56 So if you want to understand who the Father is better
04:58 had to connect with Him in Jesus,
05:00 and have the spirit guide you and connect you in this way.
05:03 The best way to connect with the Godhead
05:05 is in communion with God, in His Word,
05:08 and the simplest place to start is in the gospels.
05:10 How did Jesus talk to people?
05:12 How did Jesus respond to folks who were broken,
05:14 lacking in motivation?
05:15 How did He help them?
05:17 And would He do that for me?
05:18 So I think it's an easy way to start to...
05:20 Because they are asking
05:21 how do I find the motivation to start.
05:23 There is that kind of mind over mattress mentality
05:25 that has to happen, get out of the actual bed,
05:29 reach somewhere else,
05:30 but that would be the main thing.
05:32 I think motivation is a good place to start.
05:35 Another question we have here is from a 26 year old female.
05:38 It says, "It seems many people use devotionals
05:41 for daily worship.
05:42 Is that sufficient?
05:44 Or should we dig deeper into a study each day?"
05:46 Is it okay to just read a devotional book?
05:48 Or should we be spending time in scripture and dig deeper?
05:51 What do you guys think?
05:53 You know, I think my girlfriend would much prefer
05:55 if I just read things about her.
05:58 Kidding, of course but...
06:00 Yeah. Just that same kind of thing.
06:02 If you really want to connect with somebody,
06:05 how do you do it?
06:06 Do you just read
06:07 what other people have said about that person
06:09 or you read what that person has said about themselves?
06:12 Do you hear what that person has to say for themselves?
06:15 Do you talk with them or do you just spend
06:20 listening to what other people have said?
06:21 And I think the same principle applies here, you know?
06:23 If you really want to get to know God,
06:25 it's much more effective to actually connect with Him
06:28 and hear what He said.
06:30 I mean look at so much of the Bible is His Word says,
06:34 I mean the Bible is the Word of God.
06:36 And if we really want to get to know Him,
06:39 and there is so much more power in the Word of God, you know,
06:42 like men have theories, God has truth, right?
06:46 The Bible is the unadulterated Word of God,
06:48 the infallible Word of God.
06:50 And if we want to really know a genuine truth
06:52 that isn't mixed with err, it's the Bible.
06:55 And at the end of the day,
06:57 when we are called to stand for our faith in ways,
07:01 do we want to have our authority
07:06 be the word of some other erring person
07:08 or do we want it to be the Word of God?
07:12 Well, you know, the purpose of devotional books,
07:14 as I see them, is kind of just helping us
07:18 to be able to connect into the Word of God,
07:21 but it should be guiding us back to the Word of God.
07:24 There are some devotional books that I love,
07:26 books like, The Desire of Ages, and others
07:28 that have really enriched my understanding of scripture,
07:31 but they are not the same, as you've mentioned,
07:33 as going back to the source of scripture.
07:35 And I think sometimes why it's the challenge
07:36 is we don't know how to study the Bible.
07:39 We'll just pick it up
07:40 and we'll just read something like,
07:41 okay, sometimes it impacts my life,
07:43 sometimes it doesn't.
07:44 And it's never bad to just read the Bible,
07:47 there is value in it.
07:49 But I think of a quote from a book called Education
07:51 that says, "In daily study, the verse by verse method
07:55 is often most helpful.
07:56 Let the student take one verse and concentrate the mind
08:00 on ascertaining the thought
08:01 that God has put into that verse for him
08:05 and dwell upon that thought until it becomes his own.
08:09 One passage thus studied until its significance is clear
08:12 is of more value than the perils of many chapters
08:15 with no definite purpose and view,
08:17 and no positive instruction gained."
08:19 This kind of goes back to what you were saying, Dee.
08:22 Are we studying the Bible to really know God through it?
08:26 Do I take a verse or a passage and ask myself,
08:30 "What is this telling me about God and who He is?
08:33 What's really happening here?
08:35 Why is it happening?
08:36 What does this potentially say to me in the things
08:39 that I am going through in my life?"
08:42 Devotional books are kind of digesting it for us.
08:46 And that's not bad
08:47 but there's something to be said to grappling
08:49 with the scripture ourselves,
08:51 and hearing God personally just like,
08:53 you probably like to hear
08:55 your girlfriend's voice personally.
08:57 And so that's something that's helped me.
08:59 I think, you know, Jesus talks about the fact
09:01 that He tells us, you know,
09:03 to drink His blood and to take up His flesh like,
09:06 it's internalizing of the things of God,
09:09 you are not just by proximity near the things of God,
09:12 it becomes a part of you and that experience
09:14 only happens by you communing with the Word of God,
09:17 not hear what someone else says.
09:18 And so devotional books, we are not saying
09:20 that they are bad and you shouldn't use them,
09:21 but if you are choosing devotional books or the Bible,
09:24 always choose the Bible first
09:25 because only the Word of God can impart life, right?
09:28 We are told that by the Word of God,
09:29 the heavens were created,
09:31 and all the other things were created.
09:33 Devotional books can't do that, right?
09:35 Other human authors cannot do this
09:36 but the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit
09:40 can indeed impart life to a soul
09:43 that is dead in trespasses,
09:45 and it's a precious, precious gift to us.
09:47 So those can kind of help us to kind of glean some lessons
09:50 but we still need to have our own experience.
09:51 I think of the Foolish Virgins, right,
09:54 the Parable of the Foolish Virgins,
09:56 they couldn't give their oil to someone else,
09:58 and someone couldn't take oil from someone else,
10:00 you had to have your own in that sense.
10:03 We've got one more question here.
10:04 It says, "As I seek to grow my relationship with God,
10:07 what do I do in the times
10:08 when I just can't feel His involvement
10:10 or His presence?"
10:12 So like you are seeking to read
10:13 and you are looking for a blessing
10:15 but maybe you don't find what you are looking for
10:17 in that moment.
10:18 What do you guys recommend in situations like that?
10:20 You know, here's one thing that I would say.
10:25 The Bible, we live in kind of a culture
10:28 of instant gratification, right?
10:31 And I mean, I am part of this generation, you know,
10:34 I totally get it.
10:35 It's easy to want the results immediately
10:38 to go and look for answers and boom, you have them.
10:42 I think the beauty though of God is that sometimes
10:47 our connecting with Him isn't going to give us
10:50 the immediate results that we think
10:51 it is going to give.
10:52 You know, there have been a lot of times when I just, you know,
10:56 you may not necessarily feel it
10:57 but you are getting the information,
10:58 you are getting the knowledge
11:00 of what God is trying to communicate to you
11:01 through in His Word.
11:03 And I know for me, like, this past year,
11:05 there have been some challenges that have come up
11:09 and in that time, I spent a lot more time
11:13 in the Word of God, studying and reading,
11:16 and I hadn't always felt that connection in all times,
11:19 but you know, looking back through it,
11:21 I've seen how much God has shifted my thinking
11:25 and how much He has changed my thought processes
11:29 in so many ways.
11:30 And in every morning that you get up and read,
11:33 you are not necessarily seeing that
11:35 but in the whole, you are.
11:37 So what I would say is just because one morning,
11:39 you know, you get up and you don't feel
11:41 that blessed sweet communion with God,
11:44 it doesn't mean that
11:45 He is not speaking to you through His Word.
11:47 Yeah, I think of it sometimes like puzzle pieces almost.
11:50 You have different pieces and you don't normally see
11:52 how they fit together, but God is putting them there
11:55 for a reason.
11:57 And there are times when I don't maybe think
11:59 this connects with me so much when I study,
12:01 and then may be a few days or a few months later,
12:03 it will come back, and God needed that piece to be there.
12:08 Another thing just in kind of a different vein with this is,
12:11 I wanted to mention prayer as a part of a devotional life.
12:14 We talk a lot about studying the Bible,
12:16 but something that really helps me
12:18 especially when I'm having a hard time
12:20 getting into the Word, spending some time praying,
12:23 sometimes I am not connecting with God
12:25 because there's so much other stuff
12:27 going on in my head, going on in my life,
12:29 going on in my stresses, and I've realized, for me,
12:34 I've sometimes just got to unburden that with the Lord.
12:36 Yeah. Yes.
12:37 We just got to have a really good talk,
12:39 heart to heart, before that door is open.
12:42 'Cause it's a two way communication,
12:43 prayer is kind of the opening the heart to God
12:45 as to a friend, it's a way to share with Him
12:47 and the Word of God we hear from Him,
12:49 you can hear from prayer too.
12:50 I was thinking that one of the illustrations
12:52 that Jesus uses a lot
12:53 is the illustration of agriculture.
12:55 And if you are planting a garden,
12:57 and I'm talking about both Christian disciplines here,
12:59 prayer and the Word of God, silent though imperceptible,
13:04 there's growth happening, right?
13:06 And we may not notice it each stage of the way,
13:08 but whenever we are communing and taking in the nutrients
13:12 from heaven, right, whether it be the sunshine,
13:13 the rain, like a plant,
13:16 no one is gonna look at the seedling
13:17 they plant last week and then think that, you know,
13:20 the next day it's going to be this large stock full of fruit,
13:22 it's a process.
13:24 And yet we think that we are not doing anything
13:26 because after a day or two, we don't see ourselves changed.
13:29 It would be nonsense to think that way about agriculture.
13:33 But we think the Christian discipline
13:34 should be different.
13:36 But Jesus used the illustration of agriculture to teach us
13:38 that it's a process.
13:41 That it's not this instant thing,
13:42 and if we trust that what God has provided here,
13:44 we'll keep working through that process,
13:46 if we keep abiding, and we keep receiving, we'll be fine.
13:49 And I think it's something that God wants to teach us.
13:51 So just as kind of enclosing reminder to you,
13:54 don't give up, don't stop trusting the process,
13:57 and it may be silent and imperceptible,
13:59 but God is changing us, God is growing us,
14:02 and we'll see that
14:03 the further down the road that we go.
14:05 Again, your questions can be submitted to RQRA3ABN
14:08 on Facebook, and we can't wait to see you
14:11 until our next episode.