I suppose a Monday morning “start of the week” blog is as good a time as any to publish some thoughts I have harbored for some time. Several years ago I began writing daily devotionals at shawnethomas.com, in the hopes that the insights might be edifying to those who read them. The feedback I have received from these devotions and from the sermons I have published here has been gratifying — but there is a lingering concern which I would like to address today.
The concern has to do with the nature and use of this blog. The devotions you read here were not written primarily to be published. They are insights which came in the course of my own personal daily devotional reading. As I read through books of the Bible in consecutive order, I make notes about how God is speaking to me. Later in the week, I go back and see if I think some of them might speak to others as well, and I schedule some to be published the next week, usually Monday–Thursday, since readership on the weekends is generally very low. (Consequently, if you think I have written something relating to some daily concern, you might keep in mind that this article was most likely written a week in advance; if it addresses something relevant to some event in the world or in your life that day, you may attribute that to the providence of God.)
But the insights you read here were first of all, and most importantly, from my own personal daily reading of the word of God, as God’s Spirit spoke to my heart through his word. This brings us to the point I wish to address: these daily devotions — or anyone else’s — should never be taken as a substitute for your own personal reading of the word of God. If anything, I hope that they will serve as an example to you of the kind of insights you might glean from your own daily reading of scripture.
But that personal, daily reading of scripture must be primary in each Christian’s life. I Peter 2:2 commands us: “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” If you were instructed to give someone “pure milk”, you would give them milk alone, unmixed with anything else. So the “pure milk” of the word is just that: the word of God alone. THE single most important element in your personal spiritual growth involves spending time in the pure, unadulterated word of God. Not in a “daily devotional” written by someone else; not in a “Bible study” book which someone has published; not even “shawnethomas.com”! Just you, your open Bible, and the Holy Spirit of God speaking to your heart. It is here that God will speak to you about Himself, and about the areas of your life you need to address.
So does God not use preachers, teachers, Bible studies, devotions and commentaries? Certainly He does. Scripture indicates that He gifted such people for our edification (Eph. 4:11-12), and we do well to profit by them. But at the same time, we need to keep them in their proper place. They should never be used as a substitute for spending your own personal time in God’s word & prayer.
So I hope that you will continue to read the devotions and messages at shawnethomas.com, as well as benefit from the wealth of insights which God has given so many of His people. But my fervent prayer is that you will only read my blog — or any other preacher or teacher — AFTER you have already first gained insight from your own, personal, daily time in “the pure milk” of the word of God!