Sharing – A Spiritual Feast

Luke Chen

(Published in the RCCC Harvest Journal, Summer 2006)

On a cloudy Friday afternoon of March 24th, I picked up brother Kuo after work and drove to the CLRC (Christian Leadership Renewal Center) at Lake Gaston, Virginia, for the training seminar retreat. It took CLRC quite a while to organize this first training event with the topic of Experiencing Renewal through Personal Devotions. We spent three days and two nights there.  With high expectations, I attended this retreat due to the two excellent speakers, Pastor Paul Bucknell and Brother Peace Zhu.  I expected to learn from their teachings and hoped to renew my personal devotions.

A certain preacher once emphasized that we need to live in a loving environment in order to grow spiritually.  We can receive nutrition supplement and satisfy our needs in various aspects through regular Sunday worship, Sunday schools, small group fellowships, prayer meetings, and various meetings. In spite of all these, our personal devotion is the necessary link to build up our personal intimate fellowship with God and the crucial element of our spiritual growth.  Maybe we all know the importance of personal devotion.  But, how do we start?  What should we do?  How do we keep persistent?  We are all struggling because of a lack of discipline.

Unstable in this area myself, I havent established a good habit. I have tried to arrive early at the office after I dropped off my daughter at the bus stop. However, when I opened my Bible and started to read a passage, I was often tempted to check either my e-mail or the world news because my computer on my desk is always on. In the meantime, one by one my colleagues arrived with morning greetings. I tried to read my Bible yet failed. I had this kind of guilty conscience which lasted for a period of time, then my wife found out about it.  She asked me why I didnt do my devotion in the car prior to work.  When reading Bible passages, I had no specific plans, for instance, to finish reading the whole Bible in a year, or to read a chapter of Proverbs daily, or to read the New Testament in the morning and the Old Testament at night. I used to follow my instinct and glance through the Bible randomly or follow the curriculum with the attitude of meeting the homework requirements.  How could I cultivate the joy of devotion? How could I taste the sweet fellowship with the Lord? I arrived at the retreat with a great anticipation.

In the first message, Pastor Bucknell used Ex. 33:7-11 to explain how to spend time alone with God.  Moses periodically went outside the camp to meet the Lord and to have personal conversations with Him. Moses experiences enabled us to sense the excitement of personal devotion.  God is willing to have an intimate fellowship with us, and He is also pleased to reveal Himself to us.  When we do our devotion, we should obtain an eager heart with the desire that we need God to speak to us personally and with the belief that He will do so.  Regardless of outward activities, devotion focuses on cultivating desire to know God personally and willingness to obey His will.  Brother Zhu talked about principles of devotion, its benefits, its content, its key points, and its five stages of discipline.  He also thoroughly explained the seven steps of devotion with the purpose of establishing sound and intimate fellowship with God.  These seven steps:  1.  Ask:  Ask God to open our spiritual eyes and allow Him to be in control of our lives this day.  2.  Worship We sing praise songs to seek God, to sense His greatness, and to praise Him.  3.  Pray through prayers we sense His presence and experience Him.  4.  Read the Bible We receive mana the living Word and we know the truth.  5.  Meditate Obey Gods Word, understand His heart, and know His will.  6.  Examine In the light of God, we examine ourselves and see our lowliness, we repent and allow Him to sanctify us, and we return to Him.  7.  Respond Through prayers, we respond to Gods calling with certainty.  Throughout this retreat, our speakers not only taught us but they also gave us opportunities to discuss and time to practice.  In early mornings, we came close together to our Lord We shared our insights that deepened our understanding of Gods Words.  Gods Words enrich and nourish our hearts.

I enjoyed the evening fellowships very much.  Whether you are speakers, pastors, elders, or others, we are all Jesus’ disciples and seekers of the truth. We opened our hearts to share our thoughts about the messages, the difficulties we encountered on our spiritual journeys and our plans for the future. When we stood by the big lake and watched the beautiful sunrise and the colorful clouds, we couldn’t help ourselves from praising our awesome Creator.  We thank God for the beautiful scenery.  We also thank Him for the abundant spiritual feast and delicious food.

After the retreat, I thought about which book in the Bible I should use for my personal devotion. I finally decided to start with the book of Luke. I felt like I was transported and traveled with the incarnated Jesus. Once again, I heard Him preaching the Kingdom of Heaven, I saw Him perform miracles, I journeyed with Him on the cross to Calvary and experienced His resurrection.  Now every morning I get up fifteen minutes earlier than I used to, I prepare myself with a quiet heart first and then I open my Bible.  I pick up what is left from the day before and move on to the following passage. I pray silently to ask God to come to me and to speak to me through His Words, and then I ask Him to help me better understand its meaning.  After that, I meditate and dig deeper into its interpretation and ponder how to apply it to my life that day.  I spend a little more time to write down the main points of the passage, my thoughts, and prayer on my notebook. After finishing my devotion, I head for work. I sense the intimacy with my Lord. He seems to accompany me and His Words linger in my head. One morning, when I read Luke 7:2, it talks about a centurion who sent some elders of the Jews to Jesus to heal his sick servant. Jesus praised his faith and made his servant well. From this short passage, I saw the life of Faith, hope, and love in this centurion. I desire to learn from him, to have faith in God, to treat others with love, to hold on my hope for eternal life. This story reminded me of what Pastor Bucknell taught us during the retreat. Shouldnt our personal devotions have the same kind of attitude? Faith is believing in God; when you meet Him, He will speak to you. Hope is the willingness to depend on God because He faithfully cares for you. Love is wholeheartedly appreciative of the Words God speaks to you.

I hope what I learned from this retreat will continue to renew my life. May we encourage each other and grow healthy in our spiritual lives.