The Sunday Mail
ONCE in a while, we depart from the norm because of the need to deal with some important issues that the body of Christ encounters on a day-to-day basis.
These may not necessarily be doctrinal, but they are issues which we feel that if not documented and become talking points, then part of the church’s growth and development will be left behind.
Thus this week, the writer looks at daily devotionals because more churches are formalising their devotionals through print publications, Internet websites and social media. Followers follow these prophetic messages that the Lord gives to His people daily, to allow them to start the day with the word of God, meditation and prayer.
Related terms for devotional include devote (verb) and devout (adjective). What do they mean? Devotion is defined as being “consecrated to a purpose; profound dedication; strongly attached; earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc, zealous; devout; as, a devoted admirer.”
The Bible does not say anything about writing or reading daily devotionals, but the terms, devote, devout and devotional appear in the Word of God a number of times. A few scriptures suffice.
The Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:24 counsels, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24, NIV)
Apostle Paul also implores Timothy: “Till I come, devote yourself to (public and private) reading, to exhortation (preaching and personal appeals), and to teaching and instilling doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4:13, AMP) He also tells the Colossians: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2, NIV)
Cornelius, in Acts 10 is described as “devout and God-fearing.” Charles E. Orr says, “Devotion to God implies ardent affection for Him – a yielding of the heart to Him with reverence, faith, and piety in every act, particularly in prayer and meditation.”
It is within this framework that we review a number of devotionals published in both the print and electronic formats.
Rhapsody of Realities
The oldest devotional is probably the Rhapsody of Realities, authored by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Christ Embassy’s senior pastor.
Published by Loveworld News, it is now in its fifteenth year in print and the publishers claim that it “remains a life-guide with rich teachings from God’s word.” The publishers also say that in the past 15 years, “several millions of copies of the best-selling daily devotional and Bible-study guide have been distributed in over 242 countries and 552 languages and still counting!”.
Rhapsody of Realities is probably one of the first African-authored devotionals to penetrate the Zimbabwean market, and it appealed to members and non-members of Christ Embassy because the church had an aggressive marketing drive. The fact that once a year, they also devote a special edition to Zimbabwe with the cover design bearing Zimbabwean colours has worked in its advantage. That special edition is also distributed free of charge even in prisons.
Although Pastor Chris has never come to Zimbabwe, Christ Embassy has assemblies all over the country.
Rhapsody of Realities has a standard that we now see in other devotionals that are now being published although we are not saying that the authors were inspired by it. It has maintained its format: Title of the day’s message; scripture of the day; interpretation; prayer; further scriptural studies; one-year bible reading plan and a two-year bible plan.
The publishers say it is “changing lives every day”. M. Morgan of Myanmar testified in an online message that distributing Rhapsody of Realities made him bold. “I used to read my Bible all the time but I wasn’t bold. One day, my pastor inspired me to go out on evangelism and he gave me copies of Rhapsody of Realities to distribute to those I preached to. That changed my life. I took the materials to school and distributed them to my classmates without fear. I’ve been bold and fearless ever since!”
The glory of God to manifest in your life
Authored by Pastor Anselm Mvenge of Christian Healing Ministries for all nations, The Glory of God to Manifest in Your Life was first published as a monthly daily devotional in February 2007.
Pastor Anselm says the devotional is “published through ministry first, carries the special anointing of God for the blessing of your life.”
He adds that “it is specially programmed to help all children of God to grow in His knowledge on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Each word contained … carries the anointing of God in order for your life to be full of an overflow of God’s blessings…These words have been specially revealed to you in order that more of God’s glory may further be manifested in your life and also in the lives of the members of your family, friends and those whom the Lord God Almighty is going to bring into contact with you through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ”
With the exception of the one- and two-year bible reading plans, the format is not very different from Rhapsody of Realities.
Life Lighter: Power filled daily devotional
This is one of the new devotionals written by Prophet E. Makandiwa and Prophetess R. Makandiwa of United Family International Church.
In the introduction to the first issue (April 2014), they say: “Welcome to our daily devotional, Life Lighter, the devotional that lights up your life. In everyday life, we need something to inspire us to achieve certain goals and nothing can be more inspiring than the word of God. The word of God is the manual for life in its totality and as we all know, it is dangerous practice to operate anything, let alone life, without its manual… This book has been designed to bring you your daily inspiration and to put you in the right state of mind, body and spirit before you tackle the day. The daily reading plan is prophetically laid out for you to suit the times and seasons…”
Again, the format is not way off from the first two. Apart from prayer, Life Lighter has a prophetic declaration. However, the writers only managed to get the April, June and July 2014 issues and also the January 2015 issue. Some of its readers have said that they want the devotional every month because publication is erratic.
Our Daily Bread
Most people are familiar with this compact annual devotional that has messages for 365 days. Our Daily Bread was first published in April 1956 by Discovery House Publishers in the United States. But like other devotionals, it is now published in various formats and in more than 50 languages.
The publishers say that “every day, millions of people from almost every country in the world read the printed and online versions of this devotional, which is designed to provide moments of daily reflection on the Word of God.”
The author admits that these are not the only devotionals published in Zimbabwe and/or sold in Zimbabwe’s bookstores. We just wanted to bring to our readers’ attention the existence and importance of devotionals, while at the same time underlining that they do not replace the Bible, the Word of God. Reading your devotional daily does not mean that you should skip your Bible reading. Remember what the Lord says in Joshua 1:8 and 2 Timothy 3:16.
Since there is a plethora of devotionals, apart from those published by your church, there is need to exercise caution. Before signing up for an online devotional, do some homework about the writers and ministries. Is their message Christ-centred and grounded in the Word of God? Do you feel confident to recommend them to other people?
Producing devotionals both in print and electronic formats requires huge investment: financially and materially. Apart from having the traditional partners, churches on their own can partner and share the printing and distribution costs. That way, those prophetic messages will reach millions of people and transform lives.