DEVOTION TO GOD.





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. We catch a glimpse of the true meaning of devotion

from what is said of the centurion of the Italian band. He was termed a

devout man because he feared God, gave much alms to the people, and prayed

to God always (see Acts 10:2). This is the essence of true devotion. He

loved God, without which there can be no devotion. The more we love an

object, the more devoted to it we are. Devotion is therefore love

manifested. At the feet of Jesus stood a woman weeping and washing his

feet with her tears and wiping them with the hairs of her head and kissing

them. Is not this a picture of devotion? It is love and devotion expressed

in action. Jesus said, "She loved much." The secret of devotion is loving

much.



Every devoted Christian desires to be more devoted to his God. I am glad

we can be. It is pleasant to feel in our hearts an ardent desire to love

God more. A fond mother clasps her babe to her bosom. She loves it, and

her heart is happy in that love; but she feels she can not love it enough.

She longs to love it more. Her heart yearns to love it more, though she

loves it from the fulness of her soul. This longing to love increases our

capacity to love. By being filled with air some vessels are made to

expand. Unless filled to their utmost capacity, they would not become more

extended. To the extent that the heart is filled with the love of God, man

is happy.



To desire to be more devotional is not an evidence of lack of devotion,

but, on the contrary, an evidence of devotion. Those who are the least

devotional have the least desire to be more devotional. The heart that is

fullest of love is happiest; and although it is happy and satisfied, yet

it longs to move. Oh, how we long to clasp our arms more tightly about

him! how we long to have him clasp his arms more tightly about us! how we

long to nestle more fondly and lovingly on his bosom! What rapture to our

love-flooded souls to receive of his caresses and hear his tender words!

To the soul in the ecstasy of its heavenly love, the world with its

pleasures has vanished away like a morning vapor.



It is not understood by all how and why we should have a desire to possess

more of that of which we are already full. It is the desire for

development; it is an innate desire; it is a principle planted in our

constitution under grace. Let me repeat what I have said elsewhere: Every

living thing consciously or unconsciously struggles to conform to type.

When the little plant bursts through the ground, it enters the race in

conforming to the type that it carries in its bosom. Thus, in the heart of

the acorn is a miniature oak-tree. The little chick carries within it an

image of the mother bird, to which it will naturally though unconsciously

conform.



In the natural world when things reach the highest point of development,

they begin to decay or deteriorate; but this is not true in the spiritual

world. Never in this life and possibly never in that life which is to come

shall we reach the fulness of the type, or, in other words, the highest

point of development. As the acorn or the little chick bears in its nature

an image of the parent, so the Christian bears in his soul the image of

God. This is the image to which he is to conform. Day after day he can

grow in grace. Day after day the beautiful graces of the Spirit can become

more beautiful and the exterior life be more perceptibly stamped with the

holy image of God. There must be progress, or there will be regress. When

a ball that has been thrown upward ceases to ascend, it begins to descend.

When the fulness of the type is reached, then begins the retrogression.

This is none the less true of spiritual things. The reason why there need

be no declension in love is because the highest point of development is

never attained.



For illustration let us set a little child in our midst. As a child it is

perfect. All its organs are in proper place and are properly performing

their functions. It is a perfect image of the type of man into which it

will grow. That child's nature tends toward, and the child longs to be, a

man. The child's innate desire for development does not make it

discontented as long as its craving for growth is gratified. In this we

behold the goodness and the wisdom of the Creator. That the child may be

happy, it is so constituted that it satisfactorily meets all the

requirements of the law of development. The child is thus kept in a state

of contentment. Did it seek to fulfil the law of growth contrary to its

nature, to become a man would be an irksome task. It is a delight to the

child to eat, to play, to sleep. And these things, producing growth, meet

the demands of its nature. There is implanted in it both a desire to grow

and a relish for the things necessary to its growth. Thus the entire

process of development is a delight. In fact, there will be no delight or

enjoyment unless there be development.



True, a child does not eat and play for the express purpose of growing.

Indeed, it may take no thought about growing. But there is in the nature

of the child, when in health, a demand for growth. When the child is in

ill health, the growth ceases; consequently there is no demand for

development, and it loses relish for the things that go to meet that

demand.



This very beautifully illustrates Christian development which includes

becoming more devotional. You desire to be more devotional. Such a desire

is legitimate. The nature of every sanctified soul craves development. The

soul is not dissatisfied, any more than the growing child. As that

developing life in the child moves it to seek for the things that produce

development, so the life of God in the sanctified soul moves it to seek

for the things that will unfold and amplify that life. "If ye be risen

[have life] with Christ, seek those things which are above." Those things,

coming into our soul daily, will unfold us more and more into an heavenly

life. They are food to the sanctified soul. They keep the soul satisfied,

because they are the means provided by a loving, all-wise Providence for

the constant healthful growth of our spiritual natures. Herein only is

true soul-rest.



God gives us a relish for the very things that go to fulfil the demands of

our Christian nature. Prayer, meditation, reading the Bible, trust, and

resting in the Lord promote increase in him. How delightful is prayer to

the soul that is healthful and growing! and the Word of God is sweeter

than honey. Where there is a demand in the soul for these things, how

delightful it is to engage in them! Do you behold the beauty and the

wisdom here? God implants a desire in the soul for spiritual development

and at the same time implants a relish for the things necessary for such

development. Bless his name! Understand me, please, this desire is not a

restless longing, an aching void, as is found in an unregenerate heart or

in a soul in spiritual decline; but it is the delightful struggling of a

soul bearing the likeness of God, to conform to the natural law of

development pent up within its bosom.



What is it in the nature of the oak that causes it to send its root down

into the soil and to drink up of its substance? What is it in the nature

of the child that causes it so eagerly to eat and play? It is the demand

in their nature for growth, or that innate struggle to conform to type.

Manhood is sleeping in the child's bosom, and it wrestles and struggles to

rise to the fulness of that image. What causes the Christian heart to long

to root deeper into God; that makes the soul seek his embrace? It is that

instinctive struggle to conform to God's glorious image. The entire

process of development is delightful. Whenever the natural tendency toward

growth ceases, the soul is in an abnormal state, and loses relish for the

things necessary to growth.



Christian, see to it that you keep in your heart a desire, a longing, a

panting, or, if you would rather I will say, a demand, in your spiritual

being to be more devotional to God, and meet that demand by resting by

faith in him, by prayer, by meditation, by service. Do this, and you will

become more devotional. But I love the word "desire." Desire in the soul

for spiritual things is appetite. Satisfying this desire is a pleasure.

Never were any viands so sweet to the physical sense of taste as that food

to our soul which helps us be more devotional. "Desire" is a Bible term.

"As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye

may grow thereby."



Before concluding this chapter I will call your attention to one way of

becoming more devotional--being active in service. Desire must be

gratified, or it will die. Likewise, motive must find expression in

action, or it will die. You have a desire for prayer; then grant that

desire by actually praying, or you will lose the desire. An appetite once

lost is difficult to regain. You may have in your soul a pure motive; then

carry it into action. Do something for God, and you will become more

devotional to God. Not that devotion comes by works, to begin with, any

more than grace; but we do become more devotional by doing, just as we

grow stronger physically by exercise. Follow out every inclination to do

good as far as you can, and you will become more devotional to your God.



God loves to have you devoted to him, and he longs to have you more

devoted. It is astonishing, nevertheless God has intense desire to be

prayed to and great love for communion with our hearts. He says, "My son,

give me thine heart." What does he want with man's heart? He wants to put

his love in it, so he can be loved by it and hold communion with it. "The

prayer of the upright is his delight." Oh, that there are so few hearts

that love God! Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they would not come to

him. But why does he so intensely yearn for the prayers and devotions of

our hearts? Because it is another young life struggling to conform to the

image in which it was created. It is another soul which has been won for

God and in which he has his throne.



O God! take our hearts and compress within them that pure love from thy

own heart that will cause us to pray, "O God! enlarge our hearts." God

would even pain our hearts with the fulness of his love until we find no

ease except in expansion.





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