Foreword from the 2018 Edition

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I just returned from a vital-church immersion experience in South Korea. I spent some time with the Bupyeong Methodist Church. Prayer is at the heart of the discipleship experience at the Bupyeong church. Can you picture hundreds of people gathering at 5 a.m. every day (including Sundays) to pray in a corporate worship service? Can you hear the sanctuary filled with passionate singing and vocal prayer as the sun begins to rise? If you ask those in attendance about their faithful participation, they respond that they believe the daily discipline of prayer enhances their relationship with God. Many would argue that the key to the revival movement in South Korea is the daily discipline of fervent and vibrant prayer.

You hold in your hand a key to your spiritual growth. Disciplines is a tool that allows you to attend to the reading of scripture, prayer, and devotion on a daily basis. Systematic, devotional use of scripture is essential for spiritual development and growth. It helps keep our faith alive.

All living things grow, but not all things grow constantly. Many plants grow in spring and summer, begin to go dormant in late fall, and remain dormant during the winter. We sometimes experience seasons in our life when our faith seems dormant. The good news is that some changes occur only in dormancy. Roots deepen in fall and winter. The same is true in our lives. It’s especially important to practice the daily discipline of scripture devotion in our seasons of winter. When we engage in daily spiritual formation, we deepen our roots for the next spring’s growth and fruit. We also grow our capacity to handle any season of life.

The habit of daily devotion through spiritual formation helps us grow to spiritual maturity. Eugene Peterson's The Message captures how we do this in very practical terms.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. . . . Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. . . . God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2)

We will always offer excuses for not having enough time for daily devotion and scripture formation. But if we are honest, we admit to making time for things that matter most to us. I have two children. My son decided he wanted to take piano lessons. My wife and I signed him up and bought the practice books. He faithfully attended lessons and practiced every day. Then his commitment to practice time started to wane. After a few months he decided he’d had enough and wanted to quit. We wouldn’t let him quit until he completed the year. My son didn’t become a concert pianist, but he learned a valuable lesson: We grow by making commitments. There is power in our commitments.

In fact, for anything that’s important in our lives, we’re going to have to make a commitment. So, why not challenge yourself to experience a more personal and intimate relationship with God through the use of this daily devotional?

I pray that this volume of daily devotions will provide you with what you need to make a fresh start in Christ, while adding value and meaning to your spiritual journey. I believe God’s highest desire for us is to be in relationship with God through Jesus Christ and for that relationship to deepen day by day.

—Junius B. Dotson
General Secretary (CEO), Discipleship Ministries
The United Methodist Church

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