Friday, August 7, 2009

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 3—The Verse

Friday—The Writers’ Porch

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 3—The Verse

Last week at our She Speaks! Conference I had several gals ask me a great devotional question. Do you pick a Scripture verse and then write the devotional, or do you find a topic and then choose a Scripture that fits? Great question!

Usually a topic will pique your interest and then you search for a Scripture verse that applies to the body of your devotion. For example, I recently wrote The Bohemian Skirt, my tale of a beautiful but misbehaved skirt. I knew the primary point that I wanted to make about the skirt. I then prayed and asked the Lord to reveal the verse to me. I waited. Then Psalm 19:13 came to me, “Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” (NLT).

After I had chosen my verse, I then wrote the body of the devotion, weaving the verse into a life applicable message. In my opinion, this is the easiest way to write a devotion. However, that being said, it is CRUCIAL that you do not lift a verse out of the context of original text and meaning. Do not just use a verse or a portion of the verse just because it fits what you want to write about. Before choosing a verse read the entire passage. Know what the biblical author’s original intent was for the verse.

For example, one of the verses I often hear quoted out of context is this. Someone will write or say, “God will not give you more than you can bear.” But that is not what Scripture states. Paul wrote that we cannot be tempted beyond what we can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV) This is the most important point in selecting a verse—again, do not quote out of context.

Occasionally, if you write a work for hire devo, the publisher will often select the Scripture passage and require you to write the body of the devotion accordingly. I have found this much more difficult. I have had remote verses from Ezekiel, Revelation, etc., that are difficult to come up with a meaningful devotional for, but it can be done. It takes more prayer, additional time, and expertise in writing.

One more item when selecting your verse—always let the publisher know which translation you are using. Also, be aware some publishers require a specific Bible translation. Do follow their instructions on the translation.

Now, I am going to give you a writing challenge. Write a short devotional from one of the following:

Topic: A Hail Storm, or Verse: Psalm 73:28.



Melanie said...

Thanks for posting the "Shortbread." I'm glad I checked out your blog this week!

Mary Boswell said...

I have been looking forward to your "Shortbread" posting all week. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom.

Joyful said...

Great advice and wonderful challenge! Funny thing is...I WAS writing a short devotional on a storm to post tomorrow on my blog!!! Not exactly a "hail storm", but a storm.

So glad you posted that verse from the Psalms as well. I looked it up on Biblegateway and read it in many different versions/translations, and my heart has been blessed by the nearness of God.

Enjoying this series of posts,

suzi.wollman said...

Hi, Suzanne. I, too, appreciate "Shortbread." Please, sweet Susie, keep 'em coming!