Three Ways I Engage With the Bible: Part 2 - Devotionals
Have you ever tried to understand something and just couldn’t get it, but then had someone else explains it from a different angle and it finally helped you make sense of a situation? I had this happen the other day.
A few weeks ago, Michael and I were grabbing dinner with our friends Luke and Diandra. After an incredible tasty dinner at my favorite NY restaurant, Jacob’s Pickles, we walked back to our apartment for some hot tea and began discussing our careers. My friend Luke began sharing about how he is courageously launching into a new career in venture capitalism. I do not know a lot about VC, and I am not savvy enough to understand the words he used to describe his field. A few weeks later I was with Diandra again and she began explaining VC in her own words. It finally clicked. I had just needed to hear a different perspective to make it connect. That is the way I often view devotionals.
In my first part to this series on how I engage with the Bible, I wrote about daily Bible reading. In this post I want to look at devotional books.
Devotional books provide an opportunity to see the truths of the Bible through someone else’s perspective. Seeing how the Bible has impacted another person often gives me new insights. Some devotionals have stories or anecdotes that encourage me to reflect on the Bible applied in various life situations. Others have a bit more depth and unpack a passage to create better understanding of its teaching or meaning. Among the hundreds of devotionals out there, I think that most fall into these three categories:
· Personal stories that incorporate a biblical passage or theme
· Thoughts about the Bible and its interpretation
· Explanation or commentary of a passage from scripture
Reading a devotional can speak to the heart. I often have personal experiences or hear friends talk about a devotional that spoke right to the heart on a particular issue that was so relevant to what was happening in life. Since some devotionals have a reading for each of day of the year, it is easy to read through with a friend and discuss the material.
When I approach a devotional, I am adding this to my daily Bible reading. I do my daily Bible reading with a plan from YouVersionat night. If I use a devotional, it is usually in the morning to start my day with a reflection on scripture. Devotionals are usually short, which makes them ideal for a little taste of encouragement or truth for the day. Because they are short, I often walk away wishing that I had more.
If you are not in the habit of spending time reading the Bible, then starting with a devotional book could be an easy starting point for getting bits of scripture in front of you every day. I encourage you to grow from that into more time actually spent reading the Bible, though, because nothing quite has the same impact as actually getting into the Bible directly! A critical question that has helped me achieve balance in my devotional reading is this: “How much time am I spending reading other people’s thoughts about the Bible, rather than actually getting into the Bible for myself?”
So, if you find yourself looking for a devotional, let me share my favorites! I have used all of these at one point or another. I am always open to suggestions though! Do you have a favorite?
The Duck Commander Devotional, Al Robertson:Books.
Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Jim & Cathy Burns: Book.
For the Love of God, D.A. Carson (uses R.M. M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan)
Fun Fact provided by Museum of the Bible: Did you know that what we now call devotionals is similar to “The Book of Hours” in the Middle Ages...Watch to learn more!