I am often asked about a devotional book for someone who wants to grow. I have read many devotionals and, in fact, I have written many devotionals for people. In the past, I had a couple of books that I would recommend.
In recent years, I have had a complete turnaround in this department. Without hesitation, there is one devotional book I recommend above all others for all ages for every situations of life.
The best devotional book I’ve ever read is the Bible.
I know that seems like an out-the-box idea, but the Bible really is the best book you can read concerning the Christian faith.
Devotionals can teach us about God’s Word, but they cannot replace God’s Word.
Devotional Book Model
Here’s what I have noticed about most devotionals out there:
- At the top, a Bible verse will be printed in italics to acknowledge its unique emphasis. It will usually be no more than one verse and the reader will not know anything about the context.
- The rest of the page is an author’s thought on faith, contentment, prayer, or any other topic at hand. 97% of the words will be the author’s words instead of God’s Word.
- Just to ensure you believe that the author’s thoughts are coming from the Bible, there are some parentheses added to contain another Bible verse that you can investigate but many will not unfortunately. It is very easy in this type of discipleship tool for a Christian never to open the Bible because the devotional book takes its place.
Have you read a devotional like this model? Here’s what the page looks like:
Our attempt for someone’s spiritual growth is to dedicate 3% of the page to God’s Word and 97% to someone else’s word.
We got a problem here, guys and gals. God’s Word is living and active (Heb. 4:12 – no, really, I want you to hover over that verse and really read it). Man’s words are not.
If I want to encourage someone to grow, I want a text that breathes life into souls rather than fills the head with anecdotes.
Unfortunately, that’s what I have read in many devotional books throughout my life. I learn more stories from an individual than life-changing truths from God. Honestly, I think devotional books can perform a great service for the Body of Christ, but I don’t want them to be a replacement for the steady intake of God’s Word.
Bible Reading Plans
Since it is that time of year, I want to encourage you with some great Bible reading plans. If you haven’t picked a plan yet, realize this:
A plan is better than no plan.
Here are some of my favorite:
- 100 Day Chronological – We developed this plan to spend 50 days in the Old Testament and 50 days in the New Testament. It takes a chronological look at the grand narrative of Scripture.
- Gospel Project Plan – Many churches are using LifeWay’s the Gospel Project discipleship curriculum and we love it. They have developed supplemental weekly reading to help connect storylines and teachings throughout the Scriptures.
- M’Cheyne Plan – This plan takes you through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. There are approximately 4 chapters per day.
- Chronological Plan – This takes you completely through the Bible chronologically. You skip around through books but it is a great way to read it.
- 5-Day Reading Plan – This plan gets you through the Bible in a year with two days a week as margin to catch up if needed.
This year, I am doing a combo of sorts. I am reading through the Gospel Project plan early in the week and then tackling books later in the week. In addition, I am praying through the Psalms daily.
Tips for Bible Reading
Here is a list of tips as you begin:
- Get an accountability partner – You are more apt to make it to the gym if someone is working out with you and this exercise is no different. Find someone to run with you. Get on the same page and encourage one another as you go.
- Mediate on what you read – Don’t just rush through. Underline. Highlight. Make notes. Memorize a passage. Pray through it. Share what you learn with someone (Ezra 7:10).
- Keep going – If you miss a day, don’t quit! Imagine that you forget to fill your car with gasoline and you run empty on the interstate. After being towed, do you simply give up on driving? Do you say that you aren’t going to do that again because you got behind? No, you simply put gasoline back in the tank and drive off with an eye more fixed on the gauge. Scripture intake is the same way. Don’t get stuck in such a performance trap that if you get behind, you quit. If you didn’t read over the last day, week, or month, just get back on as soon as you can.
God’s Word is living and active, but man’s words are not.
I promise you – not even the greatest devotional book in the world can light a candle to God’s book. Read it! Study it! Apply it!