I don’t know about other ladies out there, but after a certain point of spiritual growth I finally recognized that the cute little devotion books with flowered covers and positive encouraging verses really don’t count. They are pretty, yes. Brief, yes. Easy to read, definitely. But they are also overwhelmingly self-centered and devoid of real Bible teaching much less real Bible of any amount.
At that point, by God’s grace I broke away from my routine of read-the-half-verse-quoted-between-swirls-and-the-paragraph-devoted-to-making-me-feel-better which I’d coupled with reading one of my favorite feel-good Psalms or passages from a Pauline epistle. I began to learn to really study God’s Word, and shortly after that I began a Bible reading plan so that I’d not be as tempted to “camp out” in my favorite passages.
Admittedly, though, it can be nice some days to have a prepared, devotional type book with shorter readings on hand. Not to replace Bible study and prayer, but to supplement with. I’ve found that they can be a great start with my morning coffee to read and mull over as my brain slowly awakens (I’m not at all a morning person). Then I can follow with heavier reading and prayer — if I attempt anything to heavy too close to leaving my bed nothing of value is accomplished. I’ve also found that devotional type books serve as refreshing “little sips of living water” throughout the day.
My devotional go-to’s have been Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals and Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest (The links above are to free online versions – you can purchase hard copies here and here). I also like to read Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary, though I find our large hardback books cumbersome for short devotional purposes (It’s so quick and easy to reference Henry on eSword during study, though!).
Well — My husband recently purchased JC Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels to use alongside scripture reading in family worship. Since my personal Bible reading plan takes me continuously though the Gospels, I picked one up to check out during my quiet time shortly after they arrived.
Let me tell you: I’m devouring these books. They’re quickly becoming my favorite devotional commentary, and my stand-by for “sipping” purposes.
As they progress from Matthew through John, each volume offers short readings (avg 1-3 pages per section of scripture) that both teach the passage and prompt introspection. Typical of Ryle, these commentaries are written in easily understood language (you don’t have to learn to decipher Owen in order to read Ryle!). As a plus, these newly formatted books have an attractive eye-friendly layout. This set is fantastic for personal devotion time as well as reading aloud in family devotions, homeschool, etc.
If you have the opportunity to purchase one volume or the set, I’m sure you’ll find it worthwhile. 🙂