Thursday, March 13, 2014

Personal Devotions

I am in the process of putting together a page for my church's website that will give a short list of resources for daily devotions. It is not up yet because I still need to get a few technical things worked out, but I figured I would go ahead and share it here. I hope you find it useful.

At Grace Covenant, we want to find as many ways as we can to help you immerse yourself in the means of grace (the Bible, the sacraments, and prayer), and one of those ways is your personal time in the Word or, as some call it, your "quiet time." Now, while quiet times are supposed to be a pillar of healthy, freeing spiritual growth, they can become a source of great guilt and anxiety. If you are struggling with that, we recommend "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt" as a place to start. Then, spending time in the Word and solid devotional resources are a great way to continue. There are, however, many resources online and in bookstores that offer such guidance, and it can be difficult to know which are truly Christ-centered, gospel-driven, useful resources and which are better left on the shelf. On this page you will find a small collection of solid, biblical, free resources for personal time with the Lord.
Bible Reading Plans: There are many Bible reading plans you could adopt for your quiet times, but whichever you do choose to use, remember the old adage that less is more. Most plans have you reading through the Bible in a year, which is a laudable goal, but it can lead to reading for quantity instead of quality, which is less helpful. If you find that being the case with you, try dividing each day's reading in half and taking two years to complete the plan. Here are a few possibilities:
  • Straight Through: This plan is designed to take you from the beginning to the end in a year. It has the advantage of a simple structure, a fairly even reading load, and following the Bible's natural progression.
  • Chronological: This plan takes you through the Bible in the order the events occurred chronologically. It has the advantage of reading passages in their historical context and putting parallel passages together so you can see events from different perspectives or with different emphases.
  • M’Cheyne Bible Reading: This plan is designed to take you through the NT and Psalms twice a year and the OT once. It has the advantage of balancing your daily readings with OT and NT passages with an even distribution of both.
  • 52-Week: This plan has you read through the Bible in a year, with each day of the week dedicated to a different genre: Epistles, the Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels. It has the advantage of dividing the Bible up by its major genres and giving you a balanced, weekly diet of each.
Here are a few daily devotionals that are Christ-centered, gospel-driven, and available for free online:
  • GCPC's Private & Family Worship Guide: This devotional is put together by Pastor Hutchinson and emailed out to the church email list monthly (you can also download the latest here). It takes a holistic approach to private and family devotions by combining daily Scripture reading with monthly Scripture memory, catechism questions, and psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. It is an excellent resource that will line up your devotions with many of the other individuals and families of Grace Covenant, and, as an added bonus, the Saturday Scripture reading previews the sermon text for the following Sunday.
  • Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening: This classic daily devotional was published by Charles Spurgeon in the mid-nineteenth century and has been a blessing to countless Christians ever since. For each day, Spurgeon has written a morning and evening devotion (hence the title), and in just a few paragraphs, each devotion expounds a single Bible verse with practical application to the life of the reader. This resource creates a great bookend for your day, and it is available for free from many sources: CCEL has it in several formats and there is an Android app and an iPhone app.
  • D. A. Carson's For the Love of God: This two-volume daily devotional is an exceptional contemporary resource. In Carson, God has developed the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor, both of which are evident in these daily devotionals. Each volume covers a whole year following the M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. On each day, Carson takes one of the passages from the reading plan and comments on it in a short devotion that combines brilliant exegesis with pastoral application to the life of the reader. It is available for free on The Gospel Coalition's website with the option to read online, through RSS, or via a daily email. It is also available for free as an iPhone App.
  • Jerry Bridges' Holiness Day by Day: In a similar pattern to Spurgeon's devotions, this devotional starts each day with a verse of Scripture and then a short explanatory devotion, which is usually an excerpt taken from Bridge's wide breadth of writing. It is theologically solid, accessible to the reader, and gospel-centered, and you can access it for free by reading it online or subscribing to its daily email.
  • The Valley of Vision: Though this resource does not follow a Bible reading plan or start you out with Scripture, it is one of the best devotional and prayer tools available and a great addition to any reading plan. The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and meditations that are rooted in confessionalism, steeped in Scripture, centered on Christ, and overflowing with godly affections, exquisitely balancing the mind and heart. Unfortunately, it is not available for free in full anywhere online but Banner of Truth has most of them on their website and even has a daily Valley of Vision designed for devotional use.
By His Grace,

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