E-pistle December 31

Good Habits in a New Year: Daily Devotionals
Earlier this month I asked you let me know if there is a particular daily devotional resource that you have found helpful in your walk with Christ.  Thanks to the many of you who responded. In fact, the response was so large that I will not be able to share all the input I received. 
For some of us a daily devotional guide is as much a part of our morning or evening routine as brushing our teeth or feeding the dog. For others of us daily devotions are in the same category as the “ten pounds I’ll lose this year” or the “less time watching TV” resolutions that just don’t get kept. For others of us the thought of waking up to a word from the Word is a brand new idea. 
Whatever your past with the discipline of a daily devotion, I encourage you to make it a part of your new year. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep it simple. The best daily devotions start with Scripture and add a few words of commentary and insight for our reflection.
  • Keep it regular. Find a time that will work each day. For many of us mornings work best. With or before breakfast. Maybe with a cup of coffee. Ten minutes is not too short a time. 
  • Keep it prayerful. Some devotional guides suggest a prayer to be prayed following your reading. You may want to add some prayers of your own. Again, keep them simple. 
  • Keep it uninterrupted. Find a time and a place where you are not likely to be intruded upon by other people or responsibilities. 
  • Keep at it. They say it takes six weeks to form a habit. If you are married or living with others, ask your spouse or another member of the household to hold you accountable. 

I’d also encourage you to keep it faithful. You’ll find that there are lots of devotional guides available to you. Please be sure that your resource is Biblical and that the author or editor is known for his or her faithfulness to authority of Scripture and the tradition of the great orthodox creeds and confessions. 
So, with that in mind, a few recommendations (I’m suggesting both online and printed materials; my personal preference is for something printed, something I can see and hold – and use even when I’m not online):  

  • Our Daily Bread. We provide copies in the information racks in the Narthex. Or you can find it online here. 
  • The Upper Room. Similar in format and approach to Our Daily Bread. Click here to find it online or you can order a subscription to the six times a year booklet form.
  • My Utmost for His Highest. Among LPC folk, the most often recommended devotional guide (for very good reason) is Oswald Chambers’ classic.  You can find it online here or order a copy here.
  • Morning and Evening. Another classic devotional guide. This by the Nineteenth Century’s “prince of preachers” Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Once more it is available online or in hard copy.  

I personally recommend these two from the two towering minds of the Reformation, John Calvin and Martin Luther, and one more for those of you who enjoyed our Advent readings with C.S. Lewis. All hard copy: 

  • Heart Aflame, Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms. Each day’s reading is based on a selection from one of the Psalms and then and excerpt from Calvin’s commentary. I used this guide in 2002, and will make  it one of my 2010 resources. It is available here.
  • Day By Day We Magnify You, Readings From Martin Luther.  The book is divided in to weekly themes based on the liturgical year. The daily readings begin with Scripture and are followed by a comment from Luther’s sermons or commentaries. I used this resource in the mid-nineties and may be due for a revisit. You can find it here.
  • A Year with C.S. Lewis. Lewis was a master of the English language and a deeply faithful Christian. I would use this work in addition to a more biblically based piece. Order it here

Finally some of you may be interested in just plain reading through the Bible. There are lots of plans available and “one year” Bibles you can buy. Here is a good online guide. Note that you may select which translation you want to use. Scroll down, click on the day, and your reading will appear. By the end of the year you will have read the entire Bible. 
May 2010 be a year of the good habit of spending daily time with God’s Word.