As we near the end of the year we will hear increased talk of New Year’s resolutions. These are self improvement goals that people set and likely abandon by the end of January. Most people set the goal of losing weight, reading more, being nicer, etc. Some people even desire to grow spiritually and incorporate that as part of their resolutions. Growing spiritually is a noble task, but it is not something that we have complete control over (See Philippians 1:6) Yet while we cannot cause ourselves to grow spiritually, there is a part that we play in our own spiritual grown (see Philippians 2:12-13). This includes Bible reading and times devoted to prayer. In addition to a good Bible reading plan, it can be helpful to incorporate a devotional book into these times of spiritual reflection. Some devotional books point the reader to larger sections of the Bible for further study, and can therefore serve as a guide for personal Bible reading. Over the years, Crossway has published several excellent devotional books. I would like to highlight three of them that you may consider incorporating into your personal quiet time in 2023.
New Morning Mercies
The first devotional book I would recommend is New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp. This book is a few years old, but has become a classic. The book is comprised of 365 devotions based on tweets from Tripp over the years. He expands each of the gospel-focused tweets into a devotion for each day of the year. Each devotion includes scripture readings for further study that are intended to encourage the reader toward deeper Bible reading. One neat feature of the book is that about one devotion per month is poem written by the author. The book comes complete with a full Scripture index at the back and several pages allowing space for taking notes. Originally published in 2014, Crossway released a gift edition of New Morning Mercies that is cloth over board hardback with a ribbon marker and comes inside protective cardboard sleeve. This edition of the book would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone in your family or for a friend at your church.
In The Lord I Take Refuge
The second devotional book I would recommend is In The Lord I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions through the Psalms by Dane Ortlund. This book is comprised of the full text of the Psalms from the English Standard Version. Each psalm is accompanied by a personal reflection from Dane Ortlund. The reflections do not overshadow the biblical text, but serve as a guide through the psalter. Dane’s pastoral voice comes through in each of the reflections. There is no shortage of devotional books based on the Psalms, however, In The Lord I Take Refuge is worth adding to your bookshelf. Originally published in 2021 in hardback, Crossway released a new gift edition of the book this year in TruTone (imitation leather) with a ribbon marker. This edition would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone on your list this Advent season.
Be Thou My Vision
The third devotional book you may want to consider for 2023 is Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship by Jonathan Gibson. This book is very different from the two other devotions mentioned above, in that it is more liturgical in nature. The purpose of the book is to incorporate the liturgical style a church service into a personal daily rhythm. The book lends itself to incorporation into family worship as well. Gibson divides the book into two parts. Part one serves as brief introduction to the scriptural practices of daily worship. Part two is the largest section of the book: the daily practice of worship. There are 31 daily liturgical readings in the book, which are intended to be repeated each month. Each day follows the same form: Call to Worship, Adoration, Reading of the Law, Confession of Sin, Assurance of Pardon, a historical Christian creed, Praise, reading from a catechism (either the Heidelberg or Westminster), Prayer for Illumination, Daily Scripture Reading, Prayer of Intercession, and concludes with the Lord’s Prayer. The book’s appendices are a treasure trove of resources. They include the Heidelberg and Westminster Shorter catechisms, the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, and collects from the Book of Common Prayer, among other items. Originally published in 2021 in hardback, Crossway released a new gift edition of the book this year in TruTone (imitation leather) with three ribbon markers. This edition of Be Thou My Vision would also make an excellent Christmas gift for someone on your list.
Each of these three devotional books display the importance of personal worship in the Christian life. Most Christians prioritize corporate worship, at minimum by attending a couple Sunday gatherings each month. Yet for many Christians personal and family worship is not a priority. Busy lives make it difficult to find a quiet moment for Bible reading and prayer. The Christian publishing industry is acutely aware of this trend and has flooded the market with easy to digest devotionals that are Bible-lite and are mainly inspirational in nature. Being short on time does not mean that a follower of Christ should not prioritize personal worship. Utilizing a good devotional book that is Bible saturated can be a helpful guide for personal worship on a daily and weekly basis. These three devotional books would be an excellent resource to aid your personal and family worship in the coming new year.
Editor’s Note: The book(s) discussed above were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Zach Kendrick is the editor of Reading For The Glory
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