Around mid-October or so of just about every year, friends begin asking what devotional materials I plan to use for the next year. This year was no exception. I had planned to incorporate several suggestions from friends into this blog, but I received so many ideas they merited their own blog, hopefully before 2020 is ended.
For at least 30 years, I’ve read some version of the Bible every year. A friend from childhood, Patty Bolton, told me about The Books of the Bible. The is the Bible, but in chronological order. The chapter and verse numbers are omitted, so you can’t easily find a specific passage. I enjoyed reading this particular version so much in 2013 I read it again on my Kindle in 2020. It almost reads like a novel. I finished it before Thanksgiving, and began reading The Message, a translation by Eugene Peterson.
This is just as a good a time as any to repeat words Karen Brown, PhD., RN, told me when she chaired the Johnson City School Board. “If I know I’m going to have an unusually hectic day that’s already overcrowded, I’m always so tempted to skip my devotions in the morning. But I learned that instead of skipping, I really need to do more. So I may read twice as much in my Bible or whatever inspirational book I’m reading as I normally would on a day that’s not so busy. Or I may read three times as much. And every single time I’ve done that, meetings haven’t lasted nearly as long as I anticipated. Or something that I thought would take 3 hours barely took an hour. I always have time to spare when I spend extra time with God in the mornings. Every single time.”
I took Karen’s words to heart and have practiced them often. I can’t say how many times, on a crowded-calendar day, I’ve thought of her words. And they work. Every single time! Thank you, Karen, for your wise words!
I begin my devotional reading with several pages from the Bible. Then I go to Daily Light. Originally published in 1794 by Samuel Bagster, Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham’s daughter) revised his work slightly. Although there are readings for both morning and evening, I read both in the morning. (In the picture, this is the book with the rubber band around it; the poor book is literally falling apart. It has a right to. I’ve used the book nearly every day since 1999.)
I then read the designated day’s selection from Handbook to Prayer by Kenneth Boa. I’ve used this nearly every day for probably a dozen years. Handbook to Prayer is designed to be read four times during the year. Most of the selections in this book are four pages, but occasionally they run longer.
Seeking God’s Face is the newcomer to a devotional books I read daily. It’s published by the Baker Publishing Group. 2021 will be the third year I’ve used this. Most readings are two pages. It follows the church year, so it begins with Advent. There’s a guide on the first page of each day so you keep your place.
Following those readings, I read from a selected book. It might be one my Sunday School class is reading, one I’ve stumbled upon or even something else.
The following particularly stood out in 2020.
Blue Ridge Moments: Your Life is Only as Good As Your Connection with Jesus along with Blue Ridge Moments: Celebrating Footsteps of a God Dependent Life, are by Dr. Billie J. Minton. They are both fast reads, filled with a variety of topics.
Soon after she moved to Texas, Joy Fields Miller introduced me to the “Daily Devotional: The Word for You Today” booklet (white with a snowflake in the picture). These come out four times a year. Although short, they are nearly always meaty. I love these booklets SO much I must confess…..I don’t read them as intended. Instead, I use one for my reading for a week or so. I’m always sorry when a particular booklet ends. Thank you, Joy!
Joy also introduced me to Mark Batterson a dozen or more years ago when she sent me In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. I’ve not read all of the Batterson books, but I’ve read most of them. This summer, I was scrolling thru Facebook and saw a post from Kelly Thorne Gore. I met Kelly several years ago when we attended Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership. Kelly mentioned she was going to do a series of podcasts based on Batterson’s Draw the Circle. I was instantly in! What a powerful series of podcasts that matched the book!
So that’s a glance into the face of my 2020 devotional life, which is different than my prayer life. I’m looking forward to what God will direct my way in 2021!
Copyright December 10, 2020 by Rebecca A. Henderson