Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Am I Reading: Devotional Edition

This week, I wanted to focus on a few devotional books that I will be reading and working through this year.

I like devotionals because even when you are rushed for time or about to fall down exhausted, they are short enough to allow you that little extra time with God.  I don't use devotionals as a substitute for my actual Bible study and prayer time but just as an easy way to begin the day on the right foot and to end the day with the Lord on my mind and heart.

Too Blessed to Be Stressed, Debora M Coty, Devotional, Christian, Book, Bible
The devotional I've been starting my day with  is Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3 Minute Devotionals for Women. I was lucky to be provided with an advanced copy of this book prior to the year and have been using it since January 1st.

Not to be confused with the book Too Blessed to be Stressed by the same author, this three minute devotional is a collection of 180 uplifting readings from author Debora M Coty that provide enouragement, humor, inspiration and comfort to start your day.  These devotions start with focusing 1 minute on the provided scripture, 1 minute on the devotional reading for the day and then 1 minute in prayer with the Lord.

I really like that this particular devotional is very lighthearted.  The author is very uplifting and the writing is cheerful but very poignant at the same time.  For example: " Living life, after all, is a series of conscious decisions, an act of the will. So it's up to us to choose to slow down enough to enjoy snapshots of the beauty - like improptu violin concerts, spiderwebs, sunbeams, and puppies - that bring rest and peace to our weary souls".     This particular writing made me realize that one of my son's autistic quirks allows him to do exactly that - he appreciates the beauty in things I totally ignore, like spiderwebs and rainbows cast on the floor from light refracted by our aquarium in the afternoon.  He takes such joy in these little things and I realized reading that God probably smiles down on him for appreciating his creations.    

Daily Wisdom For Women, Devotional Collection, devotional, Bible, Christian, BarbourThe second devotional I have been enjoying this year is  Daily Wisdom for Women 2016 Devotional Collection.  This is a collection of 365 devotionals for each day of the year that are encouraging and inspirational.

This particular devotional, which is compiled from various writings by the Barbour Staff, is a bit more serious in tone then the previous devotional but just as uplifting.    It begins each of the daily readings with a scripture selection, followed by a really nice writing and then closes with a short prayer.  The writings include personal stories, scripture interpretation and reflection, and encouragement for both spiritual and personal growth.   Whether it's challenging you to ignore the images on the cover of magazines and appreciate the beauty God has given you or encouraging you not to give up when you fail, each of these writings offers something any woman can relate too.

I look forward to utilizing this book throughout the entire 2016 and I'm sure the 2017 edition will be beside my bed as well.

God So Loved You, Max Lucado, Devotional, Christian, Bible, 40 Days
My night time devotionals are much different from my day time devotionals. Since I tend to read these devotionals after completing my Bible study, I tend to prefer a much more Scripture/Bible centered devotional at night.  One particular devotional that I am working with for night time reflections would be God So Loved You: A 40 Day Devotional by Max Lucado.

You should already know that I am a huge fan of Max Lucado's teaching and many might thing I am a bit too predictable when it comes to always grabbing a new Lucado book.  This is true and I am working on expanding my horizons, so to speak, with others such as Mark Batterson, Francis Chan, John Maxwell, Pete Briscoe and Andy Stanley. However, I haven't found anyone who explains actual scripture in such a way that I understand it clearly as Max Lucado does and that's why I continue to be drawn to him.

This particular gem is a collection of 40 short devotionals that help you to reflect on the different aspects of God's love for us.  Max has such a knack for putting his teachings into such personal examples that really relate to the reader and puts things in perspective and this book is no exception.  I ended up choosing this particular book, however, as a nighttime devotional because I'm reading it out loud to my husband who is on the precipice of becoming a follower of Christ himself and Max is a great teacher to help my husband make an informed decision.

Not A Fan, Kyle Idleman, Christian, Follower of Jesus, Bible, Devotional
While not a devotional, another great book on my Kindle that I have been reading at night is Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman.

 This particular gem was brought to my attention by what I can only feel was a bit of divine intervention, to be honest.  I found this absolutely marvelous six part production entitled The Christmas Experience on RightNow Media.  (Have I mentioned how much I absolutely LOVE RightNow Media??)  We watched this together and all enjoyed Kyle Idleman's laid back approach to spiritual teaching. When I find a teaching style I enjoy, I end up researching other works that person has done - in this case I found another 6 part presentation with Idleman on RightNow entitled Not A Fan.  The synopsis caught my attention and so I watched it over the course of a few days.  I found it VERY informative, especially coming from someone who (as mentioned in a previous post) basically was told you say a quick prayer and you're saved and that's it.  When I found out that the 6 part series was actually an accompaniment to the book by the same name, I purchased it for my Kindle and have been enjoying it very much.  I tend to read a chapter before I hit the sack.

Now, here's why I believe there is some divine intervention involved here. As I read through it, I knew that my husband would be able to relate to Idleman's style of teaching as well but not this particular book.  I mean, he needs to be convinced to be a follower of Jesus in the first place. So another title of Idleman's caught my eye based on the description.  I went looking for information and found where Family Christian was having a contest ending within the hour for a copy of that particular book. I entered and GUESS WHAT?  I won.. So now, I have a copy of AHA 40 Day Challenge Devotional on my nightstand that I'm about to start with Charlie as soon as we're done with the Max Lucado.  GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Alright, one more book...

Prayer Points, Praying God's Promise, Christian, Book, Devotional
The final book I've recently added to my nightstand (Okay, I don't have a nightstand. I have a bookshelf beside my bed that has ALL my spiritual books so I have no excuse when I'm in bed).  This was another book that I received a copy of from the publisher but will be forever grateful to add to my bookshelf.

Prayer Points: Praying God's Promises at Your Point of Need

What a beautiful book, from the soft immitation leather cover with trees and Psalm 145:18 ("The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.") embossed into it down to the silken book mark, this is such a lovely book. It is very small and could easily be tucked into your purse. But the real draw of this book is the topics of prayer enclosed in the pages.

Say for example, life is starting to bear down on you and you are feeling overwhelmed but you are at a loss for words as to what exactly to pray for.   An index in the back will point you to a page in the book with a prayer written especially for how you are feeling. Whether you're dealing with emotional abuse, addiction, depression, church problems, conflicts in your marriage or your kids are driving you nuts, there's a suggested prayer as well as scripture suggestions to provide encouragement.

This is a book perfect for a newish believer like myself who finds prayer both difficult and somewhat awkward.  While I'm working on my communication with God, I feel grateful to have this tool when I know I need some guidance and suggestions when praying for the really important issues in my life.

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