As Americans, we are blessed to live in a world where Bible study resources abound, but not every resource from the shelf at the local Christian bookstore is going to be the best resource for your family. When it comes to devotionals and resources for family Bible study, here are three important questions you can ask:
1. Does this resource come from the Bible or simply use Bible verses? Sometimes devotionals and Bible studies are written only having enough verses in them to make them Christian. These resources are filled with quotes, stories, and applications, but they fail to connect readers back to the Word. A Bible study or devotional should be designed to engage the text of the Bible and force readers to interact with the Bible.
2. Does this resource showcase the gospel? The gospel is the story of Jesus’ rescue of His people by His perfect life lived in their place, His death on the cross to cover their sins, and His resurrection from the dead proving He is God. In the gospel, Jesus is the Hero. As followers of Jesus, we seek to surrender to Him and allow His Holy Spirit to birth change in our hearts and lives. A resource showcasing the gospel puts the focus on Jesus and our utter reliance on Him to bring life change. Christianity is not about performing and doing better to earn God’s approval but surrendering to experience the wonder of grace at work in us.
3. Does this resource engage with real life? Faith should lead to action. Effective devotions and Bible studies seek to challenge how we live in the real world with practical examples and action steps. Studying the Bible is not merely to know more theology in your head but to practice theology with your life. So, what are some recommended resources for families?
Kids: Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones; Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones; The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
Students/Adults: Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff; New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp; James; Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith
When I served in student ministry, I realized the great need for devotionals and Bible study resources meeting these criteria. God led me to develop two devotional books James: Everyday Faith and Words from the Cross, which are both available on Amazon.
-Dr. Ben Birdsong
Missions Minister at Christ Church Birmingham
Writer and Speaker