The BEST Resource for Help with Family Devotions
Yesterday, I discussed several Accordance resources which have helped me explain the passages we read during family devotions. Today, I want to point you to what I think may be the single best resource for help with family devotions. If you could use only one Accordance module other than the Bible text itself, which one should it be?
For me, that honor goes to Fee and Stuart's Reading the Bible Book by Book. Designed to act as a kind of reader's guide to the entire Bible, this Accordance reference tool is easy to place in a parallel pane beside your Bible text. Doing so presents a number of advantages for family devotions.
First, Reading the Bible Book by Book breaks the text up into sensible literary units. In my previous posts I recommended following a reading plan to minimize the pressure of having to decide what to read each day. I also recommended reading about a chapter a day, or if that proves too much, a section or several paragraphs. Fee and Stuart's section divisions tend to be of manageable length and to make good literary sense, so you can follow those divisions like a reading plan. Just pick a book and work your way through it one or two sections at a time.
Second, Reading the Bible Book by Book offers a brief paragraph or two of commentary on each section. If you need help explaining a passage, you can rely on Fee and Stuart to point you in the right direction, or you can just read their explanations to your family and discuss it. The explanations are designed to help regular folks understand what they're reading, so it's rare that you'll run into a bit of commentary your children can't understand.
Third, Reading the Bible Book by Book offers concise but very helpful introductory material for each book of the Bible. First there is the bulleted list of "orienting data," which offers an at-a-glance reminder of the book's content, emphasis, historical coverage, author, date, recipients, etc. Then there is a brief "overview" of the book's content and structure. Finally, Fee and Stuart offer "specific advice for reading" the book, in which they point out things to be looking for as you read. As you begin a new book in your family devotions, you could take the first day to read through these sections of Reading the Bible Book by Book. That way, you'll all be looking for key ideas and important elements as you read that book of the Bible together.
In my first post in this series, I promised to recommend a resource which I think hits the sweet spot between "watered down" and "seminary student." Reading the Bible Book by Book is it, because it offers seminary-trained guidance in how to read the text for understanding, and it's written in a way just about anyone can understand. If you want one good crutch to help you get through family devotions, that's the resource I recommend.
You can purchase Reading the Bible Book by Book by itself, or bundled with the other volumes in the How To series: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth and How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth. By the way, Dr. J has been basing some of his recent podcasts on the material in these books, so you can get a taste for what they have to offer by watching episodes 70 and 71.