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Get Closer to God This Year
What God Says
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." -- Jeremiah 33:3
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Get Closer to God This Year

By Belinda Elliott Daily Life Producer It’s that time again -- a new year, a fresh start. This is always the time of year when I find myself looking through old journals and evaluating my relationship with God.

Too many times in years past, I’ve been disappointed when I looked back and saw that my habit of spending time with God and studying His Word had not been as consistent as I would have liked.

So with a determined heart, I begin each January with a new plan and promise myself that this is the year I will arise faithfully every morning for quiet time with God and read through the entire Bible in a year.

I have yet to accomplish either one of those goals.

I always start out strong. Last year, I even added the goal of memorizing one new Bible verse each week. That only lasted until February, and my read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan hit a brick wall once I reached Leviticus.

But last year I also had a revelation. God doesn’t measure our relationship with Him by how many verses we can quote from the Bible, or whether or not we read His Word from beginning to end each year. Yes, we should study Scripture and commit God’s Word to memory so the Holy Spirit can call it to mind when we need it, but our relationship with God is mostly about spending time with Him.

When it comes to studying His Word, I find that having something to guide me through God’s Word helps keep me focused. For me, devotional books are often the best way to keep myself on track. With a reading for each day, I always have a determined starting point. Many times when I’ve used a devotional book, I’ve found that the verse and thought or reading for that day spoke directly to things I was going through.

There are numerous different types and styles of devotionals. There are devotionals for couples, moms, dads, families, youth, and even sports enthusiasts. Here are some of the top picks from our staff. Perhaps you, too, would enjoy one of these.

Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. (I have the updated edition). With Scriptures taken from the NIV translation, this collection of Christian writings has inspired Christians since its first publication in 1925. Compiled by Mrs. Cowman after the death of her husband, these daily readings offer hope and encouragement to people of all ages.

Intimate Moments with the Savior: Learning to Love by Ken Gire. Craig says, “This is one of my favorite devotional books. It is a wonderfully written collection of encounters between Jesus and various people in the Gospel accounts -- and how they came to see Christ as the Lord of love and grace.”

He also enjoys Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin.

Lori’s favorite is the popular, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, which she first began reading as a college student. She also enjoys, Voice of the Martyrs: Extreme Devotion. " Many of the people who died for their faith in this book are unknown, but their stories are amazing!" Lori said.

Greg receives his devotionals digitally. Here are his top picks:

My Utmost for His Highest (online edition); Marketplace Meditations by Os Hillman, which features TGIF devotionals (Today God Is First); and Ransomed Heart by John Eldredge. Create an online profile at this site to receive daily readings from John Eldredge’s popular book, Ransomed Heart.

For other online devotionals and daily Bible reading plans, check out these sites:

Back to the Bible offers free online devotionals, devotionals by email, and Bible reading plans.

The Verse of the Day Web site offers daily verses as well as daily Bible reading plans.

Other devotional books that we like include:

For Couples
Night Light: A Devotional for Couples, by Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, brings spouses together each evening, helping them stay connected with each other and their Lord.

For Moms
The Busy Mom's Guide To Prayer by Lisa Whelchel. With this unique tried-and-proven prayer system, even the busiest moms can have a rich prayer life that impacts the people she loves the most.

Grace for the Race Meditations For Busy Moms by Dena Dyer. With real-life stories and gentle humor, Dyer helps readers understand that God isn't looking for perfection. Instead, He invites mothers to surrender their schedules, emotions, and relationships-and rest securely in Him.

The Power of a Postive Mom Devotional: 52 Monday Morning Motivations by Karol Ladd. Author Karol Ladd offers a unique journey through the Bible as she provides motivational messages all the way from Genesis to Revelation. Each devotional includes a passage of scripture, a sample prayer, a series of suggested choices to make a mom’s week better, space for prayer requests, a powerful quote by a godly hero, and more.

For Dads
Life on the Go Devotional for Dads: Inspiration from God for Busy Lifestyles by J. M. Farro. These devotionals pack a quick punch of power in readers' busy lives.

Love Never Fails: Spiritual Reflections for Dads of All Ages by Patrick T. Reardon. This book offers a collection of reflections based on the daily occurrences of fatherhood. Each reading is accompanied by an inspirational quote from Scripture, music or literature, and a link to a Web site with practical advice on the issues discussed in the reflection.

For Teens
If God Loves Me Why Can’t I Get my Locker Open? by Lorraine Peterson. This book, filled with enough devotionals for an entire year, equips teens to hold fast to values like maintaining sexual purity, having a good work ethic, and being a great friend.

God's Devotional Book for Teens by John C. Maxwell. Each devotional is designed to reveal God's insights and encourage the reader to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. There are fun features throughout the book, such as New Insights into Ageless Questions, Top Ten Tips, Who's Who, Lighten Up, FYI Books Lists, Fun Trivia, and Wise Words, to enhance the compelling devotional stories and reflections.

Devotions by Dead People: Secrets of Life from Beyond the Grave by Lynn Lusby Pratt. This book of 50 devotions pulls back the shroud, revealing life lessons from long-gone Bible characters. The choices they made and the results, good and bad, provide teens with a blueprint for making their own wise choices.

For Men

The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart D. Briscoe. Recognizing that men face unique spiritual needs, these 365 convenient, concise, and uplifting devotionals help readers focus each day on God's priorities. Each day's selection includes a key NLT Scripture verse, a devotional reading, and a suggested Bible passage for further study.

Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture, by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth, focuses on the lives of fifty-two men in Scripture to help the reader approach the story of salvation with fresh eyes. The book offers a unique devotional program, combining five elements (one for each day of the week): the man’s story, a closer look at the man and how his life applies to that of the reader, Bible study, promises, and prayer.

For Women
Daily Steps for God Chicks – The 90-Day Devotional for Real Women by Holly Wagner. This fresh and engaging devotional focuses on the eight characteristics taken from Proverbs 31. With her trademark wit and honesty, Wagner will encourage women to experience the benefits of spending daily time with God.

Daily Wisdom for Working Women: Encouragement for Every Day by Michelle Medlock Adams and Gena Maselli. Packed with encouragement and humor, this devotional is targeted specifically to Christian working women ages twenty-five to forty-five. The authors draw upon years of experience in the workplace to tackle issues like competition, personal identity, emotions, contentment, and office politics.

Contagious Joy: Joyful Devotions to Lift Your Spirits by Women of Faith. Lighthearted and inspirational, this collection of new devotions captures thewarmth and wisdom women have come to expect from Women of Faith.

For Sports Fans
Steal Away by Hugh Poland. The author blends America's greatest pastime with America's greatest strength, its spirituality, by providing testimonies from baseball players.

Fire in the Core: A SouthTown Riders Devotional edited by Sally Tolentino. This book is a blend of lessons, sports tips, and personal testimonies of young people turned from hopelessness to Jesus Christ.

For Movie Fans

Reflections for Movie Lovers, by Matt Kinne, contains 365 devotionals that compare and contrast movie plots and themes with biblical stories and truths.

For Music Fans

The Book of Worship: 365 Days of Devotional Worship by John Randall Dennis. This fresh new devotional based on some of the most-beloved hymns and worship songs includes Scripture, prayers, readings, and songs for 365 days of individual devotions.

Regardless of what devotional book you use, or if you choose a more in-depth daily Bible study instead, make a commitment to spend more time with God this year. He desires to have an intimate relationship with you. Take some time each day to give Him your undivided attention. He can provide peace and wisdom for anything that is ahead for you in this new year.


Discussion Forum:
What is your favorite devotional book or Bible study?

Comments? Email me

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