This past Sunday, the women in my discipleship group discussed two topics: personal devotions and the local church. We began the meeting with a bit of show-and-tell. Two of us outlined how we have our devotions and what materials we use--and then we passed around some of those books. Over the years, I've collected a number of commentaries, but I was quite proud to show off my new ESV Study Bible, which had just arrived a few days before. (Should I be rebuked for being proud to show off a Bible?!)
Though I make great use of these commentaries, the ESV Study Bible is a fantastic tool for daily personal devotions because its an extensive commentary of its own. I can't wait to read all that it contains. There are some tremendous items in there. For example, this article by Justin Taylor about the temple in Jesus' time--"Behold the Temple"--features some of the illustrations and recreations that can be found in this Bible.
Just for the record, the reference materials I highlighted in this meeting were:
-The New Bible Commentary, edited by D.A. Carson, R. T. France, J.A. Motyer, and Gordon J. Wenham. It's a concise commentary on every book of the Bible.
- Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever. This book provides a great overview of each book of the Old Testament.
- Promises Kept: The Message of the New Testament by Mark Dever. This is the companion book, providing an overview of each book of the New Testament.
- Commentaries from the Reformed Expositional Commentary series such as Daniel or Esther & Ruth (these two are written by Iain Duguid). Eminently readable and very helpful for supplementing the study of these individual books of the Bible.
- IVP Bible Background commentaries for both the New and Old Testaments, edited by various authors. These books provide an understanding of the people groups immediately addressed by Scripture and their surrounding neighbors.
That said, after we discussed some methods and tools for personal devotions, we then turned our attention to discussing the reason for and importance of the local church. (All of our homework for this session can be downloaded for free if you'd like to listen to these messages, too.) Our homework for this session was C.J. Mahaney's message about the origins of Covenant Life Church, Josh Harris' message about being committed to the local church, Mark Dever's message on the priority of the local church, and Ken Sande's message on church discipline. And guess what message is my favorite? Though I always love the personal stories, it's not C.J.'s semi-autobiographical message about my home church. My favorite was Ken Sande's message--precisely because I've seen the restorative and redemptive purpose of church discipline. This message helps listeners to understand why church membership is so important and why Scripture commands us to help each other graciously see our sin and repent. In keeping with our theme, our memory verse was Ephesians 3:8-10.
I hope you are enjoying tagging along with our d-group online!