Hearing God's Word During Your Workweek
The most public ministry of the Word typically occurs on Sunday mornings, during the worship service. As a minister of the gospel, it's my great privilege - along with other preachers approved by our elders - to preach God’s Word to the family of God at Willow Creek. It’s an awe-inspiring and humbling truth that, inasmuch as a sermon faithfully proclaims the Scriptures, God speaks to a congregation through it. My prayer is that God encourages and equips you through the sermon on Sunday morning, that you might glorify God by enjoying him in all things.
However, I also pray that you remain attentive to God’s voice everyday, throughout the week. The psalmist describes the blessings that attend those whose delight is in the Word of God:
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
- Psalm 1:1-3
If you’re anything like me, it’s not always easy to meet the demands of the day while responding to the deeper desires of God’s heart. We're often pressured most by what matters least. With that in mind, I wanted to pass along several resources that might encourage and equip you to hear God above the noise of everyday life. While far from exhaustive, I hope it’s helpful.
Which version of the Bible should I use?
I use the English Standard Version (ESV) almost exclusively. It’s a formal-equivalence (i.e. largely literal, word-for-word) transition of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts. There are other very good options, but this is the one I use and recommend to others.
Should I use a “study" Bible?
I’m a big proponent of so-called “study Bibles.” Filled with explanatory footnotes, these editions can provide reliable insight into the background of biblical books, the teaching of particular passages, and other helpful information (maps, glossaries, etc.). If you’d like to get a study Bible, I’d recommend any of the following three:
All three use the ESV translation.
What Bible should I use with my young children?
At Willow Creek, we give parents a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Llloyd-Jones, for the beginning discipleship of their children. Molly and I have used this with our children, and they often chose to read it on their own. It provides a “big picture” view of the Bible’s overarching story. In fact, it does it so well that I’ve even recommended that new converts with no church or biblical background take time to read it.
Speaking of the big picture, let me also recommend The Big Picture Story Bible. It’s another excellent choice.
Are there any good video resources for better understanding the general teaching of the Bible?
Yes! There are a lot of great studies out there. If you have a specific topic or interest, please let me or one of our other pastors know. We’ll make more specific recommendations.
That said, I’ve been really enjoying The Bible Project, a free series of short videos available on YouTube. While I might quibble with some things here and there, I’ve found it to be a very helpful and engaging series. I try to watch a video a day with Molly and the kids, usually right after dinner.
What is a good Bible website and app?
Biblegateway.com is my preferred Bible site on the web. They also have an app available for your device. My recommendation: open a passage, click the audio link' and listen to a great orator like Max McLean read the book or passage. I do this in the car line when I’m waiting for the kids after school. Like some other tools, BibleGateway.com includes free commentaries, Bible dictionaries, reading plans, and more.
What is a good software product for personal Bible study?
I used Logos Bible Software and love it. It comes in a variety of packages designed for a variety of users, from Christian laypersons all the way up to world class religious scholars.
Can you recommend any good daily devotionals for individuals and families?
Absolutely. Here are a few:
Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God, Marty Machowski
New Morning Mercies, by Paul Tripp
Comforts from the Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick
TableTalk, by Ligonier Ministries, is a monthly, subscription-based devotional. It’s excellent.
I’ve never read the Bible. Where should I start?
My recommendation would be to read the gospels - the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). These describe the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ. I would then read the book of Romans. You won’t understand all of it; like anything, it will take time. However, getting to know Jesus and then the salvation he provides (the subject of Romans) is a great start.
I have a Bible question. Where can I find good answers?
There are some very reliable ministries with a lot of great information about particular books and passages of the Bible. I’ll recommend two here:
Of course, our pastors and elders are here to help, too! Just shoot us an email.
Should I be in a Bible study?
We offer Bible study opportunities for all ages, all the time. Watch our bulletin and this site for up-to-date information.