Devotional Books: Wrapping Up November

By Jennifer Hallmark

I love to read devotional books. I always have at least one on my nightstand. There is no better way to start or end a day than with a section from the Bible and an encouraging thought about God, love, and life.

To wrap up this month of all things devotional, I’d remind you of our earlier posts you might have missed.

8 Steps to Writing a “Shout from the Housetops” Devotion by Bonita McCoy

Christian Devotions: The Birthing of a Ministry by Cindy Sproles

Devotion Writing: Journeying to Publication by Martin Wiles

Hopefully Devoted by Carlton Hughes

So You Want to Write a Devotional Book? by Shirley Crowder

Resources for Anyone Who’d Like to Write Devotional Books by Jennifer Hallmark

Apples of Gold by Harriet Michael

Writing the Rightly Divided by Kristy Horine

Encouraging Others Through Devotional  blogging by Tammy Trail

I know you’ll enjoy all these posts, whether you are a writer of devotions or strictly a reader. My favorite devotional books are:

Streams in the Desert

Jesus Every Day

God in the Dark: 31 Devotions  to Let the Light Back In

My Utmost for His Highest

Jesus Calling

Do you like devotional books? Do you get a new one each year in January? Who are your favorite devotional writers? Share a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a Kindle copy of Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress by Lysa Terkheurst.

Click to tweet: Devotional Writing: Wrapping Up November. What are your favorite devotional books? #devotional #amreading

Writing Prompt: Take one of the Psalms and write a devotional thought about it. If you’d like, share below also…

Writing the Rightly Divided

Writing Devotions: Bible Study

by Kristy Horine

“So, what do you want to do next?” my Bible study partner asked me.

“How about the book of Judges? Let’s study actual scripture.”

And just like that, I tied my Bible into the center of my bandana, fastened it to a stick and propped the stick on my shoulder. Like the Pilgrim who made his progress, I began a marvelous journey.

Well, maybe not marvelous. Sometimes, it was frightening, exhilarating, even illuminating. Mostly, though, it was humbling.

As I dug in to each chapter, I gained a more sober conviction of my human depravity, a deeper awe for the absolute sovereignty of God and His plan, and a greater appreciation for the redemptive power of Christ Jesus.

These truths are too good not to share. Too life-altering not to share with excellence.

But how?

When writing a Bible study, we turn to the Bible itself. Within its 66 books, we find answers for every question and instructions for every endeavor.

Here are some tips on getting started with writing a Bible study.

  1. Be in the word. Read 2 Timothy 2:15. We cannot write about that which we have not known, so get to knowing. Begin at the beginning. Begin at chapter one, verse one of a single book. And read several different translations. I love the poetics of the King James Version, but sometimes, it’s hard for me to understand. For a deeper journey into God’s word, explore NKJV, ESV, NIV (I prefer the NIV copyrighted prior to 2011). The Message is a great way to read the Bible in common terms, many people quote from it and God can use it. Keep in mind that books like The Message are considered paraphrases, not translations or transliterations.
  2. Use the right tools. Read Proverbs 11:14. Ever try to hammer a nail with a screwdriver? It can be done, but it’s a lot easier to use the proper tool. Bible study is the same way.
    • Use a trusted Study Bible. I prefer Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. My husband prefers the Crossway ESV Study Bible. Our Christmas gift this year is an investment in the ESV Reformation Study Bible by Reformation Trust. Do your research on study Bibles and be careful. Pray for discernment and protection. (We should be doing that no matter what we begin.)
    • Let scripture interpret scripture. Most Bibles include a narrow strip of verses that correspond to little letters in the text. These are cross references. They indicate where words, phrases or verse intentions are found in other places. They contain absolute jewels of information.
    • Go to the pros. I often use the BLB app. I dig into biblegateway.com. Both of these online resources are rich depositories of commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, translation comparisons and more cross references. Another online resource is www.gotquestions.org. Hardbound commentaries usually hide out in church libraries. Another book is called Where to Find it In the Bible. It’s like a concordance, but is more topical than a word search resource. (https://www.christianbook.com/where-find-it-in-the-bible/ken-anderson/9780785211570/pd/11578)
    • Context is key. Flathead screwdrivers will sub for a Phillips, but a Phillips is no match (or fit) for a screw that requires a flathead. Now, I can grab an ordinary kitchen knife, but chances are, I’ll end up with a wonky knife tip. The same principle applies to scripture. We can rig something to make it work, but if it’s not the right tool, it’s not the right tool. For good, God-honoring study writing, we must read and use the right scriptures. Look at historical context, the cultural context, and the textual context. Never forget that people have used scripture to justify sinful behavior. Don’t be those people.
  3. Give credit where credit is due. Read Exodus 20:15. Take good notes and cite your sources if an idea, phrase, or sentence is not your own. A simple citation is acceptable for informal written studies, but if you are writing for publication, try to find out the publisher’s guidelines before you begin. Plagiarism is stealing. Plain and simple. Stealing is bad. Do the good and necessary work up front. You will be thankful in the end.
  4. Choose your approach. Read 2 Timothy 3:16. Bible studies can deal with individual books, words, themes, or characters. Keep the study simple and focused. The Bible is complex, but not confusing if handled with prayer and care.
  5. Take off your shoes. Read Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19. Be very careful. When we write and share studies on the Bible, we must always remember that we walk on the holy ground of God’s word. Don’t trash the sacred. Bare feet are also good reminders of Romans 10:15. As writers who are Christ followers, we have beautiful feet. Write like our toes are showing. Even in winter.
  6. You will be overwhelmed at times. Read Psalm 119. Read it out loud. At 5 a.m., standing in front of the heater that is trying desperately to warm your little writing space. Make this passage your prayer and your praise. There is nothing you can write that God does not have control over. Trust Him.

[Click to Tweet] Tips on getting started with writing a Bible study from Kristy Horine via @InspiredPrompt and @Kwriteone. #amwriting #devotionals #HowTo

Writing prompt: Your job is to encourage a complete stranger who is writing a Bible study for the first time. Write him or her a letter explaining how they are not alone. Use the following scriptures in your study: John 14:16; John 16; I Corinthians 12; Galatians 5:22-23.

Apples of Gold

Apples of gold in pictures of silver.

golden apple

This is the way Proverbs 25:11 describes what it calls “a word fitly spoken.” It says these words are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. But what, exactly is a word fitly spoken?

There are many possible answers to that question. The New American Standard Bible says it’s a word spoken in the right circumstances. It is a word or words spoken to another person that helps them in some way. Maybe it encourages them, or eases their pain, lifts them up, or sympathizes with their pain. However the fitly words are intended, the end result is that they land on open ears and touch the listener in some significant way.

I am an eclectic writer—I write many things: fiction, nonfiction, full length books, short articles, and devotions. Yes, I am a devotional writer. I absolutely love writing devotions! I have had hundreds of them published in magazines, online, and in books. I teach workshops on devotional writing. Devotions helped to build my writing resume and payment from writing devotions supplements my writing income. But this is not the reason I write devotions. I write to touch the hearts of others with words that cause them to ponder on God’s word. My goal is that they will be “fitly words.”

It’s autumn again, a time of year when apples are in abundance. We enjoy apples in so many forms during this season—cooked in pies, coated in candy, squeezed into juice or made into cider, and so many other ways.

apple-fall

Because of this verse in Proverbs, the abundance of apples makes me think of devotional writing. Let’s be writers whose words are fitly. Let’s have our words be apples of gold in pictures of silver.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11 (KJV) [Click to Tweet]

Writing prompt: write a devotional about a time someone spoke words you needed to hear.

3 Questions Wednesday with Michelle Medlock Adams

Good morning! It is our pleasure to welcome  award-winning journalist and best-selling author Michelle Medlock Adams  to the Inspired Prompt.  Michelle has written over 80 books with close to 4 million books sold.

Wow.

Good morning, Michelle.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Michelle:  Energetic. Driven. Loyal.  (and if we added a fourth, a little crazy, lol! But, in a good way! I love to have fun and I’m a risk taker so that makes me a little crazy.)

Aren’t we all a little unique? 🙂

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Michelle:  I’d LOVE to go to Ireland because I learned through my Ancestry DNA that I am about half Irish. I’d love to see “my homeland” so to speak. Plus, I hear it’s simply gorgeous. 😊 And, I am pretty sure with that lush land and gorgeous scenery, I would be able to hole up in some castle and write amazing stories.

It would be a beautiful place to visit. Last question…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song? 

Michelle:   “You’re an Overcomer” by Mandisa.  I taught Zumba to that song, and I love it! It speaks of staying in the fight ‘til the final round. And about not going under because God is holding you right now! That’s pretty much the story of my personal and professional life as a writer.

I’m a cancer survivor. I have been caregiver to my parents who are both in heaven now. I’ve stood by my youngest daughter as she fought through anorexia. I could pretty much wallpaper my entire office with past rejection letters but I just kept pressing on because I knew I was called…more than 80 books and thousands of articles later, I can say to others, “Stay the course! Stand your ground! Keep trying. If God has called you, He will equip you!” God has been faithful, and my greatest tests are my greatest testimonies. Yep, let’s go with “You’re An Overcomer.”

Great choice. And you are certainly an encourager. Thanks so much, Michelle, for dropping by!

Click to tweet:   An interview with best-selling author Michelle Medlock Adams at the Inspired Prompt blog.  Michelle has earned top honors from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hoosier State Press Association. #amreading #devotional

Readers, Michelle will give away a print copy of Fabulous and Focused: 365 Daily Devotions for Working Women. Please leave a comment to be entered.

Fabulous and Focused: 365 Daily Devotions for Working Women

Even though every woman is different and every work situation is unique, some challenges and opportunities are universal. God’s grace and goodness equip you to handle whatever comes your way in the workplace.

Addressing the issues that business women encounter every day, including communications, relationships, opportunities, integrity, professionalism, and achievement, this devotional is a helpful companion and an inspiring start to every day. Written with humor and insight, the authors share hard learned lessons and provide guidance for the many challenges and opportunities that women face in their career.


 Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, earning top honors from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hoosier State Press Association.

Author of over 80 books with close to 4 million books sold, Michelle’s latest children’s book, My First Da of School (Worthy Kids) won the Selah Award for Best Children’s Book in 2018, her fourth Selah for Best Children’s Book since 2012. In fact, in 2014 Michelle’s board book God Knows You not only won the Selah for Best Children’s Book but also won the esteemed Book of the Year honor over all other Selah winners.

In addition, her children’s book, I Will Not Be Afraid (Concordia Publishing House) earned “The Gold” Enduring Light medal for best children’s book in the 2018 Illumination Awards.

Since graduating with a journalism degree from Indiana University, Michelle has written more than 1,500 articles for newspapers, magazines and websites; acted as a stringer for the Associated Press; written for a worldwide ministry; helped pen a New York Times Bestseller; hosted “Joy In Our Town” for the Trinity Broadcasting Network; and served as a blogger for Guideposts. Today, she is President of Platinum Literary Services—a premier full-service literary firm—and she serves as Chairman of the Serious Writer Board of Directors.

When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities, politicians, and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers. Michelle is also a much sought-after teacher at writers’ conferences and universities around the nation. In fact, she has served as an adjunct professor three different years at Taylor University, teaching “Writing for Children.”

Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff, and they have two daughters, Abby and Allyson, two sons-in-law, one grandson and another grandbaby on the way. She and Jeff share their home in Southern Indiana with a miniature dachshund, a rescue Shepherd/Collie mix, and two cats. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys bass fishing and cheering on the Indiana University Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies, and the LA Kings.