John MacArthur has become one of my favorite contemporary authors. His commentaries, books, and devotionals cover a variety of topics and are well researched and always down to earth. My favorites include Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ (2010) and Truth Matters (2004), which is an anniversary anthology marking MacArthur’s thirty-fifth year in ministry. Allow me to introduce to you to a few of his devotionals.
Drawing Near John F. MacArthur Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois ISBN 0-89107-758-8 Hardcover, 396 pages
Strength for Today John F. MacArthur Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois ISBN 0-89107-969-6 Hardcover, 400 pages
Both of these daily devotionals are similar in format but cover different themes from Scripture. The first, Drawing Near, is geared toward enriching new Christians in their understanding of the wonderful heritage believers gain through Jesus Christ. It focuses on one chapter from God’s Word each month and the rich blessings that God gives to believers in it. Beginning with Ephesians 1, where MacArthur writes about the assurance that is ours as citizens of heaven, he continues with the joy of believers in Philippians and prayer in Daniel and Matthew.
In April, MacArthur takes a pastoral look at the Beatitudes, then moves on in May to the twelve disciples, spending three days on Judas Iscariot. June finds the reader examining the fruit of his faith as MacArthur leads his readers through James 1 and 2; July focuses upon 1 Peter 1 and 2 and the Christian’s union with Christ. First Corinthians 13 is the theme for August, while September brings us back to Ephesians—this time the sixth chapter and the believer’s battle against Satan. The author uses various passages in October to focus our attention on the importance of God’s Word, while November looks at the heroes of faith found in Hebrews 11. MacArthur ends the year with Hebrews 1 and 2 to explain how Jesus is the One promised by God in the Old Testament.
The second, Strength for Today, offers daily readings that are meant to deepen one’s faith, as it takes on themes such as the assurance of salvation, humility, and suffering for Christ. The first month uses Ephesians and Hebrews to encourage the reader to comprehend God’s expectation for the believer—humility, hospitality, contentment, gentleness, and patience. The second section leads to a fuller understanding of God’s majesty and grace; the third our response to God’s authority in our lives. In April, MacArthur takes us to the garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26, considers the sayings of Jesus from the cross, and ends with the significance of the resurrection. Those who believe in “the foolishness of the cross” are apt to face persecution. MacArthur uses several passages to instruct Christians to rejoice in such persecution (May) and pursue integrity (June) and Christian love (July). August focuses upon our devotion to the Lord while September explains the work of the Holy Spirit. In October the reader takes a serious look at sin, both before and after conversion. November teaches the reader how to grow in wisdom while December deals with the humiliation and exaltation of our Savior.
Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Volume 1 and 2 John F. MacArthur Moody Publishers, Chicago Vol 1: ISBN 0-8024-5600-6, Hardcover, 384 pages. Vol 2: ISBN 0-8024-5601-4 Hardcover, 384 pages
If you would rather spend the year in the gospels, John MacArthur has two volumes based upon the life of Jesus Christ. Volume 1 focuses primarily on the Gospel According to Matthew with some excerpts from John. MacArthur explores gold nuggets from the first year of Jesus’ life and ministry. This includes His baptism, temptation, calling of the disciples, miracles, early opposition, and the Sermon on the Mount.
Volume 2 looks at Christ’s ministry through the eyes of the disciple He loves and primarily uses the Gospel According to John with some excerpts from Matthew. Starting with the logos theme, Jesus as the Word, MacArthur also explains the “I AM” statements of Jesus; relationships with God, family, and others; betrayal; and discipline.
In the Secret Place A Pilgrimage through the Psalms Jerry Rankin B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee ISBN 978-0-8054-4881-8 Softcover, 333 pages
The title of this devotional is from Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (NKJV). The author, Jerry Rankin, was a missionary in Asia for twenty-three years and has served for the last decade as president of the International Mission Board. The author of several books, Rankin has written an inspirational book of brief meditations on the Psalms.
The two-page devotionals in this book are not a detailed exegesis or verse-by-verse commentary on the Psalms. They are personal reflections the author compiled after reading the Psalms for his devotions over the course of several years. Using the Psalms, Rankin delves into the sovereignty and providence of God. He writes of the need for a reverence for God as readers discover His wrath and judgment—but more—His compassion, mercy, and love. Rankin reflects upon the love the psalmist had for the law of God, the Word of God, and the worship of God.
In his mediation for Psalm 42:1–2, Rankin writes, “The most important characteristic in our relationship with God is to have a heart that takes pleasure in Him above all else.” Beginning each day by reading one of the Psalms along with In the Secret Place will draw your heart closer to God. May you, indeed, take pleasure in Him above all else! Rev. Wybren Oord is the co-pastor of Trinity United Reformed Church in Lethbridge, AB, and the editor of The Outlook.