The ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is a rare product—it is a devotional Bible I may actually use. While I receive many similar products, I have never found one that intrigued me enough to commit to using it day-by-day. Sometimes this is because the editors have decided to push a wooden format that does not interest me; sometimes it is because of low-quality devotional material; sometimes the Bibles or the devotional material are just hopelessly hoaky. But here is a Bible that does not force a format, that brings devotionals from trusted, skillful writers, and that does not stoop into silliness.
The format of the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is simple: Interspersed within the biblical text are 365 page-length devotionals. The reader is the one who chooses how he will encounter these devotionals—there is no built-in reading plan or format. Instead, it is meant to fit different ways a man may read his Bible. I would suggest putting it to good use in either of these two ways:
- Use it with your current Bible-reading plan or, if you do not follow a plan, simply use it as your daily reading Bible. As you read the text, you will encounter the devotionals, sometimes one per day and sometimes more.
- Read the 365 devotionals sequentially, one per day. Before you read the devotionals, read the texts associated with them. These texts are often one or two chapters in length—just about right for your morning reading. If you do it this way you will encounter much of the Bible’s storyline over the course of the year. Because there is at least one devotional in each book of the Bible, you will have at least one reading from each book.
As for the devotionals themselves, they are prepared by men you may already know and trust: R. Kent Hughes (Genesis), Graeme Goldsworthy (1&2 Kings), Sam Storms (Joshua), Alistair Begg (Esther), Jared Wilson (Luke), Justin Holcomb (Acts), and James Hamilton (Revelation) among them. While I did not read all of the devotionals, I did read enough to conclude that they are biblically-sound and also applicable to life. I read enough of them to conclude that I want to read the rest.
Here is a sample devotional I chose at random. It is associated with Genesis 39 and is titled “The Energizing Power of God’s Presence.”
Joseph was so extraordinary that, even in the context of the greats of the Bible, he towers like a skyscraper. As to why this is so, the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife leaves no doubt: Moses’ narrative voice-over at both the beginning and end of the account states that Joseph was successful because the Lord was with him (stated twice at the beginning of the story (Gen. 39:2–3) and three times at the end (vv. 21–23). So we must understand that the unseen hand in the story is God’s, who was present and working on Joseph’s behalf in his phenomenal rise, his humiliating downfall, and his quick restoration to prominence.
But it is one thing to be outside the story and observe that God was with Joseph, and quite another to be Joseph inside the story and believe that God is with you, when all you have worked for is being ripped from you because of your integrity. And here Joseph shines because he knew that God was with him as he refused Mrs. Potiphar’s advances, declaring to her, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (v. 9). The grand deterrent to the seductive pleas was Joseph’s awareness that God is present and sees all, and that a sin that no one else knows about, committed behind locked doors in a dark room, is actually committed in the presence of a holy God.
Such a temptation! Joseph was 17 or 18 years old (see 37:2), and surely his hormones were raging, so that he brimmed with sexual curiosity and drive. The rationalizations were so natural and logical. No one would ever know (see 39:11). He was a slave. His life was not his own. And besides, a little strategic fornication could benefit his career. But Joseph said no!
What a towering figure Joseph had become. Never once, whether in prosperity or adversity, had Joseph doubted God. He sense and appropriated God’s presence in every circumstance. And never had Joseph been more of a success than now. He dwarfed the monuments of the Nile.
How does the story of Joseph intersect our lives today? It does so beautifully and powerfully in the incarnation of Christ the Messiah, who is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Brothers, the key to our day-to-day success is to believe this with all our being, and conduct every moment of life in the dazzling reality of Christ’s presence.
Apart from the biblical text and the 365 devotionals, the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible also offers new introductions to each book of the Bible “that will orient the reader to what God is saying to us through that particular portion of his Word. We have especially focused in these introductions on the way any given book of the Bible speaks to a man’s heart.” At the end of the Bible are 14 articles dealing with a variety of pertinent topics: Ed Welch deals with pornography, David Powlison with a man’s identity, Thabiti Anyabwile with a man’s inner life, and Ray Ortlund with fathering.
This is a devotional Bible done right. I highly recommend it to you while personally looking forward to enjoying it for many years to come.
Note: There is also an ESV Women’s Devotional Bible which my wife enjoys very much. It follows much the same format, though obviously prepared with women in mind.