Alignment Devotion

I teach the CrossTrain method of daily devotions with my students. This is a thoroughly Confessional Lutheran approach to doing Bible devotions that integrates Luther’s famous trivium of the Christian life: oratio (prayer), meditatio (reading God’s Word), and tentatio (bringing our daily struggles and temptations to God through oratio and meditatio). We call this “alignment devotion,” because its goal is to aid you in consciously taking your troubles to the cross, and then consciously realigning your thoughts back onto the law and gospel truths found in God’s Word. What follows are the steps in the method. And after that you’ll find suggested resources for your prayer and devotion time.

  1. The Set-Up: Prepare yourself for a talk with your Creator Redeemer Father God. Consider:
    (a) Environment. Find a quiet place, free from distractions. Turn off phone, screens. Clear the table.
    (b) Visualization. Recall peaceful moments. Remember the sights, smells, sounds.
    (c) Breath. Take a few deep, slow breaths through the nose.
  2. Reading God’s Word:
    (a) Prime with thankfulness. Pray a short prayer of thanksgiving. Consider thanking God for something he’s (1) done for you in the past, (2) doing in the present, and (3) will do in the future. Don’t overthink it.
    (b) Read the Bible. Consciously read to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2) Ask: What does this tell me about God? Where is the law? Where is the gospel? What can I learn and apply? Consider using Luther’s Four Strands or the SOAP method.
  3. Confession:
    Confess your sins and pray about your struggles. Be honest with your Father. Say it out loud. Use the 10 Commandments or two (Luke 10:27).
  4. Meditate on the gospel.
    (a) Realign your thoughts back onto God’s gospel truths. Say out loud gospel truths, such as: “You have made me your child through the blood of Christ. My sins are fully forgiven. And so you will certainly work all things out for my good.” (Rom 8:28)
    (b) End in thankfulness. Take another deep breath, be still in his peace, and say thank you.

Bible Study Resources

Wide Margin/Journaling Bibles

  • NIV Journal the Word Bible. There are lots of different covers/binding to choose from (for example, this one and this one). Most styles run around $30 USD.
  • NIV Wide Margin Bible. A more traditional wide margin bible with larger print than the “Journal the Word” Bible.
  • ESV Single Column Journaling Bible. Crossway’s binding is second to none (in my opinion). Their journaling bibles feel solid and last forever. They also have lots of cover options to pick from (including a customizable cover edition).

CPH The Lutheran Study Bible

Concordia’s Lutheran Study Bible is an excellent tool for personal devotions. In fact, they have built devotional tools right into the note apparatus (the bottom half of the page). There’s a symbol (see the image to the left) that represents a law/gospel summary of a section of the text designed to help the Bible reader use that section of Scripture for devotion time. The entire Bible is broken into these sections with devotional notes. The notes even include a little prayer.

The Lutheran Study Bible also has app forms, from desktop apps to phone apps.

Dramatized Audio Bibles

  • NIV Live is a fully dramatized recording of the entire Bible. Featuring a cast of hundreds (including voice actors from Cuba Gooding Jr. to Craig Groeschel) and a fully orchestrated score, NIV Live is a fully dramatized production of the entire Bible, and includes apps that follow along with the Bible Text. This is hands down the best way to take the Bible with you on your phone. The full version is $60, and worth every penny.
  • Inspired By… The Bible Experience is another fully dramatized recording of the Bible, including a cast of hundreds (like Denzel Washington, Terry Crews, LL Cool J, Forest Whitaker, and Samuel Jackson as God in the NT). It’s the TNIV translation, which isn’t great. But the project is pretty incredible and useful for keeping you on track with your reading schedule.

Movie Dramatizations of the Gospels

  • The LUMO Project is a movie dramatization of all four gospels. The same actors and set are used for all four gospels, and where events are repeated in the gospels, the same footage is even used, giving the viewer a clear sense of the harmony of the gospels. Different translations of the Bible voice over the scenes while the actors speak presumably Aramaic. The vision of the production is clearly to portray the gospels in a way faithful to historical and cultural details and context. All four gospels are available on YouTube as short, devotion-length clips, perfect for aiding you in reading and meditating on the gospels. Here are the playlists for the NIV gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  • The Gospel of John (2003) is a full movie dramatization of John, word-for-word adaptation of the Good New Bible translation. It’s another option, and you can find it right now for free to watch on YouTube.

The Bible App

One of the world’s most popular iphone/ipad and android apps, not only does it have the NIV and ESV translations, but also many features and bible reading schedules to aid regular bible study. You can even find reading lists and message from Time of Grace on there. The app is also great for groups of friends that are doing the same devotional reading schedules.

Time of Grace

Time of Grace is known for providing some of the most solid, gospel-centred, forgiveness-based sermons on TV throughout the world. Their website, though, also offers tons of free sermons, devotions, and other resources. All for free.

WELS Daily Devotions

WELS offers daily devotions written by pastors, perfect for a moment of daily meditation. You can find them here, as well as sign up here to have them emailed directly to you. Many in our St. Paul family make this a part of their spiritual growth.

Meditations Daily Devotional

If you’re looking for short, 5 minute devoltional readings written by great pastors applying bible verses to your daily life, NPH’s Meditations is the best resource out there. Many WELS churches offer them for free.