Crossway recently sent me a copy of Finding Comforts from Romans by Elyse Fitzpatrick to review. I am glad that they did because this is a unique devotion guide. It is unique in the genre of devotionals for two reasons.
First of all, it is expositorially organized. In other words, it moves through a section of scripture. In this case Elyse moves through the first 8 chapters of the book of Romans. She does not cover every verse in detail, but her daily devotions do represent the major movements of the book of Romans. Since this is similar to the way I organize my preaching, and more importantly it is the way that God has organized the bible, I think that it is a huge positive. What better way to spend your private worship time than systematically studying through a section of the bible? One of my biggest frustrations with many of the daily devotionals is that they are loosely related to random passages. So, if you spend time each morning of the month in those devotion books at the end of the month you still haven’t spent much time in scripture. Unless the practice of private worship is tethered to the word of God it will not be productive in the life of a believer.
A second feature that makes this devotion book unique in the realm of devotion books is the theological depth. Elyse tackles the book of Romans and the doctrine within it head on. This is no “daily crumb” for a starving disciple. This is theology that is clear and accessible to any reader. The counsel, encouragement, and exhortation that Elyse provides is rooted in the depths of biblical theology. That being said, as you read through the daily devotionals there is a sense in which the theology is a bit out of balance. Let me explain. Elyse does an excellent job of emphasizing the doctrine of justification (we are declared righteous by God). At times, however, she does so in a way that doesn’t take into consideration other doctrines. Much of this is because in the first 8 chapters of Romans Paul is primarily dealing with the doctrine of justification. In chapter 12, which is not covered in this book, Paul delves into sanctification. At times, however, Elyse emphasizes justification so much that it makes sanctification almost seem inconsequential. I don’t want to press the point to far, but the believer has been declared righteous and then called to diligently live out that righteousness. There are times in the book where the former is emphasized at the expense of the latter. Despite this matter of emphasis the theological depth of the book makes it instantaneously more valuable than most other devotion books.
A great way to get more information about this book is to participate in the “Reboot you Bible reading Plan” on the crossway blog. There Elyse Fitzpatrick is blogging through the book every Monday. Here is crossway’s description:
If you never got off the ground with a 2013 Bible reading plan or are so far behind you’ve already thrown in the towel, join us on Mondays in March on the Crossway blog as we read Romans 1-8 together. Each Monday in March, Elyse Fitzpatrick will share devotional thoughts from Romans, helping us delight in God’s word and rejoice in the gospel in 2013. We invite you to bring questions, insights, and interact in the comments section. For more devotional material to accompany Reboot with Romans, check out Elyse’s newest book—Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time.