When I read my Bible, I almost exclusively use the English Standard Version (ESV), or, as some like to put it, the Elect Standard Version. When I branch out, I’ll use the NASB and NIV. I love reading my Bible. But I don’t use the same exact Bible every time I read it.
It’s true: I’m spoiled to have so many Bibles in my home. As I write these words, I’m reminded of Christians around the world who do not have access to a Bible. I’m glad that some feel called to mobilize the church to get Bibles in the hands of Christians overseas who do not have one. Let’s keep praying for more to be called and sent out to serve in such ways.
Back to the Bibles I use.
Which ones do I use? And for which job?
Here are the big four:
1. The Bible I use in church.
I (usually) use the ESV app from Crossway on my iPhone. You will ask, “Do you feel tempted to check other things on your phone during the sermon?” I will respond, “Depends how good the sermon!”
All kidding aside, I do not find that using an application on my phone is a distraction. That’s because I put my phone on airplane mode when I’m using it in church. If I feel as if my phone will be a distraction (which is usually isn’t), I’ll just use the ESV Bible provided under my chair in church.
2. The Bible I use for my devotions and for preaching.
I use the ESV Value Thinline Bible (TruTone, Charcoal, Celtic Cross Design). This is my baby. This is the Bible that I use to do my daily devotions. I also preach out of this Bible. I’ve had it for the past decade or so. It’s sort of tore up now, but that’s okay since “a Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t” (that quote is often attributed to Charles Spurgeon).
I’m going to continue to use it until I can’t see the words out if it anymore. I have spent so much time in this thing that it just might be my favorite possession in the home. I underline what inspires me in pen, and occasionally will take notes in it too. I used to use a formal Bible reading plan. But over the years I’ve sort of developed my own Bible reading plan which I hope to blog about sometime.
3. The Bible I use when I leave my home.
ESV Value Compact Bible (TruTone, Mahogany, Border Design) – This is the Bible that I take to class. It’s perfect for traveling. I pack it in my book bag. You hardly know it’s there. The words are small, but not too small that they become a distraction. Certainly no footnotes or extra material. And Jesus’ words aren’t in red in the Gospels, which is sort of a bummer. But it’s perfect to take with you, to read on your lunch break, on the plane, or whenever you are leaving the house. This Bible is ideal for all travel needs.
4. The Bible I use for further study.
ESV Study Bible, Personal Size (TruTone, Brown) –My wife recently bought this for me as a present. I love it. So much so that, for a while, I switched my devotions to this Bible. However, I switched back to the Bible mentioned above for my devotions. Why? In a word — footnotes. I love the footnotes and I find them helpful. But I have the sort of curiosity that I want to stop after every verse to read every footnote and, at least for me, this becomes a distraction.
Nevertheless, if I am so intrigued by something I read in my devotions, or if I want to study more of something in my Bible, I’ll use this study Bible before going to the commentaries.
I also have the ESV Study Bible. It’s the classic, big orange one. Most Reformed folk have this, too. This has treated me well for so many years, but I switched to the personal size study Bible when doing further research because it’s less cumbersome and easier to navigate. Either one will get the job done, though.
There are other Bibles I’d like to dabble in at some point. But what I have will suffice for now. I repeat: what a tremendous, incredible privilege we have to be able to have access to God’s word. Don’t take it for granted.
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