Read the Bible

It's that time again, Bible reading plan selection for the new year! (Here's mine)

Why a Bible reading schedule, you ask?

Christians are people of the Book, God's Word. We are what we eat, in nutrition and in our intake of words or pictures. Maybe you like Youtube, Facebook, blogs, or Netflix. Okay, that isn't evil. But does your soul long for the Word of God above all these? Honestly, we can say that our sinful nature does not, and this is a daily battle. So let's prepare.

If you don't have a plan for reading a book as big as the Bible, it probably won't happen. You need preparation and long term resolve to go the distance. You are deciding to invest 15-20 minutes a day this year in this enterprise. Do you really think it's worth it? (Hint: it is.) Count the cost. Usually Bible plans try to sell you on how little you actually have to read. "Only 15 minutes a day!" Actually, it's more, if you read slowly and savor the text. And that's over 90 hours of time this year. I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying it's a big commitment you have to re-make every day. Having a plan makes that easier. You know what you have to do. Daily Bible reading is a big life change that brings immense rewards.

A plan keeps you from going to your favorite verses and never getting around to other things. I'm amazed at how many people I meet who have been Christians for decades, who "never knew that was in the Bible." Don't let that happen to you. Read all of it.

A plan helps you gauge if you are giving priority to the Word and to the Lord in your daily schedule. Say what you want about "getting behind" and not wanting that unnecessary guilt. How can you say your relationship with the Lord is stellar, if you aren't motivated enough to take in a reasonable amount of His Word regularly? It's true that a reading schedule or daily reading is not required by the Lord in His Word. But I'm talking about a good barometer of your relationship, not a black-and-white sin issue. Don't condemn yourself if you get behind. Just start again today and keep going. The righteous man falls seven times and gets up again, as the Proverb says. He doesn't lay down and say, "Well, you won't fool me into trying to walk again now that I see what it can lead to." So it is with not finishing a plan in past years: doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again this year, changing what tripped you up before.

So let's set this plan up.

1. Most plans try to get you through the whole Bible in a year. This is a reasonable quantity for SOME people, but not for everyone. I've done this for the last several years, but it IS formidable. Set achievable goals. Don't aim so high in your new-year zeal that you are bound to fail. GO SLOWER. I'm opting for a two year plan. One benefit of this is that you can merge your family devotions with your personal devotions. This puts things back in the formidable camp, reading more than a chapter a day out loud to your family. But I'm really looking forward to it.

2. Chronological is the best way to read through the whole Bible. Reading straight through in book order is good, too. It's good to read the New Testament and Old Testament at the same time, so you don't wait until you're 3/4 done before you hit Matthew. So start with Matthew 1 and go chronologically.

3. I find Proverbs 10-29 very hard to digest in chapter chunks. Far better to take 1-3 verses per day on those. The Psalms are best read in one of two ways: 1. Chronologically next to the events in David's (mostly) life; 2. One per day, through them twice in a year. I opted for chronological this year.

I could not find a bible plan that puts all this together for me, so I took time I didn't have and put together my own plan. You can find it at the bottom of this page.

Implement! Pick a time of day when this is going to happen. I will be reading to my family after lunch and/or dinner most days, occasionally just before bed. Some families find morning devotions easy. A daily routine is your friend. It makes getting it done much easier. But routine alone is not your motivation. Pray for God's Spirit to draw you to the Word He inspired, in anticipation of finding Jesus there, day by day. Happy new year, and may God bless and transform your heart and life by His Word.

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