Tag Archives: Bible

Plan to Read the Whole Bible in 2016

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” – Psalm 119:97, ESV

For some years now I have committed to reading the whole Bible starting in January. Each year I fall short – sometimes just by Read-The-Bible-In-2016-680x383a little, sometimes by a lot. One year I decided not to commit to reading the whole Bible in a year but instead to simply read most of it in a year. Time and again, I find that I do better if I aim high and fall a bit short than to aim lower and to hit even lower.

That the Bible must be mastered (or one must be mastered by it) through study and prayer is obvious for ministers of the gospel. If a minister’s thinking is going to become increasingly biblical then his or her mind must be regularly fed and filled with Scripture, enough to compete, challenge, and overcome other influences and the fallen nature itself. To this end, both quantity and quality are needed. That is, there must be enough Scriptural intake to accomplish this goal with enough depth of meditation to let it penetrate past the surface of the mind and soul. This takes both discipline and love for the Word, but ultimately it requires  a great love for God with a commitment to be wholly his.

As he does every year at this time, Justin Taylor posted a great piece on his blog calling us to be committed readers of the Bible in the coming year along with many, many resources about reading plans, specialty Bibles, etc. Read it. Find inspiration. Find a reading plan that works for you. Most likely I will be using the ESV Study Bible plan again, because it works so very well.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
    all the rules[c] of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.    

      – Psalm 119:9-16, ESV

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Filed under Bible, Pastoral Reflections, Spiritual Formation

More of the Word in 2015 – Exhortation and Plans

Last Sunday I challenged my congregation to give themselves over to regular, faithful Bible reading in 2015. With the growth of biblical illiteracy even among Christians coupled with the facts that spiritual formation and forming a biblical worldview are dependent upon regular engagement with the written word of God, such a challenge fits the start of a new year.Bible dusty

After expounding many of the benefits and effects of the Scripture to whet the appetite for Bible reading, I unpacked the following exhortations:

  • If your Bible reading is irregular, inconsistent, or just not there, start.
  • If your Bible reading is often, but not enough, push for more consistency.
  • If your Bible reading is steady, regular, and healthy, then keep it up!

That is all well and good, but most of us need some kind of plan or system to work in order to be successful. So, I encouraged them to:

  • Establish a routine
  • Work some kind of plan (see below)
  • Use a modern Bible translation with study notes. Who does not need clarity and helpful commentary to work through difficult or confusing passages?
  • Have reasonable expectations. Sometimes people want to go from no regular Bible reading to reading through the Bible in one year. Their aspirations are great, but once life sabotages their daily routine a few times they get behind, get frustrated, and just quit. As Matt Smethurst put it,
    “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!”This hackneyed high school yearbook quote is bad advice for most things, Bible reading plans not excepted. If you shoot for and miss the “moon” of six chapters a day, you won’t quietly land among the “stars” of three. You’ll just be lost in space. It’s better to read one chapter a day, every day, than four a day, every now and then. Moreover, the value of meditation cannot be overstressed. Meditation isn’t spiritualized daydreaming; it’s riveted reflection on revelation. Read less, if you must, to meditate more. It’s easy to encounter a torrent of God’s truth, but without absorption—and application—you will be little better for the experience

    My counsel is to commit to an amount that you can reasonably do daily and get the habit fixed in your life. Hey, you can always start reading more each day when you ready.

  • Expect resistance (the world, the flesh, and the Devil)
  • Enjoy the results

In regards to plans, there are so many great ones available these days. Some guide you through the whole Bible in one year, which requires reading about four chapters a day. Some plans complete the Bible in two years, etc. There are many variations and patterns to choose from, so check out several before committing. Both Crossway and Ligonier list multiple plans to choose from on their websites. You can print out the plans to use with your paper or electronic Bible, and many of the readings from the plans can be emailed straight to your smartphone or computer! Several plans allow you to complete the readings through a website where you can keep track of your progress. This year, I am using a simple, go-at-your-own pace chart to keep track of my Bible reading. Other great plans include the ESV Bible Daily Plan or a chronological one. Each year, I change it up somehow to keep it interesting.

Will you commit to regular, faithful Bible reading for 2015? What good things God will do in your heart, mind, and life if you do!

 

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Filed under Bible, Spiritual Formation