We have just had a great week at New Wine. There were lots of encouragements and challenges (not limited to the amount of rain we had).
One of the things that came out of it, however, was a renewed desire from people to get stuck into reading their Bibles. RT Kendall, who was teaching each morning, particularly challenged Christians to take up reading through the whole Bible in one year. This was such an encouragement to hear.
So, I thought I’d give what I think is some helpful pointers for reading through the Bible
Why should we read the Bible in a year?
But, why should we read the Bible in a year? Here’s just a few reasons.
- It means we’re actually spending time with God’s word! If Christians want to know God better, and to grow in their relationship with him, then knowing the Bible is vital. The Bible isn’t just a collection of stories or poems or letters. It is God communicating himself – his character, his purposes are all contained here.
- Reading the Bible in a year will encourage us to read more than just favourite verses. We’ll be getting into bits of the Bible we’ve shied away from, but are still God’s word. Instead of scraping the top of the soil, we’ll be digging down deeper. Gold dust rarely sits on the surface waiting to be picked up. It needs to be dug up.
- It will get us having a greater sense of the whole scope of Scripture. Imagine it being like standing on top of a mountain range where you can see for miles around, the whole landscape stretching before you. Reading the Bible in a year will give you a greater sense of that – the history of God’s salvation, from the creation to the new creation.
- It will feed your soul. Not reading the Bible and praying is like going without food and water. You might cope for a bit, but eventually your life in God will shrivel and disappear.
- It will challenge us and give us perseverance. Not all of the Bible is easy. However, there are plenty of really good tools to help. But be discerning, especially when it comes to the internet.
- Reading different bits of the Bible helps us see how things connect, and makes us see things we hadn’t seen before.
Where do I start?
Many people get discouraged because they get to a difficult part of the Bible (like Leviticus), and then think ‘this isn’t for me. However, don’t give up! The greatest destinations sometimes involve the hardest journeys. But thankfully you’re reading, not trekking through snake-infested swampland and quicksand!
There are a lot of reading plans out there. The most famous is the M’Cheyne plan, which involves four chapters (roughly) each day from the Old and New Testament. The one I personally use is the Discipleship Journal plan from Navigators, which can be found here. This covers four passages over 25 days a month, meaning that if you miss a few days you can catch up. However, my advice is not to be too legalistic about things. If you miss days, don’t give up because you’re too far behind. Get back on the horse from where you were and start again. Remember that grace works with reading the Bible too. God’s not interested in our ability to tick boxes (literally, in most reading plans) but in knowing him better.
There is also some great Bible app you can download onto your phone or tablet. The one I use is from Olive Tree and can be found here. It comes with the ESV (English Standard Version) for free, and you can search for any word or phrase, making it a really useful Bible study tool. It also has a whole load of Bible Reading Plans. So, you can try different ones and figure out which one works for you.
I tend to read what I can, and try to ‘catch up’ bits I haven’t managed. I then spend more time with one of the readings than the others. The plan is then to have ‘studied’ all four readings every four years. That’s the plan anyway. It rarely works out like that, but you’ve got to have a plan to work with. No plan means you’re planless, and I’m not even sure that’s a word.
When shall I start?
Don’t wait until the new year to make a resolution. Start today. Ok, I’ll be generous; you can start tomorrow. No, do it today. However, just do it. Find somewhere you can just have a few minutes with God and his word. If you don’t manage all the readings, don’t worry. Maybe it’ll take longer than a year. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’re reading the Bible. And you’ll be in a better place to listen for his voice.
It won’t be long before you wonder how you ever got through a day without reading God’s word, and when you miss it you start to get hungry and thirsty for him and for his word. So, tuck in!
There’s a feast awaiting, gold to be mined, a beautiful view to be discovered. Maybe this would be a great prayer as you start getting into God’s word and digging deeper:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:17