Well, we are at the threshold of a brand new year! Resolutions are on nearly every mind. At the top of the list for Christians, is a new or fresh commitment to read the Bible. But, where do you start? Or, if you have been reading for years, do you stick with what you know or branch out and try something different?
I’d like to offer 4 thoughts to keep in mind as you consider your choices.
1. The Bible itself does not prescribe any set method or amount of reading. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to read x-amount of chapters per day (chapters weren’t even in the original writings). Nor, are we commanded to read the Bible every year, even though that may be a good practice.
What we are told are things like, “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov 2:1-5) Or,
“My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers and write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Prov 7:1-3)
And, Psalm 1 pronounces blessing on the one whose delight is in the law of the LORD and who meditates on it day and night.
Certainly we are to read our Bibles, but we are not prescribed how much. It may be different for each of us depending on where we are in spiritual maturity or seasons of life.
2. Bible reading is about relationship building. God wants us to have a love relationship with His Word not a legalistic reading list so that we can feel better about ourselves. He wants us to experience the life changing power and see the unfading treasure of His Word so that we seek it with all our hearts. He wants us to long for the soul-nourishing truths and taste the sweetness of the Word so that we delight in it, coming back to it again and again. For it is in the Bible, by faith, through the Spirit that we meet our God, and build an intimate relationship with Him!
3. Because thoughts 1. and 2. are true, disciplined Bible reading plans can be of great help for growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. There is wisdom in following the path and patterns of other believers who have a vibrant, dynamic relationship with the Lord. So, prayerfully and thoughtfully consider some recommended systems and choose the one that will best fit you. Some can try to read the Bible in a year. A few may aim to read 10 chapters a day; while others may attempt to read the Bible in 3 years. Remember, the Bible does not prescribe which one to follow. You choose.
4. You/I will at some point fall behind the goal. It’s okay. Just get started again. You don’t necessarily have to catch up. Let it go and start where you are. Keep moving forward. Keep growing in consistency. Remember, the goal is building your relationship with the Lord. From that growing, biblically grounded relationship everything else will follow.
So, go ahead; open your Bible, pray and read! “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” May God bless our church as we seek to continually be a people of the Book.
P.S. - Here are a couple of online resources that may be helpful in your consideration of a Bible reading plan:
“What Is Your Bible-Reading Plan for 2015?” at www.challies.com and,
“Bible Reading Plans for 2015” a blog by Nathan Bingham at www.ligonier.org
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.