Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reading and Resolutions

When I lived in Africa I remember people would say, "Happy New Year" for weeks after January 1st passed. I thought it was kind of odd at the time. A new year is just another year to most Americans. Sure, we'll try to eat healthier, lose a few pounds, spend more time with family/friends, get out of debt, or maybe even try to read the entire Bible but in reality a new year is just more time to enjoy our life and do what we do. For my African friends I think a new year symbolized much more. Just the fact that they were given another year of life was HUGE in a country with a mean life expectancy of about 50. Suffering (lack of food, no money, HIV/AIDs, children dying) was a part of normal daily life for many people, so I think the New Year, symbolized hope and a chance for a better life.

Ever since I was in middle school my New Year's resolution has been to read my Bible every day or read through the Bible in a year. Unfortunately I have never succeeded in either of those resolutions. I've read the New Testament multiple times and a large portion of the Old Testament, but usually around Leviticus I lose sight of the goal. I think my resolutions failed partly because they were not well planned and because determination alone doesn't produce results. It takes discipline, planning, and a lot of grace from the Lord.

When we want to graduate from college we plan out what classes we need to take when so we have enough credits at graduation time. When we want to run a marathon we plan out a training program. We should plan ahead when it comes to how we will read our Bible as well. If I don't have a plan when it's 10 p.m. and I haven't read my Bible for the day, I'm probably going to turn off the light and go to sleep. But if I have a plan of how I read my Bible daily then I am much more likely to do it.

Photo by my husband
I don't think in order to be a follower of Jesus you have to read your Bible every single day. I think it's recommended in scripture (Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 119 for example) and it's something we should strive to do, but it's not a requisite to salvation. Scripture never tells us we have to read the Bible through in a year. It does tell us that all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Some scripture is of course more easily applicable, but that doesn't mean that we can't learn something from the geneologies listed in the Bible. So I do think it's important to read all of the Bible at some point in our lives and as many times as we can, but I do not think the Bible has to be read completely in one year.

As people who love the Lord and want to know Him more, our goal should read the Bible and we should plan and strive for ways to do that better knowing that it is only by God's grace we can resolve to do anything and actually succeed.  Again this year I want to be more committed to reading my Bible. I am not going to resolve to read it every day or in it's entirety before January 2013. I did, however, do some reading and thinking about how I'd like to try to be more diligent to study God's word in the coming year.

Justin Taylor has a great blogpost on Bible Reading Plans for 2012  that was really helpful to me. I had previously thought I might try to read the Bible chronologically because I've never really understood some of the historical context of the Bible or how it flows together very well, but I realized 40 weeks of only reading the Old Testament would probably be very difficult for me. I don't do well with multiple readings from multiple places in the Bible on one day so the popular M'Cheyne reading plan isn't a wise pick for me. So, I decided to follow the Bible Program for Shirkers and Slackers. It allows you to read at your own pace and varies the Biblical genre each day of the week.

  • Sundays: Poetry (Psalms-Song of Solomon)

  • Mondays: Penteteuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy)

  • Tuesdays: Old Testament history (Joshua-II Kings)

  • Wednesdays: Old Testament history (Job-Esther)

  • Thursdays: Old Testament prophets (Isaiah-Malachi)

  • Fridays: New Testament history (Matthew-Acts)

  • Saturdays: New Testament epistles (Romans-Revelation)

  • I do not like to be rushed through my reading. I like to really think and underline and mediate on the passages, so sometimes 3 chapters may be too much for me at a time. In that case I can just cross off what I've read and pick back up where I left off when that day of the week rolls around again. Since I won't likely read the entire Bible in a year at this pace, I will just continue reading until I complete it, however long that may take.

    I read a lot of Christian and theological books -some that are filled with scripture. It's often tempting for me to pick up a book instead of the Bible. They are good books and I grow a lot from reading them, but they aren't the Bible. I hope that by planning better how to read the Bible I will reach for the Bible more than other books this year.

    If you don't read the Bible or have never read it faithfully, let me encourage you to check out the plans mentioned above and set some goals. We've been blessed with the possibility of another year of life. How will you use it? Knowing God through His word is the only resolution you can make this year that will effect you for all eternity. Drop me a comment! I'd love to know how you plan to read your Bible this year.


    1. I will be in a discipleship group this next year that has committed to the Chronological Bible Discipleship plan by Iva May. Are you familiar with her material? She and her husband served in Africa in the 90's and now her husband works at Midamerica Seminary. Anyway, you can google her name and find out more about her discipleship material if you are interested. This study is a year commitment and I am a little nervous about that as I have never committed to any class for a year! We had to sign a contract and our husbands had to approve it too! I am glad about the accountability though, I always need that. We will see how it goes. Well take care and know that you are in my thoughts often.

    2. I am with you on the what to read in my free time. I do have a planned time for studying the bible each day (try to anyway) but then when I pick up a book for lunch I think...why not use this time filling my head with God's word? I like your daily plan...I have tried to work through a Old and New testament book simultaneously. Right now I'm reading Numbers and Philippians. Good luck.