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What are some of your resolutions for the new year? If you’re like many people (myself included), those resolutions may look much like the following:
- Lose weight
- Exercise and get in shape
- Read a book a week/month/ year
- Save money
- Get of debt
- Spend more time with family
- Read the Bible
All of the above are excellent resolutions for the new year, or at any time actually. But the last resolution will, over the course of your life, bring a great amount of personal, spiritual, and eternal change.
Read the Bible every day!
I used to be a real stickler about having some type of “read the entire Bible” in a year plan. Frankly, it’s good for you and most of us have more time to accomplish this resolution than we realize. But as I have visited with a number of people over the course of the past few months, I’ve learned something important. Many people are so intimidated by the Bible that rather than devoting themselves to reading it they put it on a shelf and pull it out every Sunday or so to take to church. Some people want to read the Bible through in one year, but it just does not seem very realistic. We get bogged down in Leviticus and the next thing we know it has been six weeks since we read the last passage in our Bible reading plan and we shrug our shoulders and decide to do better next year!
There are other options besides the all-or-nothing approach of a read the entire Bible in a year plans.
In reflecting on this issue, I believe that reading a little bit of the Bible every day is much better than not reading the Scriptures at all. What I am proposing is similar to crawl-walk-run. In other words, start with where you are and gradually grow into a stronger Bible reading plan. Here are three suggestions to consider that will help you move forward with your new year’s resolution to the read the Bible.
A good devotional book will provide you with a daily reading that includes either an explanation of some Scripture by the author, or a writing/journal entry by the author supported by Scripture. Although the written devotional usually helps shed some light on the text, avoid the temptation to read the devotion only and skip reading the Scripture. God’s word is the Bible, so be sure to read and reflect on the Bible verses for that day. You will not read the entire Bible through in a year with this plan, but you will read some Scripture every day, which is a big start. Some excellent devotionals include My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Day by Day with Billy Graham, Mornings with Tozer by A. W. Tozer, and Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. For you athletic dudes, try Tony Dungy’s The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge.
Read the Scripture from the book your small group is studying
If the book your small group is studying doesn’t have any Scripture in it, guess what… you need to change curriculum!! For many people who use LifeWay Bible studies for Sunday School or small group, you can read the “lesson” each day and meditate on the Bible verses. For instance, The Gospel Project has 3 devotionals each week plus the actual Bible lesson itself, which is just about right if you want to read the Bible and devotion each day of the week. Plus, you’ll be prepared and have a heart for what God wants to teach you each week in your group.
Read the Bible for Life
My favorite “read the Bible in a year” plan is Read the Bible for Life by Dr. George Guthrie of Union University. Unlike most other annual reading plans, Read the Bible for Life is a chronological read through the entire Bible (go here for the actual reading plan). You will be reading the Scripture in the sequence that it happened. Basically, by investing 20-25 minutes a day, you can read the entire Bible through in one year. In addition, there is a companion book and a DVD that shares insight on how to read the different parts of the Bible (history, poetry, prophecy, letters).
Regardless of which plan you choose, the most important thing is to read the Bible every day. Research by Brad Waggoner of LifeWay revealed that the most common spiritual discipline of growing Christians is that they read the Bible every day. The Bible itself is full of encouragement to read the Bible. Do you want to be successful… read the Bible (Joshua 1:8). Want to know God’s will… read the Bible (Romans 12:2).
You may have some other preferred resources to the ones that I have listed below. If so, feel free to share them in the comments section…
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