Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Reading the Bible is Like Watching a Sunrise





Shortly before Christmas, I finished reading through the whole Bible.  I started on January 4th of this year.  What a blessing reading through the Bible has been!  Every time I pick up God’s Word and read, He blesses, encourages, and guides me.  Sometimes people say “every time”, but they mean “most of the time”.  But I really mean “every time”.

Reading the Bible is like . . .

Watching a beautiful sunrise

Just because you have seen many beautiful sunrises does not mean that seeing a sunrise tomorrow morning will fail to fill you with a sense of God’s glory and majesty. Each sunrise is a little different, even though it is the same sun.  In the same way, even though I have read the Bible many times in my life, God always shows me new beauty from His Word.

Also, as you watch the sunrise you see the world around you more and more clearly.  In the same way, the more I read the Bible the more I see and understand how God is working in my life and in the world around me.

Eating

“I ate yesterday, so I really don’t feel a need to eat today.”  I never say anything like that!  In the same way that we need physical energy and nutrition every day, we also need spiritual energy and nutrition every day.  Do we want to be spiritually stronger and healthier?  We should read our Bible regularly.

Filling your cup with good stuff

A friend of mine explained that we are all like cups full of something.  As we go through the day, whatever we are full of will spill out on others whenever we are “bumped”.  If you are full of the Holy Spirit, then God’s love, truth, and power will spill out and bless others around you.  If not, well, it isn’t pretty.  Prayerfully reading God’s Word each day fills us with good blessings which then bless others around us.

Exercising

When you first start exercising it is hard and you can’t do a lot. But the more you exercise the stronger you get and then you can exercise even more.  In the same way, when a person first starts to read the Bible they often do not understand much of it.  But the longer you read it, the more you will understand it.  But reading the Bible is different from physical exercise in this way:  as we get older our ability to do physical exercise often diminishes.  But even as we grower weaker physically, God allows us to continue to grow stronger and deeper in knowing Him.

Broad and Deep

Now after saying all that, I admit that I’m not planning to read through the entire Bible again in 2017.  Is that hypocritical?  I hope not!  I believe it is good to alternate between Bible intake that “broad” and Bible intake that is “deep”.  Reading through the whole Bible in a year is a good example of “broad” Bible intake.  Memorizing passages of the Bible, repeatedly and thoughtfully reading the same passage or book of the Bible many times, meditating on the Bible, and in-depth Bible study are methods of “deep” Bible intake. Broad and deep are both good when it comes to feeding on God’s Word!

Practical Help for Reading through the Bible in a Year

If you’ve never read through the entire Bible, or if it’s been a while, I recommend reading through the Bible in 2017.  There’s nothing wrong with just starting in Genesis and reading straight through until you’re done (in which case you will need to average 3.26 chapters a day).  I’ve done that before.  But I find it easier to use a Bible reading plan.  You can find and print out a copy of the Bible reading plan I used this past year here:

http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2013/12/DeRouchie-KINGDOM-BRP.pdf

If you want more Bible reading options, including options to read through the Bible at a slower pace over two years or options you can start any time of year, see the great collection of plans and information at Justin Taylor's blog here:

http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2015/12/28/reading-the-whole-bible-in-2016-an-faq/

Here are a few tips to help with any Bible reading plan:

1.  The sooner you get started the better!  Why not start today or tomorrow?
2.  Set apart a regular time, like early in the morning.  It doesn’t take that much time.  At an average reading pace, just reading would take an average of about 10 minutes/day.
3.  Always pray before you read.  Be willing to stop and pray often while reading.  This may expand your reading time to 15 or 20 minutes.  It will be worth it as the Holy Spirit applies God’s Word to your heart, life, friends, family, church, and work.
4.  If you miss a day, or even several weeks or more, don’t let that defeat you.  God is full of grace.  Just start back where you left off.  As soon as you do, you’ll notice the blessing!  And if it takes you more than a year, that is not a sin.  It’s not a race or a competition. But it is a battle.  The world, your own flesh, and the Devil will try to stop you. With God’s help you can overcome!
5.  If you get stuck in the tough parts (such as some of the rules in Leviticus, some of the genealogies and records of families, or some sections in the prophets which are hard to understand), don’t give up.  If you need to skim through these sections or even skip some of them, that’s ok. There is some good stuff even in the “tough sections”, but it’s better to skip them than to get bogged down and give up.  Still, if you can make it through them, I think you will be glad you did.  One advantage of the reading plan I used is that it combines sections from different parts of the Bible each day, always including something from the New Testament.

Most of all:  Just Do It!

May God bless you through His beautiful, powerful Word in 2017.
Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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