As it is the beginning of the new year – many people are considering or reconsidering their Bible reading habits. Here are some reflections from my own journey with this issue.
- Plan & Persevere – develop a routine based on a program vs. open it it like Bible lottery (funny thing is, if you keep opening it at the same place, that’s where it will keep opening). Chose a plan that is suitable for you – https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV . Fight the temptation to be defeated along the way – Satan’s desire is to keep you ignorant of God’s character and will. And that is what it’s all about: revelation, not just information. Keep going, like a marathon runner.
- Bible in a year – unless you’re a seasoned veteran and you’re used to reading the Bible cover to cover – please consider doing this. In terms of weight loss lingo – this is the equivalent of changing your lifestyle rather than cutting out one thing from time to time. It’s harder but so much healthier. In this way you will have a much better understanding of the whole counsel of God, you will have to deal with tricky passages and you will avoid the pick & mix syndrome about what you like/dislike of God’s revealed character.
- Get some good tools – a study Bible will be very helpful. Investing in a hard copy will prevent you from distractions, but a digital one might be cheaper – I like both the NIV Study Bible as well as the ESV Study Bible (apps are about £9.99). Also get highlighters, a nice A5 day a page diary and a pen – to help you jot down the good stuff for reflection or further discussion.
- Season with plenty of grace – unless you’re amazing – you might get behind. That’s when you’re at crossroads and the easiest thing is to give into guilt and shame, followed by a defeatist attitude. And Satan wins. This isn’t so much about God – but you. God loves you, as you’re hidden in Christ’s righteousness. Even if you miss one of your readings… But if you give into shame, guilt and defeat – you will have all the undiscovered treasures of Scripture laying unopened…
- Share – let the encounter with Scripture become and overflow. Post what you read and think on your social media or blog. Spend some time reading a portion together at tea/breakfast time as a family. Talk stuff out with your spouse and build one another up with it. Let it become a lifestyle, an attitude a joy rather than just a reluctant healthy habit.
- Pray – work on both fronts. Prayer and Scripture reading should be like coffee and cake. Great combination. Pray that the Holy Spirit will explain and create affection for the Bible as you read it. Then, let your reading fuel your prayer life!
At the moment I’m using BIOY app from HTB/Alpha – http://www.bibleinoneyear.org/. It has 3 sections daily: OT/NT/Psalms and it works via apps or even email. No excuse. This might help as usually get ‘stuck’ in the ‘cover to cover’ at Ezekiel/Isaiah. This way I will have two other passages the sweeten the battle. Just don’t cheat – read the passages first in the morning maybe – then later in the day read Nicky Gumbel’s devotional thoughts.
What works for you?