It’s that time of year again! Time for New Year’s resolutions.
It’s become somewhat of a joke in our culture. We set a goal to lose 10 pounds in a year only to gain 15. We plan to eat better, but still find ourselves at Chickfila twice a week (let’s be honest, you know those salads aren’t that healthy). But one resolution is a certainty for many Christians and that is reading their Bibles daily. How many times have you tried to read the Bible daily, only to make it a month and then stop? How many of you a goal to read the Bible through in a year only to stop once you get to Leviticus or Numbers? So let me throw my hat in the ring with every other Christian website that has talked about reading your Bible this year. My hope is that you will be convinced not only that reading your Bible daily is worth it, but that one of the best ways to do this is through a Bible reading plan. I think I can use myself as an example.
My History before Reading Plans
Growing up, I was never a big fan of Bible reading plans. This, perhaps, was because I was always told that reading the Bible should never be forced or coerced. Instead, I was told that reading the Bible should be something that I desire to do. Bible reading plans were seen as ‘checking the box,’ ‘rote,’ and ‘mechanical,’ something that was frowned upon in the Christian life. But in my early teens, my reading of the Bible generally consisted of me opening up my Bible to some random spot and starting to read. Because of the way the Bible is layed out, I generally would flip open my Bible somewhere in the Old Testament, maybe something like Isaiah or Jeremiah (you know, the easy books to read…). Bible reading was sporadic and I’m not sure I got too much out of it. As I got older, in my late teens, I started reading larger chunks of the Bible when I could. One summer on a trip from St. Louis to Colorado Springs, I read the New Testament. This method proved to be better and the retention of what I read was greater. Still reading was sporadic.
By the time I was called to ministry in my early twenties, I felt the need to work my way through the Bible. Unfortunately, I did not quite have the tools or perseverance to complete it. I would start in Genesis and read as much as I could one day and then pick up where I left off the next day. Some days I would read one chapter and other days I would read ten. It all depended on how much time I had. Still, problems with reading consistently occurred. Frequently I found myself reading large passages of Scripture in books like Exodus and Leviticus and come away from it wondering what I had just read. Turns out instructions for building the temple and how to slaughter animals isn’t nearly as interesting as you would think. My attempts at reading through the Bible would last longer than it did in my teens. I might get to the book of Deuteronomy or maybe Joshua, but eventually I would tire of reading day after day and eventually stop. My sporadic and incomplete reading would continue through the first few years of my marriage.
My History with Reading Plans
Flash forward to January 1st, 2018. Taylor had given birth to Wyatt just two months previous. We were stressing because he was not growing nearly as fast as we thought. I’m working for a lighting company as their project coordinator, although I desired to be in ministry vocationally. But the lighting company was a great gig because it gave me a lot of time to listen to music and podcasts. At that time there was one podcast I would listen to almost daily called the Ask Pastor John podcast. On it, John Piper would take listeners questions and spend some time answering them. The question that day was about daily Bible reading or reading through the Bible in a year, something I was extremely interested in. Piper mentioned that He has used a Bible reading plan called the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan to read through the Bible in a year for many, many years. Now, say what you will about John Piper, but this is practical advice I have taken to heart. That day I started the Discipleship Journal Reading plan by downloading the day-by-day plan off of the Navigators website and started reading. What I found was that it was easier to follow and easier to read daily than the previous times I had tried to work through the Bible. But again, what I found was that it was difficult to grab my Bible, grab my check sheet and read through the chapters day by day. That is until I discovered that the Bible app I used contained the very same plan. This changed the way I practiced daily Bible reading. With the YouVersion Bible app, I was able to follow this plan with daily reminders on my phone to read my passages for the day. Sure, there were days that I fell behind and had to double read the next day. There were days I didn’t want to read or had to divide the time I read rather than reading it all at once, but at least I was successfully getting through the Bible. At the end of 2018, I found that I had read the whole Bible in a year.
Bible Reading Now
This is a practice that I have continued. I still read through the Bible in a year. I’m currently on my fifth time through. I’m still using my phone to read more often than not. Still using the YouVersion Bible app although there is another app called Dwell that I enjoy using as well. There are still times I fall behind and have to catch up. After reading through the Bible last year with a different plan, I am back to the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan.
Now, let me make a short case for why I like this plan. First, it is a plan that is a read through of the entire Bible. I’ve written on why I like this a little more in depth on another post that you can check out here. Second, the daily readings contain a variety of Scripture. There is always one reading from a gospel, one reading from the rest of the New Testament, one psalm or proverb, and a reading from the Old Testament. Some will not like this because they will feel like they are jumping around, but I enjoy the variety. Third, and most important for those who fall behind, there are always four/five days at the end of each month which are ‘make-up’ days. In other words, if you have missed a day, you can use these five days to catch up on you plan. Fourth, YouVersion and Dwell give the option to listen to the Bible as well reading it. This makes it far more accessible. One year, I found myself listening to the Bible driving to work just as much as I read it off the app. It proved to be another way to get Scripture into my life. Finally, I like having a set pattern to my reading every day. Humans are creatures of habit and I find that the consistent pattern in this plan and many other Bible reading plans helps me refocus my day on Christ. Reading Scripture reminds me we have a God who has revealed Himself to us because He wants us to know who He is. It reminds me that even in the chaos of this world and of my busy life, God has given us His word to set to order our lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
So whether or not you choose to use a Bible reading plan this year. Whether or not you decide to read the whole Bible or part of the Bible. Whether you decide to read out of a physical Bible or a digital one, pursue the Lord one day at a time through His Word. I can assure you, you will be better for it!
Below you will find links to the Ask Pastor John episode, the downloadable copy of the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan, and a link to the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan on the YouVersion App. Happy reading!