Have you ever read through the entire Bible? For the Book that is Truth and is the revelation and words of the God of the universe, we often have a lackluster engagement with it. We esteem it as we see it upon our shelf but rarely do we crack its pages.
How many times have we started a new year with the hope that this will be the year when we read through its entirety? Perhaps we’ve read it through but want to do it again … and yet find ourselves nearing the end of January and not being as consistent or faithful in our Bible reading.
Regardless your situation, I am convinced this could be the best time to start a Bible reading plan. Let me tell you why …
I admit that reading the Bible can often be intimidating – especially when you get stuck in a book like Leviticus – but there is a key to reading the Bible we must not forget that will not only make our reading more exciting but encourage us when we want to give up.
The Purpose of Reading the Bible
I have previously written about the purpose of studying the Bible, but the concept still remains here. If I come to Bible reading as something to check off the list, as a way to “feel good” about my relationship with God, or out of a sense of obligation, then I will lack excitement, enjoyment, and eventually stop reading.
Bible reading isn’t suppose to be a duty … it’s meant to be a delight! [TWEET THAT]
And the reason it CAN be a delight is because my time in the Word is to get to know the Person of Jesus. He is its focal point. He is the emphasis. He is the heart and mind behind every page. Everything in Scripture points to Jesus, and thus when I come to the Bible it is Him I am after.
If I want greater intimacy with God, if I desire to know Him better, I must be in the Word. If I want the Holy Spirit to transform my life into the image of Christ, I must know His heart, attitude, mind, and life – which means I must be in the Scriptures … not only reading the Bible but also studying it (Saturation Bible Study).
Why This Is The Best Time To Start A Bible Reading Plan
January is often the time for resolutions, goals, and visions for what the year will hold. However, accordingly to a variety of studies, a majority of people’s resolutions and goals have already fallen to the waste side by this point in the year. They have gone back to “life as usual” looking forward to next year when they can make the same goals again.
But now that the luster of goal setting and resolutions have worn off – it would be a great time to determine, with the enablement of the Holy Spirit in your life, to press forward in reading the Word. We don’t want to move forward because its a goal or new year’s resolution, we desire to move forward in reading our Bibles because we want to know Jesus and become more intimate with Him. In short, our motive has changed.
What if we were so consumed with Jesus that we just couldn’t help ourself from reading His Word? What if it was a craving in our lives, not merely a duty we felt obligated to perform – wouldn’t that change how I approached Scripture? What if Leviticus wasn’t a dull and dry book filled with law but a book that pointed me toward Jesus? What if every time I approached the Word, I stopped and asked Jesus (through the infilling of His Spirit within my life) to give me wisdom and revelation and understanding about what I’m reading and how He is seen on every page.
A dramatic shift happened in my own Bible reading several years ago when I began looking for Jesus throughout the Old Testament. It was no longer merely good stories, moral lessons, or ancient history (which it is) – it became an adventure to seek and understand the heart of my best friend. He was there on every page, and I discovered a greater love, understanding, and intimacy with Him because I sought Him (see Deuteronomy 4.29, Proverbs 8.17, Jeremiah 29.13, Matthew 7.7)
How To Start Reading The Bible This Year
There are a variety of methods and plans to read the Bible. But one I would encourage you to consider is a plan developed by Robert Murray M‘Cheyne (1813-1843), a pastor and evangelist who spent his short life ministering for the sake of the Gospel in Scotland.
He desired for his church to read the Bible and thus came up with a plan where the members would read through the entire New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once throughout a single year.
The reason I love this plan is that it gives you short nuggets to focus and meditate upon throughout the day without being overwhelming. You don’t get bogged down in Leviticus because you have three other books you read from on that day. Moreover, I love how you end up reading the entire New Testament twice in the year – what a powerful focus to live in throughout a year. And there is something amazing that happens when you read the Bible this way: you start to see links and connections of themes, ideas, concepts, and truths all throughout Scripture. You may be reading in Matthew and Genesis at the same time and find that there is an amazing parallel between the birth of the universe and the birth of Christ that you may not have seen before.
The Challenge & The Plan
I challenge you to start reading the Bible if you haven’t already found a plan for this year. As Christians, we are called to be men and women of the Word. May this year be a year that we dive deep within its pages of Truth. May you come to know Jesus better this year than ever before.
Regardless of whether or not you use M‘Cheyne’s Bible Reading Plan, I encourage you to find some way to read and study the Word this year.
If you are interested in M’Cheyne’s plan, here is a link where you can download a pdf of it. Read the four chapters each day and press on throughout the year. Don’t worry about starting with January 1 (unless you feel so inclined) – start with today and read onward. If you find yourself with some extra time, go back and read the passages from the start of the month that you missed – but don’t get bogged down with trying to catch up now … you’ll feel overwhelmed and stop before you gain any traction.
And don’t worry, it shouldn’t take a lot of time each day – you can read the entire Bible through in a year if you read 10 minutes a day. M’Cheyne’s plan will likely take you 10-15 minutes a day; a small price to pay for greater intimacy with the God of the universe.