Many of my friends have been talking about the Bible reading plans they’ll use this year. If you want to read the Bible in one year, a plan organizes the reading into daily chunks. Many plans offer more options than just starting in Genesis and concluding with Revelations. You can find Bible reading plans through your church, your denominational magazine or online.
Some plans come with a daily devotional; others suggest reading from a version you don’t normally use. Some have you read the Bible straight through; others suggest daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament and Psalms. Some present more of a chronological order which, while being more difficult to keep track of, provide you the historical flow of the Bible. You can even purchase Bibles that are already organized into that chronological order and broken down into daily readings.
For those who want a slower pace without having to read 3-5 chapters a day, there is a plan through Bible Gateway that has you read just the New Testament in one year. On the other end of the spectrum, one lady told me of a plan to read the entire Bible in 90 days! Bible Gateway has a lot of good resources for Bible reading if you find it convenient to do your Bible reading online.
What’s my personal preference? I like to be able to absorb Scripture. I’ve read the Bible through in a year several times but, I hate to admit, I found myself reading just to get the job done. I wasn’t applying or thinking deeply about what I was reading. Not the fault of the plan. I needed to reprioritize and take the time to let the message sink in. Still, my personal preference for many years has been to avoid spiritual speed reading.
Also, much to my embarrassment, I was flabbergasted when my husband challenged our congregation to read the entire New Testament in thirty days. This meant our people, mostly retirement age, would be reading virtually entire books in one day. Did the man have no respect for people’s busy schedules? I mean, getting the big picture of Scripture is a nice idea but how could anyone be a doer of the word when having to read huge chunks like that?
Much to my amazement, we actually had a number of folks in our small church accept the challenge. And it soon became obvious that I had forgotten about the ability of the Holy Spirit to accomplish what He desires when the word of God is proclaimed, to “achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).”
Mary, an eighty-five year old lady in our congregation took the thirty day challenge. During that month, Mary and her husband, Don, found a young man sleeping in their barn. His parents had thrown him out and he had nowhere to go. To the consternation of friends and family, Mary and Don let Michael sleep in their upstairs apartment, took him to Goodwill to buy him new clothes and altered one of Don’s suits so Michael would have something decent to wear to church. They talked to him about how to manage his money, how he needed to do the right thing by his girlfriend and how he needed to ask God to help him through the impossible obstacles of his life. They stood their ground through several fits of temper and helped him look for work.
“It was reading through the New Testament that convinced me of what I needed to do for Michael,” Mary told me later. “Jesus wants us to help the poor and needy.”
Mary learned the high cost of discipleship that she read about in the gospels too. Once, she sought advice a group of community women of how to find work for Michael. To her and my amazement, the women viciously attacked her for what she was trying to do. When I stood up for Mary, telling the ladies how Michael had changed, even accepting Christ as his Savior, the women brushed aside my comments. “You should meet his family,” one woman told me. “There’s no way he can change.”
Mary intercepted me on my way out, tears brimming her eyes. “Why can’t they understand?” she asked. “Isn’t this what Jesus wants me to do?”
An eighty-five year old lady speed reading through the New Testament had caught Christ’s message of grace and mercy far better than most do in a lifetime.
No matter how many chapters, which version, or which order you choose to read the Bible, the most important thing is that you just do it. God’s Word will have an impact on your life. Equally important, as you experience that impact, be willing to do what God asks you to do, no matter what the cost. Just like Mary.