January always feels like a good time to start reading your bible again. There is something about the freshness of the 1st of January that brings about the urge to open up those thin wisps of paper or press the on button and begin reading it. There are lots of different types of plans and methods on how to read it, and lots of ideas on how to keep to that discipline.
There are several people in my church starting to use a plan that Phil Moore has been using and tweeting about. It is quite a nice one with 3 sections to read each day.
I personally use the one that Ron Frost uses and who inspired me to read up to 10 chapters of the bible a day, from Genesis to Revelation to capture the story of the bible in bigger chunks. I have to admit I adapt this to do what I can, some days I read 10 chapters but some days I find myself reading less (especially if they are long chapters!!).
Any method you use is good, find one that suits you. Whether reading in bigger chunks or moving from one chapter to another from different parts of the bible, whatever works for you. I have been doing the bigger chunks bible reading for the last couple of years and I have found it helpful and enjoyable.
But as you begin to start your bible reading, I just have a few things for you to think about:
1. Why are you reading your bible? This may seem like an odd question. I mean as Christians its obvious that this is what we do. We read this old-looking book and try to make sense of it, right? I think if you are approaching your bible reading simply out of a sense of “This is what I have to do“. Then you will find yourself giving up at the end of February, bored and disheartened! Instead our desire to read the bible must come from a desire to know Jesus more. Every time we pick up that book, it isn’t out of fear or guilt, but out of curiosity and a desire to seek and know our wonderful saviour.
2. You are not the Hero in the bible…Jesus is the Hero. From Genesis to Revelation. It is all about him. Too often we think we are primarily the main characters, that we are King David, Boaz, Job and that the Psalms are about us, that we are the center of the parables. And although they will teach us much about ourselves, we should not think first about how we are to be like them. Instead we are to ask “What does this teach me about Jesus?” “How is Jesus like David, Boaz, Job? and how is He better…?” This will put your bible reading into perspective.
3. Ask questions and underline...Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are lots of stories and hard bits in the bible and it’s ok to ask questions! Underline bits you like and also the tough bits, the bits that are hard to understand. Find someone to talk to about those bits or read commentaries.
4. Read in Community… For some reason we have made bible reading mostly into an individual activity. Yet this would never be the case over 2000 years ago where communities would gather together to listen to bible readings. They didn’t have their own individual bibles! Reading scripture together or at least discussing what we have been reading is a brilliant way to keep accountable, to share what we are learning and to build up the church in encouragement. So my question to you is: Who will you read the bible with this year?
5. Guilt-Free bible reading…
During the year you will find yourself missing a day or two of your bible reading plan, which will no doubt bring about a lot of guilt. The reason you and I feel guilty when we miss reading our bible is because we secretly think that the Father is more pleased with us when we read the bible and he is very angry when we don’t. This is a lie. A lie that plagues us. A lie that seeps in and destroys us and it comes down to thinking that our standing with God is based on what we do rather than what Jesus has done.
Guilt free bible reading is about knowing and loving Jesus more with the help of the Holy Spirit by reading about him on the pages of the bible which has been given to us as a gift. If you feel guilty for missing a bible reading then your joy in reading the bible will diminish quickly and your motivation may be skewed into thinking the Father loves you more if you keep up with your bible reading.
In 2015 I hope you have guilt free bible reading and you enjoy the richness of Jesus Christ as you read about Him on the pages of the bible.