As we begin the New Year, we encourage you to intentionally give yourself to reading the Bible on a daily basis. The Bible is the living and active Word of God, unfolding God’s story of redemption through the saving work of Jesus that continues today. The Bible is one of the primary means of grace that God has provided for us to have an intimate relationship with him, hearing what he’s speaking to us and how he’s inviting us to respond. The main reason we encourage you to be in the Scriptures is to deepen your relationship with God, learning about him and his love and what it means to follow him. Our hope is to see our church daily reading God’s Word, enjoying the gospel, and engaging the whole counsel of God as a community.
Instead of opening the Bible to a random passage each day, I strongly recommend you use a Bible Reading Plan that will lead you through a large swath of Scripture or, even better, the whole Bible. There are many wonderful Bible Reading Plans out there and we want to suggest a few for you to consider for 2018:
- ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan – This is the reading plan that Claudio and I are both currently using (and Claudio’s used for years). The plan provides you with one Old Testament reading, one New Testament Reading, and one Psalm. Over the course of a year, you’ll read the Old Testament once and the New Testament and the Psalms twice. The ESV’s website hosts this plan as well as many others for you to access digitally and for you to begin on any day. As with the others, you can set it up to email you the plan each morning.
- 5 Day Bible Reading Program – This is the plan I used for 2017. It takes you through the entire Bible in a year in a somewhat chronological order while only reading five days a week. This allows days to catch up if you happen to miss or a couple days a week for more focused study on a passage you’re looking into. It’s also designed for you to begin at any time and to run for 52 weeks.
- M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan – Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s famous Bible Reading Plan was written for his church when he was a 29 year old pastor (who would die at 30). The plan takes you through the entire Bible in a year with two Old Testament readings and two New Testament readings each day – one set originally for the morning alone and one for the evening with your family. The ESV’s website hosts this plan as well as many others for you to access digitally and for you to begin on any day. As with the others, you can set it up to email you the plan each morning.
- Chronological Bible Reading Plan – Instead of working straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the Chronological Reading Plan orders the Bible according to when events took place and books were written. This allows you to see the Scriptures from a different perspective and find connections between passages you may not have recognized before. The ESV’s website hosts this plan as well as many others for you to access digitally and for you to begin on any day. As with the others, you can set it up to email you the plan each morning.
- Daily Office Lectionary – If you’re not looking to read through the Bible in a year but would like to learn from a wide variety of Scripture in the form of shorter passages, try the Anglican Daily Office Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer. Each day, you will read from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Gospels, and Psalms but in smaller amounts than one of the plans that reads the whole Bible in a year. Like many of the other plans, this was originally intended to split up with some readings in the morning and some in the evenings. The ESV’s website hosts this plan as well as many others for you to access digitally and for you to begin on any day. As with the others, you can set it up to email you the plan each morning.
If you’d like more information on how to read the Bible, find Jesus in the text, listen to the Spirit, and grow in relationship with God, check out our REAP Method for How to Read the Bible.
Here’s my encouragement: Don’t stress over what plan you pick just pick one and intentionally guard time with the Father each day in the Word. In each passage, look to see who God is and who we are and how the passage reveals the good news of the gospel. Use your readings to lead you into prayer and deepen your relationship with him. If you miss a day, don’t worry about going back and reading. Just pick it up where you left off and keep going. Watch as the Spirit works in you and fills you with joy in the gospel.