2017 Bible Reading Challenge

As we approach 2017 I want to encourage and lovingly challenge you to join me on a journey of reading through the Bible in the coming year. I know that the idea of reading the whole Bible can seem intimidating. Admittedly, portions of the Bible are not “easy going.” And then there is the discipline required of keeping up -I know. Yes, that’s right, even pastors find it challenging to read through their Bibles!

But there is no substitute for being nourished upon and exposed to the whole counsel of God’s Word.

So how might we go about actually reading the whole Bible this year?

1. Pick a plan. Of course, you could just start in Genesis and read through Revelation (Charissa is following that plan right now). But there are also several different reading plans out there that expose you every day to different portions of God’s Word. Most plans provide a reading from the Old Testament and New Testament along with a Psalm or Proverb. The ESV website has an excellent list of plans that you can pick from, http://www.esvbible.org/devotions/daily-reading-bible/ . You may already have a plan and if that works for you I encourage you to stick with it. However, for reasons listed below I am going to propose to those who want to follow along with me that we use the “Daily Reading Plan” listed on the ESV website. This plan has one daily reading from the OT and the NT along with a Psalm. I wish this plan had a daily Proverb, but I’ll explain below why I chose this plan.

2. Pick a Bible. Some of you will have no problem printing out the list of the daily reading schedule and thumbing through you favorite Bible to find the passages. Others of us (yes, I’m placing myself in this group) really struggle to organize and discipline ourselves enough to keep that list with us and remember where we are (yes, I know that sounds pathetic). Here is where a daily reading Bible is EXTREMELY helpful. A daily reading Bible gives you the date at the top of the page with your assigned reading organized and printed for you under that date. I used a daily reading Bible this past year for the first time and found it, well, EXTREMELY helpful. One of the reasons this format is helpful is the built in accountability. I can’t fool myself that I have been reading my Bible if I go back to my daily Bible and find that the last date I read was over a week ago! But it is also helpful in that it is easy to chip away at catching up, or even reading ahead if you know you may miss a few days coming up. I love that all my personal Bible reading for the day is organized and collected in one place.

There are several excellent daily reading Bibles published, but after much hemming and hawing I settled on the new ESV MacArthur Drawing Near Devotional Bible. This Bible has under each date one reading from the OT, one reading from the NT and one Psalm. With this plan we will read through the OT once, and the NT and Psalms twice! I settled on this daily Bible because of the following:
a. The ESV is an excellent and readable translation.
b. The dividing of one OT reading, one NT reading, and one Psalm is simple. Another popular plan has you reading at least four different portions a day and I find it a bit difficult to focus in skipping around that much.
c. There is a brief devotional each day. You may or may not look at the daily devotional, but it is always to have clear devotional material around. Unfortunately, the daily devotionals are not tied to the daily reading. So, I personally will probably not focus on the devotional too much, but you may find it helpful.
d. The hardcover edition is inexpensive. In fact, I have one free copy for the first person that commits to joining me on this project and plans to use this Bible! Let me know if you would like a copy and I will place an order.

NOTE that you do NOT have to obtain an ESV MacArthur Drawing Near Devotional Bible to follow along with us. Again the plan is listed for you at the ESV website address above. I will also see if I can print out some copies of the plan to have available this coming Lord’s Day. Also, there is an AUDIO recording of the daily reading at the ESV website as well -a great tool if you have a long trip in the car or need help catching up.

3. Pick a Pastor’s Brain… Well, what I mean is that if you happen to choose the reading plan I am following, you may benefit from time to time from help on those more difficult portions of Scripture. I have hopes of posting comments on the more difficult readings, but I know that when I get busy or sick that may not work out. Nonetheless, because I will be reading the same material, I should be more ready and able to address whatever questions you might have as we go along.

4. Pick a time: TIME? Yes, this will take time (20 minutes a day). First thing in the morning is usually the best time for most of us. Even if we are struggling to wake up we are exposing our souls and minds to the most important realities of the day. Or perhaps you can read at night before bed and not fall asleep. The exact time doesn’t matter. What does matter is the determination to read your Bible.

5. Pick a place. Charissa likes to read in the chair in our living room. I like to read in the chair in the basement by the fire. Where is the spot that you will be comfortable and able to focus?

Regardless of whether or not you choose to read along with me this coming year, I hope this email stirs you up to consider afresh the importance of reading God’s Word. That said, I hope many of you will join me! Please let me know if you want to. We can do this with God’s help and each other’s encouragement and prayers!

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