Most of us recognize the value of consistent bible reading. It not only starts our day with a heavenward focus and helps us put the events of the day in perspective, but it also draws us closer to our creator based on how He has revealed Himself. Often, the challenge is to be consistent in prioritizing time in God’s word, and experience that value.
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Just like any relationship that is valued and growing, there needs to be time spent together. Time with God’s word is time with God. You are reading His word to you, and there is nothing that will have as big an impact on your relationship with God than having a constant supply of relational truth – teaching, reminding, and exhorting you to view God accurately, affectionately and in a preeminent way.
Truth that says, this is what God is like, this is what you are like, and this is how to combine those two realities in a sin cursed world. We need those truths each day.
‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4
I would like to review three different reading plans that can help you start the new year with a focus on, and a commitment to, God’s Word each day. You gotta eat right? Plan to eat good food this year.
Reading Plan 1 – Basic
Bible Gateway has some great bible reading plans. If you are just starting to read the Bible, I would start with either the ‘New Testament in a year’ or ‘the Gospels in 40 days’. A really nice feature Bible Gateway has is the option to email you a link to your text each day. That reminder may be the difference to faithfully being in the word each day and just not making it a priority.
They also have a smartphone/tablet app you can download. The nice thing about the app is it will remind you right on your phone for your daily reading. It will also let you set the time it reminds you so you position yourself to make God’s Word a priority.
Reading Plan 2 – Intermediate
YouVersion is another great tool that has a website as well as an app. The most popular reading plan is the ‘Bible in one year‘.
Another feature at YouVersion is that they have devotional reading plans, so you can do a seven day reading plan with a James MacDonald devotional, or a 3 day devotional with John Piper. This takes a bit more focus to choose your next devotional after you finish one, but the variety may keep you engaged.
The YouVersion smartphone app is called “Bible” and has an icon of a bible. The developer is named LifeChurch.tv and you can find it by searching for “YouVersion” or “Bible”. It is a bit confusing as you are not sure it is the YouVersion app until you look at some screen shots.
That minor annoyance is overshadowed by a bevy of features. First, there is built-in email delivery of your reading plan and built-in app reminders, as well as a progress report after each reading. If you fall behind, you can adjust your reading plan to get back into the habit. There is also a feature to have the text read to you, which is a nice touch.
Reading Plan 3 – Advanced
A great 2 volume book (kindle or paperback) that combines a bible reading plan with an excellent devotional is D.A. Carson’s, For the Love of God. This reading plan is based on Robert Murray M’Cheyne reading plan. M’Cheyne was a minister in Scotland, and he developed a reading plan that has 4 readings each day, two to be done as a family and two to be done individually. It is a good amount to read each day, and there are no app reminders.
If the daily reading amount is a bit lengthy, you can extend it to a two year devotional by doing the first two readings the first year and the last two the following year. The key is to be in the Word, not check off the date. Reading the devotional twice will not be a chore.
Carson’s comments on scripture are succinct, potent, and nourishing. One certainly can help their family read the Word with the goal of growing in their love for God using this tool. In conversation, I have referred to D.A. Carson as the Michael Jordan of theology. He may stretch you a bit, but his insight to God’s word will help your affections for our Lord increase.
If you are new to reading the Bible I would download the YouVersion or Bible Gateway app and read the ‘New Testament in a year’. If you need to get back to reading the Bible, I would recommend reading the ‘Bible in a year’. If you are looking to lead your family to read the Bible, although it is a bit of work and you may need to set your own recurring calendar reminder, you can’t go wrong with D.A Carson’s ‘For the Love of God’.
I hope God’s Word nourishes you and lights your path each and every day in the new year!