Monday, December 29, 2014

Daily Bible Reading

This is the time of year that many people are thinking about goals and resolutions for the new year.  May I suggest that if you don't do anything else, you make daily Bible reading something that you resolve to do?  There are many, many "programs" out there and there are many ways of reading.  The key is finding something that is exciting and motivating for you as you strive to make this a habit in your life.

There is a song I sing with my children that goes like this:
Read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day, pray every day,
Read your Bible, pray every day, and you'll grow, grow, grow.

This is a toddler song, so basic and yet so true.  But daily reading and prayer is so... daily!  It requires a different kind of strength.  Daily faithfulness and diligence is something that so many of us are lacking. 

I devoted my life to Christ 22 years ago.  I must confess that it is only within the last several years that reading God's word has been a daily habit.  I always wanted it to be a habit, and I made several good starts, but never made it very far before woefully neglecting my reading.  I can only blame myself for this failing, and after some reflection I think that I just didn't have a strong enough desire.  Now I am at the point where if I miss a morning, I can feel it in myself all day.  I feel desperate to get my reading in and I do what I can to carve out a time for it.  It is the most important part of my day.  How did I get to this point?

I read Psalm 119 every day for about 3 months until I cultivated a love for God's word deep within my heart.  God's word is amazing and powerful.  His Holy Spirit worked upon me and cultivated a true love for His word.  Psalm 119 is all about love for God's law and His word and reading it so frequently grew that strong desire in my heart.

Then I chose to read something that truly interested me.  I read through the major and minor prophets in chronological order.  At that point in my life, I had a very clear understanding of the sequence of major events in the Bible narrative.  Placing the prophets (from Isaiah to Malachi) within the context of the time in which they were written and the events happening during that time really opened up my understanding in an exciting way. 

If you do not have a good understanding of the major Bible events, I suggest learning the "17 Time Periods" and working on memorizing them.  These can be found in "The Three Cycle Approach" by Bob Waldron and provide an excellent framework for all Bible learning. 

Now, to my current reading -
I have been using Grant Horner's "10 Lists" Bible reading program since November and was asked to give a bit of a review.  I have found this to be a very good fit for me right now.  I have modified the program for my own needs and I find it to be extremely flexible, which I need!  I have combined a couple of the lists to make it 8 lists.  Basically, I read one chapter from each of the 8 lists each day.  5 Old Testament and 3 New Testament readings.  This takes me 30-40 minutes.
Before I started the program, I was reading about 3 chapters a day and it felt like a huge leap for me to go from 3 chapters to 10, so that is why I made it 8 lists. Maybe once I've been doing this for a while I will make it all 10 lists.

My life is filled with interruptions and I have very little freedom with my time, so on days when my reading is cut short, I read the Old Testament in the morning and the New Testament in the afternoon.  Or Old Testament one day and New the next.  There is no real "schedule" which I appreciate very much (no extra guilt or feeling "behind").  You just pick up where you left off the last time.  When you finish a list, you start over and read it again. The cyclical nature of reading this way means you never read the same exact thing twice. 

What I like best about this reading program is that it is highly motivating for me.  I get the most excitement in learning by making connections.  Connections are so interesting and exciting to me.  There are fascinating connections nearly every day by reading 8 different chapters throughout the Bible.

An example of this is one I just read today.  In Genesis 32, Jacob was wrestling with the angel and named that place, "Penuel", which means "Face of God".  I also read Judges 8 where Gideon and his men traveled through Penuel.  Sometimes the connections are small and spiritually insignificant like that one, and sometimes they are major ones.  Either way, I stay motivated and interested and that has helped keep this habit alive and my mind engaged in God's word.  And my learning and understanding has been growing by leaps and bounds too.

I wanted to explain my experience with this reading program a bit, but I don't think it is the only way. Mostly, I would encourage you to just DO IT.  Just read!  Let God's Holy Spirit work upon your heart and grow in your love for Him and His word.  

Matthew 5:6 - “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

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