So it’s now the 8th January… how’s that New Year’s resolution coming along? Have you taken the first bite of chocolate? Have you skipped leg day? Did you give in and devour the whole bag of crisps?
New Year’s resolutions aren’t bad things but we are bad at them. After a week or two (if we last that long!) we give up and continue life as normal. Sadly this is also true for our spiritual New Year’s resolutions, isn’t it? So many times I have spoken to people who have said that this was the year that they were really going to do it, this year they would read their Bible and pray every day. Is it really that easy? Well yes and no…
Yes, it’s easy because all it takes is a little bit of discipline and maybe even a wee reminder on our phones and we can read our Bibles and pray. But at the same time, no, it isn’t that easy. We are busy people, life is hectic and each minute already seems to be squeezed to the maximum.
Therefore, I thought I’d give you a few things that might help you at the beginning of this year to read your Bible and grow in your love for the Lord and for His Word.
There are plenty of different ways to read the Bible; there are Bible reading plans with different time scales (3 months, 6 months, 1 year or 2 years), there are Bible book devotionals that help you walk through a book at a time and there are devotional books that help you think through and apply Scripture to your life. Let’s have a wee look at some…
Over the last few years I have tried to read through the Bible every year. This really helps to get the meta-narrative of Scripture and to give you a good Bible overview. But there are different ways of doing that.
90 day plan
This plan involves a lot of reading, or listening. I have only done this once and whilst it was helpful to see the big picture of Scripture, it can feel as if you’re on a bullet train going through the most beautiful sceneries in the world. If you’re looking for a bit of a slower pace than this then this next plan might suit you…
M’Cheyne reading plan
This plan will take you through the Old testament once and through the New Testament and Psalms twice. I used this plan in 2018 and really enjoyed it. You can follow it in different ways (morning and evening readings, family and personal readings or just all in the one go). If you’re new to reading the Bible then these plans probably aren’t the best place to start. But this might be…
Bible in a year
This plan takes you through the Bible in a year if you read 5 days a week. This plan is a bit slower than the other two, but it gives you the opportunity to reflect more and to meditate on God’s Word. There are plenty of other plans, and here is a link to even more plans if you want to see what’s out there. You don’t always have to read the Bible in a year, it’s just a practice that I found very beneficial.
Bible Book Devotions
Or maybe you’re completely new to reading the Bible, or you just want to spend some time in one book for a little while. If that’s you then these books will be really helpful. 10ofThose have a series of undated devotions books on different books of the Bible. I’ve used them for my personal reading, for my reading time with Sabine and for reading with others. Here are three examples for you…
Sometimes when people hear the words Pastoral Epistles they freak out a little bit – are these books for the ‘average Christian’? Aren’t they confusing? I won’t be able to understand it so why bother? Carolyn Lacey does a great job at breaking up the book of 2 Timothy into bite size chunks, she gives helpful explanations as to the meaning of the text and helps you think through the application of the book with insightful questions.
The Gospel of Matthew is the most ‘Jewish’ Gospel, it’s full of Old Testament references and nuances, and it’s the detailed eye witness account of the life of Jesus. As Christians we can often become familiar with Jesus’ life and skim-read the gospel because “we know it”. Matt Searles invites you to take it slow and in 46 devotions to meet Jesus as Matthew portrays Him. This little devotional book will lift your eyes to see the beauty, magnificence, glory and deity of Jesus Christ.
The Psalms have been loved, read and sung by millions of people throughout history. People get drawn in by the beautiful poetry, the honesty of the struggles and pain of life, and the beauty of our Great God. Graham Hooper does a tremendous job of explaining the context of each Psalm (from 51-100) and unpacking exactly what the Psalms teaches us about God, His character and His Ways.
Daily Reading books
There are tons of brilliant books out there that usually take a few verses a day and explain them a little bit, give you some food for thought regarding application, and then have a prayer at the end. These books can range from as small as a paragraph to being a few pages a day. I’ve used a number of different ones over the years but my favourite at the moment is…
Reading between the lines by Glen Scrivener
My wife Sabine and I started using this book as our morning devotional together at the breakfast table, and she said that this book is her favourite devotional. In a page or two each morning Glen Scrivener unpacks deep theology, big concepts about God and mind-blowing Biblical truths in a way that is so easy to read, relatable and understandable. I am challenged and encouraged every morning.
I have already done some underlining to quote him in future sermons! This book does exactly what it says on the tin (or on the cover): it points you to Jesus, warms your heart and encourages you to keep going as a Christian. If you’re looking for a gift to brighten you up on the cold and dark January mornings I highly recommend buying this book. This book really is excellent and I’m saying that as a bit of a book snob! All of the readings in this book come from the Old Testament, but Scrivener brings in New Testament passages and helps the reader see how the Old Testament points to Jesus. If you don’t have a copy of this book then you’re missing out and you should buy one!
And PS: it’s undated so you’re not too late in 2019!
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