We’re officially past the first week into the year and it may’ve been a bit of a rough start. Maybe there’s been no time to even think about scoping out a Bible reading plan. You may have Christmas decorations still staring you in the face (I remember one year when mine were still hanging around in February, yes, sigh, little ones and a full life kept putting that on the back burner!). Breathe in deeply and take a moment to receive God’s grace. He knows all that’s on your plate and He absolutely remembers your limitations.
But I want to encourage you, if you’ve started off the year a little off kilter, and haven’t even thought of a reading plan or a spiritual focus for the year, don’t give up already. It’s never too late to start!
Like I said last week, you don’t have to adopt a “spiritual focus” for the year in order to pursue God or cultivate a more intimate relationship with Him, but I’ve found that it helps to have a map that guides you toward a worthy goal. The yearly Scripture passage becomes a map and can provide you with a course for the year. Setting the heart toward a certain destination will produce greater results than wandering aimlessly.
When I first got serious about growing spiritually, I knew that meant being in the Word daily—but I never would’ve stuck with it consistently without a plan in place!
For several years I followed Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s reading plan which takes me through the Bible in a year, covering four different sections of Scripture a day. If you’d like to read more about this hero of mine who was known as the “saintly M’Cheyne” and died at the young age of twenty-nine, click here.
For more thoughts on tackling a yearly reading plan, click here.
I like M’Cheyne’s reading plan, it provides a daily dose of the whole Word of God. But I change things up occasionally.
Last year, thanks to Melissa Kruger’s post at The Gospel Coalition, I followed a reading plan that takes you through the Bible in one year through a five-day reading format. I really enjoyed using this plan because it combines Old and New Testament chunks (with a daily Psalm) and leaves room for a book study, too.
One year, I took one book per month to study and dig deep. For the past several years, I’ve studied with BSF and take an in-depth approach to books. (This year we’re enjoying seeing Jesus in the gospel of John!) But even when I’m studying a book, I like to continue having a daily course of reading through the Bible. It keeps the whole of Scripture running through your life.
This month, I’m focusing on the book of Job and really enjoying a commentary that I received as a Christmas gift: Job by Christopher Ash (published by Crossway). I like his approach to the book: “The story of Job is a shadow of the greater story of Jesus Christ” and with each chapter, Ash successfully parallels the two.
If you didn’t start with a yearly reading plan, don’t lose heart, it’s not too late to start! There is something tangibly motivational about starting new things on the first day of a new year, but if you didn’t plunge in the very first day of January, let today be the first day to start. Just dig in with a plan starting today!
There isn’t a perfect reading plan, the important thing is to be soaking in the Word of God. But I’ve found it helpful for me to have a guided course of reading. It helps me to stay on track. And it helps me to accomplish more than I would without a plan.
More important than studying or reading the Word is our approach to the Word. Don’t forget to come to the Word with an open and responsive heart, trembling in awe of our Sovereign Lord as we read:
[box]“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)[/box]
Have you started reading through the Word this year? If so, what “plan” are you using?