Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Read the Bible in 2019

Many of us made resolutions for the new year today, and most involve some type of self-improvement: join a gym, start a diet, quit smoking, spend less time on social media, etc. These are all worthy goals (even if most will fall by the wayside by February), but we typically overlook that a new year gives us the opportunity for spiritual goal-setting as well. And one of the best spiritual goals we can set is to spend more time reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible.

A Google search will yield any number of solid Bible-reading plans, the most popular being one that takes you through the entire Bible in one year. However, I do not recommend that plan here, simply because of the abandonment rate even among long-time readers of the Scriptures. They start strong, but fade somewhere around the middle of Leviticus. Rather, I am going to suggest a few options that are less ambitious but perhaps more valuable because you are more likely to stick with them.

The following are all simple to remember because they involve reading one chapter per day:

1. The New Testament in One Year. There are 260 chapters in the New Testament, and starting tomorrow (Jan 2), there are 260 weekdays remaining in 2019. This means that by reading one chapter each weekday (with weekends available for catching up any missed days) you will finish the New Testament in exactly one year, reading in small enough portions to easily finish each day but large enough sections to retain the context.

2. Overview of the New Testament. This plan involves only a few books of the New Testament, but gives a solid overview, especially if you have little or no prior familiarity with the Bible. Again reading one chapter per day, read the following books in this order: the Gospel of Luke, Acts, the Gospel of John, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John.. You will finish before the year is out, of course; in fact, it will take exactly 120 days. But by the end of that 120 days my guess is that you won't stop.

3. A Sample of the Old Testament. This plan is by its very nature incomplete (thus "sample" rather than "overview") but it will show God's plan of salvation from the beginning and also help you understand many of the Old Testament references in the New Testament. In this order read: Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra,  Nehemiah, Jonah, and Malachi.

With any of these plans, I also recommend that you read a Psalm each morning or evening. The Psalms are the prayer book/songbook of the Bible, and are quoted often throughout the New Testament. Most importantly, they are invaluable in developing your own prayer life.

Whether you use one of these plans or another you find, my prayer is that 2019 will see you become both more familiar with the Word of God and with the God of the Word. Happy reading, and Happy New Year!

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