As the pages of a new year are turned on the calendar lots of people resolve to do something in the year ahead. Many make the resolution to loose some weight. The holiday season has packed on a few extra kilos and so people turn up at the gym and begin a routine of working out. For others it might be to get out of debt. Or attend church more often. Or to improve time management. Take a holiday. Quick smoking.
I like to suggest a challenge to you that you could turn into a resolve for 2017. Simply this: read through the Bible and take another person along with you on the journey. Since I took my faith in Jesus seriously as a young teenager, I have made this commitment time and again. There were times when I began well, but then the urgent took the place of what was most needed. One gets busy, and commitments fall by the wayside. In the last couple of decades or so, I have been much more committed in my devotional habits. You might think that this growth in commitment has come from a growth in faith. Perhaps. I really think this growth has come from me doing this journey with others. As you disciple others, you grow in your commitment yourself. You read the Bible more, pray for faithfully, and your engagement in witnessing to the gospel increases. Hence my challenge to you: read the Bible and take another person along with you on the journey.
Let me tell you what I am doing with one young man I am discipling. This year we have resolved to read through the Bible using Tim Chester's Bible reading plan. You can get a copy of this plan right here: three-year-weekly-reading-plan.doc . I have come across many reading plans but I like this one. Tim explains: This plan has a number of differences from other plans.
The plan specifies a number of chapters for each week rather than for each day. This makes it more flexible. You can read a chapter or two each day or you can read it in two or three sittings. Or you can set out reading a chapter a day and then catch up at the weekend. It means it fits more readily around people’s lifestyle.
It is designed to be followed with a partner or among a group of people. There is only one section each week (occasionally two shorter books). So you don’t have to read a section from one book and then a section from another book each day. It means the sections are somewhat uneven, but it makes it easy to discuss what you have been reading when you meet up with other people.
We’ve been using it for a year now and it works very well in this way. I meet up with a friend each week for lunch. It’s easy for us to discuss what we’ve been reading because there is only one Bible book to focus on.
It also means I only need look at the Bible plan once a week – I don’t need to refer to it each day.
Following this plan you read the OT in three years and the NT twice in three years. This works out at about nine chapters a week. It means you are not rushing through what you are reading to ‘get it done’. I’ve found with other plans I tend to read it with my mind disengaged. This plan gives time to meditate on the passage.
The plan balances OT history, prophecy, wisdom, Gospel and Epistles throughout the year. You move between genres so you’re never faced with reading OT prophecy continuously for six months.
So what I do is meet weekly with this young man as we go over the section of the Bible for that week. We use the SOAP method of Bible reading: SOAP-Bible-Reading-and-Journaling.pdf. We simply read sections, observe what God is saying to us, apply it to our lives, and then end by praying about these things with each other. And it works well. And in time it will get us through the entire Bible at least once, and some sections twice.
But you don't have to use the SOAP method. Some people prefer the Swedish method. Check this method out here: The-Swedish-Method.pdf. Use whatever method for study that works for you. The key is to read the Bible, meditate on it, applying it to your life and asking God for the strength to put his Word into practise. It might be a command to obey, a promise to cling on to, or a truth to affirm. There is much blessing in doing this, as the psalmist reminds us: "Blessed is the one ... whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)
Are you up to the challenge? Make a life-changing resolve for 2017!