Tips for Reading Through the Bible in 2017
1. Slowly read the Psalms and use them as prayers to commune with God, pray over yourself & others with them. Let the Psalms stir your heart to praise, worship & pray. In The Bible Project Reading Plan (a plan our church is using) there is a Psalm for each day, you may want to start with that Psalm to get your focus on God.
2. Avoid seeking to finish the task on the your daily reading so that you can merely check the box and feel better about your spiritual disciplines. Rather seek to know God & commune with God through the Scripture. God speaks to us through His word. His word is special revelation to us that we must cherish, delight in & mediate upon.
3. At the beginning of your time ask for God to speak to you. Aim to hear God’s voice as you read His inspired word by listening expectantly.
4. Don’t allow guilt, condemnation & discouragement to bog you down when you get behind. Your status with God as a chosen, loved & redeemed child of God does not change because you’ve gotten behind on your bible reading plan. You are not going to experience church discipline & excommunication because you’re not keeping up with the rest of the saints.
5. Use the audio bible to listen to portions of text that are more difficult to read through like the genealogies. If you get behind on your bible reading plan you could listen to your daily readings while you are driving to & from work, while doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, taking a shower, watching the kids play at the park, etc… You may want to play the audio version in car with your children listening so that they too can get caught up in excitement of God’s big story.
6. Make a daily appointment with God and keep it. Set a normal time & place that you could focus on God & His word without being distracted. You may want remove your phone. I would not recommend using your phone or tablet as your bible reading instrument for your devotions because you can easily be distracted and psychologically it’s not as helpful as reading ink on paper. I don’t fully understand that but there are studies & research that have discovered the strengths of reading a paper book over the weakness of reading ebooks. Here is an article that touches on that:
7. Seek to grasp the big idea of each book of the bible as you read it. Ask yourself questions like; What does this mean? What did the author intend to communicate? What is the context? What does this teach us about God? How does this correlate with other portions of Scripture? How does this relate to me? What does this teach about humanity? How does this apply to the Church? How does this apply to our culture?
8. Choose a version of the bible that you haven’t used before. If you like me grew up using the New King James Version you may find it helpful to use the New Living Translation so that you could read the text from a different angle. Using different translations can help if your experiencing some familiarity with the text or stagnation. My go to version of the bible is the English Standard Version but I will often compare the different translations when I am studying the bible for a sermon or teaching. And I’ll change up what version I use in my devotional times for the sake of freshness.
9. Mark up your bible and write little notes around the text. Allow the beauty of the inspired word to carry you away and captivate your attention. This could be helpful when you revisit the text or are looking for it to share with others. Also, your children and grandchildren may read your notes in your bible one day when you are long gone into glory.
10. Journal insights that you get. When we take time to heed & write down the insights that God gives to us form His word, we are acting as good stewards. This helps us in the process of meditating & reflecting on what we read. I’ve found that the more that I do this the more insight I will experience. It’s as if God’s sees our faithfulness with what He reveals to us and gives us more when we steward it well.
11. Go share with someone the insights that you receive from your time in the word. Use the insights you received to encourage, edify & inspire others. Your passion & excitement for God may be contagious to them and God might use you to stir others to seek God through the Scriptures as well. You could share your insights on Wednesday nights in our discussion groups. You could share your insights on our Facebook group and create a healthy & edifying dialogue around the Scripture. You could share your insights with your children. Let’s create a culture where we regularly are sharing what God is speaking to us.
12. Apply and obey what you read. You might receive some of the most profound insights as you spend time reading through the bible. And you might be super excited to tell everyone the deep revelation that God has given you but if you don’t apply & obey what you’ve read then you are missing out on a great blessing. Jesus told his disciples this at the last Supper; If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:17 ESV. Don’t miss out on the blessing of obedience to God. Jesus also said this; “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 ESV If you want more revelation of who God is then you must obey what He has already revealed to you. Beware of thinking that knowing the Scripture equals obeying the Scripture. Just because you know and can preach it or teach well, that doesn’t equate to obeying what you know.
13. Watch the video of the overview of each book on thebibleproject.com either before or after you read. There are theme videos as well that coincide with the readings and those are listed on the bible reading plan. These can be helpful to stir & ignite excitement & insight as we read through the bible.
14. Use a commentary when you have deep questions about the details. There are many free online commentary resources out there. First of all I would recommend getting a good study bible like the ESV Study Bible or the NIV Study Bible. If you want to use an online resource for commentaries then you might find these sites helpful:
15. Don’t give up if you get behind. If you’ve gotten so far behind that it is overwhelming to catch up then just pick back up on the current day. It’s really not a big deal. If it is very important to you to be able to say if you’re asked whether or not you’ve read the entire bible by an unbeliever with questions then you may want to use the audio bible to help catch up. But don’t miss that point of meeting with God, hearing from God, loving & obeying God. Getting behind on your bible plan doesn’t necessarily mean that you are living in sin. Your lack of spending time might be connected to an issue of sin but that is not always the case. Nevertheless I do think these words of D.L. Moody are true “The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible”.