Bible Reading Plan


On Tuesday, August 13 of last year, I published a post called "3%." You may not remember it but I do. In it, I explained that this year I'm completing a yearly Bible reading plan on my Kindle. Compiled by George Guthrie, the plan is called Reading God's Story and is a chronological plan, which means that it was arranged in the order of the dates the events in the books of the Bible took place and the dates the books themselves were written. But the key to that post ("3%") was that I'm reading this plan on my Kindle and so I don't see page numbers but rather what percentage I am through the book.

On August 13, just a couple weeks after beginning the plan, I was 3% through the Bible. Hence the name of that post. Today I'm 97% through. Hence today's title. I've got just over a week left before being done my reading plan.

There is a remarkable beauty in the discipline of daily devotional reading of the Scripture. There is difficulty too, but there is great joy and encouragement. In Here is Our God, an edited collection of the messages at the 2012 Gospel Coalition National Women's Conference, Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote,

When speaking on the topic of cultivating intimacy with God through the practice of a daily devotional life, I often ask the women attending to be honest and raise their hand if at this point in time they do not have a consistent devotional habit. Invariably the response is the same. ... Approximately 90 percent say, "I don't currently have a consistent devotional life." I mention this not to create guilt but to stress that there is no shortcut to spiritual transformation, hard as we might try to find one.
It is through beholding Christ in his Word that we see him and are transformed into his image, "from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor. 3:18). I thank God for the blessing and influence of godly preachers and good books. But they are only useful to the extent that they help us get to Jesus. They are no substitute for spending time with Christ himself. They cannot transform us. Only Jesus can do that.

You don't have to be following a daily Bible reading plan to have a daily devotion time in the Scriptures. But you do need to be having that devotion time! Reading, studying, and knowing the Word of God is the key to intimacy with God and fellowship in the Spirit. It is the key to spiritual transformation. It is the key to encouragement and joy and peace. It is the key to knowing Christ.

If you have fallen off the path of daily time in God's Word, may you be encouraged to return to it. If you have struggled lately with finding delight in reading rather than duty, may you be encouraged to see afresh Christ on the pages of Scripture. If you find yourself undisciplined, perhaps you should consider a Bible reading plan. If you are deep in the trenches of a plan or simply your own daily devotions, may you be strengthened and encouraged to continue on in the trek!

Devotions are not meant to be a bore or a chore, but a time of transformation wherein we grow closer to God. May this inspire us and ignite us in our desire for the Word!

For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:24-25)

End Note: If you're looking for a Bible reading plan but are unsure of where to start, Justin Taylor has compiled this excellent post with a wide, thorough variety of options. If you have more questions, feel free to contact me!

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Growing in Grace: January 2014

Some Thoughts on Reading Books - Dr. Mohler: "I cannot really remember when I did not love to read books. I do know that I was very eager to learn to read, and that I quickly found myself immersed in the world of books and literature. It may have been a seduction of sorts, and the Christian disciple must always be on guard to guide the eyes to books worthy of a disciple’s attention—and there are so many."

Actively Engaged in the Abortion Battle - An excerpt from Matt Chandler's sermon on abortion. This is especially noteworthy with the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade coming up on January 22.

When Women Lust - This article was not what I expected. "We all know that men struggle with lust. But what about women? While it's becoming more common to hear of women's struggles with pornography use, many women still perceive that they have the moral high ground over men. Such comparisons don't help because men and women often struggle in different ways."

Isaiah 9:2 - A neat illustration of a powerful verse.

The First Council of Constantinople - Challies has a weekly series going "on the seven ecumenical councils of the early church." If we think this history unimportant, we ought to change our thinking. The history of the church is extremely important, for as the saying goes, "if we don't know history, we're doomed to repeat it."

Jesus Must Increase: A Prayer for the New Year - What a beautiful, powerful prayer that I hope we all do pray this upcoming year.

The Ten Commandments of Twitter - If you're on Twitter, this is a must-read!

Change is in the Oatmeal - "Last week, the girltalkers met at Janelle’s house. We brought Chick-fil-a, sent the kids to play with Christmas toys, and set our laptops, notepads, and colored pens on the kitchen table. It was time to plan."

Reading the Bible - Lisa Spence has some excellent thoughts on Bible reading plans.

CROSScon - I was incredibly blessed to livestream the CROSS conference the last weekend of December. All the video sessions are online now, and I highly commend them to you.


Note: Despite being in Vancouver (safe and sound, by the way), I have written some posts that I'm scheduling to publish this week. So maybe the Garden won't be so quiet after all ...

I don't know if you have a Kindle e-reader or have ever used one before, but there's something particularly distinctive about reading on a Kindle. Kindles technically don't have pages. When I read a book I don't turn page one to page two to page three. I see the percentage of how much I've read of that book. So, say the book I'm reading is forty chapters, and I reach chapter ten. I won't be on page one hundred or one hundred and twenty. I'll be at 25%. The farther I get into the book, the higher the percentage tracker on the bottom of the device goes.

Last week I wrote about the chronological reading plan I'm using this year to read through my Bible. The plan, comprised by George Guthrie, is put together in a book called Reading God's Story. This book is a little unusual to me, for every year I've read through my Bible reading plan from an actual paper and ink Bible. This year, though, I'm reading on my Kindle. Reading God's Story was already owned by my dad and so instead of purchasing a paperback copy, I was able to read his - but it's an e-version of the book so it's on my Kindle.

All this to be able to share some exciting news with you: as of yesterday I have read 3% of the entire Bible this year! That means approximately 32 chapters of Genesis, a few Psalms and the first few verses of John 1. What a blessing to be able to read God's Word in a free country without fear of persecution. I don't need to be afraid to read my Bible in public, in private, at home, in the park, outside, inside, wherever, whenever, I can rejoice in "reading God's story"!

Where are you in God's story right now? The beginning at Genesis? The end at Revelation? Somewhere in between? Wherever you are in the Bible, rejoice that you have the freedom to read God's glorious Word and let us thank Him for it!

Reading God's Story

"Remember the instruction of Moses My servant, the statutes and ordinances I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Look, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.” 

Those three verses mark the final verses of the Old Testament. They're Malachi 4:4-6. And after I read them yesterday, I quietly closed my Bible, prayed and was thus done another Bible reading plan for another year. It has been just under eleven months since I started this read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan last September. I've used this plan before and liked it. It's called the Discipleship Journal by NavPress, and it provides you with a set of four bookmarks to mark the four places you read from each day - a portion of the Old Testament starting at Genesis 1; a Psalm or portion of wisdom literature; a section from one of the Gospels; and an epistle. Another thing I like about it is that it only gives you twenty-five days of Scripture a month, thus giving you time for catch-up if you fall behind or time for extra study. 

But now yesterday is over and today is here, and that means I need another plan to keep me disciplined every day in the Word. I was interested in trying a chronological plan, as a few people I knew had tried it, and I was curious as to how it worked. My dad pointed me in the direction of George Guthrie's Reading God's Story: A Chronological Daily Bible and its accompanying book, Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's Word. I don't have too much to say about it so far (I only started this morning), but I'm enjoying how Dr. Guthrie has laid out the plan and the book and looking forward to what is ahead. I will be reading the story of the Bible in its (as near as can be accomplished) chronological order. I won't read Genesis straight through to Revelation, but I will read the whole Word of God in the order the events took place. It should be an exciting year!

I don't know if you use a daily Bible reading plan or not, but if you don't, I'm here to say that I think you should consider it. If a "read-the-Bible-in-one-year" plan is too much reading for you, there are other plans. You can read the Bible in two or three years. That's what Travis did, and now before his fourteenth birthday, he'll have read the entire Bible, cover to cover. What a blessing! Or maybe you're like my mom, and you're so disciplined in the Word, you don't need a Bible reading plan because you read the Bible more than one time a year anyway.

But wherever you are, whatever you choose, we are commanded to read the Bible, for it is this written Word that is God's primary revelation to man. God reveals His character through Scripture, teaching you more about Himself and, in the process, more about yourself too. The Bible convicts, encourages, strengthens, blesses, builds, binds and grows. How can we not read it?

"Let the Word of Christ Dwell In You Richly"

As of tomorrow, I begin my journey through the Bible from start to finish - take three. I'm using a one-year plan in which I read two passages a day, one in the Old Testament and one in the New, created by this resource. So, for those of you who are starting a Bible reading plan now, like me, or who are in the middle of a plan, or who have never used a plan before, but are considering one, here's some benefits to a structured plan and some tips on using one:

Some Benefits:
  1. It keeps me accountable. If I don't have a plan, I will not be totally accountable in reading the Word of God. Without a plan, I'm easily tempted to skip a day ... or two ... or three ... and on and on it goes. A plan keeps me disciplined in the Word on a daily basis. Now, not everyone has the problem of discipline and accountability. For example, my mom. She doesn't use a Bible-reading plan, because she reads her Bible way more than she would in a plan. It all depends on what works for you. For me, I need a plan to keep me accountable.
  2. It helps me read the entire Bible. I found that before I started a plan, I'd be avoiding books that seemed "too hard" or "too theological" (my dad would say that isn't a term) to me. I'd read books like Genesis, Exodus, and then skip over Leviticus. I'd read Psalms and Proverbs and skip the Prophets. I'd read some of Paul's letters and steer clear of Revelation. What treasures I missed! A Bible-reading plan helped me to first discover the riches contained in the pages of each and every book of the Bible. A plan keeps me from reading just my favourite books and missing out on the wealth of riches in every book.
  3. It helps me see the over-all picture of the Bible. Each book of the Bible you read is like a puzzle piece, and, as you read, you put piece by piece together and you understand more clearly how the Bible works together as one unified, concise book. You see its key themes and they help you recognize the Bible as a whole.

Some Tips:
  1. Pick a plan that works best for you. I like a one-year Bible reading plan, but my brother uses a three-year plan. Neither plan is better, but mine does work better for me, as his does for him. Look around at plans and don't pick the first one you find. Get godly counsel. Talk to a pastor, mentor, or parent. Get their input. And then make the final choice on the plan that you like the most and which will work the best for you.
  2. If you're reading the Bible all the way through for the first time, read it with someone else. When I read my Bible for the first time with my dad, it made such a difference! I had someone who had read the same text as me and who was anticipating my questions and who was there for discussions. It was definitely a blessing!
  3. Pray, pray and pray some more. Pray for guidance in picking a plan. Then pray for joy in reading the Word. Pray for discipline. Pray for wisdom. Pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to you in the pages of His Word. And then ask others to pray for you. Prayer is the key to making it successfully through a plan. Pray before you read the Word. Pray after you've closed the Word. Pray as you read the Word. As Paul says in Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourself to prayer!" 

So as I begin my journey through the Bible this next year - take 3 - I want to encourage you in the Word. If you're in the middle of a plan right now, keep on keeping on! If you're not using a plan, but are studying the Word on your own, good for you! I greatly admire your discipline, your dedication, and your desire for the Bible! And finally, if you're considering starting a plan, I hope my words have helped you and encouraged you to take a deeper look into the blessings of Bible-reading-plans.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

A Time of Reflection and Meditation

Yesterday I finished my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. I was so blessed this time through, as I seemed to find so many things that caused me to think, "This couldn't possibly have been here the last time I read this!" But that's what happens when you read a Living Book! Now, today, as I've finished reading the Bible all the way through for only the second time, I pause for a time of reflection and meditation. As I stop and reflect, I want to share with you some of the verses that especially spoke to me this time in reading the whole Word of God:

"Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name."
Psalm 86:11

"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old." Micah 7:18-20

"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." Nahum 1:3

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35, 37-39

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:4-8

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son." Revelation 21:6-7

If You're 12 Or 22 Or 102....

You may or may not have heard about a book called Do Hard Things. It is written by Brett and Alex Harris. In it, they encourage readers to do things that may seem difficult. Not dumb things like swallowing flaming torches, but doing hard things for the Lord.Today I finished doing a hard thing: I finished my read-my-Bible-in-a-year plan. Yes, for the first time, I have read my entire Bible. I would like to share a couple of my favourite verses.

Proverbs 20:28- Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.

James 1:12- Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has prepared for those who love Him.

Revelation 22:20- He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

So, if you're 12 or 22 or 102 and you think that you can't read the Bible, I would like to encourage you. I think, no, I know, that you can read your Bible. If you're having trouble committing then I would like to share a few things that helped me to read my Bible...
  • Try using a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. I used one that had you reading four passages at once. I read an Old Testament passage, a poetry book, a Gospel, and a New Testament passage. I finished early because there was only 25 days per month, so if I missed one, it wasn't the end of the world.
  • Try reading the Bible with your parent, trusted friend, or pastor. I read mine with all three-my dad. We both did the same Bible reading, so if I had any questions I could ask my dad. He knew what I was reading and could answer my questions.
Reading your entire Bible, or even some of your Bible for that matter, is a hard thing to do. I can do it, though. You can do it, too.