You may think this is a shameless plug to encourage you to read the Bible in a year… and you are right! Guilty. However, this is also a short blog intended to help you get the most out of the Bible any time you read it.
If you haven’t heard, on September 30th ABC will begin a yearly digital Bible reading plan. If you want to join, consider this your invitation. Together we can read through the New Testament. For a further challenge, you can also add the Old Testament. As you read through our digital plan, you can ask questions, make comments, or invite a friend to participate.
New Testament Link: https://bible.com/p/18202330/0b86ef09da9c1c03bab772043ae04edd
Old testament Link: https://bible.com/p/18202287/4b348f519164a2afa3bdbf49a90b22be
The way you approach the Bible will determine how it blesses your life. The following are five thoughts to help you get the most from a yearly Bible reading plan.
1. Remember your main goal is to know the Lord (not accomplish a reading task.)
Sometimes we can look at Bible reading plans the same way a child looks at a chore list: “It is boring and burdensome, but I have to do it.” God’s word wasn’t written to be boring or a burden. It’s written to be a gift and a blessing.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
The Bible is the most incredible work of literature you could ever hold. It is God’s love letter to you, and He wants you to know him in a personal way Think about it. God is revealed through 66 books, by 40 inspired authors, written over 1500 years, on 3 continents in 3 languages and it has 1 theme. One Theme!!!! I can’t even hold a consistent thought for one minute, let alone understand how a book can keep one theme over 1500 years by 40 different people unless God orchestrated it. In case you are wondering, that one theme is God’s plan of redemption for your soul.
What book compares?
Even though we may not always realize it, it is a privilege to own a Bible. Many Christians around the world would love to possess a Bible and can’t. Christians throughout history have been martyred for following Jesus through his Word. Some Christians have given their lives so you can own an English Bible–John Hus and William Tyndale to name a few. Today you have opportunity to read it because of their sacrifices.
The more you appreciate the Bible as a gift, the more you will desire to read it and the more you will get out of it.
Yes, a Bible reading plan provides a reading goal, but don’t read to fulfill a plan. Read to know the Lord. Our one pursuit should be to know the Lord (Philippians 3:10). Read to know Christ and let His word bless you.
2. Remember, the Bible puts more emphasis on meditating than it does on studying.
Certainly, it is good to know the Word. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for erring because they did not know the scriptures (Matthew 22:29).
At the same time, knowledge alone makes us arrogant (1 Corinthians 8:1). God’s goal is not for you to be “Bible smart”. We can become experts at reading the Bible but fail to let the Bible read us. Studying can provide knowledge, but meditation fills the soul.
The word meditation can be translated as “a lion’s roar” (see Isaiah 31:4 the word roar is the same word for meditation). This seems like an odd way to translate the word meditation, but think about it. A lion’s roar provides amazing imagery. When a lion roars, it doesn’t just make a noise. A lion’s roar begins as a reverberation from the depth of their being. A roar is a natural outflow of a Lion. It can be heard from miles away. So when a Christian mediates, they don’t empty themselves as Eastern mediation might teach. Rather a Christian allows the word of God to reverberate in the depth of their being. So that when a Christian speaks, God’s word will naturally flow out.
Don’t just study the Bible’s words. Meditate on them and allow them to reverberate within you.
3. Remember the big picture… Connect a Bible story to God’s greater story.
Honestly, part of the reason people struggle to enjoy scripture is because they don’t see the bigger story God is telling.
The Bible declares one grand story behind all the smaller stories. To only see a Sunday school story is to fail to see how the Lord is orchestrating a greater plan. From Genesis to Revelation, God is restoring all things in Him. Jesus is greater than Adam and Moses (Romans 5:12-14; Hebrews 3:3). He is the true prophet, priest and king (Heb 1:1-2; 1:8; 4:14). He is the true Lamb, Temple, and fulfiller of the Law (John 1:29; 2:19; Hebrews 8:13). These pictures and illustrations tell a larger story of Jesus.
Jesus himself said he didn’t come to destroy the Law but fulfill it. Not one small stroke of the Bible will pass away until He fulfills it all. (Matthew 5:17-18)
As you read through Bible stories, remember God is the main character.
The Old Testament looks to Jesus. The New Testament… same. We too should look to Jesus through the biblical narrative.
4. Remember context.
Context matters. To get the most out of a Bible passage, take some time to understand the purpose of the passage for the original audience. We should seek to understand the “there and then” before we apply a passage to the “here and now”. Study Bibles help provide context to each book of the Bible so that we can better understand the content. If you join our yearly Bible reading plan (link is at the top of this page), some days provide a devotional section. The devotional section contains a short teaching video that provides context to the Bible passages so you can better understand the content. If you are new to the Bible, you will find this tremendously helpful. If you find the Bible frustrating to understand, this will also prove to be a powerful tool. Even if you feel like you know the Bible, the video teaching provides a great refresher.
5. Read out loud (when you can).
It’s astounding how much you can retain when you read out loud. I remember learning what impact reading out loud had on me when I was in college. In order to graduate early, I crammed 24 credit hours into my final semester of school. Trying to find any way to maximize my studying habits, I began reading aloud. It helped me stay focused, engaged, and (most importantly) retain the information. Surprisingly, I am not an auditory learner. Yet, for some reason when I read out loud, it helps me be a better student. For those of you who feel like you don’t have the strongest memory, try it!
No time in God’s word is wasted. We want to encourage you to know the Lord. Invite a friend to join you on a yearly Bible reading plan. Encourage each other along as you encounter passages that challenge you. Enjoy the gift of God’s word. Happy reading.