Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bible Reading Plans

I wanted to share with you a few Bible reading plans. I have already mentioned the Psalms of the Day in another post. Here are a few more.

If you would like to simply read all the way through the Bible, there are a plethora of “read through the Bible in a year" plans on the internet. There are several here on EWord Today and on the ESV website.

One problem that many people have with some of the year-long bible reading plans is that if you miss a day or several days or a week, that calendar just keeps on moving and before you know it, to catch up you’ll have to read for a whole weekend. Most people who get to that point end up saying, “I’ll never catch up now. I’ll just start over again next year.” Consequently, there are a lot of people who know Genesis and Matthew like the back of their hands, but very little about what is in the rest of the Bible.

Another problem with some of these plans is that they have you reading one OT passage and one NT passage per day, so that you end up reading straight through the OT in the mornings and the NT in the evenings, or whenever. Raise your hand if you’ve read all the way through Numbers? Leviticus? If you have, you are most likely in the minority. Reading a chapter a day out of the Pentateuch can be very laborious and some people will just give up after muscling their way through half of Numbers. This is unfortunate because these books have so much rich content. But when you read them straight through with no variety, the pages start to run together and you end up reading mindlessly.

There is one reading plan that I feel eliminates these two problems. It is not based on a calendar, so there is no such thing as getting behind. It is not based on one reading of the OT per day and one reading of the NT per day, so it doesn’t feel quite so difficult in some of the heavier books.

This plan simply divides the Bible into five sections: Law (Gen-Deut), History (Josh-Esth), Poetry (Job-Song), Prophets (Isa-Mal), and New Testament. Each day, you read one chapter in each section. If you have to miss a day, just pick up where you left off and don’t sweat it. Boredom will not be as much of a problem because you will be reading such a wide variety of biblical literature everyday. You will also benefit from seeing the unity of the Bible. You’ll be amazed how often something that you read in the Law ties into the day’s chapter in History, or how the day’s Poetry reading foreshadows the day’s material in the NT.

You may be thinking, “Five chapters a day?!” I know it seems like a lot, but it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes each day. You can split it up throughout the day if you like. The great thing is that if you are relatively consistent, you will most likely read through the whole Bible in way less than a year. You will finish each section of the Bible at different times, though not much different. Whenever you finish a section, just start it over the next day. This is well worth the effort and you’ll find that within the year, you have a much better idea of what is in your Bible.

If you have already read through the Bible several times and would like to become even more familiar with the Word, I recommend that you continue to read through the OT as mentioned above. But the material in the NT is more dense. The best way to breed an intimate familiarity with this testament is through the repetitive reading of smaller sections. For example, you could start with Philippians, which has four chapters. Read all four chapters every day for 14 days. At the end of those two weeks, you will have an intimate knowledge of Philippians.

If you wanted to start with Matthew, which has 28 chapters, you could split it up into 7 groups of 4 chapters, or four groups of 7 chapters. If you decided on the latter, you would read chs 1-7 everyday for 14 days. Two weeks later, you would have a solid idea of the content in Matthew 1-7. Then move on to chs8-14, and so on. Reading an average of five chapters a day for each 2 week period, you could have a very broad knowledge of the entire NT in just 2 years!

“Two years?!” you say. What else are you going to do with those two years? I guarantee you will not get to the end of this plan and think, “I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time reading God’s Word.” Rather, you will be amazed at the wonder and majesty of the God who created you and so graciously revealed Himself to you in His Word.

Whatever you do, make the most of your time. Don’t wait another day to begin feeding on God’s Word.

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