“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” – C.H. Spurgeon
I love reading. But at the end of last year, I realized I was spending a significant more amount of time reading other books than the Bible. I read some really great books, but I was reading books about the Bible more than reading the actual Bible. So last year, I committed to reading nothing but the Word of God in 2017. I continued to read for the same amount of time every day (about 2 hours), but this year I have given that time completely to the Bible. It came out to be 10 chapters or more per day and I skipped back and forth from Old and New Testament. I have been able to read through all of the four gospels 5 times each, Acts and Proverbs 12 times, all of the New Testament letters 10 times, the wisdom literature 6 times, and the Pentateuch, the Historical books, and the prophets just once. I also kept a daily journal to reflect on things I was learning.
- I didn’t follow a specific Bible reading plan. I just committed to at least 10 chapters a day.
- I skipped back and forth from Old and New Testament each day. This reading pattern kept me from getting stuck in the more difficult books.
- One chapter a day in Acts and Proverbs, which allowed me to read both of those books every month. As the month started over, I began again.
- I always used the same Bible (not an e-reader) so I could quickly underline, jot down notes, and flip through pages easily.
- I tried not to be legalistic about the schedule, but allowed for flexibility. Some days I read more, some days less.
- I spent a few months reading the New Testament letters as they were meant to be read – in one sitting. I would dedicate a week to a letter, reading the whole letter at once and repeating the same letter for 7 days.
- I did not stop to exegete the text, I did not consult commentaries, and I did not break out my greek lexicon. I just read.
- I learned that I didn’t know the Bible as well as I thought I did. The Word came alive for me like never before.
- I have taken for granted my ease of access to the Bible. It’s strange how having an abundance of something can result in our neglecting it. Now it has become more precious to me.
- I was reading the Bible so much and so often that Scripture began to explain Scripture. The Bible began to comment on itself.
- It allowed me to get a great birds-eye view of scripture. I put to test Jesus’ words that the Old Testament is all about him. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Jesus was right. I promise everything makes so much more sense when you read the Word through the lens of the gospel. Every story whispers his name.
- The grand narrative of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is the multiplication of God’s glory over all the earth. God is committed to his mission and he’s committed to using broken people to accomplish it.
- From Abraham to the disciples, the whole story of scripture is a story of a pilgrim family in progress. A beautiful but dysfunctional family, full of brokenness and forgiveness. They were always on the move, carrying with them the good news of God’s love.
- I took notice to what Jesus did as much as what he said. I believe his actions are as inspired as his words. I’m learning not to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Because I don’t have the answer to that question. Instead, I’m asking, “What did Jesus do?”
- The Bible is about the Kingdom of God. It is a movement to be advanced, not an institution to be maintained. In Scripture, God is undoubtedly carrying his love around the world in what we call movements (disciple-making and church-planting movements). The men and women he uses to catalyze these movements rely deeply upon the Spirit of God to guide their efforts. They live in obedience to God, fully expecting him to do what he promised he would do.
Let me encourage you to spend a year in the Word. Read it a lot. Read large sections at a time. Don’t worry about the parts you don’t understand. Just keep reading and it will be come clearer and clearer. Allow Scripture to interpret scripture. It’s more than a good book. It’s more than a roadmap to life. It’s life-giving. It’s living and active. As you read it, it begins to read you. Rediscover the Father’s heart. Rediscover the movement Jesus started. Allow it to transform who you are. And allow it to direct what you do tomorrow.