Read your Bible in 90 days

1 Dec

As Christians, we read the Bible because it is how God reveals himself to us. In much the same way as the prophets could claim to speak God’s words with human lips (“Thus says the Lord”), the words of the Bible are God’s words spoken through the human pen (eg. 2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 1:1-2; 2 Peter 2:20-21). It is through his word in the Bible that we read about Jesus and our need for him. It is through God’s word in the Bible that God reveals his will for humankind. It is how he shows us what it looks like to live as his people, and the means by which the Holy Spirit convicts us that we fall short of that standard [John 14:15ff; Rom 7:7; Heb 4:12].

Because we believe that the Bible is both how we know God and how God changes us—as the Holy Sprit applies His word to our lives—we know that we need to handle God’s word with care. We need to wrestle with it, taking the time to make sure we understand what is being said. We pay careful attention to the context of the passage, who it was written to, where it fits in the flow of the argument, the meaning of significant words and a whole host of other important considerations. Because we rightly believe all of this, we often think that there is only one way to read the Bible: we read small sections of a few verses at a time and reflect carefully on their meaning and application. While this is a worthwhile and excellent practice, if it is our only practice, it may mean we miss out on the benefits of a more varied Bible reading practice. Take the following points for example:

 

  • We are in danger of missing the wood for the trees. We miss out on the big picture because we are focusing so hard on the minute details. This is particularly true of Old Testament books where we may actually need to read a large number of chapters at once to rightly understand the significance and appropriate application of what we are reading.
  • Similarly, in a letter like Romans there are arguments that run over a number of chapters. In fact, the whole letter to the Romans can be thought of as one continuous argument from start to finish. Limiting our Bible reading practices to short passages only can miss out on this element.
  • We will only ever read a very small part of the whole Bible each year. In fact, there may be some books of the Bible that you have never read, even after being a Christian for many years!
  • We tend to neglect books like Leviticus and Numbers, and even the Major Prophets, as they simply take too long to read and begin to feel monotonous very quickly.

I like to get around this problem by varying my Bible reading practices. At times I will read slowly and carefully through a book. But at other times I will read much more quickly, covering large sections of text at rapid pace. In fact, I have just finished a plan that reads through the whole Bible in 90 days and absolutely loved it! There were so many things I noticed, some of which I had never really picked up on before. Here are six key things I noticed:

1)  The obvious movement from promise to fulfillment (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly and sometimes both);

2)  Repeated words and phrases;

3)  The way themes develop across books or even sections of the Bible (eg, across the Pentateuch or the Psalms);

4) The way that the prophets preach a unified message whilst highlighting different aspects of the message;

5)  The unity of the Bible’s message as a whole;

6)  I felt more familiar with what Bible teaches about certain topics or issues and where it teaches them.

While careful, close reading of the text will always be my bread and butter when it comes to Bible reading, I’m thoroughly sold on the value of including the Bible in 90 Days reading plan in my own reading every year.

I realise that something like this plan might not be for everyone (I was reading around 15-22 chapters a day at about 1 chapter a minute). But don’t be discouraged too quickly. There are plenty of plans that will help you to cover lots of the Bible in a good amount of time. Check out some of the links below. If that still seems like hard work for you, why not start by trying to read through Galatians or Ephesians in one sitting? Even the Gospel of Mark can be read in about 2 hours reading at a gentle pace.  

There are a number of people at SNAC who have now also taken up the Bible in 90 Days challenge. Why not join in for yourself and reap the benefits?

 Brendan Moar

http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/all

http://www.whoisbarabbas.com/images/bible_reading/schedule.pdf

http://www.biblein90days.org/

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/

 

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