Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reading the Bible in a Year, the Easy Way

Do you like to make resolutions for the New Year? Is it a time for adding good habits, or dropping bad ones? Or both? I know in my younger years resolutions didn't seem to apply (when you're in high school what kinds of goals do you have- be less snarky to parents? Be kinder to siblings?). But now that I am a wife and mother, it seems like there is always room for improvement in my life! Last year it really struck me that I wanted to make some resolutions and try to seriously stick with them. I'd like to share them with you, now that the year is closing and I can give a full report. I'll spend the remainder of the year describing my 2013 goals and whether or not I accomplished them. I hope to inspire you to consider some goals for 2014 and perhaps through my story you can gain some ideas or tips to carry you through your own resolutions.

New Years Resolution #1

Goal: Read through the entire Bible in 2013

Have you ever tried to read through the entire Bible and given up mid-March? Or gotten stuck in Leviticus?  Many of us do. I trusted Jesus Christ for my salvation at a very young age- so let's say I've had at least two decades to read through the Bible. And I've never done it. I'm rather ashamed of that statistic. There are so many small obstacles that hinder this particular goal that I always seemed to get stuck on! I've tried daily reading plans, I've tried smartphone apps that send reminders each day, I've tried using a One Year Bible, but all of these wonderful aids did not keep me reading through the entire Bible. And I am not putting any of these methods down, they just did not work for me. If I got behind by even a single day, it seemed to wrinkle the entire plan until I was so far behind that I quit somewhere in 1 Samuel. But then, a year ago, I got an idea for 3 solutions that I thought might help me accomplish this goal in 2013.

Solution #1: Monthly rather than Daily reading goals. One of the small obstacles I faced every time I tried to read through the Bible was the demand placed on each day to finish a certain verse quota. I had so much momentum in January, but would force myself to stop after each day's readings. But if I missed even one day, I never could catch back up to the reading for the corresponding date. It was maddening! My idea a year ago was to have monthly goals instead. This way I could read as much or as little as I had time for each day. On days the kids slept in or I had more momentum, I could read more chapters. Some days did not allow me to read more than a chapter or two. I admit, a couple times I finished my monthly reading a few days into the next month. But that never set me back like daily reading did,  because I had an entire month to finish the new goal. I was able to take a break if I needed to, without falling behind since I had a month to make each goal. This has carried me through until today as I'm cruising through the Minor Prophets and will finish the Bible on schedule by December 31!

Solution #2: Begin in the New Testament rather than the Old Testament. Let's just say it, the Old Testament is harder to read through than the New Testament (please don't confuse this statement as me suggesting that the OT is not as relevant or important as the NT. On the contrary, "all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17). But it is a little harder to read through the OT. So, my second solution was to save the OT for last. I began reading in Matthew instead of Genesis, gaining ground by reading the shorter New Testament first. This was a great solution, by March 2013 I finished the New Testament! That gave me a huge push to make it through Leviticus (not as dry as you first think, by the way), Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And by that point I was already six months into reading through the Bible and had developed the habit. No quitting now!

Solution #3: Read it straight through rather than jump around. In my experience, most reading plans or one year Bibles take a selection from several books of the Bible for each day. Perhaps the idea is to keep us from getting stuck in the Major Prophets or something? (And again, if these work for you I am so happy. I just could not make them work for me, so please do not think I have it in for any of these methods). But for me it meant there was no context or continuity to what I read. I did not remember a thing, I did not learn anything, I felt I barely got into the Old Testament reading and then I was thrust into a New Testament passage, then tossed over to Psalms, and back and forth again (my pulse is actually racing right now as I remember my years of frustration about this). I believe that reading the Bible is not something to simply check off my to-do list. I want my life to change because I learn more about God from reading His words. I think the best way to do that is by reading the Bible straight through, like a novel and not a text book. Instead of jumping around, I read each book straight through as I came to it. I stuck to one book at a time, from Matthew- Revelation, then Genesis-Malachi.

With these three steps in place, I began 2013 reading Matthew. I am excited to say that this method has brought me all the way to the end! In a few short days, I will make it to Malachi and have completely read the entire Bible in the year 2013. And guess what, I loved every minute of it (especially, those "hard" books I was afraid of before)! Because I was getting the big picture of each book by reading it without jumping around, I can see the timeline of Biblical events like never before. Reading "scary" books like Ezekiel, Revelation, or Numbers was actually fun and I saw all the really great truths that I didn't know were there. Basically, I see the hand of God and the importance of every verse in the Bible now. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

I truly think this is the easiest way to read through the Bible. So much so, that I put together the entire reading plan for you! You can find the Bible In A Year tab at the top of my home page connecting you to the plan. I would like to also make a printable version for you before the New Year arrives- which I will do my best to fulfill. So stay tuned for that.

So, does this inspire you to try reading through the Bible in 2014?

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