This year, read your Bible – with a plan

January 1 (yesterday) is the day when a lot of Christians probably make a start on some kind of Bible reading journey for the new year.

Such a journey is a good thing!

Some will start at the beginning (as Maria told the Von Trapps, it’s a very good place to start) and some of those may find that once they get a few weeks in, the going gets tough: Numbers is actually about numbers!

Others will opt for some kind of devotional book or notes to help them along the way. Helpful, no doubt, if used wisely, but beware of mistaking the thoughts of the note-writers for the actual word of God. You should generally be aiming for more than a single verse topped off with an anecdote with a moral.

To make the most of your year’s Bible reading, it will probably be a good idea to have a clear plan. Hopping around from one day to the next may allow you to discover some nuggets, but on the downside it’s too easy to skip a day, skimp on reading time, or limit yourself to well-worn paths while large sections of Scripture are neglected.

It’s also worth planning for the whole year and not just the first part of it. If you decide to go for the E100 series, you need to know what you are going to do after day 100. If you decide to go for one of those high-intensity-read-the-whole-Bible-in-40-days programmes, you need to decide what to do for the rest of the year beyond February 9. If you decide you want to camp out on the Psalms for a year (5 a day will get you through them 12 times in a year), make sure you are getting some kind of exposure to other parts of the Bible as well. If your target is, say one chapter a day, to be well chewed over and applied, have some idea of where you are  going.

If you haven’t got started yet, take a look at a list of plans and devotional helps that the ESV Bible people have put together. They even have some options that make use of podcasts if you want to listen to the Bible being read (of course you can follow the reading in your own Bible at the same time). This year I have opted for one that goes through OT and NT at the same time, covering the whole Bible in the year.

Meantime, there is a blog post on the Gospel Coalition site where Matt Smethurst discusses a number of traps to avoid in your Bible reading this year.

Whatever you opt for, keep this advice from Terry Virgo in mind:

You don’t read your Bible to impress God. You read it to meet God. If you forget to read it, don’t feel guilty; thirsty yes.

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