Many people, young and old, have committed to read the Bible through only to begin with enthusiasm and enter a time of busyness and become erratic in the plan and quit. For many this began as a New Year’s resolution. Often the resolution was made alone. Frequently these commitments could be supported in some simple ways.
I read a blog entry that offered five ways to encourage your Bible reading. It is entitled Jump Start Your Reading. In the post, the author offers five tips on how to succeed at reading your Bible through. I will share the author’s five tips in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- MAKE A PLAN NOT TO FAIL. Evaluate past failed attempts. What caused the interruption and stoppage? Was as it difficulty of reading certain passages? Was it your schedule? Was it lack of discipline or accountability? Was it the choice of a poor time of day. What can you do to make better plans this time? What if your commitment was to read 21 chapters per week rather than 3 chapters per day? That might encourage you to keep going even when you forgot one day. What if you moved it from morning to night if you have difficulty getting up earlier? Or what if you read at lunch or on breaks? What if you If you struggle reading through Leviticus every time, choose a Bible reading plan that reads Old and New Testament passages each day. What if your Sunday School class or small group Bible study worked through a plan together and encouraged one another?
- PERSONALIZE IT. Personalize the plan, but more importantly personalize the message in God’s Word. The blog post’s author states, “The Bible is meant to be lived out so look for the daily application….Look at it as a living book that will transform your life on a daily basis.” If you are expecting God to speak to you through your Bible study time, it will encourage you to keep going back. Expect to meet God. Expect him to speak. Expect a personal message. Expect the encounters to impact your life. Memorize verses that speak to you. Write down that verse on an index card and take it with you to review through the day. Make notes. Keep a daily journal of what God is saying to you and your prayer requests. When you read the Bible through together as a class/small group, you will regularly find group times when God speaks to the group with supplemental truths from your daily readings.
- FORGET JANUARY, START NOW. Where is it written that commitments can only be made in January? Why do we feel that we have to wait until January to start over again? Why not start now? As the author states, “Start now, and start where you left off last time.” What is most important is the daily encounter with God in His Word. Discipline yourself to meet Him. Don’t think of the time as a chore or duty. Instead, think of it as a time to which you are really looking forward: an appointment with God. You are meeting with your best friend, the most important person in the universe. If your group is making progress but you are behind, just skip what you missed and catch up. You’ll find benefit from reading together as a group.
- GET OVER YOUR FEAR OF HOW LONG AND DIFFICULT THE BIBLE IS. Don’t weigh the task of reading the whole Bible. Just focus on the daily portions. If you were studying for a school or college class, you would be grateful for chapters that were so short and that have instructions for life! Consider what you are reading to be a love letter from God. Let the words sink in. Seek to understand every truth that is there. God has so much love for you that the letter is long and worth reading over and over again. It is worth trying to understand passages that are unclear to us. I like the author’s closing sentence in this s ection: “Once you learn to read and apply it, you will be thankful that we got a big portion and not a puny one.” Choose an accountability partner from your group to encourage each other and check in with during the week to keep each other from falling too far behind.
- GET A BIBLE WITHOUT A BUNCH OF COMMENTARIES AND NOTES. I had not thought about this suggestion before. Some people are distracted by commentaries and notes. This can distract from completing the daily readings or make them much longer and turn the daily opportunity into a task we dread. As the author correctly states, “The Bible is the best commentary on itself.” There are many translations available on the internet, but don’t let using a computer or being on the internet lead you to be distracted. Find a method, translation, Bible, and time/place that allows you to spend one-on-one time with God. Listen to His still small voice. Respond when He speaks. Allow God to speak before you seek the voice of other commentaries. Read passages together as a class/group or with your accountability partner out loud. Look for ways to help each other to keep our appointments with God.
Wish you had made a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible. Don’t wait until the beginning of next year. Plan not to fail. Personalize it. Start now. Get over your fears. Read the Bible. Journal. Get an accountability partner. Encourage your class/group to join you on the quest. Start where you left off last time. Remember to think of it as an appointment with the living God rather than a task you have to complete. Reading the Bible and applying the truth to life can revolutionize Christians, classes, churches, and even the world. Let God loose in your lives. Be revolutionary!