My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
About two years ago the women’s ministry at the church I was attending introduced me to a two-year Bible reading plan. My initial thought was no thanks! If you’re like me then you understand why. The idea of any lengthy reading plan made me a little nerves. Maybe it even made me cringe because I had attempted a few reading plans in the past and given up shortly after starting. Not being able to keep up, I felt guilt and sense of failure. But this reading plan was different because it was introduced with an abundance of grace.
As the leader of the women’s group talked about the reading plan she made it clear that perfection was not the goal. The goal was simply enjoy Christ through His word. She also made it clear that when I missed a day (or a week, or a month) of reading there was no need to get caught-up and that attempting to get caught-up would only lead to guilt and a sense of failure. This got my attention. She emphasized instead, to give myself grace and when I picked up my Bible again to simple start reading that day’s passage. Because of this grace-filled approach I decide to pick up a copy of the reading plan and get started.
It was actually March, not January, when I got my first copy of the plan. I didn’t try to catch-up. I simply skipped the first two month of the plan and jump right in. (So if you are reading this blog post for the first time and it’s not January 1st, don’t let that discourage you. Go ahead and download the plan and start reading today’s passages). I didn’t regret it, I didn’t feel the need to get caught up or guilt or a sense of failure, and it felt wonderful to have a “plan of attack” when it came to opening my Bible.
That “plan of attack” is one of the most satisfying things for me when it comes to having a reading plan. For most of my life I have felt lost when trying to read the Word on my own. Not knowing where to start or where to go next was discouraging and kept me out of the Word far too often. The reading plan provided a systematic approach to God’s words that helped to ensure that I received the full council of God.
The reading plan also took me through the Bible in such a way that I received the full council of God in-context. Meaning, no more pulling out verses here and there in an attempt fit my personal agenda. Instead, by reading the Bible verse-by-verse I was receiving His word the way He intended it to be read. One of the most amazing things I have found is that when I am struggling with problem X, Y, or Z, God routinely has provided the specific message I need through this reading plan. It’s not me digging out what I think I need to read, but rather it’s the Lord providing what I need to read when I need to read it. It is divine timing, indeed.
Because I have been so blessed by gracefully following a reading plan, I want to share one with you. The one I am providing in this blog post is almost identical to the one I started reading nearly two years ago. It will take you through the Old Testament once in two years and the through the New Testament every year. If you plan to follow this plan year after year, in 20 years you will have been through the Old Testament 10 times and the New Testament 20 times. Can you imagine how much wisdom you will receive, how well you will know your Saviour, and how familiar you will be with His Word after that much time?!?!
One last thought about following a reading plan: don’t do it alone. Get a friend or two to follow the same reading plan so that you can discuss any confusing passages you may encounter or share anything encouraging that comes out of the day’s reading. Knowing that someone else is reading right along with you provides connection and fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, when you read with a friend you can gracefully hold each other accountable when one or the other of you wants to give up all together.
And because I am such an advocate to using this reading plan and going through God’s Word with others, I have created a Facebook group where we can “meet” no matter where we are in the world. This group is open to any lady desiring to be in God’s Word more and in fellowship with other believers. (If you’re a gentleman and interested in starting a men’s Facebook group, feel free to contact me and I can help you get started.)
Remember, a reading plan is not something you have to do, but it can sure be a blessing when approached with a heart desiring to know God more. Remember to start your time in the Word with prayer and give yourself plenty of grace when you don’t follow the plan perfectly. No time in the Word is wasted. God is faithful to use your time to reveal truths about His character, about who you are, and His great love for you.
Only by grace,
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. ~ James 4:8a