Yesterday I finished reading through the Old Testament. Today I read Matthew 1-4 as I started to read through the New Testament. Before I kept moving forward in my Bible reading, I took some time to thank the Lord for a great first nine months reading the Old Testament through my church’s Bible reading plan.
A few weeks ago, I heard Tommy Nelson, the lead pastor at Denton Bible Church, say he has never “gotten over” God’s Word; that even after reading and memorizing much of the bible, he still is overwhelmed by the fact that God has spoken to us through His Word, and allows us to know Him through the bible.
I desire a love for the Lord and His Word like Tommy describes. But I know I won’t get there without being intentional in my bible reading.
Some of the best advice I ever heard on how to read your bible on a daily basis is to have a time, a place and a plan.
- The time indicates WHEN I plan on reading my bible. Most of the time, I do my quiet time and bible reading first thing in the morning when I wake up. Before I check email, get showered, have a meeting or even communicate with another human being, I like to read God’s Word.
- The place indicates WHERE I read my bible. I have a work desk in my office cluttered with books, papers and my computer. My “bible reading desk” is a clear desk with no distractions and no electronic devices. I know when I sit in this particular chair, at this particular spot, I am going to read God’s Word.
- The plan indicates HOW and WHAT I read in my bible. I read every day with an open journal and an open bible. I capture in my journal what I learned in any particular passage. I am so thankful for the plan I have followed the past 11 years. Since 2005, I have walked through the bible following my church’s bible reading plan called Join the Journey. Each year we journey through a different section of the bible, or like we are in 2015, we might read through the whole bible, cover to cover.
I am excited to start the New Testament, but finishing up the Old Testament yesterday sparked some thoughts on a few lessons I learned and captured in my journal these first nine months of 2015 while reading the Old Testament. Truth be told, I could share something almost every day, but the below bullet points are the themes/lessons that seemed to repeatedly challenge and encourage me.
- How we finish is more important than how we start. Look no further than the example of David and his son Solomon. Solomon started with more wisdom than any other human being, but ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines. David, on the other hand, committed some major sins, but ended strong. I certainly didn’t start the first 24 years of my life well, but I hope to finish strong that King David. (1 Kings 1-4)
- God is faithful even when we’re not. He keeps His promises to us, always. He is a covenant-keeping God (2 Chronicles 21-25).
- Don’t just study the Word. Read it, study it, live it out and teach it to others! (Ezra 7-8).
- The right response is to pray. Always. (Nehemiah 1-2)
- Wisdom comes not with age, but with following God. Wisdom comes from knowing God, obeying His Word and applying His truth (Job 32-34).
- I have come to love the authenticity of the Psalms (i.e. Psalm 51), the wisdom of the Proverbs (i.e. Proverbs 7 and the warning against the adulteress) , the vanity of life on our terms in Ecclesiastes and the reminder that God alone satisfies us!
- The prophets: Do what God tells us to do, regardless of how people respond.
- I am grateful God chases after the “Gomers” of the world like me. In the midst of my infidelity, unfaithfulness, sin and rebellion, God chased after me like he tells Hosea to pursue Gomer (Hosea). I read the book of Hosea in the middle of a tough few weeks at the end of the summer, right when I needed to be reminded of God’s love for me and His desire for me to abide with Him, not run from Him (see also Jonah).
I also learned a few practical tips:
- I need a mechanism to study/review what I am learning. I think the Bullet Journal system will allow me the opportunity to systematically review lessons learned.
- Bible reading is not always a joy and delight for me. I struggled in the middle of the prophets. I long for the New Testament. Yet, I persevere, not because I am required to earn God’s favor, but because I know I get the chance to learn from His Word. Why would I choose to NOT get in the Word, every day?
One more thing: I am doing something this year that I have never done before. I bought an ESV Journaling Bible, and I am ‘dedicating’ this particular bible to my son, Drew. Whenever I read a passage that either reminds me of Drew or leads me to pray for him, I write a short note in the margin, capturing the essence of my prayer for him. When he is older, I will give him this journal and let him know and see all the ways I prayed for him in 2015. I plan on doing this for each of my boys. I have loved praying for my son Drew on a regular basis, as I pray BIG things for him in his life.
Last thought… If you’re not reading your Bible, I can’t think of a better day for you to start! Check out Join The Journey. I’d love to journey with you through God’s Word.
- When do you read your bible?
- Where do you read your bible?
- How do you read your bible?
- What’s your Bible reading plan?
- If are going through the Journey this year, what are some of your key takeaways from the Old Testament?