The first of the year marks a time when many people decide they’re going to change a lot of things about themselves over the next 365 days. Resolutions are common, but they are rarely lasting. One of the most important things for us to consider is how we are going to weave the intake of God’s Word into the fabric of our life rhythm. There are many different ways to study the bible, and they are all good. I’ve found over the years that when I make a plan at the beginning of the year, I’m much more consistent in my time in the Word than if I simply desire to spend more time in the Word. If you haven’t already, maybe you would like to consider making a plan this year for how you will study your Bible. If you are an electronic Bible reader, YouVersion has a bunch of different options that are great, and here are a few other suggestions to consider.
Several years ago I was convicted that I hadn’t made reading through the entire Bible a priority in my life. Around the same time, I heard Wayne Cordiero speak. Part of what he said referred to this read through the Bible plan that he had developed called, “The Life Journal.” For the next 4 years, I faithfully used the Life Journal as my guide for studying the Word. The Life Journal requires a 30 minute to an hour a day commitment, but it is time well spent. The time journaling really helps bring what you’ve read come to life. There are online communities to help support The Life Journal. In The LIfe Journal, you read through the OT once and the NT twice. Life Journal also has great resources for new believers, children, and students.
This year I read through the M’Cheyne reading plan (available through YouVersion or as a PDF online). I changed to this one because at times my ADD fought against reading through Leviticus for 6 weeks the way The Life Journal was set up. This version has you read from four different passages every day – OT, NT, Prophet, Psalm. In this version, you read through the OT once and the NT and Psalms twice. It was a great plan, but I honestly did miss the focused journaling of The Life Journal.
Discipleship Journal has a similar plan as the two above, but the reading commitment is 25 days each month. This is great if you miss a day and need some grace to get caught up. They understand life happens and some time to breathe amidst the discipline of reading through the Bible is nice. If I were doing a read through the Bible plan this year, I would give this one a shot. Here is the PDF you can download: http://www.navpress.com/uploadedFiles/15074%20BRP.dj.pdf .
In other years, I’ve started with a 40 day reading plan that was a combination of prayer and fasting called, “A Call to Die.” It is a great way to start the year. I started two different years with that book, and both times were incredibly rich. Things that I heard from God in that time are still having an impact on my life. This is a book by David Nasser that you have to order, but it’s worth it if you’ve never done a focused 40 day time of prayer/fasting. Relax, you don’t have to fast from food. For more on this book, click here: http://www.davidnasser.com/store/index.php?dept=books . You can get the book cheaper at amazon or other online places, but the CD that goes with it is great. My kids have some of those songs on their sleep mix as it allows Scripture to soak into your soul through music.
For a couple years in college, I went through “My Utmost For His Highest.” It is a timeless classic full of Gospel truth that will challenge you and take you deeper. You can get it online in a bunch of different places, or order a hard copy. If you’ve never spent a year with Oswald Chambers, it is time well spent.
For students, Student Discipleship Ministries has a lot of great resources for devotionals.
The folks at ESV have put together a pretty great list of options as well: http://www.esvbible.org/devotions/ .
Like I said, it doesn’t really matter which plan you use. The important thing is that you allow the Word of God to have a consistent audience in your life. If you have a plan that you love to use and would like to recommend, please let us know.
Blessings and Happy New Year,