Pastor Bob O'Bannon
Last year at this time I wrote a blog sharing some “tips for reading through the Bible in a year.” You can click here to read that blog as you get ready to launch your own campaign for 2016. This year I offer some further practical ideas that should supplement last year’s blog.
But first, I have a confession to make: I didn’t make it all the way through the Bible in 2015. It’s true! I fell behind earlier in the year, then took an overseas trip that put me even further behind (excuses, excuses), so as a result, I missed reading Ezekiel and all the minor prophets.
But guess what? I don’t feel guilty about it, and neither should you if you had a similar experience in 2015. Just dust yourself off and get ready to try again. God’s mercy is wide enough to cover even those whose aspirations remain unfulfilled.
One thing that might help you meet your goal in 2016 is to make some slight adjustments, perhaps in the kind of plan you are following. For instance, if you weren’t even close to making it through the Bible in 2015, maybe try a two-year plan, like this one offered by Gospel Coalition. Or, maybe it would help if reading assignments were given each week instead of each day. This provides a little more flexibility as to how much you read on a particular day, and feels a little less confining than the daily assignments given in most plans. You can find a weekly Bible reading plan here (scroll down to “Bible Reading Plan #3″).
Here is an interesting plan that divides daily readings according to the different genres of writing in the Bible (law, history, poetry, etc.). Here is a plan that takes you through the events of redemptive history in chronological order, not merely in the order that the books have been compiled in the canon. And for those with sensitive consciences, here is a plan that even promises that your Bible reading will be “guilt free”!If reading through the entire Bible in a year is actually not challenging enough for you, you can try this plan, which will take you through the Old Testament once and New Testament twice in one year.
Some other ideas: if you get bogged down in details, you might consider reading a more paraphrased version of the Bible, like the New Living Translation (I wouldn’t do careful exegetical work with a translation like this, but to get a broad overview of the Biblical narrative, it will work fine).
If you find yourself often confused when reading the Bible, try using a study Bible this year, which will offer lots of explanatory notes, charts and maps. Or, if you find yourself getting too easily distracted by all the explanatory notes, charts and maps in a study Bible, try using a bare-bones ESV Journaling Bible.
One last idea — consider reading one chapter of your daily readings aloud before dinner with the family. This gives you one less chapter to read in your private readings, and ends up helping you fulfill another worthy goal.
May God bless you with all the grace needed to read the whole counsel of God in 2016.