Happy New Year!
For me, the new year is always a great reminder to get in the Word. Perhaps because that’s when people talk about Bible reading plans for the year or maybe because my pastor preaches on the means of grace (Bible reading, prayer, etc.) every time the year begins.
I want to take the time to share the Bible reading plan I used last year (still finishing it up) and what I intend to use again this year. Mark Barry made this flexible, guilt-free Bible reading chart available for free. You can download it here or print it here.
Why do I use this reading plan? Let me give you four reasons.
1. It is flexible.
You can start using this plan any time of the year. You can start this plan in January or July. In most reading plans, if you start on July 10, you’ll be reading Romans 10. This reading plan is good for beginners because it has no dates.
You can also read as much or as little as you want. There was one time this past year where I read through the Gospel of John twice in a one-week span. You can do that with this plan. If you read Ephesians 1 and you don’t want to keep reading because you want to soak in the riches of your spiritual blessings in Christ, you can do that too. There is no plan for the next day that “makes you” continue reading. You can pause and reflect or read it again.
2. It does the job: it reminds you to read the Word.
Flexibility is good as long as it does not lead to laziness. With a flexible Bible reading schedule, our tendency is to procrastinate and neglect reading altogether. But this reading plan should not make you feel that. It still accomplishes the task of a typical reading plan: to get you in the Word regularly. While it may not have dates that put pressure on you to get your reading done, it has boxes to check that tell you: “read the passage and check me!”
3. It does not discourage you when you fall behind.
Prayer and Scripture reading are God-ordained avenues where God promises to give grace to his people. The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to “draw near to the throne of grace” in prayer (Heb. 4:16). Paul committed the elders of the Ephesian church to “the word of his grace” which is able to build them up (Acts 20:32; cf. Acts 14:3). Prayer and Scripture are necessary for the believer to grow in his relationship with God.
Having said all that, it is often easy for us to feel discouraged or even guilty when we miss a day or fall way behind. Not spending time with God should make us sad and powerless, but we should not be discouraged from trying to seek God’s face again. Since there are no dates in this reading plan, you can read right back where you left off. There is no burden of trying to read fast to catch up with the reading schedule.
4. Lastly, it is pretty-looking.
I like the different colors for each biblical section, and I like the boxes that you can check. The only thing that could be improved is to make it centered when you fold it in half. Okay, this may be a minor point, but isn’t the simple and colorful design inviting? For me, it helps me get excited about reading Scripture and not make me feel like reading grudgingly as if I’m doing a chore.
Resolved: to read Scripture this 2019
As we read the Word, may we see the glory of God with unveiled face and be changed into that same image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Long-time pastor, John Piper, puts it this way:
For me, the glory of God and the Word of God are inseparable. I have no sure sight of God’s glory except through his Word. The Word mediates the glory, and the glory confirms the Word.John Piper, A Peculiar Glory, p. 36
Bible reading plans are tools. They should work for you, not against you. There are many other Bible reading plans out there. Check out this list from Ligonier Ministries. The most important part is not the tool we use, but that we regularly spend time with God in His Word and in prayer. Let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly this 2019 (Colossians 3:16).