Week 18 of Read the Bible in 2011 begins today. As I read through the Bible this year, I’m writing down some of my thoughts to encourage you to read the Bible. And if you didn’t start on January 1, that’s not important—you can begin right now.
As Jesus was praying the night before He died, He asked God the Father to:
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
In one short sentence He defined God’s Word: it is truth, and He stated its impact on us: God uses His truth to change our hearts. In the Bible God tells us who He is and who we are as He teaches us, convicts us, strengthens us, comforts us and changes us. God is making a people set apart for Himself as He is “truthing” us through His Word as lies we have lived by are exposed and demolished and right thinking and right living are produced in us.
Complacency towards the Bible seems to have run amuck today among many in the church. With a veneer of lip service to belief in the Scripture, God’s Word has in reality been left behind as the thinking and behavior patterns of our culture have swamped and replaced the Bible as our authority for living with each other in the church and in our interactions with those who aren’t Christians. We live in difficult times, and we will not survive if we let our thoughts and ways trump God’s. We must read and know His Word and follow the Thessalonians’ example:
“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13
Their response to God’s Word was a clear indication of their true conversion to belief in Jesus Christ as Lord. Look at how their lives were changed by the Word of God:
“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
1 Thessalonians 1:6–7
We must also obey Paul’s injunction in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “…examine everything carefully.” You cannot examine or discern truth from lies and error if you’re unaware of what God has said in His Word. Knowing God’s Word and living by it, trains you in discernment:
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
I’m using Michael Coley’s reading plan that mixes readings from different sections of the Bible. There’s information about it and also M’Cheyne’s plan at Read the Bible in 2011 in the top banner, as well as links to my previous daily posts. Some posts may be lengthier because they’re about books I’ve heard taught by my pastors, or ones I’ve studied or taught in women’s Bible studies. Weeks 1–13 are on the Winter Quarter page under Read the Bible in 2011, and Weeks 14–26 will be on the Spring Quarter page.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish minister of the early 1800s, organized what is now a classic reading plan; you read through the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year and through the other books of the Old Testament once. Ben Edgington has numerous helpful links. This is M’Cheyne’s calendar with his introduction. If it makes your head spin to read a different book each day of the week, you might try M’Cheyne’s plan which alternates between the Old Testament and the New Testament. It’s set up with family and private devotionals each day. Adapt it as you like; you could go through the family readings before you do the private readings. You can also go straight through the Bible. The important thing is to read God’s Word daily.
Some daily reading assignments go rapidly through a book, while other books are taken much more slowly. Pace yourself as you need to, but keep reading. If you’ve never taken the time to read several chapters of the Bible in one sitting, I encourage you to try it. Don’t be discouraged by what you don’t know or by what you don’t understand. Come with a humble and hungry heart, and ask God to teach you and enable you to learn what you need to know right now to trust God and to obey Him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
May the Lord be with you and bless you in 2011, and may you grow in your love and knowledge of Him through the reading of His Word.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Ben Edgington, M’Cheyne Bible Readings.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter