The Bibles we have in our homes and hold in our hands are nothing less than divinely-inspired, accurate revelations of God.
Every story, every poem, every historic event, law and prophetic word join together to paint one picture of the God who set the world in motion and orchestrated this present reality. The people described in this book are real, and so their actions are both good and bad. But through their lives and God’s involvement with them, we get to know Him more.
He’s the God who knows us fully and longs for us to know Him in return.
John 17:3, Jesus prays:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)
But yet many times we fail to make the effort to actually read this other-worldly, mysteriously living and active revelation of God in its entirety. We are content to pick at it, visiting only our favorite verses or books of the Bible –the ones that give us the best feeling and show us parts of God’s character that are easy to accept.
Many of us neglect, specifically, to read the Old Testament. I would say I can sum up many of the reasons for this oversight.
Why we don’t read the Old Testament
- We think it would be difficult or impossible to understand.
- We aren’t comfortable with the bloodshed and examples of God’s justice.
- We think the Jewish law is boring and/or ridiculous.
- We feel it’s too far removed from our life today to be important.
- It seems really long and daunting to get through.
- Jesus defines our salvation now. The Old Covenant has been set aside, so we see no reason to revisit it.
Does that about cover it? Is there one I missed?
Unfortunately, this lack of study has some major negative implications.
Why we must read the Bible in its entirety
When we don’t receive God’s revelation of Himself in its fullness:
- Our understanding of who He is becomes mushy.
- We dangerously interpret scripture out of context.
- We get fat on a diet of grace and have no idea how to fear God.
- We are easily swayed by inaccurate teaching, whether from a friend, pastor, writer or blogger because we don’t know for ourselves what the Bible says.
- We lack a reliable handle on God’s word. We’re walking half blind, saying we’d stake our life on something we’ve never read.
- We can’t offer good, well-informed answers to those asking questions in our lives.
This is a priority. Scripture interprets scripture.
2016 Bible reading challenge
If you have never read the Bible through, let me challenge you to make 2016 your year.
With a little diligence and commitment, you can do that. There are many great resources to help you out.
Here are some FAQ’s I invented 🙂
- Q. Why read the Bible in a year?
- A. This is a short enough period of time to get a good overview while being a long enough period of time to feel doable. You shouldn’t have forgotten everything you read in Genesis by the time you get to Revelation. Yet it only amounts to 15-20 minutes of reading per day.
- Q: I’ve already read the Bible through, is this challenge for me?
- A: Yes! My mentor taught me to read the Bible through in a year, every year. I haven’t kept up with that, but I shoot for every other year to free up more time for other types of study.
- Q: How do I discipline my life to keep up with this?
- A: You need to develop a simple daily habit of reading (if you don’t already have one). Here’s how I accomplished that.
Resources to set you up for success
The MOST helpful thing I’ve used to keep track of my “Bible in a year” reading is the One Year Bible.
It divides the entire Bible into 365 daily chunks and organizes them by days of the month. I always know if I’ve fallen behind and what I need to do to catch up. These are available in various translations, but I love the NLT for readability with accuracy.
Another cool resource is the One Year Chronological Bible. This reorganizes scripture into chronological order (no, the Bible is not chronological!), which makes certain things easier to understand in context, such as the Psalms or prophetic words that were delivered during a specific time in Israel’s history.
The One Year Bible is also available for FREE online here. You can choose a chronological plan or a plan that includes Old and New Testament readings everyday, plus on Psalm and one chapter of Proverbs. You can even select and bookmark the translation you want to use.
Or, if you want to keep it simple, just resolve to read about five chapters per day! No fancy Bibles or reading plans needed!
Another option is an audio Bible if you’re an auditory learner (which I’m not). 🙂
Will you take the challenge to read the Bible through in 2016?
If so, feel free to give yourself a head start! I prefer to start early and end on time than to end late.