Reading through the Bible

January 4, 2022

By Ria George

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path". Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" John 10:27 (NIV)

Like millions of people across the world, I started year 2021 thinking of New Year resolutions for myself. The format followed a familiar pattern with one resolution carried forward unfinished from previous years, to read the Bible within the year. As a committed Christian, I have studied the Bible for several years. This is the main way God speaks to His people, how sheep hear the voice of their shepherd (John 10:27). But my reading was limited to certain books, familiar chapters and verses. I had never managed to read the Bible from start to finish.

So in 2021, I decided to read the New Testament fully. I chose the reading plan from The 260 chapters of the New Testament neatly correspond to the 260 week days in a year. I was very pleased to be making good progress all the way from January till September, keeping up with the reading plan and commentary and making up on the weekends, if I missed a day or two.

The 100-day Bible challenge was led by one of the elders in a small church in Chennai and 15 people had signed up. We would get a text message each day on the Bible portion to read and we would reply before 10 pm India time if we completed it. No other conversation was entertained in the group. There was a clear focus on the task and what was expected from each of us. I had never met anyone in this group before; we were bound by our love for Jesus and desire to read the Bible in the next 100 days, which would end just before Christmas 2021! And there began my adventure into God’s Word.

Let me share a peek into my daily routine with you. I am a working Mum, with a full-time job, a busy husband, a young child, a home that needs constant tidying up, commitments to my church, social life and the seasonal hobby. My day feels like I am running all the time though I actually don’t run at all! Having said that, I firmly believe that I have time to do everything I want to do. One of my favorite worship songs is Jonathan McReynold’s ‘Make Room’, where he sings ‘I find space for all I treasure, and I make time for what I want. I choose my priorities and Jesus, you’re my Number One’. And I wanted to read the Bible, so I decided to make room for it.

Reading 12 chapters a day meant I was carrying my Bible almost everywhere I went! I walked downstairs to make my first cup of tea in the morning with my Bible in hand. Reading a few chapters before my family woke up, gave me quiet time with God and His story. I also decided to read the Bible in the Contemporary English Version (CEV), as it was easier to understand than the NIV I usually read. I also decided to write down verses from the Bible that spoke to me, on Post-Its and stick them to the relevant pages of my Bible. This made my Bible reading slower and more intentional. I made some more time to finish my Bible portion before I did the evening school run. I also found time to read late evening, either after I finished my dinner or after the family went to bed. There was one week in November when I was particularly busy at work and at home and I just could not keep up with my Bible reading portions, falling short by a chapter or two each day. Eventually, with God’s Grace, I caught up with the reading by the end of the week. I also learned that it’s not easy to catch up when you fall behind as the backlog appears bigger each day!

There was so much to learn while reading the Bible, but reading 12 chapters a day meant I could not spend long to comprehend each paragraph or verse, but rather, gain the overall picture and the essential messages. I thought God was telling me to read the Bible like I would watch a movie at the cinema, from start to finish, without losing track of the story and the various characters He chose for a starring role in it!

The overriding and repetitive message all through the Bible, from the first chapter to the last, is God’s love for His people, that includes you and me, and the extent He has gone to show His love for me through the life and death and resurrection of His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit who dwells in me today. At the end of 100 days, everyone in our group finished reading the whole Bible and we were all immensely blessed by God’s grace in helping us accomplish this.

I encourage everyone, of every age, to read the whole Bible, every year. For some it will take a moment’s resolve and you will do it. There may be others who have struggled with this desire for many years as I have. Here are some steps that may help you overcome this struggle.

  1. Ask our Father. God who loves to give His children good gifts will show you a way to achieve your desire. In my case, He placed me with this group I had never met and sent someone to tell me about the 100-day challenge they were embarking on. God will do something similar for you if you ask Him.
  2. Make Room. Clear out stuff in your daily routine that seems to clutter your day. Are there activities that take up your time but perhaps do not glorify God? Those are easy ones to chop off to make room to read the Bible.
  3. Choose a helpful version. Perhaps you wish to read the Bible in the version you are used to, such as the NIV or the KJV, and repetitive reading may have helped you memorize some verses. However, you may wish to choose a more contemporary version if that will enhance your understanding of the Word.
  4. Team up. Find a Christian brother or sister or a group at your church to share a Bible reading plan with you. Those who do long-distance running or cycling often have companions who help them keep the pace and motivate them to keep going when they slow down. If you fall behind in your reading, please do not give up altogether. Please make every extra effort to catch up in a few days
  5. Be Obedient. The best time to read the Bible is now. God wants you to know His Word so you know His nature and His plans for you. It’s best to learn this now. You will find that the Word encourages as well as corrects, so please be sensitive to His voice.
  6. A plan helps. The reading plan you choose may depend on several factors. There are plans that mix the Old Testament with the New, there are 365-day plans and chronological plans. I recommend a 100-day plan so you don’t forget the narrative, characters and events right from Genesis by the time you reach the life of Jesus in the New Testament. I also recommend reading the Bible as it is designed.
  7. Journal along the way. When you find a verse that speaks to you or one that you have known earlier but was revealed further now, make a note of it. You can make a note in a journal, on Post-Its, highlight these verses or make notes in the Bible itself on the margins.

I am ready to start reading the whole Bible again. I want the Bible to be lamp for my feet and a light on my path (Psalm 119:105). My prayer is that it will light up your path too in the year ahead. May God’s abundant Grace help you in your journey.

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