FIRST: Systematic Bible Reading
January 1st is a time when I, like a multitude of other people, set goals or make resolutions for the year. I have done this for more years than I can remember. Some goals appear to be easy to attain and other goals are a definite stretch of faith and sweat. When I began to segment my goals into mind, body, and soul I knew what I would place as a top priority for my soul – systematically reading the Bible from cover to cover from January 1 through December 31. When I first included this as a goal, I had been a Bible-believing Christian for 1,000 years and an officer for at least a couple hundred.
When January 1 rolled around, I was prepared. A printed copy (this was prior to electronic versions of the Bible or reading plans – just post dinosaur age) was tucked into the front of my Bible. I was not an alert morning person, so I set my reading time in the evening. When bedtime rolled around, I put on my pajamas, grabbed a glass of warm milk (not really-ugh), and fluffed the bed pillows. As I pulled out my reading plan, I prayed and then began reading the designated 3 chapters in Genesis. “Oh, Lord, help me to stay awake tonight…What did I just read; let me read that again.”
On January 2 showed itself on the calendar, I followed the same pattern including the same prayer to stay awake.
On January 3 my body took over and I fell asleep with the thought that I would read tonight’s chapters tomorrow.
On January 8 I realized that I had not made it past January 2. “I am such a failure! I tell people at the corps about the importance of reading the Word and I can’t even follow a simple reading plan.” Okay then. I will continue my pattern of reading the Bible for sermons, devotionals, etc.
Fast forward to the following January 1…it was basically the same recording.
The next January…more of the same.
It was approximately year five of attempts when I decided to stop quitting just because I was not staying up to date on my systematic reading plan. “Lord, help me to accomplish this goal, not simply for the satisfaction of ticking off a goal, but so that I can see how the scriptures fit together, to remember approximate location of passages, and to apply the Word to my life.” That fifth year worked; I made it from Genesis through Revelation. Did I read every day? No, but I did read more days than not. Did I begin to see how various pages related to the earlier ones? Yes. Did I see more of what Christ-like living was and apply it to my life? Yes.
I have my systematic plan tucked into the front of my Bible now. There are different systematic plans from which to choose, but I love beginning in Genesis and making my way to the last chapter in Revelation. When you see me with my Bible, ask to see my systematic reading plan and encourage me to continue reading. I need to be held accountable. I enjoy sharing what I’m reading. What is your systematic Bible reading plan?