Sunday, December 30, 2012

I challenge you!

[A note from New Year's Day 2017: By God's grace I've been able to finish the Bible every year since this post, and I find it completely worth the effort.]

When I was in my teens I read through the whole Bible. It was a stupendous experience, but I didn't repeat it until I married Joyce. One of her early disciplers laminated a reading plan that she continues to use to this day. For the first seven years of our marriage I read through the whole Bible year after year. Out of that process I wrote my plays The Revelation and The Acts. My knowledge of scripture was better than ever, and it drew me closer to the Lord.

Then my schedule got busy. My reading plan fell by the wayside. I was reading most days, but I was just dipping in here and there. That was beneficial, but last year I committed to reading through the full Bible again, and the difference is night and day! I highly recommend it.

In fact I challenge you!

I have friends reading my posts who are atheists. I even challenge you to read through the whole Bible in the coming year. There is a long list of atheists that found the Love of the Lord at least in part through scripture reading: C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Franz Mohr (the piano tuner for Horowitz), and personal friends of ours. 

Even if you've been a Christian for years I recommend reading through the whole Bible every year. There's so much false teaching out there some of it can sound great if you're not grounded in the Word of God. 

As you read you may run into things that don't make sense. Though we can draw principles for ourselves from most passages of Scripture they were all written for people who lived when it was written. For instance in John 10:27 Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." I was honored to take an evangelism class from Dr. J. Christy Wilson when I attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He told how, when he was a missionary to Afghanistan, he happened upon a group of shepherds. Their sheep were all mixed together, but when one of them would call to them, his sheep would separate themselves out from the others and follow that shepherd. Thinking it was a certain command that had brought the desired effect, Dr. Wilson approached one of the shepherds and asked if he could try it. The shepherd laughed at him, and said, "They don't know your voice." Grab a good commentary, and it will help these passages come to life and make sense. Reading the Bible for All It's Worth, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, and the IVP Bible Background Commentary for Old and New Testaments are all great resources. 

Also, trust that God is loving and wants the best for his children, even when we who are not omniscient don't understand everything. Joyce shared a teaching in which she shared how a passage troubled her every year until one year it made sense. She also spends some time in the sermon talking about the power of reading scripture through every year.

Now you need a reading plan. I suggest YouVersion. You can read on your computer, smartphone and/or tablet, and it keeps track in the cloud. One of the ways I was able to stay on track... Okay, it's confession time: I didn't actually get all the way through in 2012. I started in October of 2011. There's a "catch up" button that adjusts your start and finish days so that you don't have to find where you are on the calendar if you get off pace. It just sets the next reading at the current day. ...Now, for the way I've been able to stay on track to finish by New Year's: My friend, Max McLean. The NIV version has a button you can click and Max reads the passage to you on your device. So you can stay on top of your reading plan while you're doing dishes, folding laundry, commuting, exercising, etc. 

The last thing you need is to pick your reading plan. YouVersion has 24 different reading plans for reading through the whole Bible in at least a year. They have a number of others that are shorter, if you want to start there. I read through a fabulous Advent plan this Season. I just finished the Chronological plan which allows you to read in the order it was written (as much as is known). So while reading Acts, after Luke tells about Paul in Corinth, it jumps to his letters to the Corinthians. They also have a plan that, like Joyce's laminated plan, mixes Old Testament and New Testament. That would be a great one if you've never read through the Bible before because on genealogy days it will be paired with the stories of their Descendent Jesus. By the way, over the years I've used those long passages of names to remind me of God's faithfulness through family lines, that each individual listed had a unique story, and I've even prayed for their descendants. 

I was commissioned long ago to write a one-man play that covers the whole of Scripture in the course of an hour or so. When I was looking up YouVersion's reading plans I noticed one that covers the whole Bible in 90 days. That's the one I'm going to tackle. Pray for me.  [A note from New Year's Day 2016: Thanks for your prayers! I finished that plan, and it was a great experience.]

How about you? Go for it!


This post can be found at www.RichDrama.com/BibleReading.

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