Monday, March 16, 2015

Having Problems With Your Daily Bible Reading Plan? There is a Better Plan

Are you struggling with your daily Bible reading plan? Do you feel like the schedule is in charge and you're not? Do you sense that while you attempt to regularly follow that plan, your enjoyment of the Bible seems lacking?

It is all too common these days (they are very busy days, it seems) that in committing to read through the Bible every day, that we become slaves to the schedule. Many times we are encouraged to read through the Bible in a year. Some plans are different than others, but the point is that people everywhere are being told that they should daily be in God's Word. What better way, we ask ourselves, than to establish this regular routine?

An example of the many daily Bible reading plans. I do not endorse any of them.

Christians can often feel that a regular discipline is necessary for a fulfilled life. Christianity is often viewed as a sacrificial lifestyle, so a daily Bible reading plan is the answer. I agree that discipline is appropriate but I think there is a better approach.

I write this from experience. Three times I read through the Bible in a year and it became increasingly tedious each time. I encourage every born-again believer in Jesus Christ to read through the Bible at least once. But a forced march? No, I don't agree with that.

I personally think that a first-time reading plan that starts with the book of John and then is followed by the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, etc. is a great beginning point. That puts the books of Luke and Acts together so we can see the move of the Holy Spirit more clearly. There are many other approaches so please don't let me legislate your schedule. And please, read at your own pace.

The problem with most regimented reading plans is that the pace often takes the joy out of God's beautiful Word. Please, allow yourself to slow down and savor what the Lord inspired. His Word is profound and it is tailored just for you.

I have observed a growing Bible illiteracy among the church and possibly you have too. But for those that do read on a regular basis, I sense it does not seem to be as meaningful as it once was. That is the problem as I see it: we race to Beat-the-Daily-Reading clock but we miss the nuggets.

I personally have become a very strong proponent of a discipline called “literary criticism.” It is an awful name for a wonderful topic: a focus on the beauty of God's Word. For those that have been through the Bible, I see nothing wrong with reading a book like The Sword of His Mouth by Robert C. Tannehill as your daily reading. It is the Bible in expository form and I have read many such books either in part or in whole. Expositories and commentaries help the Bible reader see it in a new dimension. In this case, Tannehill teaches from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). His book may be read with it in one hand and the Bible on your lap. (Unfortunately I found his first chapter to be boring.)

Another approach might be to read all of the footnotes in a certain book of a good study Bible. It is common for me to spend weeks studying just one book of the Bible. Please, take your time and enjoy His Word for you today.

For most people, I suggest doing something Bible related on most days. I do not advocate a devotional such as The Daily Bread as the major input because it can become a weak substitute for the Bible itself. Even worse is the random approach that opens the Bible to any page, like pulling a playing card from a deck of 52.

I suggest that a purpose is best but not a schedule. Some days I read a little; other days I spend 4-5 hours or more deeply in His Holy Word. My life can get busy and I'm sure yours can too.

To me, I have found the saying "A Living Bible" to be very true. God's Word does speak to me and I very much relish the times when that happens. It is alive, it is vibrant, and it is personal.