It’s that time of year again. Those days where you reflect on New Year’s resolutions that you’ve already long forgotten. Maybe you simply shrug your shoulders at some. Maybe you actually feel a little disappointed in yourself. Some probably even warrant laughing at yourself, “How could you possibly be so silly as to think you could…” On the other hand, some aren’t (or shouldn’t) be cast off so easily.
Many Christians resolve to read their Bibles more. Many only follow through for a short time, and then “life” gets in the way, or at least that’s the excuse we use. But I would contend that this spiritual discipline is one that should be hard pressed for. Be sacrifical with your time. Make the effort to actually move forward and read God’s Word.
Allow me to issue you a challenge. At the date of this post (February 3rd) there are 76 days until Easter and there are 27 books in the New Testament. Try reading the entire New Testament before Easter Sunday. This might be a change for many of you who may only read 3 or 4 chapters during the occasional sitting. Coincidentally, there are 260 chapters in the New Testament making for a daily regimen of 3.5 chapters a day for the next 76 days, but that’s not what I’m suggesting in this post. Read on faithful reader…
My challenge to you is to read whole books of the New Testament in a single sitting. I understand this flies in the face of many Bible study advocates and I can already hear their laments, “How much will you be missing if you read that much at one sitting?” And my rebuttal is two fold. While certainly, this isn’t how you would always want to study the Word, 1) I would argue that most people, who aren’t especially apt to read more than 3 or 4 chapters a day, when they actually sit down long enough for some quiet time, can hardly remember what happened in chapter 2 of a book like Acts, and how it may or may not impact the events they read in chapter 28 a week and a half later. This leads me to my second fold… 2) Reading whole books in one sitting can illuminate familiar material in new ways. Books, that we’ve studied in the past with small groups or through some sermon series that took months, take on a whole new light and perspective when we can read them beginning to end (as they were intended to be read). Themes and important points come to the surface that may have eluded us, even through prior meticulous study.
I hope to encourage you to actually follow through with this, but I do have some closing tips/suggestions/whatevers to make your time not only easier to manage, but also help it be more than just checking off a box.
A) Read in a version that is easy to read, but that isn’t your "normal" version. This way it forces you to actually read what is there and the language itself will be new. I would suggest the NIV or ESV. If you already use both of those, try the NASB.
B) I know I am talking about reading whole books in one sitting, but longer books are long. Don’t feel bad about splitting up the reading some, but don’t take longer than 3 sittings with any one particular book.
C) As good as a study of reading one gospel after another can be, this probably isn’t the time for that challenge. My suggestion would be to read a gospel and then read 3 or 4 other books before going on to another gospel, just so you don’t feel like you’ve read the same thing over and over.
D) Take the extra time to think of the answers to these following questions on a grand scale (Maybe meditate on them throughout your day)
Try reading Colossians followed by Philemon today. How are they related? Hint: it has to do with the people. How does a better understanding of Colossians inform how you read Philemon?
Serving through love and laughter is a great way to live.