Build the Altar in 2017 (resources for worshiping Christ in His Word)

Happy New Year!

There’s one resolution you need this year:

I will build an altar to God each day.

My voice shall You hear in the morning, O LORD;
in the morning will I direct my prayer to You, and will look up.
—Psalm 5:3

Begin each day looking up to God, worshiping Him and responding to His ever-present love! Though you may fail (repeatedly), His love never fails and His faithfulness never runs out.

Whether we turn aside to the left (in apathetic self-pleasing) or to the right (in stressed-out self-effort), Jesus is willing to come rescue us, put us back on the good path, and lead us onward with grace-driven effort!

“Nothing but the simplest impulses gets accomplished without some forethought, which we call a plan.”
—John Piper

Here’s a quick word about some good Bible reading plans, with brief descriptions of the features of each.

First off: a plan is merely a guide, a tool to help. Know this about yourself: are you already a self-starter and follow through with your goals? (If you already have motivation, then a plan might feel constraining.) Or do you need structure to order your days? Most of us — your pastors included — tend to need a gentle reminder about what to do each day. Plans are helpful guides. They remind you of commitments made long before you didn’t feel like following through on a given day.

“The most important daily habit we can possess is to remind ourselves of the Gospel.”
—Charles Spurgeon

Love God 1st

You may remember we studied God of Promise to begin 2015, because God had a plan long before we ever did. Because He made promises to us, we repeat them back to Him. Because He first loved us, we respond by loving Him as the first priority in our lives. This is where we build an altar to God.

How much more powerful and life-changing is the movement of God’s Spirit when in the Renew family we’re all reading God’s Word in our homes, embracing and embodying the grace and truth of Jesus our King!

“The man who would truly know God must give time to Him.”
—A.W. Tozer

Now for the plans … (note: there are mobile links below as well, including the helpful smartphone/tablet app YouVersion Bible).

Have a plan.

Update: adding the “Read Scripture” plan with the Bible Project. This is a collaboration of a Bible reading plan alongside the instructive and helpful illustrated videos produced by The Bible Project (locally in Portland).

Read Scripture with The Bible Project

Hand-illustrated Bible Project videos explain difficult concepts and themes “better than seminary” alongside scripture text.
A brand-new Thematic reading plan constantly highlights the bigger picture so you can always see the big picture in your reading. (19201080

Spend quality time reading the Bible daily while learning how to read it with contextual videos, charts and illustrations from The Bible Project

Track your progress of the entire Bible that shows you where you’ve been and where you are going.

Reminders on your phone will ping you to help keep you on track.

Or can print PDF and read paper Bible. A benefit of this plan is improving our “biblical literary,” so that we learn the whole Story even as we dive into small parts of it daily.

Download on the Apple App Store Get it on Google Play

More Reading Plans

First up, the ESV Study Bible Reading Plan, a year-long adventure following four ‘streams’ of writings. You’ll track with four genres of types of writings all throughout the year. Rather than plow through the Psalms and Proverbs all at once, you’re revisit a new one each day. The same with the New Testament, the doctrines of grace and redemption found in Jesus will be on display each time you open the Bible. (Seem daunting? Try the two-year plan outlined below.)

Reading Plan Format
ESV Study Bible (One-Year Plan)
Daily readings in four places: Psalms or Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch or the History of Israel; Chronicles or Prophets; and Gospels or Epistles. Suggest reading three chapters in the morning and revisit for fourth in the evening. The printed plan can be cut into bookmarks for the four ‘streams’ in your Bible, or let a smartphone app be your bookmark and read with Bible in hand.
webpage RSS iCal Mobile Print Email

ESV Reading Plan

Reading through the whole Bible in a year takes a time investment of 10-15 minutes each day. Yet, if you will carve out the time to know Jesus, He will change you. Plan to linger a bit, praying over the needs around you and ask God to give you light for your path.

M’Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Gospels. Can read from all four columns in order, or pause at different times of the day. (This is the plan I’ve been following for a few years.) Alternative idea: spread it over two years by reading two columns this year, and two next.
RSS iCal Mobile Print Email

Shorter or Slower

But what if tackling the whole Bible seems daunting? Well it is an epic goal. In the same investment each morning, about ten minutes, you can read through the New Testament in six months. That’s a great start!

Reading Plan Format
Outreach New Testament
Daily New Testament. Read through the New Testament in 6 months.
webpage RSS iCal Mobile Print Email

Or, go half the pace for twice the effect: reading the whole Bible over two years, since it is better to read the whole Bible through carefully one time in two years than hastily in one year.

Reading Plan Format
Two-Year Reading Plan
Take in half-speed, reading through the whole Bible in two years; daily readings in both Old and New Testaments. At the end of two years you will have read through the Psalms and Proverbs four times and the rest of the Bible once. There actually is some ingenius wisdom behind following a two-year plan.
Print

Bible Eater breadThere are many more good plans out there. Trent Hunter’s “The Bible-Eater Plan” is an innovative new approach that has you reading whole chapters, along with quarterly attention to specific books (sit down and read a whole book every few months). The plan especially highlights OT chapters that are crucial to the storyline of Scripture and redemptive fulfillment in Christ.

Whatever plan you choose, don’t sweat it. Just find a plan and run with it. We didn’t want to overwhelm you with a vast menu. Feel free to browse  and well as others thoughtfully constructed whole Bible reading plans to help you learn from Jesus.

There are other Reading Plans for ESV Editions too. Crossway has made them accessible in multiple formats:

  • web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
  • RSS (subscribe to receive by RSS)
  • podcast (subscribe to get your daily reading in audio)
  • iCal (download an iCalendar file)
  • mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
  • print (download a PDF of the whole plan)

You can also access each of these Reading Plans as podcasts (to listen to an audio reading):

  • Right-click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) the “RSS” link of the feed you want from the above list.
  • Choose “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut.”
  • Start iTunes.
  • Under File, choose “Subscribe to Podcast.”
  • Paste the URL into the box.
  • Click OK.

We don’t have devotions and pray in order to avoid the guilt of not having devotions and not praying. We have devotions and pray to know Jesus and his Gospel, and revel in all that he is for us and all that he has won for us.

Realize this is a community project.

You need to share what God is saying to you and have others share what God is saying to them. Consider doing one of the above plans with a group of people, a spouse, a roommate, in your Community Group or your church leaders.

“If God doth such great things to teach us, we ought not to do little to learn.”
—Jonathan Edwards

Don’t give up.

I have missed meals in the past, but never gave up on eating. I just made sure I did not miss the next meal (and usually made up for it). You are going to miss days, often times multiple days. Repent of your neglect of God and press on in knowing him. Your righteousness is not in how consistent your devotional life is; it is in Jesus Christ who is constant and ever faithful. So, relax and pick up where you left off.

The beauty and joy of 2017 will not depend upon your circumstances, but upon your experience of the One you were made for. He has made exceedingly great promises to us. Let us seek Him first!

As much of Him that you want to experience, you will experience. He promises to reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

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