There’s one resolution you need this year:
I will love God first!
My voice shall You hear in the morning, O LORD;
in the morning will I direct my prayer to You, and will look up.
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.
In previous years, I’ve outlined some wisdom on cultivating a Godward life, and Kari shared what it means to look up each morning, plus how she approaches daily Bible reading (listen here).
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.”
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.
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!
Now for the plans … (note: there are mobile links below as well, including the helpful smartphone/tablet app YouVersion Bible).
Have a plan.
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.)
|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.
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’m following in 2015.) Alternative idea: spread it over two years and read two columns this year, and two next.
- Both the ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan and M’Cheyne plan are available in the Bible app created by YouVersion for iOS and Android. Bible.com has other whole Bible reading plans.
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!
|Outreach New Testament
Daily New Testament. Read through the New Testament in 6 months.
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.
|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.
There 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 City Group or your church leaders.
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 2016 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).