I’m thirty-six years old as I write this. I trusted the Lord with my life when I was in my sophomore year of high school, and I’ve walked as closely with Him as I could since then. My life is not perfect as many of you know. I’ve experienced many joys, including a happy childhood and family, a loving marriage which now includes being a parent, and the satisfaction that comes from teaching children. For those blessings, I am truly grateful. I’ve also experienced much hardship. Like many of you, my life has not been without struggle. These experiences have sometimes stretched me to the point of almost breaking. Almost. My Lord and Savior is the one who has kept me from breaking. For that, I am most grateful.
The Lord is nudging me to read the Bible in 2017. In my many years of being a believer in Jesus Christ I have not read the sixty-six books contained in the Bible. I’ve tried in the past and failed for reasons I’m not sure about. Maybe I decided I was too busy to put in the time it requires. Perhaps its words were too convicting so I avoided it altogether. Whatever the reason, that is not important now. The important thing is that I am willing and able to do it now.
I cannot tell you how excited I am about starting this journey. For the last couple of weeks since this thought popped into my head I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night, and all that pops into my head is this idea of reading the entire Bible. How should I divide the reading? Which Bible translation should I read? Should I ask others to join me? Surely if I do this with other people I will finally succeed, right? The biggest question I ask myself is, why do I want to do this? Why do I want to read the Bible in one year?
The reason may surprise you. I want to read the Bible because I want to know God. I desire to know who He is, what He is like, and everything else I can learn. My heart wants to know about Him and my mind wants to understand more. I’ve learned that, although the Bible has short stories sprinkled throughout, the entire Bible is one big story. Every shorter story fits into the big picture. Without knowing all the little stories I feel like I’m missing out on crucial details of this big story.
I realize that this reading will be an overview and that much more study can be done in each book. People can spend months or years studying only one of its sixty-six books. That’s okay with me. Reading the entire Bible will be a good start. I can go back and dig deeper in the future. I pray God, through the Holy Spirit, will teach me whatever I can handle now.
If you are considering joining me on this journey in 2017, let me say this. There has never been a better time to do this. I can’t imagine if you are feeling the nudge the answer would ever be no. If the idea of reading so much in such a short period of time is daunting, join the club. I think so, too. However, don’t forget that God is mighty and He gives us the strength we need to accomplish the tasks He calls us to. There is always benefit to reading the Bible.
To Know God
In the last year I’ve learned that, in order to know God, I must read His Word. I can see Him in all the pages of scripture. In any particular story I ask myself, what does this teach me or tell me about God? What is his character? Why would He do what He does? By reading about His nature and character, I can know Him.
For example, when I read the story of creation in Genesis, I learn that He is mighty. Who else can create everything out of nothing? I learn that He is creative. He thought up the sun and the moon, plants, animals, and made us out of dirt. That’s pretty creative! I also learn that He is a planner, that there is purpose in what He does, and that even He rests! I take that particular story and try to know and understand who God is, but that’s just one story. There are so many more! What can we learn from His nature and character when He protects and guides the Israelites in the wilderness? Or when He gives Moses the commandments to follow? What can learn from the life Jesus lived on earth? He was kind, compassionate, and wise. He loved all people. He performed miracles in the name of his Father. He said that to know Him was to know the Father. In my attempts to know God, I am also learning to know Jesus.
By reading the Bible with your intellectual mind, engaging your heart, you will come to know God.
To Know and Understand What You Believe and Why You Believe It
God communicated with his people through visions and dreams in the past. These days He communicates with us through His written word. The Bible itself says God was its ultimate source. 2Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is the Word of the living God. It is holy, and above all, true. It is true, all of it. No one can say this part is true and that part is not. It either is or it isn’t.
The Bible is not written so that only a select few can read and understand it. It is written for you and me to read for ourselves. Rather than just believing something someone tells us, we are to challenge it for ourselves. Although sitting in church listening to a sermon can be good, reading yourself can be even better. When you have a question, dig into the Bible for yourself. There’s no arguing when you have the true, Holy Bible in front of you. That is why the most basic belief about the Bible is that it is God’s true Word.
You might say you believe in God. Great! The Bible tells us even the demons believe in him. But, do you know why? Why do you believe what you believe? As you read the pages of scripture I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will reveal things to you. Things will fall into place and make sense. God will show you things meant for you to know.
The most simple reason to read the Bible is to know and understand what you believe and why you believe it. Who knows? Maybe someone will ask you a question about your faith and you’ll actually be prepared with the knowledge to answer it!
To Grow in Your Faith, So You Can Share It
Whether you are a new believer or a seasoned follower of God, you can benefit from reading the Bible. Reading scripture is what we need to do to grow our faith. In Matthew 4:4 the Bible tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Think of your faith as a plant. Reading scripture is the water that helps that plant grow. So whether you consider yourself a little seed or a large oak, there is always room to grow.
As individuals we are always living our lives and learning from our experiences. In my own life I’ve seen changes in my character and maturity through the years. I can’t say I’m the same person I was when I first met God back in high school. My knowledge of God through the Bible has shaped my eternal perspective. Anytime something happens in my life I look at it through a God-focused lens. I ask myself, how would God want me to respond? What does God want me to learn from this? How can I glorify God through this situation? After all, He has given me both joy and hardship. I can’t choose to accept one and not the other.
Have you ever considered that God might use you for His purpose? Someone in your life might need to hear what God has taught you. I’m surprised by how often God has used something in my life to touch others. I never intend for that to happen, but it always makes me smile to know I can have a small part in reaching or helping others because of my experiences.
Ultimately, reading the Bible will help you learn and grow your faith. If reading the Bible in 2017 is not something you feel ready to do, that’s ok. I encourage you to read something out of the Bible each day anyway. Don’t let excuses keep you from studying God’s Word.
If, however, you do want to join me, I urge you to pray. Start preparing your heart and mind for the big commitment you are begin. I am so excited to start, and I’m anxious to reach the other side, with knowledge and understanding of God under my belt. Let’s do our best to encourage one another and accomplish the task at hand. Hold on, it’s going to be an exciting ride!