January 01, 2018 is just days away. Spiritually, it will not be an easier year than 2017 – in fact, this could be the most challenging year for me or for you or for both of us – maybe for all of us. Start the New Year right. Prepare your heart spiritually and your mind psychologically to commit to the regular, consistent and consecutive daily reading of your Bible – a daily quiet time with your Lord throughout 2018.

We value the importance of plans, routines and schedules in every other sphere of our life – if we intend to move forward, accomplish goals and to make progress. Why, in the most critical aspect of our lives, do we think we can mostly wing it? Read a bit here and there – sporadically, with inconsistent spurts of prayer? Why do we think we can cruise on autopilot based on what we have spiritually enjoyed in the past? Why?

If we short-change anything – rarely, is it our academic studies, our employment or our games or our relaxation activities. It’s usually, with a sigh of helplessness or inevitability – that we say: “Things are way too hectic to focus on reading my Bible this morning.”

If I am only reading my Bible two or three times a week, I am kidding myself if I think I am really loving the Lord and prospering spiritually.

My faithfulness to attending the functions of the local church, although important, is so often a poor measure of how well I’m doing spiritually. Usually, a very long time before a Christian actually stops attending public services, they’ve been gone spiritually in their hearts. Elders who measure a Christian’s performance primarily by the ‘filled seat’ are missing the boat big time. It started in their heart long before their seat became vacant.

There’s no substitute for a personal quiet time alone with the Lord – reading my Bible diligently, prayerfully, daily and consistently. We need a daily intake of spiritual food, if we are going to thrive spiritually for the Lord. Make this your prayer as you close out 2017:

With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes… I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. Psalm 119:10-19

Two years ago, an 86 year-old-sister told me she had just read her Bible through in two and a half months. Afterwards, she heard it could be read from cover to cover in just 64 hours – if you read it at a rate of 200 words per minute.  She wrote:

“So, I decided to see if I could read it in one month (February!)  Today is February 26 and I’m ready to start Corinthians – on target to finish it within the four weeks.  There are 773,693 words.  I’m assuming this is in the KJV.  I’m averaging 340 words a minute.”

The sister issued a cautionary note: although quick reads give you an excellent sense of the big story of the Bible, she recommended a slower and thoughtful, more studious reading of the Word of God on a regular basis.

What intrigue, appeal and attraction does the Bible have for you?

You can find many Bible Reading plans online. Make sure you choose one that’s balanced. And one that has at least one reading in the New Testament every day. At this link you will find three such plans that I have uploaded to scribd.com for your viewing. Print-off the Plan you choose and keep it in your Bible.

Are you afraid to start following a Bible Reading Schedule in case you miss a day or two here and there? You’re afraid to commit to a schedule in case you can’t follow it? You don’t like New Year Resolutions – because you can’t keep them?  What do you have to lose? Let’s say you followed the plan until March and then you got off track with the schedule…. what have you lost by following it in January, February and March? Nothing!!  Go for it! Try it!

TIPS for EFFECTIVE READING

  1. Before you read, pause to confess your sins to the Lord and ask Him to speak to your heart as you read His Word.
  2. Keep a journal. Try to discipline yourself to record at least two sentences each day about what you read. Many find it helpful to actually formulate their note into a prayer.
  3. Read prayerfully. As you read, pause at certain verses or phrases and speak with your Lord about what the verse means and how it might pertain to your own life.
  4. Block out a 30-minute time slot to read your Bible – the exact same time every day. Even if you have to set your alarm clock earlier – go for it. Rigour and discipline is required. Satan will never hand you extra time on his silver platter to read your Bible. If you are going to read your Bible, you’ll have to take/make the time.
  5. If you miss reading on an occasional day or a busy weekend – don’t try to go back and catch up. That’s difficult and discouraging. If you’ve lost a day or a week because of extraordinary events in your life, just get back on schedule and read only where the Plan states you should read for that day. You can read the missed chapters next year, if the Lord spares you.
  6. If you have completed all your readings for the day and you are about to close your Bible without enjoying anything, force yourself to select one verse and mull it over in your mind for a few minutes and pray.
  7. Get at least one other friend to adopt the same plan and then challenge each other with the Lord’s help to follow the Plan.

Your daily reading, according to a schedule, is the minimum. Each of us should also spend time ‘studying’ the Word of God.

Finally, may you and yours be drawn closer to the Lord throughout 2018.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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