3,500 years ago Moses created a job description for the future king of Israel. It included this:
“It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.” (Deuteronomy 17:19).
The “it” in that verse is The Torah — what we know as the first five books of our Bible. The future king of Israel was commanded to read it all the days of his life. Not so he could win on The American Bible Challenge game show. 🙂 But so he could know God better and live the kind of life that God wanted him to live.
Fast forward to the 16th century. In The Blue Parakeet author Scot McKnight recounts a bloody chapter of church history where men like William Tyndale and Thomas Hitton were executed for trying to get the Bible into the hands of the masses. They realized that everyone — not just kings — would do well to read the Bible all the days of their lives.
And they died for that belief.
Fast forward to 1998. I crossed the line of faith and began following Jesus on a much deeper level than ever before in my life. I became a voracious reader of Christian books. C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Tony Campolo, and Max Lucado were some of my favorite authors. I think I read several chapters from a Christian book every day.
I had a Bible too. But to be honest, I didn’t read it all that much back then. The book that Tyndale, Hitton, and countless others gave their lives to get into my hands was read by me, but with about as much passion as when I read USA Today online. And the frequency that I read it… well, it was nowhere near “all the days of my life.”
I bet you can relate.
They died for a book that collected dust on my bookshelf.
It’s time to dust it off.
With Christmas in the rear view mirror and New Years Day quickly approaching, now is the time many folks make resolutions. May you resolve to make 2014 the year you are going to read the entire Bible. All 66 books of it. Every word.
I made this resolution — not on New Years Day — but on a random day back in October 2011. I had just purchased the all-new and updated version of the NIV Study Bible (it’s excellent by the way!), and felt the nudge from God to read it from cover to cover in a year.
I also felt the nudge from God to read it chronologically — reading it according to when the events took place in history. For example, you read Genesis 1-11 but before getting to Genesis 12, you read the entire book of Job because scholars believe that is when the events of Job took place in history.
It’s a very cool way to read the Bible. And it’s just one way to read it. Thankfully the website — biblegateway.com — has several Reading Plans you can access for free. Pick one and follow it.
Since I started this reading plan in October 2011, here is what happened… During that 12-month period, I felt more love toward God, more joy welling up inside of me, more passion for The Eastside Vineyard Church, a greater desire to serve the poor and needy, the list goes on.
Since reading the Scriptures that way did so much for my spiritual journey, I decided to do it again, beginning in October 2012 and then again, beginning in October in 2013. So this past October I started over in the book of Genesis and I’m currently reading First Samuel.
Today is a great day to make a New Year’s Resolution — a resolution to read the Bible from cover to cover — all 66 books in 2014. And don’t just *think* this would be a great thing to do. Do it!
P.S. If you want to follow the reading plan I use, here’s a copy: Bible Reading Plan.
***Please join us this coming Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. We are ending 2013 in a big way. I will be preaching the final sermon in our three-year-long series on the Gospel of Matthew. It’s titled “The End is Just the Beginning” and will focus on the final verses of Matthew’s biography of Jesus. Plus, there will be worship, communion, and an opportunity to receive 1-on-1 prayer. See you at 10:30am on Sunday December 29th! More info at tevchurch.org***