In just a few days, we will be entering a new year–2016. It is that period of the year, when New Year resolutions are made. Resolutions are good; they give us the opportunity to make adjustments to our lives.
I am convinced you are going to — if you have not started already–write down resolutions for 2016. I will too. I especially desire spiritual growth and maturity; and one of my resolutions will be to read through the Bible–old and new testament–in 2016. Is it something you would want to consider? I think you should.
For the believer, new year resolution is an opportunity to evaluate our lives and see how God glorifying we have been with our lives–time, gifts, opportunities, work, etc.
Socrates, the Greek philosopher said “an unexamined life is not worth living”. Paul said “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2Corinthians 13:5). Examining our lives doesn’t only involve evaluation of past events in our lives. It also involves planning and making decisions for the future (Proverbs 6:6-11, Luke 14:28).
You see, one of the many areas believers falter in our walk with the Lord is diligent Bible reading and study. But as believers, Scripture is the only credible source of truth in our walk and we must as a matter of duty, read and study it.
As one theologian puts it,
I could plead with you to study the Bible for personal edification; I could try the art of persuasion to stimulate your quest for happiness. I could say that the study of the Bible would probably be the most fulfilling and rewarding educational experience of your life. I could cite numerous reasons why you would benefit from a serious study of Scripture. But ultimately the main reason why we should study the Bible is because it is our duty. ~ R.C. Sproul 1
In a recent blog post, I wrote a two part series–Regaining Lost Passion for The Bible One & Two — and I wish to adapt from that post as a guide to help you if you making a resolution to study and read through the Bible in 2016.
1: Desire to Study.
A lack of desire is one major reason most of us don’t study or read the Bible. Many of us know the significance of the Bible in the believer’s life, but somehow, the desire to study or read it is absent. We live in a busy and competitive world. Nothing around us suggests “read your Bible”. The cares of the world clutter our minds and the Bible seem not a priority. But, it should be, if we are going to make any progress in our walk of faith and please God. In 2016, desire to read and study the Bible. There is no source of intimate fellowship with God apart from time spent in His word and prayer. So, as the deer pants after the water brooks, our souls must thirst and pant after God through His word (Psalms 42:1-2). You however can’t by your own will power create this desire. You should pray to God that through the Holy Spirit, a desire will be stirred up in your heart to study and read the Bible this coming year.
2: Make The Time To Study
A desire only is not enough. You can have the desire, but if you don’t make the time to study and read, you will make no progress. You must seize time, set it aside for use in studying the Bible. The best time, in my opinion to study the Bible is in the morning. This might not work for everybody because of time schedules, but I believe it is the most reasonable time. In the morning, our mind is fresh and alert. In Mark 1:35, Bible tells us about Jesus’ devotional life: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Rising up early to pray and read is a good practice, yet a difficult one. But once the habit is formed, a successful Bible study plan will follow. You must labour to study. Make the time.
3: Have A Plan To Study: Study Systematically
You have to open the Bible and read it in a systematic way. Not cheery picking verses from different places in the Bible every day. What I mean by systematic is simply in an orderly manner. With this organised reading, you will grasp the whole storyline of the Bible. You should follow a systematic pattern through the Bible. Here are a number of bible reading plans you can adopt.
4: Keep Notes
For the study of the Bible to be fulfilling, keep a note book and a pen any time you are reading. Make notes, write things you believe God is communicating through His word. A study Bible will be helpful. Also, make some investments in Bible commentaries, Bible reference materials, bible dictionaries, etc. If God is that important to you, you must spend to know more about him through Bible reading. Also use more than one Bible translation if possible.
5: Meditate on The Word
Desire and studying Scriptures alone will not produce the full benefit of the word in your life. We have to take desire and study to another level—meditation. Meditation is contemplation and reflection on the word we have read. Meditation allows the word to settle in our hearts and become part of us. It is said, if you know how to worry, you can meditate on the word. Just worry about the word. Ask questions in your mind. Turn the word around. My most favourite explanation of meditation is the analogy with a ruminant chewing its cud. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Joshua 1:8 and Psalms 1:1-2).
6: Obey The Word
Studying and reading the Bible must not be an end in itself. Bible study must lead to living the word, obedience to the word and fruitfulness in our Christian living. In the Bible, we encounter God and our lives are changed.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Psalm 119:18).
There are indeed many benefits to reading through the Bible. Here are a few articles you can refer to: Daily Bread, 5 Reasons to Read the Entire Bible in 2016. If you have questions as to why you must read through the Bible, this FAQ will be helpful.
We at The Gospel Network wish you a Happy and fruitful New Year as you take steps to master the Bible for it to master you.
1: Knowing Scripture, Intervarsity Press, Second Edition © 2009 by R. C. Sproul(Kindle page 35).