“One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well, if one has not dined well.” (Virginia Woolf)
According to research, almost half of those who begin new exercise programs will quit within six months. In fact, as many as 80% of people who start exercise programs will quit. The most commonly cited reasons include lack of time, inconvenience, expense, physical discomfort, embarrassment, poor instruction, inadequate support and loss of interest.
If we’re honest with ourselves, the biggest reason is because we are creatures of habit. Change is hard, and we naturally like “easy” so when we brush up against difficulty, or we fall out of our routines, we have a hard time getting going again.
As Christians, one of the “exercises” we know we should do but often fail to do is reading the Bible devotionally. We may have very good intentions at the start of a new year to read the Bible daily (or at least regularly). Yet, if we try to follow a reading plan, if we fall behind, we wind up losing heart, thinking we will never catch back up. Therefore, we quit reading altogether.
Yet, the Bible tells us that discipleship is crucial.
Jesus told His disciples just before He ascended into heaven:
Go, make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19)
A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who understands the Bible and then necessarily follows through in obedience to its truths. Understanding comes through reading/studying the Scriptures, and once you have clearly discerned what God is saying through a passage, you follow through to obey that principle.
Discipleship is hard. Reading the Bible is hard enough, without even taking into consideration to being obedient to what it says. However, being a disciple is the call of every Christian. Jesus didn’t say, “Go and make converts.” He said, “Go and make disciples”—people who are willing to follow me with their lives.
Author Virginia Woolf once made the statement: “One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Woolf was not talking about Bible reading, but the principle applies.
As a Christian, you cannot expect to live the way Jesus wants you to live, love as Jesus wants you to love or sleep with the peace with which Jesus wants you to sleep if you have not dined well on the Word of God. You can’t know the mind of Christ without the Word of God. And clearly, Jesus wants you to know the Word of God.
Ephesians 5:25-26 states that Christ “loved the church & gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word.”
If you look at the rocks on the bottom of a streambed, what is their shape? They are round and smooth, right? Why? Because rushing water continually washes over the rocks making them smooth. The water knocks off the jagged edges of the rocks and makes them rounded.
That is exactly what the Word of God does in the lives of believers when you are continually (over many years) washed by the Word. It knocks off the rough places of your lives. It smoothes the hardness of our lives and makes us more & more like Jesus, who Himself was the Word Incarnate. He was the EXACT representation of God’s character lived out in human flesh.
Consequently, I offer the following Bible plans for your consideration. We all have differing abilities in the speed in which we read, and we are all at different places in our discipleship process. Therefore, I offer these different plans in hopes that you might tailor one to your needs:
- Read Through the Bible for Shirkers & Slackers (excellent!—read about 3 chapters/day)
- Grant Horner’s Bible Reading Plan (read 10 chapters/day, gives a broad scope of the Bible’s message)
- Discipleship Guide (read about 4 chapters/day, 25 days/month w/ a few makeup days)
- Read through the New Testament in a year (get a bookmark & read one chapter/day)
- Read through the Gospels (start in Matthew, 1 chapter/day through John, then start all over)
As you read use the following guide to “question” the text:
- Are there any promises that I can claim in these verses?
- Is there a command that I need to obey?
- Are there any sins that I need to avoid?
- Is there an example to follow?
- What encouragement or comfort may I gain?
Change is difficult. Change is slow. Change takes time. Just as it takes a LONG time for river rocks to change shape, so it also takes us a long time to be conformed into the image of Christ. Yet, if we continue to allow God’s word to wash over our lives, we will be changed.
Slowly… but… surely…