Reading the Bible in 2015
It’s that time of year when many of us are thinking about our intentions for Bible reading in the coming months. Last year I attempted a modification of this scheme (download the pdf here). The idea is to read 10 chapters of the Bible each day, taking you through the whole Bible in less than a year. In that time, you’ll have read some books multiple times, while you’ll have read others just once. I adapted the lists a bit and then made myself a ten-stranded ribbon bookmark, so that all I had to do was follow on each day, moving the bookmark as I went. Here are the sections I recommend:
Genesis – Deuteronomy (187 chapters)
Joshua – 2 Kings (151 chapters)
1 Chronicles – Esther (98 chapters)
Psalms (150 chapters, though you might want to split 119 across more than one day)
Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (93 chapters)
Isaiah – Lamentations (123 chapters)
Daniel – Malachi (137 chapters)
Matthew – John (89 chapters)
Acts – 2 Corinthians (73 chapters)
Galatians – Revelation (98 chapters)
There are several advantages to this sort of scheme. First, you get a good sense of the big picture of the Bible in a relatively short space of time. Within six months or so, you’ll have read all of it at least once and some parts multiple times. It’s not intended for close reading of the detail of the text. Read at about the same speed you’d read a novel or a newspaper. I find I can read 10 chapters in under half an hour, but your mileage may vary. The other thing I really love about it is the way it lets you make connections between different parts of the Bible that you might not normally notice. It’s also great for getting you through the parts where you might normally be tempted to give up on this sort of scheme – you do still have to read the genealogies and allocations of the land and so on, but you’ll always have plenty of other chapters to read on those days. It’s very flexible, too, since it’s not fixed to specific days. At times when I was very busy, such as on camp, I just read one or two chapters so that I spread a day’s worth of readings out over a week.
I admit, I got stuck about halfway through this last year and switched to a different Bible reading plan for the last few months. My bookmarks are still in place, though, so I could pick it up again.
There are plenty of other plans for reading through the Bible. The classic McCheyne scheme is simple and easy to use. If you find it helpful to have some notes to guide you with your reading, you might like Don Carson’s ‘For the Love of God’ which uses the McCheyne system and comments on one of the readings each day.
If you’re finding the idea of these plans overwhelming, then I have two other recommendations. I have really enjoyed Paul Tripp’s books of meditations ‘A Shelter in the Time of Storm’ on Psalm 27 and ‘Whiter than Snow’ on Psalm 51. These are really great for anyone struggling through hard times but useful for everyone, I think. I think that it’s just as important to spend a lot of time dwelling on a single short passage of scripture sometimes as it is to do the big picture reading I was talking about before.
Finally, for a fresh take, I highly recommend Nailed It! Sarcastic Devotions for Angry or Worn Out People by Anne Kennedy. I have loved this book and found that it has given me new insights and new delight in God’s word.