This is my last post for the foreseeable future. I’ve been praying about sharpening in focus of my attention, wanting to spend more time with my family and church family, and the Lord has brought together multiple layers of counsel all towards this same change. I’ve been so transformed by years of reading through the Bible that I really want to pass this joyful discipline on to others! Still do, but trying to focus in on what my part in God’s Kingdom should be. I’m going to continue posting at the end of the year my through-the-Bible reading plan. The non-italicized daily readings are the “family readings” from the classic M’Cheyne plan. Then I have two italicized “Optional Readings”. I list a few verses from Proverbs (I really prefer this way of taking in a little daily wisdom from Proverbs rather than ONLY by reading a whole chapter from Proverbs each day when you encounter it every 2 years, like in the M’Cheyne plan). My plan also includes another optional reading which includes a small portion of Psalms (or a small NT portion when the M’Cheyne plan is just in the OT). If time is short, I’d read the non-italicized readings (that’s the classic M’Cheyne “family reading” plan), and the several verses from Proverbs. You can download the PDF or print it here (scroll down and find the Bible reading plan): https://redmondmusic.com/God-and-the-Bible
Also on my blog site (this one where you’re reading now) there are pages that list some of my helpful tips and tools. Worth reading through, I think, but I’ll summarize my top tips and tools here:
- Keep reading. You WILL fall behind (we’re half way through the year and I’m more than a week behind this year), but keep reading. The first time all the way through the Bible took me 2-3 years, because I was pondering and being transformed in every area of life. Then I went through a second time and saw much more, and that keeps happening!
- Don’t get stuck on the sections filled with detail or things you don’t understand yet. I really recommend the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for their summaries and overviews of sections. I also encourage a more detailed study Bible (my two favorites are the ESV Study Bible and John MacArthur’s Study Bible – that one is available in several translations – get something other than ESV for balance and comparison). But the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible will give you a short summary of a section, have a helpful thought about how it fits into the whole story of the Bible and highlight pointers to Jesus. If I only had money and time for one resource when reading through the Bible it would be this one, followed by a good detailed study Bible. The study Bible notes of course are NOT inspired, so spend by far MOST of your time in God’s inspired Word and use the study notes as helpful tools (and ALL of them have some areas I’d disagree with, so don’t take my endorsement as an endorsement of every comment / idea).
- I haven’t been through every single one, but all the overviews I HAVE gone through have been VERY helpful (though I regularly find something I somewhat disagree with or would have done different). Before each new section of the Bible or each new book of the Bible, I’d try these approximately 10 minute videos: https://bibleproject.com/explore/ You have to scroll down the page to get to the “Old Testament Overviews” and the “New Testament Overviews”. Friends tell me I’d have more disagreement with some of the OTHER videos, but I’ve found these overviews VERY helpful for getting a flavor of the next section in the Bible that I’m about to read through.
I’ve also been really helped / nourished / encouraged / convicted by the hour-ish overview SERMONS at www.capbap.org Once there, go to the search bar and type “The Message of ___________” (in place of the blank type in the book of the Bible you’re getting ready to read through.
- The Bible will regularly confront you with a radically different perspective than what’s everywhere around you, and that can be shocking / offensive / troubling. A few thoughts: A) You MAY have misunderstood or found one of those sections that has been fulfilled now and mostly serves today as a preparation for the message about Jesus. For instance, we’re NOT to be making blood sacrifices anymore – Jesus is the perfect final sacrifice. A brief look at one of the study Bibles I recommend would help in this case. B) When (not if) you come across something that’s very counter-cultural, don’t duck and dodge and try to squirm out of what God has said. If 2 Tim 3:16-17 is true (it is!), you’re reading God’s inspired and authoritative Word! Notice how much of 2 Tim 3:16 involve correction / rebuke. That’s ALWAYS painful at first, but Proverbs is FILLED with encouragements of the great value to the person that receives correction humbly and grows. C) Keep reading. God powerfully uses His Word to reveal Himself and to change people, and at least go all the way through the Book that has most revolutionized world history and see if God does a miracle in your life and understanding by the end.
- Maybe do this after your first read through (that takes 2 years on the plan I use), but I’ve been really helped by D.A. Carson’s devotional books that go through the M’Cheyne plan. He has two volumes so far (Vol 1 covers the readings for this year, and Vol 2 covers next year’s readings), and is planning a third I think. Wherever you get books, search for his last name and this title: For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word. He was particularly helpful for me in the book of Job, and also in reading the OT prophets. He has a different end times view than me… It looks to me (and lots of other believers) that Gentile believers are “grafted in” to the promises made to Israel – Rom 11 and that one day Israel will come to see Jesus as their Messiah. Carson sees a different emphasis, but what most clearly comes through is Carson’s love for God (and for Israel) and desire that we see the significant victory that Jesus has ALREADY won (though he consistently cautions about being prepared for the hard things in this life). Summary – he doesn’t PUSH his views where Christians disagree and has gently helped me consider some views more fully. I finish almost all of his devotional readings feeling both encouraged and humbled. And that’s what I encounter all through God’s Word 😊