Reading Plan, Tools

This link to my “God and the Bible” page on my music website has the actual Bible Reading Plan near the top of the page. You can click on the PDF and print or download it. You can subscribe here and get a daily email with that day’s readings and a few thoughts, helpful quotes, etc.

I encourage you to do your reading in a more literal translation, like ESV, NASB, KJV, or NKJV. Those are all a bit harder on the first reading, because they don’t make as many decisions on meaning for you. If you have time, the MOST helpful Bible study tool is reading it from ANOTHER of the more literal translations, and/or a more interpretive translation that takes a step closer towards being more commentary-like (they make some interpretive calls to smooth out the reading). Some to consider: Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), New Living Translation (NLT), or NIV. You can try any of these for free at BibleGateway.org, but once you’ve tried a few, I encourage you to invest in a decent on-paper Bible (I like one with decent size print and large margins, so I can make notes) for your main Bible. When I see translation differences that make me wonder, I love NETBible.org. They explain their translation thinking for most verses.

If I could only afford one study tool, I’d get an ESV Study Bible, because it gives you the view of differing groups that agree that Jesus is the only way of salvation and that the Bible is the inspired, authoritative Word of God. So in Gen 1 you’ll get the view of those that believe (like me) God created the world in six literal days. You’ll also hear the view of those that point out that the Hebrew word for “day” can mean a longer period of time. When you get to an end times section, you’ll usually see the view of a few sides. At ESV.org, you can see some of these notes for free (and great short introductions to each book of the Bible) by clicking the “Global Study Bible” icon.

I also love my John MacArthur study Bible (available in several favorite translations), but you’re more likely to see just John MacArthur’s view (he’s got five decades of preaching through the Bible, and I often think he’s right, so that works pretty well for me – AND he has some of the best cross references to other Scriptures that help interpret a passage).

HOW I DO DAILY BIBLE READINGS:

1) Is there known sin in your life that you’re not turning away from? A) Notice how 1 Peter 2:1-2 connects putting away sin and desiring God’s Word so that we can grow. B) We need God’s help to rightfully understand and apply His Word, and Scripture is clear that if we’re not willing to turn from our sin, that it chokes our prayer life (Psalm 66:18, Prov 28:9, 1 Pet 3:7). Be encouraged by this promise: Prov 28:13 – “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

2) Start with prayer. I like John Piper’s IOUS: “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:36) “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.” (Psalm 119:18) “Unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) “Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

3) For each Scripture first ask: “What is this Scripture revealing about God?” We can easily make Bible study SELF-centered, but the Bible is FIRST a revelation of God. “In the beginning, God…” sets the tone for the whole Bible – it’s all about HIM! And in John 5:39, Jesus points out that the Scriptures as a whole are pointing to Him – God the Son. God the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, and uses God’s Word to stir us up to worship God the Father and God the Son. When you get to a genealogy and ask this, you could reflect on how GOD cares about and knew each of those individuals, that though people say “You don’t know where I’m coming from,” that God DOES know and understand, etc.

4) Next, ask: “How should this Scripture adjust my thinking and/or actions?” A) Be careful of the context and time period – God telling Joshua or king David to attack his physical enemies will not have the same application for believers under Eph 6:12. The special promise God made to Israel specifically in 2 Chron 7:14-15 doesn’t apply in the same way to other countries. But beware the temptation to duck commands that DO apply to us. In Mark 7:13-23, Jesus is preparing His followers that HE is the fulfillment of the cleanliness codes from the Old Testament, so soon they could eat ALL foods with thanksgiving (see Acts 10:15; Rom 14:14, 20; 1 Tim 4:3-5). BUT, He did NOT need to define “sexual sin” in Mark 7:21, because those commands remain in place (though many today TRY to skip them because they’re often near the food cleanliness laws of the Old Testament). B) Be specific – “I need to pray more” is less likely to happen than “I’m going to aim to set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier to get up and walk while praying.” Notice how much of 2 Tim 3:16 focuses on some kind of correction/change that is PROFITABLE / USEFUL in our lives. We don’t initially LIKE correction, but so many Proverbs outline the blessings for those that receive rebuke.

5) Next, ask: “What are some OTHER folks in my life that could benefit from this Scripture?” It’s important to ask this AFTER the previous question, because it’s so easy to ignore the log in our own eye (Luke 6:41-42). But it IS important to be on the lookout for things that can help us obey Heb 10:24 about stirring up one another to love and to good works.

6) Keep reading. Don’t get hung up on the sections you don’t fully understand – there will be plenty you DO understand and need to apply 🙂 And more will be made clear in OTHER Scriptures that you’ll get to. As you keep reading through the WHOLE revelation in the Bible, you’ll get GOD’S inspired balance. It’s easy to get overly focused on a topic WE’RE currently interested in, but reading the whole Bible regularly will help you see what GOD has focused on.