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Last revised: 21 February 2005
"The Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't." -- Vance Havner
In his sermon on November 15th, 1998,
my pastor challenged his flock to become more familiar with God's Word
by reading from the Bible every day. He recommended a plan that he uses
to read the entire Bible in a year. I hope that by sharing my own
progress in this area I can encourage you to act on that recommendation.
I had never seriously studied the Bible, but in 1992 I resolved to get to know God better by reading His Word. That was my simple goal. I bought the New International Version (NIV) Student Bible because it said it was designed specifically for "beginners." The language is faithful to the original texts, but it is much easier to read and understand than the King James English version. Many people prefer it to the New Revised Standard Version for that same reason.
The NIV translation, along with commentary aimed at beginners, was enough to keep me interested in the Bible. For the first time in my life, over the next five years I read all of the New Testament and most of the Old Testament. I kept reading mostly out of mere curiosity. My conversion experience is a different story, but the connection to the subject at hand is that I don't believe my life would have changed if I hadn't been reading the Bible. (Prayer is another essential element to spiritual growth -- the best prayer advice I've heard is to pray the Psalms. Notice that you're reading Scripture when you do that!)
In December 1997 I received a gift from a friend that has been a genuine blessing. It's The Daily Bible, New International Version, with commentary by F. LaGard Smith. It enables you to read through the while Bible in a year, and it's in chronological order so it makes more sense. The Bible verses are arranged as a story that unfolds over time. It also has one additional benefit over other read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans: you simply read it cover to cover like any other book. However, the Holy Bible is not just any other book! My recommendation: buy The Daily Bible and start now.
There were days when I missed the appointed reading; but on average that represents less than five pages, so it was easy to catch up. Even if you get behind, as my pastor said, you don't need to get discouraged -- just read every day that you can and eventually you'll get all the way through the Bible. My gift was actually one of five from the sixth in the group. We were a proud pack of engineers, and peer pressure kept most of us on track to finish "on schedule." There's a lesson there: band together in small groups. "Encourage one another and build each other up," St. Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians.
The last observation I have is related to my pastor's illustration of Scripture as spiritual nourishment. Recall that, during the Exodus, God commanded the Hebrews to gather manna every day in the wilderness. Whatever they didn't eat, spoiled, so they couldn't save it up. In Deuteronomy 8:3 Moses reminds God's people of what this illustrates. "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (NIV) That was the passage Jesus quoted to Satan when he was tempted to turn the stones into bread during his forty-day fast. And remember that in the Lord's Prayer he taught: "Give us this day our daily bread." My daily bread isn't just the material things I need every day. It's the daily nourishment I get from reading God's Word.
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This document is http://alum.mit.edu/www/tbc/writing/bible001.htm. Copyright © 1998, 2005 Tim Chambers <email@example.com> 1E4AF729D5CEFFD0.
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