I know, this is a little later than usual for new Bible-reading plans! Most years I have an idea of what I'd like to do for my Bible-reading for the year, but this year, when January 1 hit, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Last year, I read completely through my Bible once. I was aiming to read it through in three months, but didn't quite make it. It took me five months. I really enjoyed reading so fast, because you really get the whole picture when you're reading such large amounts at one time. After that, I just leisurely read through the New Testament again. Then when it was time to figure out what I wanted to do this year, my mind was totally blank.
My husband had three or four different plans that he put on the book table at church. One of those was set up to read through in one year by reading from a different section of the Bible each day: The Law, History, Poetry, Prophecy, Gospels, etc. I did that in a previous year, and I really liked it that year (and here I am showing just how female I am!) . . . but it wasn't clicking this year. Finally, on April 1, I decided to start with the good ol' standby of reading two-three chapters in the Old Testament and a small amount (either one whole chapter or part of one) in the New Testament each day. I found this plan that allows you to start reading on the first day of any month. You can read the daily selection online, but I printed out the schedule to put in my Bible.
But that's not what this post is about! I sure can talk a lot about something that's not what a post is about, can't I?! What has revolutionized my Bible-reading this year is having a devotional commentary to read along with each chapter. I'm using With the Word by Warren Wiersbe, a chapter-by-chapter Bible handbook. The author wrote this book from the devotional notebooks he had kept for over twenty years. Each chapter of the Bible is summarized, many of them in short outlines, with many, many cross references to help bring spiritual truths from all over the Bible into themes and patterns and contrasts that will help you begin to tie things together. I have learned so much and added to my own personal notes things that have brought some Bible passages to life for me this past month.
Mr. Wiersbe suggests these four actions to help you get the most out of his book:
1. Have a program for reading your Bible.
2. Read the passage carefully, meditate on it, and seek the truths God has for you - asking the Spirit to instruct you.
3. Read the comments in With the Word, follow cross-references, compare Scripture with Scripture, see how one passage sheds light on another.
4. Pray the truth into your inner being and ask the Spirit to help you put it into practice.
Not only have Mr. Wiersbe's comments helped me, but I am beginning to see even more things through my own eyes, looking for themes in each chapter, key words, key thoughts . . . I just can't say how thrilled I've been with having a devotional companion to go along with my Bible reading!
Do you have a book that you use as a devotional help? What about study aids? Commentaries?