The USDA attempts to promote balance in nutrition. Currently, if you visit choosemyplate.gov you will see a multi-color logo that encourages portions among fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy (note the absence of chocolate, coffee, and candy – bummer). Variety among these food groups is for our health. A healthy body requires a comprehensive approach.
It is the same in exercise and sport. Running or swimming goes a long way to help form a healthy body. However, experts agree and prescribe a comprehensive plan that can develop a variety of muscle groups.
I would imagine this concept transfers to many areas of our lives. It certainly relates to the spiritual. If God wrote all of Scripture (and he did ... see 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21), then we should seek to engage all of the spiritual nutrition he provides in a balanced way. There is equal value to all of God’s written revelation.
Paul, when talking with the Ephesian elders, said, “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
Dialing back to the early books of Scripture, the future king of Israel was commanded to immerse himself into the whole written revelation of God at that time:
“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law…And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them…” (Deuteronomy 17:18-19).
I realize that you can receive a healthy variety of Scripture intake via our church community. Preaching, Care Groups, Women’s Ministry, Connection Hours and other avenues are great ways to engage God’s Word. But, for our purposes today, I want to focus in on private Bible reading. As the new year approaches and you think through how to spend time with God in the coming months in personal Bible study, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.
1. Specific studies and emphasis at times are excellent pursuits. I had a friend years ago who spent a whole year in I Samuel and went as deep as he could. That is a great use of a year in my opinion. Maybe something similar to that would be the best use of your time and energy. For others, though, I would ask this: Have you ever read the entire Bible? If so, when was the last time? Has it been a while? Is now the time to do so again?
2. Consider purchasing a Reader’s Version of your favorite translation. Such a copy of the Bible removes the reference numbers so you engage the Book as a book more than as a reference work. It can be refreshing to read the Bible cover to cover as one main story, the story.
3. For multiple reasons I have become less of a fan of the Bible in a year plan. Don’t get me wrong. We spend far more time on lesser things than it would take to read the Bible in a year. In past years I’ve read the Bible twice in a year. Some of you have done the Bible in 90 days. I get that and support it. But at this season of my life (and many of you are in the same season) it ends up being a discouraging pursuit that leaves me disoriented. I’d rather complete the whole Bible in 2-3 years and know I can think well on it as I read and finish what I started.
This third point leads me to suggest a resource that will be available for 2018-2021. Our children’s ministry and Care Groups walk through The Gospel Project. It is a chronological walk through of the Bible over three years. They offer a chronological reading plan over the three years as well.
This resource will be available to you later this month. You may want to consider it as you seek to nourish your soul in a balanced way.