Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Coming on January 1 - Bible Reading Plan 2011

Good morning and Happy New Year to each and everyone of you!

Well, January 1, 2011 is right around the corner and that means it's time for our YEARLY BIBLE READING PLAN. This year our community will be following the READING PLAN laid out by the late Reverend Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
  • Robert Murray M'Cheyne (pronounced, and occasionally spelled as "McCheyne"; (May 1813 – 25 March 1843) was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1835 to 1843. He was born at Edinburgh, was educated at the University of Edinburgh and at the Divinity Hall of his native city, where he was taught by Thomas Chalmers. He first served as an assistant to John Bonar in the parish of Larbert and Dunipace, near Falkirk, from 1835 to 1838. Thereafter he became forever associated with St. Peter's Church in Dundee, where he served as minister until his early death at the age of 29 during an epidemic of typhus.

This may be the most followed and most well known plan within the orthodox evangelical church. You will find that it covers 4 chapters a day, 2 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. If you should go to the website tomorrow and look under Bible Reading you will see some instructions for using this plan along with the weekly reading assignments. I plan to go over this in some detail when we launch on January 9. Would you pray with me that others join us in our passionate pursuit to know the Lord Jesus Christ by knowing His word?

The following is a helpful article that I posted on our blog site earlier in the month.

1. The goal is not the goal. I used to think that the purpose of setting goals was to achieve those goals. Makes sense, right? But I’m more inclined now to think that the purpose of setting goals is to create forward momentum. Whether or not I achieve the goal specified is almost immaterial. The act of goal-setting is successful if it moves me forward in a worthwhile endeavor.

I read an article in late 2008 by Karl Rove on his yearly book-reading competition with former President George W. Bush. In 2006 Rove read 110 books to Bush’s 95. The next two years brought two more victories for Rove. What stunned me, though, was the sheer number of books each man consumed.

So I brought it up to Kimberly and challenged her to the same. She trounced me in 2009. I might catch her this year, but if I do I’ll be indebted to Kimberly’s pregnancy, which makes reading a tad dizzying for her. My point? I read more books in 2009 than any year previous, and more books this year than last. I didn’t accomplish the goal of reading more than Kimberly, but the goal created forward momentum towards a worthwhile end.

What difference does it make if you complete a read through the Bible in one year? The goal is not the goal. The goal is a means to the goal, namely, glorifying God through an increased knowledge of and affection for him and his gospel through his word.

2. Read different translations. A friend gave me this idea many years ago. He said that reading a wide variety of versions (from formal to paraphrase) would help me see things in Scripture that I wouldn’t notice if I read the same translation over and over. He was right. The first version I read through in a year was God’s Word to the Nations, a very simple translation. There were many times that the way GWN phrased something would direct me back to other translations and ultimately enhanced my understanding of Scripture.

Since the English Standard Version is my current translation of choice, I try to read it every other year. But I’ve greatly enjoyed the time spent in other versions. If nothing else it gives me first-hand acquaintance with them and guards me from parroting what others think and say about them.

3. Don’t sweat missing days. Unless you are an extremely disciplined person, you will likely miss a number of days next year. (And if you are tempted to think that God will love you less on days you don’t read, remember that Christ is your righteousness. If you are trying to earn your own, then you’d better be perfect.)

When you do miss a day, don’t sweat it. I used to rework my plan so that I could get back on schedule. But doubling up to catch up served only to make reading the Bible a burden. You might say that the goal got in the way of the goal. My desire to read the Bible in a year became more important than glorifying God through an increased knowledge of and affection for him and his gospel through his word. Is that good?

So if you miss a day, just pick up where you left off. Don’t sweat it. God loves you because of Jesus, not because of your good deeds.

4. In conclusion You may choose not to read the entire Bible in 2011. But if you plan to, be more concerned about reading the Bible than about reading it in a year, and more passionate about the God whom the Bible reveals than either.
- Matthew Hoskinson series on Bible Reading for 2011