Just a few days ago was Christmas, when we celebrate the incarnation, the moment when the Second Person of the Trinity came to earth and put on flesh. God's revelation of himself through the person of Jesus is an incredible miracle, something that we should certainly celebrate. Scripture says, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, who he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (Hebrews 1:1-2). Because of Jesus, we know more about God than anyone else prior to Jesus's life.
While Jesus is the clearest revelation of God, God has also revealed himself through his Word. The Bible, comprised of the Old Testament and the New Testament, is God's message to the world. How incredible is it to know that God has spoken to us? What better way to hear from God than to read his Word, the Bible? The question then is where to start? Every year countless Bible Reading Plans are provided by individuals and organizations to help us get in the Word and hear from God. While these are not all the options, below are a few that I think could be helpful for you.
1 & 2-Year Bible Reading Plans
For some people, whether new to the faith or not, reading the Bible in one year is a daunting task. If you've never set out to read the Bible before or you've tried in the past and struggled, the "2-Year Bible Reading Plan" might be for you. This plan is designed for someone to read through the Bible in a 2-year period.
If you are like me, every time I've set out to complete a yearly Bible reading plan, I fall behind. Sometimes sadly, I feel guilty for falling behind. A Bible Reading plan is not supposed to produce guilt. Rather, it is simply a tool to help you systematically read through Scripture. The "Bible Reading Chart" removes all the dates and simply has every book and chapter for you to check off as you read them. This removes the pressure of completing readings on certain dates and simply motivates you to read the book at your own pace.
Perhaps you struggle with falling behind in your Bible reading, but you need more structure than what the "Bible Reading Chart" provides. "The Legacy Reading Plan" is the answer for you. This reading plan is geared towards monthly rather than daily reading goals. Rather than worry about keeping up with daily readings, be inspired to read through the Bible in a year at your own structured pace.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a minister in 19th Century Scotland. He developed a Bible reading in his own time, focused on private and corporate readings. In this plan, you will read the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year. This is a great plan because it provides opportunities for Scripture reading to be done privately as well as with others, including your own family. Also, N. T. scholar, D. A. Carson, has developed a companion to this plan that can be found for free here.
In this plan, there are four readings per day, two from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament. The other great thing about this plan is that in each month there are only twenty-five days of readings. So, you’ll have five to six days off where you can catch up if you’ve fallen behind or use those days to study a passage that you’ve already read.
Shorter Bible Reading Plans
For some of you, you have a desire to begin reading Scripture but you've never tried to regularly read the Bible before. So, the 1 and 2-year reading plans immediately overwhelm you. Don't fret. Below are shorter reading plans to get you into the Word.
This plan is a 90-day reading plan designed to give you an overview of the story of the Bible. For someone who has never read the Bible before or is unfamiliar with the metanarrative or "Big Story" of Scripture, this reading plan is a great place to start.
This reading plan hits the major highlights of Scripture. Designed for new believers, this plan would be great for anyone who has never read Scripture before or has struggled to get into any regular rhythm of reading the Bible.
Again, this is a great plan for a new believer or someone who had trouble with regularly reading the Bible. This plan, however, is also great for that person who wants to focus on the life of Jesus. This plan would be great during the Advent or Lent season as we approach two very important times in the life of Jesus and the church.
Reading the Bible for All the Right Reasons
Perhaps you are not thrilled about any of the above plans. You can find several other plans at the ESV Bible website as well as at YouVersion. If I could encourage you to do one thing in 2017 it is this: spend time with God. Reading the Bible is truly the greatest way we can hear from God. Do not get bogged down in completing a plan or checking a box. Stay focused on being with God. Read his Word and pray. Continue to develop your relationship with him.