“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”
― Charles H. Spurgeon ―
Recently, several friends of mine and I were talking about our desire to grow closer to God. It seems that the “cares of this life” sweep us up and we get distracted from the things that are most important.
I realized that we were probably not the only girls hoping for increased spiritual maturity in the next year. With all the resolutions and goals people often make at the start of a new year, some aspect of Christian growth may be at the top of your list in 2015 too!
“Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” – R. C. Sproul
Ouch. Mr. Sproul has a point, and it is not a comfortable one. Could it be that amid all my busyness, projects, and responsibilities that laziness is at the root of my sometimes-lacking Bible reading?
Just. Do. It.
Nike may have claimed the phrase, but I think it fits my needs pretty well too. I have to sit down, open my Bible, and actually read.
I have to pray for the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and let me truly see His truth. I have to pray for desire to keep on reading when I’d rather say, “I don’t feel like studying the Bible today.” I have to pray that my obedience will bear the fruits of wisdom and joy. I have to “put feet” on my belief that I cannot go today, or tomorrow, or the next day without God’s grace and truth permeating my heart.
But, apart from “just do it,” there are a few resources I’ve discovered that encourage me to dig into my Bible reading:
One Year Reading Plans
There are a lot of ways to read through the Bible in a year. Both biblestudytools.com and biblegateway.com have multiple one year plans that you can use to guide you through your entire Bible in a year!
These sites also have reading plans for focusing on particular books or topics, or, if you’re really up for a challenge, read the Bible in 90 days instead of 365!
This year, I got a One Year Chronological Bible for Christmas, and I am loving it. Not only is the Bible organized into daily readings, but the books are placed in chronological order. It is so neat to see how the genealogies line up between Genesis and 1 Chronicles (and realize that Noah was still alive when Abraham was born–who knew?), or read in Acts about where Paul was staying while he wrote the letter to the Ephesians. There are non-chronological One Year Bibles too, in a variety of translations.
During a recent short-term job, I found that an audio Bible was perfect to listen to while I put on makeup, ate breakfast, and packed my lunch for the day. I’d often follow along in my Bible while munching my cereal. Here are two of my favorite audio Bibles:
dailyaudiobible.com – This one is free, with the options of (1.) a daily Psalm, (2.) a daily Proverb, or (3.) a daily reading that will get you through the whole Bible in a year. Brian Hardin reads the passage from a translation chosen for the week, so sometimes I don’t care for some of the looser paraphrases he choses, but overall I really enjoy Daily Audio Bible! And did I mention it is free?
thewordofpromise.com – This one can be purchased on CD or MP3, but it is SO worth it. With dozens of voice actors, dramatic music, and sound effects, this dramatized Bible is amazing. It brings the Scripture to life! I love the rich variety of voices. Often, the way the actor reads a particular verse makes me think of the verse in a new way. I cannot recommend this audio Bible highly enough!
There are also several free options on biblegateway.com that I don’t usually use, but they might be just what you need!
For looking up verses, reading commentators such as Matthew Henry, and comparing versions, my go-to resource is biblegateway.com. That’s also where I get the verses to paste into my blog posts!
If you want to challenge yourself to learn a chapter or even a book of the Bible by memory in 2015, scripturetyper.com is a handy way to do it! All you have to do is create an account, import the passages you want to learn in the version you want to learn them in (the site uses biblegateway.com, so you don’t have to type them in yourself), and presto! You type a verse while looking at it, then type every other word by memory, and then finally type it without looking at the verse at all! The Scripture Typer system helps you keep track of what needs reviewing, lets you move through a passage quickly, and is a fun way to learn the Bible by heart. Try it out!
A Friendly Face
Whatever your spiritual-growth goals are for the year, find a friend–or two, or three–to help keep you on track. Make a plan to study together, send each other reminder emails, and just encourage each other to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 3:14, ESV)!
I shouldn’t be surprised, but somehow the unending freshness and relevancy of the Bible catches me off guard again and again. The Book does not change…but it truly changes me. As I am reading through the Old Testament, I am staggered by the mercy of God to an undeserving people. I am blown away by constant signposts pointing toward the Promised Seed, the Messiah that would indeed be God dwelling with men on the earth (see 2 Chronicles 6:18; Galatians 3;16).
Oh, sisters, join me! Taste and see that our Lord is truly good (Psalm 34:8)! His mercy lasts forever, and His truth is without end!
“For in Him we live, and move, and exist….”
– Acts 17:28 –