You can’t eat an elephant in one bite.

Or at least you shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t read your Bible through in a year either. Cause that’s a lot like eating an elephant in one bite.

Why?

Too much to chew. Too much to digest.

Think about it. The volume of content you must consume daily to stay on schedule is sizeable. Some days could require 3 or 4 chapters. And some chapters could have as many as 50+ verses. That’s a LOT of material to read and digest in one day.

Now, I can hear what you’re saying. People read lots of things every day. And many read several chapters from a novel or informational book daily. Or they read chapters from multiple books as they study for classes and exams or do research for their jobs. If they can read multiple chapters from a “fun” book or, material they “want” to read or are required to read – then surely they can do the same for Jesus. Surely reading 3 or 4 chapters of the Bible is not too much to ask.

But I think maybe it is.

You see, those books, newspapers, blogs, educational texts and paperbacks were written by men and women with limited knowledge and understanding about the subject they are expertly writing about. All were penned by people with intelligence similar to yours. From the most difficult and complicated work to the easy-read, all were written by mere mortals.

On the other hand, the Bible was written by God. 2Timothy 3:16 (Amp) tells us that All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration]…..” It is Divine. Every, single word was breathed from the mouth of God into the hearts of more than 40 different men. God used these men as pens to compose a letter to humanity. Words from the mind of God spilled onto the pages, as He poured Truth into their hearts. The One who knows all things; the One who created all things; the One who lives outside of time and space put His plans, purposes and intents on paper for every person to read. The Alpha and Omega put Himself on every page for all to see.

Think about that for a moment.

The One whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours wrote the Bible. (Isaiah 55:9) The One whose thoughts are deep – profound – in a way that transcends our depth, authored every chapter and verse. (Psalm 92:5). The One whose understanding is beyond comprehension, penned every single word. (Psalm 147:5) The One who created the intricacies of the human body (Genesis 1:27), the wonders of the heavens (Isaiah 40:6) the complexities of advance calculus and liner algebra, and the perplexities of quantum physics (Colossians 1:16) wrote all 66 books contained in the Bible without any research, help, resources, or support. There are no credits in footnotes and no recognition in a bibliography. Romans 11:33-34 (GNT) says: How great are God’s riches! How deep are His wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain His decisions? Who can understand His ways? As the scripture says, “Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give Him advice? Who has ever given Him anything, so that He had to pay it back?”

And we think we can speed read through it? That it can be skimmed? We think we can actually digest 3 to 4 chapters of Divine writing as we are winding down from the day, with brains that are tired and eyes that are fuzzy? We really think we can absorb the depth and complexities of the writings of God as we cram in bulk?

I don’t think so. I think David nailed it in Psalm 139:6 when he said, “Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.

Because it is a collection of Divine writings, you must have time to digest the Bible. You need time for contemplation. You need time to discuss with Holy Spirit. You need time to dig into the magnitude of the text, understand the setting, context, and inspect surroundings. You need time to discover the people and culture of the particular passage you are reading. You need time to grasp what God is saying to you. To savor every morsel.

That will never happen if you are (speed) reading 3 to 4 chapters a day.

So how do I think we should read the Bible?

Slowly. Thoughtfully. Repeatedly. Daily.

I think we should ask Holy Spirit where to start and let Him direct us. He knows what we need to read.

[But, if you need a pointer: I encourage new Bible readers to start with the Gospel of John. If you have not read the entire New Testament, stay there until you have. If you are ready to branch into the Old Testament, read Psalm and Proverbs. Then, read Ruth and Esther. Then move to Genesis and work your way through the Old Testament.]

Once you’ve determined where to start, read each day until He tells you to stop. And then re-read. Pray through what you’ve read. Meditate on what you read. Journal about what you hear. While you will gain information as you read, the purpose is to receive revelation. Unlike anything else we read, we are not looking to be entertained or educated; we are looking to be transformed. And this takes time.

You see, revelation comes as we allow His word to have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness,……. (Colossians 3:16), hiding it in our heart, so that (we) might not sin against (Him). (Psalm 119:11), so that His instructions are written on [our] heart and becomes part of [our] very being. (Psalm 40:8) We want our heart to pump God’s Word like blood through (our) veins;……so we must take our time and chew on wisdom like a dog on a bone, [and] roll virtue around on (our) tongue. (Psalm 37:30-31). And as we do, we are transformed – changed from the inside out.

Then, pick up where you left off the next day. Don’t jump around, reading in a different place each day. If you do this, you’ll miss the connections between sections and chapters.

And if it takes you three years – five years – to make it through the entire Bible, then so be it.

But, if we rush through, we’ll find the Bible disappointing, frustrating and boring. We’ll think God’s word is a burdensome chore. His writings will seem disjointed. (be honest – you’ve thought that) And we’ll dread reading. (you know it’s true) And we’ll miss the wealth of treasures stored within.

Rushing through, we miss the depth and profound message in that passage, section or account. Skipping sections to “catch-up” will cause us to miss the connections. In the hurry to stay on schedule, we fail to discover what God is saying to us personally in those verses.

I think this is why we often think the Bible is slow moving, boring, irrelevant, and insignificant. I think it’s often why we think the Bible is confusing. And, I think this is why we haven’t fallen in love with reading the greatest literary work of all times. Why we are not captivated by the Author. We’re going too fast to see the depth, wonders and magnificence.

So, read your Bible this year. Read it every day. Be intentional. Be systematic. Be aggressive. But move at His pace, taking it one bite at a time. And let His words wash over your heart and fill you with revelation so that you experience transformation. Then at the end of the year – regardless of how much territory you cover – you’ll find that you are full and satisfied. And yet……..you want more.

I have more to say on this subject. You can see more of my thoughts on this in my Soapbox post.

ps ~ If you need a plan to follow, here is a 3 year planYou’ll read one chapter per day as you toggle between books of the Old and New Testaments. Or, this plan takes you through the New Testament in a year and gives you the weekends off to review and reflect. Both can be printed from the links. 

It’s going to be a great year 🙂

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My Soapbox

I’ve got to get something off my chest. I know this is risky. I’m sure I’ll be misunderstood. There may even be some backlash. But I’ve got to say it. Especially since it’s January.

I don’t like the “read the Bible in a year” plans.

I think it’s a terrible idea. I know it goes against Christian culture. I know there are dozens of plans available. I know many Bibles include it. I know lots of people, pastors and ministries support it. But really – it’s a bad idea.

Why?

Because it values quantity over quality. Because it makes reading the Bible seem like a project on your to-do list. Because it forces you to rush through chapters in order to stay on schedule. Because if you fall behind, you’ll never catch up and will more than likely give up. Because you probably won’t remember very much of what you’ve read at the end of the year.

And what’s the purpose? Just to say you’ve read the entire Bible in a year’s time?

I’m not so sure this is how it’s supposed to work.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in reading the Bible. I believe we should read it every day. I believe we should read all of it – every book, every chapter, every verse. But I don’t think it’s something to be rushed. And I don’t think it should be an item to be checked off your to-do list.

Think about this: Colossians 2:3 says In Him [Jesus] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And John 1:14 says the Word became human and made His home among us. In Jesus, Who is the Word, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Bible is full of treasures. That’s just not something you hurry through. That’s going to take time to mine and excavate.

Reading the Bible is like reading a love letter. You have to take the time to savor every word. Drink in its meaning and absorb the intent. You need to read and re-read passages and let Truth wash over you. You must soak it in, allowing it to water your dry and thirsty soul. Time is needed for meditation and rumination. Linger in His Presence and allow Holy Spirit to speak to you. Wait on Him to bring revelation and understanding.

And when you’ve absorbed His Word deeply, you’re in a much better position to be impacted and experience change. You’re now in a position to actually do something with what you’ve read. You are positioned to encounter God and experience the supernatural. You’re positioned for intimacy with Him.

But none of that will happen if the clock is ticking and you’re desperate to meet a deadline. You’ll miss the beauty and intimacy if you’re racing through.

And how do I know this? Because I’ve done this.

So I encourage you toss out that plan for cramming reading in a year. Instead, choose a starting place and begin to read, asking Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding as you read. Read every day. Take your time. Stop and ponder. Cross reference for better understanding. Meditate. Write down your thoughts. Write down what you hear Him saying to you. Ruminate. The number of verses/chapters is irrelevant. Just read and let Him speak.

Then return to that same place tomorrow, picking up where you left off. And read through that book again and again until you’ve exhausted it, drawing all you possibly can from it. You may read that same book for 4 months – that’s OK! You could spend a lifetime in that one book and never find all the hidden treasure there. Take your time. There’s no rush!

And if it takes you three years – five years – to make it through the entire Bible, so be it.

Bible Reading Plan