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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The value of life.

Ok. I’ve got to step on my soapbox. This is a bit wordy and still doesn’t say all I’m thinking.

Since when did the value of an animal supersede that of a human? When did an animal’s life become more important than a person? How did we – the body of Christ – come to equate the two?

While animals are a creation of Abba, they do not have a spirit. While animals are beautiful, they are not the capstone of His creation. While animals are to be enjoyed by humans, they are not to be treasured the way human life is.

In no way can an animal compare with the magnificence of humanity. Human life is superior because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Human life is priceless because Jesus left the splendor of heaven, enrobed Himself in humanity and became one of us (John 1:14) in order to sacrifice His life to redeem us (Titus 2:14) and have a relationship with us (1Peter 3:18.) Our uniqueness can be seen in the truth that humans will live forever (Daniel 12:2).

None of that can be said of an animal. Any animal. So when we value the life of an animal over any human life – and life does start at conception – we have fallen for the lies of the enemy. We have been deceived. Our enemy has succeeded in shifting our focus from Abba’s greatest passion – humanity.

This deception can be seen as we display grief for the mistreatment of an animal but accept the actions of Planned Parenthood as part of our culture. It can be seen as we simply shake our head over ISIS executions but are outraged over the death of an animal. It can be seen as we pour our money into animal rights and neglect human rights. It is seen in our concern for homeless animals but our indifference to homeless humans. It can be seen as we ignore human trafficking but rescue animals.

I am not suggesting that we ignore animals or treat them poorly. They are a part of Abba’s brilliant, spectacular creation. They were given to humans to enjoy and care for (Genesis 1:28). It is our responsibility to govern all of creation responsibly.

However, let’s place animals in their right place. Lower than humans. Less valuable than humans. Not as important as humans. And if a choice is to be made – we must choose humans. We should be passionate about humans. Our hearts should be broken for the loss of any human life. We should weep over the injustice of human trafficking. We should display holy, righteous anger at abortion. We should stand up for humans who cannot protect or defend themselves. We should pour our resources into rescuing and caring for humans. These are the true social injustices.

We should feel these injustices so deeply that we are moved to action. Action that is Spirit-led and flows from love. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT)

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left.

 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’ 

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’

“And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

This is the heart of Abba: caring for humanity. And we’ve got to get this right because He will ask us about our response to the needs to humans when we see Him face-to-face.