On Sunday morning, I knew I was in trouble when Dr. Jerry Root, our guest preacher, mentioned in his sermon that one of his mentors had read through the Bible at least two hundred times and was still getting fresh spiritual insights. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve read through the Scriptures, but I can assure you that it isn’t two hundred!
Of course, Jerry’s goal wasn’t to make me—or you—feel guilty for not reaching a certain number of Bible readings, as if this were some kind of hot-dog-eating contest and we’re battling Joey Chestnut for world supremacy. His goal was to remind us that regular, devotional Bible reading is a key spiritual discipline that is both profitable and doable, and that many of our failures as Bible-believing Christians can be traced to the fact that we don’t avail ourselves of this priceless divine resource as much as we should.
Profitable. In his message, Jerry walked us through the encouraging fact that the Bible is profitable for us, as it says in the Scripture text, 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Given that the Bible is breathed out from the mouth of a loving, omniscient God, it only makes sense that knowing and applying the Word will be profitable. Most of us would not walk away from an investment opportunity if we knew for certain that we would make a profit. And yet we frequently do that very thing when it comes to reading the Word of God. How foolish we are!
Doable. Jerry pointed out that reading through the Bible in a year is not very daunting when you actually do the math. In fact, he said that reading the Word at a moderate pace for only thirteen minutes every day will get us through the entire book in one year. Jerry slyly added that this is less than the time allotted to commercials in a one-hour television show—ouch!
Oh, yes, this profitable job is eminently doable! But how to get started?
There are many good books, apps, and Bibles out there, but I’ll focus on a handy, free resource to which we all have been given access. It is the YouVersion Bible app, available via our New Covenant Church website.
To get to YouVersion on the NCC website, go to the “Connect” tab at the top of the home page and click on “Bible Search.” On your phone, go to your search engine, find the NCC website (newcovenantnaperville.org), and find the “Connect” and “Bible Search” prompts. You can use the app through the website on your computer, or you can download it to your phone.
While there are a lot more features available on YouVersion (including a daily Bible verse, devotional videos, and more), let’s focus on the Bible reading options. When you get to the first page on YouVersion, you will be able to choose Bibles, Plans, or Videos. Choose “Plans,” and you will be ushered into a wealth of options.
Some plans are specialized, on topics such as love, doubt, anxiety, and healing. When you continue down the page, you will encounter a section called “Through the Bible.” This has subsections called “Whole Bible,” “Partial Bible,” and “Biblical Study.” As I said, this app is loaded with information. Choose “Whole Bible,” and you will see many options: “Canonical,” “One Story Leads to Jesus,” “Bible in a Year: 365-Day Reading Plan,” “The One Year Chronological Bible,” and many more.
Each has different emphases. Some take you through the Bible in six or twelve months. Others ask you to read extra passages throughout the year. Still others are chronological or follow the order of the biblical canon. For most, if not all, you can choose whatever translation you want, and you can start at any time. I’ve started The Bible Project’s “The Bible.” It’s loaded with helpful extra features, which you are free to use or skip entirely. You can read from your own Bible using any of these plans if you wish.
Take time to see which plan fits your needs best at this point in your life. Don’t worry if you find that one you have chosen doesn’t do the trick, as you can easily change plans at any time. The goal is consistency and faithfulness, not legalism. And if you are already regularly reading, growing from, and applying God’s Word and don’t think you need any of the YouVersion Bible reading plans right now, that’s perfectly fine.
Remember, the goal is not to place a stumbling block in front of you, yet another spiritual activity you can check off your daily to-do list. It’s to help you become spiritually mature, “equipped for every good work.” As Jerry would say, that’s not a “shaggy dog” story!
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