As of December 26, 2017 I officially read the entire Bible in one year. Whew! What a ride.
One of my goals for 2017 was to be devoted to the Word, and it took a lot of devotion to read the Bible in a year. While it was encouraging in the home stretch, there were moments in the middle where it was difficult to maintain my Bible reading plans pace of 3-5 chapters a day. Part of it is that I wasn't just reading for reading's sake. I also kept a document of summaries of every chapter of the Bible for my training plan for the campus ministry that I work with. Summarizing made reading an extra layer.
While it was hard work and quite a commitment, I'm deeply thankful that I made reading the Bible in a year as a goal for 2017. And there are a number of things that I took away from reading the Bible in its entirety. Here are a few reflections:
God Is Merciful And Gracious From Genesis to Revelation
Reading the Bible in it's entirety gave me a scope of biblical history that affirmed from Genesis to Revelation God's loving, merciful, and gracious character. Time after time God was gracious and merciful to his people, even after they sinned and rebelled against him. Halfway through the Old Testament, Israel is sent into captivity as a result of their sin and idol worship. You would think that captivity would soften their hearts, but their hearts are hardened towards God once again even after he frees them.
Even though Israel rebelled and disobeyed and sinned, God still promised to send a Messiah that would save them and that one day he would give his people new hearts. He has fulfilled that promise.
Returning to God is a Major Theme of Scripture
Along with God's merciful and gracious character, there is a repetition of God calling his people to return to him. This theme is all over the Bible, but I particularly noticed it while reading through the book of Ruth and Joel.
One of my favorite passages:
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?
Joel is sent to tell God's people to return to Him. To turn from their sin and their idol worship and to return to the merciful and gracious God that loves them.
Here's the thing: God is calling us to return to him as well. And here's why...
We Are Just Like the Israelites
I'm like the Israelites. You're like the Israelites. We're all like the Israelites in that we turn from God to other things (fame, success, relationships, looks, money, etc), YET EVEN NOW we can still return to the Lord. It's an open invitation, and it's a choice that leads to life.
This invitation is different from other invitations because it means life or death. If we turn from our rebellion and stop running after other gods in our lives and we return to the Lord, he will show himself to be merciful, gracious, and loving. Conversely if we turn from God to other things, we face disaster as well as God's wrath, anger and judgment. I don't know about you, but I would rather return to the Lord and receive God's mercy and grace.
It's easier said than done, and I'm learning that returning to the Lord daily in my own heart requires humility, but I would rather live my life within God's love, mercy, and abounding steadfast love.
There's Always More to Learn From The Bible
This is probably the biggest thing that I took away from reading the Bible in a year. I gained a full scope of Scripture in reading it in it's entirety, but I missed out on some of its treasures by reading through it quickly. I'm looking forward to taking time over the next year to study and dig for more treasures about God's character over this next year. There's always so much more to learn from the Bible about who God is.
While I enjoyed reading the Bible in a year, my goal for 2018 is to actually focus more specifically on a deeper study of specific books of the Bible. After reading for breathe, it's time for me to take time to read for depth.
So if this post has intrigued you, might I encourage you to make it a goal to devote yourself to God's Word over this next year and read it as a whole as well. If that's something you're interested in, here are a few resources to help you on the journey:
Knowable Word's 2018 Bible Reading Challenge
5 Reasons To Read The Entire Bible In a Year
She Reads Truth Bible Reading Plan (which is what I used, and you can find it for free on their app as well.)
The Bible App (which has a number of great Bible in a year plans you can use via your phone)
(P.S. If reading the Bible in a year is not for you, and you would prefer a more in depth study method might I recommend this resource: 3 Ways I Plan to Read the Bible Less in 2018)
In either case, happy reading!
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