“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
For most of my life, I have believed that Bible study is critical for spiritual growth. However, I didn’t know how to get started. The thought of opening the Bible felt overwhelming to me and at times even felt boring. As a result, I missed out on the incredible blessing of hearing God speak directly into my life through the Scripture.
Today I am jumping into a new Bible reading plan with First McKinney. Last year I did the plan with four other men in our church. This year, that group of five (counting me) has multiplied into five groups of five or six guys. As we dive in again, I’m reflecting on what God is teaching me about how to be transformed through my time in His Word.
Schedule Bible Reading Into Your Day
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”- Mark 1:35
Years ago, a mentor taught me the importance of scheduling quiet times into my week. In order to have a successful personal Bible study, you should set a time, a place and a plan. Schedule your meeting with God before your day even starts. Look at your calendar a week at a time. Prioritize this meeting and honor it like you would a meeting with the most important person in your life.
- Time – When are you most alert?
- Place– Where will you be distraction free?
- Plan– What will you do?
Choose a Reading Plan
Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, And on His Law he meditates day and night. – Psalm 1:1-2
Maybe you are like me and have tried to start in Genesis and read the Bible straight through. Multiple times I found myself getting bogged down after a few weeks. It was my incredible wife, Rebecca, that showed me how a Bible reading plan (we used the One Year Bible for many years) helps to engage different parts of scripture and keep each day’s reading dynamic. One year we did a chronological plan. You can look for all kinds of plans online and through the outstanding free Bible app, You Version. This year I will be doing the Read the Bible For Life 4 + 1 plan and focusing on the New Testament and Psalms.
If you are a new believer, consider reading John and Romans first. These books will give you a good picture of the climax of all of the scripture: Jesus.
Set goals. Seek accountability. If you are consistent in your personal Bible study, you will see your time move from a duty to a delight. You Version is a great tool to do your Bible reading with others.
Meditate on God’s Word
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
Consider starting a spiritual journal so that you can see God direct your life. Begin your time in prayer. Ask God to speak to you through His Word. As you read the Bible, note a verse or verses that stand out to you. Then pick one verse to write out and ask and answer these questions in response:
- What is God saying to me? Summarize what God is saying through the verse or passage in your own words. What does this say about you? What does it say about God?
- How will I obey? Is there a command to obey? Is there an example to follow? How can you apply this truth to your life today? Be specific. So many times I have stopped with something like: “I need to love better.” Instead of listening to How God wants me to obey like: “I need to stop right now and send an encouraging text to…”
- Who will I tell? We are called to be Jesus’ witnesses not lawyer. A witness shares what they have seen and heard. Who can you share with what God is teaching you?
Title the journal entry, date it and create a contents page in your journal so you can quickly reference what God has been teaching you during your personal Bible studies.
- 2/18 – Wisdom Promised
- James1:5“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
- What is God saying to me?:(My own words) Are you desperate for God’s guidance? Request it from the benevolent King… and He is going to dump it on your life.
- How will I obey?: (Be specific) I’m driving to my parent’s camp to do future planning for the ministry I lead. I will block 30 minutes in my drive to just ask God to give me wisdom… How awesome that He promises that “he will give it to me!”
- Who will I tell?: My parents
Obedience Matures and Motivates
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
The Bible is the Word of God, but the power of God is not released in our lives until we apply it! When we apply the Bible through the power of the Holy Spirit, it becomes a life-transforming book. Nothing is more exciting than seeing the God of the universe actively leading our actions. Nothing is more difficult and discouraging than reading the Bible when we are not applying it.
Note: You must be saved through faith in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit in order to understand and apply the Bible. Obedience follows faith. If you have questions about how to follow Jesus by grace through faith, click here.
30 Days to Understanding the Bible(by Max Anders) Understand in a basic way how the Bible is put together. Awesome foundation for everyone’s personal Bible study.
Living By the Book(by Howard Hendricks) Gives an inductive approach to studying scripture along with unique procedures for observation that will lead to rich time with Jesus in His Word.
Bible Reading Plans and Websites:
One Year Bible: http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com: Print this plan and keep it in your Bible as you read with PCBC in 2013.
YouVersion.com: Many diverse reading plan options that can also be pulled up on your smart phone or tablet.
ESV Bible Reading Plans: http://www.esv.org/resources/reading-plans-devotions/. Find a plan that fits you. Easy to print out these plans to keep in your Bible.
Project345.com: Basic reading plan through the New Testament that takes approximately three minutes and 45 seconds each day for a year.
First McKinney seeks to base our teaching on God’s Word. Join a Connect Group and dive into scripture with other believers.
Sam, love this post and thank you for sharing your personal journey. May I share what God is doing in our family. We have two adult children, both married. My wife and I began praying intentionally last year that God would make us a family who has a passion for the Bible. One of our family traditions at Christmas is that we each share something we would like the rest of the family to pray with us about throughout the following year and, we share how God worked in our lives through those prayers during the past year. This past Christmas it was exciting to listen as our family talked about how they wanted to grow in one way or another in their commitment to reading the Bible. All of us except one, are reading through the Bible in 2019.
In my personal life, I started a new journey 2018. Using a journaling Bible, I wrote notes and prayers to my wife as I read through the Bible and then presented it to her at Christmas. I’m repeating the process in 2019 for a different member of the family and will continue each year until each family member has received a Bible, including the grandchildren. Two amazing things happened that I had not anticipated as I read through the Bible with someone else in mind: God revealed more to me personally than any other time I’ve read through the Bible and, the excitement it created in our family; one of our family members confessed jealousy that they were not going to be next. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal.
All I can do is thank God and praise him for his faithfulness.
I’m so excited about what God is doing! You are leading your family to follow Jesus by pursuing time in His word.
Journaling really helps me to process what God is speaking to me and to respond in obedience.
I thank God for you my friend.