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9/10/19

Rhythms of Grace: Bible Reading

I remember sitting in church one Sunday morning about 20 years ago, listening to the sermon when the pastor said something about Satan and his demons knowing theBible. He threw out the challenge that those of us who claim to be Christ followers should know the Bible well enough to at least read through it. I thought, “Check! I’ve read through the Bible! I did it when I was attending college.” Then the pastor finished his sentence, “... once a year.” Once a year? I thought he was crazy! My husband, Steve, and I had small children.Steve was starting a new business and I was working too, so we had our hands full with family and work. Reading the entire Bible once a year seemed daunting at best. But as the pastor continued to talk about Bible reading plans and the“One Year Bible”, I began to settle down and I committed to try.

I went out and bought a One Year Bible. After nearly two years of trying to read through the “One Year Bible”, I realized that the format wasn’t working for me. I didn’t like that I read just a little bit from the Old Testament and thens witched to the New Testament — I wanted to finish the story, not switch in the middle. I also didn’t know what to do when I missed a day or two. If I stayed with the date, then I missed some of the Bible; if I continued reading, I was off the reading plan’s scheduled date. I finally decided to start at the beginning and read all the way through. I counted it up and realized that to get through the Bible in a year, I needed to read about four chapters each day. 

I thought,“Check! I’ve read through the Bible! I did it when I was attending college.”Then the pastor finished his sentence, “... once a year.”

The next day I started in Genesis and read roughly four chapters every day. As I read the Bible over the years, I certainly learned a few things that helped me get the most out of my time in the Scriptures. Before I begin reading each day, I pray and ask God to show me what he wants me to learn. As I read, I ask myself what this passage is telling me about God. Sometimes it’s easy to see the answer, and sometimes it takes a little more digging to decide what the passage is telling me about God. I also like to ask God what he is calling me to do considering the passage I read. I ask myself, “In light of what I’ve just read, how should I be living?” Somewhere along the line, I began writing these thoughts in a journal.

The first couple of times through I would end up reading Isaiah during the summer and I hated it! I found the book so depressing. Those stupid Israelites had failed to obey God. They couldn’t even mange to obey just a little bit and now their destruction was happening. It was horrible and every day, I would think, “Why does there have to be 66 chapters of Isaiah?” That’s over two weeks of readingIsaiah. And it’s not like the next book, Jeremiah, is any less depressing! Somewhere in the midst of my complaining it occurred to me that God put those books there for a reason, so I began to pray that God would give me a love for his Word, and specifically a love for the book of Isaiah. Honestly, Isaiah has become one of my favorite books of the Bible. Did you know that there’s a courtroom scene in the book of Isaiah? As God is calling out theIsraelites for following idols instead of him, he begins to compare himself with their idols. He asks them to have their idols tell the future, or even the past, which of course hunks of wood and stone cannot do (Isaiah 41 beginning with verse 21). Each time I read the Bible,I see more and more of how God declares what will happen and then he does it.

Over the years I have switched things up a bit when it comes to reading through the Scriptures. One year I picked 25 passages and read each one every day for two weeks. This last year and a half I have been reading straight through, but this time I have not been concerned with how much I read; some days I read several chapters, other days I read just a few verses. 

What I’ve noticed as I’ve read through theBible is that it does not get old or boring. The more I read, the more I see and the more I pray about it, the more I understand what I’m reading. I still have many questions and that’s okay. Sometimes I read what theologians have to say, always I pray. I trust that God gives me just what I need to know. That pastor over 20 years ago was right, there is great value in spending daily time in God’s Word.

 

Kristen Gray

Contributor

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