New Year & New Habits

New Year.jpg

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a brand new year, and many of us have new hopes and new habits that we are ready to set in motion starting tomorrow. Personally, I’m making a commitment to eat less sugar, own less stuff, use less screen-time, get more sleep and embrace more silence — I’m going to try and devote the first hour of every day to silence, psalm reading and prayer (#OwnHourOne).

Whatever your goals, we all know that there are things in our lives that we need to alter or do better, and the New Year often gives us the spark of motivation that we need to actually implement these things.

That being said, one of the most life-changing (and life-giving) habits that I have developed over the last few years is the habit of following a Bible Reading Plan that helps me read through the whole Bible in a year. Now, this is a new habit that took me several years to develop so I don’t want to give off the impression that its easy.

Like the popular resolution of going to the gym more, many Bible reading plans start out with great enthusiasm but end up bogged down and eventually abandoned a few months later. Some of you may have experienced this several times before and have just decided that Bible reading plans aren’t your thing. If that’s the case, I want to urge you to give it one more shot and join me in the plan that I’ll be doing this year.

THE PLAN

This plan takes you through the entire Bible in one year and is divided into weekly readings instead of daily readings in order to encourage you to take time to read larger chunks of the Bible instead of smaller individual portions. We believe that this approach will help us better understand the context of what we read and help us grasp the one big unified story that the Bible is telling.

(If you prefer a daily format, I have also spread this plan out into a daily format that keeps you in sync with the weekly format too. You can view the daily reading format here.)

Here are some of the highlights of the reading plan that we’ve put together and some advice on how to best develop this new habit over the upcoming year…

THE HEBREW BIBLE

We have organized the books of the Old Testament (OT) in the three-fold order found in the Hebrew Bible — the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Jesus actually references this three-fold order when he tells his disciples that, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law, the Prophets and the Writings must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44)

The OT was the Bible of Jesus and his first followers so we hope that this plan gives you a fresh perspective and a new hunger to read and love the OT.

THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING

We have organized the books of the New Testament (NT) in a way that takes continuity and chronology into consideration. We have rearranged Paul’s letters to better fit the order in which they were actually written, and John’s Gospel has been placed towards the end since it was one of the last NT books written.

We have titled these books, The Apostles’ Teaching, because collectively they provide us with the overall content of what Luke says the first followers were learning when he says that “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” (Acts 2:42)

PSALM OF PRAYER

We have organized the Psalms to be spread out over the course of the entire year. The psalms for each week are listed for you to include in your regular times of prayer.

To pray the psalms, take time to read through the psalm 2-3 times and try to understand its original significance and how it is still relevant today (and to you personally). Then simply use some of the key verses in the psalm and pray — using these verses to say anything that comes to mind.

We highly recommend using Timothy Keller’s book, The Songs of Jesus, to help you go through the Psalms.

VIDEOS

The team at The Bible Project has done an excellent job creating short animated videos that correspond with each book and major themes of the bible. As you begin each book of the bible, we encourage you to watch the short video on their website about that book’s message and design which helps you know what to look for as you read.

HOW TO USE THIS PLAN

We recommend that you ask one or more friends to do this plan with you. Have each person read on their own and write insights in their journal. Then have everyone meet to discuss what they learned.

The following four questions can be used as a guide for what to write in your journals and for what to discuss when you meet. Pick a particular passage that got your attention while you were reading and then answer these four questions:

  1. What can we praise or thank God for from this particular reading?

  2. What is the original author trying to communicate to his original audience?

  3. What timeless and transcendent truth does this passage teach all readers?

  4. How is this relevant to my own life and how is the Spirit leading me to respond?

You can view these reading plans on our website or under the resources section of the UPI Grow App. There is also a Scripture tab on the App that provides a daily scripture reading with an audio option that keeps you in sync with the plan.

The PDF for each plan has also been formatted in a way that allows you to print out the plan on a single sheet of paper that you can then fold in half and simply place right inside your Bible.

With all that said, I hope all of you have great success in implementing your personal goals for the upcoming year, and I do hope that you will devote yourself to developing the new habit of regular Bible reading. I hope this plan is helpful to you, and I hope that you find yourself more interested in the Bible and more fascinated by the story that it’s telling than you have ever been before.

P.S. If you would like to read along with me or if you’d like to start a reading group but have some questions about it, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and let me know!