January 1, 2015 was the day I decided that I wanted to read the entire Bible in one year. It was a goal that I had been thinking about for a long time. The Bible is a big book and there is so much to uncover inside it. As someone who has heard endless sermons, devotions, and verses to recite in Sunday school, I had never read all the way through a book that was supposedly the foundation of my life. I based my faith, my philosophy behind the little portion I had read of this book. There came a point in my life where I realized that if I was to go around preaching the Word, I needed to know the Word.
My favorite books of the Bible were always in the New Testament. The Timothy’s have always been my points of reference when I don’t know what else to read. It’s clear and challenging to me of how I need to live my life in the Church. The letters of the New Testament were always more intriguing to me because I could understand what they were saying. Compared to the Old Testament, filled with names and rules, it was more relatable to me and I would walk away with a verse I could easily apply to my day-to-day life. But like I said before, I have never read all the way through the Bible. That being said, I had never read through the whole Old Testament.
The Old Testament often gets pushed aside if someone was asked which Testament is their favorite. I read through the Old Testament little by little in my One Year Bible. The One Year Bible broke up passages so that I read an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, a Psalm, and a Proverb everyday. I was always excited for the first story I would read in the Old Testament each day. It was so interesting to learn the full history of our faith through the trials and the people who came before us. There were Kings and Prophets and cities that have stories that contribute to the family tree of Jesus! The stories that are often pushed aside are so important to where we are today as Christians. If the Old Testament didn’t happen, the New Testament wouldn’t have a foundation to build upon. A passion grew inside me for learning the foundation and starting marks of the amazing moments we read about with Jesus and His disciples in the New Testament.
Growing up going to church every Sunday taught me a lot about the stories written down in the Bible. When I say every Sunday, I mean every Sunday. I’ve heard the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and more stories of His miracles in the Gospels. I thought that I had heard them all! That was a lie that I had told myself for years. I kept telling myself that I knew enough about the Bible and that I was set for just learning more about the stories I’ve been told since birth. If this year has shown me anything, it has shown me that I know so little and there is so much left to uncover in God’s Word even after this year.
I would find myself sitting in my dorm room with my lamp on, reading my passages for the day, and thinking, “This is in the Bible?” There were stories that I had never read or talked about with anyone. There were verses that I wish I had seen last year when I was struggling with the very situation a prophet would be talking about. When people say live by His Word, I actually saw how applicable it really is.
This book was written thousands of years ago, yes. But it always blows my mind how God inspired these words in people in a different time and culture that still shows me the best way to live out a purpose-filled life today. It is so good. It was worth the read.
I finished reading through the Bible on January 1, 2016 (I had one extra day because I had a few days to catch up on… oops!) As I sat on my bed, reading the last few passages for December 31, I tried to recap what I had read over the past year. That was impossible… I read SO much truth in one year that I know I will need to go back and read again. But there was one thing that always stood out to me during my reading times. Yes, there were a lot of rules and regulations. Yes, people messed up a lot in Bible stories. Yes, there are stories filled with pain and regret and death. But these stories always had the same outcome. There was always a God who was present and waiting for His people, His children, to look to Him in those times. Because right besides stories of hurt, there was a following story that showed how God gave hope to His people amidst the trials and pain. He was always there. From the beginning, He was there with His people. Sin crept in and stole His people away, and He still wanted to provide a way back to Him. I saw a plan unraveling throughout the whole Old Testament of how God was planning to send His Son to redeem what had been lost on earth in the book of Genesis. He was to bring back life and salvation for God’s people. Every person from Noah to Moses, from David to Ezekiel were ones that God used to set the stage for the day Jesus would come and change the world forever. What a beautiful story!
When I read through the Old Testament books that had all the rules and regulations for God’s people, I had a new perspective on the rules that we all can so easily decide to dislike. Going from the Old Testament passages to the New Testament passages each day showed me how God wanted to grow closer to His people in both times. Before Jesus came to earth, God wanted His people to know a better way to live in Old Testament times. He wanted more for them than the brokenness and darkness that they lived in. God wanted His people to live purpose-filled lives that were apart from sin. And like a good father would, He set boundaries and laws for His children to stay away from the trouble He could foresee down the road. When Jesus came, He wanted to save His people from the trouble He could foresee down the road: eternal death. He came to bring life. The Word (Jesus) was flesh. Jesus knew the laws and regulations but wanted to show His people the best way to live them out with a purpose-filled life. His life was an example for us as Christians and how we are to live out these laws that God made for our benefit thousands of years ago.
Let’s think about this as if you are a parent. Or maybe you’ve babysat kids before or have younger siblings. I am not a parents but have younger siblings and have grown up babysitting younger kids. Let’s imagine you’re responsible for a group of 4-year olds for one day. You are all by yourself in your home with 5 children that are hyper, loud, and messy. Say you are going to make macaroni and cheese for lunch. Now imagine if the stove was on and you turned your back for one second and one of the kids was fascinated by the blazing fire and reached out to touch it. You know the responsibility you have for these kids and don’t want to see them get hurt. And if we love someone as much as we love ourselves, an example set for us by Jesus, we would do everything we could to make sure that this child wouldn’t burn themselves on the stove. That is how I see God’s laws that He set for His people. He is the Creator, He knows the best way for us to live a purpose-filled life! Reading through these laws and then seeing the consequences of people going against these laws showed me how necessary God’s laws are to live a life of purpose without the darkness of the world to weigh us down.
I think it always comes back to one word: love. How is God’s love active today and how was it active back in Bible times? Reading through the Bible showed me story after story of how God was looking out for His children. He was often asking them to turn from their wicked ways because the things they were doing were full of destruction and pain. He was often asking them to take a path that they may have not wanted to take because He saw the blessings that awaited them at the end of the journey He had planned. God loves His people so much that He often stepped in the way to show them a better way. That is how loving our Father is.
I am not a reader. It was often difficult for me to sit down and take the time to focus on the long passages I had to read. But the thing is, each day in the One Year Bible is designed for the reader to take about 15 minutes for reading. That is not long at all! When I put in perspective about how much time I was really spending in the Word, it wasn’t even as long as an episode on Netflix. There is some perspective, people…
This year showed me the importance of knowing the Word. As Christians, we need to know what we are talking about. We need to know the truth that we claim to base our faith on. If someone were to ask you about your faith and he or she didn’t come from a faith background, would you have scripture to back up what you believe? We can’t simply speak from opinion about Christianity. We need to speak Truth. That is what Jesus did. He would speak scripture to people. His opinions never got in the way of the truth that God wanted to speak through Him.
I’ve realized how much more I need to be in the Word. Now that I’ve read through the whole Bible, I want to study it with a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the whole Bible, I want to focus on each book inside of the Bible. There is so much to learn from God’s Word. There is so much truth that gives me hope for the day because they come from God’s heart. He gave us this tool for us to know Him better and to know how to live better for Him. If we aren’t using this gift from God, how can we better know Him? These are HIS words. The best way to get to know someone is to know their heart and to know their story. You have a story written by God for His people in a tangible form. Don’t let your Bible be a decoration on your shelf. Pick it up and open it up everyday. Oh, the things that we could give up for a few minutes in our day to instead spend in the Word! Oh, how we waste so much of our time doing the same thing everyday: posting and liking and retweeting and staring at a screen. Think about it… That is our daily routine! We will always make time for that. And I believe what we give our time to shows where our heart lies.
I’ve realized how many lies the enemy throws at us when we are challenged to read the Word. When looking back at my year and remembering days that I skipped reading my Bible, those days started stacking up on top of each other. If I had an excuse one day to skip it, there would always be another excuse for another day. It wasn’t until I started making myself sit down to read through the daily passages that it became apart of my routine everyday. It wasn’t always the same time everyday, it was always during a time that I knew I could give up something else to read God’s story.
“I don’t want reading my Bible to just be a ‘check off my checklist’. I want it to be a desire for me to sit down and read it.”
This was the biggest lie I heard from the enemy and from other people. We don’t want reading the Bible to just be a routine for us. The reason I see this as a lie is because unless we’ve been reading the Bible everyday of our lives since we could read, I don’t think we automatically get a desire to sit down and read the Bible. There were days that the last thing I felt like doing was reading. I either wanted to lay down and watch Netflix or sleep. But making sure that I read the Bible before the end of my day was the most important thing I could do. Even I felt like I was checking it off my ‘checklist’, reading the Bible was way better than anything else I could’ve been doing during that time.
If we aren’t making sure we check off ‘reading my Bible’ on our daily checklists, when will reading our Bibles become apart of our daily routine? We need to make the effort to do so before the desire to read God’s Word comes in our life. It’s like training for a race. If you never start running, how will you ever reach your goal of 5, 10, 15 miles? Most of us don’t have a desire to run. I know some crazy people that do but that is beside the point… We have to start somewhere. At the end of the day, we know that running is good for us, but we have to build that desire to do so by simply starting. For you to have a desire to read the Word, you need to start reading the Word. And if at first it is something you have to ‘check off the list’, it is the best thing you can be doing with that time of your day! Every time I made myself sit down to read the Word when I first started the One Year Bible, I never regretted it when I was done. You won’t regret the time you set aside to read the Word. It will forever impact your life, friendships, families, attitude, and relationship with Christ.
It is a new year. We may all be posting about our new year’s resolutions and what our goal is for 2016. How about we don’t just commit to our resolutions for this year, but start something this year that will continue for a lifetime? What if this was the year you said, “I am going to be in the Word everyday starting today”? I believe, as Christians, that is the most important thing for us to do if we want to change this world and spread the Gospel with our lives. We need to know the Word!
Favorite Verses Of The Year:
Psalm 85:8– I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Colossians 2:7– Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
1 Thessalonians 1:11-12– Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20-After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.