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Peter DeHaan News

Do You Plan to Read the Bible?

Follow a Strategy to Regularly Study Scripture

Most years I read the entire Bible in a year. It takes 12 to 15 minutes a day. If you’re up to the challenge, I encourage you to join me as I read the Bible next year. Here’s the Bible reading schedule that I like to follow.

Though a few minutes a day isn’t a huge time commitment, it is a habit that takes a while to develop. Though many people start strong with their desire to study Scripture every day, after a few weeks it looms as a huge commitment, which requires a lot of self-discipline. The temptation is to quit, just as most people do with their New Year’s resolutions.

Monthly Bible Reading Plans

For that reason, if you’re new to the idea of reading the Bible every day, I recommend taking smaller bites to begin with. Instead of committing to reading the entire Bible in one year—blocking out 12 to 15 minutes a day, every day—how about committing to reading one book of the Bible in a month, 3 to 4 minutes a day?

An ideal place to start is with Luke and then Acts. Read Luke one month and Acts, the next. It’s a great duo of books to get you started. Luke teaches us about Jesus, and his story continues in Acts, letting us know about the early church.

Another consideration is John. John is a book that many people adore. He writes with a poetic flare. So, reading John requires a slower, more thoughtful pace.

You can find other books to consider as you read the Bible each month. If you follow this list for twelve months, by the end of the year you will have read many of the Bible’s essential passages. From there you can move into one of the following more comprehensive plans for the following year.

New Testament Reading Schedule

Though all the Bible is useful for us and can help us on our faith journey, the New Testament contains more relevant, readily applicable passages. Reading the New Testament in one year is an ideal way to help you develop the habit of regular Bible reading. The commitment is 3 to 4 minutes a day, Monday through Friday. That’s right, you can take the weekend off when you focus on the New Testament as you read the Bible in one year.

Old Testament Reading Schedule

The following year, read the Old Testament in one year. This can build on the habit you formed by reading the New Testament in one year. This requires 10 to 12 minutes a day for an average reader. The Old Testament helps us better understand the New Testament, adding insights and clarity that we would have otherwise missed.

Read the Entire Bible in One Year

At this point, you will have developed a habit of regular Bible reading. Congratulations! You’ve read the New Testament and the Old Testament, covering the entire Bible, albeit in two years, not one. Now you can grow your habit of studying Scripture by reading the entire Bible in one year. As I mentioned, it only takes 12 to 15 minutes a day.

Develop a habit of regular Bible reading. Click To Tweet

Plan to Read the Bible

It doesn’t matter which of these Bible reading schedules you follow. Any plan is better than no plan. The point is to pick a plan to read the Bible and move forward.

You, too, can set a goal to read the Bible next year.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter DeHaan News

Read the Bible in 2022

Daily Scripture Reading Guides Available Now from ABibleADay

Every year I intentionally explore the Bible, reading a few chapters each day. Some years I focus on the New Testament and other years, the Old Testament, but usually I read the entire Bible in a year.

Will you join me this year?

To guide us, the 2022 Bible reading guides are now available. Get your 2022 Bible reading plan today.

Chronological Bible Reading Guide

New last year was a chronological Bible reading plan. This year it’s tweaked and improved, based on feedback from the inaugural offering.

Though a comprehensive chronological reading of the Bible requires a lot of details that won’t fit on a concise handout, it is possible to make an approximate chronological reading guide by putting the books of the Bible in order.

Following this Bible reading plan only takes 12 to 15 minutes a day. And each Tuesday throughout 2022, I’ll blog about a passage from that day’s reading.

Download your own chronological 2021 Bible reading guide.

Other Reading Options

If reading the entire Bible in a year seems too big of a task, scale back to a more manageable goal. I have a series of other Bible reading plans to guide you. Pick the one that works for you:

Form a habit to read the Bible. Download your 2022 Bible reading plan today and be ready to start reading this January.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Ways to Access the Bible

Don’t Take Scripture for Granted

Each morning I began my day by reading and meditating on God’s Word. I use a printed copy of Scripture for this. Throughout the day, however, as I write about the Bible, I go online to research and study. I use BibleGateway.com. On Sunday I don’t carry a printed Bible to church, but I do carry God’s Word with me electronically. I use the YouVersion app.

This means that most of my ways to access the Bible are online.

My friend William recently reminded me of the importance of having the written Word of God. In this time of hyper vigilance, the app store could remove Bible apps from their repository. Even worse, powers hostile to Scripture could restrict or even eliminate our access to online resources.

It’s a chilling thought. It’s also not that farfetched. It could happen. Here are four ways to access the Bible. May we strive to maintain all four.

1. The Printed Word of God

As my astute friend pointed out, having a printed copy of the Bible is the best solution should we lose our access to online Scripture resources and apps. I have several copies of God’s Word at my house. I use one every day and consult the others occasionally. But I don’t value the diversity of Scripture that I have at home because I can readily access it online—at least for now.

This is a reminder to treasure the printed word of God.

2. Access the Bible Online

When we access the Bible online, it’s convenient and fast. I’ll continue to use it for as long as I can. And I’ll be more appreciative of it, knowing that it can be taken away in an instant.

3. Digital Version of Scripture

I recently downloaded a public domain copy of Scripture on my computer. It’s the WEB (World English Bible). It’s nice to have an electronic version of Scripture on my computer and backed up in multiple places—just as I meticulously backup copies of the books I’m writing.

It would be devastating to lose one of my books. It would be even more disastrous to lose the electronic copy of my Bible.

May we hide God’s Word in our hearts. Click To Tweet

4. Our Hearts

I take each of these three options for granted, having easy access to anyone of them at about any moment. Yet I know each one could be taken away. History shows that to be true. What then are we to do?

The psalmist writes that he has hidden God’s Word in his heart (Psalm 119:11). This is the surest way to make sure we can always access it.

Access the Bible

May we read and study the Bible. And as we do, may we hide God’s words in our hearts.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Does Reading the Bible Make You Cry?

Scripture Can Produce Tears of Joy and of Sorrow

A minister in Africa passed out Bibles to his people so they could have their own copy and read Scripture in their native tongue. He said that “I see many believers crying and praying as they read the Word.” This report makes my heart soar with joy, yet at the same time it gives me pause. I ask myself, “When does reading the Bible make you cry?”

Yes, I read and study God’s Word often. The Scripture fills me, teaches me about God, and draws me closer to him. But does it ever make me weep? I fear not.

Tears can come in two forms. We can have tears of joy. And we can have tears of remorse. Scripture can accomplish both. Scripture should accomplish both. But does reading the Bible make you cry?

Tears of Joy

It’s hard for me to conceive of not having a Bible. I have a shelf full of them. I can also access Scripture online through BibleGateway.com and the YouVersion app.

I use BibleGateway almost daily and YouVersion at church on most Sundays. My printed copies of the Bible don’t get that much use anymore. I take it for granted to have the biblical text readily available to me—anytime, anywhere.

But what if I didn’t have access online and didn’t own a copy of the Bible, not even one? The only way I could hear the Word of God would be for someone to read it to me.

I can imagine being spiritually hungry and not having my own Bible to read. I envision someone sliding a copy of the Scriptures into my hands. Tears well up in my eyes as I open its pages and began to read.

Does reading the Bible make you cry tears of joy?

Tears of Sorrow

Of course, the biblical text can also confront us. When this occurs, we have another reason to weep. This time it’s tears of sorrow. Though not pleasant, Scripture can bring about repentance. The most important one is to turn to Jesus and follow him as his disciple.

Yet the Bible can also convict us of a need to make changes in our life. This could be to stop doing something we shouldn’t do or start doing something we should. These changes aren’t an effort to get God’s attention or to earn anything from him, but the result of us wanting to better offer our life as an act of worship in appreciation for what he’s done for us.

The book of Nehemiah records a time when the people hear Scripture read and explained to them by the Levites. The words convict them, and they weep and mourn over their many shortcomings (Nehemiah 8:7-9).

Does reading the Bible make you cry tears of sorrow?

As we read and study the Bible, we should invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us and teach us. Click To Tweet

Reading the Bible

We should praise God for providing us with his written Word. For those of us with ready access to the Bible, we should pause to appreciate him for providing it to us—even to the point of producing tears of joy. God is good and Scripture confirms this.

As we read and study the Bible, we should invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us and teach us. Sometimes his insights will produce joy and other times we may face a tearful conviction for change.

These are the reasons why we should read the Bible.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Much of a Priority Do You Place on What the Bible Says?

Most Christians Don’t Let Scripture Get in the Way of What They Believe

I recently shared with some friends that “Most Christians won’t let the Bible get in the way of what they believe.” It’s a shocking statement—one that no doubt offends some—but the attitudes of many people about what the Bible says prove that I am right.

In truth, most people base their beliefs on multiple sources, such as what others teach them, what society thinks, and what the Bible says—usually in that order. (I’m not including those people who just make up their own religion and do whatever seems right to them. They may be sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong.)

What Others Teach Them

Many people give a lot of credence to what their ministers and spiritual gurus teach. Though often a worthy source, some are in error. They could lead us astray if we don’t scrutinize what they teach with Scripture (consider Acts 17:11).

As a basic example, most children are taught to bow their head, fold their hands, and close their eyes when they pray. Guess what? I’ve not found that in the Bible. Yet we cling to this practice with religious fervor as if a failure to follow these three basic instructions will render our prayers ineffective. Instead, we should pray like Jesus teaches in the Bible (Matthew 6:5-8).

In a much weightier instance, a common instruction is that we must ask Jesus into our hearts to be saved. Yet I’ve not found this in the Bible either. What Scripture says is to believe in Jesus (Acts 16:31 and many other places).

Yet when our preachers tell us something that’s not in Scripture, we accept their words anyway. Even worse is when these words contradict what’s in the Bible. We believe them and dismiss God’s word. Shame on us.

What Society Thinks

Many people believe that if their life is mostly good, or if they do more good things than bad, then God will welcome them into heaven when they die. Not so fast. The Bible says that in this rule-based approach, one mistake condemns us (James 2:10).

Or what about, “God helps them who helps themselves.” Often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and reinforced by pop-culture, the original source is not the Bible. It may sound spiritual, but it lacks a biblical foundation.

Another common view is that God and Satan are equals, battling each other as evenly matched contenders in the fight of good versus evil. Not true. Satan is a fallen angel. God created angels, just as he created us. The creator is greater than the created. Therefore, God is greater than Satan. Consider Romans 16:20. In the end, God wins (Revelation 12:7–10).

When the Bible doesn’t align with our opinion, do we dismiss the Bible or our opinion? Click To Tweet

What the Bible Says

We’ve already covered that the Bible says to believe in Jesus and be saved (Acts 16:31). It’s a perfect place to start. But there’s more.

Consider Jesus’s promise that we will do everything he did and even more (John 14:12). Scripture proclaims it, so I believe it, even though some ministers dismiss it, and society deems it as foolish.

Another promising passage is that when we align our will with his, God hears and answers our prayers. All of them (1 John 5:14-15).

There are hundreds of more examples, of course, but these three are an ideal place to start. Read the Bible to find more.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Six Eras in the Bible

Though God Doesn’t Change, but the Way He Relates to Us Has

We divide the Bible in two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament focuses on the relationship of Father God to his people and looks forward to the coming Savior. The New Testament centers on Jesus and the work of his followers. Each testament has its own focus, and we must not lose sight of it.

To further enhance my understanding of Scripture, I look at the Bible in three parts, each one focusing on one aspect of the Trinity. God the Father is central throughout the Old Testament. God the Savior—Jesus—is central in the Gospels. God the Spirit takes center stage in the rest of the New Testament, Acts through Revelation. Jesus, of course, stands as the foundational part of the godhead that saves us and draws us into right relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We can break this down even more, however, to better guide us as we study Scripture and apply it to our daily lives.

In this regard, it helps to consider six eras in the Bible. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never changes. (Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8) Yet the way he relates to his people does change throughout Scripture. We will do well to keep this in mind as we read and study the Bible, taking care to not take one passage from the past and misapply it to our situation today.

Consider these six eras in the Bible.

1. Paradise

God creates the world in which we live and places people in it. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. They walk with God in the cool of the evening. But they break the one rule he gave them. They eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

So that they don’t also eat from the tree of life, and live forever in their sin, God forces them out of this idyllic paradise.

This takes place in Genesis 1–3 and moves us into the second of six eras in the Bible.

2. No Law

Though most people think of the Old Testament’s focus as being on God’s law, this doesn’t occur yet, not until the third era. The second era is what happens after Adam and Eve leave the garden and prior to God giving the Law to Moses.

During this time, God continues to speak to his people (Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others). Throughout this time, God is patient. He does not hold people accountable for their sins. This is because there are no laws to let the people know that they are doing wrong (Romans 5:13).

During this era, God wipes out the depravity of the people he created by killing most all of them through a flood. Only Noah and his family survive. It’s creation 2.0, a restart of humanity, a do over. Then God calls Abraham and later Moses.

God tells his people he wants them to become a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), but the people are afraid of God and don’t want him to talk to them. They request that Moses stand in for them. This ends the second of six eras in the Bible, covering Genesis 3 through Exodus 18.

3. The Law

Then God gives the people his laws and shares his expectations. This begins the third era, which covers the rest of the Old Testament of the Bible, Exodus 19 through Malachi.

This era has three phases, but they all fall under Old Testament law. In the first phase God rules as their sovereign Lord, and judges lead the people from time to time. The people, however, go through cycles of following God—usually under various judges—and turn away from him after each judge dies.

For the second phase under the law, the people ask for a king, which effectively rejects God as their king. He starts with Saul. David then replaces Saul, and God establishes David’s line forever, from whom the Messiah will come. In this phase, kings rule instead of God. Most do so badly, and the people rebel against their Lord. Most of the prophets do their work during this era.

For the third phase under the era of the law, God’s people are conquered and deported. They have no ruler, and they have no nation. Though some eventually return to the promised land, they subsist without leadership, except for some of the latter prophets. The people wait for the coming Savior to rescue them. This is the third of the six eras in the Bible.

The New Testament is critical to guide our behavior as Jesus’s church. Click To Tweet

4. Jesus

Jesus comes to earth, calls people to follow him, and dies as the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sacrifices. But he overcomes death, proving his power to serve as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. This is the fourth of six eras in the Bible and is the pivotal point around which all Scripture—and all humanity—revolves. The four biographies of Jesus cover this: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

5. The Church

After giving his followers final instructions, resurrected Jesus returns to heaven. The Holy Spirit arrives to guide the church and remind them of Jesus. Acts through to Revelation 3 cover this fifth era of the Bible. We currently live in this era today, which is why the New Testament is critical to guide our actions as Jesus’s church. And the Old Testament supports this because it looks forward to this era.

Yet to conclude the six eras in the Bible, there is one era remaining, a time we anticipate for our future.

6. A New Heaven and New Earth

Starting in Revelation 4 we read of John’s vision of the future. Though the details confuse most and trip up many, the main point is that there will be an epic spiritual battle between good and evil. God wins. Satan is defeated.

After this we will see a new heaven and a new earth. This is paradise restored. Everyone who follows Jesus will spend eternity with him there.

This is the sixth era of the Bible and the one we anticipate as Jesus’s disciples.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Celebrate the Gospel of John

Slow Down to Appreciate the Poetic Rhythm and Evocative Style of the Apostle John

I once quipped that the book of John was my fourth favorite biography of Jesus in the Bible. Another time I wrote about the Ten Most Difficult Books in the Bible. To the dismay of many, I included the Gospel of John in my list.

Given this, it may seem surprising that I’ve written a devotional Bible study about the book of John, called Living Water.

I embarked upon this effort because readers requested it, and the Holy Spirit confirmed that I was to do so. As I studied the Gospel of John more thoroughly so that I could write about it, God grew my appreciation for the apostle’s words.

I learned quite quickly that the key to embrace his evocative writing and poetic rhythm, was to slow down. Slowing down is sometimes hard for me.

Though I can read Matthew, Mark, and Luke at a normal pace and glean much from those words, that reading speed left me frustrated with John. What I needed to do to better appreciate his words was to read slower, to mull over one phrase before moving on to the next.

Though I always strive to meditate on Scripture as I study it, embracing John required that I be more intentional.

Once I slowed down, however, the profound beauty of John’s words became immediately apparent to me. Even though I’ve read John’s good news at least twenty times in my life, this last reading stands out as the best by far.

This is all because I took my time to really contemplate each word, each phrase, and each sentence to better comprehend its meaning.

When I did this, God’s Holy Spirit guided me in drafting my book, Living Water, about the Gospel of John. I’m most pleased with the results. It’s one of the most personally rewarding books I’ve written. I’m proud of those words, which I hope is a God-honoring pride.

Once I slowed down the profound beauty of John’s words became immediately apparent to me. Click To Tweet

Given what I’ve learned—that I needed to slow down to appreciate John’s writing style and profound content—it’s wise to go back and do the same thing with the other nine on my list of challenging books in the Bible. Indeed, I’ve already done this with Isaiah and am in the process of doing so with Revelation.

This is a good reminder of what Paul wrote to Timothy when he said that all Scripture comes from God and is useful to teach and train us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Yes, every book of the Bible is beneficial, if we will but take the time to appreciate it.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Should We Meditate on God’s Word?

As We Read the Bible May We Imagine All God Has in Store for Us

I’ve always been wary of meditating. It seems so mystical, so ungodly. This is because I encountered the idea of meditation from Eastern religions, not biblical Christianity. Though there are many types of meditation, I’ve heard most about transcendental meditation. As I understand it, the goal is to push aside all thought, to empty our minds.

Two Concerns about Meditation

Emptying my mind of all thought alarms me for two reasons, so I won’t meditate in this manner. First, the Bible says to hold every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). It doesn’t say to empty our minds of all thoughts, but to control them.

Second is when Jesus teaches about impure spirits. He warns against an impure spirit that finds a house (a mind) unoccupied and clean. It goes out and rounds up it’s even more wicked friends to go there to live, making the person even worse off than before (Matthew 12:43-45).

These are the two biblical reasons why I won’t empty my mind of thought.

What the Bible Says about Meditation

Just because we best know this concept of meditation from Eastern religions doesn’t mean it’s not in Scripture. The word meditate occurs eighteen times in the Bible, with meditation showing up three more, in the NIV. A recurring theme in these verses is to meditate on God’s Word and on God’s goodness.

Meditate on God’s Word or Imagine?

In Psalm 1:2, the writer proclaims blessings on those who delight in God’s law, who meditate on it day and night. Though most translations use the word meditate, other versions say ponder, study, recite, think about, and focus. When I read the Bible, I ponder it, study it, recite it, think about it, and focus on it. Given these alternate understandings, I’m happy to meditate on God’s Word.

Now let’s turn to the next chapter in Psalms. It talks about people with evil intent. Various translations of Psalm 2:1 describe this action as devise, plot, and make. Some versions, however, use the word meditate, with others saying imagine.

May we meditate on God’s Word. Click To Tweet

Do the words imagine and meditate mean the same thing? I understand that the Hebrew word translated meditate in Psalm 1:2 is the same word that’s translated imagine in Psalm 2:1. This suggests that as we meditate on God’s Word, we can imagine what it means, how we can understand it, and the ways it can inform our lives.

The word imagine also occurs elsewhere in the Bible. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he talks about God being able to do even more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Meditate on that.

I have a good imagination. I can imagine additional details for the various stories we read in the Bible. I can also imagine myself in those ancient situations and doing today what God tells us to do.

May our meditations on God’s Word use our imagination to amplify its impact.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: The Psalms in the Light of the Lord’s Prayer

By Patricia M Robertson, D.Min

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Take a fresh look at the Psalms.

Some people love the Psalms and other struggle through them. Regardless of which camp you’re in, this book will provide added clarity. In The Psalms in the Light of the Lord’s Prayer, Patricia M Robertson, D.Min, applies the suggestion of Father Thomas Murphy that each Psalm aligns with one of the seven phrases in the Lord’s Prayer.

This provides a pleasing structure and rhythm to the Psalms that isn’t available by reading them straight through from chapter 1 to 150.

Starting with the opening phrase, “Our Father in heaven,” Robertson teaches about this line and connects it to 12 specific Psalms that address the confidence and trust we have in God. She repeats this process for each of the remaining six phrases in the Lord’s Prayer to produce a delightful, instructive grouping of each Psalm into an organized structure that provides clarity.

These subsequent chapters are:

  • Hallowed be thy Name: Psalms of Praise (19 Psalms) and Thanksgiving (15 Psalms)
  • Thy Kingdom Come: Royal Psalms (23 Psalms)
  • Thy Will Be Done: Wisdom Psalms (22 Psalms)
  • Give Us this Day our Daily Bread: Psalms of Supplication (10 Psalms)
  • Forgive Us our Trespasses: Penitential Psalms (10 Psalms)
  • Lead Us not into Temptation and Deliver Us from Evil: Psalms of Deliverance (39 Psalms)

Robertson ends each grouping with some thought-provoking questions for further reflection.

She concludes with some additional thoughts on the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Though she doesn’t connect this phrase to any of the 150 Psalms, be sure not to skip this part of her teaching.

The overall result is an accessible Bible study that readers can use during the seven weeks of Lent, for seven days, or even for seven months to explore the Psalms in new ways and gain fresh insights through them.

[The Psalms in Light of the Lord’s Prayer: Bible Study, by Patricia M Robertson, D.Min. February 10, 2021, 63 pages; ISBN: 9781393252573]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

A Lifetime of Reading the Bible

Plan to Read Scripture to Feed Your Soul and Inform Your Life

I’ve read the Bible most of my life. It’s been a huge part of my faith journey. To be clear, this started out with my parents reading to me: one Bible story each night before I went to bed. This helped me know God’s Word at an early age and prepared me to read it on my own.

To be sure, during my days in elementary school, I read Scripture infrequently. This was because my preteen mind found the language of the King James Bible largely inaccessible and mostly confusing. What little Bible reading I did in my preteen years was more drudgery than anything else. I learned little from it.

Read the New Testament

By the time I hit middle school, however, more accessible translations became available, at least for the New Testament. Mirroring my experience as a preschooler, I set a goal to read the Bible each night before I went to bed. Eventually I worked my way through the New Testament. It took me a couple years because some nights I was too tired to read and other nights I forgot. But eventually I finished.

In case you’re interested, reading a chapter each weekday will get you through the New Testament in a year. It only takes two or three minutes to read one chapter. Surely this is a doable task.

Read the Entire Bible

By the time I reached high school, the Old and New Testaments were available to me in more language-friendly versions. The summer of my fifteenth year, I set the goal to read the entire Bible before school resumed. This was before I got my driver’s license. I was stuck home all day, scrambling to find something worthwhile to consume my time.

Reading an hour most every day, I reached the end of Revelation in mid-August, a couple weeks before it was time to go back to school. Mission accomplished.

I later learned that the average adult reader can read the entire Bible in about 80 hours. I proved that claim to be correct.

Making Time to Read the Bible

If you think an hour a day is unreasonable for anyone except a bored teenager on a mission, let me ask three questions.

  1. How much time do you spend each day watching television?
  2. How much time do you spend each day gaming?
  3. How much time do you spend each day on social media? I suspect one or more of these areas consumes more than an hour of your time each day. Perhaps several.

The solution is simple. Cut back on entertainment and scale up to read the Bible. That doesn’t mean eliminate all television, gaming, and social media. It’s just a nudge to scale back and not let it consume so much time.

In my first reading of the whole Bible, I covered many familiar passages, albeit in more detail than my children’s Bible story book provided. I also discovered the less kid-appropriate passages too.

I assumed reading the entire Bible was a once-and-done effort. Even so, when I finished, I reverted to my nighttime Bible reading effort, albeit at a much slower pace: one chapter a day.

Though I met with better success then when I was in middle school, I still struggled. I found it hard to concentrate on the words in front of me as I fought off sleep. For some reason I could read fiction at bedtime but not the Bible.

Deciding When to Read the Bible

As an adult and a morning person, I switched my Bible reading to the start of each day. This fit me better—much better. I was more consistent in this practice and less fatigued by it. I learned more and better connected with God.

In my mid-twenties I felt the call from God to again read the entire Bible. This time my goal was to do it in a year. It took me twelve to fifteen minutes every day, but I did finish. Relieved to have met my goal, I was also delighted to no longer need to cover so much Scripture every day. I needed a break. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t long, however, before I felt God’s nudge to resume intentional Bible reading each day. That year I read through the New Testament. The following year I read through the Old Testament (ten to twelve minutes a day). The third year I again read the Old and New Testaments.

Pick a Version

Though I grew up hearing the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, I never used it when reading through Scripture. Today I mostly read from and study the New International Version (NIV).

Yet in my annual explorations of the Bible, I’ve used other versions or translations and benefited greatly. Each one gave me a fresh perspective on the text.

In addition to the NIV, I’ve also used the New Living Translation (NLV), The Message, Amplified Bible, and The Living Bible (which I wore out as a teenager). I think there have been a few others that I can’t recall.

The point is, don’t feel you must restrict yourself to one version. Mix it up. Variety is good.

Adjust as Needed

Since that time, I’ve had a Bible reading plan every year—except for a season when I didn’t. Here’s what happened: After a couple decades of regular, daily Bible reading, I became stuck. I would read the words but failed to comprehend them.

I persisted Bible reading as a discipline, assuming I would one day emerge from my rut of routine to reclaim the joy of reading the Bible each day. When it didn’t happen, I switched to reading other inspirational books for a time until I felt I could successfully resume my exploration of Scripture.

Rejuvenated, I jumped back in and persisted for a decade or so. But again, the day-to-day Bible-reading discipline eventually threatened to push me back into a rut. Refusing to allow that to happen, I decided to take one day off each week.

Instead of reading seven days a week, I now read six. In essence, I took a Sabbath rest from reading the Bible. Lest you think this day off happens on Sunday, Saturday works as a better day for me to pause my study of Scripture.

Taking a break one day each week prepares me to better embrace God’s word, study it, and learn from it on the other six.

I can hear someone complaining already: just as you feed your body each day, you must feed your soul each day too. Since you would never skip a meal, you can’t skip the Bible either. Hold on. On most weeks I do take a daily break from food. I do a 24-hour fast. (In case you’re interested, my fast currently falls on Fridays.)

Reading my Bible each day, Sunday through Friday provides a great rhythm for me. I take a break on Saturday, which prepares me to dive back in the next week. The timing is ideal for me. I’ve now done it for years.

What does vary from year to year, however, is how much I read each day. Though usually I’m on a plan to read the entire Bible in the year, other times I slow my pace to cover the New Testament or even to focus intently on just a few books of the Bible.

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Form a Habit of Reading the Bible

Doing this, I’ve read the New Testament about thirty times, the Old Testament twice, and the entire Bible more than ten times. It’s taken me a lifetime to reach these numbers. I plan to continue this habit for the rest of my life.

But don’t look at my lifetime of Bible reading and let it overwhelm you. Instead start small.

Read the Bible one day. Then read it a second day. Aim for a third. Keep the streak going. Form a habit. Soon daily Bible reading will become a way of life that you can’t do without.

Read through the Bible with me this year. Download the chronological Bible reading plan I will follow. (In case you’re wondering, to make this work for my schedule, I need to do seven days of reading every six, so that I can take Saturday off.)

If reading the entire Bible looms as too big of a task, consider a New Testament plan, Old Testament plan, or monthly Bible reading plans.

Regardless of which option you choose, the goal is to have a plan to read the Bible this year. Then do it.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.