I know this may surprise you coming from a pastor and all, but I try to read my Bible every day outside of just preparing for sermons. However there are times that I get stuck in a little rut with my daily reading. For the last couple of years I have followed a plan to read through the Bible in a year. This year to start January I wanted to try something different, so I followed a 35 day topical plan with some devotional content included. I got to the end of January and realized that wasn’t what I was looking for.
Enter a young man from my Bible Study group on campus at URI. We were having lunch and conversation yesterday and the topic of reading the Bible came up for us. I was trying to encourage him in his own discipline of reading, but ended up challenging myself as well. So I’m going to share what we will be doing for the next 28 days in the hopes that maybe you will be inspired to join us.
I know what you’re thinking (or at least some of you), “I can’t do that.” I know, the Bible can be confusing and slightly mysterious at times. You might start reading in some random section of the Old Testament and have no idea who Nebuchadnezzar is, or who Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz (yes, that’s a real name) is. I get it. So we’re going to read one of the gospels – Luke to be specific – an account of the life of Jesus by someone who, in his own words, “followed all things closely for some time”. The stories of Jesus are a great place to start because he really is the central figure of our faith. Luke’s story is 24 chapters, so we will read a chapter a day for 6 out of 7 days a week. And we’re not just going to read it, we’re going to have a simple interaction with the text that goes like this:
- What did I read?
- What did I observe about the text that I read? It could be something that intrigued you, something you didn’t quite understand, or something that just seemed a little odd to you. Write down a couple observations about the passage.
- What can I apply from the text that I read? This is probably the hardest part. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, however. It could be incredibly simple (actually most good applications usually ARE simple), but this is where you think through what you could possibly DO in response to what you read.
- What’s my prayer based on this text? Prayer helps us respond to what we feel like God is saying to us through the Scripture. I like to write out my prayers from time to time, so if you’re comfortable with that, feel free to do the same. If you’re not, that’s okay too – you can absolutely just speak your prayers out.
Beginning tomorrow I’m going to post my answers to those questions here for you to read if you’re interested, and if you’re looking for a model to follow after. This won’t be a sermon, or even necessarily a thoroughly coherent thought, but just my own personal responses to these questions.
One last thing. Some of you reading may assume that, since you don’t consider yourself a Christian, you should skip this and come back in a month to see if I’ve written anything else that applies to you. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to skip this, though. Even if you don’t consider yourself a follower of Jesus, you might benefit from taking a closer look at the life of a person who, by all accounts, is one of the most influential people the world has ever seen. Maybe you’d skip the prayer section at the end, because you don’t believe Jesus is worth praying to – that’s okay with me. But I definitely think you could participate in the first three, and that you might find Jesus more intriguing at the end of the 28 days than you find him right now.
Below is a little sample of one of my responses from a couple of years ago so you can get an idea of what it looks like: