First, let me say that I’m a big sinner. I struggle with sin. My daily battles are not engaging with some jihadi terrorists half-way around the world. But the battles I face are as real, and in some regards even more consequential. Without a doubt, our troops are engaged in many physical life and death encounters, with some really bad guys. But if you’re alive and breathing, you’ll acknowledge that you, like me, are engaged in very real spiritual battles every day… oftentimes many, many times each day. And the consequences of these battles are eternal in nature. Think about that for a minute.
The struggles you face today, tomorrow and next week, and how you respond to them, will have eternal consequences! As in forever!
When I thought about writing this article, I struggled to do so, lest anyone believe I am holding myself out as some kind of spiritual guru or example. The truth is, I’m the exact opposite. If you could spend a day or two in my shoes, you’d see why I completely identify with the Apostle Paul when he exclaimed that he was “the chief of sinners.” If you doubt me, just ask my wife.
It’s because of the reality that I struggle with sin, that in 2016 I took up the challenge to read through the Bible in a year. I have read the Bible off and on since I was a kid. Sometimes that meant reading through the Bible in a year. But typically it meant reading a few verses or chapters here and there, for a few days or weeks. But it was seldom structured or consistent, and never permanent.
But when I took up the challenge to read through the Bible in 2016, I did it with others in our church. I completed the “Bible in a Year” Plan on schedule and decided to do it again in 2017. But as I began, now two years ago, I recalled the example of my grandfather.
🔹My Grandfather’s Example
When Oscar Werner turned 50, he set a goal of reading through the Bible four times a year so that when he was 75 he would finish reading the Bible 100 times. He met his goal and continued that same schedule until he died in his 80’s. I wrote an article about his story which you can read on my blog. It’s entitled “The Wisdom of the Ages: The Example of My Grandfather“.
So as I began reading through the Bible again in 2017, I began to double or triple up my readings each day. I realized that doing so was actually quite easy. I enjoyed it and was also challenged by the increased amount of time in God’s Word.
Four and a half months into 2017, I completed reading the entire Bible. And it was such a joy to do so. With this renewed love for God’s Word, I felt I needed more. So I found a reading program via my Bible app that would take me through the Bible in 90 days. I set out to do that. In essence this was the same schedule that my grandfather had embarked on 75 years earlier.
But 44 days later, I completed reading through the Bible again. I was impacted, and inspired. When the Bible says that it is “alive and sharper than any two edged sword” I could testify to this truth. I was being convicted and challenged over and over, day after day, in such a meaningful manner. At the same time, my thoughts and philosophy on a host of matters were being changed, dramatically, as I sought to conform them to God’s Word! (That’s a whole separate story.)
So I continued on my reading program, starting on my third time through the Bible in June 2017. As the weeks ticked by, I continued to ingest God’s Word at an ever increasing rate. 18 days. 21 days. 27 days… and on and on. By the end of 2017, I completed reading through the Bible ten times, and nine of those times were in a little over seven months.
Truthfully, I was addicted… in a good way. I started 2018 with a continued fervor to devour the Word. It had become the single most important activity in my life each day and something I eagerly anticipated.
Walking. Waiting in line. Traveling on a plane. Riding in a car (using the audio option). Hiking in Nepal under the shadows of the Himalayas. Whenever I had time where I was not engaged with someone or something else, I found myself continuously opening my Bible app and getting some more “time in the Word.” It replaced my love for music and talk radio.
So as I write this, a few days before Christmas 2018, I just completed my 17th time through God’s Word in 2018 — 27 times in 2 years.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for me though has been to see my wife become consumed with this same passion, as she also completed reading both the entire Bible as well as the New Testament multiple times in 2018, and has now started the 90 Day Plan.
🔹My Challenge to You
Again, I want to reiterate that I don’t share this to bring any focus to me. The fact is I’ve had this article written for months and have hesitated to share it lest it be misunderstood.
Truthfully, I share this for one reason. It’s the same reason I believe that my grandfather allowed his family to know about the goal he had set: to inspire and challenge others to do the same… to get into God’s Word. Oscar Werner knew that if his family would follow his example, we would find the answers to life’s deepest questions, and most difficult struggles.
So like my grandfather inspired me, I want to inspire you to get into the Bible.
No, I’m not suggesting that you read 2-3 hours a day, although some day I hope you will. Rather, I want to challenge you to simply begin reading consistently through the Bible, every day, in a structured manner. Never miss it. Set a reminder if you must.
Every significant habit, begins with a simple decision.
When a person is suffering from a debilitating disease, oftentimes the only cure might be a blood transfusion. Their own diseased blood must be replaced with new, fresh, pure blood. Likewise, we as humans are diseased. Our nature is sinful. Our thoughts are impure. And our hearts are unrighteous. And only through a daily transfusion of God’s Word, can we ever hope to live a life of humility, repentance and victory through Christ’s strength.
So I challenge you to get into the Word. Start today. And if you do, or are already doing so, I’d love to know that you do. In fact, let’s do it together!
Finally, as a result of my time in the Word over the last couple years, the following verse summarizes this season in my life:
💡 “Let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully…” Ezekiel 3:10
I hope you will allow God’s Words to sink deep into your own heart as well.
Let’s make 2019 the Year of the Bible. Will you do so?
💡 “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” Jeremiah 15:16
Here are my reading suggestions, but they are simply what work for me:
- Download the YouVersion Bible App on your phone. (With the Brown Holy Bible icon).
- Go to “Plans” and click on “Find Plans”
- Go to “Through the Bible”
- Click on “Whole”
- Find “Read Through the Bible” Plan (It’s a one year plan)
- Click “Start Plan”
- My favorite version is the New Living Translation (NLT). Not only is it in modern vocabulary, but it has a great Audio option.
- I both read (with eyes) and listen (with my ears) via the Bible App. Even when I’m reading with my eyes, I have the audio playing, so I can see and hear simultaneously. It helps me to better understand and retain what I’m reading.
- Regarding the “Audio” option, it’s pretty much all I listen to anymore when I’m driving, walking/exercising, etc. It connects well with any Bluetooth device. Also, the NLT audio is by far the most pleasant to listen to, in my opinion. It also includes dramatization where various voices are used to “act out” the stories in the Gospels and Acts.
- I recommend you Register with “You Version” so you can track your Bible reading, interact with friends and so much more. If you do, please send me a friend request so we can encourage each other via the app.
- If you start on this journey, and have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to me. There’s nothing more important to me than encouraging others to read the Bible. So if I can help in any way, including questions or problems with the Bible app, please let me know.
One of your best! Thank you. I’m not a fan of reading the Bible in 90 days. It doesn’t allow time to digest and study, which is critical for clear thought and understanding. Most people don’t realize that one year bible reading plans can be completed with only 15 minutes per day. But I urge an equal amount of time to study what was read. Most importantly, we should always pray before and after we read and study.
Thank you Ben for the additional insights. What’s important is that we each spend daily time in the Word in the manner that best challenges and convicts us. As we do, God will continue to transform our hearts and minds to be more in line with “His ways and thoughts.” Blessings in 2019!
So very glad you published this, as I urged and encouraged last April when we lunched together in Ooltewah, Mark. Though that had motivated me to increase my own daily readings, it took reading this today … to move my lips and speak the words out loud … beginning today and onward.
Best of blessings in 2019, as the light of God’s Word and lamp of His instructions guide you every step, every day, every decision and choice.
Thanks Jack. I’m so thankful for our friendship over the years and your steady example of faithful service and stewardship to the Lord. Blessings to you and your sweet wife!
Great, Mark! I also do not set up myself as a model, but suggest that prayer and seeking to help others come to Christ warrant our attention also. Serving the family of God is also important, not as much my strength.
Amen Jim. I agree that prayer and service are necessary traits of anyone seeking to “pick up his cross” and follow Jesus daily. Blessing my friend!
Jeremiah 15:16 is what I experienced when I gave my life wholly unto the Lord.
I was so proud back in 1995 when I read my bible all the way through and I told God so telling Him well God I’ve read the Bible all five way through. I was stunned beyond words when I heard that still small voice of God say no you haven’t.
Now being someone who didn’t know that God would actually speak to me a lowly sinner was a shock beyond my current vocabulary but it was real.
So I said ok I’ll read it again which indeed I did and again I said well God I’ve read it again and again His response was no you didn’t. I responded by saying now God I really did and I admit I really didn’t realize that there were two sections of the bible called the Old and New but nonetheless I’ll read it again. I wound up reading two more times before I finally saw what our Heavenly Father wanted me to see. Revelation 3:5 refers to the book of life in which the names of believers in the Lord are found.
I jumped up from wherei was reading and shouted I found it, I found it God. I’ll never forget the feeling of the concrete slab that my house sat on shaking as if an eartquake hit. I was not scared because I was in the presence of God. I was caught up in the spirit realm wherein I witnessed the belly laugh of God as he gave a riddle to one His children.
All of this happened in a span of 6 six months. Alot of reading in a short time.
I’ll share another time another revelation.
Awesome testimony Ron. The Book of Life, the most important book that could ever reference our individual names. Great reminder Ron. Thanks.
I am inspired! I am reading a book now that helps to explain Revilations! It is tough. I also find myself reading just words in the Bible as my mind wonders!
And, like most, sin daily!
I truly believe the only way we get to Heaven is through God’s mercy!
Amen Jim. God’s mercy reveals His love. His justice and holiness are revealed as Jesus bore our sins. And God’s forgiveness is demonstrated each time a new believer accepts Jesus as His personal sacrifice and Savior. As you and I remain in the Word daily, we will begin to understand and see the bigger picture that God has woven throughout the ages. What a powerful book that will utterly transform each of our lives as we invest our time in it. Blessings my friend. Stay safe and strap in tight at 150mph! 🙂