How to use your "Through the Bible in a Year Reading Plan"
Letting the Word of God Dwell in You Richly: First RP’s Bible Reading Program
Let me give a further word of explanation about the course of Bible Reading we are embarking upon as a congregation. We are following the Through the Bible in a Year Bible Reading Calendar. You can pick up a yellow sheet from the foyer, or follow it online at the ESV website. Hopefully, we will all participate in this as individuals and families who are a part of a congregation. Let me explain why I think this to be so important and useful. There are a number of advantages to such a unified effort.
One of the most obvious is that it will help us to help one another carry out the promises we made before the Lord when we entered into the Covenant of Communicant Membership:
5. To the end that you may grow in the Christian life, do you promise that you will diligently read the Bible, engage in private prayer, keep the Lord’s Day, regularly attend the worship services, observe the appointed sacraments, and give to the Lord’s work as He shall prosper you?
But let me enumerate some other specific advantages:
1. We will read through the whole Bible in a year in an orderly way. Reading across the whole face of Scripture, year after year, helps us to become acquainted with the whole of God’s revelation. It gives us the broadest context to understand any one portion of God’s Word and improves our ability to listen to the proclamation of the Word with understanding. It helps us to apply the Word of God to our lives with wisdom.
2. We will be reading together in the same places at the same time at the same pace. So we will be together in the Word as a congregation. This will encourage us to keep up with reading the Bible over time. Dealing with the same comforts, questions, warnings, and promises together will promote unity, fellowship, and opportunities to converse about something of value out of our common experience. It helps protect us from trivializing our conversation and our fellowship together.
3. The Small Group Meetings will be led in discussing what they have read in the Bible Reading Calendar throughout the days prior to our regular meetings. This puts us directly in the Word for our times together. We will be able to fellowship in a common experience of the Word, reflecting on how God has used it in our lives this week. Perhaps there will be questions that our reading raises in our minds and hearts that are in common with others’ puzzlement over the same particular passage. What a help to consider these questions together!
4. Leading in the small group discussions of the weeks’ readings will help me as a pastor in getting to know you while we discuss the Word together. Over time this fellowship in the Word will help me to know how to address sermons more suitably to the congregation, and what from the Bible might be most profitable to teach at the time.
5. Using this Bible reading program together overcomes one of the greatest difficulties for regularity and consistency in Bible reading. The single greatest obstacle to regularly reading the Bible is knowing what to read today. But with this schedule, on any given day you know what portion of God’s Word to read. You do not have the problem of knowing where to start, if you’ve missed a few days (or weeks) and you wish to pick up things again. Well, you are a Bible reader, with a regular schedule. Pick up with today’s reading and, forgetting what is behind, press on with today’s reading, so to speak. No guilt. No burden of going back and picking up where you left off. Just treat the program like a menu. What is today’s special? Order that. If you don’t have very much time, read part of it. If it seems like a mere duty, pray for God to use that Word and go back to reading. If you still find it a burden, find a favorite place in the Word or look to a portion that addresses your need at the moment. Don’t make it a new law; seek to delight in the Word and commune with God.
6. Reading the Bible in this fashion changes our view of Bible reading. We cease to be the issue. We are reading to worship God and meet with Him. Read to worship and to commune with God in Christ by the Spirit, not for self-improvement, first of all. You will gain that improvement over time, but first of all, in your reading, seek to listen to Him. He has given us of Himself in all His dealings with men for their salvation. Listen with a heart of faith and take it all in.
7. Use this schedule for your private and family worship. You will find that you derive something different in both uses, and having already read and considered the reading, if you are a father or mother, husband or wife, you will be able to help the children with it, or be able to discuss it as a couple profitably, modifying it as necessary. In this way, family worship has a pattern and schedule in which we are all worshiping through the week together, with prayer, Bible reading in the same passages and the singing of Psalms. If you would like a list of Psalms so that you may systematically go through the whole Psalter, twice in the year, I can supply that for you, following the pattern Jane and I follow.
One additional thing needs to be said: There is something intangible to the effect of having the whole flock feeding in the same pasture together at the same time that goes beyond the reasons I have listed here. But eventually, if we are faithful in this together, the blessing of it will be felt over time. May God grant this to be useful to you and to your salvation.