5 Tips to Read the Bible in Full in 2018
I was living on my own for the first time. In a new town. My friends, family and church were three hours away. On top of it all, I was in my first year of law school. Suffice to say, that year was HARD.
Like a thirsty soul wandering the desert - lonely, stressed, insecure, and confused - I began to seek Jesus with a hunger that I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I began to understand what it meant to truly need God to the core of your being, because there was no one else to run to.
As Corrie Ten Boom once said, "You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have."
That's the first year I successfully read the Bible in full. And y'all it transformed me. Studying the Bible book by book showed me why I believe what I was raised to believe. No longer was my faith something that I inherited from my parents or was taught by the church or some blogger/author/preacher. Instead, I was taught (and still am!) by the Holy Spirit through God's word and for the first time, I understood why I believed what I believed. It gave me boldness to speak about my faith to my classmates. It gave me wisdom and peace in my studies. It gave me joy even when I was in my most challenging season of life.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. -Joshua 1:8
Do you have a foundation for your faith? Can you point to exact places in Scripture to support why you believe what you believe? Or is your doctrine based on secondhand knowledge from your parents, pastor or the Internet?
This year, I hope you'll go to the original source: the Bible. Go to the well and drink deeply of the Living Water. And not just your favorite passages or the ones that are most read, but every. Single. Page.
Here are a few tips that help me read the Bible in full:
1. Have a plan.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. -Proverbs 21:5
Every time I choose to wing it with reading the Bible, I just don't read. Or I read the same thing over and over again (usually the "easier" books, like the Psalms or the Gospels), and never get to the majority of the Bible. When you don't have a purpose or a goal and it's just something you aimlessly do, you won't get much out of it and you probably won't ever finish (Luke 14:28).
Opening the Bible at random is not enough. Daily Bible reading requires discipline. And the Lord will meet you where you are. That is the power of the Living Word - God can use any passage to speak to you where you are in your season.
There are many times when I was seeking for guidance from the Lord and when I'd pray about it, God would quietly tell me, "Go to your daily reading and listen." So I would go to my daily reading and regardless of whether I was in the Prophets or in the Gospels, God would use the most "ordinary" passages to give me answers to the questions I was asking.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. -1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Most Bibles have an annual reading plan included and there are lots of options online. Here is the one I'll be using that you can print and put into your Bible (last year, I cut it out and taped it to the inside of my Bible so I wouldn't lose it!). The YouVersion and She Reads Truth Bible apps also offer digital plans if you prefer to just pull up the daily reading on your phone.
If you need accountability and daily reminders, God willing, I'll be posting the daily readings on my Instagram stories and doing weekly check-ins! Follow my account here!
2. Make a daily appointment. And keep it, no matter what.
Put it on your calendar like any doctor's appointment or college class you're expected to show up to. Set a reminder on your phone. And then show up. Do not miss it for ANYTHING. And if you do, find time later in the day to make it up. But don't let the sun set without opening up the Word even for a few short minutes. You don't forget do you? And this is spiritual food we're talking about y'all. Often, we don't know we're spiritually malnourished until we actually eat of the Bread of Life for a few days and then you realize how much your soul was missing His Word.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:33
I know more important things will come up. They ALWAYS DO. Kids need you. Laundry. A meeting at work. Sleep. And a mile long to-do list. But if you choose to give the first fruits of your day - even if its 15 minutes to Jesus to learn at His feet, everything else in your day will be added unto you. I love this testimony a son has about his mother:
"My mother’s habit was every day, immediately after breakfast, to withdraw for an hour to her own room, and to spend that hour in reading the Bible, in meditation and prayer. From that hour, as from a pure fountain, she drew the strength and sweetness which enabled her to fulfill all her duties, and to remain unruffled by the worries and pettinesses which are so often the trial of narrow neighborhoods. As I think of her life, and all it had to bear, I see the absolute triumph of Christian grace in the lovely ideal of a Christian lady. I never saw her temper disturbed; I never heard her speak one word of anger, of calumny, or of idle gossip; I never observed in her any sign of a single sentiment unbecoming to a soul which had drunk of the river of the water of life, and which had fed upon manna in the barren wilderness" .—Farrar
3. Little by little adds up, because progress > perfection.
Bible study seems daunting. And hard, and confusing. It is a big book, after all. But it is also not an ordinary book, because you can read one single verse and be nourished and encouraged by it for weeks if you meditate on it night and day.
One verse. One passage. One chapter. Each one has immense power. Just apply all your effort to go to the source of Living Water daily. With phones glued to our hands and Bibles in every household, we have no excuse NOT to.
For months, I've been training my muscle memory to reach with my thumb to open the Bible app on my phone instead of Instagram. Because if I have time to check my Instagram, then I have time to read a few verses of the Bible. Even if every other time you open the Bible instead of Instagram, imagine how much of the Bible you could read in a day, in a month, a year!!! I was shocked, y'all (apparently I check IG a lot!). It's difficult at first. The Bible doesn't seem as exciting as Instagram, but a few weeks in, God's presence in my life was magnified. I was hearing His voice as I went about my day, guiding and speaking to me in the most extraordinary ways.
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. -Isaiah 55:11
, open your Bible, read and mediate on what you read. Repeat daily.
It's that simple. Then watch the Holy Spirit do the rest (Jeremiah 29:12-14 and Matthew 7:7-8).
You will not be able to do this on your own. Your human strength will not be enough through out this journey, because the moment you commit to reading the Bible in full or even to just read it daily, Satan will amplify his efforts to throw anything possible in your path to derail you. Emergencies and to-do's will pop up endlessly to make sure you "don't have enough time." Something more interesting than the "boring" Bible will come up (Instagram, a new TV show, games, hanging out, and all the things). You'll get frustrated with yourself that you can't seem to understand or care about what you read, or you'll want to give up when you've already like a month behind schedule (maybe next year?).
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. -Proverbs 16:3
Every time you open the Word of God, start with prayer. But also pray for desire to read the Bible. Pray for strength to develop a daily habit of Bible study and to finish what you start. he will give you strength. For the One that is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Without the Holy Spirit and prayer, the Bible will be just another book to you or just another thing on your to-do list. But when you soak it in prayer, God will use it to teach you one on one, knowing exactly what you need to hear and do each day and in every season.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12
5. What matters most is that you finish. Even if it takes you longer than one year.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ THE FULL BIBLE IN ONE YEAR. In fact, you probably won't. I didn't my first year. Or my second. Or my third and I probably won't this time either, and that's okay. What matters is that you finish. There is no gold star for finishing in a year, instead what matters is that you do it daily and read it all in full at least once in your life.
Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. -Ecclesiastes 7:8
So, give yourself grace now. Before you even start. Know that there will be days when you just won't get to your daily reading. There will be seasons when you decide you want to park yourself in a certain book and just soak it in for awhile so you'll fall behind on the schedule. That is okay. Just keep going. When you fall, what matters most is that you get back up. Even if it takes you two years, or five, or ten years to finish. Just do it. Little by little, one day at a time.
The first year I read through the prophets, I was humbled to my core y'all. The words of God in those pages - foreshadowing the coming of the Messiah hundreds of years ahead of Jesus's birth and His immense love and mercy towards His people even when they were behaving at their worst and rejecting Him over and over again. It will bring you to your knees. But, most people never get to the middle of the Bible. Or any of the new Testament. And even some of the New Testament (Revelations anyone?). And if you haven't, can I give you a spoiler alert? You're missing out big time. It is so, so good.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. - 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Every single book is worth reading, at least once in your lifetime, because until you do, you won't get a full view of the character of God. It takes a lifetime, so start today. And keep going until you finish. An eternal crown of glory awaits you at the end, and the word of God is your northern star as you journey through this earth on your way Home.
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine...Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. -1 Tim. 4:13
Will you be reading the Bible in full starting in 2018?
How can I help you through this blog to make Bible study a daily habit?