New year, new Bible reading plan. I have just one question for you: Why?
Why read the Bible at all? Why read the whole Bible every year? Why?
Paul writes in Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through patience and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
At every desperate place in my story, there has been encouragement and hope in the Scriptures.
When I first began to understand the truth that Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, cared for my soul, Matthew 6 spoke to me of my value in the eyes of the Father.
Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your Father in heaven feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
When my son was in the NICU, Psalm 121 was my constant prayer.
1 A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains— from where does my help come?2 My help comes from Adonai, Maker of heaven and earth.3 He will not let your foot slip. Your Keeper will not slumber.4 Behold, the Keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.5 Adonai is your Keeper. Adonai is your shadow at your right hand.6 The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.7 Adonai will protect you from all evil. He will guard your life.8 Adonai will watch over your coming and your going from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8)
When that difficult situation caused us to seek alternative care for my next pregnancy, my daughter’s life was saved from danger we had no indication of before her birth. My thankfulness to the Father, who knew our every need before we did, found voice in James.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. By His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created. – (James 1:17-18)
When I suffered great loss, and struggled with guilt, I found reassurance in 2 Corinthians 1.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement. He encourages us in every trouble, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any trouble, through the very encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For just as the sufferings of Messiah overflow into us, so also through Messiah our encouragement overflows. If we are suffering hardship, it is for your encouragement and salvation. Or if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which produces in you the patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. Our hope for you is firm, since we know that as you are partners in our sufferings, so also in our encouragement. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living. In fact, we had within ourselves the death sentence—so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so great a danger of death will continue to rescue us—we have set our hope on Him that He will rescue us again. (2 Corinthians 1:3-10)
When I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, Lamentations 3 was one of many passages that encouraged my soul when I felt empty and absent.
21 This I recall to my heart— therefore I have hope:22 Because of the mercies of Adonai we will not be consumed, for His compassions never fail.23 They are new every morning! Great is Your faithfulness.24 “Adonai is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”25 Adonai is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.26 It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of Adonai. (Lamentations 3:21-26)
All of these examples reveal why I continue to read the Bible. I do not read to show how studious I am. Ha! I do not read to prove my love for Yeshua. I read because my hope, my encouragement, my very life is to be found in these pages.
When we look at Bible reading as a box to check, it is easy to miss the life and power. Moses says of the Torah, “For it is not an empty thing for you, because it is your life!” – (Deuteronomy 32:47) When Yeshua was tempted, he answered by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 – “But He replied, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
If we see the Scripture as our life and food, reading the Bible is no longer optional. Sometimes, life is busy and we barely have time to grab something to eat as we fly through our day. However, we can’t just go without eating anything for long. Not every season of life allows for in depth study of the Scripture on a daily basis. During these times, my personal minimum is one Psalm. Just opening the Bible and reading one short Psalm is so encouraging. I often find that once I stop my hectic day to read that one chapter, my focus shifts. Proverbs 4:21 tells us not to let the words of wisdom out of our sight. Taking a moment to stop helps me to acknowledge that whatever urgent needs are pulling for my attention are second to keeping His words before my eyes. I lift my eyes from my situation and my shortcomings to the sovereignty and supremacy of Adonai.
When life is easier, and we have more time to spend in the kitchen, we might prepare a more elaborate meal. We also might do some prep work to make a busy week easier. Having a stocked pantry, ingredients prepped, freezer meals, whatever is analogous to reading, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture for the times we have need. Just as a meal plan can help you get dinner on the table consistently, a Bible reading plan can be a wonderful tool. There are websites and podcasts that will read the whole Bible to you in a year. Listen to the Scriptures as you drive or work on something else. The one I listen to is called Daily Bread for Busy Moms, and it follows the Torah Portions each week and reads through the rest of the Bible spread throughout the year. I like to follow along if I can sit down long enough. There are apps that will help you read the Bible in a year. A paper checklist for the less technologically inclined. When life doesn’t go according to plan, however, we don’t skip dinner; we get takeout. Read that one Psalm. Quick and easy nourishment is preferable to starvation. Start a reading plan, use the tools you have, build habits, but give yourself grace.