For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Reading God's Word in 2017
From Various Pastors
As we begin our “Word Weekend 2017,” three of our pastors share their plans for Bible reading in the year ahead …
David Livingston, Pastor for Global Outreach Member Care
For decades now, almost every year I've started my devotional time with God using the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading schedule, consisting of two readings from both the Old and New Testaments to be read in 25 daily installments each month. Why just 25? To provide a gap at the end of the month to either catch up if I've fallen behind (especially in the Old Testament historical readings, which are by far the longest) or review if I haven't yet done so.
I’ve experienced two advantages of this habitual “survey” Bible reading:
- Seeing God's single authorship and his meticulously flawless “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation” plotline unfold across centuries of history from dozens of fallible, but inspired, human authors.
- Finding any given day's readings impeccably matching the needs of my empty heart as the day begins. They also often precisely address the very circumstances God has pre-arranged for me to encounter as that day unfolds.
Dan Holst, Lead Pastor, North Campus
For most of the 20+ years that Liz and I have been a part of Bethlehem, the benefits of a scheduled Bible reading plan have been highlighted year after year after year. As one who took up the challenge to "find a plan that works for you and stick with it," I have been using the 25-days-per-month Discipleship Journal Reading Plan. I can testify that for 15 or more years it has worked!
If—"when," in reality—I get behind, I have five days at the end of each month to catch up. And if I stay with it throughout the month, I often go back and savor riches from the previous week(s). I spend time daily in the Old Testament, Wisdom Books, the Gospels, and the New Testament. The treasure that is the Word becomes increasingly precious to me as I mark the concluding readings in December and start afresh on January 1. "Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God" as revealed in the Bible!
Bud Burk, Pastor for Children & Family Discipleship, Downtown Campus
I write as a novice regarding having an annual Bible reading plan. If you looked over my shoulder for a year, I trust you would see a man alone with his God, Bible in hand. But I suspect that you would see a kind of fluidity to it that cannot be marked by an annual rhythm—however, I trust you would also see that this fluid approach is not without design or purpose.
I have found Psalm 119:2 as a helpful guide to my heart, the practicing of the disciplines of grace: Word and prayer. The Psalmist says “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” If I could summarize my longing in relation to being in the Word it would be this: I want to be with you Father, and I want to walk in obedience to you, knowing that my hope is in your blessed Son who died on my behalf.
Friends, time in the Word and prayer is meant to be time with your Father. Therefore, bringing a measure of purposeful intent in the Word and prayer, while asking the Spirit to guide the year with Jesus Christ as the point to it all, is my aim, by God’s grace, and I trust it is yours as well.
Wishing you much progress and joy in the faith in 2017!