Early in my Christian life I discovered reading schemes which take the reader through the Bible in a year. I have found It a great benefit over time to do this, especially if a good commentary is read along side. As God’s people we do go through periods of life where our reading time is vastly reduced, however if we can make time to read the Bible each year, the benefits are great.
Reading Through The Bible Each Year
There are many reasons for attempting to read the Bible through in a year. We cover the whole counsel of God, leaving nothing out. Those perhaps otherwise little visited corners of the Bible are no longer forgotten! Preachers will always have a role, as we forget God’s word. We need to be reminded again and again of God’s ways. Early in my Christian life a met an elderly lady who had read the Bible through many times – she stated there was always something new to learn no matter how many times she had previously read a particular passage of the Bible.
The Old Testament is extremely relevant to our Christian lives. The Wisdom section deals with matters we all face today. There is suffering (Job), worship (Psalms), true wisdom (Proverbs), where true meaning in life is located (Ecclesiastes) and love (Song of Solomon). In the history books (Gen – Esther) we find the history of God’s covenant with man and of the nation of Israel which set the context for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophets (Isaiah – Malachi) show us how God dealt with the nation of Israel when they both obeyed and disobeyed, and contain much truth concerning the way of salvation revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the New Testament, as a generalisation, we have the histories of the Gospels and Acts telling us what happened when the Lord came upon this earth, while the Epistles tell us why it happened (please note – I know this is a generalisation!). The Prophecy of Revelation tells us much about our own age now, and gives us insight into the glorious future awaiting God’s people beyond the grave.
How can we not attempt to read the whole counsel of God? Our evil hearts, this godless world, and the enemy of our will souls will seek to take us away from God’s ways. We need to be reminded, daily, continually, of who God is (His perfections, holiness, love, majesty etc) and who we are before Him (sinners, prone to err, yet of great value to God, and loved by Him). We need to read the whole counsel of God, and to read His word often.
The Challenges – Making Time and Not Falling Behind
Different people will solve these challenges in different ways, but all will face them.
First, reading the Bible through each year will involve usually three readings each day. Most people will probably have to allow in the region of at least half an hour day of reading, with probably some extra meditation time on top of this. Early mornings, daily commutes (if not driving!), lunch times, and at home when the kids are in bed all become possible times for reading. Some are early risers, some are night owls, some are tired after a day’s work, some have children who sleep little. Each individual’s routines will vary, but finding time for the three readings is essential.
This Bible study has to be consistently kept up. I remember a fellow Christian struggling to keep up one reading a day, and lamenting they where weeks behind their dated Bible reading scheme. With three reading each day, if we are not consistent, things rapidly slide. Reading through the Bible each year brings a discipline of regular reading! A day’s reading can be recovered relatively easily, but a longer period is very difficult!
On a final note, it can seem there is a trade off between depth of reading (meditating and reflecting over what is read) and breadth of reading (amount of scripture read). If time is short that day then perhaps only one thought from each reading can be used for meditation, but if time is available, then the context of the chapter, the themes of the chapter, and individual verses can all be thought over. There are times when train delays can be very useful things!
Two Bible reading Schemes
Linked to this post are two Bible reading schemes that will take the individual through the Bible in a year. There are many such schemes, and perhaps the most useful thing about this post is how I compare them – this may help find the scheme that is right for you! The schemes presented here are by Henry Groves and Robert Murray McCheyne.
This reading scheme has proved to be a lasting favourite of mine. The reasons are simple:
- the Bible readings are arranged in chronological order (i.e. in what is believed to be the order the books were written in)
- attention has been paid to having a similar number of verses to read each day, i.e. avoiding short readings one day, and then much longer readings the next
The attempt to have a similar number of verses read day each comes at a price – you will often end up reading portions of chapters instead of whole chapters. You will have to keep the Bible reading scheme to hand as it is not as simple reading the next chapter in the relevant Bible books.
This scheme has 3 readings each day, 2 for the Old Testament, and 1 for the New Testament.
Robert Murray McCheyne
This scheme attempts to include private (secret) and family devotions, with directions for conducting each set of devotions. Doing all four readings will take the reader through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in a year. Reading only one of the 2 New Testament readings will take the reader through the Bible without duplication.
The reading scheme is easier to follow, it is much more an approach of reading the next chapter of the relevant book each day, but the length of the daily readings can vary significantly.
Comparing the Henry Groves and Robert Murray McCheyne Schemes
What can be seen is that Henry Groves gives more time to the New Testament readings, as Murray McCheyne includes the Psalms in the New Testament readings. To me Groves approach feels right as the New Testament is packed full of doctrine which takes more time to absorb than a historical narrative. Conversely Murray McCheyne gives more time to the history readings of Genesis – 2 Chronicles. This may be suitable for a more in depth look at the Mosaic law. Ultimately the choice of scheme will be down to personal preference.
Ultimately if you are trying to read the Bible through in a year out of pride (I must be spiritual because I do this), or out of legalism (God will view me as spiritual because I do this), then this endeavour will fail to be a true spiritual blessing.
We are seeking to meet with the divine, the creator of the earth and universe, to be blessed each day by as we seek to know Him better. Only He can humble us, teach us, and lead us on to a deeper understanding of who He is. We need pray before each reading and humbly depend on Him to teach us. This is the pathway to blessing!
Photograph © www.istockphoto.com