The Bible Reading Challenge

256px-Northwest_Crown_Fire_ExperimentI started reading Scripture regularly when I was an adult. I taught at a Christian school which required each of us to teach Bible. During one of our morning faculty devotions our principal made a clear statement: we could not be giving to our students what we ourselves were not taking in. In other words, to be good at teaching the Bible, we actually had to read the Bible.

Imagine!

You’d think that would be self-evident, that we’d all know instinctively the truth of that statement, but I, for one, needed his push. Not that I proceeded perfectly. In fact, I didn’t know precisely how to go from there.

I’m not sure if it was because of his directive to us or not, but I talked with a teacher friend who was ten years my senior, and she told me that she read from Genesis through Revelation each year. I forget when she started, but she’d already racked up an impressive number of times through the Bible.

I’d read it once, for a class in college (except for the parts I skimmed). And of course there were the parts I’d memorized as a kid and the ones I’d read in church. But on my own? I’d made a couple stabs at it when I was younger. I remember being quite impressed with how interesting Genesis was, and even the beginning of Exodus. But inevitably, I’d stall out.

At last I had extrinsic motivation to read it through—my principal’s clear direction that I needed to know the Bible if I was to teach the Bible. And I had an example of someone who read the Bible in a year and kept coming back to do it over and over. In other words, for the first time, I wanted to do this and believed it was doable.

I admit, I didn’t find establishing a routine of reading the Bible to be easy. I tried my friend’s method—three chapters a day on week days, and five on weekends, I thought. (I don’t have that right, but that’s what I remembered when I was starting out).

Eventually, after some struggles, I decided, I was not my friend, who is an incredibly disciplined woman. I decided I needed a plan that worked for me, and whether I finished in a year or a year and a half or two years, was immaterial. This was not a race. What was important was that I read the Bible.

Slowly things got better. I understood more, but also asked more questions. I began to see how one passage echoed another, how one writer quoted from others, and how all pointed to Jesus Christ.

I also had incredibly great Bible teaching at my church, and I learned a lot about what goes into studying Scripture.

All that to say, I needed someone to tell me reading the Bible was vital. So, I want to do that for you, whoever you are, reading this post.

Reading the Bible is vital. No, you may not be formally teaching Bible as I was, but you are informally teaching with your life. If you have kids, you’re teaching them. If you have neighbors, you’re teaching them. If you have colleagues, you’re teaching them. If you have friends, you’re teaching them. What we teach is made up of what we know and believe to be true. But to know something, we have to learn it.

When the people of Israel were told they should teach the Law to the next generation whenever they stood up, lay down, walked along the road—in other words, at all times—it was a given that they knew the Law.

Sadly, they didn’t follow through, and when one of the last kings of Judah determined he would fix up the temple, the priests discovered a copy of the Law. The king read it and learned that the people of Israel had broken their covenant with God, that He would bring on them the curses written in the Law. As a result, this young king humbled himself and went about changing the idolatrous culture of his nation.

The point here is that at some time, the generation who knew the Law stopped passing it on until it fell into obscurity. Perhaps they stopped passing it on because they stopped knowing what the Law said or believing that God’s word mattered.

Christians who declare the Bible to be true, can just as easily slide away from it if we don’t read it, study it, and pass it on.

The choice is ours, then. Will we decide to read the Bible or not?

Yes, we’re busy. And it’s nearly impossible to find a quiet place to read. And parts are hard to understand. Or are quite frankly boring. I mean, who wants to turn to a chapter of unpronounceable names for their source of inspiration?

But here’s the thing. We all find time for what we want to do. Have a favorite TV program? Play golf? Go shopping? And today, with smart phones and iPads and Kindle Fires and laptops, we have the Bible a click away. We can read Scripture any time.

The parts about temple measurements and sacrifices and dietary laws, skip until you want to read them. The key is to come up with a plan that will keep you reading. And eventually, sooner than you thought possible, you’ll be through the Bible and ready to start over again. Next time you might add in some of those chapters you skipped, and eventually you might find yourself studying them.

But not if you don’t start.

So here’s the challenge. Take a month and read a chapter a day, or two if you want, even three. Whatever you think you will actually follow through with and do. Start with Genesis. If you make it through one month, then maybe you’ll want to re-up and commit to a second month.

But not if you don’t start.

Reading God’s word regularly will only happen if you read God’s word on day one.

For those who already do read God’s word regularly, here’s a challenge for you as well. Repeat this challenge for at least two people, then pray for them.

Do you know how quickly the number multiplies if we pass on what we know to two people, and they in turn pass it on to two others? Imagine the power of God’s word multiplying like wild fire.

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Published in: on July 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 Comments

  1. Everything you said. But start with Matthew instead of Genesis. It’s easier to develop a Bible reading routine if you start with the New Testament. That way you don’t end up with Leviticitis and quit. 😉 YouVersion – the Bible app has tons of great plans and they get sent straight to your phone.

    That being said, I’ve fallen off the wagon and need to get back on. When do you do your Bible study? Do you do it at the same time every day?

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    • Lisa, I think starting with Matthew might be a good idea. I would caution people, though, that reading through the gospels might at first seem like an act of redundancy. Just keep going. Or skip what you want to skip and keep going. The key is to find a starting point and move forward.

      Becky

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  2. I couldn’t help but notice the attached photo, Rebecca. Zechariah described a fire of judgment in Chapter 11, most notably in the early verses, which many conclude is a prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. What did you have in mind?

    As far as reading scripture, I personally make it an everyday habit. I often find myself thinking, “Wow!” And I should. During the past five years I’ve been studying natural theology and find in a great supplement to Scripture. I would invite others to become more familiar with the subject. A very good starting point is “On Guard” by Dr. William Land Craig, one of the best known and respected Christian apologists of our time. Just a suggestion.

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    • Sorry I forgot to answer this, Russ. With the picture I had in mind the way a fire starts with a small ember and spreads. I think challenging people to read the Bible can work the same way. If a few people do, and then the ones they challenge turn around and challenge others, and those in turn challenge more, pretty soon we have a host of Christians reading the Bible, with all the benefits of doing so. 😉

      Becky

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  3. […] month I issued a challenge to read the Bible every day, or, for those who already do, to challenge two other people to read […]

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