New Year’s is such a powerful time because it’s an opportunity to start over. Bethany Hamilton is such an encouragement in this area. After the professional surfer had her left arm bit off by a shark in 2013, she made two promises to herself. First, she promised to not complain about her situation. Second, she promised to start over and surf again. 26 days later she was back in the water on a surfboard. It is that resolve and determination that have made her one of the top 50 female surfers today. Just like Bethany, you can make the decision to start over.
Monday is for Habits
2017 is a major gift from God. It is a chance to start over, grow, and change—all by God’s grace. The question is this: how should we approach this new season? To help you grow, we are going to share a new area to focus on every Monday. Why Monday? Monday is for habits. Monday is where you make the choice to put into action what you’re going to do that week. Monday is where the rubber meets the road. So today, we want to start by growing spiritually. In order to grow spiritually, we have to read our Bible.
According to Lifeway Research, only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week.[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”] Now, that statistic gives me more questions. What do they mean by “regularly attend church”? How does that percentage change when we look at more broadly those who call themselves Christians? I also wonder why just once a week? The benefits far outweigh the work and 2017 could and should be the year we turn those trends around.
1. Pick a Plan
So, where do we start? First things first, pick a plan. Ligonier Ministries compiled a list in 2016 of several plans you could use to read through the Bible, whether that was just a few chapters a day, a chronological read, etc. I’ve also seen several churches and ministries come up with their own “Read Through The Bible In A Year” plan that I thought were very helpful. You can view them here, here, and here. What ever plan works for you, that is the one you should do.
2. Get a Bible
Next, get a Bible. I was told years ago by Dr. Tommy Nelson to buy a Bible every year before Christmas that you will read through the next year. Then, when you finish it, you give it to someone you’ve been pouring into that next year for Christmas. I love this idea. It helps me read with a purpose and helps me always keep the focus throughout my year to pour what I’m reading into others. So, go buy a Bible you want to read this year.
3. Get Your System
After you get a Bible, get your system. I used a specific pen and a specific highlighter when I read through. I also use an old hotel room key/card to underline with so my lines are straight. I also have a focus to each book that helps me as I study that book. It could be highlighting repetitive phrases or noticing themes like God’s covenants. That’s all my process though. It’s been refined each year that I read. You need to find what works for you. Get a system, get a place you read, and get to reading.
4. Apply What You Read
Lastly, apply what you read. I don’t journal every day but I try and journal as I am reading through the Bible so that I am forced to connect God’s word to my life. I try and pick out a verse to focus on and write it on a sticky note that I place on my desk or laptop. I try and share from what I’ve been reading in any conversations I have. Since I took Dr. Whitney’s class on spiritual disciplines, I also have tried to pray what I’m reading. Again, what works for you is what you need to do. I have had to work to not make my reading something I mark off my list but something that gets deeper and deeper into my heart.
2017 is here and quickly getting under way, start today to make a change. Start over in 2017 with some focus and goals. Start reading your Bible if you never have. Read your Bible all the way through if you never have. Try a Proverb a day or get a commentary and devotional and go in depth into a book this year. Get disciplined and grow in 2017 because by God’s grace you can.