Meeting God through His Word in 2016

Happy New Year! Last month I talked about the free Olive Tree Bible study app, the value of getting a current study Bible, as well as a new reading plan from the Bible Project with short YouTube videos introducing each book of the Bible. Seeing their two new videos on the book of Genesis this week I was amazed again at the insight these short clips contain. They helped me to see Jesus as the wounded Saviour in Genesis 3:15 and Noah as a second Adam in Genesis 6 who, like the first Adam, again gave in to temptation in a garden and ends up naked and ashamed in Genesis 9:20-23. Even their description of Genesis 12-50 as accounts of repeated human failure followed by expressions of God’s faithfulness in rescuing and blessing His people, climaxing with the theme of Genesis 50:20 that what people plan for evil is used by God for our good (Genesis 50:20) gives me a road map as I’ve been reading through these sections. Even if you’re using a different reading plan, I think there’s much to be gained from watching these videos. If you haven’t already, check out their reading plan and their introduction to the book of Genesis:

The Bible Project Reading Plan:
Introduction to the book of Genesis Part 1:
Introduction to the book of Genesis Part 2:

As I’ve thought about Bible reading, there are a few questions I’d encourage you to ask as you start the New Year.

  1. Why are you doing it? With the wrong motivation, otherwise great Bible study and prayer can lead to spiritual pride. Let me suggest six good reasons to read the Bible:
    • To know Jesus - John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
    • To avoid sin - Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
    • To receive hope - Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 
    • To be free - John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
    • To be equipped - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
    • To grow - 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation
  2. What will you do with the distractions? If you haven’t already noticed, you will never be consistent in Bible study and prayer without a plan to deal with the distractions. Will you turn off your notifications? Will you decide not to look at e-mail or social media until you’ve finished your reading? Will you agree with your spouse not to watch television until you’re both done your reading? Will you set aside Sunday afternoons to catch up on days you missed during the week? Different people have different distractions and so need different strategies but without a strategy, you’ll only have distractions not devotions. Make a plan!
  3. Who will you invite with you? When it comes to the Christian life, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Talk about your reading with others. Invite others to talk about their reading with you. If you’re married, talk to your spouse about what you’re learning. And don’t wait until your children are grown before you lead and help them to study the Bible for themselves. When our children were younger, I read through lots of children’s story Bibles at dinner time, but from an early age also helped them to set aside time to read for themselves. Now our regular times of fellowship around God’s Word are the heart of our fellowship as a family. The more you can connect your devotional life with your fellowship with others, the richer and the more consistent it will become.

May God meet with you as you study His Word in 2016!

In awe of Him,