The other week I was preparing a sermon on Acts 21 and was flipping through some books on discerning God’s will. I came across a small book I had read in college by John MacArthur; it was called Found: God’s Will. As I was re-reading it, I was remembering how much I enjoyed that book and how encouraging it was during my freshman year.
But then I skimmed across something I had forgotten. MacArthur said that he wanted to saturate his mind with the Bible and his plan was to read a book of the Bible every day for a month. He started with 1 John, reading it everyday for month. He said at the end of the month, he really knew the book of 1 John. Then he went on to the Gospel of John, dividing it up over 3 months, reading 8 chapters each month. At the end of 3 months, he really knew the gospel of John.
In college, I remember thinking that was a great idea! So, I began with James. Every afternoon when my classes were done, I went back to the dorm and read James. However, lost to waning memories and forgotten schedules is why I never went past that. I only kept it up for a month. I imagine it was the pressures of examines and new classes. But in remembering that experience, I decided to give it another try.
Instead of doing it haphazardly, though, I decided to have more of a plan. So, I broke down each book of the Bible according to MacArthur’s basic reading plan. I tried to keep the daily reading to be doable (around 8 chapters is usually the most). I also grouped some smaller books together – for example, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude are together, Joel and Habakkuk are read together. The Psalms presented the biggest challenge. I was trying to keep it to a year, but the readings were still very long! I finally decided that I didn’t need to read all of the Psalms together and decided to break them up a month here and a month there inbetween other book readings.
I also decided to begin easy. I wanted to start with John’s Gospel but then figured it would be harder reading a book over three months, and in the end decided to start with the book of Ephesians (reading from the ESV). Thus far, I’ve read it twice and (Lord willing) will have read it a third time by the end of the day.
Why all of this work? Simply this – God says, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! . . . . How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Ps 119:1-3, 9-11)
At the end of the day, I need to do all that I can to store up God’s word in my heart; to etch the eternal truth’s of God on my mind.
From what I can tell, reading the Bible this way will take around 12 years. I’m 31 years old. That means (assuming I don’t stop) when I’m 45 I’ll be done. I can only hope by then I will be more desirous of God, more passionate in ministry, more loving towards my family, friends, and the world, and above all more holy before the Lord.