July 1st is an important day for me. Long ago I gave up making resolutions to start the new year, because sometimes, to be honest, just surviving the new year is an accomplishment enough. I mean, the holiday season is a thrill ride and I love it, but when it’s over I just want to sleep. So then in July, I wake up and realize that half the year is over and if I want to get something done I’d better get it started. That’s what July 1st is for.
Several years ago, I was making my July 1st goals and I asked myself, “By this time next year, what is something that I really want to accomplish?” As is often the case halfway through the year, I was feeling a little down and I really needed something I could commit to and that I would really feel good about finishing. It occurred to me that I had never actually read all the way through the Bible. I had started several times, always at the beginning of the year, but had always given up on it at some point. Usually it was in Leviticus or 1 Chronicles, although once I persevered through the One Year Bible for about a year and a half when I got hit with Ezekiel and Revelation at the same time, and I just couldn’t finish. Anyway, I had just gone through a study by George Guthrie called Read the Bible for Life and one of the things we were encouraged to do was to actually read the Bible. I know, crazy, right? So I printed out the chronological plan he suggests in his book, stuck it in my Bible, and committed to it. I don’t know if it was because of that particular plan, because I really needed a “win” in my life, or because I fell in love with the Word of God, or perhaps because of all of that, but I finished it on June 30th of the next year. By then I had an iPhone and the YouVersion app which has all kinds of plan options that make it easy to read and check off every day, so I just picked a plan and started again. Today starts my fourth year of reading through the Bible from July 1st-June 30th.
It’s not hard to read through the Bible in a year. It only takes 3-4 chapters a day, which for me means about 10-20 minutes, six or seven days a week. I’m not talking about intense study or anything, I’m just talking about reading it. Study is important too, but it’s amazing what God has done in my life and my relationship with Him when I simply take the time every day (or almost every day – I do miss some days) to read His word. I have a new appreciation for the way the Bible is written, for the truth it contains, and for the way it all points to God’s amazing work of salvation.
You don’t have to believe the Bible is true in order to read it, but it helps if you do. And if you do believe the Bible is true but you haven’t read it, and I mean all of it, then why not? You don’t have to have an app or a special Bible or even a checklist or any other excuse. Get out your Bible and start reading. You can start at Genesis 1:1 and read straight through, three or four chapters a day. You can start in the New Testament, Matthew 1:1, and then read the Old Testament. You can get fancy, pull out three bookmarks or index cards or random slips of paper, and read two chapters in the Old Testament, one Psalm or Proverb, and one chapter in the New Testament. Just read the Bible. Start today. And then next July 1st, we can start over together.