An Invitation to Read the Bible with Us throughout 2021

If you’ve been a faithful reader on this site, you may know that I have for several years followed a Bible reading plan that has been transformational to me. I’ve described my steps below, and I’m inviting you to join me in Scripture reading in 2021. 

  • I choose a daily reading plan from an online source. My preference is to follow a plan that includes both Old Testament and New Testament readings each day. My plan is to read the entire Bible this coming year, but the plan I’m using next year is a 5-day per week plan which also allows you to read just the Old Testament or just the New Testament. I encourage you to be consistent in your reading, even if you must slow down the pace. 
  • I purchase a new study Bible each year. A good study Bible is not inexpensive, but it can help you understand the Word without requiring other devotional resources. I look for a study Bible that gives just enough notes to be helpful—not so many they draw my attention from the Word. In 2021, I plan to use the Christian Standard Every Day Study  Bible.
  • Each year, I prayerfully choose a set of topics to study throughout the year. This step is the one that has been most important to me, as these topics guide my reading. This coming year, I plan to focus particularly on humility, peace, thanksgiving, and strength in weakness. I always remain open to whatever the Lord teaches me as I read through the Bible, but I especially watch for texts that speak to my selected themes for the year.
  • I purchase a new set of Bible highlighters for the year (preferably Zebrite highlighters that are less likely to bleed through Bible pages). I then assign one highlighter color to each of the chosen topics, and I note the colors/topics on the inside cover of my Bible. Thus, the inside cover of my study Bible for 2021 shows:
    • Highlights in green: humility
    • Highlights in pink: peace
    • Highlights in blue: thanksgiving
    • Highlights in orange: strength in weakness 
    • Highlights in yellow: other topics or notes that just grab my attention during my reading (sometimes these topics become my studies in future years)
  1. As I read each day, I watch for texts or notes related to the above topics. I highlight the text, pause to meditate on it, prayerfully consider how it might apply to my life, and perhaps write a few notes in the margin to help me reinforce the application.
  2. With each highlighted text, I pray briefly in response to what God teaches me. Prayer ought to be our natural response when the Word of God becomes so real to us. Good Bible study is dialogical. 
  3. I send a brief email to my accountability partners and my wife to show them what the Lord has taught me. That way, they know I’ve read. They know I’m learning. And, perhaps they’ll learn, too. Actually, these emails have now evolved into the subscription devotions I now write for this website. 
  4. At the end of the year, I then have a study Bible with every text related to particular topics highlighted. Remember, the notes on the inside cover quickly show me what topics are highlighted in that Bible.

Here’s why this approach works for me. First, it’s a plan; that is, I know each day what I will read. Second, I enter the text excited about what God might show me that day. I don’t always find something related directly to the chosen topics, but I always find something that teaches me (and would thus be highlighted in yellow). Third, it really does allow my reading to be conversational as I respond in prayer to whatever the Lord shows me in His Word. Finally, this approach gives me a resource for later use, and—if Pam and I had children–a marked-up, worn out Bible I could give to the next generations. 

If you’re interested in joining us in the 2021 reading, be sure to subscribe to the daily devotions on the lower right side of this webpage. 

1 Comment

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    I was taught from an early age to value books and to treat them with respect. I was taught not to write in books or otherwise mark them in any way. It bothers me when I pick up an old book and I see someone has underlined sentences, scribbled notes on the edge of a page, or dog-eared a page. To me it is as irritating as scratching your finger nails down a blackboard. . What I do is keep what used to be called a “commonplace book.” It is a book in which pastors noted passages from books for future reference. It dates from a time when books were rare and expensive and kept in libraries at universities or in private homes. It is a useful tool since one does not have to go searching through a dozen or so books looking for a passage. In Elizabethan England pastors studying for a preaching license were required to read a chapter from the Bible and jot down their thoughts about what they read in a notebook. At regular intervals an archdeacon would meet with the pastor and go over the notes that the pastor had made in the notebook since their last meeting. Pastors who did not have a preaching license were required to read a portion of a homily from a book of homilies approved by the Church. This was to ensure only sound biblical doctrine was preached and taught in English parish churches.. Keeping notes when reading and studying the Bible and going over one’s notes with someone else is not a bad practice. Neither is comparing one’s conclusions with the conclusions of the author of a good commentary on the particular book that one is reading. While I have systematically read through the entire Bible in the past, I have not been so inclined in recent years. Lately I have been reading through the Gospels again and writing short homilies for an online service. This has helped me take a more disciplined approach to Bible reading and study again.

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