Reading the Bible every day is a very good habit. If you can do it consecutively for 28 days, you will have established a habit that can last your whole life. However, if you neglect it for more than 7 days, you will probably not pick it up again without concerted effort. It is much harder to build this habit than break it.
Now here’s something to think about – there are millions of people who read the Bible, millions of people who have gone to “Bible colleges” and seminaries, and millions of people with degrees in religion, theology, etc. Why do they have such different views of the Bible? Why are some of them such hypocrites? Why do some of them deny the importance of baptism, that God created the world, or that hell exists?
Remember that in Luke 4, Satan tempted Jesus by quoting Scripture. In John 12:37-41, Jesus quoted Isaiah when explaining that some people would hear God’s Word but would refuse to believe. And in 2 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul describes false teachers as those who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” You can read the Bible every day and still be as lost as the day you started. Bible study needs to be combined with fervent prayer, an open heart, a desire for God’s truth, a fear of His judgement, and a love for others. Bible study needs to be NOT an exercise in literature, but the pursuit of sanctification.
You do not need a college degree or be fluent in Greek to understand the Scripture. You do, however, need to make an effort to dig deeper and hold up the mirror of God’s Word to make changes in your life when necessary. You should also gain knowledge that will help you comfort others, answer questions, and ultimately lead someone to Christ. God’s Word should bear fruit in you as you study and meditate on it daily.
There are many “Bible reading plans” to help you establish a daily habit of study. The back of your Bible may have one of these plans. There are also many available on the internet. For a student just beginning this journey in self-directed study, I would NOT suggest trying to read straight through from Genesis through Revelation. You will end up spending 6 or 7 months in the Old Testament and possibly giving up during some of the more tedious genealogies and histories. This also leaves you very little time in the New Testament, which is the ONLY law under which we live and therefore more important. On the flip side, you should not neglect Old Testament history, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Neglecting the Old Testament means we will not fully understand the “goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22).
Therefore, a good Bible study plan includes daily reading of both the Old and New Testaments, or alternate readings from each section. You will gain a knowledge of the history of God’s dealings with man and a better overall picture of how He worked to save us. You will learn about Jesus’ ministry and teachings, which include many, many references to Old Testament law and prophecies that you will also be reading.
As I said, there are many reading plans available that can give you this balance in daily Bible study. Here is one that I made up myself which has served me well and which I hope will bless you:
First, find something to mark your place in your Bible. I have used different colors of Post-It notes. Later on, these started losing some of their stickiness, so I started holding them in place with paper clips. Just find something that will catch your eye and that you can apply and remove easily. I do not recommend bookmarks or the ribbons that come with some Bibles, for reasons that will make more sense when you read further.
You will be reading a different section of the Bible each day. Put a marker at these places, at the TOP of the page so that you can see it there when your Bible is closed. If using Post-it notes, fold them over the top of the page.
Genesis – the start of the books of Moses’ Law.
Joshua – which is the start of Old Testamant history
Job – which begins the books of poetry
Isaiah – which begins the writings of the Old Testament prophets
Matthew – the first book of the gospels/biography of Christ. The book of Acts will be included in this section because it is a history of the beginning of the church of Christ.
Romans – which is the first of the epistles. Revelation will be included here; though it contains prophecy it is also a letter.
You should now have 6 markers in your Bible. Every day you will read starting at one marker, starting over on marker 1 once you get to the end.
Starting at Genesis, read 5 chapters on the first day. After you read chapter 5, move and/or fold your marker over the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the page so that you can see it with your Bible closed.
On the next day, start at Joshua. This will now be the first marker at the top of your Bible. Again, read 5 chapters and then move your marker to the right side of the page.
Continue every day until you have moved all 6 markers. On the next day, look at the RIGHT edge of your Bible and find the first marker. It should be at Genesis 6. Read 5 chapters, Genesis 6-11. When you’re done, move your marker to the TOP of the page.
On the next day, start at Joshua. This will be the first marker at the right side of your Bible. Read 5 chapters and then move your marker to the TOP of the page. Continue until you’ve moved all 6 markers back to the top of the Bible. Your next series of readings will start at the first marker on the top of the Bible, and afterward each day you will move the marker to the side. Thus within 6 days your markers will rotate between the top and side of your Bible.
This will get you in the habit of reading 5 chapters a day. Your markers will tell you where to start each day. Some days the readings will be very long (Ezekiel was a wordy writer) or very short (like the Psalms). But it will be balanced over the course of a week, and you will have a little Old Testament and New Testament within that time frame.
When you come to the end of a book, you may still be short a chapter, or you may get to the 5th chapter and see that there’s only 1 or 2 chapters left to finish the book. It’s up to you if you want to do extra reading or have extra on the next day. Five chapters just helps you find out where to start (it’s easier for me to remember multiples of 5 than any other increments). Five chapters was just about right for me and my schedule, and it gave me enough to think about during the day.
One wonderful thing I discovered with this reading schedule is that I could find things from each day of the week that related to one another. I might read something in Deuteronomy and then, a few days later, read a reference to it in one of the epistles. Or I might read something in the gospels that reminds me of something in Joshua. Or I might read a Psalm that refers to something in David’s life, which I had just read about a couple days before. It really helped me see how God worked in the lives of His people, and how His Word is unchanging, everlasting, TRUTH.
Finally, I would like to add some things that will help young people dig more deeply into the things they are reading. If you’re used to workbooks and lesson plans, it is sometimes hard to switch to a daily Bible reading that leaves you “free” to meditate on the Scripture. This puts more of a responsibility on YOU to see the truths that are there and apply them to your life. How do you start doing this? How can you remember everything you’ve learned?
I have put together a list of things you could do that will help you think further about what you read. These are basic and fun narration tools that many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers use. I hope that they will help you as you strive to be more independent Bible students.
I recommend that young people have paper or a notebook on hand for their narrations. The narration list can be printed out and stored with their paper.
**** These narration tools are for intermediate or advanced students who are already established in the truth about the deity of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit; the gospel plan of salvation; and the authority of the Scripture. I would not use them with beginning students. It would be better for them to have a good daily Bible lesson plan that teaches fundamentals. Please see peregrina1.wordpress.com for other Bible study helps.
After doing your daily Bible reading, choose one of the narration tools below:
- Rewrite part or all of the reading in your own words.
- Write a news article or editorial about today’s reading
- Start a timeline with events from each day’s reading. Include a summary of the reading. You can also draw a picture. Keep this with your narrations so you can add to it when you feel like it.
- Choose a character from today’s reading and retell the events from his or her point of view.
- Draw a comic strip
- Write a poem/psalm
- Illustrate the events using a flow chart or other type of chart
- Write down how a false teacher might misuse today’s reading to teach something contrary to God’s Word.
- Write down 3 questions for future research in the Bible. Tomorrow, instead of your regular reading, try to find the answers to these questions (you might need to ask for help in using Bible study resources such as a concordance, dictionary, or commentary).
- Compare or contrast this reading with yesterday’s reading.
- Plan a Bible lesson for a younger student based on today’s reading. Retell it in a short story. Make up a worksheet for review, with questions and/or a puzzle such as a word search or maze. Make up a short song about the reading.
- Write a play. What characters would you include, what would they say, what props and backgrounds would you need? Write it out as a script with stage directions and dialogue.
- Choose a key word from today’s reading. Use your concordance to find 3 or more verses that use this word. Write a summary about its use in the Bible.