I read books like they're going out of style, and I've decided enough is enough - I need to read through the books of the Bible. I've tried in the past starting with Genesis but I don't get very far. So I'm looking for recommendations of reading plans that people have completed and what you liked best about that plan. Thanks!
I know how you feel. I tried many times to read the Bible in its entirety, but always got bogged down in Leviticus. Finally, a couple of years ago, I bought a Today's Light Bible (Concordia). It's set up to go through the Bible in two years. It starts with Week 1, Monday. There are no dates, like in other daily Bibles I've seen, and no Sunday readings. Each reading starts with a brief introduction to the reading called "Get the Big Picture." Each is followed by a brief devotion called "Sharpen the Focus." The readings were short enough that I could complete them every day. With no dates, I could start on any Monday, not wait until Jan. 1st. If for some reason I fell behind, I just picked up where I had left off; there were no dates to throw me off. I also could catch up on Sunday if I fell behind. It worked for me. This Bible has a 5 star rating at Amazon.com. Mine is an NIV version, since at that time the LC-MS used that version. I suppose there may be a new ESV version from Concordia. A WELS pastor recommended this one to me.
Before that, I had tried The Daily Bible (Harvest House Publishers). I really liked it, because the readings are in chronological order. However, it uses dates, which throw me off if I fall behind, and, most importantly, it is set up to go through the Bible in one year, which made the readings too long for me at times. If you work full time, this might not be the Bible for you, and the length of the readings caused me finally to give up on it. On the other hand, it has a 5 star rating at Amazon. Here's what Amazon has to say about it:
"In this bestselling and much-loved chronological presentation of the Bible, God¿s story unfolds before readers each new day, giving a new appreciation of God¿s plan for their lives. Reading the Bible becomes a fresh, living experience.
The Daily Bible® offers these helpful features:
The New International Version¿the most popular modern version of Scripture, a highly respected and understandable translation.
Chronological/Historical arrangement of every book of the Bible¿lets readers easily understand God¿s redemptive plan as they read from creation to Revelation in the order the events actually occurred.
Devotional commentary¿leads smoothly through Scripture, painting the scene for what is about to be read with historical and spiritual insights.
365 convenient daily reading segments¿arranged so all of God¿s Word can be read in one year.
Topical arrangements for Proverbs and Ecclesiastes¿enables readers to focus on specific aspects of God¿s Wisdom."
I am now doing my daily Bible readings online. The WELS will send you a daily Bible reading to your e-mail inbox, which works for me, and I have gotten used to opening that e-mail every morning. It's a three year cycle, so the readings are fairly short. The thing I like about it is that the readings switch off, you don't just read through the Bible from beginning to end. This is practical, since people are starting all the time, and it also gives you more variety. Let's face it, some books of the Bible are harder to get through than others (Leviticus!). With this arrangement you switch from OT to NT and back again, or maybe just from one OT book to another. I personally find narratives easier to read, and some of the OT books are easier to read than others. I keep a Bible commentary handy for difficult passages. Here's where you can subscribe: http://www.wels.net/node/33469. Of course, you don't have to be WELS to subscribe, and this is just the Bible, no commentary, so if you are not WELS, there should be no problem unless you don't like the NIV. I'm not sure what the WELS is going to do about the new version of the NIV. Many are against it, and there even is talk of a new Lutheran translation.
If you just want to use the Bible you already have, I'd suggest following the sort of pattern you can find in the WELS' "Through my Bible in Three Years." Don't start at the beginning and try to go straight through, switch it up a bit. There are websites that have suggestions for reading the Bible in x number of years. Here's one of the websites that came up when I googled "daily Bible reading plan":
Another suggestion is that there are Bibles that are easier to read than the NIV/ESV/RSV/KJV. These translations are often not considered as accurate, but if you're finding it difficult to read the translation you have, you might want to try another. There is a translation by a Lutheran named Beck which is fairly easy to read and is a favorite of many conservative Lutherans. I am not an expert on the reliability of translations, though. From what I've read, no translation is completely accurate; in fact complete accuracy is very difficult to achieve when translating. You have to weigh for yourself if you need a more readable version (while perhaps sacrificing accuracy) in order to get through the whole Bible.
Finally, I'd suggest getting a group of people together to read the Bible with. You don't have to meet every day to read together. You can just keep up with each other by e-mail or phone for encouragement on a regular basis. It might even be possible to set up such a group on this message board!
My church is LCMS but we also have been using Today's Light. It really is a good way to read the BIBLE as it has chapters grouped by a common thought and no real dates...though it does say Monday...Tuesday...etc, I've found it practical to read when I can really have quiet and unrushed time. So I read several "days" at a time and don't stress if I miss one. Though our pastor has set up a class on Sunday mornings to go over the week's readings, I do not attend it and find it is still easy to "keep up".
What a wonderful experience awaits you!
just a tip for anyone else who got bogged down in leviticus: i did too. until one year, i happened to read a passage in leviticus and one in hebrews in the same reading. EPIPHANY!! i read the entirety of leviticus and hebrews together and it was SO FASCINATING. try it.
Where does it say that the Bible has to be read in order? Pick a book that interests you and start reading. When you're done with that one, pick another book and read that, and so on. If you get bogged down, so what. Put it aside for a couple of days and come back to it. I've read through several versions that way, including Apocrypha, (or however it's spelled). Start with a book that is small, one that you've always wanted to read, have read and liked, or your favorite. Reading the rest of the books sort of fall into place.
There really is something to be said for reading in order. The Old Testament tells thei history from Adam and Eve through the prophets. While some books can be read out of order, it's really helpful to understand the connection between Abraham and Joseph, etc. I also have a chronological Bible and really enjoy it.
I agree with one of the choices in your replies -- I am reading the Today's Light Bible which provides a two-year journey through the Bible. I also had wondered how I would get through some of the old testament books but with the "Get the Big Picture" and the "Sharpen the Focus" as introduction and finish to each reading, it has been great. I especially like that the author of these sections (Dr. Jane L. Fryar) provides food for thought as she gives some application of the reading to our lives today. As another reply suggests, it is also less confusing if you miss a day -- I just keep a bookmark in where I am reading (and check off the list in the back when I have read the day's reading).
I should also mention that I am into week 23 so I think it is a plan that works. I had read through an NIV Bible that was set up as a daily reading Bible (selections of OT, NT and a psalm for each day) and I did get through the Bible although not in a year. Today's Light Bible also has an introduction that suggests how to use the Bible which I find helpful!
I am also reading another book (+Grace Upon Grace+) by Rev. Dr. John W. Kleinig (from Australian Lutheran College in Adelaide) where I read that it is through God's Word (that we read or hear read) that the Holy Spirit is invited into our hearts to bring us closer to God.
May you be blessed by your efforts to read God's Word. I feel I have been and I truly am enjoying the journey.
The plan you use does not matter as much as the fact that you are doing it. I happen to use the breviary from the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau titled, For All the Saints. I will admit that four volumes is a bit much for some people, but I especially like the daily readings from the various "saints" God has given his church.
We gave away our former worship books when we adopted the Lutheran Service Book. I told people they could easily use the Bible reading schedule in the front of that books for years to come--esp. if they they want to read the Bible through in a timely manner.
And finally, as a free-bee, a give-away, we have in the tract rack at church the 2011 American Bible Society Bible reading guide. We get these every year. The point is ten minutes of scripture each day. These short readings are arranged thematically. I tell people at this time of year to take them home by the dozen and give them away to everybody.
The point, it doesn't matter whose system you use, just read the scripture and let the Word guide your prayers.
I think it is useful and interesting to read it through in a chronological order. This past year of 2011 I read "The Daily Bible" which is put out by Guideposts. The Bible is NIV and put in chronological order. It also groups the psalms by a theme and place other psalms in the correct places in history. I've enjoyed reading the Bible this way!