Has this ever happened to you? You start out a brand-new year and want to read the Bible. But, like any other habit, it’s hard to start and see it all the way through. If you fall behind on a Bible reading plan, then it’s easy to get discouraged. After a few weeks, giving up and hoping for next year seems like the inevitable outcome.
I’d like to invite you to read the New Testament with me over the next three months, no more than five days a week. We’ll start in January of 2021, and finish 13 weeks later, on April 1st. Each day’s Bible reading will be around 20 minutes or less. Built into this reading plan are opportunities to catch up if you fall behind.
Throughout this reading program, the emphasis will be on reading whole books of the Bible as quickly as possible. And that’s why I’ve called this reading plan, Wholly Bible Reading. Some of the longer books will take a few days, even a couple of weeks. But we can read the shorter ones quickly, in just a few days.
The “Whole Book” Advantage
It’s especially important to read whole books. This is how an author intends for his or her material to be read, and the Bible authors are no exception. I have found that reading an entire book of the Bible in one sitting helps me to grasp its overall message and see firsthand its continuity from beginning to end. You’ll be in a far better position to see each book’s main divisions and hear the author’s tone, key words, and passion. You’ll especially see this in the letters.
The Reading Plan
In fact, we’ll start with the letters. We’re going to ease into our New Testament reading program by only reading two days the first week. But in those two days, we’re going to read three of Paul’s thirteen letters! In just six weeks, you’ll have read all 13 of Paul’s letters in the order that he wrote them. If you fall behind, you’re going to have plenty of time to catch up.
After reading the remaining letters—Hebrews through Jude—we’ll read Revelation together and then turn our attention to the Gospel of Luke. We’ll finish our reading plan with Luke’s companion volume, Acts.
Earlier I wrote that we’re going to read the New Testament in three months. That’s not entirely accurate, though, because we’ll only be reading one of the four Gospels. In order to shave off 1½–2 months, we’ll be omitting Matthew, Mark, and John this time around, which means we’ll only read Luke’s Gospel in January, February and March of 2021. (What I would love for us to do is read the remaining three Gospels in April and May.)
Throughout the Wholly BibleReading program, you need to remember that we’re just reading these books. There’s a big difference between reading and studying. For this reading plan, try not to get too bogged down in the details. You’ll do that later when you study these books. Right now, as we start the new year, we’re just trying to reacquaint ourselves with the glorious content of the New Testament.
I want to help you stay with your reading plan and turn it into a habit (if it isn’t already). And that’s why I’ve made some short videos to go along with each week’s readings. In these videos, there are numerous highlights of important concepts to look for as you read. I’ve started a new YouTube channel, where the videos will be made available at the start of each week.
Most of us are familiar with YouTube. But in case you’re not, please know that watching these videos on YouTube costs nothing. It is absolutely free to watch the YouTube channel, Big Picture Seminars. Every week, there will be new videos made available. There’s a bell that you can click, which will enable the YouTube platform to send a message to you via email or text, alerting you to any new videos. (You can always “unclick” the bell at any time if you don’t like this reminder.) The videos will be made available every Sunday afternoon, starting January 3rd.
These short videos are not intended to be detailed studies. Rather, they hopefully will motivate you to read each day. They will remind you of the assigned reading and provide just enough to help you have some ideas of what to expect and details to look for in each day’s reading.
Here are five suggestions to help you get started:
- Find somewhere quiet to read. In other words, if possible, get in the habit of reading in the same place. This will help you stay with it and make your daily Bible reading a habit. I would like to encourage you to read your Bible out loud. If you think this is a good idea (it will help with retention), but feel timid, then it’s important to find a place where you won’t be overheard.
- Before we start the plan next month, find 20 minutes in your schedule for when you can read. Preferably, this should always be at the same time of day.
- Find a good translation that is easy for you to read. I highly recommend that you use a more literal translation, such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), the New King James Version (NKJV) or the austere King James Version (KJV).
- Consider also using a paraphrase. If you’re a seasoned Bible student whose read from these more literal versions for many years, you might consider reading from a thought-for-thought translation such as the New Living Translation (NLT). As you know, we must be careful when we read from these more dynamic translations. But it can be beneficial to read from a translation we’re not accustomed to. It might break something loose in our minds as we read, causing us to reevaluate the meaning of a phrase, or a verse, or a passage. If you decide to try the NLT or something comparable, I would recommend you use it alongside one of the more literal translations mentioned above.
- Sign up for the daily videos. These short videos are designed to encourage you and keep you focused on key concepts you’ll read in each day’s reading. The easiest way to get these is to subscribe to the new YouTube channel, “Big Picture Seminars.” (See the link below.)
There are a lot of other Bible reading plans out there. This one, Wholly Bible Reading, is just one more among many. I hope it will be a great way for you to go through your New Testament as you start the new year.
THREE IMPORTANT LINKS:
BIG PICTURE SEMINARS YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/bpseminars-youtube
BIG PICTURE SEMINARS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bigpictureseminars
Checklist of each day’s reading: http://bit.ly/2021-NT-with-luke-only-PNG