In October of 2008, I posted that my goal was to read through the ESV Study Bible and notes (excluding the articles at the end) by the end of 2009. It took a little extra time this past week, but I finished Revelation 22 today.
In my post last year, I gave ten reasons why I appreciate the ESV Study Bible. I mentioned the pastorally sensitive, gospel-centered notes, the excellent charts and illustrations, the additional articles, and the translation itself. Reading it through this past year (15 months, actually), has only confirmed all I said previously.
There are certainly other ways to read the Bible than “in one year.” But let me tell you why I’ve chosen to do it for the past 6 years, and why using the ESVSB was so helpful this time.
1. If God made sure his words were recorded for us, why wouldn’t I want to read all of them numerous times?
2. Reading large portions of Scripture regularly slows me down so I can think about life from an eternal perspective. I was in tears today as I finished Revelation, realizing the purpose for which I was created and the sure future that lies ahead.
3. In my daily life, I am constantly bombarded with images, philosophies, thoughts, reasonings, and attractions from the world, my flesh, and the devil. I need large quantities of God’s thoughts, empowered by his Spirit, to resist them.
4. I trust my own thoughts too much.
5. Each time I read through the Bible, I’m humbled as I realize how little I actually know and understand God’s Word.
6. Reading a lot of the Bible helps me more easily see how it all fits together.
7. As a leader of congregational worship, I want people’s faith to rest on God’s Word, not my music or opinions. Therefore, I want Scripture to be the overflow of my heart, not something I occasionally use for a desired emotional effect.
8.The ESVSB was very even-handed in providing alternate interpretations of difficult passages, while continually directing my attention to other Scriptures for greater clarity.
9. The ESVSB notes never seek to say more than the Scriptures themselves say.
10. The large number of maps, charts, and illustrations were extremely helpful for understanding the geographical settings, details, and overall flow of different books.
11. I repeatedly felt pastored through the comments, as my heart was directed towards the living Word, the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
So what about you? How are you going to make sure that God’s Word becomes a bigger part of your life in the coming year? There are plenty of reading plans available. You can find a wide variety of plans at the ESV site or YouVersion.
For those of your who have tried to read through the Bible in a year and failed, you’re not alone. Let me suggest a simple practice that has helped me immensely. Each time you sit down to read, read two days of your plan instead of one. You’ll always be ahead of your schedule, even when you miss a day or two; you’ll be relieved of the pressure of having to “catch up” or stay up to date; you’ll have time to look up other passages; and you’ll just enjoy the process a lot more!
On a side note, when it comes to explaining why words, especially God’s Words, are so important to our worship, I can’t do a better job than Kevin DeYoung has already done in his post “Why So Many Words in Worship?”
May God make each of us better students of his Word and more passionate lovers of the Savior in 2010.