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The start of a new year usually means the start of some new plans.

Those plans may involve some health and fitness goals — I know I have a few! — and maybe a few plans for travel — there are definitely some places I want to see! — and perhaps some goals for spiritual growth too.

Reading the Bible doesn’t automatically guarantee spiritual growth, though, because growth means formation, beyond mere information. But spiritual growth cannot happen apart from God’s Word. So, for a few years now, I’ve provided a new Bible Reading Plan at the start of every January. And I’m happy to do so again this year.

Basically, there are two ways to read the Bible. I call them the Telescope Approach and the Microscope Approach.

The Telescope Approach

To garner the big picture of the Bible, we need to read it in its entirety in a reasonably short period of time — usually within a few months to one year. This is the Telescope Approach, which means we (1) read the Bible “cover to cover” or (2) read the Bible in chronological order. This gives us the breadth we need for a fuller understanding of the Bible as a whole.

I have loved reading this Chronological Bible for several years now, but it’s also beneficial to read the Bible in canonical order, from Genesis to Revelation.

Both Telescope Approaches provide the bigger picture of God’s overarching plan for redemption. By reading the entire Bible, we’re able to piece together all the seeming disparate passages of Scripture. Indeed, it all fits together seamlessly, which is part of the majesty — and miracle — of God’s Holy Word.

The Microscope Approach

While the Telescope Approach gives us the breadth we need, the Microscope Approach gives us the depth we need. And for a deeper study of the Bible, we need both depth and breadth.

There are four basic kinds of Bible studies: character studies, topical studies, word studies, and book studies.

  • In a character study, we examine the life of a person in the Bible. We get to know God better by seeing how He interacts with His people.
  • In a topical study, we search the Scriptures to learn what the Bible teaches about a specific subject. With cross-references and a concordance we can find other verses that deal with the same topic.
  • In a word study, we explore the Scriptures with the aid of other reference tools to understand the fuller use and meaning of a word in the original Hebrew or Greek.
  • In a book study, we learn the individual books of the Bible by discovering the historical context, literary form, and authorial intent.

I’ve enjoyed all four kinds, but I prefer book studies most of the time. When we study an individual book of the Bible, we gain a deeper appreciation for that author’s contribution to the overarching story of redemption. Book studies also provide the necessary context for the characters, topics, and words we find within them. Context is key.

3 Bible Reading Plans to Choose From

As you begin a new year, here are three straightforward Bible Reading Plans for you to consider:

1. If you’re interested in the Telescope Approach…

>> Here’s a 365-Day Bible Reading Plan for you.

This plan is in canonical order. It takes you through the Bible, book by book. You can read the whole Bible in a year if you read three, or sometimes four, chapters a day. But don’t ever feel pressured to follow a plan dogmatically. A reading plan is simply a tool to help us stay on track when our daily reading has become hit and miss.

You can always move through any reading plan at your own pace.

I encourage you to find a friend — or a few! — who will read through it with you. The shared insights from a group of fellow travelers can make a tremendous difference.

2. If you’re interested in the Microscope Approach…

The free reading plan offered by the First 5 app by Proverbs 31 ministries is excellent. The women at P31 share my heart for leading women through Scripture at the very doable pace of one chapter per day.

I’ve joined the writing team for the First 5 app, and we’re beginning a new reading plan through 1 & 2 Kings. Once you download the free First 5 app, the daily devotions will be delivered right to your phone or the device of your choice.

3. If you’re interested in the Microscope Approach, and you’re looking for something more personal, more intimate…

You’re invited to join me as I lead a group of women through the book of Ephesians, starting January 22 & 23.

We’ll slowly pore over a few verses each day while we absorb the entire book over an 8-week period. We’ll go through the study Word Writers: Ephesians together, and I’ll also be sharing a weekly teaching.

At my church — Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas — I’m teaching the book of Ephesians at our women’s Bible study at both the Tuesday morning and Tuesday evening sessions. If you live anywhere between Los Angeles and Ontario, you’re welcome to join us in person! I’d love to hug your neck and welcome you in!

>> You can sign up for the 8-week Bible study on Ephesians AT MY CHURCH here.

If you’re not local, yet you’d still like to go through Ephesians with me, I am putting together private small groups on Facebook where I can engage with each participant and share the weekly teaching via live video.

>> You can sign up for the ONLINE 8-week Bible study here.

One of the things I’m looking forward to in 2018 is teaching more and creating more ways to connect with you.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?


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