Words of Caution if Using a Bible Reading Schedule

In last week’s post I discussed the value of using a Bible reading schedule, and gave you several good options that you can use.  I am sure that there are others, but the point is, I hope you are reading your Bible through on a regular basis.

Now, I am not someone who thinks that reading the Bible completely through in a year is a Scriptural imperative.   This is of course an arbitrary timeframe developed by man to help people read their Bibles through.  Why a year? Why not two years?  Why not one month?  A year is a good time frame, and I hope that some time in your Christian life you will take the challenge of reading your Bible completely through.

I have not always used a Bible reading schedule, and I cannot say that I will continue to use one indefinitely.  I have used the M’Cheyne reading schedule for the last 11 months, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Obviously you can tell that I did not start in January.  I started last August (2015) and I am nearly complete.  It has been refreshing, enjoyable, and instructive.  I don’t know if I will do it again next year.

There are some things to be cautious of when using a Bible reading schedule, and although I do not want to discourage their use, I do want to share these words of caution with you.  I hope you will understand them in the spirit in which I am writing them, and not view them as a criticism of Bible reading schedules in general.

1. The Danger of Putting the Schedule Ahead of Devotion.

Reading your Bible through in a year is a wonderful thing.  Having God speak to you through His Word is even better! Can have your cake and eat it too?  Yes!

I cannot count the number of times God has spoken to me through His Word in the last 11 months while using the reading schedule.  However, there have been days when I felt the need to stop and just meditate on a verse or passage in the first chapter of a given days reading.  Sometimes I finished the reading later in the day.  Sometimes I read two days worth the next day to catch up.

What I am saying, is that you should not allow the schedule to interfere with getting a truth from God’s Word.  If He speaks, stop and listen.  Meditate on the passage.  If you finish the schedule in 13 months instead of 12, that is no shame.  It is not a race, and there is no failing grade for not finishing on time.  The schedule is a guide, not a master.

2. The Danger of Getting Stressed Over the Schedule.

All of us read at different speeds, and some of us have a busier schedule than others.  You may get sick for several days, or for one reason or another be unable to follow the schedule for a week or more.  Then you look at it and see how far behind you are, and you begin to be stressed out, or discouraged.  Do not let this happen to you.

Remember, it is only a guide.  If you can stay on schedule than do it.  If you get off the schedule then don’t let it get you down.  Just pick up where you left of and read the next day’s chapters.

If you get stressed out because it is March 23rd and you have only read up to March 15th, so you sit down and read like a madman to catch up, what are you gaining?  You are back on schedule, but did you get anything out of the passages you read?

Slow down, enjoy the journey.  This is God’s Word.  It is profitable for many things in our lives.  It is not designed to stress us out!

3. The Danger of Becoming Mechanical.

This is similar to number one.  Sometimes, we can approach the really important things in our lives in a mechanical fashion.  The passion has gone out of the motion.  We are just “going through the motions.”  I do not think God wants us just “going through the motions” of reading our Bibles.  Sometimes we can use a schedule so much that our Bible reading becomes mechanical.  This is a danger.  To avoid such a thing happening, try one of these options.

  • Very your reading schedule from year to year.
  • Spend an entire month in just the books of Psalms and Proverbs.
  • Take a break from your schedule and just read till God speaks to you each day.

Dear ones, this is God’s Word we are reading.  It is alive!  Enjoy it.  Learn from it.  Meditate on it day and night.  Never let it become merely a mechanical duty.

 

Well, I hope you will understand that I am not in any way discounting Bible reading schedules.  I hope you will use one, and that it will be a great blessing in your life.  I simply want you to be aware of some of the possible pitfalls I have seen along the way.  Please let me know if there is any way I can help you, or if you have a need I can pray about with you.  Remember God loves you!

Should You Use a Bible Reading Schedule?

So we are midway through the year, and I thought this would be a good time to challenge you to check up on your Bible reading for the year.  Some of you may have started one of those read your Bible through in  year plans.  How are you doing?  Are you on schedule?  Have you fallen behind?

A Bible reading schedule is a wonderful tool, and without it, many people would never actually read their Bibles through in their lives, let alone in one year.

I am constantly amazed when someone candidly admits to me that they have never read their Bible through. Ever.

If you are one of those, or have been struggling with consistency in your Bible reading, I want to challenge you to put some emphasis on this aspect of your Christian life.  Don’t wait till January 1 next year.  Go ahead and start now.

Here are some reasons for using a Bible reading schedule.

  • It makes a seemingly overwhelming task more manageable.  Lets face it.  The Bible is a big book!  Where do we start?  How many chapters do we read?  A yearly Bible reading schedule is great at breaking this task down into bit size pieces.
  • It keeps us on track through the difficult books.  C’mon, you know that there are certain books of the Bible that just don’t peak your interest.  Parts of Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, much of the prophetic books.  For light, devotional reading, these and others may not be the first place we turn.  A Bible reading schedule forces us to plow through the difficult reading.  It helps us do what needs doing, even if we don’t want to.
  • It helps us to succeed where many Christians have failed.  We don’t like to admit it, but many Christians struggle with consistent time in God’s word.  Some may go from Sunday to Sunday without picking up their Bibles even once.  It is difficult to believe, but it is the truth.  I can say with certainty that there is at least one Christian who has been guilty of this far too often in his life.  Me.  Maybe you are not so very different?The first time I succeeded in reading my Bible through in a year was when I was an adult, and a Bible reading schedule helped me to do this.

 

You may not like using a Bible reading schedule.  Maybe you have developed a consistent habit of reading your Bible every day, and force yourself to read a balanced diet of Scripture.  If so, maybe a schedule is not for you.  However, I believe that for the majority of us, it would benefit us to use one.

There are several Bible reading schedules that are not designed simply to go from Genesis to Revelation in 12 months. Here are some of the different ones that are available or that I have used in the past.

  • The 90 Day Reading Plan – This plan helps you read the entire New Testament in just 90 days.  Readers are encouraged to set aside approximately 15 minutes a day and read approximately 3 chapters.  Fifteen minutes!  Surely we could find 15 minutes.  Imagine the benefit of reading the entire New Testament this summer!
  • Chronological Reading Plan – This plan will help you read the Bible through in one year, but in a Chronological order.  So, you won’t be reading straight from Genesis to Revelation.  This can add variety, and help you see how the Bible fits together in its entirety.
  • Weekly Bible Reading Plan – This plan helps you read through the Bible in one year, but breaks up your reading by genres.  So you read the books of poetry, law, history, etc. together.  It also lists your reading for the entire week, not for each day.  This lets you determine your own pace for the week, since some of us have more time on one day than another.
  • M’Cheyne’s Reading Schedule – This is my personal favorite at the moment.  With this plan you will read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in one year.  I enjoy the way the readings are arranged.  For me, it ties many of the Old and New Testament passages together.  I have included this as a downloadable pdf with the letter from Robert M’Cheyne to his congregation.  I think you will find it interesting and I hope you find it helpful.

 

No doubt there are many more reading schedules.  Which one is the best? The one you use!

In the next post I will discuss some of the dangers, or perhaps negatives of using a Bible reading schedule, but for this week, I just want to encourage you to get into your Bibles.  If you have a favorite Bible reading schedule, or if you find one of these schedules helpful, I would love to hear from you. Please leave your feedback in the comment section below.

Please note, that the links I have provided for the Bible reading schedules in no way imply an approval or endorsement of all other content on the hosting sites.  I include the links only as a reference.  My preference is to use the Olive Tree Bible app, which includes several Bible reading plans, including the ones I have listed here.