I’m using Nicky Gumbel’s Bible in a Year, and a friend of mine is also reading through it too. Every day, there is the ‘Talk it Over’ feature, where he and I can both comment on the day’s reading. While I go to my ipad to collect my reading, I usually turn it up in my paper Bible to read (which means I’m in NKJV rather than NIV). Incidentally, this is a feature of ANY Youversion Bible reading plan, and I highly recommend that you link up with some friends to have an online conversation about what you’re reading. It’s excellent.
There are different ways of approaching this, but I read Scripture first, and then I go back to the Devotional. Most of these Bible plans, if you just press the ‘forward’ button, take you into the devotional first, but I like to see how the Spirit leads as I just lean into the Word.
Take a look at the readings I had today, a real feast! Starting off with the opening verses of Psalm 103:
I make an effort to read some of the Bible aloud – Psalms or Proverbs or sometimes the NT passage works well for this (as you can see we get a long chunk of OT and I don’t always have time to read that aloud, but I do have to be careful, as a fast reader, not to skim it and think I have taken it in). As I go through the day, I can come back to my morning portion and ‘suck it like a sweet’ to get more from it, perhaps as I walk the dog, or I’m driving in the car, or doing something practical like sorting washing or clearing kitchen. I don’t have to have it with me if I know the passage well enough, or I can turn it up again if I need to.
Then we get the NT:
Some years ago I preached some themes on 2 Corinthians and it’s a very precious book of the NT to me so I am looking forward to re-reading it – I really enjoyed Nicky Gumbel’s point on this that in v. 7 where it talks about being partakers of the suffering (or ‘sharers’ in NIV) it is the Greek word koinonia, which means that in times of difficulty we experience extraordinary closeness of relationship.
We may not think that we are close to people in our church, but suddenly we become aware of it, for example the sad occasions when someone in our church community dies – okay it’s also a glorious thing too! – but our loss of them is sad, and we don’t always realise how much our fellow Christians mean to us until they’re gone.
On to 2 Chronicles. The Bible in a Year sequences the books quite well, so normally we’re ‘chewing’ on something and we keep at it in one go. In other words, it doesn’t dart you around the Bible too much. Sometimes you get Proverbs rather than Psalms, but I think that if you start in January you are more or less going through the Old Testament and the New Testament in order.
Making a start on reading the Bible
If you are new to reading through the Bible, why not try the Nicky Gumbel Bible in a Year, which is free on Youversion, but just read the New Testament this time? If you have a little more time, you could do Psalms / Proverbs as well. An important note to add is that you can play it as an audio, so you could listen while you’re making your breakfast or doing something else. I do recommend making some still time to read the Bible, at least in the morning, as it it important to slow down, just to remind yourself how big God is, and how much we need him.
Some examples of good prayers to pray before opening the Bible (or turning on your device) is the Jesus Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Or one of the prayers from Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises: ‘What have I done for Christ, what am I doing for Christ, what ought I do for Christ?’ One I discovered recently buried in Psalm 119 is simply this: ‘I am yours, save me.’ It can simply be a repeated: ‘God’ ‘Jesus’ or ‘love’. We need to still our breathing, quiet our mind, and come reverently before Him.
So what about Chronicles? Here is the reading:
And there’s more! I told you the OT one was long (it’s only up to the end of chapter 28):
Incidentally I think this verse is a contender for ‘verse not to give to someone who hasn’t got their false teeth in’ – remind me to do a whole sermon on that verse some time:
“Then some of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who came from the war”2 Chronicles 28:12
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even realise there was a Jehizkiah in the Bible. Anyway, I did my reading, thought I’d take a quick look to see how Kings treats the story of Uzziah and to my surprise couldn’t find it in Kings. Everyone says that those sets of books are the same, but boy are they different when you read them through after the other. They have very different emphases. To quote a verse which is more powerful than the one above, King Uzziah who was only 16 to start with, was ‘marvellously helped till he became strong’, which sounds like both the Lord and people supported and aided him, however:
What a warning to the young, to the wealthy, to the powerful, about pride and hubris! Read on in that chapter to find out exactly what Uzziah did and what the consequences were. Nicky Gumbel’s Devotion always opens with an interesting anecdote, for example the one from yesterday I had read before but it’s a very good one:
“A busy father was looking for a way to entertain his young daughter. He found a map of the world in a magazine and cut it into pieces. He gave the pieces to his child and suggested she try to piece the map back together.
After a very short time, she said she had finished. He was very surprised by how quickly she had done it. He asked her how she managed to do it so fast. She replied: ‘I noticed when you took the page out of the magazine that on the back of the map of the world there was a picture of a man and a woman. I thought that if I could put the man and the woman back together, I could put the world back together.’
So when I got to the ‘Talk it Over’, I found that I was the first one there today, probably because it’s a Bank Holiday, as my friend normally comments before me! To start with, I would make quite a detailed comment there, but sometimes I just respond to what my friend has said. Recently, I’ve come back to writing out verses and thoughts in my journal, so that I can pray either before or after I read the Bible, depending on how I’m feeling – so if my mind’s all over the place, I might read the Bible first to help to focus me.
Sometimes I find that I’m halfway through my reading, something strikes me, and I start praying. At the moment, if I don’t allow 30 minutes, I don’t get my reading done, and certainly don’t get any time in prayer.
Be encouraged today that he forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases! I might even make it a picture verse in YouVersion! And if I can work out how to do it, I might add it to the bottom of this post.