The Baptist confession states: “The Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain, and infallible standard of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.” (LBCF 1:1) The Bible is the Christian’s foundation of truth and fountain of promises. Thomas Watson wrote,
The Word written is a divine treasury or store-house. In it is scattered truth as pearls to adorn the inner man of the heart. The Word written is the true manna, which has all sorts of sweet taste in it. It is a sovereign medicine. It gives wine to them with a heavy heart. The opened Bible is a sovereign cure to those that would drink of it. David drank of this cure: ‘This is my comfort in my affliction; for your Word has quickened me.’ (Psalm 119:50) Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden; every line in it is a fragrant flower, which we should pin not to our pocket but to our heart.
The condemnings of our hearts, the assailments of the world, and the attacks of the Devil leave us weak and weary. We need nourishment and replenishment. For those who are in Christ, taking up and reading the Scriptures is like sitting down to a plate of meat and potatoes after a long day without food. It’s like a mason jar of water and ice after push-mowing the lawn in July. It’s like gulping down air after your brother held you under the creek water longer than he should have.
I know that reading the Scriptures probably doesn’t always feel like that to you, but your feelings don’t change the fact of just how desperately your soul needs God’s Word. Knowing the truth about our spiritual needs and God’s provision for those needs helps to keep us disciplined in our reading. I’ve found that a decided will and a clear game plan keep me from veering off into neglecting Bible reading, and living as though I were the captain of my own soul.
Bible reading plans can be tremendously helpful to provide accountability and structure for us. But, traditional reading plans may not have proven useful to you. The plans that I’ve tried to use over the years had a couple of drawbacks. One element that frustrated me was the need to have a checklist or app to always refer to see where I should be reading and then the need to mark those off each day. Also, I recoiled against the idea of “completing” a reading plan. The idea of putting into practice something that was just temporary didn’t sit well with me. I wanted something simpler and something that would get me to the grave.
A few years ago I devised a reading plan for life. You may find it useful. Most mornings, I get up before my family so I can read and pray without interruption. Here’s the habit I keep. I have 6 ribbons in my Bible. They are located in the following sections:
- Law (Genesis – Job)
- Prophets (Ecclesiastes – Malachi)
- NT Narrative(Matthew – Acts)
- NT Letters (Romans – Revelation)
My goal is to advance each ribbon every day. Here’s how it works. I open my Bible to where the first ribbon is located and I start reading at the start of the first chapter on those two pages. For example, right now my OT ribbon is in 1 Kings between pages 428-429. The start of chapter 9 is midway down page 429, so that is where I start. I keep reading until I have flipped one page and reach the end of a chapter. Then I replace the ribbon. That’s where I’ll pick up tomorrow. Sometimes that has me reading one chapter, sometimes two, and on rare occasions, three. It all depends on how my Bible is laid out. I do that same thing with each of the ribbons except Proverbs. For Proverbs, I read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month.
This method means that I read 30-45 minutes each day. It usually ends up being between 10-15 chapters per day. Here are the benefits of this plan:
- It keeps me in the whole Bible every day.
- It helps me work through the entire Bible.
- If I miss a day, I don’t have to worry about catching up, I simply start where the ribbons are.
- I don’t need anything other than my Bible.
- If my time is limited, then I can read as few sections as needed.
This, of course, is one way of many fruitful means to let the Word of Christ dwell richly within you. For those of us who treasure God’s Word and cling to Christ by clinging to the revelation that he has given us, finding a way to keep these Words fresh on our hearts is paramount.
Notes: In reality, you don’t need a ribbon for the book of Proverbs. The day of the month dictates where you will read in that section. It may be helpful to keep one there to make sure that you don’t skip it. Also, my Bible (Schuyler) only came with three ribbons. I added the others. They aren’t attached. I simply use them as bookmarks. Only once or twice has one of the ribbons gotten pulled out and lost my place.