At this time of year, many people start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. What can I do differently in the coming year to make my life better? Many plan to start diet or exercise programs, and some plan to start Bible reading programs that will take them through the Bible in one year. A lot of these Bible reading programs alternate between Old and New Testament. Some read from four different sections each day. Some read straight through from cover to cover, and others go in chronological order. In order to read the Bible completely in one year, you need to read about three or four chapters a day. I have done this a couple of times before, but I don’t intend to do it again. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good thing to read your Bible--this whole blog is built on it. I don’t think it’s wrong to read the Bible straight through either; in fact I think it’s a good idea to do so, either how it is written or in chronological order. But I don’t think that you should set yourself up for a schedule that you can’t keep, and that you will feel guilty about if you give it up. I think it is more important to forget the schedule, and read at a pace where you can stop and think, and pray, about what you are reading.
Many of you are familiar with Matthew 6:33 and the context around it. We are told not to worry about material things, what we will eat, what we will drink, what we will wear, because our Heavenly Father knows that we need them, but to first, above all, pursue His kingdom and righteousness, and the material things we need will be provided. The context tells us why we should put God first, and I think most of us would agree even if only for practical reasons. The problem is that most of us who have read, even memorized, this verse and agree with it, have trouble putting it into practice. So I want to talk about how we put God first. How do we get to know Him? How do we hear and know His voice? Surely His provision for us involves our cooperation. How do we follow His leading if we don’t know where He is directing us?
Rather than following a reading plan that will take you through the Bible in one year, why not make a commitment of how much time you will spend each day reading the Bible and in prayer. Why not try to get to know God, to understand Him. Many people pray for God to speak to them, to guide them on the next step of their journey. Do they expect to hear a booming voice from heaven with the answer telling them what they should do? Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not about religion, and following a list of rules, especially self-prescribed rules, it is about having a relationship, being adopted into a new family. How can you get to know that family if you don’t spend time with them? Reading the Bible, just for the sake of getting through it, and not really paying attention to it or considering how it could change your life, would be like having a conversation with someone while you’re daydreaming about something else. If you want to improve the relationship, you have to listen. For those of you who are waiting for God to speak to you, He already has—volumes.