2019. A New Year to start new habits that lead to positive change in the areas of health, wealth, and happiness. I, for one aim to work towards a healthier version of myself in 2019. Even more important than achieving health, wealth, and happiness is holiness. Holiness, simply put, is a life that resembles the likeness of Jesus in thought, word, and deed. Wow! That seems like a huge task doesn’t it? But, Jesus doesn’t leave us to do it alone. Jesus empowers us to change by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).
The Spirit grows us into the likeness of Jesus as we engage in habits of holiness. Such habits include prayer, fasting, corporate worship, servanthood, and solitude. Yet, there is one habit that transforms us more than any other. That is the life changing habit of bible reading. The habitual practice of Bible reading will help you live a fruitful Christian life (Psalm 1); grow in Christ-like holiness (John 17:17); and equip you to do God’s work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If Bible reading has not been a steady habit for you then make it one in 2019.
- Set a reasonable Bible reading goal.
One reason that most New Year’s resolutions fail is that it’s unrealistic. Setting a goal of reading the Bible for an hour every day might be unwise if you aren’t much of a reader. On the other hand, setting a goal of reading the book of Proverbs in the month of January is a reasonable goal which would require reading only one chapter a day. Choose a realistic goal that is achievable and will allow you gain momentum.
- Find the right plan for you.
I love to use the reading plans available on the You Version Bible reading app. If you don’t have a smart phone or tablet, check out Bible reading plans available from Ligonier ministries. Bible reading plans range from ones that cover the whole Bible (reading the entire Bible in a year) to partial Bible plans. If you know that you can’t read for more than five minutes without falling asleep, then pick a partial plan. The important thing is to read. As a colleague of mine has wisely stated, “With your bible reading, don’t get paralyzed with it has to be this way or that. It has to be this length or that. It has to be this order or that. It has to be something. Do something. Something is better than nothing.”
- Set a time and stick with it.
There is no right or wrong time. Pick the time that works best for your schedule that will allow you read uninterrupted. Maybe that means reading in the morning before the kids awake or at night when the kids are in bed. Maybe it’s during a lunch break. Some of you might have a lengthy commute. Perhaps listening to the Bible via an app is the way to go. Whatever time works for you, stick with it.
4. Write down what God is teaching you.
I haven’t always been good about this. But, when I have, I found that the act of writing down reinforces what God taught me from that day’s reading.
One final note. Sometimes we will read and feel as if we got nothing out of it. We might be tempted to give up because little or no change is evident to us. The practice of reading the Bible is somewhat like working out. We won’t see the pounds drop and our body shape change after one or two workouts. We will see that desired change occurring after weeks and months of training. As with physical training, spiritual growth is slow so stick with the habit of reading the Bible. It will change your life and make you look more and more like Jesus.