Bible Study

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year- 2020

Happy New Year! Do you make resolutions or set goals you’d like to accomplish during the new year? A lot of people resolve to read the Bible more often or read it through in a year. If that’s you but you’re not quite sure where to start, here are some awesome and unique reading plans that can help¹. (Click titles for links to each plan.)

1. The Chronological Plan

I cannot recommend this plan strongly enough. You’ll read through the entire Bible in a year, following the events as they happened chronologically. I have been through this plan four times (I even took my ladies’ Sunday school class through it in 2014). It is wonderful for helping you see the big picture of the Bible as well as how all the little pieces of the biblical puzzle fit together.

2. How to Change Your Mind (The Gray Method)

This Bible reading plan consists of four simple steps:
1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.
I said it was simple. I didn’t say it wouldn’t be time consuming. But it’s a great way to allow God’s word to grab a hold of you.

3. The M’Cheyne Plan

How about reading through the Bible in a year with your spouse or family (you could also do this one individually)? With the M’Cheyne plan you’ll read through the Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms, twice. Each day, you’ll read an OT chapter and a NT chapter as a family and another OT chapter and NT chapter on your own. Free Daily Bible study offers suggestions for making this a two or three year plan if one year seems too daunting.

4. The Bible in 90 Days

“Read the Bible cover to cover by investing as little as 30 minutes a day.
In 90 days (two “grace days” are included) you’ll see the big picture of God’s great story unfold before you.” Can’t be done, you say? Think of it as binge-reading the greatest story ever told.

5. The 21-Day Challenge

New to daily Bible reading and don’t want to bite off more than you can chew? Try Back to the Bible’s 21-Day Challenge. Each day, you’ll read one chapter in the book of John, and in three weeks, you’ll be finished. It’s a great way to get your feet wet.

6. Five Day Bible Reading Schedule

This five day per week reading schedule “allows time for catching up, taking a day off, read other parts of the Bible to prepare for Bible class, etc. Read the entire Bible or just the New Testament” in one year. This schedule is also available in Spanish.

7. The 90 Day Challenge

Another great one for those who struggle with long term commitment. “The 90-day Bible reading plan integrates readings from Genesis, the foundational book of the Old Testament, with the three [synoptic] Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. On one side you’ll see God’s creative work and earliest interactions with His people; on the other, you’ll get to know Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, fulfilling the promises made even in Genesis.”

8. Every Word in the Bible

Take time to slowly savor God’s word with this relaxed pace plan. Readings alternate between the Old and New Testament to keep you from getting bogged down in some of the more difficult sections. You’ll read through the whole Bible, one to two chapters per day, in three years.

9. The Bible Eater

This is a pretty nifty little self-directed plan: “Old Testament: Read 2 to 3 chapters per day and take 4 days off per month. Read 1 to 3 designated one-sitting Old Testament books each quarter. New Testament: Read 1 chapter per day and take 4 days off per month. One gospel is assigned to each quarter and Romans and Hebrews are assigned twice across the year.”  Historical redemptive passages are highlighted to call your attention to the “big picture” of the Bible.

10. Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System

Up for a challenge? The Horner system is sort of an osmosis system, the idea being “inundation” rather than “meditation.” With it, you’ll read ten chapters per day from ten different books. Over the course of a year, “you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1 1⁄2 times.”

11. Keep the Feast Bible Reading Challenge

Want to join with others all around the world using the same plan? Try the Keep the Feast plan. Jump in any day you’re ready, and in a year you’ll have read through the entire Bible. This plan is available in several different languages, and on a variety of apps. There are also separate men’s and women’s Facebook groups for connecting with others using the plan (Use the Facebook groups discerningly. Anyone using the plan can join the groups regardless of church or theology, and posts are not always screened for sound doctrine.)

12. 5 Day Bible Narratives Reading Plan

Here’s a great plan for kids, families, or individuals. In one year, reading five days per week, you’ll read through all the major narratives of Scripture plus Psalms and Proverbs. “The Bible Narratives Family Devotional combines the reading plan, Religious Affections Catechism, and a weekly hymn, along with memory verse, notes on each passage, summary, and discussion questions.” Ideal for family worship time.

13. Bible Reading Plan for Beginners

“The Bible Reading Plan for Beginners takes into account the great number of people who do not have a strong background in the word of God. This plan gives you a stepping-stone so that you do not have to read straight through every word of Scripture the first time. It starts you with the basics. After you feel comfortable at this level, then you can go on to the entire Bible.

The Bible Reading Plan for Beginners is a plan for reading about 40% of the Bible in 170 days (about six months). In this plan, you will read much of the Old Testament story, every chapter in Psalms and Proverbs, the two gospels of Mark and John and several of the New Testament epistles (including Romans, Philippians, Titus and others). You will not read the details of the ceremonial law, lengthy genealogies or difficult prophecies.”

14. The Thematic Bible Reading Plan

This unique, one year plan offers daily readings from the Old and New Testaments focusing on various biblical themes. “This Bible reading schedule is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish.” Another great feature of this plan is that it isn’t dated. You can get started on the day of your choosing.

15. 40 Day Bible Reading Plan

Pastor Gabe Hughes has designed a 40 day plan with selected readings from Genesis to Revelation, highlighting major events in biblical history to give you a general overview of the story arc of the Bible.

16. Who’s Who of the Bible

A fascinating topical study. In 121 days you’ll learn how God works, teaches, and reveals Himself through people, including major characters of the Bible and not-so-major characters. Each day’s passage is linked so you can do your reading on site from the translation of your choice, or you can print out the chart to use with your regular Bible.

17. Genre Plan

Did you know that biblical literature can be divided up into different genres? The Genre Plan takes you through the entire Bible in a year, with a reading from one of seven genres – gospels, law, history, Psalms, poetry, prophecy, and epistles – each day of the week.

18. 31 Days to Know God’s Plan for Us

Though it’s billed as a plan for new Christians (and it’s certainly an excellent plan for that), this would also be a wonderful plan to work through to help you present the gospel to others, or to suggest to a lost friend who’s open to learning the gospel. Day 1 starts with the Fall of Man. Then you’ll work your way through OT passages demonstrating our inability to keep the law, followed by NT passages from the gospels and epistles detailing what Christ did for us and how that applies to us for salvation and eternity.

19. Historical Plan

“Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to read the Old Testament in ancient Israel? Or, the New Testament as the books were written? In this plan, the order of the Old Testament readings is very similar to Israel’s Hebrew Bible, progressing from Law to Prophets to Writings. The New Testament ordering is based upon research regarding the order in which the books were authored.” A one year plan, this one is undated so you can start whenever you like and take it at your own pace.

20. Bible Reading Plan Generator

This handy dandy little algorithm allows you to design your own Bible reading plan. You choose the start date, the length of the plan, your language, your favorite format, which books of the Bible you want to read, which days of the week you want to read, and several other options, and the Bible Reading Plan Generator creates a custom designed plan just for you.


Need more suggestions? Check out these collections of Bible reading plans:

  • Ligonier– A wide variety of plans, most available in PDFs.
  • ESV Bible– Here, you’ll find several good, “no strings attached” plans available in PDF format for easy printing. But if you sign up for a free ESV/Crossway account, you’ll have access to more than twenty great reading plans, many of them only 5-7 days in length. You’ll be able to read the day’s text, take notes, and track your progress, all online.
  • Bible Study Tools– Some awesome “start any day you like” plans, ranging in length from ninety days to two years.
  • Bible Gateway– Several great plans, especially if your church uses the Revised Common Lectionary or the Book of Common Prayer and you want to follow along at home. Log in each day and the selected text is displayed on your screen, or subscribe to your plan via e-mail. (Note: I would not recommend the Daily Audio Bible plan. It uses several different “translations,” which is an interesting idea, but while some are accurate, reliable translations (ESV, HCSB), others are faulty paraphrases (The Message, The Voice). However, many translations on Bible Gateway have an audio option, so pick another plan with a good translation and listen away!)
  • Into Thy Word– A number of diverse plans, including one in large print, from 31 days to one year in length. Available in PDF or Microsoft Word formats.
  • Heartlight– Five different one year plans that will take you through all or parts of the Bible. Daily passages are linked so you can read online, but translations are limited, so you might want to use the printable PDF guides with your own Bible.
  • Blue Letter Bible– Several one and two year plans that cover the whole Bible. Available in PDF format.
  • Bible Plan– Yearly and monthly plans, one chapter per day plans, and a few miscellaneous plans. Sign up for daily reminders for your plan via e-mail. These plans are available in many different languages.

¹Please note- I do not necessarily endorse all of the content of the websites linked Above. These links are provided for Bible reading plans only. I do not endorse anything at any of these sites which conflicts with the theology outlined at my “Statement of Faith” and “Welcome” tabs at the top of this page. Should you choose to explore these sites beyond the linked Bible reading plans, please do so discerningly and reject anything that conflicts with Scripture.

Additional Resources

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

Nine Helps for Starting and Sticking to Daily Bible Study

10 Simple Steps to Plain Vanilla Bible Study

Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them

The Mailbag: As a newly doctrinally sound Christian, should I stop journaling?

(Taking notes on the text of Scripture.)


Which plan looks most interesting to you?
Have a plan you love that isn’t listed? Please share!

Bible, Bible Study

A Weeping Profit

For years now, I have urged women to read through the Bible using the chronological plan. It’s especially helpful for getting all the historical events of Old Testament history in order so you can understand what precipitated what’s happening in whichever book you’re currently reading.

But there’s another reason it’s helpful. A reason that’s difficult to put into the right words, but one I think is equally important as understanding the historical order of events.

I’ve read through the Bible a few times using the chronological plan, and I started it again this past January. It started out OK, like it always does. You’ve got Creation. You’ve got a bunch of godly patriarchs: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses. You’ve got God rescuing His people from Egypt and bringing them into the Promised Land. And, of course, along the way, you’ve got instances of some pretty heinous sins committed by individuals. But the overall, visceral sense you get is that God is advancing His plan through godly people. He’s working to establish His people in their land and prosper them.

Then, along about the time Solomon’s wives turn his heart away from God and entice him into idolatry, you start getting this sense of foreboding. Things are changing. Something is about to happen and it isn’t going to be good. And that’s exactly what comes to pass. You get slammed with a bunch of evil kings. Oh sure, there’s the occasional bright spot of an Asa, a Hezekiah, a Josiah. But the bad kings keep coming more and more frequently, each one more and more depraved. And God’s people, led by these evil kings, plunge headlong into sin and idolatry that’s worse than that of the pagan nations God had them drive out when they entered the Promised Land.

You sit in the midst of the filth and rebellion of God’s people for months – knowing that, for them, it was actually centuries – feeling your skin crawl at the evil you’re reading about. You hear God cry out to Israel through the prophets, to turn around and come back to Him. You see Him pour out a little bit of His wrath on His people here and there. Just a taste of what’s to come if they don’t repent and return. You sit there, helpless and frustrated, knowing what’s going to happen to these people, aching for them to just stop it! Stop sinning. Humble yourselves. Rend your hearts and not your garments

But they don’t. No matter how many times you read the Old Testament hoping and pleading with Israel to change her ways so that there will be a happy ending, it never works out that way. God’s people continue to forge ahead, inventing new ways of doing evil. Whoring after idols of stick and stone. Abandoning the God who saved them and carried them.

By August (in the chronological reading plan) I’d been watching these people sink lower and lower into degradation and debauchery for the better part of a year. But then I started reading Jeremiah, and I realized another reason he’s often called “the weeping prophet”. Yes, he was probably lonely since God didn’t allow him to marry and have a family for support. Yes, he was grieved that his people wouldn’t turn back from their sin. But after reading the first three chapters of his book, I had to think Jeremiah had yet another reason for weeping. 

The words God put in Jeremiah’s mouth are the words of the broken heart of God:

I remember when you loved Me and were loyal to Me; how we enjoyed sweet fellowship. You trusted Me and I protected you. You followed me and I provided for you. You lifted up my Name, and I lifted up yours in the eyes of the nations.

You’ve never been able to say that I wronged you. I have never let you down. I have never failed you.

And despite all of My love and care for you, you have cast Me aside. You have chosen the sewer over your Savior. Evil over the Eternal One. Hell over Heaven.

I have called you back to Myself time and time again, but you keep running away from Me. Even now, if you will repent and come back to Me, despite everything you have done, I will forgive you. You can enjoy that sweet fellowship with Me once again. I want to tenderly care for you and give you every good thing.

I love you. Come home.

How could Jeremiah – how could we – not weep over the things that break the heart of our good and loving God? How can we not grieve over the things that grieve Him?

And that brings me back to why the chronological reading plan is so helpful. 

You need to not only understand the cold, hard historical facts that led up to this moment, you need to feel in your spirit, know in your heart the weight of sin, the blackness of evil, the depth of God’s love, compassion, patience, and righteousness. And you don’t get that by randomly parachuting into OT books. You have to walk with these people – live with them – and watch what they do over time. You have to sit next to God through His words and see with His eyes, understand how He feels about His people, and stand with Him as He acts in holiness and justice.

“Just the facts, ma’am,” is not enough when it comes to Scripture. We must live it, put it on and wear it, immerse ourselves in it, if we truly want to feast on God’s Word and know God’s heart.

Uncategorized

The Word on Wednesdays

 

Hi ladies! I hope you enjoyed our most recent Bible study, Imperishable Beauty, which we wrapped up at the end of February.

For the next several weeks, I’ll be making preparations to speak at the Reliance on God and His Word conference (Need a speaker for your next women’s event or podcast? Click the Speaking Engagements tab at the top of this page.), so our next regular weekly Bible study won’t start until after I return home and get my household back in order (I’m thinking probably mid-April-ish, but don’t quote me on that.). :0) I have a study in mind, but will keep thinking and praying about it for a few more weeks.

So anyway, for the next several Wednesdays, you’ve got some options:

📖 You can finish up Imperishable Beauty or any of my other studies you’re currently working on.

📖 You can choose a book(s) of the Bible to work through on your own.

📖 You can choose one of my studies to work through at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page. (I would choose one of the shorter ones, like Colossians or Ruth rather than one of the longer ones if you’re only trying to fill the space between now and the beginning of our next study.)

📖 You can follow along with the sampling of “re-run” lessons I’ll be posting here on the blog each week.

Here’s today’s “re-run”:

During 2014, I led my ladies’ Sunday School class in a chronological read-through of the entire Bible. Each week I taught a lesson from that week’s reading and posted it here on the blog.

Are you using the chronological plan this year? If so, you can find my weekly lessons here (in reverse chronological order, ironically – you’ll have to scroll back to get to the beginning) if you’d like to supplement your reading plan with them. And even if you’re using another reading plan or simply studying through a book of the Bible, maybe you’d like to match up what you’re reading with my lesson that corresponds to the passage you’re currently studying.

Here’s a lesson that goes with this week’s reading in the chronological plan:

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 10 ~ Mar. 2-8
Numbers 16-32
Tackling Tough Issues: Genocide in the Old Testament

Genocide: It’s defined (by dictionary.com) as, “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.” This week in our reading, we dealt with a passage in which God commanded the Israelites to kill nearly all of the Midianites, even those we might consider “innocent.” Was God being cruel or capricious? How could a loving God command such a thing? Click here to keep reading…

Christmas, Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

A couple of months ago, I “beta tested” a new feature here at the blog, which I alliteratively titled Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources. People seemed to like it … or … at least the majority of readers didn’t seem to hate it too much. So I decided to bring it back every once in a while when I’m feelin’ it.

I’m feelin’ it today. So here’s the Christmas/New Year’s edition of Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources.

Christmas Cards

If you don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest you might have been missing the Christmas-themed memes I’ve been posting since Thanksgiving. Here are a few:

Need Gift Ideas?

I was going to do a whole article on this, but I felt like with this article and this one, readers might be getting tired of articles on Christmas shopping. So, let me just recommend three items I’ve personally gotten my hands on recently that would make great gifts for your pastor or the theology nerd in your family.

Herman Who?– This is an awesome little DVD series from Wretched that will teach you all the ins and outs of biblical hermeneutics (the science of interpreting Scripture) in a four- or twelve-week course. Teacher and student guides are included, and right now, they’re also throwing in a copy of It’s Not Greek to Me (an introduction to biblical Greek) for free.

 

Clouds Without Water II– If you’ve never had the privilege of attending a Justin Peters lecture on the New Apostolic Reformation, this DVD set (revised and updated from the original) is the next best thing. You’ll get the history of the NAR, key figures in the movement, an explanation of NAR “theology” and much more. Helpful for any Christian, but, I’m telling you, your pastor needs this in his personal library. And while you’re over there at his online store, pick him up a copy of Do Not Hinder Them, too, especially if you’re Southern Baptist. (Be sure to scroll all the way down the page. Justin has some special deals on combo packages.)

 

ESV Archaeology Study Bible– I got this the other day as an early Christmas present, and I already love it. Tons of articles, study notes, photos, maps, and diagrams pairing the biblical text with what’s been dug up that relates to that text. It’s just fascinating. You can order directly from Crossway, but they’re offering a special deal through ChristianBook.com right now where you can get the hardcover edition for only $24.99! (Word to the wise- go ahead and get a Bible cover for it now if this is going to be someone’s “walking around” Bible.)

Mary Was the First One to Carry the Gospel

(Ugh, that song skeeves me out.)

But Joseph was a close second. Matthew 1:18-20,24-25 tells us:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

In Joseph and Mary’s day, a pregnancy outside of wedlock was much scarier than it is today. Old Testament law called for the death penalty for adultery. If Mary had really committed adultery, Joseph would have been well within his rights to haul her out into the public square and cast the first stone.

But notice that verse 19 says Joseph was both “just” and “unwilling to put her to shame.” He had an obligation to the law, but he loved Mary and wanted to show her mercy so that she might live. Joseph’s dilemma shows us, albeit through a glass darkly, where God stands in relation to sinful mankind.

Though Mary only appeared to have sinned, we really have sinned. And the penalty for our sin is death. But God loves us and wants to show us mercy. And just as an innocent Joseph stepped between Mary and the wrath of the Law that might have been carried out against her, taking her as his wife and bearing her shame and scorn upon his own strong shoulders, God sent the sinless Christ to bear our punishment and our shame, taking us as His bride, so that we might live. But it wasn’t a dilemma for God. He had it all planned out from eternity past.

Mary might have been the first one to carry the gospel, but maybe Joseph was the first one to carry it out.

(I can’t take all the credit for this one. My pastor mentioned the idea of Joseph portraying the gospel in his treatment of Mary in his sermon last week and he said he got it from Herschel Hobbs. I can’t find where Dr. Hobbs shared this idea {if you know, fill me in} to cite it or quote him, so I’ve taken his original thought and used it as a springboard for my own observations.)

Reindeer Games

Need a fun game to play at your Christmas party? Give this one from ornamentshop.com a try!

Here are the answers. No cheating or it’s lumps of coal in your stocking this year!

A 2019 Canon Cleanse

My philosophy of Bible study is pretty simple: Christian women need to study the Bible. Not a steady diet of secondhand accounts of what somebody else has studied (or, heaven forbid, what somebody “heard” God say to her) in “canned” studies, but the Bible itself.

The other day, LifeWay Women tweeted out suggestions of canned studies (you guessed it – most of them authored by false teachers) to kick off the New Year with.

I’d like to challenge you to do something different.

Take this next year to set aside all the pre-fab books, workbooks, DVDs, etc. – even those you consider doctrinally sound – and cleanse your heart, mind, and spirit with the washing of the water of the Word. Just you, your Bible, and, if you’re so inclined, some paper to take notes on.

If you’re not sure how to get started, mark your calendar to check in here on January 1. It’s become my New Year’s Day tradition to post an annual round up of scads of Bible reading plans. Some of them are as short as a few days in length, others, as long as a few years. Some will take you through a biblical topic, some, through a certain part or book of the Bible, some through the whole Bible.

Tune out the noise of other people’s thoughts, ideas, and observations, and hear God speak directly to you through His written Word. Don’t watch someone else mine for gold. Grab your pick and your shovel and discover the joy that only comes from finding that gold for yourself!

Who’s up for the challenge?

Christmas

7 “Stocking Stuffers”

 

I’m filling the stockings early, but no lumps of coal for my awesome readers! Here are some great little miscellaneous Christian goodies I’ve come across recently. Enjoy!

Crossway has a Bible reading challenge for the holiday season called Simply Read. It will take you through the books of Luke and Acts in 8 days.

 

Is your church perfect and problem-free? No? Then be sure to give this article a read. Maybe even print it out and stick it on the fridge or in your Bible. The Cripplegate’s When Your Church Disappoints by Eric Davis offers godly counsel on how to biblically think about and approach problems at your church. It was very helpful for me, and I hope it will be for you, too.

 

The Gospel Project wants to give you a Christmas present! A FREE e-book! “A Christmas Question is Charles Spurgeon’s famous Christmas-day sermon from Exeter Hall in 1859.”

 

Another FREEBIE? Why not? Beautiful Eulogy is offering their album Worthy for you to download at no cost. Rap isn’t really your thing? Mine either. Check out tracks 5 (a lovely instrumental), 9 (a fantastic devotional from Art Azurdia), and 11 (a slower paced spoken word piece).

 

Can Christian parents do Santa Claus with their children? My answer in yesterday’s edition of The Mailbag was, yes, as long as Santa keeps his sleigh parked inside biblical parameters. Pastor Josh Buice made a different decision for his children and explains Why My Family Doesn’t Do Santa.

 

Want to send Christmas cards with an eternal impact? “Each Gideon Christmas card you send this Christmas will provide a New Testament for someone in the world. At the same time, your card will share a message of faith, hope, and joy in Jesus with friends and loved ones.”

 

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? Check out this recent episode of the Theology Gals podcast in which Coleen and Ashley answer all your Christmasy questions.