A couple of years ago I read How to Get The Most From God's Word by John MacArthur. In that book, he outlined a Bible reading plan that really interested me. This spring, as I began my usual daily-Bible-reading-derailment during the weeks preceding our trip to China, I was reminded of the method MacArthur described, so I looked it up and decided to try his approach.
Old Testament: MacArthur says, "For the Old Testament, I suggest reading through all of it once a year in a narrative manner (from Genesis to Malachi, no skipping around.) ...the best way to read the Old Testament is straight through, like a story. Don't look for a presentation of systematic theology... simply read the Old Testament to see what it says, to hear the story it has to tell. You will see the unfolding of God's progressive revelation; and you will also discover foundations for New Testament truths that come later.... When you come to a passage you don't understand completely, don't let it bog you down. Put a question mark in the margin and move on. As you continue to read the Old Testament year by year, line upon line and precept upon precept, you will begin to erase the question marks." He breaks it down into about 3 chapters a day (15-20 minutes).
New Testament: MacArthur says of the New Testament, "I use a little different approach. I still keep the principle of repetition from Isaiah 28:9 (line upon line, precept upon precept) but with an important variation. Instead of reading through the entire New Testament from Matthew to Revelation, I read each book over and over for thirty days... The Bible has a flow and a context, especially the letters from Paul, James, and others. When somebody writes you a letter, you don't stop to read a nice line, then jump two pages to find another good thought. You read it through, to understand the flow of thought.... You break the longer books up and still use the same thirty-day system. For example, the Gospel of John has twenty-one chapters. Divide it into three sections of seven chapters each."
His book goes into greater depth about the benefit of such a plan and the discipline involved, and I highly recommend it. (In fact, when I originally read it I read big chunks of it to my kids, too.) This summer I began with Colossians, now I'm in 1 Peter, and I'll be going on to James in August. In my Old Testament readings I am in Ruth, and it has coincided with Nancy Leigh DeMoss's series on Ruth on Revive our Hearts. God is so faithful!
Another thing I have been doing, which has been fun, is to use the Inductive Study Approach as outlined in The New Inductive Study Bible. I first learned this method when I did a Precepts Bible study two years ago, and I love it. I get to color in my Bible! Each morning I get out my box of colored pencils and color-code and mark key words throughout the passages I'm reading. Mainly, I've been marking my New Testament readings, a new chapter as I read the entire book each day. I'm not marking the Old Testament passages, although I've begun marking Ruth as I'm lingering there listening to Revive Our Hearts. (There is a pretty good explanation of how to "mark" or observe passage in this method here.)
Here is a picture of one of my pages from 1 Peter, to show how I've marked it. (You can click on it to make it larger.)There is a list of suggested markings in the front of the Inductive Study Bible, and I have some that I've developed on my own to help me remember key concepts. Combining the methods I learned in Precepts with MacArthur's reading plan has been so beneficial for me.
Are there days I don't get to it? Sure! Are there days I don't read every single chapter in "the plan"? Absolutely! You know what? It doesn't matter! The key is, I'm in God's Word, soaking up His truths, reading them in context and prayerfully applying His profound Word to my life. It's not meant to be intimidating or rigid, but enjoyable, interesting, and relevant. There's no "wrong" way to mark passages, it's strictly what helps me to identify key words, phrases, themes, people, and lists. I'm enjoying it immensely, and since I always love hearing what Bible study methods work for other people, I thought I'd share it with you today. I'd love to know what you've found that works for you, too!
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