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Monday, October 16, 2017

Personalized Bible Reading Plan


I've tried many bible reading plans over the years, but eventually became somewhat frustrated with them all.

I began with the "read the bible in one year" plan, and then I tried out the "chronological bible in a year" plan. At some point I learned about reading 7 chapters of the New Testament each day to get through the NT in less than 2 months. I did that with the children for a few years when I first started following the Lord, and it was such a nice way to learn! At that same time I would read 11 chapters of the Old Testament each day and get through that in less than 3 months.

There were other plans in there, too, however like I said, all of the methods somewhat frustrated me. Why? Simple. Some chapters are really long and some chapters are really short!! The time spent reading was unpredictable. It's hard to schedule "unpredictable".

At some point it occurred to me that I did not have to follow someone else's plan or method; I could make up my own. Dah. This method has served me quite well for the last several years. Here it is.

  1. Determine the total number of pages in your bible. Some bibles start counting over when the NT begins. Some bibles include title pages, table of contents, blank pages, and more, in their numbering. Be sure to account for these things. The bible I read daily has 1,231 actual pages of text.
  2. Decide how long you want to take to get through the entire bible. During busy seasons you may plan for less time reading; during slow seasons you may plan for more time reading. The most important thing, as always, is to LIVE what you read! Some days you might even have to skip reading ... that's perfectly fine as long as you are LIVING it. If you are not going to live it out, you might as well throw it in the trash and spend your time doing something else.
    For the sake of this article, I'll give the examples of 1 year, 6 months, 3 months and 2 months. 
  3. Figure out how many days are in the time you chose. Round up or down in a way that makes sense to you.
    1 year = 365 days
    6 months x 30.5 = 183 days
    3 months x 30.5 = 92 days
    2 months x 30.5 days = 61 days. 
  4. Divide the total number of pages by the total number of days. Again, round up or down in a way that makes sense to you.
    1 year: 1231 pages / 365 days = 3.5 pages a day (some days read 3, some days read 4)
    6 months: 1231 pages / 183 days = 6.75 pages per day (most days read 7, some days read 6)
    3 months: 1231 pages / 92 days = 13.5 pages per day (some days read 14 pages, some days read 13)
    2 months: 1231 pages / 61 days = 20.25 pages per day (most days read 20 pages, some days read 21 pages)

That's it. So simple, right?

BIBLE STUDY TOOLS
In this next section I'd like to share some of my most favorite tools. I'm doing something new on this blog ... I will include links to Amazon that are 'affiliate links' (SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST!). If you click on the link and actually buy something, I will get a tiny monetary tip from Amazon. The products cost the same to you either way. Some of the links I share here will be Amazon affiliate links.

Bible.
Number one of course: a bible. This is definitely a personal thing, but for **ME** I like to have wide margins with plenty of room to take notes. The bible I used has just that: wide margins. But what's even better is it has a lot of lined paper in the back for note-taking. If something needs more room than the wide margin provides, I just write the "note number" in the margin, and then I know there are notes in the back for that particular verse or passage.
My bible also has references in the middle column. I cannot speak positive or negative about these references because I ignore them.
In the back there are several really nice maps, a concordance, and blank pages with a letter at the top of each page, going through the whole alphabet. I have included a photo collage of all I mentioned here ... however the photos kind of came out 'blue', and one thing I REALLY LIKE about this bible is that instead of the pages being bright white, they are a soft, creamy, off-white. The second photo shows the same bible in different lighting, side-by-side.




Lap Table.
A strange study tool maybe? but I love it!!! This table fits in my chair, and my little chihuahua fits right underneath it on my lap.

Pens.
Acid-free, archive quality.
My pen of choice: Pigma Micron, black
You may prefer to have other colors besides black ... maybe you like to color-code your notes? Different colors for different topics? I find this distracting, but you might not? Whatever your preference, the Pigma Micron is excellent, and comes in a variety of colors and tips sizes.

Straight edge.
This one is free. I use an old credit card to help make straight lines in my bible. Crooked lines look sloppy to me and are distracting. Straight lines are nice. Very nice.

Reference book.
I keep the "Holman Book of Biblical Charts, Maps, and Reconstructions" with my bible. This book has come in handy so many times!!! I'll include photos of the table of contents so you have a general idea of what it includes, however it will not do it justice. One thing I love is the information on biblical weights, money, measurements, etc. For instance, when the bible talks about an "hin" of oil, instead of just reading past it and not knowing, I stop, open up my handy book, and learn that an "hin" of oil is one gallon. I then write this next to the verse that talks about the "hin".
As with any book that claims to be a help, I'm always watching out for potential slants, bias statements, and/or assumptions. For that reason, I keep my reference books slim to none.

Audio.
During seasons when I have time to read more in one sitting, I prefer to listen to the Old Testament on MP3 while reading along. I MUST read along, otherwise I'll start daydreaming. I use an old phone for the MP3 part, and then bluetooth it to a handy little speaker. This thing was pretty inexpensive and it's quite loud. Small and mighty. I like that a full charge will last several hours, and since it's bluetooth, I can use it with any device.

Bible app.
My favorite is Blue Letter Bible. Love it! I like to look up words and see how they are used in other verses and passages to get a fuller meaning of that particular word. This coupled with the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) really helps define a word in the way the bible intended it to be defined. I'll try to give a simple example ... one time when I was reading through Luke, this verse caught my attention:

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

I thought, "Who was this man? What is the course of Abia?" etc. So, I opened up the Blue Letter Bible app, found the verse, and clicked on, "Interlinear". From there you are able to click on each word ... I clicked on, "of Abia" G7. It tells you that Abia/Abijah was a priest, the head of a priestly family whom when David divided the priests into 24 classes, Abia was the 8th order. You can see that it was used 3 times in the New Testament, all as the word, "Abia". Twice in Matthew 1:7, and once in the verse above.

Side note. Strong's definitions can sometimes be biased or twisted a little, so be careful. Always base the definition on what the bible says, not what Strong's says. In this case, it's a name, so I think we're safe to assume all is well.

Now look the same word up in the Old Testament. For this you have to use a Greek Septuagint that's coded with Strong's numbers. I USE THIS WEBSITE. Be sure the 'bible' is set to the Analytical Septuagint with Strong's numbers (which it should be automatically in the link I provided). Put your Strong's number in the search box. In this case, G7. You'll see that Abijah is in the Old Testament 24 times. Some of those will be referring to other men named Abijah, but many of them are referring to Zacharias' kin folk.

But, "It's all Greek to me!" For real. Well, so far the only way I've been able to get around that is to simply write down all of the verses references listed on the website linked above, look them up in my English bible, and read them.

From this we can learn more about who Zacharias was, and what he was doing in the temple. It's all so fascinating to me, and I believe it's important to know. My point: don't just passively read through. Look things up. And each time you read through, different things will stick out to you. I mean, how many times did I read through the NT before I thought to dig in to "the course of Abia"? I was always busy looking up other things, but on that particular time it was Abia's turn ;)

Some interesting words I've looked up this way: 'church' 'love' 'week' 'disciple' 'apostle' 'seed' etc. Keep in mind that some of the words must be looked up in their root form. And too, some of them will have different Strong's numbers for plural or for different spellings. Also, it is good to keep in mind that generally the first use of the word in the bible gives a good foundation for that word. Names are probably an exception :)

Ok, that's all of the bible study tips I have! I pray this was a blessing.

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