My book recommendation for July is actually 2 books because one helps me with the other. I can’t believe I haven’t already recommended for you to read the Bible! Thee most important book for all Christians to be reading regularly, if not daily. I have chosen the ESV Journaling Bible to recommend to you as this is the one I’ve recently bought. The other book (journal) is called Rooted: Bible in a Year.
ESV Journaling Bible features:
- obviously, a good amount of margin space to make notes and drawings
- the pages are pretty thin, so coloured pencils and biro pens are good but not gel pens as they will bleed through.
- a concordance at the back (but not a big one)
- font size isn’t small or big, kind of in the middle
- it has a sort of material cover that picks up some dust, more like a paperback but more protected.
So if you’re not regularly reading your bible, ask God to help you work out why you’re not. Then make the changes you need in order to do it.
The ESV version isn’t for everyone, as at times it’s hard to understand and there are a few words I’ve had to look up their meaning, e.g. sojourn (which means to stay a while or just visit). But I’ve learned something else new too, so that’s a bonus. If you’re looking for an easy to read version, not a literal translation – then I would suggest The Message, The Living Translation or The Passion bible versions. There are also so many versions with Bible Study sections to help you have the background and understanding of the verses. A website I recommend is BibleGateway.com which can help you see all the different translations out there to help you find a translation you find easy to read and understand. YWAM has a bible too, YWAM Study Bible—NIV, which has devotional sections and 2 ways to read the bible in a year
We are blessed in English to have so many translations and format’s to choose from. This is something we should be thankful for every day. Unfortunately, so many peoples have 1 translation and still others only portions or just a few chapters. Please pray for those working in bible translation (e.g. Wycliffe) that God would help them understand the hearts and words of the people they are working to bring a bible translation into their mother tongue. So they can be as blessed as we are.
Rooted: Bible in a Year journal features:
- It gives me space to write the date (great if I miss a day or starting any time of the year).
- 2 readings, a few chapters from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament.
- It asks the same three questions:
- Characteristic of God that stood out to me from today’s reading.
- Three things I am grateful for today (a fantastic discipline to have to keep ourselves being mindful of our thankfulness and the good things we can appreciate from even a more demanding day).
- And, Three things I am praying for today. So I can record what’s in my mind and heart that I’m bringing to God.
- Journal section – free to write whatever I’m processing or noticing from the scriptures I’m reading today, although sometimes I wish this section was a little longer. Lol.
- One day a week has a bit more reading asked of you (which might not land on a day that works for you (if you’re like me and started it on the day it arrived, which was a Tuesday).
- A great feature is that each week there is a Catchup page. So if you missed a day in the week or didn’t get all the reading done on one day – then you can catch up here.
Background to the why now
I’m currently doing a part-time modular version of YWAM’s APC (Advanced Principles of Communication) School. We were looking at how much we need to know the bible to have a better and easier time to understand what God’s word is saying about all the things going on in our world today (e.g. climate change, sexuality…) In order to have a biblical foundation and understand the biblical principles behind why and what I believe—I need to know the whole of God’s word really well. I read the whole Bible during my Biblical Studies school back in 2000, but I realised that I haven’t reread it since then. Mostly because I didn’t have it on my heart to do again and was busy.
As a school, we looked at all the reasons why we don’t read our bible regularly. So I went on a little personal journey to answer the question – why wasn’t I reading my bible more? Honestly, it’s little things, yes being very busy doesn’t help. But I wasn’t making it a priority to read more than the verses in my devotional (which I didn’t do daily either). I was reading more for my teaching and writing preparations and research, but not always taking the time to explore with God what He wanted to share with me personally about the verses. And strangely, my other slight blockage is that reading the bible first thing in the morning when I’m tried was hard – because I was struggling to read the words—even with my glasses on! (which I know is a sign I’m still tired and getting older). The last one was that I wasn’t really enjoying the devotional system I was using. I knew I needed a change but hadn’t got round to figuring out a new one.
I realised that I wanted to read my bible more – because there are loads I can’t remember. I want to actively develop my relationship with God and his word, and there’s a need for me to understand God’s principles from Genesis to Revelation so I can put things in context. And I’m curious to know more about what God is speaking into all the domains of society because they are essential for him. Therefore they are becoming more important to me again too.
Thus I had some decisions to make – knowing what my little bumps were hindering my actually doing meant I need to address each one. So here are the steps I took to address each one.
- I want to make an active change in my life – I want to read the whole bible through, hopefully in a year. I am making this conscious decision to do this. Asking God to help me make good choices daily to achieve this.
- Time – when is the best time in the day for me to achieve regular time to read my bible, process it with God and just spend time in His presence? Not in the morning, that’s for sure. But after my evening meal – before I go and do other things – that is a good time for me. I’m not tired or rushed for time. Most days, that will work for me.
- Which Bible translation? I wanted to get a new Bible to colour it for the different domains of society to visually see what God was talking about. But I wanted a translation that was close to the original and different from my usual NIV – so I could see the different words used and read familiar passages with fresh eyes. I have chosen the ESV – English Standard Version because it is a literal translation.
- Bible format – I wanted a bible that had more space in the margins to be able to write more notes. So I got a journaling bible. If you look at the pictures, you’ll see just how much margin space there is – perfect for lots of notes or creative drawings.
- What format did I want for my reading plan? I wanted either 3-4 chapters starting at Genesis or a few from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Other versions include a Psalm each day, but I didn’t want to jump around too much, thus focus on the chapters. Having some Old and New means that if it’s hard going in one part, it’s usually easier in the other section, so more opportunity to keep my attention and what God wants to share with me for the day personally, too.
- Space to journal about what I discovered while reading.
- Lastly, how was I going to keep it up? I said to my APC class that this is what I was deciding to do – so they could check in with me. I also shared with my BLP students my plans, my leader and 1on1 person. All those I am accountable to in different ways. All know this is my intention to do. So they can at any time ask me how I’m doing… Knowing that someone may ask me how it’s going is a little bit of background motivation to help me make good choices when I’m a little tired or pushed for time.
As you can see, each is just a little bit of help, but add them all up and it’s a great addition to helping me start and achieve my desired hope. To read the whole bible and have more time with God regularly (if not daily).
Too much right now?
If the idea of reading the whole bible in a year is a little much for you. Then make a start with reading a book of the bible that you’ve not read that much. Deuteronomy is excellent. Plus, The Bible Project is fantastic with their videos giving an overview of each book of the bible. This can give you a bible picture overview of a book, before and after reading the book chapter by chapter. The best thing to do is to make a start, asking God to help you and then take it from there. A little more is more than you had before :).
We have two promises in scripture that will help us see the fruit of our time and effort to read all of God’s word.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” [Isaiah 55:10+11]
“But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [ John 15:26]
My prayer for you is that this blog will help encourage you to get into God’s word more to discover the love, wisdom and joy which will bring life to every part of your mind, spirit, heart and soul.