Let me begin by asking you one favor; please read the entire post. It may seem so normal that we pass it off as unimportant, so allow me to share the challenge, explain my motivation, and give you some advice before you shut me off.
The 2016 church challenge simply stated:
Read one chapter from the New Testament 5 days a week for an entire year.
What is the significance?
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
When we consider reading the Bible the most significant reason is found in this passage. The Bible is the very breath of God. This is nothing new for those who have attended church for any length of time, however the evidence of it doesn’t seem to have gripped the church. If I told you the creator of the universe would like to speak to you, you would be ecstatic. Yet, he has spoken to us in His Word and for many it lies our shelves collecting dust. At the basis of this challenge is a desire to reaffirm the truth that we want to hear from God.
Secondly, the challenge considers God’s word profitable. The Bible has more value than the paper, binding, and money you spent on it. It’s value is not determined by the value we have placed on it, rather God’s value placed in it. God has ordained the Scriptures as the tool which matures disciples. We cannot have mature disciples without God’s word. And Paul affirms this to Timothy as he challenges him to use it as the primary training tool in the church.
Why this challenge?
Understanding the significance allows us to fully understand the sad state we find in the modern church. Barna Group published the following statistics:
Slightly more than one in four adults say they never read the Bible (28%). One in 10 read the Bible less than once a year and another one in 10 report reading the Bible once or twice a year. These three segments combine to represent “non-Bible readers” (48%)…
…9% read the Bible once a month; and 6% read it three to four times a year…
The Bible is the very words of God and is the tool ordained by God to mature believers, yet statistics show 62% read the Bible less than once a month.
How many parents would feed their growing children once a month or less and expect them to grow into strong mature young men and women? The answer is none. Then why is it that we expect digesting the word once a month or less will mature us as believers? Church, if we wish to be a growing body of believers fulfilling the mission of God, then we must begin by regularly digesting his Word. By accepting this challenge we are affirming it as a Word worthy of study and a Word necessary for our daily maturity.
Who is this challenge for?
Who is this challenge for? Everyone! Reading God’s word is a benefit for everyone. So, whether you are a “reader” or not, God calls you to read his word. Many of us read on a daily basis, whether that be magazines, social media, books or anything in between. Taking time to read God’s Word is merely a priority everyone must make. It won’t happen by accident.
How do I make the most of it?
When? Beginning January 4th read one chapter of Scripture 5 out of 7 days a week. This gives you the opportunity to miss two days and still accomplish your goal. I would suggest finding a specific time each day to read.
Where?We are asking you to read a chapter from the New Testament, beginning with Matthew, during that time. This does not mean the Old Testament is unimportant. I have chosen this challenge for a couple of reasons:
It’s great for beginners. I have heard many individuals describe there journey reading in the Bible and getting bogged down in Leviticus. Leviticus is a great God inspiring text of scripture but for people just beginning it may be a challenge. So, we have chosen the New Testament for a starting place.
It is a very measurable goal. If you read 5 days a week for 52 weeks you have read 260 chapters, which happens to be the same number of chapters in the New Testament. So, upon finishing you will have read the entire New Testament in a year.
How?First grab a Bible to write in (good example). Find the book of Matthew and put a bookmark at chapter 1 for day 1. Secondly, pray each day before reading. Ask God to give you understanding, apply His Word to your heart, and give you a passion to know him more. Third, ask the passage some categories of questions:
What does it teach me about God’s act or character? What lies about God does it counter?
What does it teach me about mankind? What lies about mankind does it counter?
How does this point me to the gospel? (If you need help understanding that watch this video.)
How must my life (behavior, words, emotions, thoughts, etc.) change in light of this truth? What must I renounce and stop? What must I practice?