Perhaps the most valuable old treasure I’ve ever discovered in my 46 years as a Christ-follower is that spending time with Jesus by reading, studying, and reflecting on the Bible is the primary means for building and maintaining an intimate relationship with the living God. To be sure, we commune with Jesus in many other ways too—prayer, worshiping and singing, observing nature, time in silence and meditation, art, craftsmanship, and serving others, just to name a few. But historically, disciples of Jesus in every culture, in every age have always prioritized connecting with him through the scriptures (if they are available in their language).

To illustrate, I want you to think of someone whose faith and relationship with Jesus you admire, whose example you would like to imitate. Perhaps your mother, father, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, small group member, pastor, teacher, or someone you know through their biography. Got that person in mind? I would say with certainty that if you were to pull back the curtains of their life, every single one of these people has/had a private history of regularly spending time communing with Jesus through reading the Bible!

So I would like to invite you to embrace one of the old treasures of Bible reading in 2021! Here are 5 tips to enrich your experience.

Read Regularly
There is great value in building the habit of regular Bible reading. In the same manner in which you have learned to eat natural food (and snacks!) with regularity, bathe and brush your teeth regularly, rest regularly, and enjoy leisure time regularly, I want to encourage you—for the sake of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health—to read the Bible regularly. Think of communing with Jesus through his word as part of your spiritual regimen for good health.

There are a number of different plans to approach reading the Bible regularly. Simply select one that suits your personality, schedule, and place and station in life.

  • One-Year Plan
    This approach gets you through the entire Old and New Testaments in one year. It requires about 30 minutes per day. While there are a number of 1-year plans, I have grown to really like the plan offered in the One-Year Bible. In this plan, you will read a portion of the Old, New, a Psalm and part of a Proverb every day. You can purchase a paper copy from Amazon here for $8.61. You can download the plan onto your mobile device or tablet from You Version for free here.
  • Two-Year Plan
    You read either the Old or the New portion of the 1-Year plan. This takes you through the entire Bible in 2 years,

    A great option for reading the New Testament this year is available here for free.

  • Three-Year Plan
    You read the Old Testament in year one
    The New Testament in year 2
    The Psalms and Proverbs in year 3
  • Chronologically
    For some of you who are more linear thinkers, this plan takes you through the 66 books of the Bible as they occurred chronologically. This approach forms more of a sequence of understandable events, but it does require some skipping around because the books of the Bible were not complied in chronological order.
  • Children’s One-Year Bible
    Some of you that have had difficulty reading may find a Children’s Bible just the answer to you. They are more highly edited, yet still contain the main points. The One-Year Children’s Bible is available here. Other good children’s Bibles are available here or here. Please understand there is no guilt or shame implied if using a Children’s Bible is the right fit for you.
  • On-line
    There are a number of websites to which you can subscribe to receive a daily reminder of the verses to read every day.
Here’s a secret on regular reading: when you miss a day, or two, or a week when you are traveling or on vacation or get sick, don’t collapse in defeat, as if the most important thing is to “get through” the readings. The menu is not the meal. Pick right back up on the correct reading for whatever day it is.

Read Prayerfully
Before you jump headlong into any reading, say a simple prayer. Every time you pray, you acknowledge dependence upon and faith in Jesus. After all, he wrote the book, and spending time with him reading it is his idea. Keep it really simple, like, “Lord, speak to me as I approach you through your word today.”

Read Realistically

What I mean here is this: the Bible is a difficult book. I’ve been reading the Bible earnestly since I first came to Jesus on Tuesday, October 29, 1974, when my father bought me a Scofield King James Bible. There have been seasons of my life where I have been more diligent than others. But reading the Bible has been a daily part of my spiritual diet for over 30 years now. I have studied and taught the bible to my church family. I have probably preached over 3,000 sermons from the Bible. And as strange as it may sound, the longer I have read it, studied it, and taught others, in some ways the more difficult and mysterious the book becomes. To be clear, certain truths ring evermore clearly. At the same time, the more I recognize its paradoxes. The more questions I have about God. The more things I just don’t understand. And less satisfying the quick, short religious-sounding Bible bumper sticker answers to complex problems become.

And so I approach it, not with the belief that more time in it means I master it, but that I am engaging in the search and questions. For example, in today’s reading in Genesis 2, when God forbade Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, did this mean that evil was already present in his original good creation, or would it become evil when/if they disobeyed. Hmmm.

Frankly, it is not realistic to expect the Bible to answer all of our questions or settle every issue or solve every complex problem. Rather than a how-to manual for life, let’s lean into this life-long journey of gleaning wisdom and courage from an inspired and empowering resource to help us better understand how to live as a better person of faith today.

Read Practically

I am going to share with you now the 4 most practical tips you will ever hear about reading the Bible that I have learned. These 4 tips will help make the time you spend with Jesus in his word more valuable:
  1. Use an easily readable translation
    We recommend the New Living translation. However, you could also use the New International Version, the New American Standard, the Contemporary English Translation, or The Message.
  2. Have a writing utensil in your hand
    You will not defile the Bible if you highlight or underline! Your comprehension will skyrocket if you actually underline or circle or highlight because it causes you to focus and reread!
  3. Have a notebook or journal accessible
    Simply use something that allows you to make notes to yourself, write questions, jot observations, and interact with the text. I prefer a spiral bound notebook, but you could use a bound journal, a notepad, or your laptop or tablet to record your thoughts.
  4. Read at the same place and time
    I think there is real merit to try reading the Bible in the same place at the same time every day. This routine is helpful in establishing a habit.
Read Expectantly
When you read, we should actually expect that God would encounter us through the pages of the book. Think in terms of SPACEPETS:

​S​in to confess?
P​romise to claim?
A​ttitude to change?
​C​ommand to obey?
E​xample to follow?
P​rayer to pray?
​E​rror to avoid?
​T​ruth to believe?
​S​omething to praise God for?

I’m looking forward to hearing how this ancient treasure impacts your life today in new, life-giving, and life-changing ways in 2021!

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Blessing you and your loved ones with grace, courage, and kindness in the year ahead.