The Word of God speaks to us – Are we listening?

Reading the Bible in 1 year

It all begins with a thirst for God and a realization that it is ONLY in Him that we can be freed from ourselves to be the people we are meant to be. Obeying the 1st commandment of loving God with all your heart, strength, mind and soul (Lk 10:27) can happen only after you know Him; after you know Him by encountering Him on a personal basis.

You cannot love someone who you do not know.

You cannot know God if you do not seek Him in the first place.

One of the best ways to seek God is through reading & meditating on His Written Word in the scriptures and accompanied by sincere prayer. The Holy Spirit does something wonderful in our thoughts and desires which cannot really be explained. As one sincerely seeks God in the Holy Bible, things happen in the background and the fruit of transformation is seen later, if one persists in the search. This is a test of faith.

We should seek God for who He is and not for any personal achievement, not to receive any gift or blessing from Him and definitely not to make a show of our knowledge.

We should seek Him out of an inner love and desire to get closer to Him.

God reveals Himself through His Word – the Bible. The very nature of God is unfolded in the biblical events.   Let’s not forget –

He is the same God who dealt with Abraham.

He is the same God who dealt with Noah.

He is the same God who dealt with David.

He is the same God who dealt with Isaiah.

He is the same God who dealt with Paul and Peter.

He is the very same God dealing with & relating to you and me today and not another God; and the very nature of God through the biblical periods has not changed.

JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER.

Hebrews 13:8

As Christians, we have to ask ourselves these questions:

-Am I sincere about seeking Him and spending time in prayer every day with Him?

-Am I ready to let go of things I am attached to which stop me from drawing nearer to Him?

-Am I willing to surrender all the aspects of my life into His hands?

-Am I desiring to say with all my heart, “Lord, here I am, do with me whatever you wish to!”  ?

With a fervent “yes” and a pro-active attitude, we can expect the love of God to flow into our hearts as we seek Him in His written Word.

GOD’S LOVE HAS BEEN POURED INTO OUR HEARTS THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US.

Romans 5:5

Getting to the treasure –  Jesus.

Keep Him as the focus, while reading both Old and New Testaments. Both of these are very important and only if we understand the God of biblical past will we be able to understand the role of Jesus in the Gospels.

In Dei Verbum, the Council Fathers declare that  “God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New”  (DV 16). 

Hence, the Old Testament should not be ignored. It only helps to make reading the New Testament a more meaningful encounter with Christ.

Many people claim to have read the entire bible. However, the questions to ask are:

  • Was the reading done with a sincere desire to know God more?
  • Was it done with a sincere accompaniment of prayer?
  • Was it done in the presence of the Holy Spirit?

Without these, the fruitfulness of the reading would not take place and the authentic experience of being with Jesus will not happen. As the reading should be a spiritual encounter with God and not just a gaining of knowledge, the above 3 points are mandatory to note.

Many of us have experienced the power of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, perhaps in the Eucharist during Mass , before the Blessed Sacrament, at a retreat, during personal prayer time, etc.

Ask yourself this question now – have I experienced the power of Jesus in His written Word – the Bible?

Steps to read the bible in 1 year

  1. Have a desire to know God more … and more… and more.  It all starts here.

WISDOM HASTENS TO MAKE HERSELF KNOWN TO THOSE WHO DESIRE HER

Wisdom 6:13
  • Fix up a framework & discipline. Prepare a daily chart and tick off chapters as you progress. 4  chapters a day will get you through the entire bible in 1 year. Every day, read 2 chapters from the Old Testament, 1 psalm and 1 chapter from the New Testament.
  • Make a sincere prayer each time before reading.

Prayer before reading the bible: (modify as the Spirit leads you)

“O Lord, help me during this time to be free from distractions. Give me your Holy Spirit to lead and guide me and to teach me what you want me to learn. Orient my thoughts in your Most Holy Will. I ask for the gift of revelation as I read your Word. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

  • Realize that the author is the best teacher. He is the Holy Spirit. He only used human beings to get the content into a written form. Interpretation and revelation should be carefully examined with Catholic truth and with prayer.

… NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE IS A MATTER OF ONE’S OWN INTERPRETATION. 

2 Peter 1:20
  • Do not rush through the reading to finish it off. This would render it ineffective.  

WEALTH HASTILY GOTTEN WILL DWINDLE, BUT THOSE WHO GATHER LITTLE BY LITTLE WILL INCREASE IT.

Proverbs 13:11

Split the reading into different times of the day. Meditate through the day on lines which grab your attention. Color them or underline them in your bible. Write them down in a separate book. As time goes by, He will provide clarity and wisdom.

  • Make a decision to be disciplined and faithful to your task. God sees your sincere effort and blesses your sincere attitude with His grace.

WHOEVER IS FAITHFUL IN A VERY LITTLE IS FAITHFUL ALSO IN MUCH.

Luke 16:10a
  • End each reading time with a short prayer from the bottom of your heart. In due course of time, the Holy Spirit will inspire you to stop your reading at a particular verse, so that you can pray the same in the context of a life situation. In this way, God speaks through the written Word.

THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL LEAD AND GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH.

John 16:13
  • A good experience to have is when you allow God to take over your thoughts and lead you to your knees in prayer. Then the bible reading stops for that time. Something deeper happens. This is what scripture should do to you – to help you encounter Christ tangibly.

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the message. He is the journey. He is the destination. He is Lord. His name be glorified. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Testimony

It was in Dec. 2003 that I made a strong decision to read the bible completely. Grace was on me and I knew it. The thirst to know Him was something I can never forget. I decided to read the entire bible in 4 months at 12 chapters a day. I would do the first part of the reading at home in the morning. Later in the day in the evening, I would read another portion before the Blessed Sacrament at a chapel. Along with my bible (Catholic edition – NRSV), I would, without fail, have my note book and pen.

A strange feeling came over me. Though there was lots of bible content I did not understand, I still pressed on. Till today, over 12 years later, there is still a lot I do not understand, but that’s ok. The heart of God cries for our hearts and our surrender. Head knowledge is secondary in this aspect.

The chart I had prepared made things easier. It was encouraging to see the tick marks getting increased. I realised that this chart was the key to progress.  By grace alone, I finished reading the entire bible on time in April 2004.

As I colored the bible verses which captured my attention, it became easier to memorise these in later years. A transforming effect was beginning in my life. Little by little, my worldliness decreased and my love for God and prayer increased.

The next time I did a full reading of the bible was in 2010.  This time, 1 year was the target at 4 chapters a day. I had encouraged & ‘collected’ sixteen others to accompany me for this exercise.  God’s grace was abundant. The experience was highly uplifting and has definitely enabled a deeper relationship with Him.

Concluding note:

“The certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”

St. Jerome

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Is not my word like fire says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23:29

Reading God’s Word is your way of saying, “Lord, i am seeking you. Come”. Allow God into your heart and make Him the centre of your life. Jesus is the Way.

Reading the complete bible is very essential for gaining an overview of biblical periods, which in turn enables a stronger understanding of the gospels & a deeper encounter of Jesus.

The treasure is out there. Seek it and you will find it.

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