Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of May 9, 2021
WCC Bible Reading Plan
― James Merritt
Reading the Bible Together
When we spend time in God’s Word, we’re getting to know Him. We’re also maturing in our faith. Regularly spending time together with God in His Word is such a beautiful, life-giving thing. And just as it benefits us as individuals, when we gather together as the church to commit to spending time reading and studying the Bible, something special happens. We’re able to encourage one another and grow together.
5 Minutes a Day, 7 Days a Week
Commit around five minutes a day, seven days a week, to our church-wide Bible reading plan. We’ll have seven chapters to read each week – most weeks will include five chapters from one book and two Psalms. The goal of this plan is to consistently spend time in God’s Word. We’ll be reading various styles of books – gospels, epistles, history, poetry, prophecy, etc. Using this guide, you’ll easily be able to track your reading and follow along. And don’t worry if you get off track; you can just jump back in where we are. You can always go back and catch up when you have extra time.
Each week, devotionals will be published that correspond with what we’re reading. These devotionals will be from a variety of people participating in this church-wide reading plan. Through these devotionals, we will be encouraged and challenged as we journey through God’s Word together.
These devotionals will be in written or video form and can be found on our website.
Up for more of a challenge?
Don’t just read the chapters, use the following questions to study them:
Observation: This is how to learn what a passage of scripture says. Questions to ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? What does it say? What do I notice?
Interpretation: This is how to accurately interpret scripture and understand what it means in the right context. Questions to ask: What are the key themes or truths? What is the writer’s intended meaning? What is the context? What questions do I have?
Application: This is how to correctly apply the truth of the text to everyday life. Questions to ask: How do I apply it? What are the implications in my life? What does this mean for me
PASSAGE REFERENCED: PSALM 16; PHILIPPIANS 4:6-9
Many people struggle with anxiety and stress. You might be one of those people. I know I am. And when I find myself amid a bunch of anxious thoughts, I’d love nothing more than to pull a Bob Newhart in that MadTV psychologist sketch and just tell myself to “Stop it… S-T-O-P, new word, I-T!” But that’s not how it works. When I try to tell myself to stop feeling anxious, I just become anxious about my anxiety. It’s a real mess. But I’ll let you know what does work: reminding myself of Paul’s advice to the Philippians:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-9, NIV)
And after I think about those verses, I try to listen to Paul’s advice. I pray and then remind myself what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Do you know what fits all those categories and more? God. And there are two ways that I can remind (sometimes convince) myself of the truth about God: the Bible and my past.
Let me explain. We can use our past to remind ourselves of the truth about God by looking back on our lives and recalling all the times that God was at work, guiding and comforting us. God is always at work in and around us. We just have to open our eyes to look for God’s presence. The longer we’ve known the Lord, the longer that list of the ways He’s been at work will be.
The other way we can shift our thinking is by reminding ourselves what we’ve learned about God from the Bible. The more we read God’s Word, the more we get to know God’s character. As we read, we see over and over again the ways that God works in the lives of the people of the Bible. We also read promises of God working in our lives as well. God doesn’t change. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So when we get to know God in scripture, we can trust that that same God is at work in our lives today as well.
Psalm 16 is a great example of scripture that helps us remember God’s character. The verses that stick out to me are: “Every good thing I have comes from you…, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing… I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me… You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:2b, 5a, 8, 11, NLT)
In verse 8, David says that he knows that the Lord is always with him. “I know” is a really strong statement. David doesn’t say “I hope” or “I wish” or “if only.” No. David knows that God is always with him. But how? How did David know that? Those two things again: God’s Word and his past. Those are the two ways to consistently remind ourselves that God is always with us – guiding, directing, comforting, supporting, and encouraging us. This truth about God’s character is found beyond Psalm 16. We see it throughout scripture, from the stories of Genesis to the Psalms to the Gospels to the letters of Paul. And we can see it in our past as well. We just have to look for it. – Sarah Neel
- Do you struggle with anxiety? How can you use God’s Word and your past to help change your thinking and shift your focus away from anxious thoughts onto the truth about God?
- Consider making a list of God’s qualities that comfort and encourage you that you can look at when you need help with your anxiety. You can include qualities from scripture as well as examples of God’s faithfulness in your own life.
- An interesting resource you can check out as we slowly work through the Psalms is the work of the band Sons of Korah. According to their website, “Sons of Korah is an Australian based band devoted to giving a fresh voice to the biblical psalms… They endeavor to lead their listeners into an impacting encounter with this book that is often described as the ‘heart’ of the Bible. From lamentation to songs of jubilant praise, from battle cry to benediction, from exclamation of awe and wonder to reflections of tranquility and perfect wisdom, Sons of Korah provide a compelling portrait of the world and experience of the psalms.” They’ve recorded a version of Psalm 16 that you can check out on YouTube & Spotify.
PASSAGE REFERENCED: ACTS 14:21-28
OTHER PASSAGES TO READ: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12;
EPHESIANS 4:11-13, 16; PHILIPPIANS 2:25
After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. 23Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia.25They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia.
Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. 28And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.– Acts 14:21-28, NLT
We can learn quite a bit from this passage about the life-cycle of missionaries. They preached the Good News and strengthened the disciples – encouraging them to remain true to the faith. Then they appointed elders in each church, committing them to the Lord.
Here in Papua New Guinea, that’s what our church planters do as well. First, they have to learn the language and culture of the tribal people group they’ll be working with to be able to preach the Good News to them effectively. They then preach through the entirety of scripture, establishing a firm foundation and guiding the tribal people to understand that they’re sinners in need of a Savior and must rely on Jesus and not their own work to be part of God’s family. Once there are believers who are truly putting their faith in Jesus’ blood alone to save them, the missionaries strengthen the new disciples in their faith and encourage them in the hardships they will go through. In this process, the missionaries move out of the tribal location but continue to go back to the tribe to continue discipling and encouraging the church as they grow into maturity. Leaders develop within the church and are eventually nurtured into elders. Then the work of the missionary is complete. But it takes 12-18 years to get there. They must commit the church to the Lord and trust Him to continue the work He started there. Our missionaries will still go back to visit and encourage the tribal church, and so did Paul. But, at this point, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, considering their work “complete.”
The church at Antioch was the church that sent them out, their sending church, and now they return to gather the church together to report all that God had done through them. Imagine that gathering – the report that Paul and Barnabas were able to give of the ways God was opening a door of faith among the Gentiles. I’m sure the church in Antioch came away amazed and encouraged, uplifted by this God-glorifying report. This could happen for WCC as well, as you take time to hear from missionaries and how God is working through them and through this church to reach the nations.
As part of the church body at WCC, both you and the church’s missionaries are part of the same body working together to build and uplift the church. Not only are missionaries part of planting and building up a church where they have gone to serve, they’re also still part of building up their sending church. You are working in partnership with each of the church’s missionaries to grow your church to maturity in Christ. Are you acting as effective hands and feet? Or are you hanging limply alongside your mission partners, failing to play your vital role in supporting them practically, relationally, and through prayer?
Verse 28 says that Paul and Barnabas stayed a long time in Antioch with their sending church. Imagine that time. What do you think it was like to hear all the stories of Acts in person from the missionaries that experienced it? Did the church cherish every opportunity they had to hear more about God’s glory, His mighty acts, His faithful provision? Or do you think they stood at a distance and missed out as the missionaries left on another journey?
Our yearly Missions emphasis just concluded, but you can get more involved with Missions at any time. So make a point to connect with one of WCC’s Mission Partners that joined us in person this past Sunday. Or reach out to a missionary who wasn’t able to come to the Missions Celebration to hear more of their story and what God is doing. You can also sign-up for our mission partners’ email updates and take the time to get to know them and cheer them on as fellow workers in the Lord. And be sure to visit https://warsaw.cc/missions to find out more about our partners, Pit Crews, 3rd Thursday Missions Nights, and other ways you can become more involved with Missions. – Summer Zimmer
Passages referenced: Acts 1:8; 9:16; 13:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16
The Book of Acts is rich with riveting accounts of how God began to fulfill the Great Commission through Jesus’ disciples. Before His ascension, Jesus commanded His followers to “be [his] witnesses, telling people about [him] everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NLT) Despite this directive, the young church of Jerusalem focused on its own flock. Very few ventured outside the city walls to share their newfound faith.
Our reading this week is a turning point in the story. Here the Gospel jumps from being shared primarily with the Jews in and around Jerusalem to become the Good News for the Gentiles (all other people groups) as well. Through this shift, God provided the way to take His Gospel to the ends of the earth.
After Stephen’s death, persecution scattered the believers of Jerusalem in every direction, some fleeing as far north as Antioch in Syria. Antioch was a thriving commercial center, attracting merchants and tradespeople from distant lands and diverse cultures. The Jewish believers interacted with shopkeepers and neighbors along the narrow, bustling streets. Believers shared their faith in Christ. Relationships grew. God touched peoples’ hearts, and many responded to the Gospel, Jew and Gentile alike. Soon, a thriving church community was born!
There is much to admire about this remarkable church. The Antioch church leadership team in Acts 13 is an inspiring example of inclusion and harmony, listing men of wide-ranging cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The church was bold and welcoming in its community by pioneering open outreach to the Gentiles. And it was compassionate and generous by sending relief to their sister church in Jerusalem. The people of the church were first called “Christians” there. Perhaps this nickname was a testament to their Christ-like character and love.
The church of Antioch is also a model of how the church is involved in sending out missionaries. The church leaders, led by the Holy Spirit, gathered together to fast and pray. Little is written about that meeting except that they prayed until they had an answer. The Holy Spirit clearly led the men to commission Saul (also known as Paul) and Barnabas for His “special work.” They prayed again, laying their hands on the two, dedicating the men to God. Then the church leaders sent them out on their first mission—to bring the light of God’s grace to a vast and spiritually dark world to the west.
In a time of intense growth, the church of Antioch chose to obey the Spirit and gave two of their best teachers to this venture. The implication in Acts 13:1-3 is that there was unity amongst the leaders about the goal and target of the mission. They were going to preach the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches where God’s saving story had never been heard. And later in the book, when their challenging journey was complete, the Church of Antioch welcomed the missionaries home, listened to their report, and celebrated God’s work through them. Then Paul and Barnabas returned to their roles in the church body, leading, teaching, and discipling until God called them to their next outreach. These qualities are valuable to emulate in a mission-oriented church, even today.
If one considers his history, Paul was absolutely the least logical choice to lead this mission. He later referred to himself as“a prime example of [God’s] great patience with even the worst sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:16, NLT) This violent terrorizer of the early church became the caring planter of at least 14 vibrant churches. He did this knowing full well how he would suffer (see Acts 9:16). Be encouraged that God uses us, in spite of us, if we will submit to His direction. In the end, the work is unmistakably God’s and can only be credited to His glory.
The Book of Acts is a story of God using flawed but willing followers to advance His Kingdom. It is a story of faith, grit, and deep dependence on His Spirit. It is the story of the birth and beauty of the church. But it is more than a narrative. It is God’s Word, “useful to teach us what is true.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT) So, as we read, know that God is revealing these scenes to us, twenty centuries later, to help us continue His story. His Great Commission is not yet complete. We have our chapter to write, and the pen is in our hands. – Mike Boze
Passages referenced: Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 6:1-14; 7; 8:1-3, 26-40; 9; 10:23-48
The book of Acts has a lot of action and growth of the Church. This book shows what the First Church looked like - outside of an actual church building. And it follows the lives of several disciples as they preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers – an astonishing number of which became followers of Christ and were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 6:4, we see the main focus of the disciples is to spend time in prayer and teach the Word of God. We see this lived out throughout the book of Acts. Not only do we see several examples of how disciples maintained this focus, but we also see examples of how we should live our lives. We see the importance of a focus of prayer, connection to God through the Holy Spirit, and sharing the hope of the Gospel within our daily lives, regardless of job, age, gender, socio-economic status, etc. We are all called to live this way (see Matthew 28:18-20). Stephen is a great first example of this. He was one of seven men chosen to oversee daily food distribution (see Acts 6:1-6). As he carried out the task he was given, he continually honored God and performed miracles before being arrested for false accusations (see Acts 6:7-14). Stephen used the opportunity before the high council to preach the Gospel as a way to defend himself before being stoned to death (see Acts 7:1-60).
Within this passage, we are introduced to Paul (see Acts 7:58), who wrote the majority of the New Testament letters. At the time, he was actively persecuting the Church at large (see Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-2) before his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:3-18). Paul began preaching the Gospel immediately to all who would hear it (see Acts 9:19-31).
Tabitha made coats and clothes for the poor and widowed as a way to share the Gospel. Her story became even more impactful when she died and was raised to life again by Peter, which caused several more people to believe in Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:36-43).
Philip followed the guidance he received from the Holy Spirit and found himself in a position to preach the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the book of Isaiah but didn’t understand the meaning of what he was reading. Philip explained the text and the Gospel to the eunuch and baptized him (see Acts 8:26-40).
Peter was called to do something unheard of at the time; he started socializing and eating with Gentiles, which was against Jewish law (see Acts 10:28). Not only did he associate with them, but he preached the Gospel message to them and then baptized them (see Acts 10:23-48).
All of these instances were disciples stepping out in faith to share the hope of the Gospel with others. They were able to create more disciple-making disciples connected to God through prayer and the Holy Spirit, following His promptings, and teaching the Word of God to others. – Abby Sroufe
- How are you inspired and challenged by the example set by these New Testament believers?
- How are you being a disciple today?
- How are you being a disciple-maker today?
Note: do you have questions about this week’s Bible reading? We’d love to help! Rather than relying on the first thing you find on the internet, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We are more than happy to answer that nagging question you have, provide you with some clarity, or point you in the right direction for further study.
Passages referenced: Psalm 8:1,3; 139:7-10; 147:5; Isaiah 40:12-14; Romans 6:9, 8:37-39
In Psalm 8:1, David sings, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (ESV)
The dictionary says that majestic means to have or show impressive beauty or dignity. When I think of impressive beauty, I tend to think of nature. Last year my husband and I took a road trip down to the Great Smoky Mountains. One of my favorite spots was Abram Falls: a 4-mile hike to see a rushing waterfall in the forefront of brilliant fall-colored trees. It was breathtaking, even somewhat majestic, and one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
I think many of us have no issue appreciating the majestic nature of material things – exotic travels, successful relationships, attractive appearances, and more. Yet, we struggle to appreciate and understand the majestic nature of our God. So who exactly is our God, and why does He deserve the attribute of majestic?
Our God is the creator of the universe. Psalm 8:3 says, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” (ESV)
Our God is omnipotent – He can do anything (see Matthew 19:26),
Omniscient – He knows everything (see Psalm 147:5),
And omnipresent – He is everywhere (see Psalm 139:7-10)!
Our God unconditionally loves those He calls His children (see Romans 8:37-39).
Our God has dominion over everything, including death (see Romans 6:9).
Sometimes we hear these attributes of God repeatedly and forget just how impressive our God actually is. We even may tend to limit God, His character, and His capabilities. However, Isaiah 40:12-14 paints a perfect picture of our God’s limitless, majestic character:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lordor what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:12-14, ESV)
Wow, what a contrast between what God can do and what we cannot do. Our God can do anything, and He does not need anyone’s counsel, understanding, or knowledge. In scripture, God is sometimes called Naddir Kavod (in Hebrew), meaning Majestic Glory. God is the most impressive beauty. We should be in constant awe over our God Himself and all that He can do. Not even Abram Falls can compare to the majestic glory of our God. So now I ask you, does God take your breath away? – Madison Murphy
- What are some things in your life that take your breath away? Is there something or someone that is taking precedence over your awe with God?
This week kicks off our reading of the book of Acts. This 28-chapter book was written by Luke, the same author of the Gospel of Luke. It is a continuation of his account of what Jesus did and taught, first in person (in Luke) and then through the Holy Spirit in the Early Church (Acts).
A great resource whenever starting to read and study a new book is The Bible Project – especially their overview videos. They are an excellent source for background information and context as they walk through the book’s sections and themes. And they can be really helpful for those who appreciate some visuals while learning. Here’s their video for Acts 1-12: https://youtu.be/CGbNw855ksw.
Weekly reading: John 17-21; Psalm 5-6
Passages referenced: John 16-20
“He is risen.” – All Christians everywhere
Easter is the defining celebration of our faith. This is the point where we most clearly focus on what makes us distinct—Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. We thank God for the forgiveness we have in Christ through His death on the cross and the promise of life everlasting with Him thanks to His resurrection from the dead. Woven throughout the final chapter of John, we see this Easter story played out. God’s Word is a rich tapestry, and the main thread is His redemptive plan. Criss-crossing that pinnacle moment in the latter part of John is another important thread, God’s plan for followers of Christ. Let’s spend some time tracing several significant passages from John 16 to John 20 where we can begin to discern our role as followers of Jesus Christ, now that Easter has come. – Nate Metler
Invited In (John 16:28) – Jesus is very clear with the disciples that He will not be physically present with them much longer. In John 16:28, He sums things up, saying, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Jesus is making it plain that the disciples need to be prepared to step into a larger role, with the help of the Holy Spirit, when He returns to His Father in heaven. This is the role we are invited into as well. (Fun fact: this verse can be seen as an outline for the entire Gospel of John: “came from the Father” 1:1-18, “entered the world” 1:19-12:50, “leaving the world” 13:1-19:42, and “going to the Father” 20:1-21:25.)
Knowing Him (John 17:3) – In John 17, Jesus begins a rich, lengthy prayer where He lifts to His Father what is on His heart as He prepares for the cross and returning to God in heaven. In verse 3, Jesus prays, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Here we are given a paradigm-shifting truth. Knowing God, having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is where we can experience the reality of eternal life. Being a disciple is fundamentally this.
Increasing Joy (John 17:13) – A few verses later in the prayer, Jesus prays, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus’ heart for us is that we would experience His joy more completely as we go about our lives. One mark of a disciple is greater and greater joy in Christ.
In the World (John 17:15) – Jesus’ groundbreaking prayer continues, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” While we may wonder why we are here in this fallen world, Jesus is clear that there is a reason. Our purpose on Earth is fulfilled when we are in the midst of this world and trust Him to protect us.
Defined by Love (John 17:26) – Here in verse 26 and several other key passages, Jesus makes it clear that we are defined and known by God’s love and the love we have for each other. Jesus prays, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” This, again, is countercultural. You probably know some Christians that live this out well. They’re the ones that leave you with the impression that God’s love is more real than you ever imagined.
People of Truth (John 18:37) – Jesus has been arrested by John 18, and he is being questioned by the governor. Verse 37 picks up with Pilate saying, “‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” Jesus defines the kingdom where His authority reigns as the kingdom of truth. To be disciples, we must be committed to seeking and listening to the truth (see also John 16:13).
Sent Out (John 20:21) – Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Maybe the lesser-known “Great Commission,” John’s Gospel includes the resurrected Jesus telling His disciples to go out in His name. One hallmark trait of a follower of Christ is a commitment to this commission. We are compelled to go out into the world in His name as ambassadors of the hope we have in Him.
Believing and Secure (John 20:31) – Toward the end of John, the purpose for the whole book is spelled out. John says, “But these are written that youmay believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John rounds out this picture of a disciple as one who believes and has security that their life is entirely caught up in Christ for all eternity.
Weekly reading: Mark 16; Luke 22-24; John 13; Psalm 3-4
I treated last week’s devotion as a bit of an intro to this year’s Bible Reading Plan and stressed the importance of getting a good study Bible. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to continue that introductory nature with this week’s devotional. This year we’ll be reading quite a few Psalms, and I want to make sure we have some good background info as we get started.
And just a note before we begin: starting next week, these devotionals will be actual devotionals. Ones that are connected to the weekly reading, that you hopefully find encouraging, challenging, and personal, and that are written by a variety of individuals: staff, elders, members of the congregation, men & women, young & old, etc.
Now, let’s get to know the book of Psalms. Here’s some general info to get us started:
Number of psalms:150
Definition of a psalm: a sacred song or poem used in worship
Especially: one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms
David – 73 psalms
Asaph – 12 psalms
Sons of Korah – 11 psalms
Heman & Ethan – 2 psalms
Solomon & Moses – 3 psalms
Anonymous – 49 psalms
Organization of the collection:
Book 1 – Psalms 1-41
Book 2 – Psalms 42-72
Book 3 – Psalms 73-89
Book 4 – Psalms 90-106
Book 5 – Psalms 107-150
Main styles of psalms: lament & praise
Psalms of lament = prayers of pain, confusion, and anger
These psalms draw attention to what’s wrong in the world and ask God to do something about it. They show us that lament is an appropriate response to the evil and injustice we see in our world and that acknowledging our pain can be a healthy and healing experience.
They dominate Books 1-3.
Psalms of praise = prayers of joy & celebration
Since the Psalms are poems and songs, we shouldn’ approach them in the same way we do prose and the narratives and letters we find in other books of the Bible. When we read the Psalms, we should expect to find vivid imagery, lots of emotions, and figures of speech like similes and metaphors.
In The Case for the Psalms N.T. Wright says, “The Psalms are among the oldest poems in the world, and they still rank with any poetry in any culture, ancient or modern, from anywhere in the world. They are full of power and passion, horrendous misery and unrestrained jubilation, tender sensitivity and powerful hope. Anyone at all whose heart is open to new dimensions of human experience, anyone who loves good writing, anyone who wants a window into the bright lights and dark corners of the human soul—anyone open to the beautiful expression of a larger vision of reality should react to these poems like someone who hasn’t had a good meal for a week or two. It’s all here.”
Throughout the next year, we will typically read two psalms a week, and we will most likely get through around 100 psalms. That will carry us through Books 1-3 and into Book 4, as explained above. Which means we will see more psalms of lament rather than praise. But maybe that’s a good thing considering the last year we’ve experienced.
I am excited about this year’s Bible Reading Plan, especially that we’ll slowly be working our way through the Psalms. I’m looking forward to the ways I’ll be encouraged, comforted, and challenged by these poems of lament and praise. And I hope you are as well. – Sarah Neel
Sources: The Bible Project: Psalms https://bibleproject.com/learn/psalms/ & A Psalm for All Seasons: Studies in the Books of Psalms by Bob Deffinbaugh https://bible.org/series/psalm-all-seasons-studies-book-psalms
Weekly reading: Matthew 26-28; Mark 14-15; Psalm 1-2
Passages referenced: James 1:22
As I was doing this week’s reading, I was reminded of how helpful a good study Bible can be. They are a great tool that can enrich your reading of God’s Word. Sure, there are countless resources out there, especially on the internet. But it’s just so handy to have additional resources included right next to the text you’re reading. And that’s what you get with a study Bible.
My study Bible provides a timeline of the life of Christ, with a special section on His last week, within the Matthew chapters we’re reading. This is helpful because it takes events from all four gospels and puts together the whole picture of the week. Sometimes it can be tricky to remember where each event is found within the four accounts, so this is super helpful. Because it was useful for me, I thought I’d copy it here for you too:
THE LAST WEEK
The Triumphal Entry, JERUSALEM, Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19
Jesus curses the fig tree, Monday
Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14
Jesus clears the temple, Monday
Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18
The authority of Jesus questioned, Tuesday
Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
Jesus teaches in the temple, Tuesday
Matthew 21:28-23:39; Mark 12:1-44; Luke 20:9-21:4
Jesus anointed, BETHANY, Tuesday
Matthew 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; John 12:2-11
The plot against Jesus, Wednesday
Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6
The Last Supper, Thursday
Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:1-38
Jesus comforts the disciples, Thursday
Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46
Jesus’ arrest and trial, Thursday night and Friday
Matthew 26:47-27:26; Mark 14:43-15:15; Luke 22:47-23:25; John 18:2-19:16
Jesus’ crucifixion and death, GOLGOTHA, Friday
Matthew 27:27-56; Mark 15:16-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
The burial of Jesus, JOSEPH’S TOMB, Friday
Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42
And in my reading of our Mark chapters for the week, I found another interesting resource: a map of Bethany, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem with all the passion week events noted by location. Again, this type of resource adds another layer to our understanding of the narrative. Another great tool that you’ll find in every study Bible is a collection of notes below the text. They can be notes on translation, cultural context, or links to other verses. And some study Bibles even have devotional elements and reflection or discussion included.
So I guess this brings me to the point of all this: get a study Bible and use it. I love the Bible App just as much as the next person because it means I always have a Bible with me, and I can easily switch between translations. But when it comes to daily reading God’s Word and really digging it and studying it, a physical study Bible can’t be beaten. So I hope you’ll get one if you don’t have one yet. And then really use it – feel free to highlight, underline, jot down notes, and add a bunch of sticky tabs. And if you don’t have one yet and aren’t sure how to pick one out, I’d love to help. Shoot me an email (email@example.com), and we can figure out the right one for you.
And as you’re following along with the WCC Bible Reading Plan, be sure to use the Observation, Interpretation, Application guide on the handout. It’s a simple tool that helps you engage with the text and better understand what you’re reading. And be sure to read through the notes in your study Bible, talk through what you’re reading with others using this plan, and encourage your family and friends to join you if they haven’t yet.
I’d like to leave you with one last thing – a challenge I grew up hearing from my pastor that I think is a great reminder as we kick off another year of reading God’s Word together: as we get into God’s Word, may it get into us. May we not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. (ref. James 1:22) – Sarah Neel