Your Best First Step

By Mark A. Taylor

As we finish 2012, many are deciding their Bible-reading plan for the new year. While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of plans out there, here are three that deserve special attention.

The first is published by our daughter publication, The Lookout. The plan takes users through the whole Bible in a year, but not straight through Genesis to Revelation. Instead, each day’s selections include readings from the Gospels, another New Testament book, the Wisdom books (Job through Ecclesiastes), and another Old Testament book. Next year’s plan begins January 6. Each Sunday The Lookout will devote a page of commentary, insight, and inspiration by David Faust to get readers started on that week’s reading.

You can encourage church members to follow along with the plan as you provide The Lookout for them each week. Or find the whole year’s readings in a convenient download at

Another advantage of this plan: Those who choose to read their Bibles daily but aren’t committed to reading the whole Bible in a year can easily follow this outline. Just choose one of the four portions of Scripture suggested each day. For example, you can read and meditate on all four Gospel records this year using The Lookout’s plan. (Faust’s 2013 reflections and commentary will center on the Gospel passages.)

A portion of one page of the book, “Discovering God’s Story.”

Another way to look at the whole Bible (but not necessarily read every verse in the Bible) is to use Discovering God’s Story. This beautifully illustrated hardcover leads the reader through the Bible chronologically, considering 100 key Bible eras or events. Daily Bible readings coordinate with each section, and simple commentary and an illustrated time line give insight and context.

Earlier this year Matt Lockhart described how he used this book as a weekly family devotional resource. It also is an excellent guide for your personal enrichment or any group study.

New this year is Diane Stortz’s book, A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year (published by Bethany House). In it the former Standard Publishing editorial director tells how her life was changed simply by reading through the Bible in a year with a group of women who met weekly to discuss that week’s chapters. She has participated in such a group for more than 10 years, and she begins the book with pointers for starting your own group.

Stortz’s experience is with women’s groups, but anyone could use her simple outline of Bible readings for the year. Her plan alternates between Old Testament and New Testament books, sometimes considering a whole book in one stretch and other times interspersing readings from one book with those from another.

The key, of course, isn’t choosing the perfect plan but in following any plan. “I didn’t start really to know God until I made knowing him my goal as I read the Bible,” Stortz wrote.

If 2013 is the year you want to know God better, meeting him in his Word each day is the best first step.

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