There's a great story that gets repeated often about legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi getting so frustrated with the lack of progress he felt his team was making that he actually stopped a Green Bay Packers football practice, looked at a group of professional football players, held up a football and said something like: "Let's start at the beginning. This is a football. These are the yard markers. I'm the coach. You're the players..."
Lombardi believed that a basic necessity of having a great game plan and becoming a great team was a firm grasp on the fundamentals. I think he's right!
Isaiah 55:11 contains a power packed promise regarding one of the fundamentals absolutely essential if you want to develop a great game plan for spiritual growth. Here's the promise: "...so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
According to Isaiah, God's Word is powerful! In fact, Hebrews 4:12 says it like this: "For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires."
For the last several years one of the fundamentals of my personal GAME PLAN for spiritual growth has been setting a goal to read through the Bible each year... I've not been perfect in my attempts... Quite honestly, I miss a few days here and there...
When that happens, I've learned not to stress or attempt to play "catch up..." That's a recipe for burnout and frustration... I've learned that it's not about the amount of Scripture I read (like it's some kind of contest about who can read the most), but it's about how much I allow the Holy Spirit to work God's Word into the fabric of my heart and life...
With that said, there's a definable difference in several areas of my life when I make God's Word a priority. Areas like: my progress in spiritual growth, my level of peace and patience in the midst of adversity and setbacks, my desire to be conformed into the image of Jesus, my ability to overcome temptation, just to name a few...
The guys over at YouVersion.com have made a couple of dozen or so Bible Reading Plans available totally free of charge. You can check them out by clicking here... For the last two years, I've used the M'Cheyne One Year Reading Plan and I've really enjoyed it... Here's a blog post by You Version on how to get started with your own reading plan right away.
If you're thinking about a New Year's Resolution, and want to make one that has the potential to totally revolutionize your life, "This is a football! This is fundamental!" READ THE BIBLE! Check out one of the Bible Reading plans available via You Version and get started JANUARY 1!
Another cool thing about You Version is that you can download an app of You Version to your phone so that you can practically access God's Word anywhere! Once again, it's totally free! Check out the app download page by clicking here.
Further, we've also launched a You Version Group where members of the a2 Church family can share insights, prayer requests, access the message notes from the weekend, etc. You can join the a2 Church You Version Group by clicking here.
There's even a way to link your You Version account to your Social Media Networks like Twitter of Facebook so that you can share a passage of Scripture with your friends! I love being able to do this!
For those of you want other options or may prefer "hard copy" over digital... The ESV Study Bible (currently my favorite Study Bible) has several reading plans available. Further, when you purchase a hardcopy version of the ESV Study Bible it includes access to the online version of the ESV Study Bible. Again, I use this Study Bible every week and love it!
There are also a few hard copy One Year Bibles you can check out via Amazon or your local Christian retailer (Lifeway, Family Bookstore, Amen Corner, etc.) The One Year Bible is available in the NLT, NIV and ESV. There's even a download available for your KIndle.
If you want to get a glimpse of the order in which things occurred in the Bible, there's even a hard copy available of the One Year Chronological Bible that will give you that perspective...
1. Select a Bible Reading plan that works for you! Keep in mind, this is not a contest about who can read the most... It's about God's Word transforming your life!
2. If you miss a day, don't get frustrated and throw in the towel... QUESTION: Do you ever get really, really busy and miss a meal? When that happens, do you get frustrated and give up eating? I doubt it! Most of the time, we just eat really good the next time around... If you miss a day when it comes to reading the Bible, repent and move on... Don't let the evil one have a field day in your mind...
3. Apply what you read! The Bible wasn't given to us for information, but for transformation! It's great to read the Word of God, it's even better when we allow God's Word to "read us" and begin changing us from the inside out! So, as you're reading, put into practice the stuff you're reading! Let God's Word change you!
4. Find a partner to help keep you accountable! Ask someone to touch base with you weekly just to check in on your progress as it relates to reading and applying God's Word. This is probably essential, if you're going to keep this up over the long haul!
5. Don't procrastinate! Keep off your new plan on January 1!!!!
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Bible!"