In my recent study of Ezekiel, I started to get a little confused. At certain points in the book, God tells Ezekiel that he is going to be mute. Then, in the very next verse or chapter, Ezekiel speaks to the people (see Ezek. 24:27 and 25:1, for example). I wondered, how can he be mute and also be speaking?
The answer lies in what he was speaking: the Word of God. He was restricted from speaking unless the word of the Lord came to him. This was explained back in Ezekiel 3:26-27, although I had forgotten about it: “I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute….But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God…..”
The prophet Amos confirmed this experience: “The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8) And when the Apostles were severely threatened by the Jewish Council and told not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore, they responded, “Uh, that’s all well and good, fellas, but we don’t really have a choice in the matter…for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard!” (Acts 4:13-20).
It seems that when the Lord has something to reveal about Himself, there is no containing it. He speaks, the world is created. Whatever He says comes to pass. And we are privileged to have the Bible, which is God-breathed, living and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword (2 Tim. 3:16 and Heb. 4:12). How can we not study it, dwell on it, and memorize it? How can we not speak the things which we have seen and heard?
Although I generally prefer to study a small section of the Bible in great detail, there’s also something to be said for getting a broad overview by reading through the entire Bible in a year. It helps you see the overall narrative, pick up on connections, and improve your biblical literacy. However, it can be hard to stick to a plan. Below are 5 tips to help you stick to a reading plan in the coming year:
- Don’t be a perfectionist. If you get behind a few days, don’t try to make it up. Instead, just pick up where you should currently be reading and go back only if you have time. Knowing God is a lifelong pursuit; if you’re reading your Bible consistently, you’ll encounter the part you skipped again sometime. It’s better to miss a small part and stick with it than quitting because you’ve gotten too far behind.
- Do it with someone else. I was the queen of starting Bible-reading plans and not finishing them until I got married. Now my husband and I do the plan together and he makes sure I stick with it, even when I want to slack off!
- Try to read it at the same time every day, or tie it to something in your daily routine that you have to do every day.
- Pray that God will give you motivation and perseverance. That’s a prayer He would love to answer positively!
- Pick a plan that makes sense to you. Some plans have you reading in four different places every day; personally, I find jumping around that much to be confusing. Some people like the variety, though. There are so many plans to pick from—find something that suits your style. Click here for a Canonical reading plan. This means that you will encounter the books of the Old Testament in the order that the Ancient Hebrews would have originally read them. (The New Testament is still in the same order as in the English Bible.) Happy New Year!
*Credit for organizing the Canonical reading plan into a spreadsheet, adding some sweet clip art, and making me stick to it all year goes to my awesome husband, Thomas.*