We put so much planning and preparation into each Christmas season.  2016 was no exception.  I worked for weeks trying to get everything ready.  The anticipation in our house caused an undercurrent of excitement that made every day full of questions.  I didn’t get started on the homemade gifts soon enough, so my kids are still anticipating more gifts, but the Christmas lull has set in just the same.  The excitement that comes along with the mystery of a pile of gifts has spent itself.  All the children are busy playing and fighting over each others’ toys.  In the meantime, I am trying to figure out how to reorganize everything so that the new toys aren’t scattered all over the house to become broken or lost.  I am leaving the Christmas decorations up a little longer because they are so pretty, plus, it seems wrong to take them down and cause Christmas to end so abruptly.  

I hope that the Christmas lull isn’t entering our relationship with God the way it does our homes.  It is good to have some downtime after the Christmas rush, but I have to be careful not to let my commitment to spending time with God take a rest.  Several years ago I started making a plan for my relationship with God in the coming year.  I don’t always stick with the plan, but it helps me to keep my time with God as a priority.  I choose a Bible reading plan and also a devotional book with a reading for each day of the year.  That way if I get behind with the Bible reading plan I don’t leave off reading the Bible completely.

I have read the Bible through using many different plans. If you want to read it through chronologically,  this Bible is a good choice. The One Year Bible is a good option for those who want to read a selection of the Old Testamant, the New Testament, the Psalms, and Proverbs each day.  Another option is to read straight through using a plan that has you read 3 or 4 chapters a day.  I can’t say which method I like the best.  I really enjoy reading the Bible straight through from cover to cover, but when I do that, I miss the New Testament since most of the year is spent reading Old Testament books.  I enjoy the One Year Bible with its variety each day, and the Chronological Bible puts everything in the order that helps you get a picture of how all the prophets and kings intertwine as the story unfolds.  If you like to use your smart phone to read the Bible, you can download the You Version App (if you search it in the app store, search “You Version” it will bring up “Bible”) The You Version App has many different reading plans to choose from.  You can even choose whichever version you prefer to read from.  It will keep track of your daily reading for you and place a check mark in the box as you finish each day.  I would say that any choice you make is a great choice (even if you don’t follow any of the plans I mentioned).  As long as you are prayerfully reading the Word of God, you are filling your mind with God’s truth and giving Him the opportunity to work in your life.

I believe that reading the Bible should be a priority for us as followers of Jesus.  It is God’s way of showing us Who He is and how much He loves us.  I know there are many debates going around over what translation of the Bible is the best one to read.  I’m not going to start a debate here, I’m just going to share my opinion.  I have read many translations (and paraphrases).  God has shown me new things each time I read the Bible through regardless of what translation I am using.  No matter how careful the translators are, they bring their own bias and traditions to the work and it influences how they interpret the original languages.  I think reading from a variety of translations is good, and I would suggest you choose one that is easy for you to understand.  If you choose a translation that is more difficult to understand, you may become discouraged in your reading and not stick with your Bible reading plan.

Let’s keep Jesus in the forefront of our minds as we wind down 2016 and throughout 2017!

2Timothy 2:14-16 says:

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  But avoid irrevernt babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

John 15:7-11 says:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Lord Jesus, please help us as we strive to keep our eyes on You.  We want to keep the Christmas spirit all year long.  Give us the courage to depend on You and obey You daily.  Thank You for loving us.