It is a question I've asked. Is it legalism to use a Bible reading plan? Shouldn't I enjoy reading my Bible out of sheer love and spontaneous joy with no need of a plan?
I tend to be very structured with my Bible reading for one year, sticking close to a Bible reading plan. But then the next year I don't follow a plan, choosing to just read wherever I want. I don't think either are necessarily wrong and sometimes those "plan-free, spontaneous" years were years with an infant when life needs a little flexibility.
But guess which I like best at the end of the year? Yes. The structured years. That may have something to do with my personality and my love of lists, but the fact is that when I have a plan for my Bible reading, I do it. When I don't have a plan, it is all up to chance and there is a far greater chance that Bible reading will be crowded out of my day.
But is it legalistic to have a Bible reading plan?
I think of it this way. If a friend calls me and says, "We haven't gotten together for a while. How about meeting at the coffeeshop next week on Tuesday at 10:00?"
I don't say, "If you need to schedule a time to meet me, you don't really care about our friendship. You should love me enough to get together spontaneously."
Of course not. I appreciate my friend's effort to invest in our friendship. I will feel loved by her commitment.
If using a Bible reading plan is an asset to my walk with God, if it is the way I show that I'm committed to hearing from God's Word, then I don't think it is legalistic, but love.
Last year as a family, we used the Beginner's Bible Reading plan. This was a perfect fit for our children and I love that they built the habit of waking up with their alarm, grabbing their Bibles, and heading for the living room. In 2017 we plan to read through the New Testament with the children.
For my personal reading, I plan to read the Daily Light devotional which is Scripture arranged by themes in short morning and evening readings.
There are so many Bible reading plans. (This is a great list of Bible reading plans.) I don't believe it matters how much or how little you choose to read, but that you consciously decide to make God's Word a priority in the coming year and have a plan to make your priority a reality.
One of my favorite Bible resources is Power Bible. When Ed bought me a new laptop this past year, one of the first questions I asked was "Can you install Power Bible?" Power Bible is a very economical, easy-to-use computer Bible program. I use it all the time when I'm preparing Bible lessons, studying for Sunday School, or just in personal Bible study. When it is this easy to find a word meaning, do a word search, or check a commentary, I'm much more likely to do it.
What resources encourage your Bible study? Do you have a plan for your Bible reading in 2017?