Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bible reading plan "for the love of God" . . . uncommon Christianity in action

For those without a regular Bible reading plan--or who want a change from their regular Bible reading habit--I highly recommend D.A. Carson's two-volume For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. While here in Israel (May 2009- ), I just completed volume one as I meditatively and prayerfully work my way through the Bible for the 16th time as a Christian (1992- ).

Carson's devotional work follows the Bible reading plan of the 19th-century Scottish minister Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843). If M'Cheyne's plan of reading four chapters per day is followed, then the reader will have read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice in a one-year period. (Click here to read the four-chapters-per-day plan.)

According to M'Cheyne, the individual and corporate advantages of reading the Bible according to his plan are:

(1) The whole Bible will be read through in an orderly manner in the course of a year.
(2) Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read.
(3) The pastor will know in which part of the pasture (Bible) the flock are feeding.
(4) The sweet bond of Christian love and unity will be strengthened in a congregation.
Unlike most Christian devotional works, and among other benefits, For the Love of God helps the reader understand the big picture of the Bible's storyline (redemptive/salvation history). Of volume one, the publisher (Crossway, 1998) summarizes the book as follows:

In a world that views absolute truth, right and wrong, and salvation as being subject to individual interpretation, the Bible’s unwavering proclamations and miraculous stories seem obsolete in modern times. But it is not God’s Word that has changed. Indeed, its relevancy and its power to transform lives are intact. What has changed is the number of people who consult it. Now more than ever the need to read the Bible, to understand the big picture of its storyline, and to grasp the relevance this has for your life is critical.

As with its companion volume, "For the Love of God, Volume Two," this devotional contains a systematic 365-day plan, based on the M’Cheyne Bible-reading schedule, that will in the course of a year guide you through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once.

In an effort to help preserve biblical thinking and living, D. A. Carson has also written thought-provoking comments and reflections regarding each day’s scriptural passages. And, most uniquely, he offers you perspective that places each reading into the larger framework of history and God’s eternal plan to deepen your understanding of his sovereignty—and the unity and power of his Word.

Indeed, "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 8:3b; Matthew 4:4).

I pray the Lord raise up more "Bible Christians," one of the five traits or characteristics of James Brainerd Taylor's (1801-1829)--really the the Lord Jesus's and the Apostles's--uncommon Christianity. M'Cheyne's Bible reading plan and Carson's companion devotional can help much in this regard.

Click here (volume one) and here (volume two) to view excerpts from or to purchase For the Love of God.

Or, for a free online version of each day's Bible readings (four chapters) plus Carson's devotional commentary, click here (For the Love of God blog/digital version).