Are You Ready for 2007?

Right now, there's a good chance you are in the middle of Christmas planning, last-minute shopping, and maybe close to the brink of insanity! ("If I have to wrap ONE more gift...") I feel fortunate in that I have been able to avoid the commercialism of the season by spending this year in Asia! :) But OH, I remember, and my heart goes out to you!

Something I'm working on right now, that I want to encourage you to be thinking about as well, even in the midst of the holiday hassle, is a Bible study plan for 2007. This doesn't have to be one of those last-minute decisions you make January 1st that you know, in the back of your head, you won't keep up with. Make a plan NOW that sounds reasonable for where you are in life. If you're a new mom, set some reachable goals. If you've got more time on your hands, you can adjust your plan in that direction.

This plan should aim to include the following three elements:
Scripture Memorization
Bible Reading

I'm going to share with you what I've done in each of these areas in 2006, what I intend to do in 2007, and some resources and additional ideas that may help you make your plans.

This year, I did a small prayer sheet that I've kept all year long. Here's how I made mine: take one sheet of paper and fold it longways and then fold it longways again, so you end up with one long folded strip. There are four divisions on each side. At the top of each divided area, write a day of the week. Below each "day" is where you'll write the names of people or ministries or issues that you are going to pray for on that particular day.

You can make it your aim to pray for a different area each day, or you can put a little of each on each day. For example, here is one prayer plan that focuses on a different area each day (with letters for easy reminding):
Sunday- Saints (fellow believers)
Monday- Missionaries
Tuesday- Teachers

Wednesday- Witness, Widows, & Wisdom

Thursday- Those in Authority

Friday- Family & Friends

Saturday- Sinners (the unsaved; people who need Jesus)

Another way to implement this would be to take one of these areas and think up every possible person or issue that fits and then write one person or issue on each day, until you've done that with every area and have your prayer list full.

One of the great things about having a prayer list or plan like this is that there's no guilt involved. If you miss Tuesday this week, there are 51 other Tuesdays throughout the year where you know that friend or missionary or whoever will get prayed for. It doesn't rely on your memory of what you heard Sunday morning at church to remind you who to pray for, but at the same time, if new needs arise, you can always add them into your list. I use my list to mark where I'm reading in the Bible.

Scripture Memorization
This is the big area where if you don't have a plan, it just won't happen. Am I right? How many of you just magically memorize without a plan? I'm betting there aren't many of us who can be consistent and intentional about this without having a planned approach. There are many different ways of doing this.

Over this last year, I've focused mainly on memorizing with my oldest son. So the verses I've learned have been ones that he's memorized. But even then, they're hidden in my heart, aren't they? For 2007, we're going to continue memorizing Ephesians together. Right now, we've just tackled the first 6 verses of chapter one. You may want to memorize scriptures about a certain topic (who you are in Christ, scriptures that you can use to witness, what the Bible says about the marriage relationship, etc.). Or you may want to memorize a chapter. Or you may want to use a system someone else has designed. If so, I'd recommend the Desiring God system of "Fighter Verses". My husband & I have used this off and on, and they have a small notebook with pre-chosen verses printed out on index-cards. You memorize a verse a week. (Incidentally, we also use the Children's Foundation Verses, and our son LOVES doing this... that pack is referenced on the same page.)

Bible Reading
For 2006, what I did was to divide the Bible into the 6 sections:
MONDAY: Pentateuch (first 5 books)
TUESDAY: History
THURSDAY: Prophets

FRIDAY: Gospels + Acts
SATURDAY: Letters + Revelation

My plan is 6 days a week, leaving out Sunday since it's so busy and you get to interact with the Word at church. So Monday-Saturday, my goal has been to read 5 chapters from the corresponding section, in order of how it appears in the Bible. I was AMAZED at how it correlates with each other... as I'd be reading about Moses and the Law in the Pentateuch, later in the week, I'd find myself reading about Moses and the Law in the Letters of the NT. That happened with different topics again and again. It was amazing to see the ways that it fit together.

One way to adjust this plan to a 5-day-a-week plan is to take each section and read one chapter a day from each section, so you'll be reading 6 chapters in one day, but only have to read for 5 days. I like to read passages all at once rather than chopping it up, so that's why I did the 6-day, 5-chapters-a-day plan.

There are other plans (here's an online resource) where you can read the Bible through chronologically of how things happened, or in the order it was written. It doesn't just have to be Gen, Exo, Leviticus (and about that time, if not before, you drop out cause it gets boring). By breaking it up, where you're reading some OT and some NT each day or each week, you will find more vibrancy and more of the picture of the "whole counsel" of the Word of God flowing into your everyday life.

My plan for 2007 is to focus on 12 books. I am narrowing down the list right now, but each month I will focus on reading and studying a different book of the Bible. Right now, the list looks something like this: Romans, Hebrews, Ephesians, 1 John, 1 or 2 Timothy, Colossians, John (or Luke), Proverbs, Isaiah, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, James

Not that I won't ever read from other places... but I just figured I can take this one year of my life to get to know these twelve books well. To saturate myself in them. To memorize from them, to read them through several times throughout the month (some books are so short, I'll try to read them through many times), to read commentaries about them, to meditate on these portions of God's Word. I'm excited about 2007. Getting to roll around in the goodness of these books I've selected.

I'd love to hear your goals and plans, or what you've done in past years that has been beneficial for you. I hope you'll take a few minutes right now (or very soon) to think through your 2007 plan for prayer, memorization, and Bible reading and how you can get excited about what God has in store for you.

1 comment:

EmmyJMommy said...

Once again Jess, great topic. I am very excited to let you know that our church family will be reading through the Bible together during 2007! I bought my One Year Daily Bible (ESV) this past Sunday and am so excited (I've never read completely through it) that I have been carrying it with me and reading spots here and there! My dh and I are hoping to be more diligent about teaching our children the Word and about God in our everyday lives. We are using "Teaching Truth, Training Hearts" by Tom Nettles. It has catacism questions specifically for preschoolers and children. I look forward to hearing what you have to share from your studies and what I can share from mine over the next year!

Oh, BTW, I am "jealous" at your seperation from the commercialism of Christmas. This is the first year (our daughter is 6 and our son is 3) that our focus has been where it should be at this season...on the incarnation of Christ. It has been difficult with some family members, but we keep reminding ourselves (and trying to remind them in love) that we do everything to Glorify God...and there are many things at this time of year that actually take away from that glorification....even things that are well intentioned.