Christian Living,  Education

When Duty Leads to Delight: What I Learned from Reading Through the Bible in 90 Days

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Hebrews 12:11-14

Have you ever found a tv or book series that you really enjoyed but had to wait long periods of time in between episodes or book releases? If so, you know how hard it is to remember all the details of the story in the waiting…or how you long to know the ending. This is why so many people “binge-watch” their favorite tv shows or lose sleep finishing a book. We enjoy seeing the whole thing come together from beginning to end. We don’t like unresolved stories either.

This is how I viewed the 90-day Bible reading challenge prompted by Mary DeMuth’s book. I wanted a refresher course in the grand story of God working in the world to redeem and renew all things. I wanted uninterrupted time to hear God’s story for humankind from beginning to end. It’s so encouraging!

Full disclosure: The first two weeks were challenging. I found myself up late several times trying to finish my daily portions. I wanted to quit several times when reading passages I didn’t understand or found tedious like Leviticus or Numbers. Yet, as I showed up with a desire to learn, the Spirit always gave me something to encourage my heart. I often felt so curious about what I was reading that I made notes to do further study after completing the whole Bible.

You don’t have time to get bogged down in the details when reading at this pace, which is the point. It is an aerial view of the plan of God and His gospel grace.

Here are 10 lessons I learned from reading the Bible in 90 days:

  1. It is easier to see how all 66 books are part of one greater story by reading straight through in an amount of time that allows things to remain in our memory. I have read the Bible through in a year and it’s easy to forget things from Genesis by the time you get to Revelation. But reading it quickly in succession helps to see how God orchestrated every detail for His glory and our good. I found myself recognizing Old Testament scriptures being quoted in the New Testament, making sweet connections that I had missed before. As I read the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the stories really sunk in to my memory after reading them in succession over a few days. I immediately recognized the similarities and differences in their accounts of Jesus’ life. It definitely grew my love for Jesus and how He showed compassion for people who didn’t love Him back.
  2. This challenge taught me that discipline and enjoyment can coincide. Did I have to make myself keep up with my reading? Yes. Did I find joy when I did read? Yes, but not always in the moment. Spending time investing in drawing near to God reverberates into all aspects of our lives, bringing confidence and peace to our hearts. I think sometimes we scoff at these kinds of challenges because we think it will turn delight into duty. But I think as humans, we have to begin with discipline to develop the delight (see the passage above). Not that we have to read the Bible in 90 days or in a year, etc., but it is good to commit to spending time studying God’s Word and being systematic about it. I often wonder how much interpretation of Scripture would change if more people read all of Scripture and not just small portions without proper context.
  3. Several common themes jumped out at me through every book and page: God’s faithful love, His immeasurable grace, and His unwavering desire to save those He created.
  4. I heard some obscure stories about people God used that often go unnoticed. It seemed that the number of women mentioned in Scripture (but not often in sermons) jumped out at me as never before. I think the Spirit wanted me to know that women are seen, loved, and equal partners in kingdom work. We are colaborers for the cause of Christ, and our work matters.
  5. Through this commitment, my mind was stayed on God in ways it normally isn’t. It required dedicated time to read the Bible in 90 days, and I found myself constantly chewing on the things I was taking in. I felt some spiritual battles for my attention and had to choose to endure. It was character building for sure. But I also have felt a peace about my relationship with God and the friendship we are growing. It is a sweet, sweet thing.
  6. Reading all of Scripture has grown my confidence to disciple and mentor younger women in the faith. I can attest to the power of the Spirit to speak to me through Scripture. I see the character of God on its pages. I can point them to specific passages and truths to encourage them in their trials and faith. Growing in my knowledge and understanding of God will help encourage others in the same.
  7. Why 90 days? It built a habit that I hope will endure for the rest of my life. The 90 days is a starter to understanding and valuing the Bible’s impact on my daily life. No matter what reading plan I have going forward, this will be a reminder of what I really have time for.
  8. I have tasted and seen and hunger for more. This pace hasn’t left me drained in a spiritual sense. No, it has piqued my interest for specific sections of Scripture that I want to study in depth. It has made lasting connections that will help further understand difficult passages that I once was afraid of.
  9. It has humbled me. I have been saved for over 35 years now. I have read my Bible from cover to cover. I have sat under great Bible teaching. I have studied specific books in depth. And I still have so much to learn. I have so much about God to comprehend and emulate as I continue to seek Him.
  10. I learned there is no way to read the New Testament with clarity without knowledge of the Old Testament. It makes no sense when I hear other believers speak on how useless the OT is to the Christian’s walk. Jesus quotes Old Testament Scripture repeatedly in the NT. You can’t understand many portions of the NT without an awareness of the sacrificial system, the history of the Israelites, or the prophecies of God. All Scripture is profitable, so let’s read it all.

These are the top 10 things that impacted me from doing this fast paced-reading challenge. I could write pages on end of the many things God taught me through the poetry, genealogies, narratives, prophecies, eye-witness testimonies, history, law, and letters of God’s Word. I know much of my writing in the coming days will flow from the abundance of His grace through this reading challenge, and for that I am thankful.

God blesses those who seek Him. He gives wisdom to those who ask. Those are promises from God that make the discipline worth the reward. He is always the prize, friends.

Let me know how you are pursuing the grace and knowledge of God through faithful Bible reading! I’d love to cheer you on.

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