January 8, 2018 |Develop A Daily Habit of Reading Your Bible

Develop a Bible Reading Plan
Of all of the habits that have served to indicate my personal spiritual health, reading my Bible has made the greatest impact. If I miss a Sunday worship service (pastors miss every once in a while, too), my week feels ‘off’. When I’ve had a stretch when I’ve neglected praying, I feel somewhat disconnected. But when I fail to read my Bible for a period of time, I feel spiritually weak.
If you’ve never established a habit of reading your Bible, you may not know what I’m talking about. A sermon on Sunday is just not adequate to feel my soul. Imagine the only meal you eat on a weekly basis was the Sunday afternoon buffet at Golden Coral. Would that be adequate nutrition to keep you healthy?
Much like a healthy diet requires daily nutrition, a healthy soul requires a daily intake of God’s Word. When I reflect over 2017, I notice that the times when my faith was weak were times when I neglected my daily habit of reading God’s Word. Conversely, the seasons when I’ve experienced the best spiritual health and when I’ve felt the presence of God most occurred when I was reading the Bible consistently each day.
Think about it: How would your life be different if your soul were healthier? What difference would it make if you were walking with the Lord daily?
Habits do not develop when left to chance. If you’re waiting until you ‘have time’ or if you’ll read the Bible whenever you ‘get around to it’, you’re not going to develop this habit.
I encourage every Christian to commit to a daily reading plan. One terrific tool to help (if you have a smart phone), is the YouVersion Bible App. This free Bible app comes loaded with nearly every English Bible translation and a plethora of Reading Plans to encourage you in your commitment to read the Bible. You may choose from 7-Day plans to One-Year plans and you can read the Bible from the app. Many of the translations offer an audio player to have the text read to you. You can even enable notifications to remind you to read each day.
Personally, I’m more of a book-in-hand kind of reader. I prefer to hold my Bible and highlight key verses that speak to me. So to help keep me on a plan this year, I’m committed to an adapted version of Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System. With this plan I read 1 chapter from 5 different lists each day — a series of bookmarks in five places that I move ahead to the next chapter after I’ve read. I printed this page (Go to the link here to view/print the page) and cut out each list and put them in my Bible (Genesis 1, Job 1, Isaiah 1, etc). Then for tomorrow’s reading, I simply advance the bookmark to the next chapter (Genesis 2, Job 2, Isaiah 2, etc).
This keeps my reading fresh because I’m spread throughout the Bible — three chapters from the Old Testament and two chapters from the New Testament. This plan will take me through much of the Bible in a year and parts of the New Testament twice. Best of all, there’s no worry of falling behind, because today’s reading picks up where I left off.
So what’s your plan to develop a habit of reading the Bible? Whatever your plan, stick with it. Much like your body’s health, a healthy soul will result is daily commitments over time.
In Christ,
Pastor Ashton
January 2, 2018 |Year-End Review

Happy 2018!

I’m a bit of a ritualist when it comes to holiday celebrations and bringing in the New Year is no exception. After sleeping in a bit after bringing in the new year, January 1st is filled with reflection and college football. I call this my “Year-End Review”. During commercial breaks of the Rose Bowl, I found myself reminiscing throughout 2017, celebrating what God has done, and contemplating ways to make 2018 an even better year. I truly do believe that Jesus stepped into our world so that “we can have life to the full” (John 10:10). And if we’re not experiencing a full and abundant life, we might be trying to live life on our own terms rather than God’s.

So as you begin your new year, why don’t you invest some time to reflect upon 2017? It’ll allow you to celebrate God’s blessings and see where you might have missed an opportunity to live for God. Then learn from this year to set some goals for 2018.

Here are some of the reflection points I considered for my 2017 Year-End Review. I encourage you to have some fun and evaluate how your year went.

  1. If my 2017 could be summarized by a movie genre, what category would it be?
  2. What are the two or three reoccurring themes that dominated my 2017?
  3. What are my major accomplishments in 2017?
  4. What are my disappointments or regrets in 2017?
  5. When I look back on 2017, what was missing from the year that I hoped for when I began 2017?
  6. What are some of the major life lessons from my 2017?
  7. Am I closer to Jesus today than I was on January 1, 2017?
  8. What should I continue to do to help me grow in 2018?

After you’ve devoted some intentional time to reflect upon last year, set yourself some goals for this new year. Don’t allow yourself to look back on 2018 and think about all of the opportunities God gave you that you missed. Make the most of these opportunities (Ephesians 5:16). Don’t allow excuses to hijack the life God wants to give you. When I was a child, I can remember my mama telling me, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, life would be a party.” God has given us the gift of a new year…enjoy and live life to the full.

In Christ,

Pastor Ashton

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