Each new year rightly starts with new commitment to the Word, to read it often—daily, yes—but even more important, to read it with the openheartedness by which truth finally lodges in our minds.
Published on: 12-29-2021
“Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12, NRSV).
The words that rise in the predawn darkness of my study resonate off glass and wood—emerging from my Bible-listening app as though spoken by a trusted friend beside me in the room. I savor them with eye and ear, discovering again that even Scripture on my smartphone can become a temple of the holy.
There was a time when I wouldn’t have allowed for Scripture other than between the leather covers of a volume, pages doubled-columned, words of Jesus highlighted in red. That was the Bible of my childhood, the volume given me on my seventh Christmas that still endures upon my study shelf.
Student versions of the Bible soon replaced the leather-bound edition, the new ones heavily underlined in multiple pen colors as I read and reread the words that gave me life. College study editions—three of them, in fact, with bindings sagging at the corners—are heavily notated, underscoring parallels, allusions, and stirring passages I wouldn’t let myself forget.
The Bibles from my many years of pastoring are both intensely personal and yet marked for Bible studies, sermons, and presentations. I read them and remember oh-so-many other early mornings when the Word before me on the desk became the Word deeply planted in my heart. Versions abound—The New English Bible; Revised Standard Version; New Revised Standard Version; New King James—each one sharper than a two-edged sword, convicting and yet comforting, reminding me that grace is never a fully finished understanding in my heart.
The Bibles of my editorial years now fill most of a shelf—new versions, better bindings, gift editions, other languages. I pull my French edition to myself and wonder where another pastor, deep within the hills of Haiti or Provence, finds strength and Jesus in these words. Is he moved by the things that stir me on to love my Saviour? Does she repeat these words to greet the dawning day? “Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu’il a donné son Fils unique . . . (Jean 3:16).
Each new year rightly starts with new commitment to the Word, to read it often—daily, yes—but even more important, to read it with the openheartedness by which truth finally lodges in our minds. A portion wisely read and deeply lived is more significant than 1189 chapters sped through, especially for those newly planted in the faith.
And so we offer you in this January edition a study plan to read the Gospels through this year—growing deep in the stories, parables, sermons, and sacrifice of our Saviour. If you follow another plan, be blessed with it. If you are looking for a new and richer walk with Jesus, try the study plan we’ve shared with you. In whatever language you read or listen, the grace of God will build in you a love for Jesus and His Word.