As slow as it seems for Christmas to arrive, its departure is quite the opposite. We’re a few days out from opening presents, Christmas music, and we probably should be wrapping up our cookie intake sooner rather than later. Now, we look ahead to the new year.
January 1, 2018 is at hand and with it, a fresh start. That’s what Julius Caesar and the Romans had in mind when they established the 12 month calendar that we follow today. They named the first month of the year after the god, “Janus” who was the god of “beginnings, endings, doorways, and time”. He is often depicted with two faces: one looking back into the past and one looking a head into the future.
This is exactly what we do when the New Year arrives. We look back over the last 365 (or 366 given a leap year) days and reflect on the things we accomplished, the frustrations and difficulties we endured, and cherish the memories that we made with friends and family. We then look ahead to the promise and hope of what a new year will bring.
This is where New Year’s Resolutions come into play and if you’re anything like me, you’ve failed more resolutions than you have completed them. A few years ago, I started calling them goals. I don’t know if this made a difference or not, but I’ll use that word as I prepare for 2018 and for the remainder of this post. I haven’t fully completed my goals list for the upcoming year, but here are a few I don’t mind sharing: read 50 books, rest more, focus on my health, and spend more time in prayer and in my Bible.
This past year has been a deep struggle for me spiritually. We’ve been through a lot and in the midst of it, I began to slack in my time in prayer and Bible reading. The prayers seemed shorter and vague, my Scripture reading became short and more of a skim then a read, and my quiet time became inconsistent; both daily and time of day.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through this and rethinking my daily approach. I have a working plan that will help with the consistency and added a few tools to help with prayer, journaling, and reading. What I have learned is there is no perfect system and by that, I mean, each person is uniquely designed by our Creator and each person learns differently. Some are visual learners and some are audible learners. Some can read through a chapter of the Bible and pray and mediate over it while others need a devotional guide with a helpful paragraph or two to help break down what God’s Word is saying.
Because of the difference in learning, I wanted to provide some resources I have used to help me engage in God’s Word more each day. And what I have noticed, is being in God’s Word shapes my prayer life and my mediation.
ESV Bible App
My preferred Bible translation is the English Standard Version (ESV). I have the ESV app on my phone and it’s the Bible app I prefer. I enjoy listening to podcast so at times, listening to God’s Word being read helps my comprehension.
Songs of Jesus by Tim Keller
I plan on using this incredible book this year. In fact, I even gave it out to the leadership of Grace Life. Tim Keller does a great job walking through Psalms over the course of a year.
God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life by Tim Keller
If Tim Keller’s Yearly Devotional through Proverbs is anything like his devotional through Psalms, then it’s worth grabbing.
New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
I have used this devotional in the past and it is outstanding. It’s easy to read and easy to comprehend. Tripp does a great job connecting the Gospel to daily life.
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
This classic devotional is a favorite for many Christians. I used it as my devotional guide while working on my undergrad degree. Like all of Spurgeon’s writings, this devotional is saturated with Jesus and a deep desire to know him more.
The 5 Day Bible Reading Program
Maybe a devotional book is not for you and you prefer to just have a pen, a cup of coffee, and your favorite Bible right in front of you. This 5 day Bible reading program produced by Lower Lights Publications takes you through the Bible in an entire year. It’s designed for only 5 days a week and each day you’ll read a section from the Old Testament, New Testament, and a Psalm. It also easily folds up and can be place in your Bible.
Download the PDF – BibleReadingSchedule2018
The New Testament in a Month
I was recently introduced to a new guide I plan to use starting in January. I took a screen shot of the picture from twitter and have no idea who to give credit to, unfortunately. This guide takes you through the entire New Testament in one month. I’m starting Jan 1 and plan to write an update at the end. I also plan on using the ESV Reader’s Edition as I read each day. I would love for some of you to join with me in this challenge to read the New Testament in a month.
Download the PDF – New Testament Reading Challenge
A verse I plan to keep close by as I start the year is Joshua 1:8 –
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
I pray your year will be filled with grace and that you’ll draw closer to Jesus by spending more time in prayer and in God’s Word.
Do you have a plan that you absolutely love? Comment below and tell me about it!