Bible Reading Plan | Devotion
week of March 21, 2021
WCC Bible Reading Plan
― James Merritt
Reading the Bible Together
When we spend time in God’s Word, we’re getting to know Him. We’re also maturing in our faith. Regularly spending time together with God in His Word is such a beautiful, life-giving thing. And just as it benefits us as individuals, when we gather together as the church to commit to spending time reading and studying the Bible, something special happens. We’re able to encourage one another and grow together.
5 Minutes a Day, 7 Days a Week
Commit around five minutes a day, seven days a week, to our church-wide Bible reading plan. We’ll have seven chapters to read each week – most weeks will include five chapters from one book and two Psalms. The goal of this plan is to consistently spend time in God’s Word. We’ll be reading various styles of books – gospels, epistles, history, poetry, prophecy, etc. Using this guide, you’ll easily be able to track your reading and follow along. And don’t worry if you get off track; you can just jump back in where we are. You can always go back and catch up when you have extra time.
Each week, devotionals will be published that correspond with what we’re reading. These devotionals will be from a variety of people participating in this church-wide reading plan. Through these devotionals, we will be encouraged and challenged as we journey through God’s Word together.
These devotionals will be in written or video form and can be found on our website.
Up for more of a challenge?
Don’t just read the chapters, use the following questions to study them:
Observation: This is how to learn what a passage of scripture says. Questions to ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? What does it say? What do I notice?
Interpretation: This is how to accurately interpret scripture and understand what it means in the right context. Questions to ask: What are the key themes or truths? What is the writer’s intended meaning? What is the context? What questions do I have?
Application: This is how to correctly apply the truth of the text to everyday life. Questions to ask: How do I apply it? What are the implications in my life? What does this mean for me
Weekly reading: Matthew 26-28; Mark 14-15; Psalm 1-2
Passages referenced: James 1:22
As I was doing this week’s reading, I was reminded of how helpful a good study Bible can be. They are a great tool that can enrich your reading of God’s Word. Sure, there are countless resources out there, especially on the internet. But it’s just so handy to have additional resources included right next to the text you’re reading. And that’s what you get with a study Bible.
My study Bible provides a timeline of the life of Christ, with a special section on His last week, within the Matthew chapters we’re reading. This is helpful because it takes events from all four gospels and puts together the whole picture of the week. Sometimes it can be tricky to remember where each event is found within the four accounts, so this is super helpful. Because it was useful for me, I thought I’d copy it here for you too:
THE LAST WEEK
The Triumphal Entry, JERUSALEM, Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19
Jesus curses the fig tree, Monday
Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14
Jesus clears the temple, Monday
Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18
The authority of Jesus questioned, Tuesday
Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
Jesus teaches in the temple, Tuesday
Matthew 21:28-23:39; Mark 12:1-44; Luke 20:9-21:4
Jesus anointed, BETHANY, Tuesday
Matthew 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; John 12:2-11
The plot against Jesus, Wednesday
Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6
The Last Supper, Thursday
Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:1-38
Jesus comforts the disciples, Thursday
Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46
Jesus’ arrest and trial, Thursday night and Friday
Matthew 26:47-27:26; Mark 14:43-15:15; Luke 22:47-23:25; John 18:2-19:16
Jesus’ crucifixion and death, GOLGOTHA, Friday
Matthew 27:27-56; Mark 15:16-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
The burial of Jesus, JOSEPH’S TOMB, Friday
Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42
And in my reading of our Mark chapters for the week, I found another interesting resource: a map of Bethany, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem with all the passion week events noted by location. Again, this type of resource adds another layer to our understanding of the narrative. Another great tool that you’ll find in every study Bible is a collection of notes below the text. They can be notes on translation, cultural context, or links to other verses. And some study Bibles even have devotional elements and reflection or discussion included.
So I guess this brings me to the point of all this: get a study Bible and use it. I love the Bible App just as much as the next person because it means I always have a Bible with me, and I can easily switch between translations. But when it comes to daily reading God’s Word and really digging it and studying it, a physical study Bible can’t be beaten. So I hope you’ll get one if you don’t have one yet. And then really use it – feel free to highlight, underline, jot down notes, and add a bunch of sticky tabs. And if you don’t have one yet and aren’t sure how to pick one out, I’d love to help. Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we can figure out the right one for you.
And as you’re following along with the WCC Bible Reading Plan, be sure to use the Observation, Interpretation, Application guide on the handout. It’s a simple tool that helps you engage with the text and better understand what you’re reading. And be sure to read through the notes in your study Bible, talk through what you’re reading with others using this plan, and encourage your family and friends to join you if they haven’t yet.
I’d like to leave you with one last thing – a challenge I grew up hearing from my pastor that I think is a great reminder as we kick off another year of reading God’s Word together: as we get into God’s Word, may it get into us. May we not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. (ref. James 1:22) – Sarah Neel
Weekly reading: Mark 16; Luke 22-24; John 13; Psalm 3-4
I treated last week’s devotion as a bit of an intro to this year’s Bible Reading Plan and stressed the importance of getting a good study Bible. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to continue that introductory nature with this week’s devotional. This year we’ll be reading quite a few Psalms, and I want to make sure we have some good background info as we get started.
And just a note before we begin: starting next week, these devotionals will be actual devotionals. Ones that are connected to the weekly reading, that you hopefully find encouraging, challenging, and personal, and that are written by a variety of individuals: staff, elders, members of the congregation, men & women, young & old, etc.
Now, let’s get to know the book of Psalms. Here’s some general info to get us started:
Number of psalms:150
Definition of a psalm: a sacred song or poem used in worship
Especially: one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms
David – 73 psalms
Asaph – 12 psalms
Sons of Korah – 11 psalms
Heman & Ethan – 2 psalms
Solomon & Moses – 3 psalms
Anonymous – 49 psalms
Organization of the collection:
Book 1 – Psalms 1-41
Book 2 – Psalms 42-72
Book 3 – Psalms 73-89
Book 4 – Psalms 90-106
Book 5 – Psalms 107-150
Main styles of psalms: lament & praise
Psalms of lament = prayers of pain, confusion, and anger
These psalms draw attention to what’s wrong in the world and ask God to do something about it. They show us that lament is an appropriate response to the evil and injustice we see in our world and that acknowledging our pain can be a healthy and healing experience.
They dominate Books 1-3.
Psalms of praise = prayers of joy & celebration
Since the Psalms are poems and songs, we shouldn’ approach them in the same way we do prose and the narratives and letters we find in other books of the Bible. When we read the Psalms, we should expect to find vivid imagery, lots of emotions, and figures of speech like similes and metaphors.
In The Case for the Psalms N.T. Wright says, “The Psalms are among the oldest poems in the world, and they still rank with any poetry in any culture, ancient or modern, from anywhere in the world. They are full of power and passion, horrendous misery and unrestrained jubilation, tender sensitivity and powerful hope. Anyone at all whose heart is open to new dimensions of human experience, anyone who loves good writing, anyone who wants a window into the bright lights and dark corners of the human soul—anyone open to the beautiful expression of a larger vision of reality should react to these poems like someone who hasn’t had a good meal for a week or two. It’s all here.”
Throughout the next year, we will typically read two psalms a week, and we will most likely get through around 100 psalms. That will carry us through Books 1-3 and into Book 4, as explained above. Which means we will see more psalms of lament rather than praise. But maybe that’s a good thing considering the last year we’ve experienced.
I am excited about this year’s Bible Reading Plan, especially that we’ll slowly be working our way through the Psalms. I’m looking forward to the ways I’ll be encouraged, comforted, and challenged by these poems of lament and praise. And I hope you are as well. – Sarah Neel
Sources: The Bible Project: Psalms https://bibleproject.com/learn/psalms/ & A Psalm for All Seasons: Studies in the Books of Psalms by Bob Deffinbaugh https://bible.org/series/psalm-all-seasons-studies-book-psalms
Weekly reading: John 17-21; Psalm 5-6
Passages referenced: John 16-20
“He is risen.” – All Christians everywhere
Easter is the defining celebration of our faith. This is the point where we most clearly focus on what makes us distinct—Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. We thank God for the forgiveness we have in Christ through His death on the cross and the promise of life everlasting with Him thanks to His resurrection from the dead. Woven throughout the final chapter of John, we see this Easter story played out. God’s Word is a rich tapestry, and the main thread is His redemptive plan. Criss-crossing that pinnacle moment in the latter part of John is another important thread, God’s plan for followers of Christ. Let’s spend some time tracing several significant passages from John 16 to John 20 where we can begin to discern our role as followers of Jesus Christ, now that Easter has come. – Nate Metler
Invited In (John 16:28) – Jesus is very clear with the disciples that He will not be physically present with them much longer. In John 16:28, He sums things up, saying, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Jesus is making it plain that the disciples need to be prepared to step into a larger role, with the help of the Holy Spirit, when He returns to His Father in heaven. This is the role we are invited into as well. (Fun fact: this verse can be seen as an outline for the entire Gospel of John: “came from the Father” 1:1-18, “entered the world” 1:19-12:50, “leaving the world” 13:1-19:42, and “going to the Father” 20:1-21:25.)
Knowing Him (John 17:3) – In John 17, Jesus begins a rich, lengthy prayer where He lifts to His Father what is on His heart as He prepares for the cross and returning to God in heaven. In verse 3, Jesus prays, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Here we are given a paradigm-shifting truth. Knowing God, having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is where we can experience the reality of eternal life. Being a disciple is fundamentally this.
Increasing Joy (John 17:13) – A few verses later in the prayer, Jesus prays, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus’ heart for us is that we would experience His joy more completely as we go about our lives. One mark of a disciple is greater and greater joy in Christ.
In the World (John 17:15) – Jesus’ groundbreaking prayer continues, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” While we may wonder why we are here in this fallen world, Jesus is clear that there is a reason. Our purpose on Earth is fulfilled when we are in the midst of this world and trust Him to protect us.
Defined by Love (John 17:26) – Here in verse 26 and several other key passages, Jesus makes it clear that we are defined and known by God’s love and the love we have for each other. Jesus prays, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” This, again, is countercultural. You probably know some Christians that live this out well. They’re the ones that leave you with the impression that God’s love is more real than you ever imagined.
People of Truth (John 18:37) – Jesus has been arrested by John 18, and he is being questioned by the governor. Verse 37 picks up with Pilate saying, “‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” Jesus defines the kingdom where His authority reigns as the kingdom of truth. To be disciples, we must be committed to seeking and listening to the truth (see also John 16:13).
Sent Out (John 20:21) – Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Maybe the lesser-known “Great Commission,” John’s Gospel includes the resurrected Jesus telling His disciples to go out in His name. One hallmark trait of a follower of Christ is a commitment to this commission. We are compelled to go out into the world in His name as ambassadors of the hope we have in Him.
Believing and Secure (John 20:31) – Toward the end of John, the purpose for the whole book is spelled out. John says, “But these are written that youmay believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John rounds out this picture of a disciple as one who believes and has security that their life is entirely caught up in Christ for all eternity.