“If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. The motorboat crossing provides an overview of the lake and a swift, passing view of its depths. The glass-bottomed boat of study, however, takes you beneath the surface of Scripture for an unhurried look of clarity and detail that’s normally missed by those who simply read the text. As author Jerry Bridges puts it, ‘Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.’”

Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

For the past two years our Take Up Your Sword reading plans have taken more of the “motorboat” approach. We have covered the storyline books of the Old Testament this year and in the previous year, the entire New Testament. We would like to propose more of a “glass-bottomed boat” Bible reading plan for 2020.

Each month, we will immerse ourselves in one chapter (or section) of the New Testament for the entire month, for the sake of slower study, meditation, and prayerful reflection. You could approach this in more than one way. Most sections are short enough to be able to read in their entirety in one sitting. You could read the entire section once a day and reflect and pray over whatever stands out each day. Or you could work your way through verse by verse, phrase by phrase, one day at a time.

JANUARY: Colossians 1

FEBRUARY: Colossians 3:1-17

MARCH: Matthew 5-7

APRIL: Luke 22-24

MAY: 1 Corinthians 15

JUNE: Philippians 2:1-18

JULY: Galatians 4

AUGUST: John 15-17

SEPTEMBER: Ephesians 2

OCTOBER: Ephesians 4

NOVEMBER: Romans 8

DECEMBER: Luke 1-2

Listen to This Month’s Reading

Matthew 5

Matthew 6

Matthew 7

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Six great questions to consider as you read the Bible:

Crux

What is the crux (main point) of the passage? Can you sum it up in a word, phrase or verse from the text in front of you? How would you express it in a single sentence?

Context

How is your understanding of this passage shaped by what comes before and after it? In what way(s) does this text support the theme of the book? How is the passage informed by the Old Testament or fulfilled in the New Testament (check the cross-references)?

Characters

Identify the characters in this text. How do they act and react to each other? How do these interactions affect the dynamics of the passage?

Christ

How does this passage directly or indirectly point to Christ (promise, analogy or type)? In what way(s) does the text highlight the gospel and/or kingdom of God?

Curiosities

What is curious (surprising) about this passage? What would you not have known unless God had revealed it here?

Conclusion

What is the conclusion (application) of this text? Express it in terms drawn from or shaped by the passage. Remember, whatever this passage meant to the original audience, it means to us.

Helpful Tips

  • Remind yourself weekly (even daily!) that the end goal is not to check off boxes or successfully execute a reading plan, but to hear God’s voice and know Him more.
  • Keep a pen and paper at hand to write down questions, observations, thoughts for further meditation and prayer, etc.
  • Do this in community. Invite your spouse, your kids, a friend, or a younger believer to commit to reading at the same time. Make plans to talk and pray together with some regularity about what you are reading.
  • Bookend your reading time with prayer. Begin by asking God to give you “ears to hear” and a heart to trust and obey. Finish by turning some of what you have read into prayer.