How Reading Through the Bible Has Shaped My Life as a Pastor

I made a commitment in college to read 10 chapters a day. Here’s how that has informed my pastoral ministry.

As an 18-year-old student at Liberty University in August of 1989, I made a commitment to Jesus to read my Bible 10 chapters a day until I had read it 100 times.

What I learned is, there are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. Nine hundred twenty-nine in the Old Testament and 260 chapters in the New Testament. That means you will spend three-fourths of your time in the Old Testament and one-fourth of your time in the New Testament. I also learned that if you read 10 chapters a day, you can read through the Bible three times a year.

Four years later after graduating from Liberty University, I went off to seminary at Dallas Theological Seminary. One of the things DTS emphasized was the importance of a pastor having a devotional life outside of his or her preaching schedule. This made sense to me. It is important that I personally keep hearing from God as I seek to help a congregation hear from God on a weekly basis.

One of my pastoral classes at DTS asked me to come up with a habit or a discipline I could commit my life to so that I could make sure that I stay disciplined in my walk with the Lord while attempting to help others do the same as a pastor. I wrote a paper on the importance of having a quiet time and I included in that paper, I wanted to read my Bible 10 chapters a day until I had read it 100 times, then I would reevaluate my goals beyond that when the time came when I hopefully reached this goal.

When I got my paper back from the grader, which was probably a graduate student in the doctoral program, I was surprised to read in red letters across the top of the paper, “You might want to get a more realistic goal.”

It didn’t discourage me. It inspired me!

Even at a seminary where the motto is “Preach the Word,” we seem to at times to lose sight of the importance of reading the Word of God.

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It has now been 31 years since I made that commitment. And just recently I completed my 90th reading of the Bible. I don’t tell you this to brag. I don’t tell you this to get a reward from you. I was reminded in my final devotional of my 90th reading in Revelation 20:12 of the importance of what I do.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

I say this to encourage you to consider making the reading of God’s Word an active and daily part of your life. It has single-handedly been the most important discipline in my life, that has kept me focused on God, and morally has kept me on the straight and narrow as I have sought to serve Jesus as a pastor these past 25 years.

You don’t have to read 10 chapters a day like I do, but I would challenge you as a follower of Jesus Christ to set some goals in this area of your life. Set the alarm clock a little earlier and arise before the sun does to seek the Lord. Over time you will see a difference in your life, in you, in your attitude, in the relationships of your life, and your ability to weather the storms that life sends your way.

It has been 31 years now since I made the commitment to read my Bible 10 chapters a day until I have read it 100 times. I am now 49 years old. I have missed some days along the way, about 500 or so, but now that I am just 10 readings away from this goal, I am so glad that I have remained committed to this goal.

I would like to share with you a few things I have learned over the last 31 years as to why reading God’s Word is so important:

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• I am able to see the big picture of God’s redemptive story more clearly.

• I am able to feel the heart of God and what his overall intentions are.

• I see the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.

• I see how Jesus is the fulfillment of every Old Testament promise in the New Testament.

• I am amazed by the handiwork of God to compile such a masterpiece over thousands of years through so many different authors.

• My mind is blown by the sophistication and the complexity of the Bible simplified through Jesus.

• My confidence in the authority of God’s Word gives me peace in the daily grind of my circumstances.

• It gives me great confidence in my ability to hear and discern God’s voice speaking to me in the details of my own life.

If you make no other commitment in 2021, can I encourage you to commit to reading through the entire Bible, I promise you, it will change your life forever.

The Word of God tells us in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Maybe the most important thing God’s Word does for me is that it examines me and tells me who I am, who I am not and who he desires me to be. I am forever grateful for how this commitment to God’s Word has changed my entire life and pastorate for his glory and for the good of others and myself.

I pray you join me on this journey.