Years ago my husband started a Christmas tradition where he gives me a nativity set every year. He searches for nativities that are made from different materials — porcelain, wood, pewter, or even glass.
When I set out my collection of creches, I ponder each person’s perspective. Joseph doesn’t have a single word recorded in Scripture, yet he was the faithful man God chose to raise the Christ-child with Mary. Similarly, the shepherds play a seemingly “lesser role,” yet they teach us the importance of coming to worship the King.
And then there’s the wise men, who traveled a great distance to lay eyes on the promised Messiah and bring Him gifts. Though prominent in every nativity scene, we know they didn’t actually arrive until sometime later. After the angels sang and the shepherds came, the wise men traveled another two years before reaching the young King in Bethlehem.
I often wonder . . .
Were they wise because they understood the significance of the new star in the sky?
Or were they wise because of who they journeyed toward?
Can we be as wise today?
Can we stay the course when the road is long?
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad we don’t have to ride a camel across a desert to find Jesus. All we need to do is open our Bibles. He’s right there. On every page.
As we near a new year, we often make certain plans for change.
But all resolutions aside, most Decembers I spend some time thinking about which books of the Bible I’ll want to study in the coming year. I may even try to read the whole Bible in 365 days. Some years I’ve made it all the way through Revelation, and some years I haven’t. (Thank you, Leviticus!)
A Bible reading plan can be helpful as it removes some of the guesswork each day when we open the Word, because we already know what we’re going to read. But a plan can become a taskmaster, too, with unrelenting expectations to check the box and say, “There, I’ve read my Bible today.”
That’s not why we read God’s Word though. We read it to know Jesus better, to know why He came, and why we need Him so. To know why Christmas is made beautiful.
Because Christ came, we can be redeemed.
The Bible isn’t always the easiest book to read, but when we’re willing to wait for a deeper understanding to come — just as we’re willing to wait until Christmas morn to open our gifts — God is faithful to reveal more of Himself to us through the pages of His Word.
The wise men may have needed two years to journey toward Jesus. Thankfully, we won’t need that long to understand the major parts of the Bible, but we do want to be committed for the long haul. The beauty of God’s Word is so wonderfully deep that we could spend a lifetime mining its depths and still find new gems each day. Every day is another step in the journey toward our true home with our Father.
As you prepare your hearts and your home to celebrate Christ this Christmas, perhaps spend a few minutes asking Him which journey (or journeys?) He’d like you to take through His Word this coming year.
by Denise J. Hughes, author of Deeper Waters
Many wonderful Bible Reading Plans are available, but here’s one I’d like to share with you today.
This Bible Reading Plan is a free downloadable PDF. Just for you. Merry Christmas, friends!
Leave a Comment
Summer Rae says
Around this time last year I decided on my own reading plan and am currently still working my way through the Bible. I had never read it from start to finish and I find it extremely important to truly know and see for myself what God has to tell me. I love and appreciate your point of view on asking HIM what the journey HE wants to take me on is… Thank you for sharing your heart and imparting wisdom! I pray your day is blessed.
This side of Heaven,
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Wow, I am sooo excited for you! I remember the first time I actually read God’s whole Word through. It was life-changing. Previously, I had read His Word daily, but through Bible studies. Granted, they dipped into various places in the Bible through cross-referencing, but I never understood the full picture. The first one-year Bible I read was a chronological one, not in the typical canonic order, but in the order of the events as they occurred (such as reading about King David in Scripture and then immediately reading the psalm he wrote about this event; it was fascinating, and so enlightening). But in whatever order your read through God’s entire Word, you will get the full sweep of Scripture, and begin to see how it all fits together. Equally fascinating is that Scripture interprets Scripture–so that often when you think something seems mystifying, you will find the very answer to it right on the pages of the Bible, rather than having to second guess! I’ll never forget the first time I read Exodus. What an exciting book of God’s redemption (and through which I could see a foreshadowing of Jesus and the salvation He offers). Oh yes, and look for Jesus in every book of the Bible, Old testament and New! He’s there, waiting for you!
Happy New Year. I know it will be as you bask and soak in God’s Word–*all* of it!
PS I LOVE your name… a name full of sunshine, flourishing, and promise!
Summer Rae says
Your comment was a bright start to my day! Thank you. As I was moving and organizing things today a scripture based calendar flopped out onto my lap. Each month has a theme and each day a passage… while it was for 2017 I figure it will still work the same and I am very excited to start it on the 1st! Thank you so much for your encouragement. I hope you have a wonderful day!
This side of Heaven,
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Denise & Sisters,
First, I’m glad, too, that I don’t have to ride a camel across the desert to get to Jesus …..He’s right here in the pages of my Bible. And, just a side note – what a privilege it is that we can walk down the street carrying the Word of God. In so many countries people risk their lives if they are caught with a Bible so they secretly seek out His Word on the internet or hide a Bible. Many are illiterate, so they depend on someone who can read to bring them the precious Word of God. We are truly blessed to simply be able to open our Bibles and read. Here’s a shout out for Denise’s “Deeper Waters” online Bible studies and printed “Word Writers” studies. Her journeys take you chronologically through books of the Bible or segments of the Bible and her commentary really brings the Word alive. Looking forward to them starting back up in January!! Catch her book too….it’s a must read!
Michele Morin says
This will be the third year that my husband and I have read through the Bible together out loud. It’s challenging to arrange to be in the same zip code (or the same vehicle) long enough for this to happen, and Yes . . . we are always behind and catching up, but I’m thankful for the richness this has brought to our life together. So, I’m looking forward to finding the words of Jesus once again in 2018.
And, Denise, I truly enjoyed your Word Writers book on James, and am trusting for an opportunity to use it with a friend in the coming year.
Beautiful devotion. Am hoping this will be the year thst I commit and follow through to read the bible chronologically. Love your thoughts about the Wisemen…would like to study them more.
Thank-you so much Denise for taking the time to set this plan up for us, and for sharing your informative post today.
Blessings to all,
Lynn D. Morrissey says
I love reading God’s Word (thank you BSF, God’s vehicle for my salvation, because for the first time I really heard God’s Word being taught and they encouraged the habit of daily Bible reading, which I have continued since in my early twenties). When I think of God’s Word as food for life, it is easy to read daily. And I enjoy contemplating how I will “feast” during the New Year as one year ends. I do enjoy one-year reading plans and one-year Bibles (all of which can help you journey through the whole Bible in a year taking slightly different routes), in addition to some kind of Bible study. For the past two years, I’ve read a two-year Bible, and then dipped into God’s Word more in depth in other chapters or books of the Bible where He led me. Sometimes I change up translations. But one thing that always helps me digest His Word is to journal when I read, whether to copy passages in my journal word-for-word (which is something I have done for years and why I love your studies so much, Denise) or just to pray through a passage in writing or to write down insights God is revealing to me. Somehow this process of writing brings my reading full circle. I am more well fed, more satisfied. Thank you for your continual encouragement to read God’s Word and to be fully fed. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Feasting, dear Denise!
I’ve been wondering about that this week…the two year journey of the wise men. Did the star appear two years prior to Jesus’ birth, or was Jesus a toddler when they got to Him? (I should probably know this already, yes? 🙂 ) — So thankful for God’s Word. I read every morning before I ever open my computer to work, but I haven’t done a full-on study in a while. God always shows up and speaks to me through those sweetly sheer pages of scripture when I give Him the first-fruits of my time each morning, but I’ve been craving a study lately, as well. Hoping to be able to do one again in the coming year. — Merry CHRISTmas Denise, and all the lovely hearts who write here at (in)courage. You all bless. <3
Rashawnda Dunbar says
This is really beautiful, Denise! And I’m so glad we don’t need to travel miles and miles to see Jesus. He is ever present with us and what a joy and blessing that is.
Like many, the month of December causes me to reflect over the past year. I examine what went well and where I might make improvements. Most of all, I seek to uncover how I can grow deeper in the Lord and better understand His Word. The New Year always brings with it a Bible reading planner (I gave many versions!), but I especially like the one you’ve provided. Thank you for sharing. May you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Rebecca L Jones says
I love nativity scenes, I remember one year I went into a store that sold the Seraphim angels I collect, the lady told me someone had just walked out with some nice pieces at clearance price but that’s not as important as having the real Jesus. I have been a Christian a long time, I’m not sure I have read through the Bible in a year. Those plans are like resolutions, they fall by the way. Usually, I try to read what is laid on my heart by the Holy Spirit. And I do my best to be a doer and not just a hearer, I am so thankful for His love and grace, Merry Christmas.
Beth Williams says
I, too, am glad I don’t have to travel miles in the desert to find Jesus. It is interesting to look at nativity scenes. God used the most unlikely people to “rescue” us from our sins. The wise men looked in the sky & knew where to go. Mary was young & a virgin. Joseph never said a word, but obeyed God. Jesus had to be born among smelly animals. Shepherds heard angels singing. Not your normal group we would think of for a rescue. For the last few years I have read through the Bible. Each time I hear something new. I also do at least two Bible studies a year. All that brings the Bible alive & helps it make sense. Like Bev said we in America are blessed to be able to carry, read our Bibles and pray out loud. I don’t take that lightly.
Have a blessed Christmas!
Mary Hood says
I laughed when you mentioned Leviticus. That is where I run dry every time I do one if those plans! Yes, I am in the praying stage right now, waiting to hear how God would have me study his word. The one thing I know is that he wants me to always be studying and reading to retain and grow a more intimate relationship with him. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Nancy Ruegg says
I, too, love Bible study. This past year I followed the plan offered by http://www.heartlight.org that takes the reader through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs in one year. Rather than just read each day’s portion, however, I journaled. Writing helps me contemplate deeper and absorb more. Isn’t it amazing how God offers new observations, understandings, and applications, even from familiar passages? His Word IS “living”–always fresh and energizing!