When I speak with individuals who are new to the Christian faith or who have never read the Bible as an adult, I usually give them a “spiritual prescription” for a month that includes doing some reading in the Bible. I tell people to read two or three chapters in a Gospel every day. I prefer if people begin with Mark, which is the oldest of the Gospels and the first to be written down. After Mark, read through Matthew and Luke, and finish with John, which was the last to be written and has less in common with the other three Gospels.
In addition to reading in a Gospel each day, I encourage folks to read five Psalms a day. You can divide these up and read two or three in the morning and two or three in the evening.
It’s in the Psalms that we learn to pray and worship the Lord. While we speak of the Bible as the Word of God, the Book of Psalms is unique among all the books of Scripture because it is the words of people to God, and we hear prayers of lament and praise, of trust and wisdom as worshipers bring the full range of human emotion and experience from the highest joy to the deepest sorrow to God. Finally, I encourage reading a chapter in Proverbs a day to correspond to the day of the month. So on the first, you read Proverbs 1, on the second, Proverbs 2, and so on.
By following the reading plan above in a single month one can read through all four gospels and get a good introduction to Jesus: who he is, what he teaches, how he treats people, what he values, how he calls us to live as his followers, and what he did for us. By reading five Psalms a day, one also will read the entire Book of Psalms from Psalm 1, which invites us to meditate on God’s word and to follow the way of the righteous all the way to Psalm 150’s closing crescendo of praise. Obviously, if one reads a chapter in Proverbs a day, you can cover most of the 31 chapters in a month although you have to read more than one chapter a day in a few of the months, especially February!
This month I will be preaching most Sundays from the Book of Proverbs. Perhaps no book in the Bible has more practical wisdom and advice about how to live our lives on a daily basis than Proverbs. Proverbs is the “Do” and “Don’t” book of the Bible; it’s filled with admonitions about what to do if we wish to have a life marked by goodness, honor, integrity, confidence and virtue.
Proverbs also speaks repeatedly of what not to do if we wish to avoid ruin, shame, unhappiness and disgrace. The wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs makes it plain that while human civilization has advanced in innumerable ways in areas ranging from science to technology, at the same time human beings have changed very little in the last several thousand years. The issues people struggled with then are still issues today. Areas in which people are tempted and fall, often now to very public embarrassment, haven’t changed much either. As I write this article, for example, the President of France is in the news for failing to heed what Proverbs says about virtue in personal relationships.
The key verses we will be focusing on are these:
- Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”
- Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
- Proverbs 16:2-3, “All one’s ways may be pure in one’s own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
I covet your prayers for BBC, for our staff, leaders and volunteers as we investigate and undertake major initiatives and projects in regard to the building, staffing, and adding an additional service on Easter Sunday. It will give me comfort to know that many of us are praying for the Lord to make the way forward clear, to help us discern the Lord’s plans for us in the year to come.
If you are on the Cape this month, I look forward to seeing you in worship and at our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, February 4. If you are somewhere warmer this month, thank you for remembering BBC with your prayers.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Doug Scalise