Last summer I launched into a personal study of the book of Joshua; the posts can be found here and here. And, as God would have it, in the fall I was given the delightful privilege of leading this year's Tuesday morning women's Bible study. We have been marching our way through Joshua, learning about God's faithfulness, judgement, mercy, holiness, and promise fulfillment. It has been good, very good. We are now nearing the end of or time in the book and, as I have studied very little other than Joshua for the last 7 months, I have been looking to move on.
In these early days of the new year, I read through the book of John, a few chapters a day, preparing for another wave of study. I plan to follow the same pattern as I did with Joshua: read the whole book once, read through chapter by chapter using the New Bible Commentary (published by IVP), then read through it again with a more in-depth commentary by James Montgomery Boice. (Little did I know last June that I was preparing to lead a group of wonderful women through the book! God is gracious, isn't He?)
A few days ago, I was wondering how long it would take me to do the same with all of the books of the Bible. I calculated that if I spent 3 months in each book, I would be (almost) 47 when I finished! Now, I know that some books in the Bible are quite short, so perhaps the time is a bit overestimated. But it doesn't make 16.5 years seem any less overwhelming! The goal, however, is to get to know the Word by reading, meditating, and taking advantage of the study of scholars with more knowledge than I'll ever have. Making time to do it would be invaluable, even if it is L-O-N-G! And truly, I'd like to spend whatever days God gives me getting to know Him, before I'm standing (what?! I mean, falling on my face!) before Him giving an account.
In addition to starting up with John, our pastor recently brought to our attention Ad Fontes (which means "to the sources"), a full year of daily readings in Calvin's Institutes. A group from church will meet weekly (at a pub, over a pint - and I'm not kidding!) to discuss the week's readings. I just read today's reading. I have not read anything from The Institutes since the one and only seminary course I've ever taken (Systematic Theology I) that I took the summer before Elizabeth was conceived. Have you ever read any of Calvin's Institutes? I remember been AMAZED at how accessible they are & how invigorating to one's faith! And it was brought back to my attention today, as I checked out Ad Fontes. I hope I can stick with them. The readings are short and just started today; let me know if you decide to read, too. And if you're free on Fridays at 4pm and live near Cambridge, MA, there will be folks gathering for discussion with our pastor, Rick Downs,at The Field on Prospect St.
Oh, so much to read, so little time! Fortunately, the Christian's hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, so if I fall behind or never make it through another thorough study of a book of the Bible, I need not fear. But for the time, I'm thankful to God for His Word, the desire He's given me to study it, and wise saints who have gone before us and left their words behind to guide us through the Scriptures. In the craziness of life with kids, family, and other obligations & commitments, I sure feel the need to have my feet grounded on a solid rock. How about you? God's Word offers that sure place to stand, loving arms in which to rest, and hope and peace for our weary souls. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!