Bible Reading Plan and R.E.A.L.
At Grace, we have a deep passion to deepen our understanding of God’s word and to allow His truth to direct our lives. In 2017, we’re launching into the rhythm of meeting with God in His word and calling each person in the Grace family to join us on that journey. We’re reading a chapter from the old and new testaments and journaling using a simple process called REAL. We’re excited for what God is going to do as He continues to shape and mold us through His word!
Get your Bible Reading Plan here.
The Power of the Word
Ryan Doughty, Lead Pastor
As followers of Jesus, nothing is more important than maintaining a close intimate relationship with Jesus. In John 15:4-5, Jesus teaches His disciples,
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Jesus tells his followers that if they “abide”- stay connected to Him, literally their lives will explode with fruit! At the same time, if they lose that connectedness, they will find that they are totally unable to be effective in knowing and following Jesus.
How do we do that? How do we “abide?” One of the greatest ways is by spending regular time in God’s word. As we launch into the new year, one of my greatest prayers for you is that this would be a time where we deepen in our love and passion for His word.
To help us do that, as a church, we are going to start a rhythm of reading one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament 5 days a week. However, on weekends we will read from Psalms and Proverbs. If you get behind, use the weekend days to catch up, but if you’re reading everyday, you get to read from two incredibly rich books of the Bible.
How do I read God’s word?
For many people, the habit of reading God’s word and journaling can seem like a difficult task. For others, they’ve read Scripture for some time but it doesn’t make a practical difference. So how do we find the balance? The process we’ve found most helpful is something that we call “R.E.A.L.”
Explore the Text
Live it out
HOW DO I USE REAL AS I READ?
Every time we read, we read with a dependence upon God to reveal His truth and guide us. We begin by asking God to speak to us through His word. Maybe pray a short prayer like this,
Thank you Lord that you want to speak to me. You loved me enough to reveal yourself, to send your Son to reveal your love, and have placed your Holy Spirit in our lives. Thanks for the Bible and how it reveals your love to me. As I read today, speak to me and give me the courage to be obedient to what you would say. In your name I pray, Amen
Next, we read the passage until a verse or a few verses stands out. When it does, write it at the top of the journal page. R.E.A.L. Journal sample entry here.
Explore the Text:
Think about the phrase or word that you are praying about. Ask some questions of the passage like,
“What is God teaching us about Himself, the world, or ourselves?”
”What would this have meant to those that originally heard it? What would I be feeling if I were there?”
“What words or phrases are standing out to me?”
“Ask God, why are you leading me to THIS verse or phrase today? What are you trying to teach me?”
The primary purpose here is to “chew” on what God is saying to you through His Word.
As you write your insights in the journal, draw a box on the right hand side of the page like this and write “Key Insight.” Try to boil all of your insights into a single thought or phrase and write that thought inside. R.E.A.L. Journal sample entry here.
In light of what you’ve just read, ask God to show you some tangible step that you can take in light of what God is saying to you. Try to be as specific as possible. When you know what that is, draw a small box and write out that step. Some possibilities include:
“Rather than worrying about my job today. I will thank God for His love and faithfulness towards me.”
“I will ask one person today if I can pray for them as God allows.”
“I will choose to forgive “_________” today. Even if it means looking past how they’ve hurt me.”
Live it out:
Our “No Group” time doesn’t end when we close our Bibles. In fact, the surest test of our love for Jesus is our willingness to obey what He has revealed. One of the most important realities in learning to hear God’s voice is that we are faithful to do what He commanded. It’s here that our “Up” time with Jesus, moves us “Out” engaging the world with His love and mercy.
Begin by asking the question, “Did I live out yesterday’s action step?” If so, “check the box.” This way, your “No Group” journal becomes a way to see not only the insights God is revealing to you in His Word, but also how are you doing responding to His grace in a life of obedience?
Finally, close your “No Group” time in prayer. Thank God for revealing himself through His word and ask for the courage to be obedient. Pray something like,
Thanks for speaking through your word today. I don’t want to just know about you, I want to know you. Let me see your love for me today and may that love strengthen me to live for you alone. Give me courage and faithfulness to live out what you’ve asked. For your name’s sake! Amen
Let’s put it all together. The next page contains a sample of what a R.E.A.L. journal entry might look like.
“He is greater than I. I must decrease that He might increase.” John 3:30
John was willing to get out of the way for Jesus. In many ways, He was at the top of his ministry. People were following Him, some even confused him as the savior. Yet for John, making a name for Jesus was so much more important than making a name for himself. I need to remember that right now. There have been a number of situations lately, where I don’t feel like I am getting the recognition I deserve. But, is my getting recognized the point? As I’m reading today, God is reminding me today that I don’t serve to be recognized, but that others might recognize Jesus. Lord, forgive me for any way I want to make a name for myself rather than pointing people to you.
Find one way to serve someone today in such a way that I can’t get any of the credit. Don’t do it to be recognized, but to show the love of Jesus. (Come back and check the box when you’ve completed that action step. Leave some space to write what happened.)
Let me live for you today. Keep my focus on how others can see your love rather than me or my accomplishments. Let me get out of the way that you might be glorified. Amen