Interview with

Founder & Teacher,

Audio Transcript

Happy New Year’s Day! Welcome to 2024. It’s a great honor to be doing the Ask Pastor John podcast for another year, the start of our twelfth year in a row. God has been kind to us as we record episodes numbering over two thousand now. That’s a lot of episodes!

Well, if you use a read-through-the-Bible plan, you probably started afresh today. I did. Pastor John, I know you did. We’ve been talking a lot about Bible reading on the podcast. We recently looked at how you study the Bible on a given topic. That was APJ episode 1998. So practical. And then we saw how even the grammar of the Bible intends to have a practical, emotional, intellectual, behavioral effect on our lives today. Another super practical Bible-reading tool you gave to us in APJ 2002. And then we looked at why a daily Bible-reading habit is essential for our spiritual growth. That was episode 2003.

And then last time, on Thursday in episode 2006, we asked, What do we do when our Bible reading seems flat? And you pointed us to Proverbs 22:17, the text that calls us to the discipline of applying our hearts to what we read. And you demonstrated the practice in your own life. If any of us are going to get through the whole Bible this year, that element — Proverbs 22:17 — will be an essential ingredient to the success. That was last time.

And speaking of reading the entire Bible in 2024, it’s a huge achievement. I know many of you want to do it or have tried in the past. It’s daunting. We want to encourage you to do it this year. Pastor John and I use the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. That’s what we are going to be using again in 2024. In fact, it has been recently renamed the Navigators Bible Reading Plan, so that’s what we will now call it. You can download the plan online. I’ll mention this in the outro as well.

But for now, in this New Year’s Day episode, Pastor John, exhort us to do it. Motivate us to read our entire Bible in 2024. Explain why you use it. And perhaps end the episode with a prayer that God would bless our resolve and use it to draw us closer to him in the process.

On this first day of the year, Tony and I want to invite you to join us in reading through the whole Bible this year using the Navigators Bible Reading Plan. I simply want to motivate you in this episode of APJ to join us. I’ve been reading through the Bible every year, using this plan, for decades. Now and then I have tried other plans, but I have always returned to this one for two simple reasons.

Why This Plan?

First, it guides me every day in reading from four different parts of the Bible. Now, not everybody is helped by this approach, but I love it. For example, we start today in Matthew, Acts, Psalms, and Genesis. It is an amazing providence that over the years there has almost always been something in one of these four readings that God has especially suited to my need. So, that’s the first reason I return to this plan each year. I love reading the Bible every day in four different places.

The second reason is probably decisive for me, because there are other plans that read in four different places in the Bible, or two different places. But what’s unique about this plan, as far as I know, is that it leads us through the whole Bible by having us read 25 days a month — not 30, but 25.

To my mind, that was a stroke of sanctified genius. Why? What’s one of the main reasons people give up on reading through the Bible? Well, it’s largely because they get behind, and around about March they can see they’re never going to catch up. They might as well stop and take another approach (so the thinking goes).

But when you have five catch-up days at the end of every month, you can keep going. It’s like a surprise birthday party every month, only you know it’s coming. And if you are all caught up after 25 days, right where you’re supposed to be, you can read wherever you feel like it. That’s why it’s a birthday party.

Or you can do what I do if I’m all caught up — which I seldom am, by the way. I need those days. But if I do have three or five or two days without any assignment from the plan, I spend the time working on Bible memorization. It’s just a great thing built into every month, to have several days you can review your Bible memory.

Also, one of the great things about doing this together is that we plan for the APJ episodes this year to regularly relate to the Bible reading for that day — not always, but often enough that if you’re reading with us, you’ll probably notice it.

Why Read Regularly?

Let me give you one main reason just simply for reading the Bible at all regularly. In 1 Samuel 3:21, it says, “The Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” This is the spiritual, miraculous assumption all through the Bible: God reveals himself by the word of God. He reveals himself by his word. We hear God in his word. We see the nature of God in his word. We taste the goodness of God in his word. We enjoy God in his word. We fellowship with Christ in his word.

“This is the spiritual, miraculous assumption all through the Bible: God reveals himself by the word of God.”

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that God has called Christians “into the fellowship of his Son.” Now, if that reality — fellowship with the Son of God — is strange to you, and you don’t know what you would point to in your life as fellowshipping with the risen Christ, this is where it happens: it happens as you read and meditate on and pray over and respond to his word. And we would love for you to join us in it.

So, let me pray that God would help us with this resolve in the new year.

Pastor John’s Prayer

Father, Paul prayed for the Thessalonians what I now pray for our friends through Ask Pastor John; namely, I ask you, Father, that you would fulfill every resolve for good in this new year, every work of faith by your power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus would be glorified in us as we read and obey and fulfill those resolves (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12). Grant that we would have resolves to read the Bible this year. Grant faith to trust you for that. Grant fulfillment of that resolve by your power, and grant that Jesus would get the glory, because it’s his power that fulfilled the resolve.

Starting right now, would you incline the hearts of your people to your word? Bend our desires, Father, to the Bible and not to money or entertainment. Grant that we would meet you there, in your word. Grant that we would gain deep wisdom for life as we read. Grant that we would all — those listening and Tony and I — grant that we would all gain gospel hope and strength for holiness, for radical love, and for risk-taking in holy ways in this year’s obedience. Grant that the eyes of our heart would be open to see glorious, beautiful, wonderful things in your word. Grant that we would understand what we see rightly. Grant that we would feel appropriate spiritual affections of what we see, over what we have understood. Unite our hearts so that as we read, we’re not distracted and fragmented in all the ways that can happen.

Guard us from Satan, who plucks the word out of the minds like birds snatching seed off a path. Oh, may every word find good soil this year, and every day may there be some good measure of fresh satisfaction in our hearts as we read. We believe, Father, that you are glorified in us when we are satisfied in you. So, for your glory and for our joy, we pray that you would cause us to taste and see that you are good as we read.

We love your word, Lord. We thank you for your word. It is our life, because without it, we would not know you. Help us to meet you in your word, all of your word, through this year. I pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.