In my opinion, the most important thing about Bible reading is personal understanding and application. Personally, I have found that the read-the-whole-Bible-in-1-year programs are too fast for my limited comprehension. You could start in either Genesis or Matthew and just read at a pace that feels comfortable to you. That's what I do. Some parts move faster than others. Some nights I read just a few verses. Other nights, I may read a few chapters. I mix prayer with my reading. As I find positive examples or lessons, I try to pause and ask for help to be more like what I have just read. And, if I find negative examples or lessons, I try to "look at myself in the mirror" (James 1:19-25
), so I can work on not
being like what I have just read. If I don't understand what I have read, then I back up and try again.
After a few tries, if I am still stuck, then I usually try to get some tips or pointers from a friend, as did the Ethiopian (Acts 8:30-35
). Personally, I have found that I get much more from my reading this way, although the number of verses I read is not very predictable. Inevitably, I often have to "move on" with some questions still nagging in my mind. Often, they are answered as I read other passages later, but some are more "difficult to understand"
, and so they take more time (II Peter 3:14-18; II Timothy 2:15
If you choose a program, I would not
use one that skips around. The Bible is not arranged chronologically, and if a program skips around too much, a person can become confused easily, losing sight of the "big picture", the Bible story. I would start in either Genesis or Matthew. The Old Testament is arranged in mostly chronological order from Genesis through Nehemiah. Job through Song of Solomon is the more "poetical" section, also known as the wisdom literature. It needs no context, because it is applicable all the time. It relates directly to life's struggles. Isaiah through Malachi represent the prophets (think of them as preachers), who tried to bring the Israelites back to faithful keeping of their law from God. So, you could read Genesis through Nehemiah and get the basic story that leads up to Jesus. Although it is not remotely chronological, the rest of the Old Testament is more practical in application, as it deals more directly with people's hearts and thoughts; however, I think it's important to understand the background first. Otherwise, it can be harder to understand the prophets.
If you start in the New Testament, Matthew through John represent 4 independent accounts of Jesus' birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. Acts details the growth of the church from Jerusalem to Rome, which covers the years, 29-61 A.D. The books, 1 Corinthians through 3rd John, are letters written to churches by 1st century apostles and prophets, over the years, 51-96 A.D. The last one, Revelation, was written about 96 A.D., and it is easily the most difficult book in the Bible, because it's written almost entirely in code - figurative language based on the Old Testament prophets. I would save it for last.
Incidentally, there are a handful of books in the Old Testament that are also very hard to understand, because they are very figurative (Zechariah, last half of Daniel, and parts of Ezekiel).
Hopefully, this little summary will help you decide where to start and what to expect. Personally, I generally start in Genesis, although I have started at Matthew a few times.
The advice you found on the other site is very similar to what I mentioned, although they advocate using a journal to keep notes. That's a really good idea. Personally, I keep notes in my wide-margin Bible, so I can find stuff more easily. After I finish reading my Bible, I buy a new one and start over, transferring my notes and re-reading it as I go. If you have an old Bible from a loved one or respected friend, this can be very helpful and meaningful. My son is getting closer to the age that I can do this with him, and I hope to start studying with him soon in this fashion.
Well, I've rambled a bit, but I hope this helps. Incidentally, I would recommend either a New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Version (NASV), or NIV version of the Bible. They are generally translated very carefully and accurately, as far as I can tell and have researched, while trying to maintain as much modern readability as possible. Often, I compare these 3 versions on difficult passages. No translation is perfect, so it's helpful to compare them. Plus, some versions are easier to read in some places than others.
Bible Gateway is a nice site with a lot of resources. I have used it several times to compare versions.
I hope we can talk more later. If you have any questions or are just looking for someone to talk to, let me know.