December is often the time when people begin thinking about their devotional ambitions and plans for the following year. As in the field of weight loss, it isn’t really about “finding the right plan” as much as it is about having a plan and sticking to it. Any devotional approach that has you breathing in Scripture and breathing out prayer is a good one. We as a church want to read through the Bible together in 2019. To do this, we will be using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. Here are 5 good reasons to consider joining us in using the RMM Bible Reading Plan in 2019.
You get to read the New Testament twice
We will be using the standard 1 year version of the RMM Bible Reading Plan to take us through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice over the course of a year. This plan allows us to “see the big picture” while also soaking in the parts of the Bible that seem to minister most directly to the soul.
The Apostle Paul said that the church is being built: “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph 2:20).
The prophets look forward to Christ, the apostles look back on Christ and all together their collective witness forms the essence and foundation of our faith. The RMM Plan does a great job of covering the length and breadth of that foundation with a particular focus on the heart and centre.
You get to read the Psalms twice
As mentioned above, the full 1 year plan lets us double up on the New Testament and the Psalms. The first set of readings runs from April 1 through July 13 and the second runs from August 4 – November 15. That means that in 207 out of the 365 days in the year, you’ll be able to start your day by breathing in one of the historic prayers of the church.
The Psalms used to be the most familiar part of the Bible. For a thousand years of Christian history the average believer was likely to possess only 1 book of the Bible – the Book of Psalms. It was the prayer book and the hymn book of the church. The Book of Psalms has been called “The Bible In Miniature” – more than any other single book of the Bible it reflects upon the plotline of the whole.
It is good to breathe in a Psalm before breathing out a prayer. Praying the Psalms stretches our emotional and spiritual bandwidth. It takes us to higher heights of gratitude, praise and adoration and it brings us down to deeper depths of lament, confession and desperation than we would otherwise be capable of on our own.
You get to see how the Bible fits together
The RMM Bible Reading Plan is organized around a 4 column system. The plan was originally developed by Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne, hence the short form ‘RMM’, and it was initially intended to supply two readings a day for family worship and two readings a day for private devotion. While some people continue to use it this way, most contemporary users read all 4 readings at a single sitting. This format was intended by M’Cheyne to highlight the internal unity of the Scriptures to the reader. Many Christians have a very partial and disjointed understanding of the Bible. They know certain stories very well but they don’t understand how all the pieces fit together. M’Cheyne designed this plan to help the individual reader see and appreciate the larger story.
Christians and leaders understood the importance of that in former generations. Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones for example said famously:
“The message of this Book is really but one – two Testaments, one Book, one message. And the purpose of the Bible is really to deal with just one thing and that one thing is man in his relationship to God.”
The RMM Plan is designed to help readers see the singular message of the Scriptures. By having you read from 4 parts of the Bible simultaneously you learn to spot the inner relationships and overall continuity of the text.
For example, on November 27th we find this reading in the 4th column:
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29–32)
Here Jesus refers to his own life, death and resurrection through the lens of the prophet Jonah. Having just completed the Book of Jonah in column 3, the reader is very well prepared to understand what Jesus means by this particular allusion. The RMM Plan was designed to facilitate these sorts of experiences.
You get to read at your own pace
There are 26 verses in an average chapter of the Bible. The average Bible reader will take approximately 3 minutes to read an average length chapter. That means the full 4 columns associated with the standard 1 year plan will take you about 12 -15 minutes to read. Of course, if you’re like me and you like to stop and think about the things that you are reading, it could take you a great deal longer than that.
You get to be part of a Bible reading community
There is a weight loss program that advertises frequently on my local radio station; the closing line of the advertisement is always the same: “If you could do it yourself, you would have done it already”.
As with weight loss, so with reading the Bible.
Everything is harder on your own and therefore one of the chief benefits of using the RMM Bible Reading plan is the opportunity to take advantage of all of the associated groups and resources.
If you are interested, we would encourage you to also read along with D.A. Carson’s wonderful 2 volume devotional called “For The Love Of God,” which you can purchase on Amazon here: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2. In this wonderful resource Carson opens, explains and applies one of the daily readings in about 300-500 words. The resource has subsequently been turned into a daily blog which you can access and subscribe to here for free.
You can also get daily emails with the readings by signing up here.