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Your Best Year Ever Spiritually and The Bible in a Year

I’d like to talk about a spiritual goal that I set for 2022 and how it blessed me—following The Bible in a Year program. For years, I’ve reflected on the previous year between Christmas and New Year’s. I celebrate the past year’s wonders and seek to learn its lessons, and then I envision the coming year. Michael Hyatt calls his approach to this “Best Year Ever”, and he suggests setting a few goals (or priorities) in each of these areas of life (if applicable):  Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional, Physical, Marital, Parental, Social, Vocational, Avocational, and Financial. 

In 2022, my spiritual goal was to spend a half-hour a day with The Bible in a Year program, even though I’ve done daily Bible reading for many years. Even though I’ve previously read the Bible cover to cover. Even though I’ve been a member of Women’s Bible Study groups for years. Even though I’ve also read daily devotionals that contain verses or passages, such as God Calling and Jesus Calling. And even though I read or hear the daily readings that cover the Bible over a 3-year cycle. But nothing was quite like The Bible in a Year. So, I’m recommending that you pray about whether you’re called to do the Bible in a Year program in 2023.

Here’s what’s great about The Bible in a Year:

The reading plan doesn’t just go from Genesis to Revelation in the order the books are arranged in the Bible. Rather, the reading plan is based on a chronological Great Adventure Bible Timeline® developed to enhance learning through an excellent Salvation History approach developed by Jeff Cavins, who was raised Catholic, then married into an on-fire Protestant family. He became an avid student and teacher of the Bible and a Protestant pastor, and later returned to the Catholic church. This now renowned Bible teacher shares reflections on each period of salvation history and each of the Gospels in The Bible in a Year series. He offers clear explanations about Catholic-Protestant solidarity and divergence in a way that’s amiable and illuminating to all.

You hear the Word proclaimed in daily 20- to 25-minute episodes via podcast, on the Ascension Press website, or (my favorite) through a phone app. I like to follow along in my copy of the Great Adventure Bible and I take some notes, but some people just listen.

The program has inspired greater unity in the Body of Christ because it has probably engaged more Catholics than ever in Bible study, while, at the same time, welcoming and respectfully speaking inclusively to non-Catholics, and offering them an opportunity to get to know the seven books of the Catholic Bible that were part of the holy scriptures of Jesus’ day, but taken out during the Reformation. These “Deuterocanonical Books” are Tobit, Judith, part of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch (including The Letter of Jeremiah), part of Daniel, and 1 and 2 Maccabees (covering 167 BC to the time of Herodian rule under the auspices of Rome). They are well worth knowing for all Christians! Tobit has one of the best marriage prayers anywhere; Judith is all about an amazing woman; and Wisdom is full of wise gems!

Each day has two or three scripture readings, a reflection by the very engaging Rev. Mike Schmitz, and a prayer to help you hear and know God and to apply what you’re hearing to your life.

You can go at your own pace. If you listen to one episode a day, you’ll finish in 365 days, and you can start any day and skip a day when necessary, or double up if you feel like it. I had to miss a few times, so I’ll finish in 13 months rather than 12. No problem!

The Bible in a Year has had over 250 million downloads and over 40,000 five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts. And I’m sure that many, like me, aren’t even counted; I listened through a different app and didn’t post a review. This is my review!

Some benefits I experienced:

Knowing that I was part of a huge, mutually caring community, praying for one another every day of the year.
I grasped more than ever the big picture of salvation history and God’s amazing faithfulness, mercy, favor, blessings, consequences for ungodliness, and loving plan.
I got to know the characters and details in the stories like never before, so that later references to them, even without their names, immediately brought me back to their stories, like an insider.
I was very blessed by every book! I now comprehend much better how Jesus was foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament, and how much the New Testament fulfills the Old.
I loved getting to see the perspectives of each of the four Gospel writers, and how who they were affected their writing.
I grew in my longing for holiness, to a greater extent than ever before!
I’m not quite finished yet, and I’m really excited to hear all the reflections on the New Testament now.

In my next post, I’ll share another idea for a spiritual goal, one that I’m going to embrace myself in 2023.

I wish you not only a happy and healthy New Year but also a year of God’s favor and bountiful blessings. I pray that your hearts’ desires will be fulfilled and that you will find 2023 to be your best year ever spiritually! And I pray, as Jesus did in John 17:21, that all may be one so that the world may believe that the Father sent us His Son.

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