The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge Begins Today: Don’t Miss Out on the Wonder of Scripture

Margaret —  February 13, 2013 — 55 Comments

Don't Miss Out on the Wonder of Scripture This Lenten Season

You’re invited to join me on a Lenten journey of reading or listening to (about 45 min a day) the whole Bible during the next 40-plus days in preparation for Easter [Tweet this] and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

We never expected thousands of people would download the FREE 40-Day Bible Reading Guide we provided in the first 72 hours. Download your copy here. And to learn how to download a free audiobible, click here.

We did receive some pushback. One person wrote to suggest that such a reading plan wasn’t reasonable. He said you’d miss out on the intricacies and details of the Bible reading that much, that fast, and suggested even a 90-day reading plan seemed too much.

But I think of reading or listening to the Bible in 40-days is like flying at 40,000 feet. You can’t see the individual trees or streams below, but when you’re at that altitude you get to see things you can’t see any other way: cloud formations and lightening storms from above, shifts in the earth’s texture, colors above and below, and much more.

Today the journey begins.

It’s Ash Wednesday. The kick off of Lent. And I opened my Message Bible to read the first 27 chapters of Genesis.

A few observations:

  • I found reading The Message Bible refreshing and easy to read. Verbs. Adjectives. One word-sentences popped off the page. I love the way Eugene Peterson captures God speaking creation into existence in Genesis saying God spoke, “Light!” “Sky!” “Separate” “Green up!” “Swarm, Ocean!” as a master artist and craftsman.
  • I find comfort in knowing that when I fall behind on reading, I have the one day a week to catch up and I can also turn to an audiobible [Tweet this] and listen to God’s work while running errands, cleaning around the house, or taking a long walk.
  • What are standing out to me are particular words, phrases, ideas, and patterns that I’ve missed reading at a slower pace. I’m reading with a pen in hand. Underlying words. Making notes in the margins. And placing little question marks about things I want to go back and look up after Lent.
  • One thing I’ve never considered before is the order in which the names of God are revealed. I’ve thought about God’s names, but never the order they come in Scripture. But for whatever reason, when I read “God Yireh” or “God-Sees-to-It” as the place Abraham named the mountain where he was willing to offer Isaac (Genesis 22) the idea of examining the order of God’s names came to mind. I quickly jotted a question mark and will come back to it later.

The biggest thing that came out of today’s initial reading was the wonder of LIFE.

I’ve always seen the story of creation as the story of our origins, our beginning. I write about this extensively in the 6-week DVD Bible study Pursuing God’s Love: Stories from the Book of Genesis.

“The opening chapters of Genesis are chock-full of stories that showcase the attributes of God. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, abounding in imagination, creativity, mystery, and wisdom. God is the source of life, strength, and goodness. The first stories in Genesis remind us that even when we question, disobey, or doubt divine love, God continues pursuing us.”

But as I read today I was taken back with the life bubbling up in the book of Genesis. This life begins with God. Life bubbles up during creation. But even after the fall, Eve produces life declaring, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!” with the birth of Cain (Genesis 4). Abel is another gift of life. Together they take care of life—animals and plants.

The wonder of life is expressed in length of years (Genesis 5). And though God shortens the life span (Genesis 6), He remains the source of life.

Even when people mark the earth with “evil, evil, evil” (Genesis 6), God once again rescues life with in a wooden frame and righteous, though imperfect man, named Noah.

When Sarai finds herself barren, God again reveals Himself as the source of life (Genesis 11). And when Lot finds himself living in a wicked city, God sends messengers to save his life (Genesis 19). Atop a mountain, God preserves Isaac’s life in the last moments with the provision of a ram (Genesis 22).

Something about today’s reading reignited the truth that God is the source of life.

All life.

Your life.

My life.

All. Life.

No wonder Jesus says that He’s come to give us life and give it abundantly.

I finished today’s reading with a prayer asking God to unleash the fullness of His wondrous life in me and in you.

God, You alone are the source of life. Rich. Abundant. Textured. Holy. Beautiful. Life. Forgive us for settling for less than the life you designed for us. Stir our desire to lay hold of the fullness of life you have for us. Give us strength, courage, and grace to lay hold of all you have for us. Infuse us with You. May we learn to live wonderstruck. Amen.

What are you learning as you dive into the Scripture this Lent?

**Original photo found here.

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55 responses to The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge Begins Today: Don’t Miss Out on the Wonder of Scripture

  1. I have accepted the challenge to be #wonderstruck by this ‘flash’ read of the Bible. Reading this fast certainly shouldn’t be the only complete reading of the Bible anyone does. I agree with a post saying one would miss so much. True, but I think reading this way will show the ‘big picture’ that one might miss when reading for the details! Any reading of the Bible can only be a blessing!!!

  2. You inspire with your words … and your very life!

    And the image of you, up at 40,000 feet? I can see your sweet little face pressed up against the glass, all #wonderstruck over what you’re seeing. God bless you on this journey…

  3. I spent the better part of 2 hours in prayer about this yesterday- walking in a new park, seeking God’s heart. I already read/listen to the bible daily, isn’t that enough? BUT, daily I was restless with this challenge laid before us. I work for a missions organization, so I dropped the idea in front of colleagues seeking advice or confirmation- that this is a crazy idea. God reminded me that it is not Nan’s approval I should seek. SO, yesterday in this park- I used a MAP to get my bearings, saw several animals- squirrel, geese, rabbit, birds and bees all living out their PURPOSE in response to our CREATOR. The bees brought tears to my eyes- as they make HONEY, I saw that God longed for me to walk out my PURPOSE- to be whole and holy- In perfect communion with him. He leads to LIFE- to the full! SO, with confidence of call from the ONE, I join in tasting the honey of heaven these next 40 days with you all! O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in him – Psalm 34:8 (which I read in my daily reading)
    Thank you, sweet Margaret, for the invitation 🙂

  4. So excited to join you in this 40 day adventure!!! My husband and I are on this adventure together and have decided to read the chapters together out loud every night for our time of devotions… So excited to see God unlock His word to us as a couple! Thank you for sharing your insights of your reading… Experiencing the wonder of LIFE today! Blessings!

    • Mary, I love the idea of reading out loud with your husband! Can’t wait to hear what God does for you two during this time.

  5. Margaret, I’m coming along for the journey. I’ve been wanting to read through the whole Bible from beginning to end for years, but have failed every attempt at “Bible-in-a-Year” plans. So it might seem even crazier that I’m pursuing this with y’all, considering that 40 days is even shorter than a year – but I know that the timing of this is directly from our Father. So, with great expectations, I’m trusting Him and setting foot to faith. Though none of my immediate family and friends are joining me on this adventure, I am so blessed that I have you and other brothers and sisters in Jesus with whom to share this Lenten season and pursuit of God in Scripture. Thank you for obeying His call, and sharing the call with us! 🙂

  6. I am just seeing so much that I never saw before! Thank you for bringing this once IMPOSSIBLE task into the realm of my reality this Lenten season!

  7. I am splitting my daily reading I’m going about 13 chapters in the morning and the balance in the evening. What #WONDERSTRUCK me this morning was God’s loving-kindness…Adam & Eve had already covered themselves but HE found it necessary to clothe them HIMSELF (even though they had just broken the rules)! Also, in regards the casting out of Adam & Eve from the garden, He was so passionate about them (and in turn us) not living out this hard reality of live FOREVER…so not only is was the removal from the garden a consequence of their actions it was total and utter protection…what deep love He has for us! WOW, I so didn’t think I’d get that much from reading verses I “presumed” to be so familiar with. Thank you Lord today for Your loving-kindness and protection.

  8. I was swept up again in God’s passion and patience and provision.

    A couple thoughts I had or things I want to go back and re-read/explore:

    God’s breath gives us our being. We need to spend more time being to receive His breath.

    Even after the earth seemed ready, Noah waited for God’s call to leave the ark.

    God finished His work of creation, and now it’s our work to care for it, to create from it.

    I want to do a word study on “seed.”

  9. When I saw this opportunity last week, I was totally pumped about it. How awesome is that to read the whole Bible during Lent?? Little did I know that God had something in mind that would bring everything together for me. Food is my stronghold and I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember. I have tried everything to break this hold, but cannot get free to save my life. A few days ago ran across a book that will lead me through 30 days of fasting with the intention of breaking the stronghold of food and decided to do that during Lent. But then I thought, is doing this and trying to read the whole Bible too much? And then I realized that as God was taking me through this time of severing my addiction to food, He would be countering it by feeding me by His Word…His ENTIRE Word. Oh, that His Word would become sweeter to me than the best piece of chocolate and more filling than even the best meal. Thank you Margaret for this precious time…

  10. For me right off I saw the power of words….with words…God created…spoken into being all that was in His heart…Adam…with words he named…gave meaning to a thing…satan…with words he deceived ….words carry so much power….to give life…life or destroy. may this be a deeper work in my heart this Lenten season.

  11. Blessings Margaret,

    My how I love your beautiful WONDER STRUCK enthusiasm for these next 40 days!!! I just encountered this after looking around at You Version and other 40 day plans! Not sure I can do this but I am going to at least listen to an audio of your plan for these next 40 days! I (am)(was) considering doing your “PURSUING God’s Love” of Genesis like you did (until I found out it was a DVD series, although I so loved your 1st one that you make available! Thanks!) It’s so contagious how you present your WONDER filled ideas and from what you read in today’s reading of the 1st 27 books … I’m listening to Max McLean read these now. I’m sure I would love to read this in The Message! (but for now I’ll start out listening and will have to re-listen to the chapters I’m hearing right now)!

    Today, Thomas P. Nelson sent me an email that The Voice is now available on Bible Gateway and so I signed up for their Lent and Easter from The Voice before I came here. So now to commit to doing “40 days in the Word” (another plan that’s available from Saddleback Church but that one is more for developing study habits which is great but not exactly what I need for this time of drawing closer to God in this time in His Word)

    Do you plan on writing daily like this as well? as we read together these beautiful love letters from God.

    Also I so enjoyed your method as you read through of jotting down ideas that come to you like the one on the order of God’s Names. That really interests me because that is my focus once again for 2013 on each Thurs.(on my blog) to be Grateful to God for Who He is not just for what He does but all of His attributes that you so vividly enumerated!

    You’ve sold me on being WONDER STRUCK! I’ve bookmarked you and plan to come often to share in your wonder of living in God’s Word, preparing our hearts for the great celebration of His Resurrection! Looking forward to being immersed in God’s Word… oh, and by the way, I’m hoping to listen or read in Spanish (since I’m in Mexico)! Thanks for your links in the pop up “How to Listen to the Audio Bible Free)!

    In Christ’s peace and love,

  12. Blessing, blessing, blessing at every turn. God blessing, people blessing. Blessing being offered, blessing being stolen. All this blessing in competition with cursing and fear and childlessness and famine and and deceit and unrest. The battle line is drawn. Wonderful start. I’m hooked.

  13. This was one sentence that jumped out at me from the reading today…

    You’re here to bear fruit, reproduce,
    lavish life on the Earth, live bountifully!”

    Live bountifully – love that!
    The first 27 chapters of Genesis was a whirlwind tour of a huge amount of history. It was great to read a really big chunk for a change. Looking forward to tomorrow’s reading.

  14. I started the reading plan yesterday and immediately came across something I know I saw a million times before but it just didn’t sink in. I used my granddaughter’s Bible because it is a modern translation and would read easier than the King James for this type of challenge. I wrote down the scriptures I wanted to look up later in my Thompson Chain Reference Bible and kept reading. The scripture was in Gen. 1:29 “God said I have given you every plant with seeds on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seeds. This will be your food.” You may wonder why that would jump out at me. It’s because I’m vegan. I have been vegetarian for two years and turned vegan on January 1st. I have done this for health reasons; discovering that I am allergic to dairy and have wheat allergies, as well. Believe it or not, I also discovered from going to a chiropractor that those allergies have an affect on my nervous system (the spine primarily). SO…it is very interesting to me to discover that Adam and Eve were vegans way back then. Of course, the food in the Garden of Eden tasted way, way better than what we have today. But now I have further proof that it is God who has been leading me in this direction because that is how He created mankind.

  15. Read the first 27 chapters yesterday, and have 10 more chapters left for today! I gave up Facebook for Lent, so I’ve had an incredibly extra amount of time, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I LOVED reading that much in one day, because it somehow made it into one big story better, and made it so much more real and intense! THNAK YOU!!! (:

  16. I began my reading 3 days before the appointed date, because of my schedule. I am finding that God is speaking to me in many different areas of my life through the reading. I am listening by audio online. I was surprised that of all things Leviticus spoke to me in areas of my life; God is a God of order, I am thankful, thankful, thankful, that we are no longer to do animal sacrifices for our sins. This lead me to look at the cross of Jesus Christ and what he did for us. Thankful, thankful, thankful.

  17. Leviticus made me nauseous, reading about all that animal sacrifice in detail. It didn’t years ago but but since I don’t eat meat now, my stomach was turning. So I read through it quickly. The poor wives of the Levitical priests had to put up with husbands smelling like a slaughterhouse. Didn’t matter if they washed because the stink would be in their hair and beards, mixed with the heat of the desert. Gah! They didn’t have shampoo back then. I have no idea what they washed with, other than water. I guess certain things hit people in certain ways.

  18. I’m Orthodox and follow the Western Rite so we’re beginning Lent today.

    (Easter/Pascha is May 5th for us).

    I’d like to adjust the calendar on the chart you produced to accommodate our dates.

    Is that permissible?

    georgeniebling at yahoo dot com

  19. Very much interested to take this journey.ive been longing to read the bible in complete but have been failing.please dont delay to send me the plan

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