As we begin the new 2023 year, I want to challenge you to read your Bible in 2023. Whether you are a long-time member of HBC or have recently started visiting our church, you will find that reading your Bible regularly is a great way to grow closer to God and to grow spiritually.

On January 1 and 8, we will distribute two Bible reading pledge cards in every worship bulletin. I am asking you to pray about your decision and then choose what pledge you will make to God. We will collect the pledge cards on January 9 and subsequent Sundays in January. I hope each one reading this column will make a pledge. If you are watching our worship services online, we will provide a way for you to make your Bible- reading pledge online.

The first option we will give you for the Bible reading pledge is to read the Gospel of Matthew. Allan and I will be preaching through Matthew from now until Easter Sunday, so if you read Matthew on your own you will understand our sermons more fully. I think every Christian and every person thinking about becoming a Christian should really learn about the life and ministry of Jesus. Reading through the Gospel of Matthew is a great way to so this.

A second option is to commit to read a different book of the Bible every month. Since there are 12 months in the year, you will be committing to read 12 books of the Bible. For those of you who have read through several gospels already, this might be a good “second step” in your spiritual growth. Perhaps you have heard that the book of Job provides a deep evaluation of human suffering. You could choose Job as one of your 12 books. Or you have always wanted to read Romans, Pauls’ most profound letter and perhaps the most influential single book in the Bible. Another advantage of this pledge is that if you find yourself in the middle of a very busy month, you can always read a very short book like Ruth (only four chapters) or even Philemon (only a single chapter). This pledge gives you lots of options.

The third option is to read the entire New Testament in a year. This will require significant self- discipline—reading one chapter per day—to complete your pledge by the end of 2023. And the final option is a major commitment—to read four chapters of the Bible per day so that you can read the entire Bible in one year. But I promise that if you choose this commitment God will bless you greatly through your reading.

Most of all, make some sort of commitment during the first part of January to give your spiritual life a boost in 2023!

In Christ, Pastor Mark