At Christmas, Christians usually warn each other about not getting caught up with the materialism of Christmas and instead encourage one another to focus on the Saviour. That's an important message. But I’d like to encourage you to consider buying yourself or someone you know a particular kind of present this Christmas. I want to encourage you to make an investment in your spiritual tool kit with a study Bible.

Many people find reading the Bible intimidating because there’s nowhere for them to go when they get stuck with a verse, or a word, or a teaching that just doesn’t make sense. Study Bibles are incredibly helpful at those times because they provide short explanations keyed to the verse that you’re reading. The best study Bibles are written by a team of scholars, each recognized as an authority in the book upon which they’re commenting. If you don’t have a study Bible now, or if you’re using one that’s more than 20 years old, there’s a lot you can gain by picking one up and including it in your reading.

More and more people are using electronic Bibles with free applications like Olive Tree. They allow you to highlight, make notes and not only carry several translations of the Bible with you, but also load various study Bibles and commentaries for you to read alongside the Bible. With Olive Tree, the Bibles (if you want something other than the free version that comes with the application) and the Study Bible notes are sold separately so for example you can read the ESV translation but still take advantage of the NIV Study Bible notes or vice versa. I usually read from the ESV or NLT translations and read the notes from the ESV and NIV Study Bibles. And of course as soon as you have an account, you can read the resources you’ve purchased on any of your devices.

You can check it out for yourself here:

Of course all of the Bibles and commentaries in the world are of no use to you if you don’t actually read them. Can I suggest a reading plan to you for the new year? There are many plans available and the best one is the one that you actually follow. But there’s a new plan being offered by The Bible Project that has a new twist. The Bible Project has been working to develop short animated YouTube video introductions to each book of the Bible and many of its major themes. The videos have a modern, artistic feel and the commentary is fun and engaging, but the theology upon which the introductions is based is OUTSTANDING! With the reading plan, you read through the Bible in a year but each time you start a new book, you’re sent a link to the video introduction associated with it. Of course you can watch these videos at any time, regardless of the plan that you follow, but I think the combination of both would be really enriching for most people. If you sign up for their e-mail they also send encouragements and updates to you during the year. Check out their introduction to the book of Ruth and Bible reading promo at the following links:

Introduction to the Old Testament book of Ruth:

Three reasons you won’t read through the Bible in 2016:

In awe of Him,