A new year is upon us. And more than one of you have set some kind of Bible-reading goal.
And even if you haven’t, hopefully you know the importance of being continually rooted in the Scriptures.
An inspiring verse about the importance of God’s word is found in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
It presupposes that, generally speaking, we are surrounded by a lot of darkness. God’s word illuminates our world, helps us see, and guides us forward along the path of love, truth and joy.
Having said that, something I often hear people say is that when they sit down to read the Bible they simply don’t understand what they’re reading. Some of the phrases can seem strange, old city names and characters can be confusing, and when you don’t know which century a book was written in or it’s historical context you feel totally lost.
I get it.
That’s why my advice, in addition to having a Bible in modern English (see footnote below), is that you buy a good study Bible.
I know, I know. Profound advice, right? But it will have a significant impact on your level of biblical understanding.
Buy a good study Bible.
A “study Bible” is one that has an introduction to each biblical book, and includes good footnotes that provide cross-references to other passages, and thoughtful commentary and context about what you’re reading. (If it doesn’t somewhere say ‘Study Bible’ it’s probably not a study Bible.)
Do you know those bookstore gift cards you got for Christmas? This is a good way to spend them. If you don’t have any, spend the money anyway!
There are a lot of great options out there. But one I’m recommending right now is the NIV Zondervan Study Bible (General Editor, D.A. Carson.) It has great articles and maps; plus, you get digital access to all the same content on your phone.
The Psalm says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Is God’s word a lamp to your feet? Or are you fumbling around in the dark?
Buy a good study Bible.
By Matthew Ruttan
• As mentioned above, there are many good Bible translations in modern English. Some of them are the NIV (New International Version), the ESV (English Standard Version), and the CSB (Christian Standard Bible). The NLT (New Living Translation) is also helpful for younger or new readers to the Bible.
• This Sunday I start a new teaching series called “Heaven and Hell.” Click here for a 39-second YouTube introduction video. You’re invited!
• Bible quotes are from the New International Version.
• “Up!” is published Monday to Friday and returns on January 7.