Most of us give Christmas gifts that are quickly forgotten. After the iPhone gets cracked, or the DVD gets watched, or the sweater gets snagged, they all end up at the landfill. This year, why not give a gift (or ask for one) that will last a lifetime?
(Photo: by Carsten Tolkmit. Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Bible Lands study tools make great gifts because they take your personal Bible study to the next level. What’s more, they don’t wear out.
Here are my top 5 recommendations this year for gifts you’ll enjoy giving (and receiving).
The connection between between the first steps we take in making a decision and its final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom or the way of foolishness has domino effects far greater than we can imagine.
For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom.
But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction. (Tweet that.)
The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.
Not everybody can travel to Israel.
But everyone can benefit from including Bible lands in their personal Bible study. You just need some good tools.
I have discovered that including Bible lands in my study has given me more understanding of the Bible than learning Greek and Hebrew. The benefits of including Bible lands in the study of Scripture are available to everyone.
I’ve created what I consider a must-have list of resources. These are the tools I reach for first when I study—those resources that have proven most helpful to me for years.
I’ll give you the full list, and then I’ll suggest which ones to get first.
There is only one way you’ll know God’s will for you this year.
Read your Bible.
But more important than knowing God’s will is choosing to walk in it. A tough assignment.
From the first verse of Scripture, God revealed how the Earth set the stage for the divine drama of history to take place (see Gen. 1:1). From its formless, void beginning, the Lord fashioned the Earth with intent in its details. From this ground, God made physical man a spiritual being in His image (see Genesis 1–2).
The Lord planted two trees in the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 2:8–9). Adam’s physical need required him to make a spiritual choice: From which tree would he eat? Would he obey God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
God originally inspired the book of Genesis for a people about to enter yet another land God prepared. That land would hold the direst of geographical conditions, placing them in a situation similar to Adam’s. Would they obey God’s commands? “I have set before you life and death,” God would tell them, “So choose life” (Deut. 30:19).
Centuries later, Jesus also found Himself facing the same temptation in this barren land—and He clung to God’s Word (see Matt. 4:1–10).
“Either the Bible will keep you away from sin, or sin will keep you away from the Bible.” —C. S. Lewis
Whether in Eden or Canaan or California, our decision remains the same. The land where we live—be it lush or desolate—is the stage on which we display God’s glory. Regardless of our location or influences, God gives us a choice each day from which tree to eat. In every case, life or death comes from our response to God’s Word.
As you commit to spending time in the Bible, commit also to obeying what your Creator reveals each day: “For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life” (Deut. 32:47).
A prayer for reflection:
My Creator, whatever place I find myself this year, my duty remains the same: to choose life by obedience to whatever You teach me in Your Word and thus display Your image wherever You take me in Your world. I devote to You this year . . . and this day. Be glorified in it, O God.