Inside BST


Inside BST

Inside BST goes behind the curtain of BibleStudyTools.com and into the minds of our editors and developers. You'll discover encouraging stories, information about the site, links that interest us, and devotionals.

Contributors:

John UpChurch, Senior Editor (BibleStudyTools.com)

Stephen McGarvey, Senior Director of Editorial

Stephen Sanders, A/V Editor

7 Helpful Bible Study Resources

Our site is stocked with handy resources to help with your Bible study. Here are just a few that can help you dig deeper.

My Bible: This is the easy way to take notes, tag verses, and keep track of your reading from any computer, smart phone, or tablet

A Guide to Bible Study: Dive into this classic introduction and overview of what the Bible teaches.

Audio Bibles: You may prefer to listen to the Bible for your study. We offer both the King James Version and the New Living Translation with audio versions.

Maps: Do you ever get confused by locations in the Bible? These visual guides will help you get a better picture of what you're reading.

Compare Translations: When you come across a difficult or confusing passage, try comparing different translations.

Interlinear Bible: Explore the original Hebrew and Greek in the Bible... even if you don't know how to read them.

Jesus.org: When you have questions about the life, ministry, and impact of Jesus Christ, this site provides clear answers from some of your favorite pastors and church leaders.


What's an Interlinear Bible?

If you've dug around on our site, you may have come across links to what's called an "interlinear bible." So, what is that? And how can you use it?

Well, despite the scholarly-sounding name, an interlinear Bible isn't as forbidding as it may seem. It's simply a way for any student of Scripture to examine the Greek and Hebrew words that lie behind our English translations. If you know those languages or not, you can still get quite a bit out of the experience.

With our interlinear versions (we have both the King James Version and the New American Standard for now), you'll see the verses laid out in English first with the Hebrew or Greek underneath. Every word is linked to our lexicons so that you can explore the definitions and nuances of each. (Quick tip: Open the words in a new tab so that you don't lose your place.) Try the Romans 1:1 to see what we mean.

Of course, the translations provided on our site are all high quality and produced by biblical scholars over many years. So, you don't have to dive into the originals. But they're there for you if you prefer.


Summer Reading

You may know that our site includes tons of free Bible study resources to help you dig into God's Word. But you may not know that there's more to BST than commentaries and dictionaries. In fact, our site is loaded with some classic Christian books to help you in your spiritual journey.

So, this summer, if you're looking for something brand new to read, why not reach for something "new to you" instead? After all, our rates are much better than what you'll find on Kindle (hint: free!). Plus, each one will give you some food for thought.

Here are some of the books you'll find on our bookshelf:

And that's just getting started. Go ahead and take a look. Even if you're a fast reader, all these books will keep you busy.


A Misquoted Verse?

Perhaps someone has told you that Christians shouldn't "judge" others for their beliefs or lifestyles. Usually, this claim is backed up by Matthew 7:1. But is that what Jesus meant?

This article on our sister site does a good job exploring this verse:

As a Christian, I’m often at odds with the culture around me. As our society embraces a growing number of unbiblical behaviors and attitudes, I find myself becoming more and more vocal in my opposition. I’m not alone; many other conservative Christians are also taking a stand for what the Bible teaches, particularly when it comes to moral behavior. Maybe that’s why I seem to hear Matthew 7:1 tossed around so frequently by those who want Christians to quiet down:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”

Whenever we, as Christians, speak out against something in the culture, one of two labels is immediately employed in an effort to silence us: we are either branded “intolerant” or “judgmental”. To make matters worse, the second label is often attached to the teaching of Jesus Himself. Are we Christians defying the words of our Master when we speak against the behaviors, attitudes or worldviews affirmed by others? Did Jesus command us to be silently non-judgmental?

This selective use of scripture by the opposition is perhaps the finest example of what we at stand to reason are addressing when we caution people to “never read a bible verse.” Matthew 7:1, when read in isolation from the larger context of the Sermon on the Mount, may seem to command a form of silent acceptance and tolerance advocated by the culture, but a closer examination of the verse reveals Jesus’ true intent.

Continue reading to find out more.


A Bible-Reading Famine?

According to a recent LifeWay study, many Christians in America truly desire a close relationship with Christ. They even think about God's Word. But that desire hasn't translated into engagement with the Bible.

From the report:

"The survey found 90 percent of churchgoers agree "I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do," and 59 percent agree with the statement: "Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths." While the majority agree with both statements, there is a significant difference in the strength of agreement. Nearly two-thirds of churchgoers (64 percent) strongly agree with the first statement, but only 20 percent strongly agree with the second.

"However, when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond "Every Day" (19 percent) as respond "Rarely/Never" (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible "Once a Week" and another 22 percent say "Once a Month" or "A Few Times a Month."

Let's change that in 2013 and make it a year to honor God with our hearts and our minds. Sign up for a Bible reading plan, and we'll get you into God's Word each day.

LifeWay research



5 Things Great Leaders Do that Others Don’t

When Nehemiah rode into ancient Jerusalem, he found a broken down, dispirited ruin. For years, the refuges had lived in the crumbled mess without much hope of seeing any improvement. This was, they assumed, “Just the way things are.” They had no vision or plan to turn the city around.

The people needed an uncommon leader, called by God, who could see more than broken walls and shattered structures. They needed to believe that something could come from all this nothing, that splendor could rise from squalor. And that’s just what God gave them.

What allowed Nehemiah to accomplish God’s purpose is that he understood five things that most people never do—whether they’re leaders or not. This cupbearer brought revitalization because he never lost sight of these principles of great leadership:

They Obey Their Calling

Nehemiah had been training for his job as rebuilder in Jerusalem for years, though he didn’t realize it at first. When his brother Hanani came with a report about the condition of the city, that calling became apparent:

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:3–4)

Great leaders work from the passion God has given them. They see a need that tugs at them or they experience an injustice, and they know they have to do something. Even when they aren’t sure what that passion is just yet, leaders like Nehemiah prepare themselves by making the most of whatever situation they’re in. They grow by learning from other leaders, by reading God’s Word, by prayer, and by doing the best work they can.

When the calling hits, they’re ready.

They Study the Situation First

As much as the struggles in his homeland bothered Nehemiah, he didn’t immediately jump into the work. Instead, he took some time to study the situation for himself and to learn:

I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. (Nehemiah 2:12–13)

His first course of action involved inspecting the walls and listening to the “few men” who went with him. He needed to know the problem first-hand, to see how bad the damage was from one end of the city to the other.

Great leaders know that you can’t start “fixing” the problem until you truly understand it. You may have plenty of training to tackle even the most complicated projects. But bringing your expertise alone doesn’t have the same impact and inspire the same confidence as does showing that you truly know what’s happening. You’ve been there; you’ve seen it; you’ve listened to the concerns.

They Call It Like It Is

Many managers like to put the “gold ring in the pig’s nose.” They want to make everything seem better than it really is so that no one worries. But your workers most likely already know how bad something is, and making it seem better will only come across as hollow. You’ll lose credibility.

In contrast, Nehemiah simply pointed out the truth:

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.” (Nehemiah 2:17a)

The city is in shambles; it’s a big mess. That may seem like a demoralizing message, but great leaders know that honesty helps people see the problem for what it is. Making it seem less urgent could actually lead to apathy and distrust. Nehemiah faced it head on first before painting a vision for the future.

They Start the Work Themselves

While Nehemiah pointed out the difficulty faced by those in Jerusalem, he did something that truly sets him apart as a great leader. He started the work:

“Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17b)

This job looked immense and foreboding. Rallying the workers and painting a vision for the future wasn’t enough. Nehemiah needed to take the lead and do something about it. A leader who isn’t willing to do something first shouldn’t expect to see positive results. Great leaders know they have to make the first sacrifice to get things moving.

Nehemiah worked shoulder to shoulder in the city to make sure the wall got built. His dedication and commitment to God inspired those around him.

They Keep Going

Nearly as soon as the project got off the ground, opponents jumped in to stop it through discouragement and even threats. But Nehemiah had no intention of letting them win:

I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (Nehemiah 2:20)

The greater the opposition, the greater his response:

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. (Nehemiah 4:21)

That’s exactly what great leaders do. They know that challenges will pop up, and they know that critics will weigh in. Instead of letting those roadblocks stop them, they trust God and inspire others to work around whatever may come. They may get discouraged, but they don’t stop heading toward the vision they have.


A 31-Day Journey Through the Book of Proverbs

by Stephen Sanders

I make my living as a videographer. I film interviews of pastors/professors/authors answering questions about the Bible. Then I edit this video footage into individual videos and thousands of people click on them online because they are looking for answers. Books like Proverbs make it easy for us to develop this habit of learning who God is; obtaining the answers to life’s common problems… developing a hope and a trust in God (and a confidence in ourselves, even) that will keep us on the right track like we so desperately want to be.

I recently took a 31-day journey through Proverbs on my blog on Christianity.com, and I hope it will encourage you like it did me:

31 Days of Proverbs

Proverbs 1: Wisdom That Shouts!

This wisdom in Proverbs makes itself undeniably obvious to us. It “shouts at us” right in the middle of where we exist. This wisdom contains the answers that we so desperately search for.

Proverbs 2: Simple Knowledge

This wisdom Solomon keeps speaking about isn’t simple knowledge that we learn by living life, learning from our mistakes, etc. It doesn’t just come by natural means. Godly knowledge comes by seeking God fervently by reading the Bible, talking to Him in prayer, and seeking His will for our lives specifically.

Proverbs 3: Love & Loyalty

We see it over and over. Love God. Love others. Seek God for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding and obtain fulfillment in life. We can sleep at night knowing that we aren’t in trouble.

Proverbs 4: More of the Same

Chapter 4 comes across as a reiteration. All four of these chapters word it a bit differently, but it’s altogether the same key points. I guess these principles really are important, right?

Proverbs 5: Polluted Streams

This is where things begin evolving and we get into some more detail as to what this wisdom & knowledge truly is. Solomon warns us of those who will try to deceive us specifically with sexual temptation.

Proverbs 6: Six Things That God Hates

This one is a really meaty chapter. We go from handling business deals the right way, to the trouble that goes along with procrastination, to the trouble with troublemaking, to the consequences of adultery.

Proverbs 7: The Infamous Harlot/Seductress

It seems adultery hasn’t changed much over the past few thousand years. If we pay attention, we can learn something that will change our lives forever.

Proverbs 8: You Gotta Trust God’s Word

This is one of those passages in the Bible that I love to read slowly and over and over again. I feel like I get a small taste of how amazing God is when I read it. I also feel an enormous sense of gratitude in knowing that He wants me to have the same wisdom that has been by His side since the beginning of time.

Proverbs 9: Wisdom vs. Folly

But one thing that stuck out to me in this chapter is that there are a lot of similarities between Wisdom and Folly. The difference is in what they are offering and the type of life that results in following each of them.

Proverbs 10: Righteousness vs. Wickedness

I’m gonna be honest here. This chapter makes my eyes cross (that probably happens to me when I read the Bible more than it does for most people). One of the things I like to do to eliminate some of that confusion is to break passages up into bite-sized chunks.

Proverbs 11: Where’s the Integrity?

God loves humble people with integrity who are righteous. During Solomon’s time, people found this right standing by following rules and giving God sacrifices when they fell short of these rules. Today, we find it through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 12: A Little Bit of Everything

The righteous and upright have integrity. Let’s continue to ask God to help us become those people who the world can begin trusting again. 

Proverbs 13: Our Whole Heart

The further we dig into these chapters, the more I realize how important it is that God has our whole heart. I mean, we have to be committed to Him for it to be possible for us to follow these instructions.

Proverbs 14: Priceless Wisdom

It’s easy to get in a habit of just living life without putting much thought into what causes you to be the kind of person that you are. But after studying these Proverbs, I’m now convinced more than ever that following Jesus is not a cakewalk. If anything, it is actually harder to be a Christian because you can’t just be who you want to be.

Proverbs 15: Speak Your Mind?

In this chapter, I’m noticing a lot of wisdom on watching your words. In this day and age where the vast majority expresses their opinion openly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to “think before you speak.” ESPECIALLY, online where we make comments without running the risk of consequence for our actions.

Proverbs 16: Providence vs. Creating Your Destiny

God is the one who is in control. We should take great comfort in that fact because it means that we don’t have to put so much pressure on ourselves to perform.

Proverbs 17: Minor Tweaks

God’s Word is alive. It tells us when we need to tone it down a notch or crank it up a bit. I can’t help but think that all these minor tweaks along the way are what will surely bring us closer to who we are in Him.

Proverbs 18: The Golden Rule (on Facebook too!)

Isn’t it fascinating how much social media has changed the way we communicate with one another? I’ve known myself to be guilty of saying some things that I normally wouldn’t be bold enough to say in real-life conversations.

Proverbs 19: Where Does Poverty Fit In?

The more mature I become as a Christian, the more I find that God doesn’t want us to worry about money. He doesn’t want it to control our lives because it has the power to control us to the point where we value it more than Him.

Proverbs 20: Just God

We all know that life isn’t fair. Sometimes the cards we are dealt don’t result in a winning hand. Does that mean that God isn’t “good?”

Proverbs 21: The Contentious Woman

Basically, she’s the kind of person that pretty much no one wants to be around. The people that do surround her are either (A) just like her or (B) stuck with her.

Proverbs 22: Common Bond

Proverbs 22 is so important because it tears down this facade of wealthy, healthy, successful = blessed by God. It levels the playing field because it doesn’t matter where you come from. Nothing we achieve enables us to get more of Jesus.

Proverbs 23: More Money, More Problems

Solomon, the same man who could have had anything he wanted, actually warns us about wealth.

Proverbs 24: A Balancing Act

Moderation is a good thing, not only because of what it keeps us from doing too much of, but because of the things that we need to experience just a little bit to still be effective in ministering to the lost and loving the unlovely.

Proverbs 25: Vinegar in a Wound

We really need to be sensitive to how we interact with people who are suffering. Many times, I think we try so hard to be “happy, positive Christians” that we forget that we are really supposed to be suffering with these people.

Proverbs 26: How to Stop Doing Foolish Things

That little voice in our head warns us and, for whatever reason, we ignore it just long enough to not do what it tells us to do.

Proverbs 27: Flattery, Bragging & Jealousy

When was the last time you analyzed the way that other people perceive you?

Proverbs 28: Rulers & Laws

We are always supposed to support our leaders through prayer. We are supposed to love them, as we want to be loved.

Proverbs 29: Giving & Receiving Criticism

Always accept criticism from others with humility and take those things to God in prayer and by studying the Bible. You’ll likely discover that there were things that you thought you knew about Jesus that you really didn’t… and that is okay.

Proverbs 30: Poverty Nor Riches

Material things (specifically our lack or abundance of them) have a way of replacing God. According to the Bible, it’s perfectly okay to be content with what you have.

Proverbs 31: A Different Focus

Sure. We’ve all heard of the “Proverbs 31 Woman,” but what about everything else in the chapter?

 


Pray Without Ceasing? Really?

For many Christians, the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing" seems... well... impossible. But in this video from Mark Dever, you'll see that it's not so out of reach as you might think.

BibleStudyTools.com:What does 1 Thessalonians 5:17 mean by saying pray without ceasing?-Mark Dever from biblestudytools on GodTube.


12 Essential Books to Give Your Graduate

You have so much you want to tell your graduating senior—whether a child, grandchild, or friend. Although you’ve spent years sharing the wisdom you’ve gleaned from life, somehow that doesn’t seem to be nearly enough. There’s always something else you meant to say, some piece of advice you forgot to mention, some story from your past that could definitely help.

Instead of loading them down with everything you think they’ll need, sometimes it’s better to supply them with solid books that can shape them over the long run. But which ones should you choose? We’d love to help. These books have made an impact on us as editors and Christians, and we believe they are essential for any graduate’s library.

We’re assuming here that they already have a solid Bible for study (and know a good website for in-depth reading on their smartphone). None of these recommendations matter if there’s no solid foundation in Scripture. But if that’s there, then here are 12 books to give your graduate to help them in their journey.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity

This classic explanation and defense of the Christian faith has stirred up men and women for decades. The conversational style and vivid prose make chewing through even complex theological concepts enjoyable. You may not agree with Lewis on all points, but Mere Christianity will challenge you to examine what you believe and why you believe it. Every grad needs to take a look inside.

Every Young Man’s/Woman’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Shannon Ethridge

Every Young Man's Battle Every Young Woman's Battle

Sex. Every graduate will face an onslaught from the world when it comes to sex. Porn is more common on the Internet than cat memes, smartphone apps encourage hooking up with a simple swipe, and temptations have become nearly constant. In fact, the battle they face will likely only grow more intense. They need help, and the Every Man’s Battle series gives them the weapons to overcome. Both Every Young Man’s Battle and Every Young Woman’s Battle tackle this topic in a way that will stick with them.

The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller

Reason for God

Considered by many an instant classic, The Reason for God by Pastor Tim Keller often appears on lists of the best Christian books of all time. There’s a good reason for that. This well-reasoned volume has become the go-to book for answering the skeptics of our day. With his firm grasp of Scripture, Keller will provide your graduate with a new trust in God’s unfailing Word.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Crazy Love

Millions of Christians have responded to the passionate appeal Francis Chan unleashed on the world in the form of Crazy Love. This book has become fodder for small group studies and awakened many to the need to do more in their love for God than just “trying not to cuss.” Easy to read, but impossible to put down, Chan’s short book will charge your graduate up to pursue a wild love for Jesus.

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence by Jenni Catron

Clout Book

Every teen and young adult longs to be significant, to do something that matters. That’s why it’s often so hard for many to “settle down” into one decisive career choice or major—and why they often doubt their influence. In Clout, Jenni Catron examines the life of Jesus to see exactly what His Philippians 2 leadership looks like. She wants us, as Christians, to follow His example in unleashing our “clout” and using our gifts to impact the world.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

Radical Book

Pastor David Platt has become widely known for his multi-hour sermons during special “secret church” events. But his fire for sharing the gospel is the true engine that drives him, and you can see that in his best-selling book Radical. Most grads take the comforts of home for granted—security, money, convenience. But this book will challenge them to see beyond the world to what it truly means to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.

The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

New Evidence Book

For many Christians, Josh McDowell’s timeless defense of the faith has answered the skeptical questions of the world and given them a renewed sense of confidence. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict isn’t a casual read, to be sure, but the in-depth research from science, history, archaeology, philosophy, and more will provide some serious food for thought. Any grad can return to this reference book over and over to get answers for the questions posed in classes and by friends. (Bonus: The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel makes an excellent companion book.)

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman

Kingdom Calling

Too often, Christians make a distinction between “holy work” and “secular work.” Some jobs, the argument goes, have a Kingdom impact, and some don’t. But Jesus never presented vocation as an impediment to sharing the gospel—He worked through fishermen, tax collectors, soldiers, and doctors. In Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman shows how any job can be a launching pad for advancing the Kingdom. Plus, there’s practical advice on how it works in daily life.

(The Cost of) Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Discipleship Book

Thanks to recent biographies, Bonhoeffer’s stature among Christians has risen once again. And that’s a good thing because his classic work Discipleship (also called The Cost of Discipleship) is a must-read for any believer. Although the core of the book is a study of the Sermon on the Mount, the true power of this work is its insightful (and sometimes devastating) explanation of what it means to follow Jesus—no matter the cost.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Redeeming Love

True, Redeeming Love is fiction, and not what you might expect in a list of books to help send grads into the journey of life. But Rivers’ novel goes beyond simply an engaging retelling of the book of Hosea. It helps us catch a powerful glimpse of the amazing, pursuing love of God. For many grads, knowing that God loves us and truly believing that are two different things. This story weaves them into one.

Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge

Wild at Heart

Good examples of manhood in our culture are few and far between. In fact, even the church can sometimes try to make men feel like their masculinity is out of place. With all that, most guys don’t really know what to do with the passions they have, the wildness. Enter Wild at Heart. For many men (young and old), this book has been the call to godly adventure that they’ve been desperate for.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Heaven Book

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of bad information floating around out there about heaven and not nearly enough careful study of what the Bible actually teaches on the topic. That’s why Pastor Randy Alcorn’s Heaven is such an important book. This in-depth look at what Scripture teaches should be in any Christian’s library—and it will help your graduate to remember that a much better graduation is coming.


5 Powerful Prayers from the Bible

If you ever feel at a loss for what to pray, there’s no better guidebook for petitions to our Heavenly Father than the very book He wrote—the Bible. Almost every book in there contains a plea or request, and page after page points to another reason we need a Savior. So, when you feel like you just don’t have words, turn first to the Word.

Although we could list hundreds of prayers, we plucked out five of our favorites to show just how filled to the brim the Bible is with ways to call upon our great God.

The Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10)

When the author of Chronicles dutifully provides us with a list of Judah’s descendants, he can’t help but stop himself. Right in the midst of all these names, he comes to Jabez, a man he wants us to notice, a man of true honor. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve caused pain or if you’ve ever wanted to believe that God can do more than you can ask or imagine, this prayer is for you:

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13)

This prayer is the true classic. Most of us have said this prayer and could likely recite it right now. But there’s much more to this model that Jesus gave us than rote recitation. This is a prayer with real power: God’s kingdom coming, God’s will being done, all that we need for the day. It’s truly power packed. So, take a closer look at what it teaches:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”

Jonah’s Prayer for Salvation (Jonah 2:2–9)

We may never be swallowed by a great fish, but we can still experience the shame and regret that Jonah felt after he ran from God. The prophet’s plea to the Father provides a poignant scaffolding for our own prayers of repentance. And remember that God heard and answered this humble, honest prayer:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.

You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.

I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’

The engulfing waters threatened me,
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

David’s Prayer for Deliverance (Psalm 3)

This one was a tough choice because the Psalms are stuffed full of cries and petitions. If you ever want a primer for prayer, you can’t go wrong with this wisdom book. But we chose Psalm 3 because it provides a concise portrait of crying out to God in the midst of great stress. David’s words are no less relevant to our modern workplace and lifestyle as they were to his battles:

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!

Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

Hannah’s Prayer of Praise (1 Samuel 2:1–10)

When Hannah received the child she begged God for, her first instinct is to praise the One who provided. She wants to thank Him for His greatness and His deliverance. Too often we pray before receiving, but then forget to pray after God answers. Let this prayer guide you in thanks:

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”


5 Ways for Active Bible Reading

As you read His Word, God will often use verses and passages to prompt you to action. You’ll see where you've fallen short of His standards, a prayer to cry out, or a promise to claim. Here are five ways to respond to what you're reading.

Praise

There are thousands of reasons to praise God each day. And the more you read the Bible, the more reasons you’ll find. When you read about His grace, don’t miss the opportunity to praise Him for it.

Promises

God makes many promises in the Bible to those who follow Jesus. Each time you come across a promise, be sure to highlight it or write it down. That way, when you face difficult trials, you’ll have God’s promises right at hand.

Reflection

Sometimes, we just need to stop and reflect on what the Bible teaches and how we’re living our lives. Are we living the life Christ called us to? Are we straying into the errors that Scripture points out? What does this passage say about who God is?

Correction

In the letter James wrote, he explains an important aspect of reading Scripture: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (1:22). God's Word helps us see the areas where we need to make a course correction.

Prayer

Quite a bit of God’s Word is dedicated to prayer. Whenever you run across a passage that cries to God, let that passage be your prayer, too. Even passages that aren’t explicitly prayers can lend themselves to your conversation with God.

Whatever you do, just be sure to make reading the Bible more than a spectator sport. Respond to the words through confession, praise, believing promises, reflection, correction, and prayer.