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.

A Helpful Tool for Tracking Bible Reading

Many people choose a reading plan to help them journey through Scripture over the course of several months or a year. Many others read straight from the Bible, bouncing around through different studies and searches. However you decide to read God's Word, it's helpful to have a tool for tracking your progress.

We have created a simple checklist to help you track your Bible reading, no matter which method you prefer!

You can download the "My Bible Reading Progress" sheet here -- it's just one page you can easily print out, keep in the back of your Bible, and fill in as you complete each book of the Bible.

Once you've completed reading a book of the Bible, fill in the circle next to it, and move on to the next book you want to study, whether it's the next one in order or just one that God puts on your heart.

We hope that seeing those circles fill up over time is an encouragement to you as you continue to study Scripture and grow closer to God through reading his Word!

If you'd like additional resources for your Bible study, we also have created a helpful starter kit that you can download here -- it has tips for Bible reading, notes pages, and more.


A Starter Kit for Your New Year's Bible Reading

The beginning of a new year is often a time for setting goals, renewing our focus, and making plans for success in all areas of our lives. Many believers choose to make the new year a new starting line for Bible reading, and we support and encourage that! While you don't need a flip of the calendar to get started, we love seeing new readers start a reading plan that will help them study God's Word in a richer, deeper, and more meaningful way each day.

If you didn't already know, we have 17 different reading plans available on both our website and our mobile apps! You can choose a plan such as the "Classic" which gives you 3 passages a day for 365 days, or a shorter plan like "Daily Gospel" which focuses on the record of the life of Christ over 45 days. Whichever plan you choose, we want to help you make the most of it.

This year, we wanted to give you a tool that will help you in your Bible reading and studying, too. Whether you've been reading the Bible for years or decades, or even if this is your very first time seeing what the Bible is all about, this starter kit will help you dive in every day.

We have included an introduction that explains how to make the most of the starter kit, as well as a list of 10 helpful tips for your daily quiet times and a page for taking notes and recording important details from your reading.

Download your BibleStudyTools.com reading plan starter kit here!

It's our hope and prayer that this upcoming new year brings you closer to the Lord as you study Scripture and read His words to you. We will be here every step of the way to encourage, equip, and support you in all of your Bible study needs!

Choose your reading plan today, download your starter kit, and you'll be set to start the new year off well as you soak up God's Word!


Top 10 Bible Reading Plans of 2016

It's essential for all of us as believers to spend time in the Word, and we are overjoyed that so many people were able to do so through the Bible reading plans found at BibleStudyTools.com. We offer more than 15 different established Bible reading plans on both our website and mobile app, making it easier than ever to stay engaged with Scripture every day.

So, what plans were you using in 2016? Here are the 10 most popular Bible reading plans! Any of these would be perfect to work through in 2017, too!

10. 71 Days in Isaiah (71 days)
Carefully work your way through Isaiah in 71 days to experience the full impact of the prophet's words.

9. New Testament in 90 Days (90 days)
Read straight through the New Testament in 90 days.

8. Prof. Horner’s Reading System (365 days)
A unique and challenging system where you read 10 chapters a day.

7. Ninety-Day Challenge (90 days)
Read the Bible all the way through in only 90 days. It's a challenge well worth taking.

6. Old Testament and New Testament (365 days)
Read one passage from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each day.

5. Thematic (365 days)
This Bible reading schedule is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish.

4. Chronological New Testament (92 days)
In only 3 months you can read the New Testament in the order that the events happened.

3. Classic (365 days)
Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.

2. Book Order (365 days)
Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.

1. Chronological (365 days)
Read the Bible in the order that the events happened.


Tips on Reading the Bible Daily

1. Start reading the Bible today -- there is no better time, and there's no reason to wait.
2. Set aside a specific time each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently for you.
3. Read the Bible for the sake of learning, not simply to accomplish your next reading. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding, then be refreshed by the words you read!


5 Essential Insights for Deepening Your Spiritual Life

If you’re a believer, you have a spiritual life. Just like any other kind of life, it can grow or wither, thrive or struggle, or ebb and flow. As followers of Christ, we should be wanting to move closer to him and dive deeper in our faith, but it can be challenging to know just how to go about doing that. How do we actually take our spiritual life to the next level?

Dr. Mary Lowe, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Professor for Liberty University’s School of Divinity, shares five essential insights that help all of us as believers strengthen our faith:

1. If you want to grow spiritually, you have to plug into community. “The importance of social connections cannot be underestimated or ignored if we want to grow and develop spiritually,” Dr. Lowe says. “It’s what shapes us socially, emotionally, psychologically, morally, and spiritually.” If you aren’t currently attending a church consistently, that’s a great place to start. If you are, perhaps the next step for you is to join a small group or a volunteer team. Attending events at your church throughout the week is another good way to stay connected with other believers.

2. Growing spiritually transforms every part of who you are. Deepening your spiritual life will inevitably affect other parts of your life, too. “Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that the goal of the transformation process empowered by the Spirit is to achieve “the fullness of Christ” (4:13) by “growing up into all aspects” (4:15) of Christ’s complete and perfect humanity,” Dr. Lowe says. “An awesome goal that we can accomplish only when we cooperate with the way God has designed us to grow as Christians.”

3. The people around you affect you, so choose wisely. “We tend to think that what we do individually has little or no impact on the larger ecology or Body of Christ,” Dr. Lowe says. “But the reality is that we are more connected in more ways to more people than we may realize so what we do individually does have an impact on others, either directly or indirectly. I think that’s at the heart of what Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 12 when he notes that ‘If one part [of the Body] suffers, every part [of the Body] suffers with it; if one part [of the Body] is honored, every part [of the Body] rejoices with it.’ How we treat one another impacts how we grow with one another.” If your friends or family are pulling you away from your faith or making it hard for you to avoid temptations, it might be wise to step back from those relationships in a healthy and honest way. You don’t need to cut ties entirely, but choosing to surround yourself more and more with other believers who will encourage you and hold you accountable to your faith will be essential to your walk with the Lord.

4. The Internet can also be a powerful tool in your spiritual growth. If you think about it, we use social media in our world now in a similar way that Paul and other disciples used letters in the Bible. It’s a way of connecting with others who are physically far away while sharing news, encouragement, and our lives despite the distance. “Online experiences show us that we can give and receive care for one another, value those relationships, and share with one another those dimensions that go into creating connections and community,” Dr. Lowe shares. “Paul models this for us through the way in which he fostered the spiritual growth of his churches through the medium of letters written to encourage and strengthen believers (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 18; Ephesians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 10:11).” While in-person relationships are still essential to our spiritual lives, the Internet can provide unique ways for us to  learn and stay connected to a broader Christian community.

5. Influence can span three degrees. Dr. Lowe shares the insights of Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler who studied and wrote a book on the effects of social networks in our lives: “Social influence does not end with the people to whom a person is directly tied. We influence our friends, who in their turn influence their friends, meaning that our actions can influence people we have never met. Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our friends (one degree), our friends’ friends (two degrees), and even our friends’ friends’ friends (three degrees).” This can be both a wonderful and challenging, and Dr. Lowe says the key to growing and developing spiritually is to “know how to maximize the positive influence of social networks and take steps to diminish the negative influences.”

Faith is not something that can grow in a vacuum. It thrives when rooted in community, with accountability, encouragement, and wisdom shared among other believers both near and far. It blossoms when attended to, like any other living thing. The more we prioritize our spiritual life, nurture it, focus on it, and give it the proper ingredients of prayer, time in the Word, and fellowship, the more we will see our faith deepen and produce fruit.

Dr. Lowe shares one story of how community powerfully impacted her own spiritual life: “My husband Steve and I were part of a Sunday school class at our church for nearly 10 years before we moved away. During that time, we experienced what it meant to grow in community. That small group became more than a collection of individuals. We became a community as we worshiped together, prayed together, shared our fears, and asked tough questions of our own lives.”

This community studied Scripture together, shared meals together, spent time together, and lived their lives together in a variety of capacities.

“Comparing the first day we walked into that class and the last time we came together, we knew more, we had closer relationships, and we did more for those around us,” says Dr. Lowe. “We had greater trust for one another, we encouraged each other more, and we became more aware of God’s leading in our lives. We weren’t the same people as we were in the beginning. Sharing those moments allowed the wet cement of our Christian fellowship to set and build up the body one brick at a time.”

When we focus on these five essential insights Dr. Lowe shared, we can grow closer to both Christ and other Christians. We can grow both the strength and the depth of our faith, with the ultimate goal being “that we may present everyone complete in Christ,” as Paul says in Colossians 1:28.

Written by Rachel Dawson, editor for BibleStudyTools.com. Sponsored by Liberty University, training champions for Christ since 1971; and Liberty University Online, the largest Christian university in the world with over 200 online programs.

 

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Publication date: May 2, 2016


3 Bible Verses You May be Getting Wrong

Bible verses need a home. When they get plucked out of their dwelling place—that is, the surrounding paragraphs—they can make a great deal of mischief. Many times, isolated verses can cause damage to our understanding of the truths of Scripture. They can get tossed around to end arguments, shut down discussion, and instill false hope. That’s why one verse a day isn’t enough. You need hearty daily bread, not a daily crumb.

So, if you’ve mastered the verses that aren’t in the Bible, now make sure you know the true meaning of these 3 commonly misused verses. After all, when we truly understand what they say, our knowledge of God grows, too.

1. “Do not judge….” Matthew 7:1a

This one seems so straightforward on the surface. When Jesus was explaining how Christians should live the Kingdom life, He explicitly told us not to judge… anyone... ever. At least, that’s how some have come to understand this verse. If anyone questions their lifestyle choices, moral decisions, or actions, they remind us that Jesus said not to judge.

But we need to be careful how we use this verse by understanding what’s happening. Namely, this verse comes in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus explains to His followers what a God-first life looks like. He shows them why they don’t need to worry, how they should pray, how they should fast, and so much more. His main concern, in fact, involves believers and how they treat other believers or “brothers” (i.e., the Church). In other words, this isn’t really a discussion of confronting someone in sin as it is examining someone else’s Christian walk.

Even still, Jesus tells us that the problem isn’t in judging itself. The problem is in that we must judge a matter in the same way that we would want to be judged (a form of the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12). And if we are to be fit to do the judging, we must do so only after examining ourselves (Matthew 7:5; Romans 2:1).

After all, Jesus—only a few paragraphs later—says that we must watch out for “false prophets” by looking at their fruit (7:15–19). We cannot do so without making a biblical judgment about their lives. Otherwise, we’d be in danger of accepting any teaching without testing it by the Bible.

In addition, God has already declared what is sinful in His Word, and we know that His rulings about morals, lifestyle chioces, and actions are always right. It is not “judging” anyone if we point out what God says about a certain sin. The ruling has already come, and showing them that something is against God’s perfect standard is the most loving thing we can do:

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

So, while we must be very careful about examining ourselves first and treating others with love, we also must judge when judgment is warranted or God has already declared a verdict.

2. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

What goes around comes around, karma, poetic justice, sowing and reaping—for many, this Bible verse proves the concept of getting what we deserve. If someone hurts us or treats us badly, we know they’ll reap what they sow. Right?

Well, that’s not exactly what this verse means. In fact, taking a look at the context shows that the idea isn’t about some “cosmic retribution”; it’s really about how we live our lives. Let’s step down one verse:

“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8)

In other words, when we live a life to please ourselves and satisfy all our desires, we do reap the consequences of our actions. These include heartache, shame, regret, fear, physical effects, and more. Our earthly appetites can cause real damage, not to mention the spiritual ramifications. But when we pour ourselves into Spirit-led living, we reap eternal treasures.

Really, the idea of “karma” is completely contrary to God’s Word. Why? Because we humans deserve one thing, and that’s death:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

We all sin, but we don’t get what we deserve. We get grace instead—all of us. In fact, you could say that God even blesses the “evil” and “unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). His love is so powerful that Jesus came to earth to blast karma to pieces by taking the “reaping” that we should have gotten:

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

To be sure, sin-obsessed living will lead to physical consequences. But God’s mercy and patience mean that He gives us the opportunity to turn to Him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). We don’t deserve the chance, but we get it anyway. We pray that you will take it if you haven’t already.

3. “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

This one isn’t so much just the verse as it is the whole chapter. We know this virtuous lady as the Proverbs 31 woman, but for many wives out there trying to live up to the example, the better name might be “impossible standard woman.” After all, she rises up before it should be legal, goes to bad crazy late, and has her hands in every single aspect of the household. She does it all with a smile and nary any bags under her eyes.

But using this chapter as the definitive job description for a wife isn’t really fair to anyone. Husbands who expect their wives to do everything listed will be sorely disappointed, and the wives who try to make it happen will be sorely exhausted. What was supposed to be encouraging and affirming becomes something that is, instead, a big pain.

Here’s the secret, though. Proverbs 31 works like an amalgamation, a collection of snapshots of women of faith and solid character. (You could think of it like the hall of fame of great wives and some of the amazing things they do for us.) One wife like this wakes up early to get things ready for her house; one knows how to make savvy business deals; one makes clothes like nobody’s business. Some may even have done a couple of them well.

But the point is that the noble wife is a godly woman who loves her family and blesses them. She uses the gifts and talents God has given her uniquely. How she uses her gifts depends upon the situation and what God leads her to do. That doesn’t mean she’s a failure if she doesn’t sew her own clothes; it means she’s a success if she allows God to use her to point her family and others to Christ.

 


Quick Look: ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament

Even for those who have learned biblical Greek somewhere along the line, maintaining that skill can be somewhat challenging. After all, it's not a language most of us use every day. So, wouldn't it be great if there were a Bible that helped you both study the English and brush up on your Greek? That's where the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament (ESV EGRINT) comes in.

Most interlinears, including the one on our site, give you the Greek first and then the English translation underneath. But by turning things around, the ESV EGRINT gives you another valuable tool in your study arsenal:

This state-of-the-art reverse interlinear New Testament, created in partnership with The German Bible Society and Logos Bible Software, breaks with the convention of traditional interlinear texts by keeping the English as the top-line entry and placing the Greek text underneath it. This approach allows you to see firsthand the accuracy with which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) rendered the Greek text.

In other words, you can study Scripture smoothly in English... and also dig into the Greek.

Great for: pastors, theologians, seminary students, and anyone wanting to learn some Greek


7 Ways to Get Creative with Bible Reading

Bible reading plans don't have to follow any set rules or patterns. If you completed something more traditional recently, you could change things up. Here are some suggestions for doing just that:

  • Divide the 66 books of the Bible by months or weeks. Instead of following a set reading plan, you could either shoot for reading five or six books each month or one or two per week. Since some of the minor prophets and letters are short, this isn't as daunting as it may seem. Split the short ones up so that you have at least one each month or save them for weeks that you know you'll be busy.
  • Instead of reading through the whole Bible this year, consider zooming in on one book each month. Read it through several times and take notes about what God's showing you. Use several versions of the Bible for added insight. Then, watch some videos or read study materials on our site to really dig in (you'll find them linked below the reading pane).
  • Read out loud. Sometimes, hearing the words spoken aloud can help you in your studies. You could even read in a group of others so that no one person has to read the whole book.
  • Commit to memorizing one verse from each book you study this year. That may sound scary, but it's not. We memorize things all the time. Plus, it'll help you remember a lesson from each one.
  • Memorize an entire chapter or book of the Bible. This is a big challenge for anyone, but it's well worth the investment. A Psalms 1, Philemon 1, or Jude 1 could be the place to start.
  • Write out verses. Another method of study that some people find helpful involves copying Scripture in a notebook. It can be a slow process, but you might be surprised how well you connect with what you're writing.
  • Learn Greek and Hebrew. There are many sites on the Internet that will teach you these ancient languages. Learning to read the original manuscripts of the Bible is well worth the effort.

8 Things to Pray When You Don't Know What to Say

For those who are new to their faith, prayer can seem daunting and overwhelming. How do I talk to God? What does that even mean? Are there things I’m supposed to say? Are there things I’m not allowed to say? Is there a set prayer or do I just make one up?

Even for those who have been in a relationship with the Lord for many years, prayer can still seem challenging for a whole host of reasons. It can get stale, feel useless, fall to the wayside, or just seem to lose its power.

So what do we do when we need new words to pray? How we can we revitalize our prayer lives? Here are some ideas!

Pray through passages of Scripture. 

The book of Psalms are an excellent place to start-- there are psalms for when our souls feel troubled (Psalm 6), for when we are filled with joy (Psalm 30), for when we are praising His deeds (Psalm 66), for when we desire revival (Psalm 85), for when we need help (Psalm 109), and for all other emotions we experience as well. Here are five other powerful prayers straight from Scripture.

Pray the words of hymns or contemporary modern music.

So many hymns come from Scripture, and the poetic way that hymns present themes of our faith is a beautiful way to pray. You can find a whole collection of hymns here and modern worship music videos here

Pray through journaling.

This is something I’ve found personally to be extremely helpful-- journaling my prayers, as random or rambling as they may be, helps me focus on what I’m saying and process through my emotions. An added bonus of journaling prayer is being able to look back over them and see how the Lord has answered and moved in your life.

Pray as you dwell on one word.

If the idea of prayer is overwhelming, choose just one word to focus on. Maybe it’s “peace” or “grace” or “strength.” Think about what that word means, remember verses or songs you have heard that include that word, think about what that word means for you in your faith, and ask God to show you new things about that word. Prayer doesn’t need to be lengthy or complicated. It can be as simple as just focusing on one word and praying something like, “Lord, I need peace. I want peace. Show me what peace looks like. May I experience more of Your peace this week.”

Pray in questions.

Sometimes, the questions about faith or who God is or why things have happened in our lives seem overwhelming. It can be hard to get past them to feel like we can actually pray...but why not pray those questions and take them to God? You don’t have to have any answers, and you might not even feel like your questions are immediately answered, but just honestly come before the Lord and list all of your doubts, worries, fears, uncertainty to him in prayer.

Pray through the names of Jesus.

There are so many names for the Lord all throughout Scripture, and when we don’t have words to pray, just speaking them can be a comfort to our souls. Abba Father (Galatians 4:6); Prince and Savior (Acts 5:31); Chosen One (Isaiah 42:1); King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15); Immanuel (Matthew 1:23); Stronghold, Refuge, Savior (2 Samuel 22:3); and the list continues. Say these names in prayer and think about what they mean for your life.

Pray using the ACTS acrostic.

This article from our archives by Greg Laurie gives a helpful acrostic for prayer: ACTS.
A stands for adoration or worship.
C stands for confession.
T stands for thanksgiving.
S stands for supplication.
This is a helpful way of orienting ourselves in prayer and giving ourselves a simple blueprint to follow.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:9-15 gives us a prayer straight from the mouth of Jesus. Read through these words and repeat them to yourself line by line. Read it in several translations (you can do this easily on our site) and compare the different ways they word this prayer. Write it out, reflect on it, and learn to memorize the famous words of this prayer.


It is our hope that these ideas will give you new ways to pray and communicate with God. Have any other ideas to share? We would love to hear them in the comments!
 


This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.

Prayer for Healing
Prayer for Strength
Intercessory Prayer
Prayer for Protection
Morning Prayers
Good Night Prayers
The Prayer of Jabez
Short Prayers
The Lord's Prayer
The Prayer of St Francis
Serenity Prayer
A Birthday Prayer
Irish Prayers and Blessings
Advent Prayers
Christmas Prayers
Thanksgiving Prayer
Prayer Quotes

Now available is our new Daily Prayer devotional! An easy way to find start your day with prayer, read today’s prayer and sign up to receive by email.


Let's Make It Through the Bible This Year

Those of us at BibleStudyTools.com love New Year's. During this time, many Christians consider their life plans and what changes they'd like to make. And while we can't do much to help you with weight or exercise goals, we can help you with your renewed focus on God's Word.

Here's how we can help you make it through the Bible this year:

  • A Bible reading plan: This is the most straightfoward way to meet your goals. You could plunge in and read through Scripture one day at a time for 365 days, but not all of our plans are for the whole Bible. You could start off small and work your way up. Whatever you choose, we'll keep your rolling.
  • Scripture by email: With all due respect to your spouse or mom, there's no better email in your inbox than God's Word. We'll send it to you in one of four translations.
  • Daily articles and blogs: Every weekday, you'll find new Bible study articles and blog posts on our site. Each one helps you understand Scripture and grow in your faith. We also provide tips for getting the most from your Bible study.
  • Audio Bibles: Some of us at BST prefer to listen to our daily Bible reading. And if that's you, then we've got you covered.
  • Online library: We've got more than enough books and resources in our free online library for you to study a new one every day of the year. Try digging into one of our classics this year for some added study.

Whatever your goals, make BibleStudyTools.com a part of your daily reading, and we'll do our best to keep you going.


The 5 Most-Watched Videos of 2015

This year, we wanted to make and share videos with you that would inspire you, challenge you, and answer your Bible questions. These 5 videos are the ones you watched most in 2015, and they're a mix of inspiring, challenging, and informative. The best part about these videos? They're timeless, so you can watch them again and again and again...we know we are!

Here are the top 5 videos of 2015:

5. What is a tithe and does it apply to Christians today? -Colin Smith

Christianity.com: What is a tithe and does it apply to Christians today?-Colin Smith from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube.

4. 5 Healing Bible Verses for You and Your Family

BibleStudyTools.com: 5 Healing Bible Verses for You and Your Family from biblestudytools on GodTube.

3. Why is Jeremiah called the weeping prophet?

BibleStudyTools.com: Why is Jeremiah called the weeping prophet? - Gary Yates from biblestudytools on GodTube.

2. What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark Chapter 3? -Brian Hedges

BibleStudyTools.com: What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark Chapter 3?-Brian Hedges from biblestudytools on GodTube.

1. Must-See Version of Psalm 91 Has Taken Us By Storm

BibleStudyTools.com: Must-See Version of Psalm 91 Has Taken Us by Storm from biblestudytools on GodTube.


The Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015

We are constantly working hard to share the best content with you-- content that encourages, challenges, enlightens, and benefits you. We love looking back at this past year and seeing which content you loved most. So, what topped the charts of BibleStudyTools.com during this year?

Here are the top five blog posts of 2015:

5. 5 Destructive Lies You Tell Yourself Every Day

by John UpChurch (Inside BST)

Just go ahead and admit it. You’re lying to yourself today. Life gets complex, relationships get sticky, loneliness creeps in—and sometimes we just feel the need to bend the truth to make it through the week. We need our lies to keep the pain tucked away where it can’t get to us. That deceitful heart of ours has a way making it easy for us to be okay with these lies. Have you seen any of these 5 lies in yourself today?

4. 3 Reasons Why Some Christians Avoid Church

by John Aloisi (Theologically Driven)

Unfortunately the reality is that there are a good number of professing Christians who either shy away from church membership or avoid church attendance altogether. The problem of professing Christians who neglect church involvement is sadly not a myth.
There are a number of excuses that such professing believers give for their lack of church involvement. These are three that I’ve heard.

3. Why Sex is So Addicting

by Chris Russell

Sex is a beautiful thing, and sex is a powerful thing. After all, God created it! And it’s important for you to know that the reason God puts restrictions on sex is not because He is a cosmic killjoy who hates to see us having fun. That’s not it. The reason He has restricted it is because sex has a very powerful purpose in life. The purpose for sex is to create a supernatural bond between a husband and wife that will never be broken. In line with this, sex is actually designed to be addictive!

2. 8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life

by Chris Russell

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. Interestingly, now that I’m “old” (currently 47 years old), I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan. So, then, how can we know God’s plan for our lives? Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have discovered eight vital keys to knowing God’s will.

1. 5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart

by Leslie Vernick (Association of Biblical Counselors)

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.
I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart. Here are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.


How Well Do You Know Christmas?

Most of us have seen Christmas plays, nativity sets, and images that supposedly show us what happened that first Christmas. But how accurate are these symbols of the season? Well, not very. In fact, you might be surprised what isn't in the Bible.

Dr. Ray Pritchard has a Christmas quiz that shows what we mean:


For the last several years David Langerfeld, associate pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, has given a Christmas IQ test to his Sunday School class. I should warn you that this is a tough quiz. When I took it, I missed several questions. Try taking it first without checking the Bible to see how well you know the real Christmas story.

1. Joseph was originally from... (Luke 2:3)
    A. Bethlehem
    B. Nazareth
    C. Hebron
    D. Jerusalem 
    E. None of the above

2. What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
    A. “There is no room in the inn.”
    B. “I have a stable you can use.”
    C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
    D. Both A and B
    E. None of the above


We encourage you to take the whole quiz and tell us how you do in the comments.