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

Sharing Your Love for Bible Study

Getting your children interested in Bible study is a tall order for any parent. But it’s certainly not impossible. An article from Quick Relief for Sunday School Teachers offers a few tips to get you started:

Model it. Passionately, enthusiastically, and practically - make the Bible part of who you are. Carry it with you, memorize it, consult it often, and let your students know that you are obedient to it.

Use the Bible. Keep your Bible in your hands or nearby throughout the lesson. Let the children see you referring to it as you tell the story. Read verses from the Bible, not from the teacher's guide. Let the Bible be the ultimate authority in your class.

Make Scripture interesting. Use teaching techniques such as drama and role-play to bring the past into the present. Explain unusual Bible customs, serve Bible-time food, and explain and enjoy the imagery of Bible poetry.

What tips do you have for sharing your love for Bible study with the next generation? Leave them in the comments below.


Bird's-Eye Overviews

When you study the Bible, sometimes you may like to get a quick overview of a particular book. Well, we've got an easy way for you to do that with our Books of the Bible page.

A while back, we quietly rolled out a new page on our site that features a quick overview of every book of the Bible. If you're trying to decide what to read next, these short descriptions make that pretty simple. Just use the tab at the top to jump between the Old and New Testaments.

You can also click on the titles of each book, and you'll be taken to a more in-depth overview that includes a summary, background, author, date, theme, and more. (Check out the overview for the book of Genesis to see what we mean.) Using the tabs at the top of these pages, you can also browse the chapters and see what videos we have for that particular book.

So, head over and take a look at our Books of the Bible page. Then, start studying.


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.

How Do I Deal with Distraction?

Distraction while studying the Bible is a real stumbling block for many people. Technology, worries, and events all seem to work against us digging into Scripture. So, how can we overcome the noise (and wandering minds)? Here are some general principles that can help.

1) If possible, set aside a time to read. This helps your mind know that a particular time is for nothing but God's Word. There's something about having an appointment that helps many people keep the right perspective.

2) Give yourself a buffer between work or anything stressful and your reading time. This will help get your mind off the troubles of the day. (Many of us here like to read first thing in the morning so that we're not as distracted by other issues.)

3) Remove as many distractions as you can. While we love online Bibles, as you might guess, if your phone or computer is a distraction, use a traditional Bible and turn those things off (you can also print verses from our site if need be). It's easy to wonder what updates or emails you're getting, and when your phone is right there, the temptation can be too much. If you prefer studying on your phone, turn on the "Do Not Disturb" mode and cut off notifications. That will help keep your eyes on the prize.

4) Pray before you read. Just ask God to help you focus and understand what you're reading. You'd be amazed how this can get our minds and hearts in the right place.

5) Write notes, thoughts, and prayers as you read. If you're reading with the purpose of taking notes, you're more likely to focus. Simply sign in on this site, and you can take and access your notes from anywhere.

In addition, there are some other steps you could try if you need a little extra help:


Catching Up

We're a couple weeks into Bible reading plans for this year. So, how are you doing? If you've already fallen behind a bit, don't worry. You can get back on track.

First, don't feel guilty. The Bible is a gift to us, and reading any of it is good. Even if you're not keeping pace, you're still getting into the Word. Once you start feeling guilty about falling behind, you're much more likely to just stop reading. Keep going with whatever you can get in each day. It's time well spent.

Reschedule all you want. Our site lets you change the start date of your plan. Plus, you can see all the daily readings for the entire duration. Make adjustments as you need.

Get daily readings delivered to your inbox. If you sometimes forget to come to the site to read, we can deliver daily readings right to your inbox in one of four versions of the Bible. Sign up on our newsletter page.

Consider changing plans. If you picked something that's a bit too ambitious for this year, go with something a bit shorter. Just click that you're finished with the plan and start a new one, such as reading through the New Testament.

Read along with us. On our Facebook page, we're reading through the Bible together this year. Join us as often as you can.

Whatever you do, don't worry about "falling behind." Just read as you can.


Who Are You Guys, Anyway?

Who runs BibleStudyTools.com? What do we believe? And how do we pick what's included on the site?

BibleStudyTools.com is a part of the Salem Web Network, a for-profit company that manages a number of Christian websites. Some that you may know are Crosswalk.com, OnePlace.com, Christianity.com, and Jesus.org. That means we're not owned or operated by a particular church, ministry, or denomination. However, we are committed to the historic tenets of the apostles' creed. Those of us who work here come from a variety of backgrounds, but all of us are committed to sharing the gospel and the truth of Scripture. (We're Bible geeks who love what we do.)

As for the study materials, we are very careful about what we chose to feature on the site. The reference materials are on here because they are faithful to the Bible and have stood the test of time (John Gill and Matthew Henry, for example) or because they are relevant to historical studies (e.g., Josephus). Newer material comes from biblically faithful publishers who agree to let us post content or trusted Christian writers and bloggers who agree to let us repost their articles on our site. Rest assured, however, that each article or post is carefully reviewed.

We're certainly not perfect. But our goal is to carefully and faithfully help people around the world study God's Word.


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 Most-Watched Bible Study Videos of 2014

You love videos. That’s one thing we can say for certain after a record-breaking 2014. So, what videos made the list as the most watched. As they say, seeing is believing.

Here are the top three videos of the year:

3. What is the significance of the "144,000" mentioned in Revelation 14?

BibleStudyTools.com: What is the significance of the from biblestudytools on GodTube.

2. What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark 3?

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

1. Is homosexuality worse than the other sins listed in Romans 1?

BibleStudyTools.com: Is homosexuality worse than the other sins listed in Romans 1? - Rena Lindevaldsen from biblestudytools on GodTube.


7 Bible Reading Plans for 2015

We believe that 2015 can be your best year yet for reading, understanding, and applying the Bible to your life. And we don’t just talk about how you can do it, we want to help you with your goal of working your way through God’s Word this year. In fact, we recently introduced a completely new Bible reading plan system to encourage you every day and to keep you on track.

So, what plans do we offer? Here are some of our favorites (after all, we at BibleStudyTools.com are on this journey with you):

Book Order Bible Reading Plan

Sure, it’s basic. But going through the Bible from “cover to cover” in a year is a satisfying and equipping experience. This plan will break up everything from Genesis to Revelation in daily chunks.

How long? One Year | More Information

Classic Daily Bible Reading Plan

The classic daily Bible reading plan has been tried and tested for decades, and Christians keep coming back to it. Why? Each day, you get three selections of Scripture (such as Genesis, Psalms, and Luke), and this gives you a unique perspective on how interconnected the Bible truly is.

How long? One Year | More Information

Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Seeing events unfold in the order that they happened has great appeal for many Christians. If that’s you, the chronological Bible reading plan is exactly what you’re looking for. It will carefully walk you through the history of God’s redeeming work.

How long? One Year | More Information

Ninety-Day Challenge Bible Reading Plan

We introduced the ninety-day challenge Bible reading plan recently, and the response has been tremondous. Hundreds of you have accepted and worked your way through all of Scripture in only three months. Is it tough? You bet. But you’ll really see how God works all things together for the good.

How long? Ninety Days | More Information

One-Year Bible Immersion Reading Plan

Many Christians take great comfort in the New Testament gospels and letters—but also don’t want to neglect the Old Testament. If that’s you, the one-year Bible immersion reading plan will lead you through the New Testament three times and the Old Testament once each year.

How long? One Year | More Information

Stay-on-Track Bible Reading Plan

Sometimes, it’s tough to read the Bible each day. Life gets in the way. That’s why we designed the stay-on-track Bible reading plan. Each week, you’ll have five days to read and two days to take a break, catch up, or get ahead. And you’ll still read through the whole Bible in a year.

How long? One Year | More Information

Busy-Life Bible Reading Plan

Some of us have started out reading the Bible in a year, made good progress, but then fallen so far behind that we just give up. That’s why we created the busy-life Bible reading plan. If reading through the whole Bible in a year seems impossible, this plan works with your schedule to help you reach your goal.

How long? Two Years | More Information

Really, that’s just scratching the surface of our Bible reading plans. We’ve got ones that focus on the New Testament, the Wisdom Books, and more. In other words, we’ve got one no matter where you are in your spiritual walk.

Visit the Bible reading plan page to take a look.


The Most-Read Bible Study Articles of 2014

In 2014, you guys kept us hopping. We continued our quest to bring you some of the best Bible study articles and blog posts that we could find. And you responded by making this year the biggest in the history of BibleStudyTools.com.

So, what were you reading? Here are the top 5 articles.

5. 3 Sins Against the Holy Spirit

by Greg Laurie

I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!

4. What Happens to Us When We Die?

by Ray Pritchard

Why this fascination with the world beyond the grave? Is it not because death is so final? Whatever one thinks about the reports of “near-death” visions, death when it finally comes is irreversible. When you finally cross the line, there is no coming back from the other side. Death wins the battle every time. After the doctors have tried the latest wonder drug, after the best minds have pooled their wisdom, after the philosophers have done their best to explain that death is only a natural part of life, we come face to face with the ugly reality that someday we will all die. And that death—whether planned or accidental, whether comfortable or painful—will be the end of life as we have known it.

3. 5 Ways to Stop Discouragement from Getting the Best of You

by Leslie Vernick

Discouragement and disappointment are normal emotions we all experience even as Christians, but it’s important to know how to make sure those debilitating emotions don’t get the best of us. Discouragement happens, even to the strongest and best of people. Below are five (5) steps you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallow you up.

2. What Is Heaven Like?

by Ray Pritchard

Everyone wants to know about heaven and everyone wants to go there. Recent polls suggest that nearly 80% of all Americans believe there is a place called heaven. I find that statistic encouraging because it tells me that even in this skeptical age there is something deep inside the human heart that cries out, "There's got to be something more. Something more than the pain and suffering of this life. Something more than 70 or 80 years on planet earth. Something more than being born, living, dying, and then being buried in the ground. Sometimes we talk about a "God-shaped vacuum" inside the human heart. I believe there is also a "heaven-shaped vacuum," a sense that we were made for something more than this life. We were made to live forever somewhere. In a real sense we were made for heaven.

1. Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Battle

by Tonilee Adamson and Bobbye Brooks

To understand the battle, we need to begin with acknowledging that we are in a war. Battles make up smaller components of the bigger picture. By definition, battles involve combat between two persons, between factions, between armies and they consist of any type of "extended contest, struggle, or controversy" (Webster-Merriam).  As Christians, we are in a spiritual battle of some sort on a daily basis. In warfare, battles are fought on different fronts, for different reasons, and with varying degrees of intensity. The same is true in spiritual warfare. Our spiritual battles are real, even though we cannot physically see the attacker. But, we can educate ourselves on how the battles are fought and how they impact our lives on a daily basis.


Ready for Questions about Christmas?

During this season, believers often have the opportunity to share their faith. Family gatherings, parties, and other events open natural avenues for telling others why we celebrate Christmas and who Jesus really is. But when you find these opportunies, you'll also likely face something else: questions.

Thanks to the Internet, many people have probably read or heard false ideas about Jesus and His work on earth. They may even be quite skeptical. So, what can you do when you're faced with questions you don't have the answers to?

That's exactly why our sister site, Jesus.org, was built. Here's what the site's about:

Many people have questions about Jesus and on this site you will find biblical answers to the most common questions asked about the birth and life of Christ, his ministry and disciples, and of course the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

So, when someone hits you with a question about why Luke and Matthew's genealogies differ, you'll know exactly where to go. (If you're wondering, here's why.)


No Room in the Inn?

Luke 2:7 has been the source of quite a bit of discussion throughout church history. For many, this verse says that there was no room for Joseph and Mary in "the inn," a tradition that stretches way back. But other Christians suggest that this verse is better translated "upper room" or "guest room," as it is in Luke 2:7.

At the heart of this debate is the Greek word kataluma, which you can see defined in our lexicon. Specifically, the verse says there was no room for them in the kataluma. In the New Testament, this word is used only here and in Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11, with the two latter verses describing the location of the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified.

So, which view is right? Let's dive into our online resources to see what we can find.


Here's John Gill's take:

"It seems that Joseph had no house of his own to go into, nor any relation and friend to receive him: and it may be, both his own father and Mary's father were dead, and therefore were obliged to put up at an inn; and in this there was no room for them, because of the multitude that were there to be enrolled: and this shows their poverty and meanness, and the little account that was made of them; for had they been rich, and made any considerable figure, they would have been regarded, and room made for them; especially since Mary was in the circumstances she was; and it was brutish in them to turn them into a stable, when such was her case."

The People's New Testament describes it this way:

"The khan is usually much on the model of the Eastern house, but of much larger extent. Four rows of apartments are so constructed as to enclose a large yard with a well in the center where the cattle may be kept. The outer wall is usually of brick upon a stone basement. The apartments are entered by the guests from the yard, and are elevated two or three feet above the level of the yard. Below and behind the row of the travelers' apartments was often the row or the long room of stables, into which the floors of the apartments being a little extended, formed a platform upon which the camels could eat."

And, finally, this is the description from The Fourfold Gospel:

"Justin Martyr, who born about the beginning of the second century and suffered martyrdom A.D. 165, first tells us the tradition that the stable in which Jesus was born was a cavern. Caves, however, were never used for stables except when opened on the sides of hills. The one at Bethlehem is a cellar fourteen feet under the level surface. Justine must, therefore, be mistaken."


This Christmas example shows how you can explore God's Word through our site. Just look up a verse, look below the reading pane, and choose a resource for further study. We've made it easy.

Whatever view you take, use our resources to help "dig up" the past and see the amazing truth of Jesus.