Inside BST


Inside BST
Thoughts from the Editors of BibleStudyTools.com

A Reading Plan at Your Own Pace

While it's true that most people start a Bible reading plan in January, that doesn't mean you can't jump in at any time. In fact, we think summer is a great time to get started. You can either sign up for an automated one... or, by using this tip, you can set your own pace for summer Bible reading.

How? It's really easy.

First, head over to our Bible reading plans page to see if you've got a Bible reading plan going. If you just see a list of Bible reading plans, then skip over these next steps. But if you see the day's reading from a plan you're not currently using, here's how to clear it and start fresh:

  1. Click the "Finished with Entire Reading Plan?" button on the right-hand side of the page.
  2. Confirm your choice.
  3. Head back to the list of Bible reading plans.

This clickable list of Bible reading plans lets you explore what options you have. So, you may decide you just want to sign up for one of the shorter ones for summer (we like the Daily Gospel plan for summer).

But if you're feeling ambitious, just click on the title of a plan, and you'll be taken to a page that features all the readings for that plan in the right-hand column (here's an example of the New Testament plan). Use that column to work your way through the readings at your own pace. Use the plus symbol beside each reading to collapse the ones you've read.


How Do I Change Reading Plans?

When you finish with a Bible reading plan, don't lose momentum. Reading through the entire Bible is a great achievement, but all of us need to keep God's Word in our heads as much as possible. So, once you've finished with one, jump into another plan.

You may want to pick a different type of plan to keep things interesting, and we've added a number of new ones for 2013. There's certainly something to fit any lifestyle. So, how do you change plans? It's easy.

First, just sign in and go to the Reading Plan page.

Next, look for the "Finished with Entire Reading Plan?" link above the list of daily readings on the right-hand side of the page. It looks like this:

Click that link and confirm your choice. (We don't want you to accidentally lose your progress.) You'll then be taken to a page to select a new reading plan.

And that's it. You're ready to get started.

If you ever have any problems, you can always contact us, and we'll get it fixed.

Tell us what plan you've picked in the comments.


December 31-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss its full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.

Each day in December you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional meditations or prayers that the verse or passage for each day brings to mind.

Click here to download the December Scripture Writing Challenge!


Sermon Illustrations for Thanksgiving

Our site features a number of free illustrations to help pastors prepare for sermons. Here are a few to finish off that Thanksgiving sermon.


One Thanksgiving season a family was seated around their table, looking at the annual holiday bird. From the oldest to the youngest, they were to express their praise. When they came to the 5-year-old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks to the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good. After that rather novel expression of thanksgiving, he began with a more predictable line of credits, thanking his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying the turkey. But then he went beyond that. He joined together a whole hidden multitude of benefactors, linking them with cause and effect.

He said, "I thank the checker at the grocery store who checked out the turkey. I thank the grocery store people who put it on the shelf. I thank the farmer who made it fat. I thank the man who made the feed. I thank those who brought the turkey to the store."

Using his Columbo-like little mind, he traced the turkey all the way from its origin to his plate. And then at the end he solemnly said "Did I leave anybody out?"

His 2-year-older brother, embarrassed by all those proceedings, said, "God."

Solemnly and without being flustered at all, the 5-year-old said, "I was about to get to Him."

Well, isn't that the question about which we ought to think at Thanksgiving time? Are we really going to get to Him this Thanksgiving?

Citation: Joel Gregory, "The Unlikely Thanker," Preaching Today, Tape No. 110.


A church had gathered to pray for a needy family around Thanksgiving. The family needed food and concerned folks from the church got together to pray for them. While the prayer meeting was going on, a young boy came and knocked on the door of the home where members had gathered, entered into the house and told them, "My father said to tell you that he can't come tonight to pray because he is too busy unloading his prayers at the Jones' house. He said to tell you that he is taking a side of beef, a sack of potatoes, a bushel of apples, and some jars of jam. He said he could not be here to pray, but that he has taken his prayers and unloaded them at their house."

Thanksgiving by way of daily thanksliving demands that we pray, yes; but it also demands that we "unload" our prayers at the doorsteps of those who are hungry, lonely, and just plain without.
(Jimmy Gentry, Temple Baptist Church, Carrollton, GA)


Melodie Beattie, a noted self-help author, often stresses the importance of gratitude. She says, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." If we believe Melodie Beattie is right, it will make us appreciate Thanksgiving Day, as well as make us more grateful the other 364 days.


Whenever you need illustrations, we have thousands to help you out.


November 30-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss its full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.
Each day in November you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional meditations or prayers that the verse or passage for each day brings to mind.

Click here to download the November Scripture Writing Challenge!


A Powerful Prayer, a Powerful Video

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gave His disciples a model prayer that millions of Christians still say in church each week. After all, it's got quite the wallop. And our friends at Christianity.com wanted to grab some of that punch in a new video of the Lord's Prayer.

Take a look, say the prayer along with the video, and then share it.

Christianity.com: The Lord's Prayer from christianitydotcom on GodTube.


4 Solid Tips for Getting Started with Bible Study

Getting started with Bible study can seem overwhelming. There are 66 books to choose from and thousands of verses—not to mention the large selection of Bible study resources. But Bible study isn’t as difficult as it may seem. In fact, millions of people around the world enjoy reading Scripture each day and discovering something new.

To help you start your journey, we’ve provided a few tips on getting into the Bible. We pray that as you study, God’s Word will come alive for you.

Four Tips to Get You Going

Pray first. Before you read the first verse, take a moment to ask for God’s guidance. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and teaches us how to understand (John 14). We need Him to open our eyes to the meaning of Scripture so that it can transform our lives.

Don’t get discouraged. Studying the Bible is a lifelong process. When you first embark on the journey, the landscape may seem unfamiliar—confusing even. But the more you read, pray, and study, the more you’ll grow accustomed to the contours of Scripture. You’ll see how books and ideas connect; you’ll see the history of God’s redeeming love. Be patient and keep at it.

Take notes. You’re more likely to engage with God’s Word if you make notes. When you have questions, write them down so that you can look for answers. When you realize something about God’s nature, write it down and study it later. Write out your prayers and thoughts. You can take advantage of My Bible on our site to access your notes from any computer, smart phone, or tablet.

Take action. The point of studying the Bible isn’t just to accumulate knowledge. As the writer of Hebrews says, Scripture is alive and cuts deep to transform us (Hebrews 4:12). Read, take notes, pray, and let God use His living book to cause real change in your attitudes. You’ll be blown away by what He can do.


Growing Daily with iBelieve.com

BibleStudyTools.com is just one of many sites owned by Salem Web Network that help Christians focus on God's Word and living their faith. In fact, you may be familiar with many of our "sister sites," such as Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and GodTube.

And, now, there's a new Salem site to help women grow daily as they examine their faith and life. Here's what you can expect:

The purpose of iBelieve.com is to help women wrestle with the deeper issues of how their faith relates to the world around them. Twenty and thirty-something Christian women are facing a set of challenges unique to their generation, and with so many competing voices telling them how to raise their kids, run their homes, and go about their work, it can be hard to discern what God truly desires. Thankfully, God has given us His Word as a guide—and at iBelieve, you’ll find God’s truth on every page as we examine what it means to be a Christian woman in today’s culture.

iBelieve features articles on faith, relationships, health & beauty, food & home, and motherhood. In addition, you’ll find your favorite bloggers regularly blogging on a wide range of topics. iBelieve also provides daily devotions for your personal quiet times, as well as e-cards and Inspirations to encourage you and your sisters in Christ.

iBelieve Logo


October 31-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss its full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.

Each day in October you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional meditations or prayers that the verse brings to mind.

Click here to download the October Scripture Writing Plan!

 


Noticed a Typo?

BibleStudyTools.com is a complex site with millions of pages of content. That's great for study, but all that material can make for some busy editors. We do our best to keep everything tidy with no typos, but sometimes, things slip through. That's where you come in.

We need your help to squash any problems that crop up on the site. If you notice a typo or a character that shouldn't be there or a error with the formatting, please feel free to contact us. It just takes a second to let us know, and for that second, we can make the site even better for everyone else.

Of course, you can also contact us for any other problems or concerns you have. We always love to hear from those who study with us.


Are We Staying in Touch?

Those of us at BST love social media. In fact, you’ll find us all over the Internet, sharing God’s Word. We never get tired of taking the Bible to the world.

If you’re already a member of a social media network, chances are you can keep in touch with us there as well. Our social media channels present some unique content to inspire and encourage you.

Here’s where you can find us:

  • Twitter: On our Twitter account, we share a daily verse to get your day started right and some helpful articles and tips.
  • Facebook: Our Facebook community continues to grow quickly, and those who “Like” our page interact to answer each other’s questions. You’ll also receive some encouraging posts and pictures right in your newsfeed.
  • Pinterest: We admit it. We love to pin things... especially Bible verses, encouraging quotes, and inspirational prayers.
  • Email Newsletters: Based on your feedback and interests, we try to add email newsletters that fit your life. Take a look at what we currently offer (with more to come).

We hope to meet you there.


September 30-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss its full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.

Each day in September you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional meditations or prayers that the verse brings to mind.

Click here to download the September Scripture Writing Plan!


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.


Finding Peace: 31-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss it's full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.
 
For 31 days you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional meditations or prayers that the verse brings to mind.
 
 
 

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.


August 31-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss it's full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.
 
Each day in August you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional meditations or prayers that the verse brings to mind.
 


July 31-Day Scripture Writing Challenge

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss it's full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying.
 
Each day in July you'll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional mediations or prayers that the verse brings to mind.

 
 

 

 


Start with One Verse a Day

The Bible in all its entirety can be intimidating. There are over 31,000 verses total...but what if you just focused on one verse every day? It's a great way to connect with Scripture little by little and familiarize yourself with different books, stories, and parables.

If you're new to studying your Bible or if you're just looking to mix up your reading routine, why not try diving into just one verse every day?

Our home page features a new Bible verse of the day every single day, so that's a great place to start.

Here are a few suggestions of what to do every day with your verse:

Read the verse in several different translations. Each one (such as the NIV, KJV, ESV, NLT, etc) will word the verse differently, so you'll see slightly different perspectives on what is being said.

Write it out. The act of writing out the verse by hand will help commit it to your memory. If you want to take it even further, write out several different translations of the verse!

Read it in modern language. The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible written in modern-day language, so it's a totally fresh, new take on what the verse says. This might help you connect with the verse better, and it's a useful tool in Bible study.

Read commentaries on the verse. We have several excellent options for commentaries here. Take a look at what is written about the verse each day to help you get a deeper understand of its meaning and significance.

Take notes about what that verse means to you or about what you learn. You can do this easily with the notes feature on our site!


If you're looking for other ways to read through your Bible, try a reading plan!


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.

 


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.