Lately, I’ve been asked a lot about resources for studying the Bible and thought I’d put a collection of my favorites here. These are specifically for people who are not familiar with studying the Bible and need help both with general context of Scriptures and while also wanting to learn how to study for themselves.
There are many more resources than I’ll specifically suggest here. In fact, there are some that are on my Bible Resources and Discipleship Resources pages that I’ll mention here, while there are still others on those pages that I won’t – so go check them out.
The YouVersion Bible App
This Bible App is awesome. They have reading plans, tons of devotionals and you can also simply read the Bible.
“The Bible Project” is one of the coolest YouTube channels I’ve seen. They tell the overarching story and purpose of each book of the Bible in an incredibly visual way. They also have other Bible topics available.
Here are links to their Old Testament and New Testament overview playlists and the general channel.
“Through The Word” is an ongoing project to have every chapter of the Bible explained simply and clearly. They have multiple different teachers to break down each chapter of the Bible into 9 minute explanations. On the app, you can listen to the passage read aloud or to the teaching on the exact chapter. This is an incredible resource and great way to start looking at a chapter of the Bible with fresh eyes or to understand it for the first time.
There are many different methods that people have created to share the Gospel, but one of my favorites is called the “3 Circles” which was created by the North American Mission Board.
I’ve actually dedicated a page on my blog just to their video series and mobile apps. You can check out the whole training at this link and you can find more resources on their website at lifeonmissionbook.com.
Greg Laurie “Start To Follow” and Bible Study Guides
Greg Laurie is a Christian evangelist who puts on crusades all throughout the United States. Since he and his team interact with so many new believers, they’ve put together awesome resources for new believers.
Their first resource is called “Start To Follow”. It’s a small booklet that walks a new believer through some of the basics of being a Christian. It answers questions like why do we read the Bible, why do we go to church, etc. You can buy the book at this link or download the PDF at this link.
Their second resource is a 14 part Bible study where it guides you through different topics such as “salvation,” “the power of the Holy Spirit,” “prayer,” “trials” and more. These study guides are 2 pages and help the reader to follow through scripture to find the answers to the questions in the study as they discover what God has to say about these topics. You can download a PDF of the whole 14 part series at this link.
Blue Letter Bible Website And App
Before you start investing in buying commentaries or books to study the Bible, I cannot recommend Blue Letter Bible enough. They have a website and mobile apps and are full of tons of resources.
These free tool includes complex word searches, original Greek and Hebrew definitions, related verses and a ton of awesome commentaries. My personal favorite they offer is David Guzik and I definitely suggest that you check it out as you study the Bible. Here are links to Blue Letter Bible
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”
My wife and I celebrated 9 years of marriage this past Thursday. And today, we’re blessed to be able to have a night getaway at an AirBNB in a nearby town while family takes care of our two boys.
And as I reflect on our relationship together, I am so thankful that Alesha is in my life. We have been through so many life stages and ups and downs together, and I can’t imagine where my life would be right now had she not been part of all of it.
I’ve been asked by many people how we make our marriage work.
Our marriage is not perfect by any means, but I can truly say that, by the grace of God, I think we have one of the best marriages I know of.
When I’ve been asked by others, there have been many different things I point to and have suggested to help a rocky relationship or to help avoid future hardship.
But there is one thing that stands out above the rest:
I am so thankful that my wife and I have chosen to put Jesus first in our lives and marriage.
I’m not saying we’re perfect in any means, but here’s how it has played out in our marriage:
When we decide life priorities… we have the same baseline of putting Jesus and His Kingdom first When we have difficult life decisions to make… we pray to Jesus and ask for guidance and wisdom When we argue, have misunderstandings or get upset at each other… we turn to Jesus to give us the grace to repent and forgive and work through things together When one of us is going through a hard time… we are able to love and support each other with the grace Jesus provides When we go through difficult external situations that press down on us… we both separately and together trust in Jesus to get us through
Through the ups and downs of life, Through the internal struggles between us, And the external issues around us, We are able to turn to Jesus together, And He holds us both close to Him, Individually and together.
As I mentioned above, there are many relationship “tips and tricks” that we’ve picked up from others over the years, but the baseline of our marriage is founded on Jesus – and that has made all the difference.
Whether you’re married, engaged, dating or single; Jesus is the One Who promises to be with you through every storm of life, To guide you in the bright of day and the darkness of night, And I cannot emphasize enough how having Him in your life and in your relationships will make all the difference.
Our lives and our marriage is not perfect, But our God is, And He is our foundation for both.
And so, out of all the things I am thankful for about my wife, I am most thankful that she has given her life to Jesus, And has determined to love Him with all her life.
And so in a world where divorce and unhappy marriages are the norm, I am so thankful for God’s grace giving us 9 amazing years of marriage, And I look forward to every day I get to spend with my wife until death do us part.
And even then, death won’t truly end our lives together, as we will both be in heaven enjoying and worshiping Jesus together and with all who trust in His name.
For all eternity, just like we’ve been practicing here on earth.
“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
After we are saved through grace by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8), God desires for us to continue to grow in godliness (Titus 2:11-14), which includes growing in stability of belief and faith (Ephesians 4:13-14).
Is your faith, hope, love, mind and overall life tossed around by circumstances, other beliefs and things that go against God’s Word?
God desires better for you, And He promises to help you.
Here Are 3 Things You Can Do To Root Yourself Firm In Jesus
Study/Learn God’s Word
The most important thing you can do is to discover more of Who God is and what He says by studying His Word, the Bible.
As you get to know the Bible more, you begin to filter life’s situations and other ideas by what the Bible says, which can help you from being “tossed to and fro” by things and people around you.
Take, for example, the 4 G’s that Tim Chester writes about in his book “You Can Change”.
God is great – so we don’t have to be in control. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves.
These truths are rooted in God’s Word and can apply directly to our lives and change the way we respond to external situations and internal dialogues in a way that aligns with God’s will.
Below is one of my favorite Peanut comics that illustrates this concept well:
By having a good grasp on what God says about Himself, ourselves and the lives we live, you will be less likely to be swayed in life’s circumstances and ideas that you hear.
If you need help in studying God’s Word, I’ve written many posts on how do study the Bible, including this two part series you can check out here: part 1 and part 2
Apply God’s Word
As important as it is to know God’s Word, it’s nothing if you don’t apply it.
This includes obeying Jesus (John 14:15-17) And also, and more importantly, embracing Him (John 15:5).
As we apply God’s Word, we draw nearer to Him and bind our hearts and lives to Him as our stability in times of trial.
One thing I want to note is that applying God’s Word isn’t simply doing better and trying harder but also relying on God’s Spirit for the grace to have God live through your life as we’re reminded in Philippians 2:13.
Live In Christian Community For Encouragement And Accountability
It’s been said that you can can a Christian alone, but you can’t live the Christian life alone.
Here’s what that means:
Your salvation is a completely individual act between you and Jesus, But the act of living life as a Christian requires other Christians to be in your life.
Christian community is extremely important. Jesus ordained it so that we would be an important source of encouragement and accountability to each other, in order to help each other run our race of faith with endurance and continue on the straight and narrow as we follow Jesus together.
A few months ago, our church took a weekend retreat together which caused me to write a post titled “Being Still Before God” which was a reflection on how we need to slow down and take time to be before God.
But a few months later, it’s already become warped again.
Shelter in place orders have been set, And we’ve increased on online activity and time before screened devices to fill the void of personal connection, And I think many of us have (ironically) experienced less “stillness” than before.
Although we’re physically limiting ourselves, many of us are filling our minds, thoughts and hearts with busyness, news reports, social media, and anything else we can do to try to keep from cabin fever.
And in the midst of it, we’ve filled every bit of silence we had left.
A couple books I’ve read recently (both spiritual and non-spiritual books) all pointed to the importance of silence in our lives.
Of quieting our hearts and minds to be still and present in the moment.
For the Christian, that means resting in God. Trusting Him for the past that haunts us, Trusting Him for our current situations that plague us, And trusting Him for our futures that we’re always trying so hard to plan and prepare for.
So I wanted to re-encourage you to slow down and be still.
Be quiet, Be calm, Focus solely on God, And listen.
I personally find it helpful to meditate on scripture when trying to slow down, so below are some of the ones that came to mind when thinking about this topic. I pray you have a good few minutes of calming quiet as you rest in the midst of everyday chaotic life.
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
1st Peter 5:7
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
We live in a society that values movement. Things always need to be going up and to the right. They need to be faster, better, bigger, more important, more expensive.
But God doesn’t value the same things we do. Often, it’s like He’s not playing the same “game” at all.
God has a wholly different view of life.
As I quote often from Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
This plays out in a lot of ways, but one in particular has been on my heart for a while and I’ve wanted to share it:
And during that time we’ve had some really cool opportunities come up… but they didn’t feel quite right.
They were great opportunities, And I’m sure God would have used them, But we felt like God was telling us to wait.
Which brings me to a common misunderstanding:
Just because there’s a great opportunity doesn’t mean God wants you to take it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t pursue things on the basis that they’re “too good to be true” or that “God doesn’t want you to be happy” but that we tend to go too far the other direction and assume that because there’s an opportunity, that God wants you to take it.
And that’s simply not true.
The best example I see in scripture is when you compare two separate God-ordained “jailbreaks”.
Here’s the first one:
“But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
It’s very clear. The apostles were (wrongly) in jail and an angel broke them out and they left the jail.
But check out what happens in a similar situation 11 chapters later:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”
In this situation, it seems just as clear: God is breaking Paul and Silas out of jail.
They were wrongly in jail, The “precedent” in the Christian community is if God does a miracle to let you out of jail; you leave and go preach the Gospel.
But they don’t. They stay in the jail.
And as we see from reading this passage: that was the right choice.
When To Stay, When To Go
You might be wondering why Paul and Silas decided to stay.
Maybe it was because Paul realized that the jailer would be faced with the death penalty for loosing the prisoners, but I think it’s for a different reason.
I think it’s because they know God didn’t tell them to.
In the first example, it says that the angel led them out of jail, But in the second, it only says the doors were opened and the bonds were unfastened.
Maybe, for you, that would be enough to believe God wanted you to step out, But it wasn’t for Paul and Silas, And God knew that.
God was providing this situation for Paul and Silas, Not to the other apostles, And not to you and me.
I believe that if God wanted Paul and Silas to escape, that He would have made that clear in a way Paul and Silas would receive it, so long as they were willing to seek and hear from Him.
God isn’t trying to play games to get us to guess His will, even though it can sometimes feel like that, and I believe that had He wanted Paul and Silas to leave, He could have directed in a way they would have understood and followed – just like He did with the other apostles.
Following Jesus In The Difficult Decisions
There have been many books written and sermons preached on this subject, so here are just a few thoughts:
1. God desires your faith to be put in Him, not a system or program. So be ready to have to trust that God is working and to follow where you believe He is leading you.
2. Your desire to please God and love God is far more important than making perfect decisions, so don’t be afraid of making the “wrong” decision. If you’ve prayed about the situation, asked for help/input from those around you in the process and are truly desiring to please God, He loves us and knows our limitations and imperfections and sometimes simply wants to have us choose between different good options.
3. Consider waiting. If you don’t have to make a decision, sometimes it’s ok to wait. Sometimes we have an external deadline that we have to make a decision by, but other-times our deadlines are arbitrary and are unhelpful in God’s timeline.
4. Stay connected to Jesus. In the second example, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. They were spiritually sensitive to Him and worshiping Him, and so when an opportunity came their way, they knew what to do.
There’s certainly no formula on knowing when to wait and when to go, or which direction to go.
But here’s what we do know:
It’s ok to wait, and it’s ok to “pass up” an opportunity. We need to stay connected to Jesus to know His will. We need to stay connected to each-other as God’s intended Church for godly counsel.
And most importantly: We know that God is God and we are not, And that He promises to guide us, And that we please Him by following in faith and love in response to the love He has first shown us.