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When I starting seeing that the Word of God is something to enjoy instead of something to do—something to achieve—that was another place in my life that really propelled me forward spiritually. 

Why is it important to study the Bible? In this video, I explain how Bible study affects every part of our life, but most importantly, our view of God.

Watch the video and catch the full transcripts over at LifeWay Voices.

I’m a head-first-diver. When I decide I want to do something, I set my mind to it … and go. Sometimes this approach works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are some cases that you just need to dive in and see where things take you. There are others that a bit of planning and foresight will go a long way. Bible study is one of the latter.

It’s important to recognize that Bible study is a journey and every time we open our Bibles, we lay another layer down for the step ahead. And since it is a journey it is oh-so-helpful to understand where we are and where we are going.

Step 1. Place yourself on the Bible Study Boulevard

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 Peter 2:2–3 ESV

We all start out on the left—a Bible Study Beginner. Peter tells us to be like babes who long for the milk that will enable us to grow up. Our spiritual life is just like our physical life. In order to grow, we must take in nourishment. The rate of our spiritual growth is in direct correlation to the amount of “milk” we take in.

No Bible, no growth. A little bit of Bible, a little bit of growth.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Here we have the end goal when it comes to our ability to study the Bible: an accurate handler of the Bible. This means that we ought to be able to open the Bible, read it, study it, figure out what it means (interpret), and walk forward in worship of the God who wrote it (apply it). There is a biblical expectation that all who come to Christ also become accurate handlers. All Christians eventually should be able to eat the meat.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

Hebrews 5:12–13 ESV

This is not meant to be a guilt trip, but a reality check—so that we can correctly place ourselves on the Bible Study Boulevard. Once we know where we are, then we can choose the right next step.

ASSIGNMENT: Take a moment in honest evaluation of where you are at on the Bible Study Boulevard. Pick a “hex” above, and take a mental note.

Step 2: Know where to put your primary focus

Build the Habit —> Gain Understanding —> Worship God

Build the Habit

When we are first starting out in our Bible study journey, we need to focus on building the habit. Start small and doable. Get the quick win and build on that success. Place your energies on showing up. This doesn’t mean that you won’t gain any understanding—you will—but you need to first put your best effort toward getting into a rhythm of regularly opening your Bible.

Gain Understanding

Once spending time in the Bible has begun to become routine, you are ready to move on and take the next baby step toward understanding the Bible. Now you can start using those brain cells to focus more about what you are reading. You can flex those Bible study muscles and begin learning how to accurately handle the words in the Bible.

Worship God

All along the way, you are worshiping God. You don’t have to wait until you know everything about the Bible and perfectly live it out before you can worship God with your life. (Spoiler alert) You never will! The depths of the Bible can be mined for a lifetime. And not one of us will ever be able to obey it perfectly. (Good news is, Jesus did on our behalf!) However, every intentional step you take along the way is one that says, “God, I want you more than ________.” And as you gain understanding, you get to see God more and more clearly. As you get a better and brighter view of who God is and what His best plan is for your life, you will naturally want to respond in obedient worship.

ASSIGNMENT: With where you are in mind, decide if you need to focus primarily on HABIT or UNDERSTANDING. Now we can move on to choosing the right next Bible study baby step for you.

Step 3. Pick the right approach for you

This is where things get exciting!! Now that you know where you need to focus, you can put together a plan. I’ve laid out all the products I have available so you can see where they are on the boulevard. Each is designed to help prepare and propel you forward to the next Bible study baby step.

Choose by skill level

  • Completely out of the habit? Never read more than a few verses at a time? —> Pick a reading plan.
  • Completed at least a few weeks in a row of Bible reading? Studied the Bible before but it’s been a while? —> Start with a reading plan, then add FLEX 3 as you feel ready to take the next step.
  • In a great routine of Bible reading and ready for a challenge? —> Start off with FLEX 3 and move on to FLEX 6 once you get the hang of things.
  • Tried out a few Bible study tools and ready for more? —> Start with FLEX 9 or even the FOCUSed15 method.

These decision-making suggestions are based primarily on skill. But you can also make your choice by the time you have available that day.

Choose by time available

  • Only have a moment available today? —> Read a few verses. Then thank God for what you read.
  • Have a few minutes to spare? —> Study a few verses (2-4) with the FLEX 3 layers.
  • Have several minutes? —> Study several verses (5-7) using FLEX 6.
  • Have 10 minutes today? —> FLEX 9 on 9 verses or so.
  • Have 15 minutes or more? —> Go through the FOCUSed15 study steps on a few verses (3-5).

Of course, there are loads of other reading plans out there and Bible study tools besides these. Go out there and try out as many as you can. We all learn differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Bible study. All of my products are build to help you toward the goal of being able to rightly divide the Bible on your own. However, there are some really, really awesome Bible studies out there that are geared primarily toward understanding. I’ve completed dozens of them and grew tremendously from them. You may not learn how to study your Bible, but you will gain LOADS of understanding on the topic or the book it teaches on. There is a place for both!

ASSIGNMENT: Chose an approach and prepare for your next step. Here are a few resources you might find helpful.

Step 4. Start Studying

Now all this is cool info, but it all means nothing if we don’t move forward! To recap, here is what we’ve covered:

  1. Place yourself on the Bible Study Boulevard.
  2. Know where to put your primary focus. (Habit? Understanding?)
  3. Pick the right approach for you and prepare for your next step.

Now, it’s time to dive in. Start now. Determine your next baby-step and take it!


I’m super-duper-excited about a new product I’ve created with all of this in mind. The Proverbs Bible Study Pack allows for all of the above beginner steps. So whether you are brand new to Bible study, or have a bit of experience under your belt, you can utilize this pack.

PLUS, my online Bible study group for women is studying Proverbs together in 2019. Grab the pack, then join us!

proverbs bible study
Proverbs Bible Study

Do the words “Bible study” send you into a cold sweat? It used to do so to me! Many find studying the Bible intimidating and hard—often accompanied by a constant feeling that she is just not doing it right.

On top of these, there is a notion out there that if we are a Christian, then we ought to be able to pick up the Bible, easily understand what it says, then put it into practice immediately. I vividly remember the first time I opened my Bible with sincerity—I just knew it was going to be the turning point in my relationship with God. However when I opened it up and started reading … I was confused. I had no idea what the words on the page meant, nor how I should move forward because of them!

If you want to be able to understand the Bible on your own, you’re not alone. Nor are you stranded! Below are a few tips to help get you started.

Beginner Bible Study Tip #1

Start with the right mindset

I’ve made many Bible study attempts—and fumbled more than a few. Each attempt was super-frustrating. Here are a few pieces of advice I wish I’d had before I started out.

  • Don’t feel like you have to study every single verse. Focus on quality over quantity. Bible study is not a race or a performance.
  • Don’t be afraid to test the waters. There are LOADS of different study methods out there. Some you will love, some you may not. We all learn differently, so if the first thing you try out just doesn’t do it for you, keep trying until you find one that fits. As you try out different methods, look for the four pillars of Bible study you want to make sure you include over time.
    • Read: Simply read or write out the verses to get a big picture overview.
    • Observe: The goal here is to start seeing the truths contained in each verse.
    • Interpret: This is where we gather what we’ve observed in order to figure out what it means. (A good study Bible is of great help for this step.)
    • Apply: Once we know what the verses mean, we get to respond to what we’ve learned.
  • Don’t forget why you are studying. It’s not to impress other people. It’s not to gain approval from God. We study our Bible in order to meet with God and know Him better. He’s not concerned about the color of your pen or how many verses you studied. The act of setting aside time to spend with Him is what matters—even if you walk away from the Bible scratching your head. Over time, you will learn more about Him as you keep showing up and enjoy the time you have with God.

Beginner Bible Study Tip #2

Focus on building the habit

Habit —> Understanding —> Worship

Studying the Bible regularly starts with getting into a regular routine. You can have all the Bible study tools available to you, but if you aren’t in the habit of sitting down to study, those tools won’t be of much help. You cannot gain understanding without a regular routine of opening your Bible.

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you embark on creating a rhythm of regular time in the Bible. (The tips here are the same for building the habit of regular Bible reading which I gave in an earlier post, so this is an abbreviated version.)

  • Take it a day at a time. Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” time, simply look at your schedule for tomorrow and pick out the best 10 minute slot. Then do the same until you find a routine.
  • Keep going. Don’t give in to the paralysis of perfectionism. Resist the thought that 10 minutes of study isn’t enough. Something is always better than nothing.
  • Invite a friend to study with you. If you are not sure who to invite, consider an online Bible study group. (We’re studying Proverbs in January. Join us!)

Beginner Bible Study Tip #3

Start small; take baby steps

Trying to tackle a large book of the Bible is probably not the best option for most when starting out. Instead, consider setting a small Bible study goal. Something you can complete in a week or month time frame—in just a few minutes a day—is a great place to start. This will give you the easy win—especially if you are not already in a regular habit of Bible reading.

Here are a few beginner-level suggestions:

A mixture of big picture Bible reading and then zooming in to study for a few minutes is a great approach. For example, in my Proverbs Study pack, I recommend reading one chapter a day, which should take you about 5 minutes. Once you are done reading the entire chapter, then you can zoom in to apply some study tools to just 3 of the verses you just read.

FLEX 3-6-9: Beginner Bible Study

I’ve worked with thousands of women to help them learn how to study the Bible in as little as 15 minutes a day through my FOCUSed15 Bible studies. When I put them together, I wanted to bridge the gap between devotionals and the long workbook studies. A hole has been filled with the FOCUSed15 studies, but there is still a big jump for someone with little-to-no Bible study background.

So, I went back to the drawing board and created a method of Bible study specifically geared toward newbies. I call it FLEX 3-6-9. It’s a flexible tool that will help you learn how to flex your Bible study muscles. You’ll start out small—3 verses, 3 questions, 3 minutes—then once you are good at that, you can move up to 6 verses, 6 questions, for 6 minutes. Eventually, you’ll learn how to study 9 verses at a time, asking 9 questions, and study for 9 minutes.

You can do this!

bible study for beginners

Features of FLEX 3-6-9

  • Easy Start – At just 3 minutes of Bible study a day, this is a great place to start.
  • Incremental Steps – Through small baby steps you’ll learn how to open the Bible, ask the right questions, and begin to understand what it means.
  • Flexible Time – Depending on how much time you have in your day, you can study more or less.
  • Transferrable Method – From Genesis to Revelation, this method can be used to study every type of book of the Bible.
  • Strengthens Skills – You’ll learn how to study the Bible on your own.

For now, this brand new tool is available through the Proverbs Study Pack which includes everything you need to get started!

Are you ready? Let me know what you are going to study and when!

‘Tis the season for extra activities, endless shopping lists, and out-of-control eating because we’re all so stressed from the formerly mentioned activities. Come December 26th, we’ll be more than ready to get back to our normal routine and excited for the new year ahead. High on the priority list for most Christ-followers is to read the Bible more. Many will start reading through the Bible with great enthusiasm, but fizzle out before the next page in the calendar is turned.

I’ve been there. My guess is that you have been as well. Why do so many of us struggle to simply read the Bible consistently? I believe it has much to do with our motivations. It is important to pay attention to the desires of the heart, especially when we are setting out on a spiritual endeavor.

Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t put “read my Bible more” on your resolutions list this year

  1. I read my Bible to make God happy with me.
  2. I read my Bible to impress other people.
  3. I read my Bible to because it is what good Christians do.

If you are currently reading the Bible for any of the above reasons, don’t stop! Keep going. But as you do, begin praying and working toward a healthier perspective.

Here are three healthy reasons why you should read the Bible

  1. I read my Bible to build the habit.
  2. I read my Bible to gain a better understanding of God and His plan for my life.
  3. I read my Bible to worship God through responding to what I learn.

Read the full post over at LifeWay Voices.

There are seasons that are hard. I just don’t feel right. Discouragement comes easy. The dark cloud looms and lingers.

I begin searching for what’s missing. Maybe if I start running, or eat better I will feel better about myself? Or, am I lonely and just need to find a new friend? Get more sleep? A better schedule? Time alone? A date night?

I’ll try a few things, and when the newness wears off I turn to what energize me. Teaching the Word, blogging, time with good friends, time alone to plan. While they do help recharge me, they will never be enough.

bible verses discouragement

9 Bible verses for discouragement

Only God’s word brings me life.

  • My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! Psalm 119:25
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37

In uncertainty, His word alone is my good counsel.

  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

When my soul cries out, His promises alone bring comfort.

  • This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
  • Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

Though there are moments of overwhelming sorrow, His word under-girds with strength.

  • My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28

His mercy and grace is what I truly need. Not a smaller jeans size, or a better organized house. Not a new friendship or time to myself. He is my missing piece.

  • Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Psalm 119:77
  • Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Psalm 119:132

Which verses do you cling to when the dark cloud looms?

Advent is right around the corner and this is a great time for us to set our minds on Jesus, you know, the reason for the season! I’ve collected many advent plans and studies along the years. Here’s a list of studies I’ve done—or have wanted to do!

If you’re like me, and do better with accountability and community, don’t miss the online bible study group going through the new 12-day Adore Him reading plan. This plan is geared toward busy women (I mean, who isn’t busy this time of the year!). Starts December 1. All the details are at the end of this post. Join us!

Advent Bible studies for women

Love Comes Near Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • 25-day Bible study from Jenni Keller
  • Includes a bonus Family Advent Experience
  • Learn more about Love Comes Near Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

He Is Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • An Advent Bible study from Becky Kiser
  • 20 Bible Study days on the attributes of God written by 20 guest writers (including me!)
  • Includes a 5 Advent Candle Bible Study and Instruction days
  • Learn more about He Is Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

Then Came Jesus Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • A 4-week Bible study by Lara Williams
  • Each week organized into a 5-day study plan
  • Suggested Scripture memory passages for each week
  • Each day includes an optional “Family Idea”
  • Learn more about Then Came Jesus Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

advent bible studies for women

free advent reading plans for women

Adore Him Reading Plan

Advent Reading Plan

Born Is The King

  • A free 28 Day reading plan from She Reads Truth
  • Starts on the first Sunday of Advent
  • Learn more

Christ Was Born for This 

  • A free 29 Day reading plan from She Reads Truth
  • Starts on the first Sunday of Advent
  • Learn more

Joy to the World

  • A free 29 Day reading plan from She Reads Truth
  • Starts on the first Sunday of Advent
  • Learn more

advent reading plans free

kids advent calendars

Kid’s Advent Calendar and Reading Plan

  • This looks like a load of fun!
  • A 24 day reading plan and activity guide for families from Not Consumed
  • Learn more

Advent with the Jesus Storybook Bible

  • A 24 day plan through the Jesus Storybook Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (our fav!!)
  • Includes Bible verses to read alongside the Jesus Storybook Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • Simply grab your copy of  Jesus Storybook Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! and download her free reading plan!

The Littlest Watchman – Advent Calendar Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • Includes an Advent Calendar and Devotional Booklet Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • Gives suggestions on how to make your own “Jesse tree”
  • Has an accompanying book: The Littlest Watchman: Watching and Waiting for the Very First Christmas Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • We used this last year and enjoyed it!
  • Order your copy here Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

kids advent calendars


Looking for online bible studies for women?online bible studies for women

I’ve long said that we need to stop “trying harder” and focus our efforts on “believing better.” For years, I tried and tried and tried to be good—sure I was going to get it right this time. Yet when I failed (and I always did), I was surprised and disappointed in myself. I looked around, and it seemed like everyone else had it all figured out … they must know something I don’t. Or maybe they are simply working harder at being good. I need to try harder. Then I’ll quit messing up so much.

Finally, I heard about grace and I stopped trying so hard to be good, and I began to rest in His goodness. And the more time I spent with Him, the more I desired more. I started actually reading Bible verses about God and realized that my view of God was way off from what His Word tells us.

“It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate” — A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

I believe the greatest measure of spiritual growth is not how good we’ve become. The most accurate marker of our maturity in Christ is the way we see our God. If our view of Him is small, so will be our faith. When our mind’s eye sees God as small and indifferent, our heart’s cry for Him will be the same.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” — A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

These quotes are from a gem of a book— a small yet deep survey of who God is Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! . This is one of those books that would be fruitful to read yearly. There is so much that we can learn from this classic.

Here are 10 of my favs from A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .

knowledge of the holy

Knowledge of the Holy

“When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean ‘in the exact image.’ To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all. It is to break down the wall, infinitely high, that separates That-which-is-God from that-which-is-not-God” (p. 7).

“We can never know who or what we are till we know at least something of what God is. For this reason the self-existence of God is not a wisp of dry doctrine, academic and remote; it is in fact as near as our breath and as practical as the latest surgical technique” (p. 28).

“Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator” (p. 32).

“There is no reason for us to try to discover what has not been revealed. It is enough to know that God is God” (p. 46).

“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none” (p. 47).

“The immutability of God appears in its most perfect beauty when viewed against the mutability of men. In God no change is possible; in men change is impossible to escape” (p. 50).

“God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, every plurality and all pluralities, all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desires, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell” (p.56).

“All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time” (p.60)

“God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine” (p. 104).

“God is said to be absolutely free because no one and no thing can hinder Him or compel Him or stop Him. He is able to do as He pleases always, everywhere, forever” (p. 109)


knowledge of the holy

Want to study more about God? I’ve put together a reading plan with Bible verses about God. This reading plan bookmark includes 12 different truths about God put into an easy-to-use reading plan bookmark. Perfect to help you BELIEVE BETTER!

HOW TO ACCESS THE READING PLAN:

  1. Click the button below to head to the resource library.
  2. Follow the instructions to create a Resource Library account—it only takes about 30 seconds.
  3. Download the plan, print, and enjoy!

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” —A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

When our view of God is off, it affects everything about us. As I look back on my early days as a Christian, hindsight clearly shows this reality at work. I saw God as holy and powerful, but I didn’t see Him as near and engaged. I was terrified of the idea of surrender because I didn’t really believe that God knew me. I figured He could know me well if He wanted to, but I wasn’t convinced that He did.

Once I began to understand not only the power and holiness of God, but the love and mercy of God as well, my attitude and actions toward God changed. I started running to God instead of drifting away. I desired to learn more and more about this God who knew me completely and perfectly—and loved me still.

So, yes. What we think about God is the most important thing about us. Because it is the main factor that either fuels or dampens our desire to be with Him.

With this in mind, let’s set our minds on the GREATNESS of God!

bible verses about god

7 Bible verses about God

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.

John 1:1-4 

  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Isaiah 40:28

  • Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

Daniel 4:34–35

  • At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

Psalm 147:5

  • Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

Romans 11:33–36

  • Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Isaiah 46:8–9

  • Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

Bible verses about God

Want to read more about the greatness of God? I’ve got just the thing for you. This reading plan bookmark includes 12 different characteristics of God put into an easy-to-use reading plan bookmark. You can use it for 12 days of Bible reading, or take one characteristic per month for a year-round resource.

For a limited time, this reading plan is FREE.

​Here’s how to access the Adore Him reading plan.

  1. Click the button below to head to the resource library.
  2. Follow the instructions to create a Resource Library account—it only takes about 30 seconds.
  3. Download the plan, print, and enjoy!

Today I’m sharing the answer to one of the frequently asked questions I receive: “What is your favorite Bible?” Though I have many Bibles on my shelf, the one I consistently recommend is the ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .

The Best Study Bible

I’ve used the ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! in various ways throughout the years. The ESV (stands for English Standard Version) is the translation I love to study from the most because it is more of a “word-for-word” translation than most others, which makes it a great Bible to study from. The ESV is also my preferred version for Scripture memory, mainly because it is most familiar to me.

best study bibleI have a large well-loved copy of the ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , which I happily lugged around with me to and from home, church, and Bible study group for years. The study notes alongside all of the resources within is a treasure trove of information—especially for the beginner to Bible study. (If I could purchase again today, I would grab this pretty teal version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! !)

best study bible

Nowadays this copy collects dust on my shelf because I have learned how to access all the ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! goodness on-the-go through the free ESV Bible app.

best study bible

It is AMAZING!! This is one of the biggest reasons why I love the ESV study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! so much. There are other study Bibles just as solid as this one, but (as far as I am aware of) this is the only one who boasts this incredible feature. I can access the same study notes, charts, maps, and all the other resources included in the ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!  at the tap of a button on my phone. I typically consult it multiple times a week, if not daily. It is super-convenient having all these Bible study charts, maps, notes, and book information with me at all times.

My Favorite Pens for Bible Study

Alongside the “favorite Bible” question, I get a bunch of questions about the pens I use! Though not necessary, I think it is great to personalize our Bible study time. This is a time to enjoy, and I enjoy color (plus, I am a very visual learner!) so some nice colorful pens are a must for me. best study bible

My all-time favorite pens are Staedtler Pens. I have several sets of the Triplus Fineliner Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! in the plastic case (one for home, one for my church bag), and one in the pink roll case Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! which I purchased when it was marked down and keep in my handbag for the kids to use while we are out and about. As you can tell, I don’t like to be stuck without my pens!

best study bible

Here’s what I love about these Staedtler Fineliner Pens Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! :

  • They don’t bleed (unless you write over and over again in one spot).
  • They are very resistant to drying out. (I used to love Flair pens … until they stopped working due to drying out! My Staedtler Fineliner Pens Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! have lasted much longer than my Flair pens did.)
  • The case converts into an easel that props up the pens for easy access.
  • They are fine point at 0.3mm, which is small enough to be able to take lots of notes in my Bible.

best study bible

best study bible The only problem I’ve had with these pens is actually with the case … it kept popping open while in the easel position. I grabbed some gorgeous floral duck tape Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! to keep it shut. Problem solved and my case was further beautified!best study bibleEnjoy!

I vividly remember my first shopping trip to purchase my first “real” Bible. I gathered up all my babysitting money and excitedly entered my local Christian book store. My balloon filled with enthusiasm promptly popped when I made it to the Bibles section. There were so many choices! After staring at them all, and haphazardly picking up samples to look through, I hesitantly chose a big black leather-like Bible—mainly because it looked studious and super-spiritual. I did not end up using that Bible much. In hindsight, it was a poor fit for me for many reasons.

You see, I was a toddler in the faith—actually not quite yet walking. I crawled around desiring to grow up and become closer to God. I just knew that getting a brand-new Bible would be the answer. But the version and type I chose was all wrong for me. This particular Bible lacked the simplicity and extra helps I really needed at that point in my spiritual journey. Plus, behind the study notes were beliefs that were a far cry from my own. This led to even more frustration and confusion. If I could go back and stand beside my former self, I would help past-Katie narrow down her choices in order to find a Bible that would fuel her burgeoning desire for the Bible and arm her with the basics of the Bible she needed.

That was in 1996, and the options today are much more numerous than they were then. So if you are in the market for a new Bible today, you might be just a bit overwhelmed! Past-Katie certainly would have been. She might have just walked out of that bookstore and given up on this walking-with-God thing.

So how do you know which one is going to be the best purchase for you? Before you go dropping dough on a Bible, you need to know the answers to three questions.

Why are there sooo many different Bibles for sale in the Christian book store?

The Bible was not originally written in English. Duh, right? But I won’t tell you how old I was when that fact finally dawned on me. I guess I just never really thought about it. It is important to recognize this fact because it will help us understand why there are so many different versions of the Bible (it can also help us with Bible study later on). Specifically, it is useful to understand that each publisher that has produced a new Bible has a purpose and a target audience. Some of them want to provide an accessible Bible that is super-readable to the everyday public. Others want to remain as true to the original text as possible, providing a better version for study. Therefore, each team of translators choose between “thought-for-thought” and “word-for-word” approaches, depending on what their end goal is.

If you are new to the Bible and/or want to do mostly Bible reading, I suggest you stick with one of the “thought-for-thought” translations below.  If you want study the Bible, a “word-for-word” translation is going to be most helpful. I think a healthy mix of using both types over time is ideal. There are loads of free Bible apps and websites that allow you to toggle between translations. I’m not super-familiar with all of the translations out there, but here are several I’ve had experience with. Those closer to “word-for-word” are listed first and as we move down the list, we migrate more and more towards “thought-for-thought” translations.

Common translations of the Bible for sale in the Christian book store:

  • New American Standard Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NASB) – I grew up on this version and it was the primary version I used for study until the ESV came along.
  • English Standard Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (ESV) – This is the translation I’ve used since 2005 for all my deep studies and most of my Scripture memory.
  • King James Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (KJV) – I’ve never used this much, but it is certainly a popular version.
  • New King James Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NKJV) – I used this for a little while but it never stuck with me.
  • Christian Standard Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (CBS) – My husband and I have several new Bibles in this version, and have been trying them out for the past year or so. It claims to be the “optimal blend of accuracy and readability.” We like it.
  • New International Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NIV) – I’ve never been a huge fan of this version either.
  • New Living Translation Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NLT) – I enjoy this as fresh look at familiar verses.
  • The Message Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! – This is technically not a translation, it’s a paraphrase. So it is definitely a “thought-for-thought” and can be helpful if you find yourself completely unable to understand what a passage is saying. (Keep in mind, however, this is only one man’s thoughts on the passage.)

The Mardel book store has a super-helpful chart of all of the above translations, alongside several others, and how they rank on the scale of readability and accuracy, as well as loads of other helpful information.

Why are there so many different types of each Bible version at the Christian book store?

Once you’ve narrowed down your preferred Bible versions (translations), you need to understand the different types of Bible you want/need. For each translation, you will find several different types available, thus a myriad of combinations of Bibles for sale at your local Bible book store.

The main types of Bibles for sale in the Christian book store:

  • A Bible – This is just a plain ol’, regular Bible. There might be a few textual notes in the bottom margin, but typically these contain only the book titles (Genesis, Ephesians, etc.), maybe a few headings throughout each book, and the chapter and verse references. These are often referred to gift edition, slimline, compact, or thinline Bibles. One example is this pretty “Premium Gift” teal Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .
  • Study Bible – These are typically very thick Bibles, filled with loads of helpful information. Most include important info like the author, audience, and aim of each book, commentary (teaching and explanation by the really smart people who have studied the Bible in an academic setting and know what they are talking about), charts, and maps interspersed throughout—all geared toward helping you understand what you are reading/studying. Many study Bibles are geared around a certain Bible study method or even a theme, which often means the commentary provided will be mostly within that subject. Study Bible examples: ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , CSB Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , Inductive Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • Devotional Bible – Typically geared toward a certain group of people (women, men, students, children, etc.), these Bibles contain short devotional thoughts and stories throughout each book of the Bible. You can think of them like a devotional book all split up and appropriately placed into the Bible for you. Examples include the (in)courage Devotional Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (I contributed to this one!), She Reads Truth Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! FamilyLife Marriage Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ESV Men’s Devotional Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , The Message Devotional Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! and many, many more.
  • Journaling Bible – These Bibles are laid out to give you white space for note-taking or art journaling. Some provide designations in the title of where the journaling space is, such as single column, double column, interleaved (where every other page is blank), and whether or not it is lined. If not in the title, you’ll want to be sure to check the description or look for an opened sample so you purchase your prefered layout. Examples:  ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ESV Single Column Journaling Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .

How are you going to use this new Bible?

This may seem like a silly question, but it is important. Another way to ask this question is, “What do you primarily need from this Bible?” Room for sermon notes? Teaching on what a verse means? Space to record prayers and/or what you are learning? You might have your eyes on a stunning journaling Bible, but what you really need is a solid study Bible. Maybe you have a well-loved study Bible, but need room to record your study notes. You might be like me—continually forgetting to pack your Bible and favorite pens Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! —so having a Sunday morning bag like this Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!  with a dedicated Bible and pens for recording sermon notes is just what the doctor ordered.

Generally speaking, a solid study Bible is going to be a great first investment I recommend the ( ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ), especially if you are new to the Bible. Here’s the key though: you need to use it! Study Bibles can be pretty overwhelming at first, but the charts, book info, and study notes are invaluable guides as you begin to explore Scripture.

Though ill-fitting, I’m glad I did pick out a Bible way-back-when. It was a choice of obedience for me. A determined step in the right direction. Though it wasn’t a perfect choice, God used my frustration with not understanding what I was reading to draw me even closer to Himself and also to seek help from others. So if you are still feeling a bit stymied by all the options of Bibles for sale at the Christian book store, I encourage you to step out, regardless. His Word is alive (every version and type!), our God is in control, and He can guide you even through an eeny, meeny, miny, moe approach. Narrow it down by version, type, and something you can afford, then take action … pick one!