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A Look Back at Our Best New Articles of 2021

A Look Back at Our Best New Articles of 2021

Another year is in the history books! After all the difficulty of 2020, many of us looked to 2021 with optimism and hope. Certainly, this year had its own share of challenges, both worldwide and in each of our personal lives. But as we reflect on the last 12 months, one thing has remained rock-solid: God’s love and compassion for each of us. Even in the hardest of times, we see the ways He moved and shaped things around us and provided for our needs.

Throughout this past year, you, our Bible Study Tools readers, had some big questions you needed answers to! Some of you wanted guidance on how to pray through the big decisions you were making, or wanted to dig deeper into some lesser-known prophets of the Old Testament. Some of you got into some (maybe silly) arguments with friends, and asked “just what does the Bible say about aliens??”

As Spring of 2021 rolled in, and long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines rolled out, many of you rightfully wanted to know what the Bible has to say about these new shots.

No matter what you were researching or reading, our prayer at Bible Study Tools is always this: that the content we provide will help to teach you something new about God and guide you closer into right relationship with Him. There is no greater gift on earth than the gift of salvation, and no greater peace than that which He provides.

So let’s take a look back at the top 10 articles of Bible Study Tools in 2021. We’ll count back from 10, starting here:

10. 6 Powerful "I WILL" Promises of Jesus

From the article:

Jesus knew the importance of a promise. He knew what they meant to the Christian. The “I Will” statements of Christ declare many promises, but I want to share six of those with you. These are statements and assurances from our Savior that we can count on. He will never back down on any of these promises.

1. Salvation

The first promise we will discuss comes from John 6:37 and again in Revelation 3:20. In both verses, Jesus is letting His children know that if we come to Him, He will never drive us away. In Revelation, Christ is speaking to the church at Laodicea and promises that anyone who hears his voice and opens the door will receive Him and eat with Him. John 6:37 says: “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

These verses share the promise of salvation. Christ is clearly saying that He will take us in and care for us. He will give us new life and save us from an eternity in hell. When we are in the hands of God, we cannot be plucked out. When we accept the gift of salvation, we can never lose it.

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Photo credit: SWN/Getty Images/Bethany Pyle

Man praying

9. 5 Prayers for Guidance as You Make Big Decisions

From the article:

The Word is full of encouragement to the believer that God will guide those who ask Him. He gave Solomon wisdom when he asked for it. Paul encouraged the believers at the Church in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Christians can seek guidance about anything.

Here are 5 prayers for guidance:

1. Prayers for Guidance about A Difficult Work Situation

Holy Father,

Thank you for your wisdom in all circumstances. Thank you for caring about us so much that you provided a job so I can work and pay my bills. Lord, right now I have difficulties in the office, and I need your help. I want to do the right thing, to glorify You with my words and my deeds in the workplace, especially for the sake of my coworkers who do not know You as their Lord and Savior. Help me know what to do to handle this situation appropriately, and in a way that does not compromise my walk and my witness.

Lord, I call to You as the Psalmist did, at an acceptable time in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me in your saving faithfulness. Help me to know if I should stay or go, how to address the problem, and I ask that you resolve this issue to Your glory.

In the name of Your Son Jesus Christ,

Amen.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

person looking at a UFO, what does the Bible say about aliens

8.  What Does the Bible Say about Aliens and Extraterrestrial Beings?

From the article:

The problem with believing in aliens is that there is truly no concrete evidence that they have ever existed. Where scientists have discovered bones in archeological digs, there have never been alien remains on earth. As believers, we know that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). So from a Christian standpoint, if an alien existed, it would only be because the Lord created it. He is the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16). There is a lot of speculation about extraterrestrials. However, when we look at Scripture about God loving the world and sending His Son to die for the world, it can lead to the viewpoint that there is no life on other planets apart from the world that the Lord originally made.

When we focus on how humanity was formed in the image of God and how there is a story woven through the history of redemption, aliens seem like a manmade thought. The Lord intentionally created planet earth to sustain life. Everything in our universe is lined up to where only our planet has proven to be sustainable for life. In my mind, an alien is therefore no different from an elf, mermaid, or fairy.

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7. Do Animals Have Souls?

From the article:

People will often use the term soul and spirit interchangeably, and how you use the word will determine how you answer the question do animals have souls. If you are equating the soul with the spirit, then I would say that animals don’t have souls. If you are defining the soul as we did above as the place where your emotions flow out of, where you think, reason, and make decisions, then absolutely animals have souls. Animals can think, reason, sense danger, experience happiness, sadness, and all of the things we mentioned in our definition of the soul.

If you are or have ever been a pet owner, you know the joy that comes over your pet when you come home and they haven’t seen you all day. You also know that look on their face when they have done something they know they should not have. These are intentional emotions which flow out of the soul. If you have seen an animal hunt for food, protect their young ones in the wild, even mourn loss – these are all emotions that come out of the soul. I would argue that these are clear evidence that animals have souls.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Artem Peretiatko

Bible open to Book of Malachi, Malachi summary

6. Who Is Malachi the Prophet, the Last Writer of the Old Testament?

From the article:

The first verse of Malachi is the only time the prophet’s name is mentioned in the Old Testament. Otherwise, nothing definitive is known about him.

Malachi is placed among the “minor” prophets, but these are only designated as “minor” because of the length of the book. The Old Testament (and to some degree the New) is organized based on genre (history, poetry, prophecy) and then prophets by length, not necessarily chronologically. The “major” prophets are simply longer books. Interestingly enough, however, Malachi was one of the latter ones written, if not the last.

The book of Malachi was written around 100 years after the Jews returned to Jerusalem from exile. Malachi uses the same word for governor that Nehemiah and Haggai use (pechah). Malachi deals with sacrifices in the Temple, so the 2nd Temple had been built and was in use. Nehemiah faced similar corruption with the Jews that Malachi highlights—corrupt priests (Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah 13), neglect of tithes and offerings (Nehemiah 3, Nehemiah 13), and intermarriage with foreign women (Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah 13).

All of these clues and contexts confirm that Malachi was written contemporary with Nehemiah and the latter prophets.

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5.  Is Divorce Really a Sin?

From the article:

When it comes to divorce, sometimes in Christian circles it gets treated like the woman in The Scarlett Letter. There are several reasons why people get divorced: adultery, abuse, finances, or simply falling out of love. But the question that many wonder is this: is divorce a sin? Obviously, divorce is not something that God wants or pleases Him, but is it actually a sin? Divorce is a complicated and controversial issue, yet it cannot be ignored.

What makes something, such as divorce, sinful?

The nature of this topic should require us to approach it with a lot of grace. For people not facing these challenging situations it could be very easy to come to the conclusion that divorce is a sin. The short answer is yes, Paul and Jesus both spoke of factors that can allow divorce to be justified and not sinful. However, t truth of the matter is that whether divorce is a sin is a little more complicated than that.

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Photo credit: ©SparrowStock

Grandma reading the Bible to her grandson

4. One-Sentence Summaries of Every Old Testament Book

From the article:

Joshua

God fulfilled His covenant by leading His people into the promised land.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9).

Judges

God continued His deliverance of His, often rebellious, people by raising up 14 judges.

“Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders” (Judges 2:16).

Ruth

The ultimate Redeemer (Jesus Christ) is foreshadowed through the picture of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, in the ancestral line of David.

“Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer” (Ruth 4:14).

1 Samuel

God Himself was their King, but that was not enough for the nation of Israel, resulting in them demanding an earthly king like “all the other nations”; which, like the human judges, quickly led to disappointment.

“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king’” (1 Samuel 8:6-7).

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Aldo Murillo

woman laying in bed eyes closed sleeping as sun peeks through window

3. 7 Calming Prayers to Say before Bed

From the article: 

A Bedtime Prayer for Good Rest (Psalm 4)

God loves to lavish gifts on His children, and He tells us to ask Him for what we need (Matthew 7:7-11). If you are having trouble falling asleep, ask God to help you get the rest your body needs. Trust Him to care for your needs in His perfect timing.

Father, please give me relief from these sleepless nights. I am so tired. In your mercy, please give me the gift of restful sleep. You have filled my heart with joy, more joy than all the riches in the world could bring. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You are with me, and I am safe in Your love.

I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

A Prayer After a Hard Day (Psalm 31)

Jesus invites us to lay down our burdens. In Matthew 11:28, He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Whether a great loss has left you reeling, or many smaller griefs have you feeling beaten down, take them to Jesus. Let Him carry your burdens so you can rest and heal.

I take refuge in You, Lord. I rejoice in Your love, for you see all my troubles and know exactly how I feel. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am weak and distressed. I feel surrounded and overwhelmed and alone, but I trust in You. You are my God, and You are good. Shelter me in Your presence and be my rock of refuge.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

Businessman with an evil shadow behind him

2. How Can We Recognize the Antichrist?

From the article:

The Antichrist lies and comes against the people of God. We also know from the Daniel passage that the Antichrist will attempt to change the laws, calendars, and the timing of things. But what else do we know about this figure from the End Times?

Daniel 7:8: "I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things."

These horns have crowns on them (Daniel lists 10 horns in a later passage). In other words, the Antichrist will rule over a great deal of land. We hear the phrase "One world order" tossed around a lot these days in Christian circles. This essentially means that the Antichrist will falsely unite the nations under the guise of peace. However, he will wage war against the people of God.

Revelation 13:13-14: "It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived."

Great signs and wonders will be performed to lead people astray. We should also note that people will find the Antichrist to be attractive, appealing, likable. He (or she) will sway them with their false words and empty promises.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Gearstd

a child getting a vaccine

1. Should Christians Get Vaccinated?

From the article: 

Part of the debate with vaccines is balancing the good of the person with the good of the community. I believe this is the one of the arguments that medical professionals use as to why you should get a vaccine. They have been proven to stop the spread of disease.

If you think back one hundred years ago, many of the diseases that killed people then have been eradicated with science and medicine and the use of vaccines. If you are arguing for the good of the community then you could argue that Christians should take vaccines because that could fall under the command of loving your neighbor as yourself.

However there is a large and growing segment of the Christian world who feel opposite of this opinion. For this reason there is no way to say definitively that Christians should or should not get vaccinated. I think it’s important for everyone to do their due diligence and be convinced what they think is the right thing to do. I know this may be an anti-climactic response, but I don’t see how you can come to any other conclusion that is not based in your own subjectivity. As Paul said in Romans allow people to make up their mind, accept them, and don’t treat them with contempt if their conclusion in different than yours.

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Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study Tools.com and the design editor for Crosscards.com. She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.


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