By Olive Tree employee: Genny Gager

With the New Year so recent, our thoughts drift to all the things that we have resolved to do faithfully and consistently. Among the list of such items as eating better, exercising, and completing whatever unfinished tasks lurk around our house, (or person) many of us will commit yet again to our daily Bible reading and devotions.

While we might start with the best of intentions, our commitment loses momentum as time goes on and our lives get busy. What we need are some great strategies to make that daily devotional time easy, fun, and life-changing. The Olive Tree Bible Study App has a great system of tools to help you understand and grow through your daily time in God’s Word. Let’s take a look at some strategies you can immediately apply, in whole or in part, in your devotional time.

Read It
If you have struggled with getting your daily devotionals done, the secret to success might be to not overwhelm yourself. Although discipline is an important factor in daily commitment, sometimes variety can make things easier. In the Bible Study App we now offer numerous reading plans to choose from, of varying length and with varying topics. If your goal is to read the entire Bible in a year, but you’ve tried to read straight from beginning to end and failed, maybe one of the plans that breaks up the readings into different sections of the Bible would be a good strategy. But if the important thing right now in your life is to establish a daily habit, maybe a smaller reading plan could get you started and prepare you for a more comprehensive reading plan later on.

Once you’ve decided on the right length and strategy, create your plan and get started. The Bible Study App makes this easy and fun. Just tap the briefcase icon, select the reading plan option, then choose your plan and create it. Now the app will do all the work of keeping track of your progress and even showing you where to begin and end your reading, taking you from one day’s reading to the next.

Write It
One of the best ways to apply what you have read is to write out what a particular verse means to you. This isn’t an academic paper, just a few words about how you see that verse applying to your life. Pick one verse and one thought to write about, even if your reading covered a number of good topics. Most of us aren’t going to have enough time to write about everything, but as time goes on and you circle back in your reading you will be able to tackle other good topics.

Commit that thought to writing both to help you remember what you learned and for help in the future when you face a similar struggle.

Journaling is a great way to record those thoughts, both as a tool to help you remember and as a record of God’s dealings with you at a specific time. There is a way to use the notes system in the Bible Study App to maintain an accessible log of these thoughts and how they change over time.  The app notes system also gives you the flexibility to access these thoughts later.

First, create a note in which to record your thoughts. Tap the verse number to bring up the in-context menu, then tap “note.” This will enable you to put your thoughts right there in the popup on the page.*

Now that your note is open and ready, tap the file folder icon and create a category called “Journal” and then tap it to put your note in it. If you want to change the note icon, tap it on the bottom of the note popup/window and pick a different one, for instance the spiral-bound notebook might be a good one to designate that the note is a journal entry. Pull the note down to reveal the Change Title button and give the note a title that will help you remember about the context of the note. The title comes in pre-filled with the scripture reference; just add your title after that. Now record those thoughts!

Pray It
We all need God and the Holy Spirit’s help in teaching us to apply and live out God’s Word. Once you have recorded your thoughts about the verse, ask the Lord to help you learn His truth and apply it to your life. Record any further insights this might give you.

Tag It
Reading the Word and having it speak into your life will change you. Your journal is a record of how the Lord spoke to you over time. Making those thoughts easily accessible later can help you when facing a trial or trying to remember what the Lord revealed in your quiet time with him. Tap the tag icon at the bottom of the note and create a one-word description of the topic (or use one that already exists). You can put as many tags as you want on it. As you create other journal entries, re-use or create new tags as needed.

Now if you want to access those journal entries via a certain tag, tap the briefcase icon, select tags, and select the topic to see a list of everything that you have associated with that topic. Utilize the search bar to hone in even further, finding specific entries that might help you remember those lessons or relive those victories.

You can also view your journal entries via their chronological or verse order by tapping the open button on the second window, and selecting my notes. Select the Journal category then sort them using one of the three buttons (by date, title or verse).

The Bible Study App can help you stick to your New Year’s resolution to do daily devotions. Not only can it make the process easy and fun, but it can help your devotions have a lasting impact on your life by being able to access your journal entries later and easily share your verses with friends and family.
*Or, alternatively, tap the verse number, select “more,” then tap “Start page at:” to put your verse at the top of the page. Open the second window if it isn’t already in view by tapping the gripper bar, and if the resource guide isn’t visible tap the “open” button and select it. There is a section of the resource guide called “My Notes,” you may have to scroll a bit to get to it. Once there, you can tap “add note on…” to open up your new note in the second window. (If this is your preferred method of opening your note up, you can use the resource guide settings to move it higher in the list.)