Author Archives for Cierra Loux

Is Faith Enough?

September 11, 2017 7:00 am Published by 6 Comments

JAMES 2:14-21 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” IS FAITH ENOUGH? Are... View Article

Newly Enhanced Sermons

September 8, 2017 7:00 am Published by 7 Comments

Last week, we highlighted a new feature: enhanced devotionals! This lets you use select devotionals as reading plans in the app (for iOS currently). But, we toss around that word “enhanced” a lot, and thought we should clarify. Have you heard us talk about our enhanced sermons? We have those! But it means something different than it does with devotionals. Inside sermons, there are scripture references (at least… we hope there would be scripture references!). When we receive an eBook version of a sermon from a publisher, it contains normal text. When we want to enhance a sermon, our lovely formatting team finds the scripture references and adds hyperlinks! This will allow you to tap on the reference and open a pop-up window, reading the verse without leaving your eBook. This feature also works the other way around! While you’re reading the Bible, open the Resource Guide and look under “Sermons”. If any of your enhanced sermons reference the passage of scripture, it will appear here! What does this look like? Here’s some screenshots from my iPad! ONE: GO TO SERMONS TWO: CHOOSE A SERMON THREE: TAP A VERSE FOUR: READ SCRIPTURE + OPEN RESOURCE GUIDE GET YOUR OWN! Recently,... View Article

7 Reasons to Study the Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible

September 6, 2017 7:00 am Published by 9 Comments

7 REASONS 1. Understand the audience: Grasping the original audience’s perspective helps us understand the setting to which the inspired authors communicated their message. 2. Understand how the text communicates: A text is ideas linked by threads of writing. Each phrase and each word communicates by the ideas and thoughts that they will trigger in the reader or hearer. 3. Biblical writers made assumptions: Biblical writers normally could take for granted that their audiences shared their language and culture; some matters, therefore, they assumed rather than stated. Think about what happens when later audiences from different cultures read the text without the same un-stated understandings as the original audience. 4. Understand the differences: We can see the differences between [ancient people] and us. To better understand how they would have interpreted what was being shared to them. 5. Understand what issues were being addressed: When we hear the message in its authentic, original cultural setting we can reapply it afresh for our own different setting most fully, because we understand what issues were really being addressed. 6. Prevent imposing your own culture: If we know nothing of the ancient world, we will be inclined to impose our own culture and... View Article

Look Inside: Courson’s
Application Commentary

September 5, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Commentaries may seem as if they are only for pastors, theologians, and seminary students. That’s not true! Any Christian who is looking for reliable information on the Bible can pick up a commentary and start reading. Those who write commentaries know that not all Christians are the same. So, they make different types of commentaries! For example, the Courson’s Application Commentary is all about life application. You can learn more about the history and context of the Bible in a way that will directly influence your life. So, if you’re wanting to go more in-depth, but are much more interested in devotional-style reading (instead of heavy, academic literature), then this might be the resource for you. Let’s look inside.RESOURCE GUIDE Like any enhanced resource you purchase for our app, Courson’s Application Commentary is built to work with the Resource Guide. As you’re reading the Bible, the Resource Guide follows along! It gives an overview of resources in your library that have content related to your passage. In the screenshot below you can see we have a hit in our commentary section for Courson’s commentary. After reading other commentaries or Study Bibles that explain the text, I can then turn to this commentary to help with applying God’s... View Article

11 Principles for Studying Biblical Culture

September 5, 2017 6:00 am Published by 4 Comments

Proverbs 2:1-2, 5-6 NKJV “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding… Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” STUDYING CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS The study of cultural backgrounds is important because grasping the original audience’s perspective helps us understand the setting in which the inspired authors communicated their message. What we learn may show contrasts as well as similarities between our own culture and that of the ancient world. Here are some principles to consider when evaluating the biblical text with its ancient contexts: 11 PRINCIPLES Both cultural similarities and cultural differences must be considered. Similarities may suggest a common cultural heritage rather than borrowing from a specific piece of literature. It is common to find similarities at the surface but differences at the conceptual level or vice versa. All elements of the text must be understood in their own context as accurately as possible before cross-cultural comparisons are made. Proximity in time, geography and spheres of cultural contact all increase the... View Article

Community Matters

September 1, 2017 7:00 am Published by 4 Comments

IT’S TRUE—COMMUNITY MATTERS “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 We, here at Olive Tree, take community seriously! You’d definitely see it if you spent a day in our office. We love celebrating birthdays, cheering one another on, and passing around favorite recipes. Every Tuesday we have a team meeting and every Thursday we pray together. We’re not just co-workers. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ! WE CARE ABOUT YOU You are so much more than a customer to us. You’re a brother/sister in Christ, too! This truth is what spurs us on to equip you with the right tools for spiritual growth, whether it’s through app development, content acquisition, customer support or marketing. Because we are so dedicated to spiritual growth and community, we wanted to remind you of our social media channels. Every day we post encouraging, informative content with you in mind. We really do hope that it blesses you! Below you can find a few ways to begin communicating... View Article

Life Lessons: Hebrews 8

September 1, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

SITUATION Hebrews 8: Jewish Christians struggled to understand the relationship between God’s free salvation and the Mosaic Law. The author explained that Jesus Christ was superior to the Law of Moses. OBSERVATIONS of HEBREWS 8 God does not keep a record of our sins in order to use them against us. Rather, He forgives and loves us even as we suffer through the consequences of our sins. INSPIRATION I was thanking the Father today for His mercy. I began listing the sins He’d forgiven. One by one I thanked God for forgiving my stumbles and tumbles. My motives were pure and my heart was thankful, but my understanding of God was wrong. It was when I used the word “remember” that it hit me. . . God doesn’t just forgive, He forgets. He erases the board. He destroys the evidence. He burns the microfilm. He clears the computer. . . No, He doesn’t remember. But I do, you do. You still remember. You’re like me. You still remember what you did before you changed. In the cellar of your heart lurk the ghosts of yesterday’s sins. Sins you’ve confessed; errors of which you’ve repented; damage you’ve done your best to... View Article

3 Highlights of the Android Update

August 30, 2017 7:00 am Published by 12 Comments

Have you heard? We updated our Android app! This update wasn’t a little bug fix or adding one new feature. Hours and hours of hard work from our development team went into this update, and we couldn’t be more proud. Maybe you have already updated the app and seen the changes. Great! We hope to continue releasing support videos and articles to help you make the transition. But if you haven’t heard about the update, here are 3 major highlights of the work we accomplished. 1) REDESIGN We gave the app a makeover! The new design is sleek and clean—not busy or overwhelming, despite all the unique features we offer for studying the Bible in-depth. We’ve reorganized a few things as well, moving the “My Stuff” features within the main menu (accessible on the far left). Also, the Search, Library, Verse Chooser, and Resource Guide all have a new look that will enhance your experience in the app. Hello, simplicity! 2) READING PLANS We’ve made 100s of reading plans accessible from the toolbar! Scroll through the inspirational graphics and find a daily reading plan that will encourage you to grow spiritually. You’ll be held accountable and able to check off... View Article

How-To: Devotionals in the App

August 28, 2017 10:00 am Published by 17 Comments

We have exciting news! You can now use some of our most popular devotionals in the same way you use a reading plan! You can “complete” your readings, set reminders, and more. We want to make sure you get the most out of this new feature, so we’ve written this how-to article to get you going. WHAT IS A DEVOTIONAL? First things first—we want to make sure you know what a devotional is and why they are helpful. Devotionals vary quite a bit. Some may walk you through book(s) of the Bible, some may cover a topic, and some may be filled with advice and unique perspectives. Although they differ in content, they all have the same goal: to help you grow spiritually, consistently. Devotionals are divided into smaller chunks so that you can read a little each day and process it. HOW-TO: DEVOTIONALS 1) UPDATE YOUR DEVICE AND DEVOTIONALS This feature comes with our most recent update to iOS (6.3). Make sure that your app is up-to-date before you go looking for updated devotionals! Sorry Android devices, this update is coming to your app soon! Also, check your currently owned devotionals for updates. You can do this by finding... View Article

Read & Study the
Bible in New Ways

August 24, 2017 7:00 am Published by 20 Comments

The Bible is an ancient text. So, it isn’t surprising when we get a little bored while reading it—especially with our entertainment-saturated culture. The average person watches only 10-seconds of a video on Facebook! If our attention spans can only handle 10-seconds of a video, how can we possibly stay focused while reading a historic text over and over again for our entire lives? Well, we have a few ideas for you! This blog post will offer five ways to study and read the Bible in a fresh way. 1) READ DIFFERENT TRANSLATIONS Ever wondered what the difference is between all the English Bible translations? There are so many! The best way to think about this is to imagine a spectrum. One on end, there are Bibles that are translated word-for-word. These are very literal. Then, on the other side, you have Bibles that are paraphrased versions. In the middle, you have Bibles that are translated by sentence or thought. So, why would you want to read different translations? Languages are complex with idioms and phrases that don’t translate well word-for-word. At the same time, a paraphrase may miss out on key details. Comparing translations will give you the full... View Article