Category: Inspiration

Un-Earned Acceptance

Posted by on 11/07/2017 in: ,

This blog post is an excerpt of C.A. Coates Commentary and Articles.

It is the privilege of every believer to be consciously in the favour of God–to be in the unclouded light and joy of Acceptance. But, alas! many who are truly converted are not in the enjoyment of this privilege. It may be helpful to consider briefly why not.

HIDDEN SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

When I speak of self-righteousness in this connection I do not mean the proud self-righteousness of the unconverted man. I refer to the very different form of self-righteousness which leads many to doubt their acceptance with God because of the imperfections which they find in themselves.

You may say, “But ought I not to have misgivings when I find my spirit and the state of my mind so contrary to that which befits a Christian? and when I am conscious of inconsistencies and backslidings?” That you ought to judge yourself, and be humbled before God about these things, is most true; but it is in no wise true that your righteousness and acceptance with God depend upon yourself, or are measured by your condition or conduct. To have such a thought in the mind is really to suppose that you could be in the favour of God by being worthy of that favour in yourself.

It is simply self-righteousness.

TRYING TO EARN ACCEPTANCE

Then souls reason in this way: “Surely if I were converted I should be very different. There must be a great change in one who is born again. And if I had the Spirit of God He would help me to gain the victory over evil habits–over the lusts and tempers of the flesh–and to become pleasing to God. But instead of this more temptations seem to come in my way than ever before, and the evil tendencies of my heart seem to have acquired greater strength. I never felt more utterly unworthy of God’s favour and acceptance”.

It is not always easy to see that self-righteousness is hidden under all this, yet such is the case. There is the thought that, either by our own efforts, or by God’s grace and the help of His Spirit, we should become in ourselves suitable to God’s favour; and we are disappointed and distressed to find that we make so little progress in this direction.

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE—ON OUR OWN

It is important to know that the effect of the new birth, and of the grace of God, is not to bring about some change in us on which we could rest, but to convince us of the impossibility of finding righteousness, or suitability to the favour of God, in ourselves.

An unconverted man may think himself worthy of God’s favour, but every converted person is made conscious of utter unfitness in himself for that favour. The awakened soul gives account of itself in such language, as, “I have sinned”; “I am undone”; “I am vile”; “I abhor myself”.

Indeed, it is a common thing for such to suppose that since they turned to God the evil tendencies of their hearts had increased rather than otherwise. The fact is that before conversion we went with the stream, and not a ripple impeded our progress; when, by grace, we made some stand against the current, we began to feel its force, and to be distressed by it, as never before.

AN ILLUSTRATION

[…]Allow me to use a very simple illustration.

I was lately in an old English city, and I observed that the principal streets were marked out in squares, and on every square a name was written in large white letters. I asked the meaning of this, and I was told that a fair was to be held shortly in the streets of the city, and that persons had paid for the right to stand during the fair in the square spaces on which their names were written.

BUT CHRIST

Now it is a blessed thing to know that Christ has secured for us a standing in that circle of light and favour where He is.

To use my illustration, there is a place in that circle of light on which, dear fellow-believer, your name is written. You are entitled to stand there, but it may be that you have never by faith occupied your standing. I feel sure that the men whose names I saw written on the ground were not content to know that they had right and title to a standing in the fair. I think I am safe in saying that everyone would be careful to appropriate and occupy his standing.

It is a wonderful moment for the soul when by faith we appropriate and occupy our standing in the favour of God–when we know that we are received by God in all the acceptance of Christ. We do not then think of ourselves, or of our worthiness, at all.

We think of CHRIST–His perfections, His suitability to divine favour, His infinite acceptance with God–and by faith we have access into the favour of which He is so worthy.

LEARN MORE

This excerpt was taken from C.A. Coates Commentary and Articles, which contains 37 volumes of his writings. Coates’ writing is extremely applicable, speaking directly to the Christian on matters of the heart. Learn more on our website.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Meekness

Posted by on 10/12/2017 in: ,

A LUTHERAN’S PERSPECTIVE

Have you ever heard of Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament? R.H.C. Lenski was a German-born American and conservative Lutheran. He lived from 1864 to 1936 and loved to write. For our blog today, I’ve pulled out Lenski’s commentary on Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (NKJV). I found a great reminder in his writing; While we wait for Jesus’ return, we ought to remain meek, trusting that God will cut down the wicked.

THOUGHTS FROM LENKSI

Blessed the meek; for just they shall inherit the earth. The best commentary is Ps. 37; note v. 11. “The meek” are the mild, gentle, patient. The word refers to an inward virtue exercised toward persons. When they are wronged or abused they show no resentment and do not threaten or avenge themselves. The opposite are the vehement, bitter, wild, and violent. Jesus is the greatest example of meekness.

The paradox is again startling, the fact that people of this kind “shall inherit the earth.” Jesus does not say, “the new earth,” yet many regard his word as a reference to the millennial earth or to Rev. 21:1. And Jesus says “shall inherit,” namely with Christ, the heir of all the earth. This lot is theirs in accordance with their Lord’s will and testament. Read Ps. 37: the wicked shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb-evildoers shall be cut off-yet a little while and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be-and so the story of the wicked goes on. There is not much inheriting of this earth according to the Psalm. But look at the ‘anavim (also in Isa. 61:1), “the meek.” Jesus is merely repeating Ps. 37:11, 22.

They are cautioned not to vex themselves when the wicked grow haughty and appear mighty and great. They may suffer, but the divine blessing constantly follows them also in this life and on this earth. It will not do to say that the temporal blessings promised to Israel in the old covenant are not to be regarded as being promised also to those living in the new covenant. The Christian Church has fared even better than Israel fared. The idea that in the Psalm “earth” signifies Canaan and thus the heavenly Canaan in Jesus’ beatitude, is specious; for Jesus indicates no difference of this kind. It will always be true (v. 16): “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked,” for his little has God’s blessing, and their much God’s curse.

Our meekness, however, often shines by its absence; our covetousness, pride, and other faults necessitate God’s discipline, who always follows higher aims that reach beyond temporalities. Chemnitz writes that God lets his children find a little nest on the house that is intended entirely for them. Luther agrees that this beatitude adds the promise of “temporal life and goods on earth.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Lenski’s commentary isn’t for everyone. He is very meticulous about his work with the Greek language! But if you are a lover of original languages, you should definitely look into this resource more. Just follow this link to our website.

Continue Reading

A SOAP Study on Matthew 12

Posted by on 10/02/2017 in: ,

What’s a SOAP study? SOAP is an acronym, meaning: Scripture, observation, application, and prayer. This is one, very helpful way to get more out of your Bible study time. Join us in this short study of Matthew 12:1-14!

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 12:1-14, NIV

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

OBSERVATION

Taken from the Gospel Transformation Bible Notes

Matthew gives two examples of how Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden light (11:30). In both examples, Jesus opposes the Pharisees’ imposition on others of their burdensome way of observing the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8–11; Deut. 5:12–15). The purpose of the Sabbath law was to show mercy to human beings and their farm animals by mandating regular rest from the hard labor of agrarian life (Matt. 12:8; Ex. 23:12). If its “observance” somehow made hungry people more miserable by forbidding them from obtaining food, or required a disabled person to remain disabled longer than necessary, then the purpose of the law itself had been violated (Matt. 12:7, 12; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6–8).

APPLICATION

Taken from the Gospel Transformation Bible Notes

Christians of every age and culture have formulated ideas about how the moral teaching of Scripture should be obeyed in their own time and place. Often these ideas become translated into rules for avoiding temptation in basic areas where Christians must interact with a non-Christian culture, whether over clothing, food, speech, or entertainment. Matthew 12:1–14 cautions believers as they engage in such rule-making to understand what they are doing: they are not formulating authoritative Scripture but giving fallible human advice, however prudent (5:29–30; 18:8–9), on how best to obey Scripture in particular circumstances. Whenever the tendency of these rules hinders the basic concern of Scripture for mercy, justice, and kindness, the rules have themselves become a hindrance to obeying God and need to be set aside.

PRAYER

Have you ever struggled with this, putting rules before mercy, justice, and kindness? Take some time today to think and pray about this. Ask Jesus how he would like you to respond.

LEARN MORE

This content was taken directly out of the Gospel Transformation Bible Notes. You, too, can do quick, easy, and formative Bible studies with these notes—and they are currently only $15 (normally $50!). Visit our website to find out more.

Continue Reading

God’s Will: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Posted by on 09/25/2017 in: ,

Every time I read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, I’m deeply encouraged. Here, Paul gives his final instructions to the Church at Thessaloniki, calling them to love, act justly, and do the will of God. Not only that, but he tells them how they can accomplish all this. He says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

How will we become the kind of people that Paul depicts in this passage? God will work it out. He is faithful in sanctifying us completely.

THE WILL OF GOD

As I was looking to learn more about this passage, I was drawn to delve deeper into verses 16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ever wondered what God’s will is!? It’s this! That we rejoice, that we pray, and that we give thanks—and that we do all of these things all the time. Even though I was just reminded that God will complete this work in me, I felt overwhelmed. I’m certainly not doing those three things continuously! So, I looked to a resource for some help and encouragement.

This is from the New Bible Commentary:

“A series of brief, staccato commands indicates the basis for Christian living. They are quite general and would apply to any group of believers. Christians have grounds for joy in both their experience of salvation and their hope of what God will do in the future, but they need to express that joy; there is a right and proper place for the expression of joyful emotion.

Christians must also pray—here probably in the sense of making requests to God, since the next command is about the need to be thankful. Common to the three commands is the stress on fulfilling them all the time and in all circumstances; this does not mean, for example, that one prays uninterruptedly but that one prays regularly and frequently. Such a life is made possible, Paul adds, because God intends it to be so; he wants his people to be joyful, prayerful and thankful, and he makes it possible for them to be so.”

{Insert sigh of relief here} I think D.A. Carson probably has the right idea. God doesn’t expect us to rejoice, pray, and express gratitude uninterruptedly, but often. I can picture myself living a life where I rejoice often and a life where I’m thankful often. But I wonder, what exactly did a life of frequent prayer look like for Paul?

The New Bible Dictionary (which comes bundled with the New Bible Commentary) has a lot of content around prayer. It explains what prayer looked like in the Old Testament (and it’s different periods: patristic, pre-exile, exile, post exile… ect.), the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles. There’s a TON of information on Paul alone, but I took away this one tidbit:

“Prayer was thanksgiving, intercession, the realization of God’s presence (cf. 1 Thes. 1:2f.; Eph. 1:16ff.). He found that the Holy Spirit assisted him in prayer as he sought to know and do God’s will (Rom. 8:14, 26).”

To Paul, prayer was even the realization of God’s presence! Not that this is something I am perfect at, but it seems much more attainable than needing to always sit down and have a very deep conversation with God. Don’t get me wrong—that’s important, too! But prayer in the believer’s life is more than confession, thanksgiving, and intercession. It’s seeing God, recognizing Him in our circumstances, and acknowledging Him. All in all, when we realize God’s presence, it’ll be nearly impossible for us to act outside of God’s will. That should be a comfort.

LEARN MORE

Did you find this information just as helpful as I did? We offer the New Bible Commentary and New Bible Dictionary as a bundled product, usually for $79.98. But this week, we are able to drop the price to only $29.99. So, if you’re interested in learning more about these great resources, visit our website!

Continue Reading

Psalm 51: Repenting Like David

Posted by on 09/20/2017 in: ,

Psalm 51 has long been one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and I came to love it because of Jon Foreman’s song White as Snow. Funny thing is, this psalm is entirely about sin. It’s pretty humbling to read (and even more humbling to sing and confess to God yourself!).

This week, we have the MacArthur Study Bible with ESV on sale, so I was looking through it. I came across MacArthur’s notes on this passage, and they were so helpful in reminding me of the power of this psalm.

BACKGROUND

If you didn’t know already, here’s the background of Psalm 51:

“This is the classic passage in the OT on man’s repentance and God’s forgiveness of sin. Along with Ps. 32, it was written by David after his affair with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, her husband (2 Sam. 11–12). It is one of seven poems called penitential psalms (Ps. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). To David’s credit, he recognized fully how horrendous his sin was against God, blamed no one but himself, and begged for divine forgiveness.

OUTLINE: Plea for Forgiveness (51:1–2); Proffer of Confession (51:3–6); Prayer for Moral Cleanness (51:7–12); Promise of Renewed Service (51:13–17); Petition for National Restoration (51:18–19).”

TAKEAWAYS

Ps. 51:1 steadfast love. “Even though he had sinned horribly, David knew that forgiveness was available, based on God’s covenant love.”

Have you ever been overwhelmed by your own sin, to the point of believing that God would abandon you? Or perhaps, you are so frustrated by what you have done, you become severely depressed and don’t know how you can keep on going? Sin can make us feel as if we are entirely unloveable.

But MacArthur points out here in his notes that David, before apologizing for his sin, calls on God’s unconditional love. Remember, David just MURDERED someone. Murder! I can’t image the weight of the shame and guilt he must have been carrying. I’m so thankful that the Bible doesn’t cover up the mistakes God’s people. Instead, we can read this and be encouraged.

Ps. 51:4 Against you, you only. “David realized what every believer seeking forgiveness must, that even though he had tragically wronged Bathsheba and Uriah, his ultimate crime was against God and his holy law (cf. 2 Sam. 11:27). Romans 3:4 quotes Ps. 51:4.”

When we sin, it is so important to remember that our mistakes are ultimately against God. I can think of two good reasons for meditating on this idea. The first is that we don’t want to act as if our sin only has to do with other people—it affects our relationship with God and we need reconciliation with Him. We need to ask for forgiveness! But also, we know that God is faithful and just to forgive us, and it is His forgiveness that matters. We are able to move past our sin and pursue holiness, even when the people we have sinned against won’t accept our apology.

Ps. 51:6 you will not delight in sacrifice. “Ritual without genuine repentance is useless. However, with a right heart attitude, sacrifices were acceptable (see v. 19).”

What kind of rituals surrounding repentance have we created? Maybe at your church, you recite a prayer of repentance each week. Or, it may be that you have a habit of asking God for forgiveness, but it’s become numb to you. God cares less about the action and more about the heart. Make sure to take the time you need to truly repent of your wrongdoing. Your relationship with God (and own struggle with sin, guilt, and shame) will be better for it.

LEARN MORE

These insights were inspired by the MacArthur Study Bible with ESV. Not only are there notes about Psalm 51 that I didn’t cover, but there are thousands of other notes, giving insight to all the passages of the Bible! This title is currently a part of our Fall Sale, so head on over to our website to learn more about it.

Continue Reading

11 Principles for Studying Biblical Culture

Posted by on 09/05/2017 in: ,

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

  1. Both cultural similarities and cultural differences must be considered.
  2. Similarities may suggest a common cultural heritage rather than borrowing from a specific piece of literature.
  3. It is common to find similarities at the surface but differences at the conceptual level or vice versa.
  4. All elements of the text must be understood in their own context as accurately as possible before cross-cultural comparisons are made.
  5. Proximity in time, geography and spheres of cultural contact all increase the possibility of interaction leading to influence.
  6. A case for literary borrowing can rarely be made and requires identification of likely channels of transmission.
  7. Similar functions may be performed by different genres in different cultures.
  8. When literary or cultural elements are borrowed they may in turn be transformed into something quite different.
  9. A single culture will rarely be monolithic, either in a contemporary cross-section or in consideration of a passage of time.
  10. Specificity in marking dates for events in the ancient world is inherently debatable. There was no universal cultural reference point with which the ancients could mark time (such as our dates of BC and AD). Different cultures used different historical reference points when marking time, so that even when researchers find recorded dates in ancient cultural literature or on artifacts, these can rarely be cited as definitive. The differences in dates for specific events in the Old Testament notes reflect this reality as various contributors reflect their own assessments. The earlier the time period, the more tenuous the dating becomes.
  11. Cultural terms in the text of the notes (e.g., use of the term “Palestine” in the Old Testament, which refers to the larger region in which the Hebrew people lived), do not refer to current political realities unless the notes indicate such.

LEARN MORE

This blog post was adapted from the NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible which is on sale right now in our store.

What benefits have you experienced in learning cultural backgrounds of the Bible? Comment below!

Continue Reading

Life Lessons: Hebrews 8

Posted by on 09/01/2017 in: ,

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 repair.

And though you’re a different person, the ghosts still linger. Though you’ve locked the basement door, they still haunt you. They float to meet you, spooking your soul and robbing your joy. With wordless whispers they remind you of moments when you forgot whose child you were. .

Poltergeists from yesterday’s pitfalls. Spiteful specters that slyly suggest, “Are you really forgiven? Sure God forgets most of our mistakes, but do you think he could actually forget the time you . . . ”

. . . Was [God] exaggerating when He said He would cast our sins as far as the east is from the west? Do you actually believe He would make a statement like “I will not hold their iniquities against them” and then rub our noses in them whenever we ask for help? . . .

You see, God is either the God of perfect grace . . . or He is not God. Grace forgets. Period. He who is perfect love cannot hold grudges. If He does, then He isn’t perfect love. And if He isn’t perfect love, you might as well put this book down and go fishing, because both of us are chasing fairy tales.

But I believe in his loving forgetfulness. And I believe He has a graciously terrible memory. (From God Came Near by Max Lucado)

APPLICATION

Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, God forgets our sins. Jesus paid the penalty for sins. We must no longer feel guilty for sins that God forgave.

EXPLORATION

Promised Pardon of God—Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; 55:7; Micah 7:18; 1 John 1:9.

LEARN MORE

This blog post was taken directly from Max Lucado’s Life Lessons Study Bible Notes. For Labor Day weekend, this title has been discounted from $49.99 to $9.99. Check it out here! [Deal ends September 5!]

Continue Reading

Why Every Christian
Should Study the Bible

Posted by on 08/16/2017 in: ,

This title might seem slightly redundant. Shouldn’t a Christian study the Bible because she (or he) is a Christian? If only that was enough to convince us. I graduated from a Bible college and work for a Bible app—and yet I still find myself procrastinating on reading God’s Word. Somehow, I manage to forget the importance of it all.

So, this blog post is for me just as much as it’s for you. We’re all in need of a reminder now and again. And perhaps you are reading this and you have never, on your own, truly studied the Bible. That’s alright! Let’s chat about three reasons we should study God’s Word.

1. THE BIBLE IS ALIVE

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). What does this mean? The Bible pierces our souls. It discerns our thoughts and intentions. It brings our darkness to light.

This can take place without deep, academic study. You don’t need a PhD or a seminary education in order to be changed by God’s Word. Simple meditation can bring about growth because that’s how God works. If you knock, He will answer.

This is the first reason that we should study the Bible. Even if you hold to the word study very loosely–that’s okay. Read the Bible. Even if you struggle to understand, or find it boring at times, or would rather be doing something else… find time to read the Bible. Read the Bible because God desires to communicate with you, encourage you, and make you more like Him. This can only happen when we take time to be in His presence and to read His life-giving words.

2. IT ISN’T ALWAYS ABOUT US

Now, I won’t retract what I’ve said. Simply reading the Bible is better than not reading at all. But there are a few other points we need to consider.

The Bible, being the very Word of God, deserves great respect. We need to treat it better than we would Hamlet and Don Quixote, which means taking the time to understand the author and their intent. It would be wrong to say “This line in Pride and Prejudice reminds me of my sister, so I think that Jane Austen wrote about my sister.” That would be silly! In the same way, the Bible isn’t (always) about us. It is for us and our edification, but more often than not, Scripture is talking about a group of people in an era of time that we have never experienced.

However, one of the neatest accomplishments of our God is that He composed His Word for His people through His people. He included humanity in the process. Although remarkable, this characteristic does make our job of understanding the Bible a bit harder. Scripture is wrapped in history, cultural nuance, assumptions of understanding, and genre differentiations. Leviticus was law for the Israelites, the Epistles were letters to different churches, the Psalms were songs of praise and lament, Song of Solomon… you get the picture.

So, what do we do? For starters, we can read study bible notes, single-volume commentaries, or Bible dictionaries alongside Scripture. As we grow, we could read about Hermeneutics (the study of interpreting Scripture), Systematic Theology, Greek, Hebrew, or any other number of areas of study. That way, we don’t make our own assumptions about the text, but instead listen to those who have dedicated their lives to investigating the history of God’s Word. Then, with a more accurate understanding, we can begin to apply what we have learned about God to our own lives.

3. WE’RE CALLED TO DEFEND OUR FAITH

You’ve probably heard this verse: “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:14-15). What kind of defenses do we need to be able to make today—and to whom?

There may come a time when you need to answer questions such as:

These might be questions that other people ask you, or these might be questions that you ask yourself. How do you answer them? You read.

Millions of Christians have composed their defenses of the faith in books such as commentaries, apologetic undertakings, topical research, personal testimonies, and more. These, although not perfect like the Bible, are fantastic resources for you to grow in your understanding and trust of God’s Word.

OUR PASSION: INSPIRING PEOPLE TO READ GOD’S WORD

The reason the Olive Tree Bible App exists is to encourage people to read God’s Word. We also want you to study God’s Word, and to apply it to your life. This is why we work very hard with publishers to give you price reductions on titles that we think will help you achieve this goal.

Right now, we have an array of titles on sale with the aim of helping you read and study God’s Word in new ways. Check out what is available by visiting our website.

Continue Reading

How-to Personally Apply the Bible

Posted by on 08/09/2017 in: ,

It is a marvel how personally the Bible applies. The words pointedly address the concerns of long-ago people in faraway places, facing specific problems, many of which no longer exist. They had no difficulty seeing the application. Much of what they read was personal application to actual situations they were facing.

But nothing in the Bible was written directly to you or specifically about what you face. We are reading someone else’s mail. Yet the Bible repeatedly affirms that these words are also written for us: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4; cf. Deut. 29:29; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15–17).

Furthermore, the Bible is primarily about God, not you. The essential subject matter is the triune Redeemer Lord, culminating in Jesus Christ. We are reading someone else’s biography. Yet that very story demonstrates how he includes us within his story.

“Personal application” proves wise when you reckon with these marvels. The Bible was written to others—but speaks to you. The Bible is about God—but draws you in. Your challenge is always to reapply Scripture afresh, because God’s purpose is always to rescript your life.

What chunk of Scripture has made the most difference in your life? What verse or passage have you turned to most frequently? What makes these exact words frequently and immediately relevant? Your answer will likely embody four foundational truths about how to read the Bible for wise application.

FIRST, THIS PASSAGE BECOMES YOUR OWN BECAUSE YOU LISTEN.

You remember what God says. He is saying this to you. You need these words. This promise, revelation, or command must be true. You must act on this call to faith and love. When you forget, you drift, stray, and flounder. When you remember and put it to work, bright truth rearranges your life. The foundation of application is always attentive listening to what God says.

SECOND, THE PASSAGE AND YOUR LIFE BECOME FUSED.

It is not simply a passage in the Bible. A specific word from God connects to some pointed struggle inside you and around you. These inner and outer troubles express your experience of the dual evil that plagues every human heart: sin and confusion from within; trouble and beguilement from without (1 Kings 8:37–39; Eccles. 9:3).

But something God says invades your darkness with his light. He meets your actual need with his actual mercies. Your life and God’s words meet. Application depends on honesty about where you need help. Your kind of trouble is everywhere in the Bible.

THIRD, YOUR APPROPRIATION OF THIS PASSAGE REVEALS HOW GOD HIMSELF DOES THE APPLYING.

He meets you before you meet him. The passage arrested you. God arranged your struggle with sin and suffering so that you would need this exact help. Without God’s initiative (“I will write it on their hearts,” Jer. 31:33) you would never make the connection. The Spirit chose to rewrite your inner script, pouring God’s love into your heart, inviting you to live in a new reality. He awakens your sense of need, gives you ears to hear, and freely gives necessary wisdom. Application is a gift, because wisdom is a gift.

FOURTH, THE APPLICATION OF BELOVED PASSAGES IS USALLY QUITE STRAIGHTFORWARD.
  • God states something in general terms. You insert your relevant particulars. For example:
    “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4). What troubles are you facing? Who is with you?
  • “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). What is your particular way of straying? How does the Lamb of God connect with your situation?
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). With what are you obsessed? What promises anchor your plea for help (Phil. 4:5, 7-9)?

Such words speak to common human experiences. A passage becomes personal when your details participate in what is said. The gap across centuries and between cultures seems almost to disappear. Your God is a very present help in trouble—this trouble. Application occurs in specifics.

Interested in learning other ways to apply God’s Word to your life? This content was pulled from the ESV Study Bible, available in our store for 50% off. This resource comes with 20,000 notes, 50 articles, maps, charts, and more. It is perfect for daily study of the Bible.

Continue Reading

Significant Stories: Olive Tree Customers

Posted by on 08/04/2017 in:

In honor of our nine-year anniversary in the App Store and Customer Appreciation Week, we’ve asked for your significant stories—ways that reading God’s Word through our app has brought change in your life or others. We strongly believe that God’s Word brings restoration and transformation to people’s lives. So, we’re celebrating. We’re celebrating our wonderful customers, and we are celebrating what God has accomplished.

STORY #1 “I’ve been around Olive Tree since 2000; I lived in Hawaii then. This is when I started to find the Bible online. I was amazed to see the software on the site as I searched for the Bible. It wasn’t until 2002 that was able to use it. I moved to Virginia and I got a Palm PDA (remember those?) from my dad. Olive Tree was the first piece of software I put on it. I was (and still continue) to be amazed at how powerful it is!

The true value of Olive Tree was made apparent to me at the local library in 2007. I had a Blackberry Pearl with the NRSV. I got into a debate/discussion with a random guy. I forgot what we talked about but I used the software to look up verses to refute him. I felt God’s hand through the app as Olive Tree made searching easy. As we were going around in circles, we decided to agree to disagree; that ended the encounter.

The software has proven its worth in recent months. Olive Tree has helped me prepare to study the weekly Sunday school lesson and teach it on occasions. In summary I’m thankful to God for what Olive Tree has done in my life for the past 17+ years.”


STORY #2 “[. . .]But another, big reason I like my Olive Tree app is my vision difficulties. I have several causes besides the typical “senior” problem. With the app, the light of the screen helps me see the text. Plus, I can choose the background and text color and change the font size to whatever I need for any reading session. This helps me to continue to study, since I can no longer use some of the resources I have in print.”


STORY #3 “I love Olive Tree app and recommend it to all of my friends because being a seminary student who lives on a very limited budget, I have to be smart in the way I spend my book money and here I get the best available resources for the cheapest price. I would not have finished this last year at the seminary here in Brazil as I did, if I did not have such an amazing app that aids me in urgent situations (on the smartphone), at home (on the desktop) and at the seminary (on the tablet).”


STORY #4 “So this preacher came on the subway (a while back) and announced ‘people it’s time to put down your phones and pick up your Bibles.’ I was like ‘bro, way ahead of you’ and showed him my Olive Tree Bible app on my phone. He was NOT impressed LOL!!. My go-to Bible (maybe 9 yrs. and counting).”


STORY #5 “I love the ease of use of this app. As I read portions of scripture the Holy Spirit less my thinking and I write my thoughts in the note section. These I copy to the clipboard and post on my Facebook page. They have been a blessing to many. Thank you Olive Tree for making this possible for me. I am shut in at home, and now I have a ministry because of you people. Thank you.”


STORY #6 “My wife and I moved across country in 2011 to attend a Bible college. In the first term I got an iPad. While investigating Bible apps a friend recommended OliveTree. Turns out I had opened an account with OliveTree and purchased some Bibles several years earlier to use on the Palm TREO I had then. Even though I hadn’t logged into my account or used the app in years, when I did log in all my previous purchases were there waiting to download to my iPad.

[…] Now my wife and I live in Scotland as missionaries and next month will open a new campus here of the school we graduated from. I am in my OliveTree apps multiple times every day. As my primary study tool, OliveTree has been a huge part of my spiritual journey over the past several years. The apps have made it possible for me to do more Bible study, more efficiently, and receive more powerful revelation of scripture, than I believe I would have with a paper Bibles or any other app I know about. I’m looking forward to many, many, more years studying, learning, and growing using your apps!”


If you want to read more stories, head on over to our Facebook page and read the thread! And please, feel free to keep sharing your stories with us. We LOVE reading them.

Also, don’t forget to check out our Customer Appreciation Sale, going on through the rest of this weekend.

Continue Reading