Jesus washed Judas’ feet

Posted by on 04/17/2014 in:

Jesus pouring water from jug to pan to wash feet of disciples

I’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically this year with one of the Olive Tree Bible App reading plans.  Right now, I’m reading the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper.  I’m struck again by Jesus.  At the last meal they would have together before the cross, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, takes off his robes, wraps a towel around himself and washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20).  I’ve read this account that’s only recorded in John’s Gospel dozens of times.  Yet, like the Holy Spirit often does, this passage was made anew as I read it recently.

Here’s what struck me: Judas was heavily influenced by Satan (if not possessed) at this point (Luke 22:36, John 13:2), but Judas was present for Jesus to wash his feet.  I find this humbling and encouraging.  What?!?  Yes, encouraging.  Why?  Because even though Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray Him, Jesus served him.  Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart.  He knew the betrayal was coming.  Jesus knew the anguish that was coming. The beatings, the scourging, the agonizing walk to Golgotha, and the ultimate torture, the cross.  Yet, even in this moment of humbling Himself, Jesus washed Judas’ feet, this man Judas who was pivotal in fulfilling the Scriptures and prophecies about the Suffering Servant.  Jesus humbled Himself and SERVED His greatest enemy.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble serving my closest loved ones.  I find it difficult to humble myself, to serve, and to put others’ needs before my own.  I can’t fathom putting a backstabber’s needs in front of my own.

At the same time, that is what I am.  I am the backstabber, the betrayer.  I am the one who put Jesus on the cross.  It is my sin that put Jesus there.  How many times have I turned from God’s grace to live, act, be, and do what I want for my own selfishness?  But Jesus served me by going to the cross.  This is humbling because of my sin, but encouraging because of how much Jesus loves me.  Even though Jesus knows me, He served me.  Even though Jesus knew that I would betray Him, He went to the cross willingly.

John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Here is my example.  I am to serve, love, and do for others like Jesus did for me.  I am to put down my own needs, my own pride, and serve others, even those who will betray me.  Even those who will turn their backs on me.  I am to love and serve as our Lord and Teacher Jesus Christ loved and served me.

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All of the Bible is About Jesus

Posted by on 04/16/2014 in: ,

By Olive Tree Employee: LaRosa Johnson

Growing up in church I was always taught that the most important thing to remember about the Bible was the gospel. If you didn’t remember anything else, you should know that Jesus Christ died for your sins. At the time that was great. It meant I only had to focus on four books of the Bible and could simply gloss over or ignore the other sixty-two.

Later on I began to spend more time with the other books of the Bible. As I did I saw how the history of Israel led up to Jesus via prophecy and how the rest of the New Testament taught us how to live the Christian life. It wasn’t until years later that a friend of mine challenged my cursory understanding of the Bible by telling me that all of the Bible was about Jesus. I thought my friend was blowing smoke. Sure, the Old Testament is about the history of Jesus’ family & lineage, but how is it about him? How do Proverbs and Song of Solomon relate to Jesus? Needless to say, as I thought about it and read the Bible more, my friend’s statement started to make sense. Jesus Christ is on every page of Scripture, whether we see it or not.

Gospel Transformation BibleIt’s because of my own experience in trying to understand the gospel throughout the entirety of the Bible that I’m excited about Crossway’s Gospel Transformation Bible. This study Bible is the first of its kind as it shows you how Jesus Christ and the gospel can be found in all sixty-six books of the Bible. Unlike many study Bibles that only help you understand the text based on its immediate context, the Gospel Transformation Bible notes focus on explaining passages as they relate to redemptive history and the gospel. This means that while you may have fewer notes overall, each note is composed in a way that points you to how the gospel message is communicated in light of the context. This study Bible also contains introductions for each book of the Bible that give you a window into how the gospel is found in that book as well as a thorough topical index.

Now, what if you already own the ESV Study Bible? Even if you already own it, you’ll still want to own the Gospel Transformation Bible. No matter the passage you’re studying, the two work together as perfect companions to give you the clearest understanding possible. Where the ESV Study Bible helps you to understand the passage in its immediate context, the Gospel Transformation Bible helps you relate that same passage to the gospel.

All of this puts the Gospel Transformation Bible in a unique position to help Christians everywhere understand the gospel from Genesis to Revelation, and not just in the four gospels. This has quickly become one of my favorite study Bibles and I’m using it every time I open the Bible. Don’t be like me in taking years to understand the fullness of the gospel. Pick up this resource and get there must faster than I did. In closing, I’d like to share a verse from Shai Linne, one of my favorite Christian rappers, as he explains the importance of the gospel in his song “Expository Preaching”:

Y’all should be mindful of this devout thesis//
All of the Bible is about Jesus//
The Old Testament- Jesus Christ concealed//
The New Testament- Jesus Christ revealed//
This truth of the Lord- Christ boldly proclaimed this//
In Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus//
The law, the prophets and the teachings of Apostles//
All of these point back to Jesus and the gospel//
So if the work of Christ is what the Word is about//
Ultimately, it should be what the sermon’s about//
Forget applause, you’ve got to let the cross rock ya//
All roads in the Bible lead to Golgotha//
Whatever the text, faithfulness demands//
That we should hear the echoes of nails hitting His hands//
Don’t try to be original- say the old story//
And watch your people changed as they behold glory//

http://lampmode.bandcamp.com/track/expositional-preaching-shai-linne

Here’s a short video of how the Gospel Transformation Bible notes look and work in the Bible Study App:

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Not Recognizing Jesus

Posted by on 04/16/2014 in:

twogirlswalkingLuke 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

It’s easy to read this passage and think “How in the world did they NOT recognize Jesus?!?”  But taking into account what they said, I can appreciate what they were going through.  They were sad, hurting, afraid, and confused.  And Jesus kept them from recognizing Him.

A few days ago I ran into a former co-worker.  It had been over a year since we connected, so there was a lot to catch up on.  After the initial questions of “how are you doing” and “it’s so good to see you” small talk, the conversation turned to our former workplace.  She left about nine months after I did, and gave me some insight on how things went.  Hearing some of the stories, change, and “occurrences”, I was again reminded of the goodness of God and how I often have my eyes closed to the reality of Christ and His direction in my life.  A renewed sense of the sovereignty and grace of God swept over me during our conversation.

I don’t always recognize Christ in my daily life.  From my everyday encounters, to those monumental life events, do I truly open my eyes to see Jesus? In times where my family is sick, finances are tight, or work is stressful, do I remember to look for Christ? Fortunately, Jesus gives us “breaking of bread” reminders to gently lead, guide, and direct us.

Luke 24:30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

Like these two disciples, I need the jolts, nudges, and reminders to open my eyes to the risen Christ.  Thankfully, Jesus “interprets to us in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” and leads us by The Holy Spirit to open our eyes.

35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

I am thankful that Jesus makes Himself known through everyday events.  It’s up to me to proclaim the risen Christ to others and remember that “The Lord has risen indeed!”

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The Cross Demands Forgiveness

Posted by on 04/15/2014 in:

The CrossBy Olive Tree Employee: LaRosa Johnson

Holy Week is a somber time of the year for me. As I look at the gospel accounts that detail the crucifixion of Jesus, I often ask myself, “What’s so good about Good Friday? Jesus died. He was brutally murdered. How can that possibly be good?” From there, I am reminded of the weight of my own sin that forced him to come and die on the cross. Ultimately, I find relief knowing that Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb, but rose again victorious. Yet, why did God do all of that? He did it to pay the penalty of our sins that we might be forgiven.

Yes, when we look at the cross, we are asked to look at the subject of forgiveness and reconciliation. The perfect place for us to turn in the Bible to look at the forgiveness found in the cross isn’t in the gospels, but it is found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, Romans 5:6-11 to be exact. In this short paragraph we see statements like: “Christ died for the ungodly,” “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and “we were reconciled to God.” Jesus Christ didn’t come to bring salvation to those of us who were already on his team; no, he came to give his life on behalf of his enemies so that we could be forgiven and found righteous in the sight of the one perfect and holy God. We were saved to be spared from the wrath of God (v. 9), even though it came at the expense of the shed blood of God’s only begotten son.

Now, just think about the cross for a moment and look at Paul’s illustration in verse 7. As a husband and father, the odds are pretty good that I’d risk my life and die to save my family. I might even be persuaded to do it for a friend. Ask me to do it for my enemy and I’d tell you that you’d lost your mind! But, this is precisely what Christ did for us, with us being God’s enemy because of our sins against him. He took our punishment upon himself. By his blood he justified & saved us, and we are reconciled to God through his resurrection life. How mind blowing is that?!

We can still take this a step further. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 tells us that we, as Christians, have now been given the ministry of reconciliation that was once Christ’s. This means that it is now our job to: 1) forgive others like Christ forgave us, and 2) tell others about the forgiveness that can be found in God. First, we should look at our own lives and how awful our sins are in the sight of God; yet, as vile offenders against his law and holiness, he chose to forgive and bring about our reconciliation. If God was willing to do that for us, how much more should we extend that same compassion toward everyone in our lives (Luke 7:41-43, 47)? Even as we’re forgiving others, it is also our job to tell them that their sins can be forgiven through the blood of Christ. Jesus didn’t die just for me, but his mission was to save so many more.

While Holy Week might indeed be a somber time, I’m glad that it can also brighten my spirit. Jesus didn’t just die; he died to pay the penalty for my sin. He didn’t just rise again, but he rose to bring about my forgiveness and righteous standing before God. As a result, the cross demands forgiveness. The cross was the stipulation of our forgiveness with God, and it is also the vehicle that demands we forgive others in the same manner that we’ve been forgiven. For me, that’s what this week is all about.

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A Few Easter Resources

Posted by on 04/14/2014 in: , ,

Religious Easter Poster - Vintage style religious Easter poster,Easter is less than a week away.  As we prepare our hearts and minds for remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, here are a few resources that might help in your final preparations.

Evidence for the Resurrection

The bestselling Evidence for the Resurrection answers each question and addresses each theory with historical, archaeological, and cultural proofs. It presents evidence and logic that has convinced critics over the years and will equip you to with the right information when you talk to someone who questions the resurrection story.

Christ in the Passover

Christ in the Passover looks at the origins and symbolism of the Passover and how the Old Testament Passover is relevant today through God’s Son, Jesus. Christ in the Passover shows six ways that the Passover in the Old Testament points to Jesus, who was called the “Lamb of God.”

Feasts of the Bible

Feasts of the Bible celebrates and explains the meaning behind the different feasts and why they are important to God. It contains an easy-to-read chart that provides the name and an explanation of each holiday, date of observance, and reveals how each holiday points to Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Names of Jesus

The Names of Jesus is a bestselling tool for learning the names, character and personal attributes of Jesus. The 50 names are featured in an easy-to-use format along with their Scripture references, the meanings of each name, related titles, and more. Interestingly, the names of Jesus come from both the Old and New Testaments.

Gospel Transformation Bible Notes

Produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant new tool to help readers see Christ in all the Bible, and grace for all of life. The Gospel Transformation Bible Notes features specially prepared material outlines passage-by-passage God’s redemptive purposes of grace that echo all through Scripture and culminate in Christ. The notes not only explain but also apply the text in a grace-centered way.

Christ’s Words from the Cross

Charles Haddon Spurgeon discusses the seven words that Christ uttered from the Cross: Forgiveness, Salvation, Affection, Anguish, Suffering, Victory, and Contentment.

Preaching the Cross

Preaching the Cross is an inspiring book containing the reflections of experienced pastors, and dedicated to “the next generation of preachers of the cross.” Collected and introduced by Mark Dever, each chapter of this book addresses a different issue in the lives and ministries of contemporary pastors.

101 Things Jesus Has Done for You

Combining scripture, quotes, and brief but powerful meditations, readers will discover the greatest gift that Jesus Christ offers to us is found in eternal life, but there are so many more things He has done for us – and does for us – when we enter into relationship with Him.

He Chose the Nails

Max Lucado examines the symbols surrounding Christ’s crucifixion, revealing the claims of the cross and asserting that if they are true, then Christianity itself is true. The supporting evidence either makes the cross the single biggest hoax of all time, or the hope of all humanity.

Death By Love: Letters from the Cross

Death by Love is a unique book on the cross of Jesus Christ. While many books debate the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement, what is often lost are the real-life implications of Jesus’ death on the cross for those who have sinned and have been sinned against. Written in the form of pastoral letters, Death by Love outlines the twelve primary effects of Jesus’ death on the cross and connects each to the life of a different individual.

Jesus, the Only Way to God

In Jesus: The Only Way to God–Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation. If you’re concerned about the current state of evangelism–and the church–this book is a must-read.

We hope that you find these titles not only helpful, but also inspiring and encouraging.

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Resurrection, Reconciliation, Restoration

Posted by on 04/14/2014 in:

I can’t think of any bigger understatement than saying what we celebrate this coming weekend is ‘significant’. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus absolutely changed everything! When Jesus died and rose again – three days later – it reversed the centuries old curse of sin and death that was over all humanity.

Resurrection
Jesus fulfilled hundreds of impossible to fulfill prophecies about the messiah that had been written centuries before but the most amazing of all was that after three days in a grave, he was alive! What did this mean? In the history of the world no one had ever lived and died a sinless life. Jesus – God in the flesh – did. In that instant the sin that we’re all born into was stripped of its power. Things on this Earth would never be the same. As John ends his account of Jesus life he says, But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.His resurrection proved he was who he said he was.

Reconciliation
What does this mean today? It means absolutely everything! What Jesus did made a way to be free from the power that sin once held over us. Where sin makes us strangers and even enemies of God, Jesus death and resurrection makes us sons and daughters of God. This type of reconciliation had never been known and now it’s accessible to anyone who believes. In Romans 5:10-11 the Apostle Paul says, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Restoration
Not only did Jesus resurrection set into motion the reconciliation available to all who believe but we now get to be agents of his reconciliation while we await the restoration of all things. The book of Revelation tells us of this day that will come: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Resurrection, Reconciliation, and Restoration; this is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus! This Easter and in the days following let’s not only be reminded of the power of what Jesus did but let’s be actively living in the reality of it.

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Palm Sunday

Posted by on 04/12/2014 in: ,

This Sunday commemorates Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem and is called Palm or Passion Sunday, depending on your tradition. All four gospels record this significant and prophetic event and I highly recommend you read them for yourself. You can find them in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19. As I reread each account myself here are four things that stick out about this historic event that we still commemorate today.

Jesus Fulfilled Prophecy.
Not only was Jesus the long awaited King that the Jews had been longing for but his very entry into Jerusalem was just how it had been prophesied over 500 years earlier.
Zechariah 9:9 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
I can imagine that Jewish theologians had been trying to reconcile their picture of a King (think David or Solomon) with the idea that he would ride in on a little colt, his feet barely off the ground. Yet here he was, having given his disciples an awkward command on how to get the colt, fulfilling prophecy that had been written centuries earlier. This was a plot twist that I don’t think even Hollywood could dream up.

What’s with the Palms?
The imagery of palms was a part of the Jewish culture and often reflected honor and nobility. 1 Kings  chapter 6 and 7 record how Solomon had them as part of the sacred carvings of the temple. In Mark’s account of Jesus entry, people are spreading palm branches out on the ground along with their cloaks in what I imagine would be a sort of ancient red carpet that probably helped keep the dust down.

The significance of this honor paid to Jesus also foreshadows what is to come. In Revelation 7:9 there’s an incredible description of worship that – you guessed it – includes palm branches. So we see here Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah and also pointing forward to an even greater scene of worship that is to come.

Hosanna
The chances are pretty good that at some point you’ve sung a song at church with the word ‘Hosanna’ in it. As Jesus made his entry there was definitely some worship going on but what does Hosanna actually mean? It was a desperate cry from an oppressed people living under Roman rule that means ‘Oh save’ or ‘Save us now’.  He would certainly save them but not quite how they imagined.

Where’s the Victory?
The Jews had been waiting and their King was finally here! Sure he was riding on a baby donkey and didn’t have a sword, armor, or an army but he was there none the less. As the shouts of Hosanna went out, everyone anticipated what this long awaited Kings next move would be. How would he save them? Would he be like David and his mighty men? Would he be like Solomon with wisdom and riches? “Save us now”, they cried!

One week later, many of these same people who had shouted ‘Hosanna’ would be shouting ‘Barabbas’ . They would trade their long awaited King for a thief and a murderer. He hadn’t fulfilled their image of a King or brought about their idea of salvation and so they turned on him.

But God in his sovereign grace had a plan that included a vastly different idea of what salvation was to look like, one that we’ll be celebrating this coming week. I’ll leave you with these words from Revelation 7:9-10:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ” Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

That’s my King!

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Free Resource Friday

Posted by on 04/11/2014 in:

Today we highlight a great free commentary to enhance your study in The Bible Study App

The JFB is a classic Bible commentary written by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. First released in 1871, it provides Bible scholars with critical and explanatory notes on the whole Bible. It’s a good resource for all Bible students and you can find it the in-app store of The Bible Study App.

Also make sure and check out our special commentary sale happening right now!

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Get the Most out of your ESV with Strong’s

Posted by on 04/10/2014 in: , , ,

By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki

If you haven’t already downloaded it, we’re giving away the ESV with Strong’s for free through April 21st! All you have to do is share the link and you’ll get a free download.

The great part about this resource is that anyone can use it. You don’t need to be seminary trained or have years of experience. You can just tap and read. The tool is powerful and practical enough to be useful even for personal study.

As with many powerful tools, this resource can do more if you know how to use it. It can also be somewhat dangerous if you don’t know how to use it. We don’t just want to provide you with the resource; we want to help you get the most out of it and avoid the dangers of misinterpretation. In this post, we’ll talk about the basic features of the ESV with Strong’s and about how to get the most out of each of them.

Tap to See Greek/Hebrew Word

The first feature is the most obvious. As soon as you tap, you can see what Greek or Hebrew word is behind it. This is the first thing you’ll see when you tap on a word. It’s probably most helpful for people who know Greek or Hebrew.

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Now, if you tap on a darker word and it doesn’t open to do anything, that means that the word isn’t explicitly in the Greek or Hebrew text. The word was added by the translators in order to help the sentence make sense. We do this all the time in English, leaving out words because they’re assumed. Of course, the words left out in Greek aren’t necessarily the words we can leave out in English. Different languages have different rules for what’s important and what can be left out.

The takeaway here is that, while a word might not be in the original Greek or Hebrew, that doesn’t mean the word isn’t implied by other words. Sometimes the translators of the ESV add those words so that we English readers won’t be left scratching our heads.

Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary

The Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary is what appears when you tap a word that does have a Greek or Hebrew word behind it. This is a really handy tool because it will show you all the ways that the word gets translated throughout the Bible and give you an idea of how common each translation is. This can give you a fuller idea of what the word meant in the original language.

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The thing to keep in mind here is something that all languages share in common: just because a word can mean something in one place, doesn’t mean it means that thing everywhere else. How and where a word is used in a sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book is a critical part of understanding what the word means.

Many words in English have several diverse meanings. For example, the word “dodge” can mean to get out of the way of something. It can also mean to lighten part of an image or photo (like the “dodge brush” in image editing programs). If you were to simply look up the dictionary definition and pick the first one, you could find yourself very confused. Another example is the English word “love.” When someone says “I love ice cream,” he means something very different from when he says “I love my wife” (or at least he ought to).

The point here is that we want to let the dictionary help us get an idea of what the word can mean, then let the context of the passage determine what the word does mean. If we’re in a class on photography, “dodge” probably doesn’t mean “get out of the way.” It probably means “lighten.” But we wouldn’t want to make that assumption in gym class.

View All Occurrences

This is probably my favorite feature in The Bible Study App for word studies. It’s the button that says “Search for g5457” (or some other number). This feature allows you to search for everywhere in the Bible where that particular Greek or Hebrew word is used. Since a translation might translate one word twelve different ways, it’s hard to know when that word is being used. But this feature can help.

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The best way to use this feature is to start with where the word is used closest to the verse you’re studying, then work outward from there. Look in the verse, then the chapter, then the book, then other books the author has written, then in the whole Bible.

In this way you can get a sense for how a certain author used a particular word in its context, in all his writings, and how the word gets used throughout the whole Bible. While this doesn’t necessarily result in the same mastery of the word that a scholar might have, it certainly does help us to better understand the word and the passage we found it in.

Generally speaking, this isn’t going to completely change the way you read a passage of Scripture. The translators know the languages a lot better than most of us, so most often we’ll end up agreeing. But doing a word study can help us discover a richness to the word that we otherwise might not have seen. It can also help us to connect things in Scripture that we otherwise might not have thought to connect.

Look Up Word in Dictionaries

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The Look Up feature allows you to look up a word in any Greek/Hebrew dictionaries that you might have. There are a lot of really helpful dictionaries out there by scholars who have already done the work of a detailed word study. They may also include information about where the word came from and how it was used in books outside the Bible. These can be extremely helpful to supplement the word studies that you’re already doing with the ESV with Strong’s. Here are a few you might find helpful:

Conclusion

Tools like the ESV with Strong’s and Bible dictionaries can be really helpful in understanding what God has to say. We should pray that, in our study, we will allow God to correct us with what we learn about the words of Scripture. This is very different from using the tools to bend God’s words to mean what we want them to. Humility and openness to correction are important here.

If we come to the Scriptures with our tools, ready to be taught by the Scriptures, then we will be in the right place to see God’s love for us in Christ and how we are to live in light of that love. We hope these tools prove helpful in your studies.

Psalm 119:130 (ESV)

The unfolding of your words gives light;

it imparts understanding to the simple

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