3 Ways to Enhance your NIV Study Experience

Posted by on 01/20/2014 in: , , ,

You have the NIV, but what’s the next step in your Bible Study Experience?

Here are three ways you can enhance your NIV Bible Study Experience (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click for a larger view).

#1: NIV Study Bible Notes

A study Bible in The Bible Study App is an easy to use and very powerful tool in guiding you in your understanding of the text. Many study Bibles contain resources such as maps, timelines, profiles on Biblical characters, commentaries and articles.

Our most popular NIV Study Bible Notes are Archaeological Study Bible Notes and the NIV Study Bible Notes.  However, there are also several other Study Bible Notes to choose from.  From Quest Study Bible Notes, and Couples’ Devotional Bible Notes, to Men’s Devotional Bible Notes and NIV True Identity Notes: The Bible for Women, we are sure you can find one that will help deepen your spiritual walk. Because study Bibles are uniquely enhanced for the resource guide they will work with any version of the Bible that is open in the main window.

niv notes

#2: NIV Application Commentaries

After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading.  Bible Commentaries can be an extremely valuable study tool. The NIV Application Commentaries merge the original, ancient context with right now, showing us both how ancient readers would have read the Bible and how we can connect to this living word of God from a modern context. Most importantly, however, it helps us begin the life-changing process of true application, showing how God’s word can continue to have a powerful voice in our lives today. The resource guide of The Bible Study App makes using the NIV Application Commentaries a seamless part of your study.

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#3: NIV Bible Study Bundles

Olive Tree has bundled collections of resources to help you dig deeper into God’s word.  These bundles give you the basic tools that you need like the study tools mentioned above. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.

NIV Bible Study Bundles come in the following Collections:

  • Bible Study Essentials (NIV Bible, Dictionary, Cross-Reference and Maps)
  • Bible Study Standard (Essentials bundle, plus Strong’s Tagged Bible, Essential Bible Companion, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery and Expanded Maps)
  • Bible Study Expanded (Standard bundle, plus Key Word Commentary, Expository Dictionary, Concordance, and even more Maps)
  • Bible Study Premier (Expanded bundle, plus more Commentaries, Bible Encyclopedia, more Cross-references and a Bible Atlas)

Bible Study Bundles are also available in the following Bible translations: HCSB, NKJV, and NRSV.

As you can see, these titles will enhance your NIV Bible Study experience to help you go deeper in the Word of God.  All of these NIV enhancements are on sale now through January 27.

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NICOT Review for the Bible Study App

Posted by on 01/17/2014 in: , ,

NICOT in Olive TreeGuest Review: Abram Kielsmeier-Jones

Ask a group of pastors, seminarians, professors, or serious Bible readers, “What one commentary series on the Old Testament would you most recommend?” and you’re likely to hear: “NICOT.” Eerdmans’ New International Commentary on the Old Testament blends scholarship with application in a readable and engaging manner. Few, if any, commentary series are consistently this good throughout the series. And I don’t know of any other series that has such broad ecumenical appeal.

NICOT in Olive Tree has 23 volumes, spanning 26 biblical books. The bundle includes the 2010 volume on Hosea. The only volume currently in print that is not here is The Book of Judges, by Barry G. Webb (2012). (Judges is not available in any other Bible software at the moment.)

General editor Robert L. Hubbard Jr. writes of the series:

NICOT delicately balances “criticism” (i. e., the use of standard critical methodologies) with humble respect, admiration, and even affection for the biblical text. As an evangelical commentary, it pays particular attention to the textʼs literary features, theological themes, and implications for the life of faith today.

As I preached through Isaiah this past Advent, John N. Oswalt’s two volumes on that book were the first commentary I turned to after spending time with the biblical text. While it was always clear that Oswalt knew Isaiah and his milieu well, the author would find himself swept up at times in praise of the God Isaiah preached. On Isaiah 2:2, for instance, he writes:

What Isaiah was asserting was that one day it would become clear that the religion of Israel was the religion; that her God was the God. To say that his mountain would become the highest of all was a way of making that assertion in a figure which would be intelligible to people of that time.

NICOT IsaiahOn that passage’s promise of peace among nations, he concludes:

Until persons and nations have come to God to learn his ways and walk in them, peace is an illusion. This does not mean that the Church merely waits for the second coming to look for peace. But neither does it mean that the Church should promote peace talks before it seeks to bring the parties to a point where they will submit their needs to God.

Oswalt is representative of the authors in NICOT, in that he loves the text (and its grammar, history, and background) and loves the God who inspired it.

NICOT in Olive Tree has hyperlinks to biblical references and commentary footnotes, which you can easily and quickly view in the Bible Study (computer) app through the Quick Details corner (by hovering over the hyperlink), or as a pop-up window (which can then also pop out and keep your place in a separate window). It’s just as easy to tap a hyperlink in the mobile app.

There are two ways I’ve used NICOT so far.

1. I use NICOT as my starting point in the main window.

After some time in the biblical text, I have made my way through parts of NICOT by starting from the commentary. I can use hyperlinks to read the verses being commented on, as well as any other references. I can keep a Bible open in the split window and have it follow me along as I read through NICOT.

Using NICOT this way, there are quite a few ways to get around, both by looking up a verse in the commentary, and by navigating its Table of Contents. You only need to use one of these options at a time, but here they all are:

(click to enlarge image)

(click to enlarge image)

Note that from the Go To drop-down menu, I can keep following the sub-menus till I get to a specific place in the commentary (Introduction to Malachi in the instance above). One could also do this from the Go To item in the toolbar, which allows for both verse searching and Table of Contents navigation.

2. I use the Bible in the main window and NICOT as a supplement in the split window.

This has the advantage of letting me use NICOT as one among multiple resources in the Resource Guide, as shown (in part) here:

Resource Guide shows relevant library results (click to enlarge)

Resource Guide shows relevant library results (click to enlarge)

In both of the above setups you can take notes in NICOT, highlight, and bookmark your place. You can also do a search on a word or phrase in the commentary, with the results appearing almost instantaneously. One may wish, for example, to find all the times Oswalt refers to the “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah, which is an easy and fast search to run.

In reviewing Olive Tree I have found it to have the most versatile, smooth, and customizable Bible app I’ve seen on iOS. I write more about the Bible Study iOS app here. The fact that Olive Tree is cross-platform makes it appealing to many. Though the desktop app is well-designed, I would like to see a future update where you can create a saved workspace with multiple resources open in various tabs and windows. That, I think, would take the app to the next level.

But everything is here to help you work through NICOT in a way that you couldn’t in print. There are a couple of options (one free and one paid) for Hebrew Bibles, too, if you want to use NICOT in tandem with the original language. (NICOT uses transliterated Hebrew.)

NICOT volumes consistently top the charts of the Best Commentaries site. Preachers and professors, parishioners and pupils will all find much to mine here, as they seek to better understanding the Old Testament and to more faithfully love the God whose goodness its pages proclaim.

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones is the pastor of a great church in a seaside community near Boston, a youth ministry consultant, a husband and father, and a follower of Jesus. At his blog Words on the Word he records his thoughts on the Bible (particularly as written in Greek and Hebrew), books about the Bible, pastoring, leading worship, parenting, youth ministry, music, the Church, and more. Read more about Abram here.

*Thanks to Olive Tree for the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), given to me for this blog review, offered without any expectations as to the content of the review.You can find the product here

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My Favorite Features of The Bible Study App

Posted by on 01/17/2014 in: ,

People often ask me “what sets Olive Tree’s Bible Study App apart?” Although it’s hard for me to narrow down, here are my favorite features of The Bible Study App (Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2.  Click for a larger view)

1. Split Window

The split window has many functions. While reading in the main window, I can open the Resource Guide (see below), another translation, a study Bible, or even take notes as I read the text. I love being able to take sermon notes while in church on Sunday. I can have my main window open to the passage and take notes in the split window. Before, I had to do a balancing act with my Bible in one hand and my notepad in another, trying to keep everything in place while flipping back and forth in the Bible along with the sermon. Now my Bible and notes are all easily managed in one hand.  As a bonus, any Scripture References become hyperlinks that I can tap to pop up that passage.

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2. The Resource Guide

By far my favorite and most updated feature in the Bible Study App is the Resource Guide. While I’m reading the Bible, I can open the Resource Guide in the split window to see cross references, study Bible notes, maps, topics and more that are all related to my current reading. As I continue to read, the Resource Guide tracks with me and updates the material to match the Scripture I’m reading.

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3. Search Feature

I’m not very good at remembering verse references and often find myself asking things like, “Where is that verse about the mustard seed?” Instead of flipping through the Bible or searching through an index, I can tap the search icon and type in “mustard seed” and find the verse I’m looking for. As an added bonus, I can view the verse in each of the gospel accounts and see other search results related to “mustard seed.”

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4. Lookup Feature

Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup, and More. If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word.  Like before, just tap the book cover and you can read the article in the pop-up window, or choose to open in the Main or Split window.

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5. Automatic Background Sync

I do my daily Bible Reading in the App and Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync takes care of it.  This allows me to go into my other devices to access and keep up with my Reading Plan.  The Bible is able to sink into my daily life and I can refer back to that morning’s reading from wherever I am – on the go with my phone, on laptop at work, at coffee shops on my iPad, or at home on my desktop.  Because of the Bible Study App Sync function, all of my custom highlights, tags, and bookmarks are always readily available.  With Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync, I don’t have worry about whether or not my notes, highlights, bookmarks, and book ribbons are up to date.

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6. Cross Platform Access

Did you know that you can Download The Bible Study App all your devices?  I personally have an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, Windows Laptop, and Windows desktop.  The advantage to having the App on your devices is that with an Olive Tree Account (have you created one yet?) you can access your entire library on up to 5 different devices from wherever you study the Bible.

That’s my favorite features, but The Bible Study App can do so much more!  What’s yours?

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Free Resource Friday!

Posted by on 01/17/2014 in:

John RC Sproul

Today you can download a great commentary on the Gospel of John by R.C. Sproul for use in The Bible Study App!

In John, the second volume in the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary series, Dr. Sproul deals with major themes in his easily understandable style. Readers will find invaluable insights into the goals John had in writing his Gospel, the background for Jesus’ time, and the meanings of some of John’s most difficult passages. This introduction to the Gospel of John is packed with insights and exhortations that will draw the reader closer to the Savior and encourage him or her to a greater depth of love and devotion to Him.

Find it in the in-app store on your device or go here to add it to your account.

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Look Inside: The Expositors Bible Commentary

Posted by on 01/16/2014 in: ,

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Revised) is a comprehensive and succinct commentary that guides users to the text’s core meaning. It is a vital resource for every preacher, teacher, and student of the Bible.

In Olive Tree’s Bible Study App, the Expositors Bible Commentary comes to life! Verse references becomes hyperlinks, the split window allows you to read the Bible side-by-side with the commentary, and you can easily take notes and highlights within the text. Enhanced for use in the Resource Guide, let The Bible Study App simplify your study with the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.

See how this great commentary look in The Bible Study App:

The Expositors Bible Commentary and other top selling commentaries are on sale right now!

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Maps in The Bible Study App

Posted by on 01/15/2014 in: ,

Bible Maps in The Bible Study App work much like other enhanced resources. As you are reading in the main window, the resource guide will look at the maps you have installed and pull up relevant maps that you can easily access.

To zoom in on a PC simply hover over it in the resource guide and use your mouse wheel to zoom in or out.
For Mac you can use a trackpad or magic pad.
On mobile devices pinch to zoom.

Check out the video below that demonstrates the zoom feature on a PC running The Bible Study App.

Go here to see the maps available for The Bible Study App!

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Free Resource Friday

Posted by on 01/10/2014 in:

21534_largeNow through Sunday you can get the One Year Daily Devotional for free to use with The Bible Study App!

Encourage and challenge your faith with a year of daily devotions from classic Christian authors. The Olive Tree One-Year Daily Devotional offers 366 readings from Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, Andrew Murray, R. A. Torrey, Matthew Henry, and F. B. Meyer, each one revised in contemporary language and complemented with a scripture passage. Enjoy the best selections from 27 Olive Tree resources that embrace a wide variety of topics relevant to your life, including faith, prayer, God’s presence, and more. The Bible Study App provides easy navigation by date or topic, as well as verse reference links to study your favorite version of the Bible with the One-Year Daily Devotional.

Find this title in-app or click here to add it to your account now!

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It’s Not Too Late!

Posted by on 01/08/2014 in:

Just because the New Year is already a week old doesn’t mean it’s too late to start a Bible reading plan! It doesn’t even have to be a year long. Plans vary in length from as short as 5 days to as long as a year. You can choose a reading plan on topics such as marriage or forgiveness or that examine books of the Bible or specific people found in scripture.

Here’s how you access them (screenshots on iOS):

Tap on the ‘My Stuff Icon and select Reading Plans.

Reading PLAN

At the bottom of the pre-installed Reading Plans tap on the ‘Get More Reading Plans’ button (internet connection required). You’ll now see a list of reading plans that are available to download.

Once you tap the install button the reading plan will be available to start. More reading plans will be available in the future so make and sure and check the downloadable reading plans from time to time.

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Crazy Like A Chicken

Posted by on 01/07/2014 in:

bigstock-cute-little-chicken-45427261The other day my two boys – age seven and four – were playing at a playground when they both came up to me with sad and frustrated looks on their faces. They informed me that another boy had called my four year old a ‘chicken’. I could tell that my seven year old wasn’t going to let someone call his little brother a name again. I’ve always taught them that they are to use their strength only to protect and never harm someone – and this wasn’t a situation where I wanted him to clobber a kid over his little brother being called a chicken.

So I looked at my four year old and I said, “If he calls you a chicken again then flap your arms and start making some crazy chicken noises.”  With amused smiles they both headed off to play again.

A short time later they returned with big smiles and told me that it had worked. The same boy called my four year old a chicken again and so my son promptly began to sound and act like a deranged playground chicken. Apparently this took any warped joy right out of the name calling and according to my boys he ran off (probably a bit weirded out) to find another kid to pick on.
So let me ask you this question.

Who’s the playground bully calling you a chicken?
It might not actually be a person. Maybe it’s a circumstance or habit. The affect is often the same though. Our reaction to tough situations is often fight or flight but what we really need to do is react in the opposite spirit.

Do you remember when Jesus was taken into the desert to be tempted? Here was Satan – a created being – trying to take down the savior of the world. What did Jesus do? He didn’t fight, he didn’t run, instead he responded in a way that baffled Satan. He used the truth of God’s word and eventually it was Satan who had to leave.

How about when Jesus says, “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”  Matthew 5:39-40
Talk about acting in the opposite spirit!

So as 2014 starts out what does acting in the opposite spirit look like for you? What’s staring you in the face that would normally cause you to give up or to fight? Maybe it needs a crazy chicken response instead.

Do you have a tough co-worker? Buy them a cup of coffee.

Are you lazy? Get up and go.

Has someone spoken a lie to or about you? Go to God’s word and let His truth work in your life.

Are you spiritually apathetic? Serve at your church or read through the Bible this year.

May the year 2014 be full of opportunities to act in unexpected ways and be amazed at the goodness of God!

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