Four Steps to Build Your Ultimate Study Bible

Posted by on 04/04/2016 in: ,

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As a Bible teacher and technologist, people often ask me what they should buy to start building their Bible study library. I love answering this question and many are shocked by my response. The conversation begins by describing the massive library I’ve built over the years in several Bible software platforms. Then I tell them they don’t need all that & start listing the handful of resources that I find essential to Bible study. The end result is a concise but robust set of tools that anyone can use to study the Bible and grow in the things of God. Today, I will show you how you can build your ultimate Bible study library.

Step 0: Use the Bible Study App

If you’re at all technologically inclined, and I assume you are if you’re reading this, the initial step is downloading Bible software. For as much as I love print, it is easier and faster to study the Bible digitally. You can search resources in a matter of seconds, quickly look up cross references, and study anywhere. You don’t have to worry about flipping pages or having a large desk so that you can open all your books at once. Instead, carry your entire library on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

I always recommend the Bible Study App to people because it is feature rich and easy to use, and I say this not just as an Olive Tree employee. There is no steep learning curve required to use the app and all the features are intuitive. Plus, it’s free to download and try! So, download the app & let’s move to Step 1.

Step 1: Add a Bible Translation

A lot of people don’t think about Bible translations and how they can help their Bible study. For many, they use whatever Bible translation they were given when they became a Christian and never give it a second thought. Yes, the thee’s and thou’s of the KJV may be quite poetic, but what good is it if you cannot understand what you’re reading? In many respects, the Bible is already a difficult book to study, so why make it harder with a difficult to read translation? There is nothing wrong with owning a Bible written in a modern translation.

When choosing a Bible translation, you should find one that works for you. I also believe you should own at least two Bible translations. The first should be more word-for-word in its translation of the original languages, while the second should be more thought-for-thought or a balance between the two. I recommend checking out some of the translations listed below at Biblegateway.com and pick the one you find most readable in each category.

Once you have your Bible translations, you’re ready to build the rest of your ultimate study Bible library.

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Step 2: Add Study Notes

Next to the Bible, if you had to spend money on one resource, hands down it would have to be a study Bible. These are great tools because they are an all-in-one resource. You get commentary, introductions, and a wealth of other useful features. With so many study Bibles on the market, wisdom is needed when making a purchase. You want to make sure you’re buying something that will help you understand what you’re reading and keep things in their proper context.

A good study Bible should contain: thorough study notes, book introductions, maps, charts & illustrations, and Bible chronologies. A few worth checking out include: the ESV Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, NKJV Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, and the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

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Step 3: Add Key Reference Tools

As you expand your library beyond Bibles and study Bibles, you should start by adding key reference tools. This is a broad category that ranges from single volume commentaries to Bible dictionaries and atlases.

Bible commentaries come in many flavors and vary in their target audience, which is often reflected in the price. Because of their depth, commentaries can quickly become the most expensive tool in your library. I recommend starting with single volume commentaries since they cover the entire Bible. While single volume commentaries may not be as thorough as their single-book counterparts, they do take time to cover all passages in general and are sure to explain the more difficult ones, making them useful additions to your library.

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While study Bibles and commentaries are good at explaining the text of the Bible, they don’t always give enough detail about some of the Bible’s concepts and words. This is where a good Bible dictionary comes into play, which is, in effect, an encyclopedia for the Bible. To illustrate it’s usefulness, let’s say you’re reading the gospels and you encounter the Pharisees and Sadducees. Who are these guys and where did they get their authority? A Bible dictionary will explain who they are so you’re not left clueless about their role and purpose in the Bible.

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Atlases are a fantastic tool to have in your library. If we’re honest, most of us aren’t familiar with the geography of the lands from Bible times. Not to mention, you’ll have no luck finding many places mentioned in the Bible on a modern map. Atlases provide you with extensive maps that help you get a lay of the land so that you can make better sense of the Bible’s narrative. Many atlases also provide relevant commentary on the Bible that corresponds to the map or picture.

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Many of these tools you can add to your Olive Tree library at minimal cost and they will go a long way in helping you study the Bible.

Step 4: Add Advanced Reference Tools

Most people could stop at Step 3, but if you’re the person who wants to dive deeper into God’s Word you can buy more advanced reference tools. Resources that fall into this category would include: single book commentary sets, Greek & Hebrew lexicons, and more extensive versions of the tools found in Step 3. These are the tools used by pastors, seminary students, and those, like myself, who don’t mind treading through the original languages and academic level terminology. This is an area where you can spend a lot of money, but each resource is well worth the cost.

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Build Your Ultimate Study Bible Today

By following the above steps, you will have built your own Ultimate Study Bible and have all the essential tools needed to study the Bible. Start building yours today with our Build Your Ultimate Study Bible sale!

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Important Notice Regarding the Bible+ Windows Store App

Posted by on 04/04/2016 in:

The mission of Olive Tree Bible Software is to inspire people to connect with God and the Bible via technology. Since our beginning as a company we’ve been blessed to carry out this mission and see God’s word being read and studied all around the world. While technology has changed our mission has remained the same and by God’s grace we’ll continue to carry out this mission for many years to come.

We love to hear from people around the globe who have been with us through the many iterations of our App and advances in technology. Many of you found us while looking for a Bible for your very first handheld mobile device and as you moved from device to device your Olive Tree notes, highlights, and Bible study resources have moved with you.

In order for us to continue to fulfill our mission we sometimes have to adapt to the changing market of technology to best focus our software development resources to serve the widest range of people.

It’s with this in mind that we wanted to let you know we will no longer be supporting the Windows Store App (different than our Windows Desktop App).

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What does this mean?

  • As of today there will be no further updates to the Windows Store App
  • Starting May 2 it will no longer be available to download from the Windows Store

What can I do?

-> Make sure that you have an account with us. This ensures that your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and all of your purchased resources can be used on our other platforms such as PC, Mac, Android, iOS, and Kindle.

-> If you have a PC, Mac, Android, iOS or Kindle Fire device, download our App and with an account you can still use the same great tools you’ve been accustomed to on the Windows App version. Simply download it (HERE) and login with your account.

Our Windows Desktop App runs on any Microsoft Surface Pro and if you are logged in with your account you’ll be able to access all of your books and custom annotations. Click HERE to download the Windows Desktop App now.

While we understand this may be a painful transition we appreciate your understanding and hope to continue to provide a great Bible study experience for many more years to come! If you have any further questions or need assistance in this transition please contact our support team.

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What’s the best Bible Translation?

Posted by on 03/31/2016 in:

I’ll be upfront with you. I’m not actually going to tell you what Bible translation I think is the best. I won’t even tell you which one I prefer or if it may or may not have colorful illustrations that make Jesus look like a California surfer. I tend to agree with Pastor Rick Warren when he said, “The best Bible translation is one that is translated into your life.” In saying that, there are some things that are worth knowing that may help you decide what you use for study, what you recommend to new believers, and even what you read to your kids.

Centuries of scholarship have gone into the English translations we have today.

The two primary metrics for how scholars have translated the original language into the the English Bibles we have today are based on:
1. How close the translation is to the original, literal word (word for word).
2. How close the translation is to the original idea being communicated (thought for thought).

The more technical terms are usually put into three categories:

Formal Equivalent
These translations attempt to reproduce the Greek and Hebrew as exactly as possible into the English language. Words, figures of speech, and sometimes even the sentence structure of the original languages are reproduced in a much more literal and limited way in this type of Bible. These hold -in varying degrees- to a generally word for word approach.

Dynamic Equivalent
These Bibles run on a more thought-for-thought philosophy than the Formal Equivalent translations, but not to the extent that a paraphrase would. Greek and Hebrew figures of speech are replaced with modern rough equivalents. They are typically easier to read, though sometimes in a freer translation passages may lean more toward an interpretation than a strict translation.

Paraphrase
Not usually considered ‘translations’ but rewordings of the Scriptures that speak in a very earthy, common tongue. Those who advocate these note that the New Testament was written in the common language of the people and not by scholars or philosophers. The results can be the clearest expression of Scripture on par with the original. However, theological lenses can more easily influence the interpretation. Some paraphrases are based on the original Hebrew/Greek and some are based on more formal equivalent English translations.

The centuries old challenge for scholars is how do you translate the original manuscripts in a way that makes them accurate and literal, but also readable and understandable?

For an example of this challenge imagine that I’m speaking to an audience in China through a translator and say, “Hong Kong is the coolest city I’ve ever been to.” If my translator literally interpreted my statement to the audience and said, Hong Kong is the coldest city I’d ever been to, they’d probably think I grew up in the middle of the Gobi desert (Hong Kong never really gets cold). I would want my translator to understand my culture and West Coast slang enough to take the liberty to translate my thought, as opposed to my literal words; “He really likes Hong Kong”.

And so for centuries the challenge for Bible translators has been to translate Scripture into thousands of languages worldwide, maintaining as literal an interpretation while still making it readable and understandable to the culture. So, unless you can read the Biblical Hebrew and Greek yourself every translation you have read has gone through this challenge.

Where does your favorite translation rank in terms of being word for word and thought for thought? Check out the *graphic below (click for larger image):

You’ll notice this chart doesn’t say one translation is better than another but it is a useful graphic to understand where the different translations lean in how they interpret the original manuscripts. If you want to dig deeper most Bible translations have an introduction that explains their translation philosophy. You can also check out the links below for more in depth thoughts on the differences between translations.

Helpful Resources:


* Please note that there is no specific difference (other than their place on the continuum) between the orange and green Bibles listed in the graphic

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Update to the Preaching the Word Commentary Series

Posted by on 03/30/2016 in: ,

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We’ve just added 11 new volumes to the The Preaching the Word Commentary Series!

This update includes 11 newly released volumes: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges & Ruth, 2 Samuel, Job, Psalms 1-41, Song Of Solomon, Matthew, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1-3 John.

The Preaching the Word Commentary Series offers unique insights into Biblical texts from the heart of a pastor. It is noted for its unqualified commitment to biblical authority and clear exposition of Scripture. Its emphasis on application and shepherding makes it a valuable asset for sermon and class preparation, as well as personal study.

Here are Six Reasons to use The Preaching the Word Commentary Series in Bible+.  (Screenshots are from an iPad Mini 4.  Click on Images for a larger view)

1. Resource Guide

Open your preferred Bible Translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window.  You’ll see relevant “hits” from Preaching the Word in the split window.

Bible+ also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.  This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the commentary syncs to exactly where you are in your study.  No more flipping pages back and forth.  No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the commentary. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

2. Search & Look Up Feature

Search The Preaching the Word Commentary Series for words or passages.  Take “Vine” as an example.  You can search the entire commentary  series for where “Vine” is mentioned in the commentary series.  You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.

When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that passage. You can also copy the text to add to an existing note or add a note right from the search results.

3. Linked Reference Pop ups

One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary.  For example, when I’m reading in John 15 where Jesus is talking about the Vine and the Branches. In the Preaching the Word Commentary there’s a reference to Isaiah 5:7. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying.  This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With The Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text.  All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.

Related to this is footnotes/endnotes. The Preaching the Word Commentary Series has a lot of references to other materials.  In the past I would have to stop where I was in the reading, look at the footnote, then go back to where I was in the book.  This also was a huge time waster, and I would often lose my train of thought.  With Bible+ footnotes are linked.  Just tap on the footnote, read it, and go back to where you were without losing your place.

4. Copy/Paste into Notes

The Preaching the Word Commentaries are full of great content.  I often find myself reading a passage, going deeper with the commentary and finding that “perfect quote” that sums up what I was thinking but didn’t know how to express it in written form.  However, in the world of hard copy commentaries, I have to re-type it into my personal study notes.  With The Bible Study App, all I have to do is highlight the text that i want, copy it and paste it into my notes.  This feature saves me a ton of time, not to mention the wear and tear on my typing fingers!

 

5. Integrated Dictionary (iOS Extra)

In iPhone/iPad app, you also have an additional option.  Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options to Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup and More.

If you tap “Define” you will get the integrated iOS dictionary pop-up.  This is extremely helpful when you run across a word in the commentaries or even the Bible text that you do not know.

6. Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap on a verse number in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Save Passage, Share, Guide, and More..

If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.  You can even choose to open the The Preaching the Word Commentary in the main or split window.

This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the commentary when you want to see what it says about a particular verse.

As you can see, The Preaching the Word Commentaries within Bible+ give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Right now you can get the entire 41 Volume Preaching the Word Commentary set (normally 549.99) for $249.99!

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3 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Study Bible Notes

Posted by on 03/29/2016 in: ,

Study Bible Notes are a great resource for those wanting to go deeper in their study of the Bible. Here are three ways to use them in the Bible Study App that will help you unpack God’s word.

1. Resource Guide

In your Main Window, open the Bible translation of your choice. (I have the NIV translation open in this example).  Then tap the arrow to open the split window on the right side of the screen (bottom if you are in portrait). Tap the more button (3 dots) and then choose Resource Guide.

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You’ll now see relevant “hits” in the resource guide from all of the resources you have downloaded to your device.The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.  This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the Bible notes sync to exactly where you are in your reading.  You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

As I scroll through the Resource Guide I can see all of my enhanced resources that have an entry pertaining to the current text that I’m reading. I notice that my NIV Study Bible Notes has entries for commentaries, outlines, introductions, and maps. The numbers indicate how many entries are available for each enhanced resource.

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The NIV Study Bible Notes in the resource guide shows two entries under the Commentary section for Romans 1:1-10. When you tap on the NIV Study Bible Notes it then shows me a preview of those entries and I can click again to read the full commentary. As you read on in the text, those entries will stay in sync with your passage no matter what translation I have open in the main window.

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2. Split Window – Specific Resource

Go to the main Split Window, Tap Open and you will see the navigation menu again.  Here you can choose Recently Opened, Library Favorites, My Notes, My Highlights, and My Bookmarks. At the bottom of that screen tap Open Full Library. This will open your Library navigation. Scroll down the list and find the NIV Study Bible Notes (or the study notes of your choice). Tap to open it.

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As with the resource guide, The Bible Study App’s sync scrolling will keep track of where you are in the Bible text regardless of what translation you have open.  This is a great way to study if you just want to focus on one resource in your library.

3. Resource Guide on a Verse

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap a verse number in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Bookmark, Share, Guide, and More.

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If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.  You can even choose to open your study notes in the main or split window.

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This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the study notes when you want to see what it says about a specific verse.

As you can see, study Bibles notes in The Bible Study App can save you a lot of time and will help you get more of of your quiet time.

Check out the NIV Study Bible Notes or other Study Bible notes here.

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He Is Risen

Posted by on 03/26/2016 in:

Fully God and fully man.

For over 30 years Jesus lived as a man, yet in the few years leading up to his death on a cross it became clear that he was no ordinary man. What man could do these type of things?

  • End a storm with his words
  • Multiply food
  • Heal those who couldn’t walk, see, or talk
  • Walk on water
  • Raise the dead

His miracles were always clues that this Jesus was more than a man.  Another astonishing clue to his divinity was that he was sinless. Tempted? Yes, but he had never given into that temptation. Sinless?! That fact alone seems to be impossible when we consider the world around us.

From the beginning of time until that moment on the cross there had never been one to die having lived a sinless life. And like some sort of science fiction movie, when Jesus breathed his last breath as man something unseen shattered. The power of the unseen so great that the physical world manifested it by way of sudden darkness and a trembling earth. At that moment the sacrifice made by a sinless man would forever change destiny.

The proof of this change? That’s what we celebrate today. All of Jesus followers initially had no idea what we know and celebrate today. Jesus, had actually won! Three days later they would find this out when the man they thought dead would appear – and in so doing confirm that he was no ordinary man. He is God who came near (Immanuel) to change the course of history. And it’s His Story that we celebrate today and our place in that story. So when we say ‘He is Risen’ it’s not just a statement of a past event but it’s declaration of a current reality.

He is risen means:

  • We are forgiven
  • Belonging to Jesus we are not bound by sin
  • Our today is part of our eternity with the creator God
  • Our identity is secure as his sons and daughters

The reality of his rising from the grave points to the Spirit by which he came, by which we’re saved, and by which we’re empowered today. After the cross and resurrection Jesus says to his followers,
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 19-20

He is Risen!

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It Is Finished

Posted by on 03/25/2016 in:

By Olive Tree Staff: David T.

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:27–30 (NIV)

I struggle to begin, here, at the end of Jesus last breath. I struggle because there is a depth of richness in these few verses. There is so much that I want to share, but if I shared it all, then I would lack a necessary focus for a meaningful a message. I also fear that I could easily over simplify what I want to say to make it more meaningful to us finite beings, and in that simplification misrepresent our Lord and his finished work on the cross.

I would like to go back to the Sunday just prior to this day where Jesus makes his triumphal entry on a donkey and then proceed forward and take a quick snapshot of the days leading up to this moment.

Sunday
Jesus very deliberately rides into Jerusalem on a donkey to proclaim himself as the King of Israel (Matt 21:1-9). Earlier in Jesus ministry the people tried to force Jesus to become their king but he wouldn’t allow it (John 6:15). I think we can safely say that this would have been an amazing moment for any one of us to experience. The disciples must have been elated at that moment, and were probably thinking ‘this is it, our King is taking his throne’. For Jesus however, we see that instead of rejoicing, he wept over Jerusalem for the people were ultimately still blind (Luke 19:31).

It is easy for us to read these few verses and to miss the point, which is: Jesus wept, an emotion we all have had, but this is the God of the universe weeping as a man. Let that sink in for a moment.

Monday
The next day we read that Jesus clears the temple saying that they had turned his Father’s house into a den of robbers (Luke 19:46). Jesus is obviously very angry but his anger is not like our anger, his anger is rooted in righteousness and driven by his love for his people. Despite the fact that his anger was fully justified, consider how emotionally draining that day must have been for Jesus the man.

Tuesday
On Tuesday we read that Jesus was back in the temple but this time he is teaching. As he is teaching he is confronted by the chief priests and elders asking him by what authority he was doing these things. This led to a long dialogue between Jesus and these religious leaders who are trying to trap Jesus with his own words.

Consider how arguments take energy out of us and if you love those you are trying to persuade otherwise those arguments are that much more taxing. Now, try to imagine with me how Jesus must have felt that night after dinner as he sat with his disciples and pondered the conflicts of the day behind him and of the days still ahead of him.

Wednesday
We have no written record of what Jesus was doing on this day. It has become known as the silent Wednesday. Perhaps Jesus and his disciples took the time for some much needed rest.

Thursday
On Thursday we know that Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Jesus knew what was to come in just a few hours and that this would be the longest and most agonizing night of his life. Yet he used the time to teach them about communion and to wash their feet. We also read that they sang a hymn after their meal (Matt 26:30). In the midst of all this Jesus leads his disciples in a hymn? This simply amazes me!

Later that night we find Jesus agonizing in prayer and sweating drops of blood while his closest friends were asleep. Then, as though that wasn’t enough, we find Judas leading a band of soldiers to come and arrest Jesus. Consider what a toll that must have taken on the human side of Jesus.

The night is just beginning.
Jesus is betrayed with a kiss, he is abandoned by his disciples, he is mocked by the soldiers, he is denied, he is flogged, he has the hair of his beard plucked out. Isaiah says that he is marred beyond human recognition (Isa 52:14).

That night he is tried several times. By Annas the high priest, before the Sanhedrin, before the Romans, before Pilate, before Herod, and one last time again before Pilate where he is finally turned over to be crucified.

Friday
Jesus is finally nearing the end of his passion. He is tired, he is in pain, In the last few weeks he has experienced the full gamut of human emotion. Each day as the cross grew closer and more into focus, the intensity and frequency of those emotions increased.

So imagine with me for a moment what it must have been like for Jesus to realize that everything he was sent to accomplish had been accomplished. Imagine how he felt as he was just moments away from entering into the joy that had been before him all along. This joy is what the author of Hebrews tells us enabled Jesus to endure the cross and allowed him to despise its shame (Heb 12:2).

What was that joy that was set before Jesus? Could it actually be us, the mockers, the floggers, the ones yelling crucify him? Amazingly, yes!

Consider now the weight and the ultimate outcome that Jesus’ final words represent.

‘It is finished’

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Jesus Christ on the cross

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The New, Holy Standard of Love

Posted by on 03/23/2016 in:

John 13:33-35
Little children, yet a little while I am with you.
You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you,
‘Where I am going you cannot come.’
A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another:
just as I have loved you,
you also are to love one another.

By this all people will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.

Detail closeup of New Testament Scripture quote Love One Another

Supper had been eaten. The cup had been blessed. Fellowship had been shared. Betrayal had been foretold.

After Judas left Jesus and the other disciples at the table in the upper room, some of my favorite parts of the Holy Week narrative take place. They are common, familiar, lowly, home-centered—perhaps that is why they prick me especially poignantly, as I am a full time homemaker and homeschooling mama of four small children. I am daily surrounded by the common and the lowly. Morsels of bread, washing off dirt, and commands to love one another are tools of my own trade.

What Jesus says to His disciples grabs my attention: not just love one another, but prefaced. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Was this shockingly new to the disciples? Had they not known that Jesus was preaching a gospel of love during His ministry? Did they not see Him loving others already? How was this new? And why does He take the time to say this now, when chaos is about to ensue? When squabbles arise or tempers begin to bubble, this is actually a phrase I speak over my children—love one another. I whisper it in little ears at the table, I call it out loudly from the kitchen window to kids running on the grass, I repeat it to each one of these little people around me who are image-bearers and baptized members of Christ. They too are little disciples of this Lord. How quickly they lose sight of what it means to love one another… how quickly I lose sight of it… how quickly even the inner circle of Jesus lost sight of it.

Had the disciples ever not seen Jesus act in love? Had they not been taught the Golden Rule? Of course the disciples knew that Jesus had love for others, and that they were to have acts of love as they followed Him. Even in the law of Moses, they were told to love their neighbor. But the standard seems to be clarified, if not changed, here in the book of John. Rather than loving their neighbor as themselves, according to Leviticus 19:18, the standard for sacrificial love is now no longer the standard of self—rather, it has become the standard of Christ. He said in John 13:34, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Is this what makes the commandment new?
No longer love others as you love yourself.
Now, love others as Christ loved you.
Post-crucifixion and post-resurrection, we can see plainly how tall an order that is.

How will you embrace this commandment today?
How will you raise the standard of loving your neighbors, so that it isn’t about you, but rather about Christ?
Where is God asking you to give of yourself?
What cross is Jesus asking you to pick up, as you follow Him?
And what is the foot-washing that you will do, in His image and for His glory, during this Holy Week?

Melissa Joy seeks to grow in grace and wisdom alongside her husband Steven (Olive Tree’s VP of Operations), while pursuing joyful domesticity by nurturing her home and family. The joy she finds in her family, homemaking, music, writing, ministering to those in grief, and seeking to be a pillar of loving strength in her home can be seen unveiled at Joyful Domesticity.

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Free NIV and NKJV!

Posted by on 03/21/2016 in:

Thanks to our publishing partners we are now able to offer both the New International Version, (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV) as a free download for the Bible+ App!

Free NIV and NKJV!

There are two ways to add these translations to your account:

-> Update to the latest version of Bible+ which is now available for mobile devices. At launch you will be given a brief walk-thru to add them to your account.

-> Or, search for them in-app on Bible+ and add them to your account. (Don’t have an account? Create one easily in-app or by going HERE.)

Click the appropriate link below for additional instructions on how to download your books: 

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Palm Sunday

Posted by on 03/18/2016 in:

palm sunday

Today we remember Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem and – depending on your tradition – it is usually called Palm or Passion Sunday. 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, which 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.”

What’s with the Palms?
The imagery of palms was a part of the Jewish culture and often reflected honor and nobility. 1 Kings 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 that 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 worship going on but what does Hosanna actually mean? Hosanna was a desperate cry from an oppressed people living under Roman rule that means ‘Oh save’ or ‘Save us now’.  Jesus 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 on March 27.

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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