Tag Archive: Bible Study

Look Inside: Open Your Bible Commentary

Posted by on 08/19/2015 in: ,

The difficulties of maintaining a daily Bible study routine are many. Where do you start? How do you make adequate time for more than a cursory reading of the Text? How do you find the right balance of study and devotion? And the list goes on. The truth is there are no easy answers to any of these questions. But we shouldn’t throw in the towel and give up. Every Christian struggles with their Bible reading at some point in their life. Today I want to share a new Olive Tree resource whose aim is to help your daily Bible study. Let me introduce you to the Open Your Bible Commentary.

Background

The Open Your Bible Commentary was written to encourage daily Bible study. The content of this two volume commentary began as a series of Bible Study books originally published by Scripture Union. The series’ intent was to create a resource that encouraged a greater depth of Bible study in a way that wasn’t possible with study notes alone. This format allowed the authors to give fuller discussions on introductory, textual, and background material that might otherwise be overlooked in something like a study Bible. The principal aim of the studies was to stimulate daily Bible reading as a means of personal devotion and life application.

These sensitively edited studies have been reworked into what we now have as the Open Your Bible Commentary. With this commentary you get short readings rich in content. Each passage is carefully explained, devotionally warm, and practically relevant. In its introduction, the commentary boasts four great strengths that set it apart from others:

  1. Accessible: The studies address the average, thoughtful Christian without assuming they have a prior background with the text.
  2. Digestible: No section is overly long. It is designed so that you can read one or two sections each day without feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Dependable: The commentary is authored by renowned theologians, scholars, and experienced pastors including: F.F. Bruce, Leon Morris, William L. Lane, and others
  4. Practical: The studies offer a diversity of everyday application. Sometimes you are given clear application, while other times you are left to ponder the truths for yourself.

All in all, the Open Your Bible Commentary is built for Christians who desire to engage with the Bible daily. After each section you are sure to walk away with a greater understanding of the Bible and application to apply.

Open Your Bible in the Bible Study App

There are a few ways you can use the Open Your Bible Commentary in the Bible Study App, but let me show you my favorite way to use it.

Since the commentary is conveniently broken into manageable sections for study, I prefer to use it as my daily reading plan. In the morning I read a section from the New Testament volume along with its accompanying Bible passage. For my evening reading I do the same, but with the Old Testament volume.

Unlike most times when I read the Bible, this time I have the commentary open in the main window. I then use the Book Ribbon to mark my current location so I can easily pick up where I left off next time.

Open Your Bible Commentary with Book Ribbon

Open Your Bible Commentary with Book Ribbon

Next, I tap the verse reference and open it in the split window. Now I can read the passage and the commentary text. I can also tap on any of the cross references and read them in a pop-up.

Open the Bible text in a Split Window

Open the Bible text in a Split Window

Bible in Split Window

Bible in Split Window

Even with the Bible open in the split window I can still take notes on what I’m studying. And, if by chance I want to do further study, I can quickly switch to the Resource Guide to explore my other resources.

Taking Notes from a Split Window

Taking Notes from a Split Window

What I love about this setup is it allows me to have a different kind of reading plan that still lets me easily study the Bible. I recommend giving it a try!

Purchase Today

I’m confident the Open Your Bible Commentary will prove a great aide to your daily Bible reading. Save 50% and add it to your library today during our Back 2 School Sale.

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New Commentaries for Windows Desktop

Posted by on 07/27/2015 in:

It doesn’t matter whether you’re someone who feels you can never have enough commentaries or the person who believes that one or two solid commentaries are enough, commentaries are an indispensable part of good Bible study. They help you double check your interpretation and understanding of the Bible, and even help with those difficult passages you just cannot make sense of. The great thing about the Bible Study App is the convenience of carrying around all these commentaries in your pocket.

On this blog we’ve talked a lot lately about all the new titles available with the latest version of our app, and it’s with good reason. As someone who works in Olive Tree’s book formatting department, let me share some inside information with you. These app updates, starting with the release of iOS last summer, have been several years in the making (even before I started working here in the beginning of 2013). A good part of that preparation meant converting our existing titles to work with our new format. With the apps still being in development, it also meant we were pulling double duty on any new titles we released, creating them in both the old and new formats. This was our process until last December when we made the decision to stop creating new titles for our old platform. The decision meant that any new titles released after that point would only work for those users running the latest version of our iOS app (the only app update to be released at that time). This was the case until our Android release last month and Windows Desktop last week. Great titles like the Reformation Study Bible, Tyndale Commentaries, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and so many others simply weren’t available on these platforms. So, finally having these titles available on these platforms is a big deal.

Now let me share how these new titles have become useful for me. The ability to take the Bible Study App with me wherever I go means I can get a jump start on preparing lessons for the youth group I help lead. This process usually involves checking a few commentaries for anything I might have missed in my own study. It’s great that these new titles are now available on Android, but the commentaries are most valuable to me on Windows Desktop because most of my in-depth studying happens on my laptop. Instead of trying to multitask and thumb out long form notes on my phone, I have more space to work with. I can have my Bible, commentary, and notes open at once, which makes my preparation more efficient. One commentary that I’ve really enjoyed using in Bible+ 6.0 for Windows Desktop is the Tyndale Commentaries. This is a commentary set that I find has a nice balance in what it covers without being overly technical. It’s also one I’ve wanted in Olive Tree for some time, but when we finally released it it was iOS only. As an Android & Windows guy I was left out, unable to use the resources I wanted to use most. Now that they’re available I can study the way I want to, with the resources I prefer.

My Lesson Prep Setup

My Lesson Prep Setup

I’ll admit, there’s nothing spectacular about having a commentary available on your desktop, that’s nothing different from what we’ve already done. What makes it noteworthy is knowing the titles I want to use are now available on all the platforms I use. Not only can I carry them around with me in my pocket, but I can also have them where it’s most valuable to me: on my desktop.

Be sure to grab many of these newly available commentary sets while they’re on sale.

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Maximize Interlinears and Gospel Harmonies on Your Desktop

Posted by on 07/24/2015 in: ,

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One of the advantages of using Olive Tree’s Bible+ app is it’s built for mobility. You can read and study the Bible anywhere. Yet, there are times when you need more screen than your phone or tablet can give you. Lesson and sermon preparation are a couple times that come to mind when having additional screen real estate is of benefit. This is why we made Bible+ 6.0 for Windows Desktop.

Just like there are different types of study that benefit from using a desktop or laptop computer, there are resources that work particularly well on these platforms. Two resources that take advantage of a computer’s additional screen size are our Greek-English Interlinear Bibles and Harmony of the Gospels. Today we’re going to show you how to maximize your use of these resources on Windows Desktop.

Harmony of the Gospels

Gospel harmonies are a great tool to manage the sometimes confusing chronology of the first four books of the New Testament. Did this event happen in just Matthew, or was it in Mark too? How does John’s gospel fit in with the other three? A gospel harmony can help make sense of those questions. That advantage alone is worth its weight in gold, but Olive Tree makes it possible for you to view these passages side-by-side without the need to jump back & forth. This functionality exists on our mobile platforms, but screen size certainly limits what you can see. For example, if you’re on a phone, you only get a single column of text, at most two if your phone is big enough & you put it in landscape mode. On a tablet you might get all the columns to display side-by-side, but the minute you open Resource Guide you’re left scrolling text again. Is there a better way? Yes! Read it in our Windows Desktop app!

If your computer has a high enough resolution, you can easily view all the columns in the Gospel Harmony while still having the Resource Guide open. This means you can easily read the text, pull up your commentaries, maps, and notes without sacrificing any of the text you’re studying. In the screenshots below we have the same passage loaded on a 10″ Android tablet and our Windows Desktop app, both with the Resource Guide open. Not only can you see all the columns on Windows Desktop, but you can read the full passage and then some. You’re not forced to scroll up & down to read & compare the passages because everything is in view. This also means you don’t have to worry about the Resource Guide constantly updating because of your scrolling to view the entirety of the text, they both stay put. That will save you time and effort.

Harmony of the Gospels - Android Tablet

Harmony of the Gospels – Android Tablet

Harmony of the Gospels - Windows Desktop

Harmony of the Gospels – Windows Desktop

Greek-English Interlinear Bibles

The feature that makes our Greek-English Interlinear Bibles great is the same thing that can make them frustrating to use for some users. Our Interlinear Bibles display multiple lines of information for each verse. You get the Greek text, English glosses, Strong’s numbers, and then the corresponding English translation. That’s a lot of information! On a tablet or phone this means you’ll likely only see a verse or two at a time, unless you make the text extremely small. If you’re studying a longer passage, this of course means lots of scrolling. This is where Windows Desktop again comes to the rescue!

Our Greek-English Interlinear Bibles don’t operate any differently on Windows Desktop than they do on mobile, but you can see and read more of the Bible without scrolling. Again, comparing screenshots between platforms, Windows Desktop allows you to see nearly 3 times the number of verses than you can see on the Android tablet. Like with the Harmony of the Gospels, you save time and effort by not having to scroll through one or two verses at a time. From there, you can open multiple dictionaries and commentaries, which further maximizes your use of the Interlinear.

Greek-English Interlinear Bible - Android Tablet

Greek-English Interlinear Bible – Android Tablet

Greek-English Interlinear Bible - Windows Desktop

Greek-English Interlinear Bible – Windows Desktop

Get Them Now

Now that you see how these resources can help maximize your study time, click here to add them to your Olive Tree digital library today.

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Create Your Own Parallel Bible

Posted by on 07/01/2015 in:

bibles

There are lots of different methods for studying the Bible, but the common denominator is they all require you to read the Bible. More often than not, we read the Bible in our preferred translation; but, what do you do if you want to compare one translation to another? The Bible Study App makes it easy to read two Bibles side by side. Today we’re going to show you a few easy ways to do this.

The screenshots below are from a Nexus 10 Android tablet, but the process works identically on iOS devices. The methods described below require the split window to be open and assume a Bible is already open in the main window.

Method 1: Library View

The first way to create a parallel Bible is through the library view. If your split window is currently open to Resource Guide or My Stuff you can return to the library view by tapping the back arrow in the header. Once in that view, if you don’t see a list of your resources, tap the title of the currently open resource and select “Library” which will open a list of your resources.

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If you have a large library, you may want to filter this view to only show your Bibles. Do this by selecting “Browse by Category” and tapping “Bibles.” Then choose the translation you want to read in parallel. In this screenshot we have chosen to open the Passion Translation.

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With both Bibles now open, you can read the Bible in your main window while your secondary Bible follows along.

Method 2: Resource Guide

If you’re someone who frequently uses Resource Guide, this second method will work better for you.

With Resource Guide open, scroll to your Bibles section. Here you are presented with a list of all the Bibles in your library that contain the passage you currently have open in the main window. Select the Bible you want to read and it opens to the same location as the main window. Like in the first method, this Bible will stay in sync as you scroll through the Bible in the main window.

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Screenshot_2015-07-01-11-55-19

Bonus Method: Multiple Parallel Bibles (Desktop Only)

Do you use our Windows desktop or Mac app? If so, we have a bonus method that allows you to open multiple parallel Bibles simultaneously.

First, access your first parallel Bible by using one of the methods outlined above. Once you have your Bible open in the split window, you can then click the Popout Window button. This will open a copy of the Bible (or any resource) in a popout window that you can resize and move anywhere on the screen.

parallel-bible-popout-window

Now go back to the split window and choose a different Bible. At this point you will have three different Bibles open to the same location that sync with the main window. Repeat these steps to open up as many translations as you would like. Below is a screenshot with four different translations open to John 4.

Screenshot 2015-07-01 12.00.27

Why Use a Parallel Bible?

Now that you know how to create a parallel Bible in the Bible Study App, why would you want to use one? Here are some ideas:

  • Read a more literal translation (KJV, ESV, NASB) alongside a more dynamic one (NLT, Message, TLB) to get a better idea of what the text says
  • Have an English translation open alongside the original language text
  • Use it to compare commentaries or dictionaries by having those resources open instead of a Bible

A parallel Bible can also be used to check out newer Bible translations to see how they compare to your translation of choice. An example of this would be reading the newly released Passion translation titles as a part of your daily reading or Bible study. Purchase a single book of the Bible (such as John or Matthew) and read it beside your regular Bible. You’ll get to experience the Bible in a new way in a different translation that is still faithful to the original languages & intent of the author.

All of the Passion Translation titles are currently on sale for half off, so pick one up today and use it as a parallel Bible!

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How to Use God’s Commentary on Scripture

Posted by on 04/10/2015 in: , ,

By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki

Olive Tree has a lot of commentaries and study Bibles available, and I love using them. I find myself using one almost every day, even if it’s only to get background information on a verse as I read each day. The Resource Guide makes it easy to do just that. I can’t even imagine trying to carry Calvin’s 22-volume commentary set or even the hefty ESV Study Bible with me everywhere.

But as I’m sure you’re aware, commentaries and study Bibles can get things wrong. Theologians and scholars make mistakes and misinterpret things, but God is perfect and doesn’t make any mistakes. Wouldn’t it be great if God had written a commentary on Scripture? Well, in a way He did, and His commentary comes free with The Bible Study App. Let me explain what I mean…

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

frustrationIt has been said that Scripture is its own best interpreter, and that’s absolutely true. It has also been said that when we’re having trouble interpreting a text that seems unclear, the best place we can go is to clearer texts that talk about the same subject. So when Jesus speaks in a parable, it can be very helpful to see what Paul had to say about the subject. That can help to guard us from error as we seek to understand the meaning of difficult passages. In this sense, God gives us commentary on Scripture through other Scripture.

Before I used The Bible Study App, I would do this by looking at the tiny cross-references in my Bible text, then I would try to keep my finger where I started as I used my other hand to look up the cross-references—leaving a finger at each cross reference. That got pretty crazy pretty quick since I only have ten fingers. Besides that, what about keeping my place in commentaries?

Thankfully, Olive Tree offers a few features that make this a lot easier.

Cross Reference Popups

Several of the translations Olive Tree offers (like the ESV and the NIV) have cross-references built right into the Bible text. Cross-references are references to verses that the translators thought were related to the verse you’re reading. They look like little superscripted letters. When you tap them, you see popup that shows you the cross references related to that verse:

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The list of cross-references, of course, isn’t inspired. But Scripture is inspired and the cross references are designed to take you to places in Scripture that are related to the passage you’re reading. In the example below, I was reading the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, and I found a cross-reference where Hebrews gives us some extra insight into this story:

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Two Passages Side-by-Side

If you want to dig into God’s commentary even more, you might find popups don’t show enough context and they can get in your way of reading the original passage. With split window, you can easily pull up two whole passages of Scripture side-by-side. First open split window by tapping on the arrow at the edge of your screen:

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This will probably bring up the Resource Guide, so tap Open at the top of the Resource Guide, then tap Recently Opened and select one your preferred Bible translations:

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By default, the split window is set to show the same passage that you have open in the main window so that you can compare translations, but if you disable window syncing, you can use the two screens as if they’re two separate Bibles. To do this, tap the [>>] icon at the top right of the split window, then tap Sync Settings and turn off Sync Windows:

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Now, you can open a passage that’s related to the one you’re currently reading. I’m in Jeremiah 31:31, reading about the New Covenant. Hebrews has a lot to say about this passage in chapters 8 and 10, so I’ll take my split window to Hebrews 8 by using the Go To button:

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Now I have both passages opened. I can read Scripture and God’s commentary on Scripture—more Scripture—right next to each other!

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Conclusion

I don’t consider my study of a passage complete until I’ve looked to see what God says about that passage elsewhere in His Word. These features make it a lot easier to do that. Another tool I often use is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which is a collection of cross-references that’s a bit larger than what you’ll find in a Bible translation. It’s quite useful and we’ve even written a blog post about how to use it.

The steps I showed you here were for iPad, but these things can be done on all of our platforms. You can learn about how to use split window and lots of other features for all our supported platforms on our help website.

David is a front end web developer at Olive Tree. He also writes on his personal blog, And the Rest of It.

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How I Commune with God on my Morning Commute

Posted by on 02/18/2015 in: ,

From Guest Blogger: Ashley LaMar

In about 15 minutes I’m going to be starting my weekday commute to work. My commute looks like this: a 5-minute walk to the train station, waiting 5-10 minutes for the train to arrive, a 25-minute train ride, waiting 5-10 minutes for the bus to arrive, a 15-minute bus ride, and a 5-minute walk to my office. My total morning commute time is 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes and approximately 45 minutes of that is spent either riding the transit system or waiting.  What do I do during the time? I read. I used to read a novel on my Kindle but ever since I’ve discovered the free Olive Tree Bible App I use this time for Bible study.

Note: This is not a sponsored post by Olive Tree, I just love their app and really wanted to share it with you.

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I have two faith-based apps on my iPad that I use in the morning. The first is The Christian’s Daily Challenge. I read it in the morning when I first wake up before I shower, eat breakfast, and start my day. I ruminate on it and let it sink it while I’m getting dressed for work. Then, when I head out on my commute I open Olive Tree, read the same verse that The Christian’s Daily Challenge referred to, and delve deeper into study.

The other day on my commute I was reading through the book of Matthew again and, while reading about the immaculate conception and the birth of Jesus I noticed something that I hadn’t paid much attention to before and that was the frequent references to the Angels of God communicating with Joseph and the Magi through dreams. Every time I noticed the reference to an Angle communicating via dreams I highlighted it using the Olive Tree highlight tool. It’s actually really cool because you can set different color highlights to mean different things such as highlighting quotes or passages to memorize in yellow and verses about grace and love in pink.


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Did you notice the little green arrow at the bottom of the page? Well…there is a ton of special hidden features down there! Just swipe the arrow up and you are able to access related verses, expanded detail on the people, the places, and the topics discussed on that page. You can also click through to check out maps, images, sermons, videos, etc on the people, places and topics. I admit I’m kind of a sucker for Bible maps and I love seeing how the regions discussed in the Bible correlate to the world as we know it today.

If you click on one of the topics the app will bring up a list of other places in the Bible where the same subject is discussed. That is one of my favorite features.

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Plus there is a built-in store that you can access from within the app to buy books on theology and Bible history, Christian eBooks, Devotionals, Prayer, and Marriage & Family. A few of my current favorites are:

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I love that you can buy the books from the in-app store and, in many cases, the books are cheaper than if you bought them on Amazon.

It’s an amazing app for Bible Study and it’s perfect for my commute. It allows me to commune with God in the morning as I start my day and again in the evening as I am drawing my day to a close and heading home to my family. I have noticed that I have developed more patience on my morning commute and been less irritable with crowds and delays as I start my day off in a peaceful place. I have also noticed that I return home at the end of the day less stressed and frustrated because I’ve spent time with the Lord, laid my stresses and cares upon Him and returned home with a joyful heart.

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a sponsored post and the app is free on all devices iPhone, iPad (like I used it) and Android. It’s both Mac and Windows compatible and it is, hands-down, the absolute BEST Bible Study app I have found. If you’re interested you can get it here.

What do you think? Think you’ll check it out? What tools do you use for your Bible Study?

Learn More about Ashley at foreverashley.com

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3 Ways to Get More Out of Quiet Time with Study Bible Notes

Posted by on 01/26/2015 in: ,

Study Bible Notes are a great resource for those wanting to go deeper in their study of the Bible. Here’s 3 Ways to use them and get more out of your quiet time. (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click for a larger view)

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, hold and pull the split window handle bar at the bottom of the screen. Tap Open > Resource Guide.

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You’ll 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 First-Century 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 First-Century 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 First-Century 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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The NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes also include articles under the headings of People, Places, and Topics.  As with the commentary section of the Study Bible notes, I can tap to read the articles without having to lose your place in your Bible reading.

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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 First-Century 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 the NIV First-Century Study Bible 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 First-Century Study Bible Notes and more study Bible notes here.

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Look Inside: Harmony of the Gospels

Posted by on 01/19/2015 in: ,

I’m really excited about a newly released title of ours, Harmony of the Gospels.  What’s a Harmony of the Gospel?  I’m glad you asked! A Gospel Harmony seeks to take the Four Gospels and put them in a Chronological order so that you can compare how the Gospel writers address events in Jesus’ life.  We wanted to show you a brief look inside this new Bible study tool. (screeshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click the image for a larger view)

When Jesus goes to Pilate in Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:28 – you can read the interactions between Jesus and Pilate in all four Gospels without having to navigate back and forth.  Because of this unique layout, the screen will default to vertical “flick” scrolling for a better viewing experience. On a larger device like a tablet you can view all (4) columns side-by-side. The side-by-side view scales down two a two or single column view as the horizontal viewable area gets smaller, or when Resource Guide is opened.

All of the Scripture references are hyperlinked, so you can tap on the headers to see that one reference in a popup.

Here’s where the Harmony of the Gospels is also very helpful. You can see that John goes into much more detail about the conversation between Jesus and Pilate than the other three Gospels.  You can also see you see that only Luke records that Jesus went before Herod, but all four Gospels record further interactions between Jesus and Pilate.

Olive Tree’s Harmony of the Gospels are divided into over 250 events in the life of Christ. The chronology is primarily ordered based on Mark and Luke’s gospels with Matthew and John’s accounts harmonizing with them, creating a seamless reading experience. A full index of the titles and passages is included. To access the full index, Tap Go To > End Matter > Go

In the index you can view all 250 events and quickly see how many Gospels address that event.  You can even tap on the Event to go straight to the event. All of the verse references are hyperlinked so you can see each passage in a popup window.  This is set by default to your last open Bible, so I do recommend going to Settings (A*) > Advanced Settings > Hyperlinks > Default Bible for Hyperlinks > and Choosing your favorite Translation for the popup.  I like using the Translation that I have the Harmony of The Gospel in.  For example, I have the NIV chosen as the default Bible when I’m in the Harmony of the Gospel – NIV.

The Olive Tree Harmony of the Gospels is currently available in the following translations: New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), KIng James Version (KJV)Byzantine Greek New Testament, and the JUST RELEASED New King James Version (NKJV).

All available Harmony of the Gospels and our top titles from 2014 are on sale now. Go HERE to see them.

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How to Study the Bible This Year

Posted by on 01/12/2015 in:

study the bible this yearIt’s a New Year. You’ve started your reading plan and are off to a great start studying the Bible this year.  My early attempts at Bible study were sporadic and didn’t go that smoothly.  I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study.  Here are a few tips & resources that I’ve found that will help you keep your Bible Study on track.

Prepare yourself through Prayer
“All our study is futile without the work of God overcoming our blindness and hardheartedness.” – John Piper, Martin Luther Lessons from His Life and Labor p. 33

There is no substitute for prayer when reading and studying the Bible.  Prayer takes the attention off of what we can do and puts the attention instead on what God can do in and through us.  Bible study is a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1) in which we present our best to God.  We have to remember that this is not just a book we’re reading.  We need prepare our hearts and minds for Bible study.

Read the Scripture for yourself
Read and re-read the passage you’re studying.  Get familiar with the flow of the passage.  If there are terms that you don’t know, look them up in a simple dictionary.

Ask yourself these Questions

  1. Observe – What does the text say?
  2. Interpret – What does the text mean?
  3. Apply – How does it apply to me today?

Asking these questions will keep you focused on the study at hand.  These questions are also helpful when preparing, guiding, and leading discussions for small group and Sunday school Bible studies.

Read and Research

1.Bible Study Notes
There are multiple Bibles that have study notes written by scholars and trusted authors that will assist you in better understanding the Bible.  I recommend choosing one that corresponds to your preferred translation (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.)

2. Bible Concordances
Concordances are great tools that give you a list of verses that contain that root word in the Bible.  However, be careful that you do not JUST use a concordance in your preparation.  Concordances are a great place to BEGIN, but are never the END of your Bible Study.

With that “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I do suggest using a digital Bible with Strong’s numbers integrated into the text for your Bible study.

Recommendations:

3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words.  They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.
Recommendations:

4. Bible 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.

Recommendations:

I would also suggest checking BestCommentaries.com.  It’s a great site with recommendations for commentaries on each book of the Bible.

Other Resources
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:

Using these simple methods and tools will deepen your Bible Study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

What are your favorite Bible Study titles and tools?

Be sure to check out this week’s highlighted offers on titles that will help your Bible Study this year.

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Digging into Church History

Posted by on 11/07/2014 in: ,

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In yesterday’s post I showed you why the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is the perfect resource for family and personal devotions. Much of what we looked at centered around reading and understanding the Bible, using M’Cheyne’s reading plan in conjunction with the study notes & thoughts for family worship. Today, I want to build on that and share a few more reasons why this is such a great resource for personal and family study.

Church History

While reading the Bible is vital for spiritual growth, I’m also learning that it’s worthwhile to teach my children a bit of church history and show them that our faith has a long & rich heritage. One of the great things about this study Bible is that it contains summaries of each century of Church history, from the 1st Century all the way to today. Not only will these articles familiarize you with the major events and issues that the Church faced throughout the years, but you’ll also become acquainted with many of the more important historical Church figures. This may seem like a minor addition, but it’s helpful because I’ve already seen a lot that I didn’t know.

Creeds and Confessions

When looking at Church history, some of the more valuable relics would be the creeds and confessions that have been established through the Church’s wrestling with to establish orthodoxy and reject heresy. Several of these are included in the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible including: the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Confession of Faith. You’re given a bit of information as to its importance to Christendom and then given the text of the document. The beauty of having these available in one place is that you can see how the Church battled to stand for the truth of the Bible.

Furthermore, when it comes to learning and teaching systematic categories of doctrine, particularly from a Reformed tradition, you can make use of the catechisms that are also provided (Heidelberg and both the shorter & larger Westminster catechisms). Personally, I have found the catechisms to be a great tool for teaching my children about the Bible’s great truths because they are easy to memorize and provide several related passages. It’s simple enough to take a question or two a week and incorporate it as a part of your time of family or personal devotion. Not only will you get to know more about the Bible, but you’ll be better equipped to defend what you believe and to do so from the Bible.

Christian Living

Whether you’re a new believer or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find the “How to Live as a Christian” collection of articles to be extremely helpful. Each of these roughly page-long articles cover various topics that relate to Christian living, such as: living by the Ten Commandments, fellowship with other Christians, why & how to pray, handling criticism, enduring affliction, and being a godly spouse, to name a few. These articles are wonderful for showing how the Bible practically applies to everyday life and teaching children how they ought to live.

Standing Tall on Their Shoulders

It may be easy for us to gravitate to modern writings and resources, but we should not neglect or forget those who have walked this path before us. Those who walked before us have a wealth of wisdom that we’d be foolish to not glean from. That is why I find the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible to be immensely beneficial to the Church today. The rich history of our faith has been brought forward in such a way that Christians can learn from these great theologians without having to step into a time machine or head to a seminary library. I plan on making this study Bible a part of my daily studies for years to come. Just as it’s a resource in line with the heritage of the Reformation, I hope that this Bible becomes a heritage in my family.

Note: To access these features of the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes within the Bible Study App, set your table of contents view to “List View”

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