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Explore the Bible on Your PDA or Smartphone
The Why and How of Bible Searches
Here is an initial article on using your PDA to do Scripture searches. You will discover that having a handheld computer is like holding several huge concordances in the palm of your hand, without the weight. Come with me to discover life-changing treasures in the Bibles on your PDA.
An Exhaustive Concordance on your PDA
The Bible contains answers to life’s most important questions. To find these answers, saints of old searched the Scriptures by lamplight, diligently mining ore hidden in the bedrock of this incomparable book. For them, finding a word or phrase and tracing its use throughout the Scriptures was painstaking work, but the revelation they received was well worth the innumerable hours of labor and has been a blessing to the body of Christ ever since.
Time passed until, over a century ago, a quantum leap in Bible study occurred. Without the aid of computers, dedicated scholars generated exhaustive and specialized concordances, making it possible to find with relative ease any word in the Bible—in English, Hebrew, or Greek. Building upon their work, today’s technology has made Bible searching easier still. Did you know that your small PDA with BibleReader™ software contains, in effect, a copy of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as well as copies of the Englishman’s Hebrew and Greek Concordances? “I don’t remember buying them,” you say? That’s because you didn’t need to. Olive Tree’s search engine does everything any kind of printed concordance can do—actually, far more—and it does it much faster. Even so, many of us could use a little help to see the reasons for doing Bible searches and the methods for making them effective—or, as the title says, the why and the how.
What Is It about this Book?
There is no other book like the Bible. No other book has been translated into so many languages. No other book has been poured over, sifted, and scrutinized by so many scholars and commentators. Has any other book aroused so much controversy or caused so many fractures in society? On the other hand, has any other book brought peace, comfort, and joy to the hearts of so many people? It was because of his desire to make the Bible available to the common people of his day that William Tyndale was burned at the stake. It was because of people’s desire for their children to be able to read the Bible that public schools were first created in England and America. It was because of the burden for young men to be equipped to preach God’s word that many of today’s great colleges and universities were established. No matter how far society has drifted from its former yearnings, the Bible is still by far the most sought after book in the world.
Why has there been so much hunger in humanity to know what this book contains? Isn’t it because the Bible answers questions that every one of us wants to know about? How did I get here? What am I doing here? What is my destiny? What are my purpose and responsibility in life? Who is God? How can I be right with Him? Can I know Him personally? If so, how?
As a public school teacher for many years, I found that my sixth-grade social studies students had a ravenous appetite for answers to questions like these. In our study of ancient history, they showed great interest in Egyptian and Greek mythology, but when it came time to study Judaism and Christianity, their curiosity went off the charts. As their teacher, I had to walk the fine line that all public school teachers are required to walk. As much as possible, I would set aside my personal convictions and approach the subject of the Bible objectively, like other books and stories, making a list of persons, places, ideas, and events, then explaining them one by one while the students took notes: Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, Promise, Covenant, Israel, Joseph, Egypt, Moses, etc.
Sometimes when we would come to a new subject, almost every hand in the room would fly up. The students’ questions were often startling. Where did everything come from? How can God be eternal? How can I know there’s a God? Sometimes I had to tell them that my position as a public school teacher did not allow me to say everything there was to say about a subject. I remember a girl replying with good-natured frustration, “But I want to know!” A boy who seldom showed much interest in academics exclaimed, “Tell us more about Daniel today. That dude was psychic!”
Nothing I ever taught sparked so much enthusiasm for learning as the Bible. That ancient magnet draws life’s great questions out of today’s twelve-year-olds just as powerfully as it drew the attention of white-haired scholars and seekers of old. Even people who claim not to believe in the Bible’s teachings have to admit that there is something remarkable about this book.
A Noble Occupation
Searching the word of God is a noble and ennobling occupation. When Paul and Silas were ejected from Thessalonica for allegedly “turning the world upside down” with their teachings, they came to the city of Berea. Notice what Luke, the writer of Acts, says about the Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:13—KJV). According to this verse, what made the people of Berea “more noble” is that they didn’t take for granted what the apostles taught. Their reception of the word of God was not cavalier or superficial. They were not interested simply in accepting what someone else had to say without checking it out for themselves. If Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection for our justification were indeed foretold in the Scriptures, they would exercise their faculties and search daily until they found the evidence and were fully assured of its veracity.
How often we take what others say at face value and are satisfied with their witness without checking it out for ourselves! I’m not suggesting that we should not be receptive to what others share with us from the word or from their experience of Christ; rather, I mean that if we take the time to pray and to search God’s word for ourselves, our own personal understanding and assurance of faith will grow and be deeply rooted. We are blessed if our knowledge of Christ and His word is not in the realm of grand thoughts and warm feelings, but in the realm of settled revelation and real experience. This is the why of Bible searches: that we may personally know the One of whom the Scriptures testify (John 5:39-40).
What Do You Want to Know?
At this point someone might ask, “But what should I search for?” Let’s answer this with another question: what do you want to know? For this we may have to do some heart searching before we do our Bible searching, for the possibilities are infinite. Remember that the Bereans wanted to know if what Paul and Silas were saying about Christ was true. They might have found the answer in Isaiah 53 as the Ethiopian eunuch did, or maybe they found it in Daniel 9 or some other portion of Scripture. You’ll recall that one of my students wanted to know how she could know for sure that there is a God. Given the opportunity, I might direct a person to Romans 1:20 and let Paul do the talking. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (KJV). Or I might let David speak from Psalm 19:1. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV).
When it comes to answering questions we can always ask ourselves first. “What do I already know?” Starting where we already are, we can seek to know more. Maybe you would like to know more about some key scriptural concept, like righteousness, or redemption, or reconciliation; you search for the word to see where and how it is used. Maybe you are thinking of a verse but can’t remember all of it or where it is; you use whatever part you do remember to set up a search and find the verse. Maybe as you are reading your Bible, a question arises and you want to learn more. All of these are good reasons for searching the Scriptures. I know a certain minister of the word who says that God will put a matter on his heart and then say, “Now, go get it!” That’s the way it is with Bible searches.
Let’s See Now, Where is that Verse?
Now let’s learn how to do some simple Bible searches. Since the most frequent use of a Bible search tool is to find a verse when one can’t remember its location, let’s start with that. I know there is a verse somewhere that says “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I remember that it’s somewhere in the Old Testament. Using my PDA as a concordance, I can find the verse with a few easy steps:
1) tap the search icon (a magnifying glass);
2) activate the on-screen keyboard;
3) type a sufficient amount of text to limit the search—for example, “power of the tongue”;
4) limit the range (in this case to the Old Testament);
5) chose a search option (exact, all words any order, etc.); and tap Search List (or Search for the Palm).
There it is in the results list: Prov. 18:21. After selecting the verse and tapping Go to, I can read the verse in the Bible I currently have open, in this case the NASB. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Functioning like a concordance, my small, lightweight handheld computer has done what I used to have to do with a large, heavy book, and in much less time.