By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
We are a month into the new year and I am sure you have had high hopes of more joy and more peace for this year just as I did.
But, the world has not made it easy. As a nation, we stand on the brink of war in Ukraine, Taiwan, North Korea, and the ever unstable Middle East. We stand on the brink of economic catastrophe and complete moral failure. We have deep political divisions over “following the science” and living with Covid. We can see the struggles with the lack of employees and emptying shelves. So…
How is your life going?
How is your heart?
Stressed? Weary? Frazzled? Frustrated?
Maybe you can say, “stable” or even “good.”
As Christians, the “abundant life” (John 10:10) that Jesus promised seems to be a very distant fantasy. But hear what Jesus had to say…
“These things [abide in me, my Word, & my love] I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV)
Read it again! The joy of God is to be in us! I can’t help but picture the very cheesy smile of Jesus in the movie “The Gospel According by Matthew.” The movie does a fabulous job (for 1993) of dramatizing the gospel word for word from the NIV. If you’re hooked on “The Chosen,” consider this movie or the follow-ups based on Luke, John, and Acts. Jesus, as I recall, appeared excessively joyful in the Matthew movie, so much so that it really made me uncomfortable. Was He really that happy? I think we too often put a somber, serious face on Jesus rather than a giant grin.
In any case, in John 15, Jesus tells us that he spoke and gave us his Word, so that His joy might be in us!!! Our primary source of joy must be God’s Word!
That’s why, back in December, I wrote about the best study Bibles on the market. I urge you to get one, especially if you struggle to make sense of the plain text.
The reality is, I and many of you are also utilizing the digital resources available today. The internet has given us a plethora of incredible resources to help us learn about the Bible. Here are my top recommendations.
Great Bible Apps:
YouVersion Bible App: This is an amazing free app with all the major translations and tons of devotionals. This is the hallmark of Bible apps for anyone looking for devotionals and reading plans to give some intentional structure to their Bible reading. It lets you add notes, highlight passages, and share what you're reading with others. It will even read the Bible to you. Every phone should have this app! Parents (and grandparents): You should also download the “Bible App for Kids.” This is an incredible free app that interactively tells the stories of the Bible. Your kids will love it and you’ll love that its quality screen time!
Blue Letter Bible App: This is a great free option for deeper Bible study as you have access to commentaries and original language word definitions. It is accessible, versatile and potentially more technical/academic. For a more user friendly step into original languages, I’d suggest the NET Bible app which I mentioned back in December. Others have recommended Olive Tree and Accordance, but they charge you for Bible translations and other resources. If Blue Letter Bible doesn’t meet your needs, I’d recommend Logos.
Logos: This is my new favorite app. It has everything a pastor could ever want for biblical research. I’ve moved to this for purchasing all my religious books as it links with Faith Life Ebooks. I’ve loved being able to highlight, add notes, search all my books, and have the book read to me. I only wish all my print books were now on this app. You do pay for each resource (though they are often cheaper than print versions). It’s a must for pastors and serious Bible teachers.
There is so much more available, but these three (+ the kids app) are the best options on my phone, iPad, and computer. Let me know if you have a great recommendation.
Remember, it’s the Word that gives joy not the app or the printed book. It’s the Word of God infiltrating your heart and mind that transforms our sinful nature into a Christ-like disciple who’s filled with joy.
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