Have You Been With Jesus Today?

In Acts 4, we read how the priests and the Sadducees  strongly warned Peter and John not to preach Christ publicly.  They were astonished that these uneducated, common men could be so bold and speak so passionately.  Then we are told, “And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). I know I’ve read that passage hundreds of times, but lately it has jumped off the page.

How did they recognize that Peter and John had been with Jesus?

They spoke of Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Everywhere Peter and John went, they were speaking of salvation in Jesus Christ.  When they were asked to give money, they gave the name of Jesus. When they healed, they healed in the name of Jesus. When they were questioned about their beliefs, they proclaimed the name of Jesus. Everywhere they went, and everything they said, they gave glory to the name of Jesus.  Regardless of the threats and warnings they received, they fear and honored the name of the Lord, and made it perfectly clear that they knew and loved Jesus.

They trusted in the power of Jesus to save.  Several times Peter and John were arrested for preaching the name of Jesus unto Salvation.  And every time, through the power of the Lord, they were set free from their prison cells and would return to preach the gospel.  They never doubted God’s ability to save.  They did not question his power to heal.  Resting in the promises of Jesus, they acted boldly and faithfully.  Jesus had promised that he would always be with his people, and trusting in this promise, it was clear that they had been with Jesus.

They were not ashamed to suffer for the sake of Jesus. When all of the apostles were arrested in Acts 6, through Gamaliel’s advise they were all beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus, then they were set free.  Even this did not deter them.  We read in Acts 6:41, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”  It was abundantly clear to all that the apostles had been with Jesus because they counted it an honor to suffer for him.

The question we must ask ourselves today is this, “when the world looks at me, do they recognize that I have been with Jesus?”  

By God’s grace, and through the ministry of His Holy Spirit, we have the privilege of knowing Jesus and spending time with Him in His Word.  1 Peter 1:8-9 teaches us that “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…” We may not see Him face to face now, but we can be with Him, and He has promised to be with us (Matt. 28:20).

Would the rest of the world know that you have been with Jesus?  Do you speak of Him often, telling others of how He has loved and saved you, of the difference He has made in your life?  Do you trust in His power to save, and urge others to trust Him as well? Does the way you handle adversity and suffering point others to your faith in Jesus’ abiding presence.

Friends, I pray that you would know Jesus, and every day spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer.  The more you are with Him, the more the world will know and wonder at it.


Apps for the Christian’s Smartphone

I must confess, I have always been a technophile.  From the old Atari my brother and I played as children, to the ubiquitous tablets and smartphones, I’ve always got my eye on the last trends and topics in gadgetry and software.

While these gizmos can easily become black holes of time, motivation, and creativity (it is disturbing to learn how many hours one spends on social media or games), they can also be convenient tools of productivity and enlightenment.

For example, just today I was having a conversation with someone about the nefarious “chigger” that likes to eat at the legs of residents of South Dakota, and a quick Google Search brought me instantly more information than I could have ever wanted (note – you really don’t want to read this at the dinner table).

I thought that I’d let you know of some of the most helpful apps that are currently on your Pastor’s smart phone.  I am an iPhone/iPad user, so all of these are currently available in the Apple app store on your phone or tablet.  I don’t know about their availability on Android devices – sorry.

Logos – Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.35.53 PMI use the Logos Bible Study Software for my Sermon prep, daily bible reading, prayer journaling, just about everything that’s Bible study related.  I have this on my laptop (a paid version), and everything I do there is instantly updated on my tablet and phone.  The app provides customizable Bible reading plans, easy to use word studies, and even a version of the  audio Bible, so that you can listen to the Bible while on the road or working around the house.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.39.42 PMVyrso/Kindle/iBooks – While I still love holding a real paper book in my hand, I cannot dismiss the convenience and volume of resources available on an e-reader.  The Vyrso reader is connected to the Logos library, and anything I highlight, underline, or any resource connected to scripture, is instantly searchable and available to copy and paste (with the citation of the quote provided, too).  Kindle and iBooks are great readers as well, and offer tremendous deals from time to time on great literature and scholarly works.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.52.19 PMFighter Verses – This is created by Desiring God ministries, and is a great tool for helping you memorize scripture.  It has quizzes, games, songs, just about anything to help you hide God’s word in your heart.  The app automatically brings up a new verse each week, and offers commentary, studies, and other resources to help you grow in understanding the Scriptures.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 2.57.08 PMCatechisms – This is another memory tool, but specifically for learning the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  It also offers memorization tools for the Larger Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Geneva Catechism.  You can set this at your own tempo, either learning a question a day, or moving on only when you’re ready.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 3.00.36 PMRefNet – This is basically Ligonier Ministry radio online.  RefNet (Reformation Network) is 24-hour Christian internet radio featuring biblical preaching and teaching.  Listen in for free and be enriched by the ministries of Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and many more.

There are, of course, a lot of other apps on the phone, but these are ones that I have found particularly helpful in ministry, and just in my own Christian walk.  Other notables, but not specifically ministry related are: Spotify (streaming music), Evernote (a note taking app that is great for sermon prep), and AccuWeather (for reliable updates on weather in the area).  I’m sorry I haven’t included links to all of the apps, but as I mentioned they are all available in the App Store on your phone, or tablet.