With all that seems to be wrong in our world, there are still some great things to be thankful for. At least in the spiritual sense. Technology is, in many ways, the culprit of many of our society’s problems. However, there are many ways that technology has been redeemed. At our fingertips, there are a great deal of ways that we can enhance our spiritual growth.
For those who want to deepen their prayer life as well as their knowledge of God’s Word, there are many apps and websites to help. We have been in our Holy Moments Series for the last month and we have talked a lot about creating Holy Moments in our life. In essence, we must create a spiritual space daily that we seek to spend time in God’s presence and in His Word.
For me, I use many different apps or websites as a part of my regular study. Below are some of my favorites.
BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 150 versions and 50 languages.
Bible Gateway is also available as an app for iPhone as well as Android.
Bible Search and Study Tools - Blue Letter Bible
Blue Letter Bible has interlinear Bibles to study the original Hebrew and Greek that the Bible was written in. There are also commentaries, cross-reference resources and more. This is my #1 study tool.
Blue Letter Bible is also available as an app for iPhone as well as Android.
Open Bible is a website that helps you study by topics. It is simple to use and gives you a great deal of Bible references that go along with any topic you desire to study in the Bible. I believe there is also an iPhone and Android app available.
The Bible App – You Version (Free) There a many Bible translations, videos, and Bible Plans. You can also listen to the Bible as you read it. RFA also publishes our sermon notes on the Bible App every service. To find the notes: Click on the menu and you will notice many options come up. Pick EVENTS from the menu. Type in Rogers First Assembly or RFA. Choose either: Sunday mornings @ RFA or Wednesdays @ RFA. You can follow along there.
Bible Hub App for both Android and iPhone (free) has Bibles and Commentaries to enhance your study.
Bible Reading Checklist App (Free) for Android and iPhone. This is a simple checklist to helps you check off your Bible Reading progress.
Verses App (Free) helps you memorize verses of Scripture. Available on Android and iPhone.
Audio Bible apps:
The Dwell Bible – is my new favorite. Available on Apple or Android. There is an annual fee ($30)
Bible Gateway (Free) but if you subscribe it opens more resources, including audio Bibles.
Streetlights app – New Living Translation Audio Bible. It has a hip-hop flare to the background music. It is free. Pretty cool way to listen to your Bible.
Prayer Mate (Free) for Android and iPhone. It helps you make a prayer list, as well as offers different prayer points that you can make a part of your daily prayer time. I have been using this for many years.
I pray these resources help you as you create Holy Moments in your life.
My new book, Worry Less, WORRY FREE. is available.
Click here for a copy of the book.
Last night, I preached on the Anatomy of a Trial and we looked at the stages our hardships go through and that in the end, we will notice that God is on our side. It is amazing to me how God's Word is always timely and relevant to whatever we face or whatever generation we live in.
As we talked about trials I shared a story from the life of one of my favorite authors, Andrew Murray. He was a man of prayer and many of his books focus on that subject. But even though he was a prayer warrior, Murray wasn't exempt from hardships.
In 1895, Andrew Murray was in England suffering from a terribly painful back injury,
One morning while he was eating breakfast in his room, his hostess told him of a woman downstairs who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any advice for her.
Andrew Murray handed her a paper he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice I was just writing down for myself”. On the paper was written these reminders.
1. In time of trouble, say, “First, he brought me here. It is by his will I am in this place; in that I will rest.”
2. Say, “He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child.”
3. Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow.”
4. At last, say, “In his good time he can bring me out again. How and when, he knows.”
My friend, these are principles that we can learn from and when we keep these things in perspective, it will help us endure whatever we are going through.
Over the last year, we have witnessed many things that have brought division to our nation, and has even polarized many within God's church. It is hard to capture into words how to feel in this moment of history. We have heard the word "unprecedented" used often, and many claim it is overused. However, most of what we have seen this last year has indeed been unprecedented, unexpected, and unrelenting. Yet, God is not shaken.
Last night, we witnessed the Star of Bethlehem, that many astronomers say hasn't been seen in nearly 800 years. The aligning of Saturn and Jupiter created a heavenly phenomenon that shown in the night sky. On the darkest day of the year, this light lit up the sky. Christmas is all about the light. The light of Jesus coming into our darkened world.
Regardless of the pandemic we are experiencing or the political turmoil we are witnessing, Jesus is still the Light. If there is ever a day that we need Christ, it is today. With all the uncertainty we feel, or the angst that we are accosted with, there is hope. When all seems dark, the Light shines its brightest.
This Christmas week, I encourage you to embrace Him. He was the first Christmas gift that was given to you and me. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son; That whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) God has given you this great gift, I encourage you to accept it. Make Jesus your Savior!
Twenty centuries ago, in a manger lay
A special child of whom the prophet’s say
Would be the one that would bring light to all mankind
That if we would look, in Him we would surely find
Our hearts prepared, our eyes to see
The one who would come to die for you and me
His start was such a humble beginning
He would come into a world that was full of sinning
The spotless lamb who was born in a stable
This is truth, the Word, not just a fable
In a place no king should ever begin
Yet it seemed, there was no room in the inn
In a field that was not too far away
The Shepherds kept their watch after a long day
The angels appeared and a bright light around them shone
They were told where to find the baby and then told them to go
As they came to the place of His miraculous birth
There they found a child that was of such great worth
There With His loving parents, the Christ child lay
It was at that glorious time, the first Christmas day
The gift that was wrapped there in His swaddling clothes
The shepherds did bow for, in Him, now they would know
That the Savior had come, into the world He was born
A time to rejoice and no longer to mourn
For the angels had declared good tidings of great joy
Because in a manger laid, the God who’d come as a little boy
The incarnation, here was God who came in the flesh
The little Christ child had come to give mankind rest
Rest from the toil, and the weight of their sin
Now, He had come to make His home among them
So hard to understand why God would come down to us
But to redeem mankind, this birth was a must
For God could not save unless first He endured
and to overcome the temptations by which we’ve been lured
He had left Heaven and come to earth, so darkness He might fight
All of Satan’s powers, so that we would have the light
As the prophets of long generations ago have said
One would come who would certainly rise from the dead
Arise Shine for Your Light Has Come
For now, the world beholds, Christ, God’s Son
This Light of Christmas into our hearts does shine
Look to Him this Season and Him you will surely find
The babe in a manger, who would die for our sins
Look up, for one day soon, He will come again.
My new book, Worry Less, WORRY FREE. is now available.
Click here for a copy of the book.
I am excited to share the news that my latest book is finished and available on Amazon. This has been a project that has been in my heart for several years and it is finally a reality. Since my first sermon on this topic in 1996, this treatise has burned in my spirit. For those who struggle with worry, fear, and anxiety, this book is for you.
Throughout my adult life, I have had to use these principles over and over to overcome my propensity to anxiety. These are time tested principles from the Word of God. One's that I have to remind myself often to apply to my life. Anxiety is a real struggle in our world and will get the best of us, unless we learn to manage it. Thankfully, God's Word gives us the prescription.
In the chapters of Worry Less. WORRY FREE., you will find common remedies and also some unconventional ones that we don't often think about. If you deal with worry and anxiety, I believe this book will be a blessing to you.
If you happen to read it, I would appreciate an honest assessment of it, and feel free to leave a review on Amazon.
Click here to read the introduction and first chapter of the book.
Click here for a copy of the book.
Every once in a while, I look back at old sermons from my Grandpa’s Bible. Though he only pastored a short time, he preached many convicting sermons. It amazes me that the cry of the pastor’s heart was the same in the 1950’s as it is today. Or at least it should be. Revive Us O God!
The sermon reads, “Our Lord has been glorified and the great gift to the church is the Holy Ghost and the one answer to your problems and needs and my needs and that of the whole family of God throughout the whole world is the Holy Ghost.
Oh Breath of Life come sweeping through us,
Revive thy church with life and power.
O Breath of life, come, cleanse and renew us,
Equip Thy Church to meet this hour.”
Shouldn’t this be our prayer today? The remedy for the world is still the same. It hasn’t changed in these last fifty years, nor has it changed since the time of the Early Christians. What this world needs is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What the church needs is a revival that will change us and empower us to impact the world around us.
Our prayer should be, “O Breath of Life, move on us and revive us. Make us alive once again!” Let us call on God and give Him no rest until a mighty revival sweeps through our communities and our nation. Our nation needs a Great Awakening!
Next week my new book Worry Less. WORRY FREE. releases on Amazon. I will post more about it on Tuesday, November 17.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray continually,
18 give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus .
On this most crucial day,
When many Americans have their say.
We look to You above,
To You, the God of love.
Who sees all and knows all,
Even the nations that rise and fall.
Certainly, we live in tumultuous times,
Many hearts are heavy including mine.
The angst of a nation is at an all-time high,
Oh God, we ask that You hear our cries.
Here, we are being torn at the seams,
Now a nightmare to our American Dreams.
Our hearts are burdened for the Land of the Free,
Help us, oh God, through Your eyes to see.
The angst of a nation has clouded our sight,
We have forgotten all that is truly right.
We are pulled in every direction,
What will solve it? An election?
Ours is a problem of the heart,
This is why we are torn apart.
The angst of a nation has brought us to a breaking,
Our only hope is another Great Awakening.
It is in these times that we are drawn to our knees,
It is for our great nation that we intercede.
You are awakening your church to call on You,
But after today our intercession cannot be through.
Oh God, help us return to one nation under God,
A land that is indivisible, on others we do not trod.
Let us be a land that is united once again,
Let the angst of this nation finally end.
You are our hope, not an R or a D,
You are our King, You have set us free.
Reveal yourself in these anxious days,
Oh God, help us always to follow Your ways.
The angst of a nation, does drive us apart,
But let Your love, be the place we start.
Heal our land, as we turn from our evil ways,
We humbly bow before You, come and save the day.
Have you ever tried to find quiet in a noisy world?
Today’s life is filled with busy activities and things that clutter our minds. We often feel that the more we have to do on our calendar the better. After all staying busy, “Keeps us out of trouble”, right?
However, when is the last time you stopped to smell the roses? When is the last time that you sat down uninterrupted for 20 to 30 minutes and just meditated on the things of God?
Psalm 46 declares, “Be still and know that I am God.”
It is often hard to hear God’s voice or even to sense His presence when everything else is calling our name. We always have another place to go, another thing to do, another call to make. Remember, however, to take time to be still. God’s embrace is not very far away. You just have to stop long enough to embrace Him back.
I challenge you this week to take 30 minutes alone in a place that is free from distraction. Do not turn on your cell phone, or bring anything with you but your Bible and be still. That’s right, Be still! I know it is hard for some people to “sit around” but take the challenge anyway.
Be still and you will find refreshing for your weary soul.
This last weekend, I shared with my past struggle with depression that lasted for nearly a year. It was during that season I learned some valuable lessons. For one, that valley has given me a greater empathy for those who deal with anxiety and depression. I have walked through seasons of depression since my first bout 15 years ago, but I have discovered how to navigate those dark valleys that come into my life.
When David wrote Psalm 23, he made the powerful statement, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley..." What he declares is that he doesn't camp in the valley but keeps on walking. He doesn't say how long that valley lasts or even how dark the Darkness is. He just declares that he keeps walking and he knows that he is not alone.
In the valleys that I have journeyed through, I have discovered one key principle: to keep walking no matter how dark it is or how long the valley might be. It may be a day, a month, a year, or even years, but we have to keep walking. It is here that lies the way we overcome. It takes discipline and conquering the mind in order to gain a victory over the darkness. Discipline in our spiritual lives, as well as, discipline of the mind.
I gained ground on my depression and anxiety by continuing what I knew to do, even when I didn't feel like doing it. I prayed even though I couldn't tell if God was listening. I read the Word of God, even though it seemed silent and couldn't always feel it working. I continued to worship even though I didn't always sense His presence. I kept going to church, not because I was the pastor, but because I needed it.
We get into this trap of thinking that we only do the spiritual disciplines when we are on the mountaintop, but the truth is, we need them most in the valley. These are the things that see us through. The more I prayed, the more I began to believe that He was indeed listening. The more I read of the word of God, the more I realized that his Word was bringing life. The more I worshipped, the more I could sense His presence. The more I attended church, the more I gained life from those relationships. In all of these things, I discovered that I was never alone. As Terry Wardle says, "it's a problem with awareness, not nearness." God is always there.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil. For You are with me.
God is with us and we need to always remember this. When the Psalmist said, "Darkness is my closest friend." (Psalm 88:18), his eyes were focused on the darkness. We have to change what we look at and what we dwell on. Focus is the number one key. We become what we feed ourselves and we certainly will never get through the dark valleys until we set our eyes on the Light. The circumstances that we find ourselves in and dwelling on the things that cause us anxiety will only lead us deeper into the valley.
In my seasons of depression, I have learned that the valleys have become shorter when I have chosen not to focus on the depression and keep my eyes on the Light. It's amazing! When you recognize the ever present Help, you become more aware of His presence and His nearness.
15 years ago, after my 8th month of dark depression, I came across a simple book, God's Psychiatry, by Charles Allen. The whole treatise is about how we can get through all of life's problems by focusing on the God of the Bible. Allen gave 4 Scriptures to pray through daily that will help the reader get through their depression.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)
The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)
I printed these on cards and read through them multiple times a day. Now, I keep them in a note on my phone and read through them almost daily. Doing these things wasn't an overnight fix, but as I focused on God's Word and embraced His nearness, I began to walk out of that long valley. Two months later, I was beginning to climb the mountain again.
Friend, I have discovered in life that there will always be valleys. Some short, some long, but keep doing the fundamentals and exercise the disciplines. These are the things that will help get you through. Keep your eyes on the Light and don't dwell on the dark. If you find yourself in a dark valley, just keep walking.
The Grave, A Tomb, The Place of The Dead
This is the final place Jesus laid His head
Beaten, bruised, mocked and shamed
The crowds screamed, mocking His name
Peering over the crowd of Golgotha’s Hill
The pain unbearable, to pay sin’s bill
The wages of sin is death, we were guilty sure
Wretched sinners, naked, blind and poor
But Jesus, gave it all, bled til He could bleed no more
They pierced Him in His body to open salvation’s door
The clouds became dark as the Father looked away
Jesus breathed His last, gave His life on that Dreadful day
They carried His limp body and placed Him in the tomb
They walked away, as they hung their heads in gloom
It’s over, it’s finished, certainly He is done
What on earth has become of God’s only Son?
Their doubts arise, uncertainty filled the air
The disciples had no answers, the world it did not care.
When suddenly the ground shook, the stone it rolled away
Hearts began to quake as their night turned into day
Jesus was alive, risen from the grave
He alone awoke, His intentions were to save
Resurrected, awakened, healed, He’s Alive
The Risen Savior in our hearts has come to abide
From the sin of this world, He alone can save
Our risen Lord, Jesus, has risen from the grave
Today, we observe Good Friday, the day in which Jesus died. The events of the day were anything but good back then, but they are good for all of us now. When I think I of what Christ did on that day, I cannot help but think of the first verse many people have memorized. John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” NIV
Because God loved us, He gave us His only begotten son. In the Greek, gave means to give, to care for someone else’s interests. Simply put, this means that God gave Christ to us to care for us, to care for our interests.
What, exactly, does that mean? Paul told the Roman believers what the answer to that question is: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) It was in the interest of our deliverance from sin that God gave such a gift. God demonstrated His own love toward us, and it had nothing to do with our love for Him but His love for us.
The verse says, “while we were still sinners.” While we were still living in sin, Christ died for us. This means that Christ died for us while we were still doing our own thing and living our own way. He died for us when we were thieves, liars, murderers, sinners. Sinners!!!
He died for us when we deserved it the least. He hung on the cross that we deserved to hang on. On one side, a thief was mocking Christ. “Save yourself and us if you are who you say you are.”
The other thief replied, “This man has done nothing. We are guilty but He is not.” Then he makes a request of Christ, “Remember me today when you are in paradise.” Jesus granted the penitent thief’s request. Why? Because this was the reason God gave us Jesus. To die for our sins and to secure for us eternal life.
What God gave to us was His son! Not wrapped as a pretty present but rather presented on a cruel cross. What God gave was a suffering servant who would endure more than any human ever endured.
Christ was betrayed by one of His disciples and was arrested and taken to an unfair trial. While there they beat Him. Literally, ripped the flesh from His back with the whip. They spit on Him, ripped the beard from His face and forced a crown of thorns on His head.
They then led Him to Golgotha’s Hill the place of the skull. Carrying His own cross until He can carry it no more. The flesh bared on His back and carrying the beam of the cross. Rough wood riding on open flesh. Jesus could barely go on.
The Romans picked one from the crowd who would carry the cross the rest of the way and they arrived at the place of the skull. Golgotha. Calvary.
They laid the cross on the ground and stripped Christ naked, then laying Him on the Cross. There they drove 7-inch spikes through His wrists and ankles. It was agony enough to have nails through your flesh, but then they lifted the cross up and the weight of His body was now supported on those spikes.
There He hung for hours as the crowd mocked him and accused Him, yet He looked out and said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” After many hours, Christ gave up His life. He cried out, “It is finished” and He breathed His last.
The Savior was now dead. He died for our sins. God’s gift of redemption. For God so loved the world that He gave. Indeed, it was a Good Friday.
I am not sure when the term social distancing was created but the first time I heard it was March 2020. It has been a recommendation and now it is moving into a necessity. The world has been upended by the need for quarantine and our hearts are reeling from the effects of social distancing.
While I realize that these things are necessary, it doesn't lighten the mood knowing that we are separated from our church friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even parts of our family. Yet in the midst of it all, we can find the good in all of these things.
The old adage reminds us, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." A true statement because, I believe, absence makes us recognize the things that we have taken for granted. As Americans, especially, we take for granted the conveniences that we have. We often take for granted the relationships we are engaged in. There are many people who have a hard time with certain people at work but they might be to see them again when they get back to the office.
Social distancing helps us to realize that God created man to walk through life together. In the book of Genesis, God said, "It is not good that man should be alone." Of course, this was speaking of marriage, but it also holds true that we definitely need relationships. Thus, we see the importance of having a church family and valuing the family you have at home.
In these trying days where we feel disconnected, why not utilize the technology we have and reach out to others. Call, text, email, Facetime or video call someone that you are missing. Most of us are longing to see our friends again and we can whine and groan about the situation that we have found ourselves in. But our response should be that of gratefulness. At least you have some good relationships that you value. At least there are those you love and those who love you.
The Apostle Paul was very candid with his words of longing for his dear friend Timothy. He said, "I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again." (2 Timothy 1:4 NLT) I long to see you again...I will be filled with joy when we are together again. Indeed, absence makes the heart grow fonder. When you think of others, reach out and let them know you are thinking of them. It is easy to sink into introversion in a time of social distancing. In 2020, however, when we are distant in person, we still have means to connect, though we are not face to face.
Trust is a difficult thing because it leaves your life in the hands of someone else. Many people have been disappointed by others or perhaps even found themselves in tough situations because someone let you down. Our mistrust of others sometimes translates into our relationship with God.
We often have difficulty giving God everything, in fear of being let down again. Yet, the only thing we can do in life’s challenges is to let God have control. Fear keeps us from trusting. When we give way to the fears of our life, we will find it difficult trusting God.
The enemy of our souls exploits our fears and causes us to keep our hands on things that we really can’t control in the first place. Our hearts are gripped with fear and it usually is seen in the many questions that begin with “What If…?” Since, we cannot answer most of the what-ifs, we fear the outcomes.
This causes us to lack trust in God, because it is hard to leave him in charge of the what-ifs. He is, however, the only one that knows the future and God can always see the unseen.
This morning, I was reading through the first chapters of the book of Psalms. Honestly, the book of Psalms is my go-to when life seems to be challenging. I never grow tired of the words of the Psalmist, because it always lifts my spirit and gives me hope.
Listen to these words:
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” (Psalm 9:10 NLT)
David writes that if we know God’s name, we will trust in Him.
There is so much that is promised in God’s different names. You can trust Him because He is Jehovah-Rapha, God our Healer. He is Jehovah-Jireh, God our Provider. Jehovah-Shammah, The God who is there. He is Jehovah-Shalom, God our Peace and Prosperity. He is Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord our Banner (protection). He is El-Shaddai, God the All Sufficient One.
There are many more names that we can trust in. But notice what else David said. “For you, O Lord, DO NOT abandon those who search for you.” The promise here is that God does not leave us or forsake us. We can trust Him with our lives because He is an ever-present help in our time of need.
I understand the days that we are living in, right now, are challenging and uncertain. Yet, the only thing that is Certain is the God who is on the throne. You can trust Him with your life.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 10:17, “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.” NLT
Friend, even when we feel helpless, God hears our prayers and He will always comfort us. The things that we are facing in our lives today, cannot always be in our control. I encourage you to leave them in the control of the only person who can make a way where there seems to be know way. Trust In Jesus!
Danny and his wife, Sonya, have been lead pastors at Rogers First Assembly in Rogers, Arkansas since 2008.