Five Apps for Devotions

 

 

pexels-photo

In today’s digital age, we really don’t have an excuse for not reading the Bible regularly.

Maybe that sentence strikes you as odd. Isn’t it because our age is so digital with so much to do and so many distractions that we have an excuse for not finding time for devotions?

Nope. Because the Lord has given the church a blessing buried in the midst of the technological busyness.

Apps that can aid our time with Him.

You can either let technology drive you away from the Bible or you can let it drive you toward the Bible.

Here are five suggested apps to help in your regular Bible meditation:

  1. unnamed-1ECHO. Do you feel like you tell people you’ll pray for their heavy need and then promptly forget it? Use your iPhone that you’re carrying around anyway to make sure you don’t forget your brother’s burden. Simply pull up this app and plug the name of the person and their request. Then set up notifications on your phone to have the app remind you to pray at certain times. During your devotions, pull up the app and press “Pray Now.” Requests will come randomized that you can pray through.
  2. yv-logoYouVersion. Perhaps the first app you should download when you get a new phone – it even looks like a Bible! Besides being a great app to use to read the Bible wherever you are, it can also be a great resource for short devotionals, accountability (you can add friends just like Facebook!), and highlighting verses you want to reference later. But my favorite function of this app is at the bottom center – the “Play” button. It’s only available for some versions (like KJV and ESV), but it’s extremely helpful as a supplement to your devotions. On your way to work or on a run, after a good time in the Word, you can pull up that chapter you read and listen to it once more. Repetition aids learning, especially if you’re an auditory learner.
  3. unnamedSpotify. Maybe this one comes as a shock to you. But godly music can be a great part of devotions. Spotify is great because it allows you to find any song and listen to it, along with a shuffled collection of similar songs. For instance, I often hear a song we sang together in Sunday worship, and I’ll look it up on Spotify. If I like it enough, I’ll buy it. No matter which, I find that listening to good, godly music uplifts my soul – especially if the lyrics are rooted in Scriptural truth.
  4. bhcoverBible Hub. This is an oft-neglected but great resource in both app and browser form. Reading a passage you don’t understand? Pull up this app, punch the passage in, and read it in a host of different versions. Then scroll down to consult some classic commentaries. Still confused? Look at the passage in Greek! Best of all, it’s completely free!
  5. downloadPower Off. Okay, this isn’t an app. Rather, it’s the absence of apps. Simply hold down the lock button and slide to turn it off. It’s really quite easy – but it’s very hard to do. Text messages, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the world beyond – they call to us from that small little screen. But if you’re really serious about devotions and getting quiet time with God, you will prioritize undistracted fellowship with your Creator. And getting texts every second won’t be as important to you as getting messages from the Almighty God. So turn that phone off, get an old-fashioned paper copy of the Word, grab some coffee if needed, and dive deep.

Make devotions a priority. So much so that it dictates what apps are on your phones…or when your phone is on at all.

The Age of Technology

pexels-photo-58625

(Note: this post is adapted from a sermon I preached at Calvary Baptist Sunday night on 8/7/16. You can listen to it here.)

This is the Age of Technology. It’s everywhere. You can’t escape it – so don’t bother trying. Even in Amish country, there is technology – trust me, I talked to an Amish boy on the cell phone once (long story involving my crazy Nana, a bus full of senior saints, and the blaring ringtone of “Oh when the saints go marching in”).

The God of Technology

Even as technology has changed much here on earth, nothing much has actually changed in Heaven. We may say technology is everywhere, but in actuality, God is everywhere. He is not outflanked by the latest app. He is not caught off-guard by a breakthrough virtual reality headset.

He is God. End of story.

And that means He has the right to say what we do with all these new-fangled tech toys.

There is not a single thing in this world that His reign doesn’t extend over. He wants control of every area of our life. We can’t put Him in the Sunday box. Or even the morning devotions box. He wants all our days and all our gadgets. So we better to listen to Him when He speaks about technology!

But does He have anything to say? A search on your Bible app for “Facebook” will yield no results. But that means nothing – Biblical principles apply to everything. And here’s a very important one from 1 Peter 2:9:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The Bible’s To-Do List

This verse gives both our identity and our purpose. We are a different people who are called to proclaim a different God – an excellent, unimaginable God. That’s our life mission.

Throughout this incredible book, Peter goes on to describe just what it looks like to proclaim God. A couple verses later, he will call us to keep our conduct “honorable” in front of the unsaved so they will be drawn to the Savior by our “good works” (vs. 12). Let’s call this evangelization. A few verses down, he calls us to “love the brotherhood” (vs. 17). Let’s call that edification. Lastly, he calls us to “abstain from fleshly lusts” (vs. 11). This is the process of sanctification.

This is our to-do list – every day we wake up to accomplish these three things. What believer can I build up today? What unbeliever can I tell Jesus to? How can I engage in the process of sanctification in my own personal life?

These three things provide the framework for our entire lives – our work, our family time, our politics, and yes, even our technology.

So let’s put our tech gadgets into this framework – how will my digital technology help or hurt evangelization, edification, and sanctification in my life? Because it will always do both – there will always be a plus and a minus for every device.

Make a Chart

I encourage you to set this up like a chart. Put your tech devices or digital media – iPhone, Facebook, Instagram, video games, movies, etc. – down the left side. Put your categories on top – evangelization, edification, and sanctification. Then for each box, write the negatives and positives for accomplishing that mission with that piece of technology.

Let me demonstrate with my chart:

2016-08-07 (1)

So examine the plus and minus for each tech in each category and think: “Do the negatives outweigh the positives?”

For example, I determined the negatives overcame the positives with my use of Instagram – at least my personal account. It was too easy to get access to sin. So I deleted it – completely. With no plans to ever return!

But with Snapchat, I determined the positives were great enough, but it was too much of a waste of time at the moment. So I temporarily deleted the app (sorry to those who snap me!). Eventually, I’ll return.

Facebook has so many positives for me as I build relationships internationally for the Gospel and locally for edification. So I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of that. And it doesn’t really draw me to sin.

But maybe it does for you! That’s the thing – this is a person-by-person thing. My sin struggle is not yours. You decide for yourself – make your own chart.

Open Hands

The key is to hold everything – all technology – with an open hand. At one point, Instagram was fine for me. But down the road, it became a stumbling spot for me. I tried to rationalize it. Tried to make excuses. But I knew my heart and saw what I did with it. So eventually I had to release my grip on it – and let God pluck it out of my open hand.

Release your grip on your iPhone or controller or social media profile. Give it to God.

He’s God. He called us out of darkness – where we had no hope – to His jaw-dropping amazing light. Remember that. The God who did that deserves your life. The God who saved you out of darkness doesn’t want you to return to it. Especially through technology.

Perhaps a good thing to put on the background of all our devices is a little Latin phrase from the Reformation – and from 1 Peter 2:9.

Ex tenebras lux. 

Out of darkness, light.

-M@