Devotions

Being a Blessing 

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #2: Being a Blessing
James Clouse | Student Pastor

My grandparents were a huge blessing to my brother and I growing up. There was a little while where my mom was trying to raise us on her own. I remember the impact that my grandparents had on me. I remember the morning my grandfather taught me how to cut pancakes with a fork and knife to my grandmother took us out to the garden to get vegetables. They were a blessing to us when we needed it. Not only were they a blessing to us but the things that we had learned from them will continue to our children and grandchildren. 

This relates to the call of Abram. If you have never heard of this name before, you may be surprised. God called Abram, or Abraham, out of his home country to take his family to the Promised Land. God tells Abram in Genesis 12:2, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

The Lord here is telling Abram that he will be the father of great nations. God later in Genesis tells Abraham that he will have more descendants then the stars in the sky. The influence that Abraham will have on his descendants will be a blessing to more than he realized at this moment. 

I think this is important for us to remember for our own lives. We need to allow God to use us in His amazing ways. We need to take that step of faith and leave our own comfort zone to let God use us to influence people around us. Abraham would never have been a blessing to his family and to other people if he did not first listen to God and leave his home. 

When we now read through the Bible, we see the history of Abraham and the amazing influence his descendants had on history. My grandparents had an amazing influence on me by helping my mother out when she needed it most. How are you letting God use you as an influence to others around you? How have you taken a step to let God use you as a blessing to others? Sometimes you may not ever see the blessing that you have given to other people.

The Art of Listening  

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #1: The Art of Listening
Ryan Story | Location Pastor – Burton

We are all born with an innate ability to listen. Babies have the ability to recognize their parent’s voice from the moment they are born. I remember how foolish I felt talking to my wife’s stomach for nine months, but I will never forget when my son’s both looked at me. There were some odd feeling as even little mush balls of adorable, they understood what I said. As children grow, listening becomes a skill. Language comprehension, linguistics, and vocabulary are all things that children are learning as they grow. As time goes on, a child grows to understand who “mama” is for no other reason than the praise and excitement parents get when that child repeats the word that has been said to them millions of times before the age of one. The child does not have the ability to know that “mama” is the informal way of saying “mother;” all the baby knows is when they say something, people react.

Listening is a key part of communication. Communication is a key part of any relationship. There are so many times when I have had my head buried in my phone playing Clash Royal and my wife or sons were trying to get my attention. There is nothing that is so disheartening as when you are saying something and no one is listening. I have learned in the few years of being married and as a parent, that when a person is talking to you, they generally want to see an action out of you. If my wife says, “I need you to get Zeke a cup of milk,” and my response is “heard you,” that is doing little to help the situation. Be honest, you have lost it on one of your children, your spouse, or a co-worker because they “heard you” but did nothing after it. Since we all have the ability to listen, the issue that we all face is simple, do we act, do we respond after we hear something? 

Genesis chapter 12 is the beginning of Abram’s calling from God. The story starts when one day God called a man named Abram. Genesis 12:1 says, “Now the Lord said to Abram.” This is the beginning of Abram’s story. God told Abram to leave his comfort zone and go. God is an amazing communicator, He is able to speak to anyone and can be heard even when no one is listening. The amazing golden nugget of truth is in Genesis 12:4 that says, “So Abram went.” The beauty is, I do not think it would of mattered what God said to Abram, he would have listened; he would have obeyed.

Obedience is linked to listening. My oldest son is a maniac and has not one ounce of fear. He is strong willed as one can be, and he knows how to get his way. I have learned that in order for him to be obedient to the rules of my house, I cannot expect him to do so unless he listens. I learned early that just spanking him when de does wrong was not correcting his behavior. I had to get on his level and re-communicate what his expectations where. If by chance Broly hits his little brother, if I correct him and he does it again, I take Bro in another room, sit down, make him look me eye to eye and make sure he is listening to what he is doing wrong. I call these “dude chats.” Once I was able to teach my son that he needed to listen to his father’s rules, the obedience came. Not all the time, but he listens better than he did.

Our walks with God are like that. We all know we need to live obediently to God. We all know we should not sin, we all know we should love those who are hard to love, and we all know we must be the light of the world. Sometimes life is not always just an “I am not being obedient issue” it is a “I am not listening” problem. If you are looking to be recklessly obedient to Jesus, you may have to learn how to listen to Him before you get to obeying Him.  

“Make a Name for Ourselves”

Tower of Babel • Devotion #6: “Make a Name for Ourselves”
Richie Henson | Production Director

It seems like the greatest allure of the current generation is fame. I do not know many young people who would not like to be internet famous, myself included. I mean, who would not want a million strangers to watch videos about your life?

These desires for grandeur are not new to the current generation. In fact, they go all the way back to Babel. As civilization began to push East, a group of people came together to build a tower to the heavens. It seems strange to think that anyone might attempt to build a tower to heaven, but these people had convinced themselves the status of God was attainable. 

 As they began building the tower, an interesting statement is made in Genesis 11:4, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’”

These people were looking to set themselves apart as important on the earth. I am not sure I could ever understand building a tower to heaven, but the feeling of wanting to be important is hard to shake. Beginning with Satan, the allure of being like God has led to destruction. For the people in Babel, they desired to be famous like God. They desired to have a name as known as God’s. In what ways do we try to gain equality with God? Is it by accumulating wealth or possessions? Maybe we try to be equal with God by handling all of our problems or playing a large role in our community. 

Whatever the case may be, we must always remember that no matter how tall we build our tower, God will always be bigger. No matter how famous we make our names, God’s name will always be infinitely more famous.

 Thankfully for us, we do not have to strive for equality with God. Instead, we can live in the grace of our Messiah, Jesus and have favor as God’s children.

Communication 

Tower of Babel • Devotion #5: Communication
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

When I was 17, our church choir went on a mission trip to Paris, France. Every evening we had the privilege to sing in a different church in the area. We learned to sing one song in French, but all other songs were sung in English. The Gospel message was preached in English with the help of an interpreter. The language barrier was real and evident but, the Spirit of God moved in spite of the barrier. I remember trying to communicate with the French people and how difficult it was; we often resorted to a game of charades. According to Google, there are roughly 6,500 different languages in the world. Have you ever wondered how all the different languages came to be?

In Genesis chapter 11, we read the account of the Tower of Babel, which is only mentioned in this one passage of Scripture. To build this tower out of brick and “slime” used for mortar required a great deal of communication. At the time of this historical event, the whole earth had only one group of people that spoke only one language. Genesis 11:4-9 says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.”

This account in Genesis chapter 11 describes a very self-serving, prideful, and arrogant people. They wanted to make a name for themselves and make a tower to the heavens. They refused to disperse over all the earth as God had commanded. They stayed near each other to spread their wicked deeds and plan. God in His sovereignty intervened as He always knows our heart motive. 

When we start hearing the word, “I,” “we,” or “us” too often we know we need to check ourselves; it is always a red flag that our hearts are veering off course into a dangerous place. It reminds me of another account in Scripture where the word “I” was the theme.  In Isaiah 14:13-14, God is talking to Lucifer (aka Satan), who also wanted to be like God. The passage says, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”

Have you had your “I’s” checked lately? Are you communicating the language of Heaven or the language of Hell? Ask the Spirit of God to reveal who is on the throne of your life. Remember, our mouths reveal what our hearts conceal.

Disobedience 

Tower of Babel • Devotion #4: Disobedience
Philip Piasecki

The older my daughter gets, the more opinionated she is getting. Molly talks so much and is so loud. I do not know what Mary and I should have expected, seeing as both of us are very talkative people, but it has been a learning experience with her. She wants things her way, and when we do not allow that, she starts throwing things! She will grab anything within arm’s length and throw it as far as she can. I think she may become a baseball player. She does not understand that when she behaves that way she is missing out on great plans that we have for her. When she throws a fit and does not eat her dinner, then she misses out on getting to have ice cream for dessert. When she tries to run out into the street at the playground, then she has to go home and does not get to play. Every time she behaves in this way, she is settling for less than what we had planned for her.

Genesis 11:2 says, “And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”

The sad thing is believers every day behave in the exact way my child does, and subsequently miss out on seeing God move. This Scripture is from the story of the Tower of Babel, and we see the people of God behaving in a disobedient way. After God saved Noah’s family from the flood, His command to them was to “go fill the earth.” Instead of listening to that command, the people disobeyed and instead, settled together in the land of Shinar. Very simply we can understand that disobedience causes us to miss out on plans that God has for us. More specifically, I think the word “settled” in this Scripture is so powerful. When we disobey God and settle in our safe and comfy life, we miss out on experiencing God in some incredible ways. The incredible thing about God’s Kingdom is that He invites us to be a part of spreading it throughout this world. It is up to us if we are going to see God do amazing things through our lives, or if we are going to settle for hardly seeing Him move at all. God commands us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, commands us to pray, commands us to worship, and the list is endless. All of these things are opportunities for us to be obedient to Christ and see Him doing incredible things in our lives, in the lives of others, and in this world. It is so easy to settle into disobedience, not daily seeking to follow the commands of Christ. This is not the life that He has called you to. We all would say we want to see God move, then be obedient and take action! Give Christ an opportunity to use you. Pray each day that the Holy Spirit would move in your heart to stir you to action. When we obey the commands of Christ, we will see Him move in mighty ways.



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