Devotions

Author Archives: Brett Eberle

The Line

Vision | Devotion #6: The Line
Brett Eberle

“And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’” Genesis 28:12-15

Working for the River Church is probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The pace that we keep is nothing short of insanity, but I love it. In fact, I thrive on it. One of the hardest parts of working for the Church is finding the line between whether what I am doing is my job or my ministry. I constantly find myself seeking counsel with pastors and friends in an attempt to find that line, and I think the clearest answer that I have found is in a passage describing the dream Jacob had.

First thing first, we are going to jump to the end of the passage where Jacob tells us that he is going to give a tenth of everything that God has given him back to God. Genesis 28:22 says, “And this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” We see examples of this scattered throughout the Bible starting with Cain and Abel back at the beginning of the Bible. One of the first things that I had to realize to find the line between work and ministry was that everything I have is given to me by God and I need to give that piece back, or everything that I do whether for work or ministry will feel like I am doing it for the paycheck. 

The other thing that I found in this passage that was made clearer to me was a few verses earlier. Just before Jacob wakes up in verse 15, God tells Jacob that He will keep him and go with him wherever he goes. In plain English, God tells Jacob, “I got you,” and He says that He is not leaving until He does all that He has promised. This verse is how I found the line and my breaking point. All I had to realize is that God has me. He does not just have me; He has all of us. As far as figuring out when I will stop, well God said He is not leaving until He has done what He has promised. The last time I checked, He promised that He is returning one day. So that means that I will stop when one of two things happens: God comes back, or I die and get to be in Heaven. But until that happens, I am going to push as hard as I physically can to further the Kingdom of God.

One Rule

Creation • Devotion #5: One Rule
Brett Eberle

One of my favorite memories growing up was getting to take a spring break trip with my best friend. The day after we got out of school, both of us climbed into his truck and drove straight to Florida. Both of our parents are very involved in our lives, and my parents told me the usual things that you tell your teenage kid (use your head, make good decisions, and other bits of wisdom), but what my friend’s dad said to us has echoed through my whole life since that day. His dad’s only rule was “don’t cause me no grief.” That rule encompassed every other rule within itself; there were no loopholes or ways around it, the only way for us to not cause his dad any grief was to act the same way we would if he were on the trip with us.

At the very beginning of the Bible, after God had finished creating everything, we see Him give one single rule to Adam and Eve. The rule was that they were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What Adam and Eve did not realize was that the rule encompassed so much more than just eating something that they were told to dismiss. Other than the immediate consequences that are listed in Genesis, the result of the single rule being broken ended in the people of God having six-hundred thirteen commandments. One simple overarching rule turned into six-hundred thirteen complicated rules all apart of what is known as the old covenant or the law.

If you skip forward in the Bible to when Jesus was on the Earth, one of the stories recorded that you will come across is the Pharisees attempting to trick Jesus by asking Him what the greatest commandment was. The confrontation is recorded in Matthew 22:34-40:

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”

Just as my friend’s dad encompassed every rule that we had grown up with into one very simple rule, Jesus took six-hundred thirteen rules and simplified them down to two simple yet challenging rules. Jesus not only made a way for us to get to Heaven, but He gave us rules that feel more possible to achieve.

The Detroit River

God’s Will • Devotion #6: The Detroit River
Brett Eberle

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

As we did the week before, we are going to continue breaking apart The Lord’s Prayer. The part that we are working on today is found in Matthew 6:10. There are two main points in the verse, “Your kingdom come” and “Your will be done.” We are going to look at what God’s kingdom looks like and also what His will is for us.

I want to address God’s will for us first. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The will of God is that all things work together for good, but it does not say that everything is going to work out for everyone. There are specific qualifications to have all things work together for good. The first qualification is that we have to love God. It is God’s will for us to love Him. The second qualification is that you have to be one called according to His purpose. What does that mean? I think that Jesus spelled out what His purpose for us is right before He ascended to Heaven in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” God is the only place that we find the truly good things in this life but we have to love Him and live according to His purpose.

The second part we should address is, “Your kingdom come.” The word “kingdom” is used 53 times in the book of Matthew alone and one of the examples used that I gravitated to is in Matthew 13:47, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.” This parable caught my eye because one of my favorite things in the world to do is to go fishing with my dad. There are days that I do not want to get up at the crack of dawn to half freeze to death on the Detroit River, but when it comes down to it, there are few things that I value above the time we spend together in a boat. When we are fishing, our goal is to catch Walleye, that means that we have special hooks and specific bait to target that certain species of fish. But no matter how hard we try or what bait we buy, we always end up with some other type of fish in the boat. In the short time that I have been in ministry, I have seen the same thing happen whether it be a message that was tailored for students that resulted in a parent getting saved or even a message meant for inmates that encouraged the warden of the prison beyond what anyone could have imagined.

In the broken world in which we live, the one good thing that we have is God. Therefore, we need to spread His Word as far and to as many people as we possibly can.

The “End” Zone

Reach | Devotion #6: The “End” Zone
Brett Eberle | Production Director

I can remember getting the opportunity to preach my first sermon. I was part of a class being put on by some of the pastors of the church, and they gave everybody in the class the same topic and five minutes to preach the sermon. I do not remember how the sermon went, but I am sure it was not very good. What I do remember is the topic lighting a fire within me that no matter what I do will not go out. The fire that was lit inside of me was the desire to share the Gospel.

The statement that I am about to make may get me in trouble, but I am going to make it anyway. I do not like that we use the word “Reach” in the vision statement for our church, in my mind it sounds too nice. In my opinion, it gives believers an excuse. Believers will say, “I tried to get through to them” and statements along those lines which mean I reached, but I just could not grab them. I had the opportunity to coach a football team this year and what I did not expect was that I learned as much or more than I taught the players. One of the things that I learned was that I have a major issue with what we call arm tackling. Arm tackling is when you reach for someone to avoid the collision and attempt to drag them down instead of planting your shoulder into them and driving them to the ground with everything that you have.

One of our Student Pastors showed me a quote by Charles Spurgeon a few years ago that has become a constant reminder in my life. The quote was, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” 

Since the day that I preached my first sermon, I have treated reach like a goal-line situation in football. I treat it as if I am the only person standing between them and hell and I will do anything in my power to stop them from making it into that end zone. So I challenge you, if there is someone in your life that you have only attempted to arm tackle, plant your feet on the goal line and give it everything that you have because who knows, you may be the only person who stands between them and eternal damnation. 

Lazarus

Lesson Thirteen | Devotion #2: Lazarus
Brett Eberle | Production Director

As we have explored the people in the Bible, we have seen how many of them were used by God in extraordinary ways. The man that we are focusing on today is a bit different from the others we have looked at so far. David, with the help of God, killed Goliath. All that Lazarus managed to do was die at the beginning of the story. I have heard this story a countless number of times whether it was Sunday School or Vacation Bible School but the closer you look the faster this story comes alive.

We are going to start at the beginning.  One of the biggest things that this story screams to me is that Jesus was truly wholly God and also wholly man. When Jesus finds out that His friend is sick, He tells His disciples that the illness does not lead to death but that it is all for the glory of God. But instead of running straight to His friend to heal him, which Jesus has already done in front of his disciples, He waits two more days where He was. In that time, Lazarus died, and when Jesus arrives, we see his human side shine through His emotions. Jesus was fully aware that Lazarus was coming back from the dead, but when seeing the pain that death has brought, Jesus weeps. Jesus knows that we brought all of this on ourselves and yet was still moved to the point of tears at the pain that death brings. Jesus then brings Lazarus back to life with such authority that no one could discount the fact that God sent Him.

As I read this story for probably the fiftieth time, one of the simplest biblical truths exploded in my life. That truth is that Lazarus is not the only one that Jesus raised from the dead. I have struggled my whole life with the fact that I do not have a crazy powerful testimony. My family is filled with godly examples of marriage, and my parents have had me in church my entire life. I accepted Jesus when I was seven years old, and for as long as I can remember, I have had hope. It was not until I found this truth that I realized how amazing my testimony is. I have no idea what it means to have a loved one die and not have the hope that I get to see them some day in Heaven. You see, we are all sinners, and the price for that sin is death, but Jesus came and nailed your sin and my sin to the cross. Jesus took us from the hopeless death that this world has for us, and He resurrected us, giving us hope and peace in our new lives with Him. I may not have a testimony that most people would consider powerful, but I thank God every day that I do not know what it is like to live dead in my sin and it is all because Lazarus was not the only one that Jesus raised from the dead. He raised me, too.



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