Devotions

Author Archives: Brett Eberle

Death was Arrested

Gather | Devotion #6: Death was Arrested
Brett Eberle

Having been the Production Director at The River Church meant that I was constantly surrounded by worship music. As time went on, songs began to blend together. It was very easy to become numb to the story the artist is portraying through their songs. But every so often a song will come out that has a melody that instantly grabs your attention, with words so powerful that it stirs your very soul. That song for me is Death was Arrested. It is one of the most dynamic songs that I have ever heard, it runs from a straight guitar introduction to the full band crushing a chorus, and there is even an a cappella part in it. As much as I enjoy the dynamics of the band, the words in one of the verses seem to have the ability to pull me out of whatever mess that I am going through and point me straight back to Jesus:

“Our Savior displayed on a criminal’s cross.”

The One who came to set us free from the bondage of Hell was beaten within an inch of His life. They strapped Him to a cross out in front of everyone who passed by on the road into Jerusalem. Jesus did not deserve to be on that cross, but He took it on for you and for me.

“Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost.” 

I cannot imagine the three days following Jesus’ death. For His family and His disciples, it must have felt like an eternity. But everyone gets to rejoice in the next two lines.

“But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand.”

When Jesus came out of the grave, He did more than just raise from the dead; He brought the chance to escape the bondage that this world and sin keeps you. But that is not all that He brought back with Him. The last line of the verse is so powerful for me.

 “That’s when death was arrested, and my life began.”

Jesus did not just give us the opportunity to escape the bondage of sin, but He also gave us the chance to escape the punishment of sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, meaning that the cost of my sin is eternal death in Hell, but Jesus loved us so much that He was put on a cross He did not deserve, and He died. When He came out of the grave, He held our freedom and our chance at eternal life in His hands. I am forever grateful for a Savior who loves me and gave me the chance to live with Him forever.

Sally Port

The Gift of Grace | Devotion #4: Sally Port
Brett Eberle

Getting to be a part of the Prison Team has been one of the most incredible things in my life, I have gotten to see God move in more ways than I can even begin to describe. One of the most overwhelming things that I have gotten to see is the grace and favor that God has given us when it comes to us processing in and out of prison.

When it comes to prison trips, I am in charge of all of the tech and band equipment that enters the prison in our van and trailer. That means that I have to have a perfect count of everything that we are taking into the prison, including the 100 different cords. On most of our trips we go into four separate prisons; what that means is that we completely set up and repack the trailer in each of the prisons that we enter and as you can imagine it is very easy to misplace a cord. If our count is wrong, we could be held up in processing and miss our window to share the Gospel with the inmates that we get to meet.

One of the craziest times that I can remember was in a Sally Port. We had just begun to process our entrance, and the lieutenant that was in charge told us that we needed to empty the entire trailer to make sure that every single thing inside of it was on our registry. Normally, this is just an inconvenience, but on this particular day, we had a very small window before we had to be at another prison for the afternoon and emptying the trailer would almost surely mean that there was no chance of us hitting our window. As we began to empty the trailer, seemingly out of nowhere the lieutenant’s radio went off, it was the warden calling down to tell the officers in the Sally Port to let us enter. The warden doing that is absolutely unheard of and has never happened since but it allowed us to do our complete program with the Gospel presentation in that prison and make it to the next one with time to spare. The grace of God was so apparent and shocking that many of us were awestruck and in all honesty, I did not fully grasp how amazing it was until the trip was finished.

Every prison trip reminds me of a verse. Matthew 25:40 says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” 

I have heard many people describe prison ministry as being the core of ministry. It is one of the purest forms of ministry. It does not bring more people to our Church or help with tithing, but getting to see God’s grace and the favor that He shows as a result of our effort is more of a reward than any of us could ever hope or expect. If you are looking to see God move in more ways than you could ever imagine, I strongly recommend coming on a prison trip. It will change your life. I know because it has changed mine.

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.



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