Devotions

Author Archives: Donna Fox

Roman Soldiers

Delivery Plan • Roman Soldiers
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

Mark 15:16-20 says, “And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters) and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.”

The Roman Soldiers delivered Jesus to His death. Pilate gave Jesus over to the crowd for crucifixion in place of Barabbas. The soldiers had their orders, “Crucify Him!”

They beat Him and tortured Him. They placed a crown of thorns on His head, mocked Him, nailed Him to the cross, and killed Him. Read Matthew 27:27-31. It describes the torture even further. He was stripped, thorns placed on His head, and reeds in His hand. He was mocked, spit on, and led away to be crucified. The Roman Soldiers were wicked men, enjoying their job a little too much, casting lots to see who would get His garments.

How would you like to have a job like that? After given the order to crucify, they carried out these horrific acts to the point of death. How could they do that to any man, much less the Son of God?

This was their job, to obey the orders and to crucify people. There was no emotional stake. The ones they crucified meant nothing to them. They did not realize who He was until after His death. Mark 15:39 says, “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” Here we see the Centurion, the head of the Roman Soldiers who realized the truth and was changed by Jesus.

Why crucifixion? Crucifixion was a Roman death, not the Jewish custom which was stoning. Pontius Pilate gave the order. The Roman Soldiers simply carried it out.

The Roman Soldiers delivered Jesus to His death. They prepared Him by stripping Him and beating Him. They forced Him to carry His cross. They nailed Him to the boards. They tortured Him until He took His last breath. God had a plan when He sent Jesus to earth as a man. The crucifixion (and resurrection) was a fulfillment of that plan. Unknowingly, the Roman Soldiers had a part in that plan. They realized afterward what had just happened.

We are like the soldiers; our sin caused Jesus to be led to the cross to cover our sins.

Hell

Delivery Status • Hell
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

If I asked you if you want to spend eternity in Heaven, or in Hell, you would say Heaven I bet. I have never met anyone who honestly said they want to spend eternity in Hell. But why, then, do we live in sin, live following Satan rather than following Jesus as Lord and Savior? We are all born into sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” We need to realize that we are sinners and we need Jesus for salvation. How do we receive this free gift? Is it by anything we do or say? Is it a one-time prayer said at VBS as a child that was not understood and changed nothing? Is it by good works? No, none of these. It is by Jesus and Jesus alone!

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:13

The ‘He’ referred to here is God. His beloved son is Jesus! He lifts us up from the depths of Hell and transfers us to His Kingdom – Heaven! What a glorious day when a sinner confesses he or she is a sinner, repents, and makes Jesus the Lord and Savior over their life, living for God’s glory and the promise of Heaven.

Through Jesus, we are delivered from the darkness into the light. It is from Hell into Heaven. God created the light (Genesis 1:3). God created everything, including Hell. It is not His desire for us to spend eternity there, but we have a choice to make.

What does it mean to be delivered? The first thing that comes to my mind is a newborn baby being delivered. A baby is in the womb, in darkness. Then labor starts and they are delivered into the light. Fast forward to a believer’s confession; some call this being “reborn.” It is the same concept, leaving the darkness, entering the light. Both of these birth’s come from God. He is the only one that can deliver us from our sin into His glorious kingdom.

We do not deserve it. We did not do anything to earn it. We did nothing; God just transferred us to His kingdom because of our trust in Him as Lord and Savior at the time of salvation. If we are saved, He has delivered us from Hell.

We must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to be saved and then we are assured of this deliverance from Hell.

Jesus came and made a way for us to be delivered, to be rescued, to be set free from Satan’s power. Because God sent Jesus, and Jesus died on the cross, today we have the hope of eternity in Heaven.

Have you met the God that delivers? Has he delivered you?

“All you need to do to go to Hell is do nothing.” – John MacArthur

Self-Control

Blooming • Self-Control
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

What is self-control? If there’s a candy bar on your desk, do you pick it up and eat it without thinking first? (Note: I speak from experience here!) If someone angers you, do you fly off the handle? Self-control, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is having control over your feelings or actions. Wikipedia goes further to explain that self-control is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses.

There are several examples of people exhibiting self-control in the Bible, from Joseph to Job to Jesus, and several examples of people not exhibiting self-control, from Eve to Samson (and on and on!). But how do you obtain self-control? It begins at the time of salvation, and it grows or becomes more apparent, and as you mature in your Christianity. The Holy Spirit, being in the Word, and learning through a Growth Community lesson, will all help you learn right from wrong, good from evil. You will conscientiously begin to make different decisions based on this new found knowledge. You will begin to THINK before you ACT and decide – do I need to eat that candy bar or this apple? Do I need to go into that bar or should I keep driving? Should I yell in anger, or count to 10 and calm down first? You will begin to exercise self-control to avoid temptations. When you know that you can do something that is not good for you, but do not, that is self-control!

The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is from the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16-17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Worldly things tempt us, but we have free will to decide as to what to do when faced with that temptation. Do we give in to our worldly desire, or do we exercise self-control?

The first step is to control our thoughts. By controlling our thoughts, we can then control our actions. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” As soon as a negative or bad thought creeps in, think of something else. Philippians 4:8 gives a nice list, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Another way to gain self-control is to avoid temptations. Luke 22:40 reads, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 adds, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Lastly, we all make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move forward. The prophet Jeremiah, in verse 31:34 says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” If Jesus forgives your iniquities, should you not also forgive yourself for your loss of self-control? Start again fresh each hour, each day, and let the Holy Spirit guide you in your thoughts and actions.

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle

The Favored One

Mary • Devotion #2: The Favored One
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’” (Luke 1:30)

“I have found favor with you.”   Would we not all love to hear those words from our God?  What an honor, to have God find favor with you!  It ranks right up there with “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Such was the case with Mary.  She was maybe 14 years old.  In that culture, girls were betrothed (engaged) at a young age.  Mary was betrothed to Joseph but was not yet married.  An angel appeared to Mary and told her she had found favor with God and would have a baby.   Imagine what she must have been thinking when she heard those words.  “Get outta here” or “You are joking,” is what we might say today.

  

How does one “find favor with God?”  Is this something we can earn by good works, or buy?  Is it something we can steal away from another?  No.  It is a result of our faith.  We are all unclean, sinners, fallen from grace (Isaiah 64:6).  But Mary was pleasing, approved, liked by God, and chosen to carry our Lord and Savior in her womb.  She was a virgin, so what would Joseph say?  What would others think?   They surely would not hear the news and say “Congratulations, Mary, you are carrying God’s Son and it is a miracle.”  No, they would likely say, “You liar, you whore.”  They would see her as a very immoral person.

The angel told Mary the child would be named Jesus.  “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus”  (Luke 1:31).  Mary was the first person ever to hear the name of Jesus.  What an honor!  Do you think she comprehended what this all meant?  I doubt it.  She knew she was specially chosen, for sure.  She believed in God and trusted His plan for her life.  But still, it could not have been easy.  No one would believe her.  She had to remain strong in her faith and trust that God would work out the details, which He did!

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, had a similar experience.  Her husband, Zacharias, and she were not able to have children.  They were aged when Zacharias was visited by an angel, similar to Mary, to announce that Elizabeth would bear a son and his name would be John (Luke 1:13).  Fast forward six months later to Mary.  We do not know if Mary knew about Elizabeth at the time, but she inevitably found out shortly when she visited Elizabeth and the unborn baby, John, leaped in his mother’s womb!  How exciting to have a family member to share her joy with, because undoubtedly everyone else was looking down on Mary.

Another person in the Bible who found favor in God’s sight was Noah. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He was used in a mighty way to save his family and the animals during the great flood.  God chose Noah for a particular purpose because of his faith.

God chose Mary, Elizabeth, Noah, and others because of their great faith.  We need to strive to have this great faith so that God will use each of us for His will and in His timing.

It Is Time

Miraculous conception and birth #1  November 6 It Is Time

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.”  Luke 1:5-7 

The time had come.  Time for things to be put into place for Jesus to come to Earth.  God had a plan, a perfect plan (Are not ALL of God’s plans perfect?!).  Sin was rampant.  The one to pay for all mankind’s sin was about to come.

The one to announce this miracle would be John the Baptist.  The story of John’s conception and birth is fascinating.  His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were “advanced in years.”   They had no children and had resigned to the fact they would not have any children.

  

Have we not all been there?  You want something so bad.  Time passes, and you do not get it.  You are frustrated, feel defeated and hopeless.  But these two remained faithful.  It is through their faithfulness that God would use them to bear a son, John.  John would be the one to announce Jesus’ coming and purpose.  What an incredible story of how remaining faithful to God will reward you in the end!

They were “righteous,” “blameless.”  They both came from priestly descent.  Both were righteous inside and out.  Not like some of the other leaders and priests who were hypocrites, putting on an outward appearance that did not match their hearts.  These parents-to-be were righteous in God’s eyes, not just because of their outward appearance.

The Bible does not tell us much about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  But we do know that they were chosen to bear John the Baptist because of their faithfulness, and their age.  Friends and family would know that this had to be of God and that this child was special.

Having been barren was a disgrace at this time.  It might even appear as a punishment by God, possibly because of sin, or not having God’s blessing.   But they remained faithful and did not turn away from God.  By waiting until they were older, God would show that He is a God of miracles and a God who answers the prayers of the faithful.

God chose this time to fulfill His promise of a redeemer, to use Zechariah and Elizabeth in the plan, to bless them with the child of their dreams, who would go on to baptize Jesus.  Their patience was rewarded!

We can be reminded by their story to be faithful because God will remember!

Donna Fox

Assistant to the Growth Pastor



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.