Devotions

Author Archives: Gareth Volz

Testimony #1

Reach | Testimony #1
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

My salvation experience is not very exciting compared to that of people who God delivered from a life of “horrific” sin. God granted me the privilege to be born into a household where both my parents were Christians who loved the Lord. My earliest memories are of my mother and father reading me Bible stories and praying with me daily. 

Until the age of six, my family lived on the first level of my grandparents’ house in Detroit, and my grandparents lived on the upper level. My grandparents loved the Lord, and I adored them. On Easter Sunday in 1953 after lunch, I was upstairs spending time with them, and my grandmother asked me what I learned in Sunday school that day. I related to her the flannel graph lesson we had been taught about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. She asked me if I understood why Jesus died on the cross, and I said it was to save people who had sinned. When she explained that I was a sinner, I was shocked (I was five at the time). That Sunday afternoon in 1953, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be my Savior. For the next few years, I had a real hunger for the Lord. I memorized Scripture, went to every church youth event I could, and had a real desire to serve the Lord. I was baptized at the age of 12. 

But when I went to college, I began to drift away from the Lord. I still went to church, I even taught a children’s Sunday School class, but my friends, sports, girls, and having fun diminished the time I spent with the Lord. Like the children of Israel, I got my focus off the Lord, spent less time in prayer and the Word, and in effect, wandered in the wilderness of the world. But even in my unfaithfulness, Jesus did not leave me to myself. He needed to humble me so that I would realize again that He was what I needed. The Christian girl I was engaged to broke it off, and I was devastated. I came running back to the Lord, and I asked Him to help me. I told Him I was sorry for putting other things before Him and asked His forgiveness. I also asked Him to direct my life and let me serve Him. Three years later I met the most beautiful girl in the world, who has been my wife for 44 years. God also opened the door for me to leave public education and serve Him in Christian schools for 28 years, as well as in different church ministries. I have been a blessed man, and my desire to serve and live for Jesus grows each day as I walk with Him.

Spirit of God in Him 

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #5: Spirit of God in Him
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

In Genesis 41:38-39 we read, “And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.’” 

I think that probably the greatest compliment that can be given to a true follower of God is that others can see evidence of God’s Holy Spirit in them. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Every believer is indwelt by God’s Spirit when they accept Jesus as their Savior. However, the Fruit of the Spirit reveals how filled the believer is with God’s Spirit. Being filled with God’s Spirit is a voluntary choice to surrender control of your life to the Holy Spirit’s control. Examining Joseph’s life shows how the Fruit of the Spirit was revealed in him.

A quick review of Joseph’s life showed that he was his father’s favorite son, which made his brothers jealous. This was made worse when, as a teenager, he had a dream that one day his brothers would all bow down to him. He told them this, and they sold him into slavery, telling their father he was killed by a wild animal. While he was a slave, he resisted the sexual flirtation of his master’s wife, and for doing what was right, was falsely accused and thrown into prison. While in prison, he interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s servants who also had been thrown into prison, giving credit for the interpretation to God. When both interpretations proved correct, and one was executed and one restored to his former position, he was forgotten by the latter and languished in prison. Finally, when Pharaoh was troubled by a dream, and none of his wise men could interpret it, Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh he knew someone who could interpret the dream. Joseph did so, giving credit to God, and this is when Pharaoh saw evidence of God’s Spirit in him.

What evidence did Pharaoh see in Joseph’s life? 

  1. Faithfulness: Faith gave him the ability to discern right from wrong as Potiphar’s slave, confidence to assure Pharaoh’s servants (and later Pharaoh himself) that interpretations belong to God, and God’s interpretations are true.
  2. Patience: Though Joseph was taken from a lavish life and sold into slavery, thrown into prison, and forgotten, he had the patience that God would work in his life for good.
  3. Kindness and Goodness: Joseph was kind to Pharaoh’s servants in prison, caring enough to share God’s truth with them, even while he was suffering.
  4. Love: Joseph’s unwavering love for God is seen throughout his trials in Egypt.
  5. Peace: Joseph was at peace because he knew God was ultimately in control, not Pharaoh.
  6. Love and Joy: Joseph’s love for God was evident in his declarations that it was God – not himself – who should receive credit for the dream interpretations and results. This led to joy for not only Joseph but Pharaoh and ultimately Joseph’s family.

It is my prayer that I will be filled with God’s Spirit and it will be evident to all. I pray that is your desire as well.

Brotherly Shove 

Joseph & Brothers • Devotion #3: Brotherly Shove
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

Today as we look at the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis chapter 37, we see how jealousy can lead to hatred, disobedience, and a breakdown of the relationship in the family. Joseph came from a dysfunctional family. His father, Jacob, had two full-fledged wives – Leah and Rachel, and two concubines – Bilhah and Zilpah. Leah was the mother of Reuben and Judah, while Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. The other brothers were the children of the concubines. Additionally, we read in verse 3 that Jacob (Israel) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the son of his old age. Verse 4 tells us that because of this, Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they could not speak peacefully to him. 

Verse 2 tells us that at the age of 17, Joseph was shepherding his father’s flocks along with his brothers, and he brought a bad report to Jacob about them. Joseph was not a tattletale, but apparently, the head shepherd, as evidenced by his coat of many colors. You might say Joseph was a white collar (supervisory) worker, while his brothers were blue collar workers – and they did not have a good working relationship. Here was disobedience to the working relationship the father wanted. 

Beginning at verse 12, we read that the brothers were tending the flocks near Shechem, and Jacob asked Joseph to go and check on the job they were doing. Joseph willingly accepted the task, and when he got to Shechem, he could not find his brothers nor the flocks. Joseph asked around and found out that his brothers had gone to Dothan, about 20 miles away. This was disobedience to where their father had sent them. 

As you read further in the chapter, you will find that the brothers plotted to kill Joseph. Reuben, however, convinced them just to throw Joseph into a pit, sell him to some passing slave traders, and tell their father he was killed by a wild animal. This was disobedience in the form of treachery, lying, and cover-up.

We find that Joseph was a picture of Jesus in the Old Testament. He was sent by his father to his other children. He was not accepted, and he was rejected by his own. The same was true of Jesus (John 1:9-11). 

Shechem in the Bible is a picture of the world. Joseph’s brothers were shepherding the flock near Shechem (the world) and then moved farther away from the father to Dothan.

The questions we need to ask ourselves as God’s children are:

  1. Do we truly love our Heavenly Father with all our heart?
  2. Do we truly love our brothers and sisters in the Lord?
  3. Are we happy with the assignment that our Heavenly Father has given us, or are we jealous of the assignment He has given to others we know?
  4. Are we spending our time flirting with the things of the world? 

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2

Wickedness & Miracle 

Lot’s Life • Devotion #5: Wickedness & Miracle
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

The wickedness and miracle described in Genesis 19:4-11 centers on the household of Lot. Lot is an interesting character, and in many ways, typical of many Christians today. Lot was raised in the godly home of his Uncle Abraham, and he was able to observe Abraham’s walk with God. We know that Lot was a child of God because he is described in 2 Peter 2:8 as a “righteous man.” 

As Lot grew in years, he went into business with his uncle, and between them, they owned large flocks of sheep. Their herds became so large that Lot’s herdsmen began to feud with Abraham’s herdsmen over where their sheep should graze. Abraham did not want this to cause trouble in the family, so he told Lot they needed to separate their herds and selflessly gave Lot the first choice of land. Lot saw how lush the Jordan Valley was and chose that for his herd. Unfortunately, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located in that region.

Lot got his focus off God and on himself and what pleased him. He went from looking toward Sodom (Genesis 13:10) to moving his tents near Sodom (Genesis 13:12) to living in Sodom (Genesis 14:12). Sodom is a picture of the world, and the world is full of sin (Genesis 13:13). God tells us that we are to live for Him, separate from the world. But to do that, our focus must be on Jesus and what pleases Him, not on the things of the world. Thus, as we get to Genesis chapter 19, Lot has compromised his testimony. He did not like the sin of homosexuality that was rampant in the city, but he liked the lifestyle Sodom provided him. He even became a city official.

In Genesis chapter 19, God decided to bring judgment on the sins of Sodom and its sister city Gomorrah, by destroying them with fire. However, because Lot was one of God’s people, and because of Abraham’s pleading with God, He sent two angels to rescue Lot, his wife, two daughters and their husbands before judgment came. Verses 4-11 show how much Lot’s compromise with sin affected his testimony. The men of the city demanded that Lot turn over the two men (they did not know they were really God’s angels) so they could have sex with them. To his credit, Lot stood up to them and refused to turn them over to the men to be defiled. To his discredit, he offered to let the men of Sodom have sex with his daughters instead. The men of the city were so into homosexuality that this offer did not interest them. Nor did they have any respect for Lot. When they got ready to storm Lot’s house and take the two angels and Lot, the angels pulled Lot inside and struck the men of the city with blindness. 

What lessons can we learn from this tragic episode in the life of Lot? First, keep our eyes on God, not the world or the things of the world. Second, flirting with sin has disastrous results. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul says, “Do not be deceived: ‘bad company ruins good morals.’” We need to love God, focus on the things of God, fellowship with His people, and speak the truth in love to those who do not know God. Third, just as Lot was spared from God’s judgment on the sins of Sodom, Christians are spared from sin judgment because Jesus has already paid the penalty for our sins on the cross.

Promises 

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #3: Promises
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

In Genesis 12:1, we read, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” Then in the next few verses, He makes three promises to Abraham:

Verse 2 – “I will make of you a great nation.”

Verse 3 – “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Verse 7 – “To your offspring I will give this land.”

These promises were given to Abraham (Abram) when he was 75 years old, and he and his wife Sarah were childless. I am sure that at first Abraham wondered if he had heard God correctly. Sometimes when God tells us to do something it seems hard, beyond what we can envision. But we need to remember what God said in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Each one of the promises in Genesis chapter 12 is important to fulfill God’s plan for the nation of Israel, but today I would like us to focus on the promise in verse 7. The promise is repeated in Chapter 13:14-17, where Abraham is told to survey the land God was giving to him and his descendants. In chapter 15:18-20, we are told that it is the entire area from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates river. The last part of verse 7 tells us that Abraham built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him. Abraham heard God’s promise and immediately worshipped God.

God tells us how Abraham responded to God’s promise in Hebrews 11:8-10,By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Abraham’s life is a great example of how God fulfills His promises, and God gives us a promise, if we follow Abraham’s example. 

God promises in Galatians 3:23-29, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” 

We can study God’s Word to learn the Lord’s will for every situation in our lives.



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