Devotions

Author Archives: James Clouse

Guard the Door 

Radioactive | Devotion #1: Guard the Door
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Monsters, Gremlins, Oogey Boogeyman, and things that go bump in the night, remind me of an old Carman song:

Don’t want no monsters in my house tonight! 

Don’t want no monsters in my house!

You won’t get me screaming, 

You’re nothing but a demon, it’s time for you to go now!

While Carman may have been talking about literal monsters in his house, we are here to talk about other types of demons. It is the demons that affect our homes and our families. These are the ones that are harder to get out than just screaming at them. 

We live in a world where there are demons and sin that disguise themselves. When we used to think of monsters, we would think vampires, werewolves, and mummies. But now we have to worry about forms of monsters like anger, lust, and bad influence. It is difficult to keep Christ strong in our homes when so many in the world and our culture are not teaching our families the difference between right and wrong. However, it is important to realize that there is a doormat at our front doors to get rid of all the dirt before entering the home. The dirt is sin and worldly desires.  

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.”

We need to teach our families to walk by the Spirit rather than the desires of the flesh. While the world and culture may be trying to teach our families things that are in opposition to what the Spirit teaches, if your passion for the Spirit in the home is strong enough, then those things will not be let inside your home. 

To do this, your family needs to spend a healthy dose of time together in the Word of God. It is hard to understand the difference between right and wrong if we are not first allowing God to teach us. The only way to learn what is allowed in our home and what is not is allowing the Spirit to guide our families. Read the Word of God together so that your kids know when they go into the world, what is allowed there is not always what is going to be allowed in your home. 

Shout to those demons, “It’s time for you to go now!”

Tender Heart 

Bonded | Devotion #3: Tender Heart
James Clouse | Student Pastor

To be tender-hearted means to be “easily moved to love, pity, or sorrow” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.  Why is this a must within a family? Is being moved to sorrow or pity a good thing within our family? I want to look at this in two different ways. 

I was reading an article by John Piper that talked about being tender-hearted; he mentioned praying for tender-heartedness as well as being firm and resilient. I believe that both of these things are important when it comes to a family. This can be seen in the story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve both sinned in front of God. God had a tender heart and spared them their lives yet still punished them for their transgressions. 

How can we have this same balance in our homes? How can we show a tender heart to our spouse and children and yet still make sure that we are firm and resilient when we need to be?

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

As a family, we cannot let the sin of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, or slander poison our homes. Malice can cause friction within the home that not many things can heal other than the love of Christ. By being tender-hearted in our home, we are showing that we are allowing Christ to change the hearts of our homes. 

It is easy to love our children. But is it always easy to love them when they are not listening? When your teenager does not listen to your advice on friends or relationships, is it easy to feel pity for them when things go wrong? No. But when we are allowing Christ to change our hearts, then those things become easier. Remember that God first forgave and had pity and sorrow for us and it becomes easier to provide that same thing for our family. 

In saying all of this, I do believe that we also need to show firmness and resiliency in our homes. I believe that our culture sometimes shows too much tender-heartedness and not enough firmness. When our kids or students are misbehaving or not listening it can be easy to be manipulated into showing too much mercy without accountability. This can lead to enabling. We have to remember that while God was tender-hearted with Adam and Eve, they did not go without their punishment. But the key to doing this is doing it in love. Do not show wrath in your punishment. Do not let bitterness eat away at your relationships. God was still with Adam and Eve outside of the garden even in their punishment. 

“Daddy”

Everlasting Father | Devotion #3: “Daddy”
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Lorelai, my daughter, is incredibly special to me. She is our little miracle child. She was born through God’s love and grace, and that is why her middle name is Grace. I did not always have the best relationship with my dad growing up. While we have a good relationship now; growing up was not always easy. When my wife Amanda and I had Lorelai, I made a promise to both my wife and daughter that I would be the very best daddy that I could be. 

When I think of Jesus as my Everlasting Father, I think about the ways that He is an amazing daddy to me. People all over the world are without fathers and search for father figures in their lives. They think of this phrase “I wish my dad was ___________.” People fill in this blank with many things such as loving, caring, or loyal.

We often forget to look at Jesus as our Father. In John 8:18-19, Jesus reminds us where to look for our Father.

“‘I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.’ They said to him therefore, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’”

If we want to know Jesus as Father, we need to first know His Father. His Father, God, is all the things that people can use to fill in the blank. God is loving, God is caring, and God is loyal. 

Galatians 4:6 reminds us who our Father is when Paul writes, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’”

When you need someone to run to, run to God. When you need someone to cry out to, cry to your Heavenly Father. When you need someone to care for you when you feel that there is nobody else caring, let the Father who cared for the world enough to send His son for eternal salvation care for you.

If you are looking for a Father, run to Jesus to fill in that blank.

Can I Fix it?

Mighty God | Devotion #4: Can I Fix it?
James Clouse | Student Pastor

I like to fix things. I am not saying this in the sense that I am at all good with fixing cars, electronics, or even doing things around the house. Ask Amanda; you do not want to see me with power tools (As I type this I do my best Tim Allen Tool Man grunt). Rather, when people tell me things or have a problem, the first thing I try to do often is fix it. I ask myself if this is something that I can fix. I then often realize that this situation is far above the limitations that are placed upon me as a human being. The situations that I want to fix are not possible in my limited capacity as a mere human being.  

But in Ephesians 3:19-21, I read about a Savior who is unlimited in His capacity to fix any situation: 

“And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Underlining added)

Church, this should give us hope! I feel comforted knowing we have our Mighty God and Savior who can fix any situation we are going through in life. Does this mean that when we are going through hard times that Christ will be right there to fix everything? Of course not. But know that we have a mighty Savior on our side ready to be our “tool man” who will provide us the comfort that we need to get through those times. 

Look back at Ephesians 3:16 for more information. It says, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Through the mighty power of Jesus Christ, we have the Spirit to help guide and lead us in life. Do you understand? 

Christ can do anything and everything. He can accomplish any task, overcome any depression, beat any adversary, and fix any family. According to Ephesians, He is accomplishing things in our lives that we do not even know. With the power of the Spirit within us, we are granted some of this power of the Mighty Savior.

Rely on the power of Christ in your life, in your workplace, and in your family. Do not try to fix them alone.

John 3:16

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #2: John 3:16
James Clouse| Student Pastor

Before I became a pastor, I worked in sales. I worked in numerous hotels and worked my way from a front desk salesperson to manager of corporate sales. During that time, I would spend all my time and energy explaining why people needed to spend time and money at my hotel. It could be because it was more affordable, more comfortable, more perks, or because of the amazing service. 

I am not a salesman anymore. God has called me to explain to people of the world where they should stay. As a pastor, I want to help you know where you should spend eternity. I have the perfect verse to help us understand what that means and how to get there. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 

God gave His only son Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the world, to help us understand where to spend eternity. This is not an overnight business stay at a hotel. This is not a week somewhere on vacation. Where we go when we die is for the rest of time. 

If you are one of those people who reads this and recognizes that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and know where you are going when you die, fantastic! But I also realize that there are many that are going to read this that are not certain of where they are going when they die. Let me help you. 

Believe in what Jesus has done for us. The one who is without sin died for all those that have sinned. The one who knew no sin in His life gave up that life for us to have a relationship with God His Father. Those that do not recognize the truth of what Jesus did for us, die and spend eternity in Hell. Those amenities are horrible, the service is horrendous, and let me tell you it is not comfortable. 

Romans 10:9 says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you are now one of those people reading this that wants that relationship with Jesus Christ, you need to believe it with all of your heart. Believe that Christ has died for you and your sins. Believe that Jesus not only died, but resurrected from the grave to defeat sin, death, and Hell. Come to another believer and tell them what you have done. Confess your relationship with a public display of baptism or tell your pastor. 

Then you will be able to spend eternity with your Father where I do not need to sell the amenities or the service to you. You will be spending eternity with the Father. He is the one who loves us, created us, and gave up everything for us. 



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.