Devotions

Author Archives: John Hubbard

Noah

Lesson Two | Devotion #1: Noah
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

Do Not Miss The Ark.

Have you ever decided you wanted to run a full marathon? What did you do? Did you think about it often? Did you lie awake at night and imagine everyone’s amazement that you could do something so difficult? You might have searched the internet for videos to learn about how to better run your first marathon. Hopefully, you started to prepare yourself for the challenge that running a marathon presents. It does not stand to reason that your mental preparation alone would come in handy for such a daunting physical endeavor. If you want something big to happen, it takes work. The planning and the learning will not help you without any real doing. Francis Chan uses a similar analogy for Christians regarding the Great Commission. Imagine standing before God and saying, “Well God, I did not actually share the Gospel with the lost, but I read and memorized every verse in the Bible about it, and I even started a Bible Study where a group of us came up with some practical ways to share the Gospel, and I have heard all the great preacher’s sermons on the importance of sharing the Gospel.” It sounds pretty comical when he puts things in that frame of reference, but how often do we do the same things? We want to make a big change, but we are afraid to start putting in the work. You might embarrass yourself, you might screw up, or you might even hurt yourself.

In Genesis, we find Noah in a similar situation. God finds him as a righteous man living in a time of total wickedness. God lays out a huge task for him in Genesis 6. Noah is set to build a massive ark to survive the coming Flood. Noah saw a huge movement of God coming and knew that his only option was to prepare. Now, luckily for him, the Lord spelled out pretty clearly both what He wanted and what He was going to do. For us, it is easy to get discouraged when we do not feel certain about what God is going to do. It is impossible to know everything that God will do, but it is not impossible to know a specific thing that God is doing.

This is where we look to the Church as the body of Christ. The Church has been tasked with carrying out the work of God, namely in the Great Commission. We hear of all the things the church is doing, and it is so easy to sit back and say, “Wow, I hope that goes well.”

I realize that a church event is a little different that a global flood, but how well would Noah have fared if he did not get to building the ark? The same goes for us now. How well would an outreach opportunity in your community go if everyone hopes it will go great and does not show up. It did not matter then that Noah had never built an ark before, and it does not matter now if you have never volunteered, you just have to give it your best shot. We all want God to move powerfully, but sometimes we forget about the ark we are going to need to build first.

Believe | How?

Believe | Devotion #6: How?
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

The disciples saw Jesus do many miraculous things, but each one of them did not fully understand the resurrection. After seeing the power that Jesus had over sickness, over storms and the sea, overfeeding a multitude of people, and even raising a man from the dead, the disciples had lost all hope and were in hiding following Jesus’ death and burial.

If you read Mark 16:10-13, you will see that each one of the disciples failed to believe the accounts that the resurrection had taken place. We always like to single out Thomas as the one who doubted Jesus’ resurrection. Read the passage beforehand.

John 20:19-20 says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”

In this passage, we find that the other ten disciples all doubted the resurrection until Jesus appeared before them. They saw His body and the scars, and they believed. The next passage is where we come to Thomas who was absent during Jesus first visit. Jesus appears again, eight days later, to the disciples and instead of rebuking Thomas for his disbelief, He comes and meets Thomas where he was in his doubt and shows him the truth.

Luke 24:44-47 says, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’”

The disciples needed to see Jesus to understand what Jesus had been telling them all along, that He was to die and on the third day rise from the dead. It is awesome that even from the point of total hopelessness, Jesus takes the time to set us straight and lead in the right direction.

No Ledge

Delivery on Time • No Ledge
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

I have always loved movies with an opening scene that has some huge and intricate accident. I picture a man sitting outside a restaurant doing a crossword in the newspaper when he accidentally hits his coffee cup causing the waitress to jump out of the way which startles the bicyclist who swerves to miss her. The biker ends up on the street, so the car coming behind him slams on his brakes and gets rear-ended. I have always liked the idea these types of scenes can show that sometimes the smallest of accidents can cause real problems. How could the man have known that spilling his coffee would ruin the rear bumper of a car in the street? He could not have; one of the crazy things about God is that nothing surprises Him. His plan and will do not get redirected; He does not get sent on detours, everything comes together just how He intended.

In the book of Acts, Peter is addressing multitudes of people immediately after the disciples have been speaking to them in many different languages, He talks about the coming of the Messiah, and he says an interesting thing about Jesus.
“This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Acts 2:23

God’s definite plan of redemption for all of us was incredibly timed. Jesus was born of the line of King David, out of Bethlehem which was David’s hometown. God did not have a “rough idea” of how it would play out. He knew that the Jewish leadership would reject Jesus, and they despised Him enough to plot to have Him killed. Since Jesus lived in a time of Roman occupation, who better to execute Jesus than the Romans. Even though they acted of their reasoning, God was in control of it. Jesus fully intended to die for the sins of all of us, even if it looked like a betrayal by His own people at the time.

When Peter spoke to all these people about the prophecies of Jesus being fulfilled, the Bible says that three thousand souls were saved that day.

Hide, Then Go Seek

Shepherds • Devotion #5: Hide Then Go Seek
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

I will always remember the first time my family went to Disney World. I was the oldest of four kids so we did not go until I was fourteen. You might think that at fourteen I would be too old to think Disney World would be cool, but even then, as we approached in the car I was training my eyes on the horizon. Nearby was this place I had known of and knew so much about but had never seen and I was so excited to confirm it with my own eyes. I did not doubt that it was real, but there is a certainty that visual confirmation brings, an understanding that I desired to have. I imagine this is only an inkling of the emotions that ran through the shepherds just outside of Bethlehem. In Luke 2:15-16 the shepherds have just witnessed a choir of angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus.

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” 

The shepherds were on such a rollercoaster of emotions in such a short span of time. An angel appeared to them and they were frightened, then many more appeared and began to sing, then just as suddenly as they appeared they were gone. God wanted the shepherds to be a part of something that would be talked about for generations, literally thousands of years. Like most things that will have an eternal significance, the first reaction is fear. Your fear can paralyze you into missing out on God’s plan. What if Moses had run from the burning bush? What if he was too afraid to run until afterward (similar to Jonah) once he thought God was not looking? Of course, He was looking all along.

These shepherds overcame their fear of the angels and were filled with excitement at the news they heard. They had an experience of intimate worship with God. Then the shepherds gathered their belongings and went to share a meal. They probably talked about how great they felt, cherishing that awesome chorus when the angels sang or how cool it was when the drums and light show really picked up on the bridge. They could hear the voices so well.  Do not forget the sharing of the Word that was so touching and moving. That started to sound a lot like Sunday afternoon lunch, did it not? No, these men did not need to sit and reflect on what had happened. They were going to make sure that they did not miss out on the next thing God was doing. They were so excited about the Good News the angels had brought that they went with haste and found where Jesus had been born, and they worshiped Him there.

Now, reflection and remembering a special moment is a not bad thing, those precious times with God are a foundation of your personal testimony. I know that for me, when God calls and makes it clear when His train is leaving the station, I do not want to miss it because it scares me at first.

Fallen – His Angels #4

Devils and Demons | Holy, Holy, Holy
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

When you think of angels, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the story of the Virgin Mary? Is it one of those Thomas Kinkade Paintings that every true and holy Christian family would have at the end of their hallways? Is it the Angel of Death passing over Egypt, claiming the firstborn of every household who disobeyed the commands of God? For me, I always start humming the old hymn:

Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,

Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Such odd words to say and sing. This portion of the song is inspired from Revelation 4:4-6:

“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal … and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’”

I am always left in such awe when I imagine what that moment will be like to behold. At the same time, it is terrifying to think that there are angels that experienced that kind of a moment and chose to turn away from God. Later in the book of Revelation, the devil is described as a great dragon whose tail has swept down a third of the stars, a common depiction of angels. Later in the chapter, it speaks of how Satan was cast out, and all his angels with him. This passage is how we come to say that one-third of the angels turned away from God to follow the devil. They had been in that place, in Heaven experiencing the glory of God and they turned away. They saw the power of God Almighty, and they elected to praise Lucifer in His place. Were they simply deceived by Satan?

The Great Deceiver is not a title lightly given I have no doubt, but surely angels would not fall so easily into his trap. Did they see Satan’s pride in themselves perhaps? They were angels just like Satan.  If Satan can glorify himself, why could not they?

Many of you that read these devotions have seen something in your life that can only have been from God, be it your testimony of salvation or the transformation in the life of a family member or someone close to you who has heard the call of Jesus. You might say, just like the angels, that since you have seen God in such a real way that you could never turn away from Him. Surely nothing could come between you and Him. Before you even realize it, something that is vying for your attention will become your focus. You will start to look forward to that thing, nothing wrong with that right? Then you will tell God, “maybe tomorrow, I promise. I have got something a little more important than you; it just cannot wait. I am sure you will understand.”

I guess it is not so hard to look exactly like the angels who fell.



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.