Devotions

Author Archives: John Hubbard

Abraham’s Response 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #2: Abraham’s Response
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:1-3

It is important to remember that Abraham’s story does not begin here. He had already been through so much with God, waiting year after year for God to give him a son through Sarah. When I see just this part of the story, I am shocked at Abraham’s willingness to, for lack of a better word, execute this command. Keep in mind that already Abraham has made mistakes in his walk with God. He had tried to do things his own way in the past when he felt God was taking too long for his wife, Sarah, to bear him a son. So, Abraham had a son through Hagar called Ishmael. This plan of Abraham and Sarah did not work out as well as they had hoped. How often do we make our own plans in place of God’s plans? 

Whenever I read this chapter I cannot decide if Abraham knew God was testing him or not, Abraham had already been told that he would become a great nation through Isaac, so surely he will not have to kill him. Isaac is now old enough to comprehend and speak to his father about the process of building an altar. 

Genesis 22:7-8 says, “And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.”

Again, is Abraham lying to his son or is he sure that God will provide? Either way, I think the most important thing Abraham did was to respond immediately. He did not know how it would turn out, but he knew that he would do what God commanded. He did not just head out and rush through this command; he equipped himself to succeed in his task. He prepared his donkey, and he gathered and cut wood for the fire.

What has God commanded us to do now? In our day and age, we like to have the best-laid plans. We desire no surprises, no variables, and no failure. We love to prepare ourselves, but are we fulfilling our task? 

First Thing to Do 

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #5: First Thing to Do
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

Have you ever been sure that God was moving right in front of you? Maybe you have witnessed a group of people putting their faith in Jesus shortly after a Pastor has preached, or you have heard that someone whose health had been failing is doing inexplicably better. 

What is your first reaction in those moments? “The preacher must be good. Well they have got the right doctor, or maybe they have got the right combination of medication.” We have all played the “if I win the lottery, the first thing I would do” game, what is your first move? Would you pay off your mortgage, buy a new car, or get your mother something nice?

In Genesis, Abram is instructed by God to gather up his family and all his belongings and move to a foreign land that he will inherit. As he arrives in the land of Canaan, it is interesting to see what will be the first thing he does.

Genesis 12:7-8 says, “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.”

As Abram followed God obediently through the land of Canaan, he continuously prioritized worshiping the Lord. When Abram had heard from God that his descendants would inherit the land, he stopped there and built an altar. In those days a burnt sacrifice was the way you worshipped God. Abram’s first move was not to plan his new house, or to think much of himself for earning his inheritance. He knew that everything that was happening was because God had done it. We like to put the credit where it often does not belong – in a pastor, a doctor, or our own hard work, but it all belongs to God.

Daily

Requests • Devotion #6: Daily
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

My daughter has a pretty good bedtime routine each night. The last thing on the list, just after mom or dad check off the ‘tuck me in all warm and cozy’ box, is to pray together. Her usual prayer request is a very general “for everyone,” which I love. You never can know just who exactly needs prayer after all. Recently, she has been interjecting a thought or comment while we are praying: “for my brother not to be sick,” “that we can still go to the park tomorrow,” or something like that. It got me thinking, are requests the only things that I bring to God in prayer?

It seems to me that the most common way that I hear people describe prayer is as a request. We pray, “God, keep me healthy, please help me pass this exam, get me through today somehow, heal my grandma.” The list is endless. The Almighty God of creation can so often be reduced to some wishing well. What exactly should we bring to God to ask for help?

The disciples wondered this same thing when they began to follow Jesus. In Luke chapter 11 Jesus shows the disciples how to pray. In verse 3 Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The disciples, being Jews, had a very real connection with what Jesus was saying. While their ancestors wandered in the desert, the Lord provided food for them daily. In the book of Exodus chapter 16, God lays the ground rules for how the Israelites should gather manna, the bread from Heaven. Each day they were instructed to gather only what they needed for that day. When they did not listen and gathered more than they needed, it would be full of worms and begin to smell. How often do we take more than we need? How much more often do we ask for even more than we need?

God wants to hear our requests. He cares about every aspect of our life. However, have we become selfish in our prayer life? Are we praying for things, so we do not need to live by faith?

Walk this Way

Grow | Devotion #5: Walk this Way
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

When I hear the word “grow,” my first thought is always to a plant, a vegetable, or even something like a tree. Our faith starts as a small seed and grows deeper into the soil and sprouts up from the ground, and it begins to bear fruit once it is mature. I have been intrigued by another example of growth in Scripture, walking. God walked with Adam and Eve, Enoch walked with God, and Noah walked with God. Proverbs chapter 9 refers to Wisdom as walking in the way of insight. 

“Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight. Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:6-10).

This verse reassures us that having wisdom is not what makes you wise; a wise man is one who loves reproof and instruction. Our mentors, pastors, and, as much as you do not want to believe it, spouses are going to give you reproof and especially instruction. How are you going to receive that critique, with hostility or humility?  God will use many things to refine us, do not push away from those people in your life who are constantly in the Word. A lot of the time we feel like we are learning more of the Word to be better at arguing against our opponents, or to prove to our fellow church people how much higher our path is and how much narrower our gate is. That is just not the case; argue with a scoffer or a wicked man and no good will come of it.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’”

We are learning more of the Word to continue to die to self and to walk with God daily. Each day we decide, “Am I going to live for me today or am I going to live for God?” Growth comes when we choose to walk with God, and when we are not afraid to get involved with a community of believers that are striving to do the same.

O Praise the Name (Anastasis)

Gather | Devotion #6: O Praise the Name (Anastasis)
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

There are so many reasons that a song can make an instant connection to a body of believers. From the very start of the first verse, it can grab your attention and take you to a place of affirmation even as you are listening for the first time. O Praise the Name (Anastasis) by Hillsong Worship is a song that wastes no time getting to the point, the Gospel. This song is a journey through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The word “Anastasis” is a Greek word that translates to “resurrection,” not only regarding Jesus, but also the raising up of believers at the end of the age. 

Not only is O Praise the Name a journey, but it is also sung from a personal point of view. The first line, “I cast my mind to Calvary,” brings the listener to an actual point of reference. The second line, “where Jesus bled and died for me,” hits you with one of the most vivid scenes found in the Gospel. The songwriters wanted to hone in on the actual moment of Jesus’ death and step into the shoes of those that were closest to Him. The second verse has a line, “His body bound and drenched in tears,” is a unique look at that moment between Jesus’ death and resurrection. A lot of the time it seems that the burial of Jesus suffers from the middle-child syndrome, not as in-your-face as the eldest child who came first, Jesus’ death, and not like the youngest child who everyone likes to give their attention, His resurrection. To spend a moment and think about the people who lost all hope and had to bury Jesus, you cannot help but feel that raw emotional reaction.

The chorus is my favorite part of the song, and I love that every arrangement I have heard has at least three in a row to end the song. Most of the time having three in a row makes you feel like it drags on, but the lyrics catch you:

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord oh Lord our God

Forevermore we will sing His praise, so if you are sick of singing that after the third time I do not want to be the one to tell you what we will be doing in Heaven before the throne of God, forever and ever. To be fair, I am sure that eventually, I will want to switch up the song now and then, but until that time comes, I will continue to praise the Name of the Lord our God.



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