Devotions

Author Archives: Josh Lahring

Rachel’s Sons

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #4: Rachel’s Sons
Josh Lahring | Production Director

The story of Jacob and Rachel is one of love, sin, deceit, and irony.  The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Rachel and labored for seven years just to have her hand in marriage.  Genesis 29:20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” 

If you have ever loved, you know the love that Jacob had for her. He was willing to do anything to be with her. However, when Jacob went to be with her on their wedding night, Rachel’s father and sister plotted to trick him. Instead of Jacob sleeping with Rachel, it was Leah instead. This may remind you of a story two chapters earlier when Jacob and his mother plotted against his brother to receive his father’s blessing.  

Now Jacob is married to Leah, and he is angry that he was tricked. The father says to finish the bridal week with Leah, and he will give him Rachel as well for another seven years of labor. Now Jacob finally has the wife he loves. As you can imagine Leah is bitter that he loves Rachel more.

However, the Bible says that Rachel could not bear children, but Leah did. Genesis 30:1 (NIV) explains, “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’” Now Rachel, who is loved, is bitter at her sister that she gave their husband children.

By now Leah had given Jacob four sons, so Rachel was extremely jealous. However, Rachel was more loved than Leah and Leah was jealous that Rachel was loved. All through chapter 30, it is a war of jealousy between Rachel and Leah to give their husband more children.  

Then in verses 22-24 (NIV), the Bible says, “Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, ‘God has taken away my disgrace.’ She named him Joseph, and said, ‘May the Lord add to me another son.’”

Rachel was bitter and became selfish. Instead of seeking God and waiting patiently upon Him, she did things her own way; she had her servant have children with her husband. It did not work out well for Sarah with Hagar, and it did not work out well here either. In both cases, God decided to bless the women with children.

In all of our mistakes and sinfulness God still hears us and listens to the cry of our hearts. He will not abandon you. Although we have gone our own ways and are selfish and bitter, He still listens and blesses us.  

When God blesses us with something, it is easy to take it for granted and not see how blessed we are. Most of the time we get so focused on one thing we want but fail to see all the other blessings God has been giving us. Sometimes we receive our blessing, but we want more rather than being thankful. Right after giving birth to her first child, Rachel so desperately longed for another that she named him Joseph and said, “May the Lord add to me another son!” God did give her another son. In chapter 35, she had another son but she died after childbirth.  

Faith 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #5: Faith
Josh Lahring | Production Director

In Genesis chapter 22, we see Abraham being told by God to take his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar made of wood. Genesis 22:6-8 (NIV) records, “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.”

 Here we see a couple of things. First, Isaac had faith in his father and second, that Abraham had faith in God that He would provide even though he did not know what the outcome would actually be. In both cases we see the child obeying his father.

After I graduated from high school, I did what every student did and tried to figure out what I should do for a career. I decided that I would go to the University of Michigan Flint to study Music. After a year of that, I realized that there was no way I would make a career out of music and that I had to change to something different.  After reviewing the degrees they offered, I started the fall semester in computer science. I knew quite a bit about computers so I thought it would be a good fit and there would be a lot of jobs available. I was consumed with being in control of my future, as everyone tells you, you have to have a plan.

Three weeks into the program, I was at a church event, and God made me realize that I could not live my life that way. When I got home, I told my mom I was dropping out and transferring to a Christian college to study Music and Bible Theology. I was nervous about it, but yet at peace that I knew it was what God had called me to do. Years later, I was asked to come work at the River Church in Goodrich full-time and every day I am able to use all my gifts for His purpose.

Imagine the fear Abraham had while heading up that mountain to sacrifice his son.  He knew he had to do what God had called him to do even though it did not make sense. Yet, he knew that God would provide. When he was about to kill his son, an amazing thing happens. Verses 12-13 (NIV) record, “‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” 

Sometimes what we are called to do does not make logical sense, but we must have faith that God will provide and that His ways are perfect. Trust God, have confidence, walk in faith, and look for God to provide.

Pride 

Tower of Babel • Devotion #3: Pride
Josh Lahring | Production Director

I love to build and create. As a kid, I spent countless hours building with Legos. I can remember building something that made me feel so proud. Entering it into a contest, and yet did not receive any recognition for it. It was the greatest thing I had ever built; how could it not have been good enough? It is easy to become prideful and think that we are amazing when in reality, it is God who gave us the ability in the first place.

God gave man the ability to create. In Genesis chapter 11, man began to realize that there was nothing that they could not build. In verse 4, it says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’”

Pride had led man to want to build a city because they were worried about themselves. They did not want to be dispersed over the earth, so they came up with a way to solve that problem, and while doing it, they could bring glory to man. God, however, would not allow it. He confused their language, and they ended up being dispersed over the earth, the one thing they were trying to avoid.   

James 4:6 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

We, as man, in and of ourselves, are nothing. We are our Creator’s masterpiece, and we are meant to be glorifying the Creator in all we do.

Are the things we do for our glory or God’s?

Training Wheels

Worship • Devotion #6: Training Wheels
Josh Lahring | Production Director

When my daughter was five, I figured she could learn to ride a bike without training wheels.  One day I took off the training wheels and tried to hold her up while she rode around. She cried and was so mad that I took off her training wheels. The next day I got her to try again, but she was so mad. She cried again and begged me to put on her training wheels. After a few more attempts she finally trusted I would hold her up while she practiced. Brooklyn was not too thrilled about it, but after a few days, she was cruising along while I ran with her holding on to her. Then I started to let go a little bit without her knowing till she would start to fall. She would yell at me, “Don’t let go!!” Each attempt on her bike I would let her go, and before she knew it, she was riding on her own. She thought I was helping her, but I was not.

As her father, I knew that it is a lot more fun to ride a bike with two wheels than with training wheels, but I also know that to learn how involves falling a lot.  It made me think of how our Heavenly Father allows us to go through struggles. We get so mad and upset at the way our life is, but He, being our Heavenly Father, knows what our future holds.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “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.”

It is so easy to be angry at God our Father for things that happen to us rather than completely trusting in His plan, knowing that His ways are higher than our own.

You love your children and would do anything for them but also realize the importance of letting them try things, learn lessons, struggle, and suffer to become better or prepared for something. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us, His children.

Realizing His direction and protection should cause us to start every conversation with Him in worship. We need to praise Him for what He is doing in our lives. He never removes His hand but provides true freedom.

Phony Joy

Reach | Devotion #5: Phony Joy
Josh Lahring | Production Director

There was a commercial I saw some time ago that made me think of how we should be sharing Jesus with others. It is called ‘Sparklers’ by Verizon.  Now you might think, “How did a phone commercial make you think about that?”  You can check out the commercial on YouTube if you would like. 

It simply starts out with one person holding a sparkler and then they light another person’s sparkler. Then that person lights another, and they light another and another. I think you are getting the picture. Next thing you know, there is a whole street full of people with sparklers lighting up the whole dark town, all looking excited.

It is what is said in this commercial that I believe if we Christians understood we would be telling everyone about Jesus.  It simply says, “When you experience something great, you want to share it with everyone.” 

This statement is so true about the way we are with phones and gadgets. How often are we so excited about a new phone or gadget that we feel like it changes our life that we tell all our friends and anyone we encounter.  We do not even care if they do not listen or have no interest, we just go say, “Hey, look at what I just got! It is so awesome! You should get one too!” 

However, as Christians, our greatest joy that we will ever experience is Christ!  Are we not as excited to share Him with our friends and others more than something like a phone?   

 Have you experienced the great love of Christ so much that you just want everyone else to experience it?  That is why we should want to share it with everyone.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16



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