Devotions

Author Archives: Larry Gabbara

Darkness, the Curtain, and the Tombs

Commit | Devotion #3: Darkness, the Curtain, and the Tombs
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

When Jesus was calling out to His Father, He was acknowledging that His time on Earth was over. His 33 years on Earth were done. He had accomplished what His Father had sent Him to do. 

Have you ever finished a task that felt final and complete? I retired from 50 years of work in retail sales in March 2017. That last day I felt I completed my task; I had this feeling of completion. I left with my head held high. I had completed my time in the retail pharmacy business, yet I knew that my time for working had not ended. My work was not done; I felt I still had a lot to contribute somewhere.

These are four very remarkable and extraordinary events that happened at the time of Jesus’ death: 

1. Darkness fell over the whole land. Luke 23:44 says, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” According to Bible references, Jesus was said to have been hung on the cross at about nine in the morning. While Jesus died, darkness fell across the whole land and lasted from noon to three o’clock. This could also represent the Father’s anger on how His Son was being treated. Darkness is frequently a sign of judgment.  

2. The curtain was torn. Matthew 27:51 says, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Some theologians point out that the curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Temple. One study note I read said, “Its tearing symbolized Christ’s opening the way directly to God.” Scripture tells us that the curtain would have been 60 feet long, and 30 feet wide! 

3. The earth shook. Notice Matthew 27:51 again, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”  The earthquake according to Albert Barnes was a miraculous convulsion of the earth that was felt in many countries. Earthquakes in the Bible are usually accompanied by a divine revelation. Warren Wiersbe connects the earthquake at Jesus’ death to signify that the demands of the law were fulfilled in Jesus. 

4. The tombs were opened. Matthew 27:52 says, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” These resurrections show God’s incredible power over death and the grave. Christ’s resurrection is the basis of Christianity. This shows the enormous power of the Trinity!

Finally, Mark 15:37 adds, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” 

Jesus said with a loud voice, “Father I commit my spirit.” He was telling the Father He had completed His task on Earth. He had indicated His willingness to submit Himself to the will of His Father. 

Jesus offered Himself, and the Father received Jesus’ spirit. This was His human soul. With this, He was a perfect man. This was a total offering of all the sins of our lost world. 

He has completed the payment for our sins. He was the only sinless man ever to walk the earth; there was never one before Him or after Him. We owe our eternal salvation to this selfless act!

Our Free Gift

Paradise | Devotion #4: Our Free Gift
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23 :43

Jesus showed the world that all we need to do is ask and accept our free gift of salvation. Even the thief on the cross was given this wonderful gift. He was not saved until the last hours of his life. He did not have an opportunity to be baptized, receive the Lord’s Supper, attended church, or perform any good works. We assume that he did not live a righteous life. He was a criminal, sentenced to death.

Luke 23:42 says, “And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” 

Jesus loves us all no matter who we are, or what we have done. We just have to believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord and ask for our sins to be forgiven. Just ask for this free gift. The Lord has an abundance of mercy and grace for us. His love is limitless. 

It is natural that while on Earth we all want comfort and assurance about life after death. It is so simple to have eternal life. We do not need to DO anything. We cannot earn it or work for it. Just ask for it. The Lord offers forgiveness to us all through His Son’s death. Jesus paid it all. Salvation is the free gift!

Many denominations teach and believe that our salvation, or the way to Heaven, is through works here on Earth. This is not true! Jesus offers us the free gift by just asking for it. The thief proves it; he realized he was a sinner in need of a Savior and asked Jesus to save him.

God sent His one and only Son to Earth to live a human life, like us. Jesus suffered and died for us. It was the greatest sacrifice of all time. The Father’s love is so immense that He sent His Son as a sacrifice to show His love for all mankind.

Romans 6:23 adds, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Just like the thief on the cross, Jesus offers us freedom and the gift of grace just for the asking!

The thief’s only responsibility and ours is to receive this amazing gift. We are saved by believing in Jesus and asking for our sins to be forgiven.

John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

Faith is what makes this free gift attainable, and that is what was offered to the thief and to us. It is so amazing; through faith we can be saved from our sins.

The gift of grace saves sinners like you and me. Because of grace, the thief who was on the cross next to Jesus will spend eternity in Heaven! God wants to spend eternity with each and every one of us. He is waiting for us to ask for the gift of salvation.

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

Changes

Grow | Devotion #6: Changes
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28

Are you growing in the Lord? As we mature in our walk with God, we should be growing. There should be a noticeable change in our character, our relationships, in our personal lives, and our work life. The changes should be able to be seen in all aspects of who we are.

Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” 

Now, this is not the easiest thing to do. The devil is always attacking us where we are the weakest. He knows where we are the most vulnerable. We have to put on the whole armor of God every day to be protected. 

Growth in the Lord should be a natural progression in our Christian life. However, we will always have to deal with the obstacles of the world. 

Our experiences can draw us closer to the Lord. The Lord used the prison ministry, a place I was not familiar or comfortable with, to stretch my faith and trust in Him.

In September 2017, I was asked to go with the men on a prison trip to Lorain and Grafton Correctional in Ohio. I was extremely nervous; I had not done anything like that before. What made me most nervous was knowing I would have to talk one-on-one to guys in prison about Jesus. I felt like I was not qualified to do that, but through spending time in prayer talking to Jesus, I got up the nerve to approach a guy. When I started to speak to him, I almost started to cry because I was so moved. Remembering that I was in a prison yard in Ohio with around 200-300 inmates, I caught myself and regained my composure. I was then able to tell him about how the Lord changed me from a sinner going down a wicked path to a child of God. That God could do the same for him.  

That experience was a huge part of my growing in the Lord. I want to resemble a man that is drawing closer to God daily. It is never too late to seek the Lord and ask Him to help you make changes in your life.

In 2 Peter 3:18, we read, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Whether you have been a Christian for a short time or most of your life, you must choose to grow with the Lord. Change of any kind requires the repetition of forming habits to make a change in our ways. Change can come in our prayer life, through Bible study, keeping our mind and heart directed towards God, fellowship with like-minded people, and attending Church gatherings. Building an intimate relationship with Jesus is important to all of us. Our growth should be a reflection of what God is doing in our lives and draw us nearer to Him.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Imitator

Grow | Devotion #3: Imitator
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10

To grow means the way a Christian will spiritually mature or grow in our faith, to draw nearer to God.

We as Christian’s should understand that to grow spiritually is a process that will help us to draw nearer to God. It is part of our spiritual faith. This process develops quicker for some than others. Through reading the Bible and listening to teachings, we will increase in our knowledge, and grow in our prayer life, faith, and understanding. Yet we should understand that growing should never end, as we should always continue to learn.

As a baby, we grew as our parents fed us, as we were nurtured we developed and grew, we matured and learned how to survive as people. I hate to think how our lives would be if we did not have this process. This process is true for all living organisms. The same happens to our pets, flowers, plants, and crops.

The beginning of spiritual growth is when we as Christians accept Jesus in our heart. We then develop a craving for the knowledge and understanding of God. We read in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

My story is probably similar to many baby Christians, after being saved, it took time for me to understand spiritual growth. After many Bible study’s, attending church, and listening to messages, the Holy Spirit put the desire on my heart to learn the Word. This was a slow transformation. My old sinful nature wanted to take over, and the nasty old devil still rears his ugly head. With the help of prayer and God’s unending grace, we fight to continue to grow and continue in the ways of the Lord.

We must have a spiritual plan, a road map to help us develop. As we grow, we should pray to ask the Lord what areas we can increase our faith. Our plan should include growing in the knowledge and understanding of the Word.We should be doing our best to stay away from sin, and all that draws us to sin, working on learning Christ-like qualities, and having total trust in the Lord should be our goal.

Paul gives us a great plan to follow in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

 

Who did Adam Blame?

Adam & Eve • Devotion #1: Who did Adam Blame?
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Genesis 3:6-7a

I was brought up in a religious home. We knew of God but not who He really was. As I got older, I heard about being born again, but that meant nothing to me. I heard about Billy Graham Crusades, but I thought he was just a Jesus freak!

Once I accepted the truth about how to receive Christ, my heart and eyes were opened. When I first thought about the chances I missed to hear and understand the Gospel, I blamed it on the fact that no one told me. But that was not true.

Adam and Eve both knew what God had told them concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; they knew exactly what they were both risking. Adam was the one who should have been responsible for following God’s commands. Before Eve took a bite and then offered it to Adam, Adam should have led Eve to make a better decision. Adam then blamed both Eve and God for his disobedience.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2:15-17

Now both Adam and Eve realized what sin was, and that they were naked. They knew that they needed to cover up and wear clothing. They were ashamed to be seen by God.

This sin was transmitted to all mankind through Adam’s sin of disobedience. The devil tricked them, as he tries to trick us daily. We must continually fight the good fight, as to not be tricked by the devil.

 The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’” Genesis 3:12

We must own the blame for our actions.  Like Adam, we cannot blame someone else; we know what is the right path if we follow God’s instruction. Do not give into the world’s temptation.

We need to ask ourselves “Is this the right decision?”

What would we do if Jesus were next to us?



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.