Devotions

Author Archives: river

Fallen – His Angels #1

Devils and Demons | How Then Shall We Live
Chris Cain 

Are you at that point yet?  Half-way through this book and thinking, “Is this devilish talk over yet?  Make it stop already!”  Like, can these demons just not go away?  The Bible calls fallen angels – devils, demons, evil, and unclean spirits. They are supernatural, invisible, angelic, spirits. They are power hungry and love corrupting us humans to separate from God.  Did God actually create THIS?

Are you fearful of demons?  Should you be?  John McArthur writes, “There has always been a battleground between God and His truth and the devil and his lies. And that battleground is clearly drawn in Scripture and the fight goes on constantly. God calls to people through the truth and Satan with his demons tries to lure people away from truth with his hellish lies.”

The thought of writing about demons was somewhat daunting to me, maybe a little scary.  As I spent more and more time reading about them, you could say my fear factor was on the rise. But you know what scares me the most?  Knowing that demons want people to be lured away from the Truth. That is what scares me.

Retreat. Drawback. No way.  I am going to fight.  I am filled with the Holy Spirit and armed with Truth. Ephesians 6:10-12 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. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Will you armor up with me?  Will you battle?  The Greek word ‘dunamis’ is used about 120 times in the New Testament and means strength, ability, or power.  You might recognize that we get our English words ‘dynamite’ and ‘dynamic’ from it. We are not living our Christian life in our power, but in God’s and it is a miraculous and marvelous power.  An explosion of power!

If you want to battle, you will fight with Truth.  For those of you who have read a few of these “devotions” and say, “Eh, this is not a Bible Study, this is not deep enough,” then maybe it is time to put in some sweat equity, pick up your Bible, and read the rest of Ephesians six and answer: Who wrote it and to whom? Where do you see Jesus in the passage?  Why is it part of Scripture?  How then shall you live?

I know how I will live. I am going to armor up!  Do not let those demons lure you away from Truth.

Fallen – His Mission #4

Devils and Demons | The Destruction of Distraction
Holly Wells | Assistant to the Pastor

The little, non-intrusive interruptions are those often unnoticed. Maybe it is an unchecked thought out of nowhere in the middle of a prayer, to which you never return. Or what about when you check out of your day to peruse social media to “connect” with others only to get swept away and your few frivolous minutes became an hour (or more), and you feel emptier than when you logged on. Maybe constant worry and fear consume your thoughts, actions, and time, or is it relationships, food, shopping, video games, or…? What about something more obvious like sitting down to have quiet time with the Lord and every chore imaginable must be done right then otherwise the world will implode? Maybe you are getting ready to step out for the Lord in a new way, and your mind is soon taken captive by the vastness of your “disqualifications.” Whether it creeps in or we seek it, unguarded distraction is a simple yet powerful tool that can reap unimaginable destruction.

It all starts in our mind. If we haphazardly accept the “innocent” thought, if we willingly accept the counterfeit reprieve, or if our shame buys the lie, the hardest part of the battle is over, and the enemy can so readily declare, “Checkmate!” We are distracted so well that we are blind to it. What have we left behind in these moments? What have we compromised in these minutes? What thoughts, ideas, or deceit have we allowed in this season, or maybe years? Distraction can seem so innocent, so trivial, and so typical that we fail to consider guarding our hearts and minds – our defenses are down. We accept various forms of distraction throughout our day that we have willingly been disarmed – we sit as prey. Our minds are frequently bombarded with tempting invitations to “look here!” and “try this!” – we look everywhere, yet focus on nothing. 

The moment we are captivated by the thought, the instant we are caught up with the distraction, our eyes are no longer on the Lord – this is a very dangerous place.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The Word of God is very clear that we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We need to be aware of what consumes our thought-life. Do our thoughts align to what the Lord would desire? Are our thoughts anchored to Him or are they fleeting out of control in every direction? What safeguards can help us?

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil… Stand therefore, having girded your waist of truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for the saints…” Ephesians 6:11, 14-18

Each piece of the armor that God has provided is vital to fight off fiery darts, to stand steadfast and immovable, and it is essential to put on your armor! As a soldier prepares to enter the battlefield, so too must we! Notice the armor is both external – to protect the body – but also internal – to protect and gird our minds so that with the Lord, we will persevere.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Pray – ask the Lord to show you the distractions causing destruction in your life. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Seek – the Lord’s truth and instruction through His Word. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Accept – be willing to accept what He reveals and seek accountability.

Repent – and apply His correction. (1 John 1:9)

Gird yourself – with the armor of God, take your thoughts captive, fix them on His truth.

Repeat!

Fallen – His Fall #5

Devils and Demons | Flawless to Lawless
John Carter | Director of Finance & HR

The concept of the fall is real as the title expresses, going from a flawless state to lawlessness.   In Genesis 1 we see that God created all things and God saw that it was very good. We were made flawless, but guess who else was made and created a flawless being, the devil. Yeah, shocking to consider that Satan, the devil, Lucifer, was once a perfect creature made by God. So the question is, “What went wrong?”

Ezekiel 28: 12-15 gives a description of the King of Tyre that spiritually represents a description of the devil.  One of the key clues to this is provided with the description in verses 13-14.

“Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.”

These are obviously not descriptions fitting to any earthly human king.  The subject of who the King of Tyre is involved a much deeper study than available in this context. Some believe he was possessed by the devil; others say he is the devil. I want to focus on fundamental concepts that describe what happened with the devil. Let’s focus on what went wrong with the devil.

Verse 15 of Ezekiel states “you were blameless (or flawless) from the day you were created, till unrighteousness (or sin) was found in you.”  As you continue in the Scripture to verse 17, you can see why sin was found in him.

“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.”

“Your heart was proud because of your beauty.”  The devil’s first mistake was the sin of pride. God’s response to sin can be seen as a depiction of the fall when He says, “I cast you to the ground.” We see here that pride was a big issue involved in the devil’s fall. You might be thinking that this is an interesting topic, but how does this relate to me? You might say things like, “I am not the devil.  I know he is the “bad guy.”  What does this event have anything to do with me?”

As I was studying this topic, I felt like I was being led to 1 John 3. Verse 4 says, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness.  Sin is lawlessness.” When we sin, we are lawless. The passage continues in verses 7-10, we are given a warning not to be deceived. 

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

The story of the devil is not that different than the fall of the human race, as recorded in Genesis 3.  We were made flawless, lived in a flawless environment, but our pride made us think we knew better than God.  In fact, we thought we could be God, the same as the devil thought.

So to the question, why does understanding the fall matter?  Well, the fall matters because it helps us to understand the history of how we went wrong.  If we cannot identify the problem, then we cannot see an effective solution to the problem. 

As we saw at the end of verse 8, the reason Jesus Christ came was to destroy the works of the devil.  This means that we have hope!  Yes, we gave up flawlessness for lawlessness.  How dumb are we?  So let us learn from it and not let our pride keep us from recognizing who Jesus Christ is and that He came to give us a flawless solution. What will you choose? A Flawless Jesus Christ or your lawless pride?

The very first verse of 1 John Chapter 3 says this, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”  This is the hope part of the Gospel, the part that helps us understand the flawless gift the Father sent in his Son. It seems crazy when we look back at the fall that someone would give up perfection to live out their lawless prideful living. Why on earth did Adam and Eve trade out paradise for disobedience? Seems totally crazy right? The fact is God has given us another Perfect, Flawless solution to our first mistake. His name is Jesus Christ, yet there are some who instead of humbling themselves and recognizing who Christ is, they would choose to live in lawlessness.  The fall is important because it is a history lesson, and as the saying of Edmund Burke goes, “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.”

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor James Clouse | 
Student Pastor

Growing up at Faith Waterford was a blessing that is beyond what words can describe. Being raised a Catholic I truly never understood what salvation meant until I attended a church camp with Faith when I was 12 years old. It was the Summer of 1995 that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

From the time of 1995 to my high school years, there were many people from Faith Church who had an impact on my life including youth pastors, student leaders, and Pastor Jim. These people helped mold me into the man, the husband, the father, and the pastor that I am today. Without them, I do not believe I would be where I am at today.

In high school, on a church missions trip to Mexico, I felt a tug on my heart to ministry of some sorts. At the time I did not know how that looked. The years went by, and I felt that God had something special planned for my life.

Finally, I listened to God and His plan for my life and knew that I belonged in full-time ministry. There were many amongst the church that pushed me to pursue an education, and I kept pushing that aside. My wife Amanda and I were working with the youth group at the Waterford campus, and I knew that was where I belonged…with teenagers. I finally started pursuing what it took to become a Youth Minister. A couple of years later I graduated from Liberty University and started searching for a job. I knew that it would be only God that could uproot me from Faith.

He did just that. God moved my family to Georgia to be a Student Pastor. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; to move away from my church and my family. But I knew that God had a plan for us. While in Georgia, God taught me so much about ministry and how to be a Pastor. He taught me how to have a deeper appreciation for who He is and how He works in our lives, how to have a closer relationship with Him and how to be an effective Pastor.

Three and a half years later I received a call from The River Goodrich to be their new Student Pastor. This was a dream come true; to work for the man that I admired so much growing up. Now I know that God has so much in store for me here and I can not wait to work together to show the surrounding communities the light of Christ.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Holly Wells | 
Assistant to the Pastor

Pastor Jim has talked about “John 3” and “John 4” believers – essentially those who grew up in the Church and those who did not. Well, I am a part of the John 4 group; I did not grow up in a Christian home or Church. I did, however, spend a couple of years during my early childhood in Catholic private school. I was about 8 or 9 years old at the time and do not remember much other than panicking over the prayers I was supposed to recite to some scary priest during confession to make my first communion. My mom, older sister, and I were CEO Catholics (attending Christmas, Easter, and Other) while my dad was apparently an atheist at the time.

Fast forward a few years, my parents were now divorced, and life was a gigantic mess. My dad was living with his new family while my older sister, a young teenager, fought with my mom constantly, and I became my mom’s confidant as she shared the pain of divorce and worries of being a single mom. And my life soon became rooted in fear. I feared that my sister would carry out threats she made against my mom in anger and hurt. I feared that my mom would follow through when she told me she wanted to drive off a mountain near where we lived. And I eventually shut down emotionally when my dad stopped talking to me for over a year when I did not stay the night with him and his new family at Christmas. I experienced immense brokenness for the first time in my life, and all I knew to do was to “be good” because everything else was so bad. So much happened during these next several years including an abusive dating relationship where fear ran deeper and grew higher than ever before. I internalized all of it while coming to my own conclusions that “this is just how relationships are” …that is until someone told me the truth: this was not how relationships were supposed to be.

This person and I were dating by this point, and four years later, he and I were married. In our early 20s, we were trying to figure out life and marriage while working and going to school. Life was good – we were best friends and had the best time together. We had decent jobs, a house, cars – nothing extravagant but nice. We “checked-in” to church most Sundays to only “check-out” as soon as service ended. We were benchwarmers for about one and a half hours on Sundays as “Christians,” then back into the world, we went! It is no surprise that without the Lord, our marriage was a ticking time bomb. As the years set in, so did life. The newness of being newlyweds wore off, selfishness became priority, and soon our own agendas became more important than the other person. Sin is sin no matter how you slice and dice it – and sin kills.

We made it about six years before we were separated and living apart with very hardened hearts, fighting constantly and without much regard toward one another or to God. I was already receiving biblically-based counseling to work through my past and continued with it, slowly learning about God. My counselor recommended DivorceCare, so I started attending every week. I learned more about God’s Word, His character, and heart as well as His truth and instruction about the marriage covenant and divorce. A few months went by, and my heart began to change.

As I learned about God’s presence, faithfulness, redemption, safety, and love for me, He gently and patiently waited for me to trust Him. The Lord used Psalm 139 to minister to my heart, and I became His. Verse 14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” (NKJV).  God continued to He meet me in all of my brokenness, in all of my pain, in all of my shame and sins. He started making changes in my life, and by the Holy Spirit inside of me; He led me to pursue reconciliation with my husband on several occasions. I knew and believed with great conviction and without any hesitation that God desired to redeem our marriage. I knew He could do it; I prayed for years that He would. It did not matter to me that our divorce became final, I still believed He could do it. The thing is, while God does desire to restore and heal marriages for our good and His glory, His priority is our individual relationship with Him one-on-one.

It has been over ten years since giving my life back to the Lord, and in this short amount of time, He has done an incredible work. He has been ever so faithful to me each moment of every day. God, my Father, has been with me through all the tears and healing processes of life (and forever will be).

As I seek Him, He continues to teach me more about Himself as my Redeemer, Provider, Protector, Counselor, Best Friend, and more.



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.