Devotions

Author Archives: Philip Piasecki

Repent

Ministry #2  November 14 Repent

The ministry of John the Baptist is fascinating to examine. He was chosen by God to go before Jesus, minister about Christ, while always pointing people towards the coming Messiah and away from himself. Everything John the Baptist preached was to pave the way for the message that Christ Himself was going to proclaim when His earthly ministry began. First and foremost, John announced the need for the people to repent from their sins. 

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” – Matthew 3:8

Here in Matthew 3, we see two clear examples of John the Baptist telling the crowd and the Pharisees that they need to repent. He understood that true salvation could not be had unless they were willing to repent from their sins. If someone cannot admit that they have a problem they need to be saved from, then they cannot be saved. Just one chapter later in the book of Matthew Jesus Himself would proclaim the same need for repentance to the world.

“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” – Matthew 4:17

Unfortunately, it seems like today many people forget repentance when they talk about giving their life to Christ. Some people think because they have gone to church for a couple of years or were baptized as a child, that it means they are going to Heaven when they die. Many people “give” their life to Christ, but never actually repent of the sins in their life. Repenting involves clearly turning away from your old sinful desires, and begin to walk in the direction of Christ. If someone gives their life to Christ and their actions, desires, and reactions all stay the same, I would guess that true repentance has not taken place. Naturally, when someone gives their life to Christ they do not become perfect; sanctification is a process that takes our entire Christian life. Every day I know I am going to fail, but every day I know I am going to desire to be more like Christ. That desire to be more like Christ is the true fruit of repentance. When someone turns away from their former life and starts their walk with Christ, there will be noticeable differences.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When someone is “in” Christ, they are brand new. That is the beauty of true repentance and giving your life over to Christ. Your old self passes away, and the new you begins to live. Without true repentance, this new creation cannot be born. John the Baptist boldly proclaimed true repentance, and we need to make sure we have honestly heard that proclamation and have properly responded.

Phil Piasecki

Worship Leader

Miracle Baby #1

Miraculous conception and birth #2  November 7   Miracle Baby #1

Recently I have been challenged to deepen my prayer life. Mary and I have made it a point to consistently pray for specific things daily, earnestly waiting on God to answer them. Since January 1st there are a few things we have sat down and prayed for every single night, we have seen God answer those prayers in certain ways, and are still waiting on Him to respond to some of the other ones. Previously in my life, I would pray for something for a while, and when I felt like I was not getting an answer, I would stop. For seasons I had stopped praying for salvation for particular people, ceased praying for friends to be able to have children, and the list could continue. I became ashamed of my lack of consistency when I started thinking about the numerous different stories in the Bible of people praying for years for something specific to happen.

The story of the conception of John the Baptist is an incredible example of what our prayer life should look like, and what our daily life should look like while we are waiting for an answer to prayer. Let us look at Luke 1:8-13 to see the incredible example of Zechariah.

“Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.’”

We know that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for Elizabeth to be able to get pregnant for a while, she was at the age where the idea of it even happening was laughable. Waiting on an answer to prayer for that long is not an easy thing, but we see that Zechariah continued to live a God-honoring life while he was waiting. It can be so easy for us to get discouraged if we are not getting the answer to prayer from God that we want, and that can cause us to stop living the life God has commanded for us. Some people stop serving the Church because they are disappointed in God, some people stop praying altogether because they feel like God does not hear them, and these are all sinful responses. Zechariah did not let the discouragement of a seemingly unanswered prayer keep him from living a God-honoring life. This Scripture finds Zechariah serving God in the temple, completing his duties as a priest, and worshipping God. In the midst of our waiting on an answer to prayer, we need to take the example of Zechariah to heart and make sure we are continuing to honor God in the midst of our waiting.

When the angel appears to Zechariah, he reassured him that his prayers had been heard, and promises that his wife was going to bear them a son. That must have been such an incredible moment to hear from an angel that God had heard his prayers. We can always pray in confidence knowing that Christ hears our prayers. Even when we may not feel like we are getting answers, we can always know that God hears our every prayer. He wants us to pour out our requests at His feet. If you find yourself discouraged in your prayer life, replace Zechariah’s name with your own. God hears your prayers, stay faithful in the midst of your waiting, and expect God to work in incredible ways.

Phil Piasecki

Worship Leader

Fallen – His End #2

Devils and Demons | The Bubble
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

The invention of the DVR has revolutionized how live sporting events are watched. Someone can miss looking at a game live, DVR it, and watch it later as if they did not miss anything. The trick to doing this is staying in what is called “The Bubble.” Staying in The Bubble means not finding out any details about a sporting event so that everything that happens in the game is a surprise. I will never forget the day when my dad mentioned the final score of a Michigan vs. Michigan State football game to a random guy standing next to us. The guy was in “The Bubble” and was furious when my dad told him the outcome of the game. If you have ever watched a recorded sporting event with already knowing your team wins, you know how different the experience is. When your team is losing for parts of it, there is no anxiety; you already know the outcome. In comparison, we are not in “the bubble” in our Christian life. We have the book of Revelation, and we know how the battle of Good vs. Evil ends. Look what Revelation 20 says about it:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).

“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).

These verses paint an incredible picture of what the final battle between God and Satan is going to look like. This fight ends with Satan being thrown into Hell (actually The Lake of Fire) to suffer for eternity, along with beasts and false prophets. The Christian life can be difficult, and the world can seem hopeless at times, but we can take solace in the fact that we know who ultimately wins. 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

One day, literally every living thing is going to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. Christ will be seating on His throne and will rule forever. We have an incredible eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ to look forward to as believers. An eternity of being able to worship God through our every action, being sinless, and having every inch of us reflect the glory of God. If you find yourself discouraged, let this incredible reality be an encouragement. There will be a day when there is no more pain, sickness, or death. Christ will have perfected everything as He originally intended it to be in the Garden. Satan will try to defeat Christ, he will fail, and God will forever be glorified.

Fallen – His Preachers #2

Devils and Demons | “O Be Careful Little…”
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

The age of social media has changed the way that we live our lives. We can stay in contact with people that we previously would not have been able to. If I wanted to, I could know what every person I graduated high school with is currently doing with their lives. I can get information on anything that I want in an instant on Twitter, and read every single person’s reactions to that news. While there are many benefits to the internet and social media, there are also many downfalls. Social media and the internet have given people a platform to spread their beliefs that they previously never had access. This can be used in incredible ways, but also can be very destructive. These platforms give a more profound voice to the thoughts and teachings of false teachers that the devil is using today. Because of this increased exposure, Christians need to be even more diligent in guarding against these attacks of the devil. The appearance of false teachers should not surprise us; Scripture is very clear in warning us against them:

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.  Mark 13:22-23

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  2 Peter 2:1

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  2 Timothy 4:3-5

These Scriptures show us very clear warnings that false teachers are going to arise and preach destructive doctrine. The devil uses these preachers to attempt to lead believers astray from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Timothy warns us that people are going to want to be taught things that they want to hear, instead of things that they need to understand. It is our responsibility as believers to prepare ourselves to recognize false teaching and guard ourselves against it. One way to protect against false teaching is to make sure you are spending regular time in God’s Word, asking God that He would help you discern what is being taught. The more we know the truth of the Bible, the easier it is for us to recognize when someone is teaching a false doctrine. God has given us His Word, and He has given us His Holy Spirit for discernment to identify false teaching. Daily we are exposed to teaching that is contrary to what God’s Word teaches us.  If we do not know what the Bible says then we will have no way of knowing what is true and what is false. We need to make the Word of God a priority in our lives, and when we do that, we will be able to spot a false teacher from miles away.

Fallen – His Angels #2

Devils and Demons | Reel is Too Real
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

The Grand Blanc location of the River Church meets at the Trillium movie theater each Sunday. Meeting at this site has some impressive benefits, but also has some downfalls. One of the issues we run into is the type of movies that are being advertised any given Sunday. We commonly have to hide the cardboard movie advertisements because of their content. It seems like every other month there is a new movie about demons/demon possession coming out, and of course, it has a terrifying cardboard advertisement to go with it. Obsession with demons is so prevalent in the United States, and it is no more evident than in Hollywood. They keep making those types of movies because people continue to see them. I think people are willing to open up to the demonic realm because they do not realize how real it is. It is so important that Christians understand that spiritual warfare is a very real thing.

Ephesians 6:11-13 says, “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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

The Scriptures warn us here about the very real danger that we face each and every day as believers. The devil is not alone in his quest to destroy each and every one of us; he has an army roaming the earth looking for any opportunity to attack Christ’s followers. This is why it is so important that we guard ourselves with the Armor of God! We are fighting against cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil; we cannot survive that attack on our own. We need to look to Christ daily for our strength and protection. At the same time, we need to be wise about what we open our lives up to on a daily basis. My brother is currently a missionary in the Middle East, and the stories he has told me about the demon possession he has seen over there are harrowing. These people look for power anywhere they can find it, often calling on spirits from ancient temples, looking for something to strengthen them. Since these people are not believers, they do not have the Holy Spirit in their lives to protect them, and this leads to common occurrences of demonic possession. As believers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to fight this spiritual war for us; we need to set our eyes on Christ and find our strength in Him. All the while, understanding that the spiritual realm is something that should not be taken lightly. We are fighting against a very real enemy, stand firm daily in the presence of Christ.



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