Devotions

Author Archives: Philip Piasecki

Prompting

Death #2  November 28 Prompting

In Matthew 14 we find John the Baptist arrested and thrown in jail. Herod had arrested him because John had told Herod that it was not lawful for Herod to have his brother’s wife. The story only gets stranger from here as well. At Herod’s birthday party he decrees that whatever the daughter of Herodias (Philip’s wife) wants, she could have. We see in this next piece of Scripture that Herodias quickly takes advantage of this decree.

“Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.” – Matthew 14:8-11

After being prompted by Herodias, her daughter demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The king had no choice but to honor the oath he made in front of all of his party guests, so he commanded the death of John the Baptist. The phrase “prompted by her mother” stood out to me in this section. Herodias’ daughter allowed her mom to influence her to do something horrible. I am sure most of us find this appalling, but the scary thing is so many of us let this happen in our lives. This story should serve as a warning to the negative influence people can have on our lives.

In my life, I have learned the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” I have seen it happen in my life, and I have witnessed it ruin the lives of many other people. It is so sad when you see someone who gets wrapped up with the wrong people, and you see their relationship with God slowly disintegrate. When we think of a situation like this, most of us probably think about a student being influenced by his friends at school. However, this issue is something that affects all people in all stages of life. No one, no matter their age, is impervious to the impact their friends have in their life.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

We need to surround ourselves with those who are wise, and we need to seek out those people who love God with all their heart. Being around people who are truly on fire for Christ is contagious. This is one of the reasons it is so important to be involved in a gathering and attending a Growth Community. We need to constantly surround ourselves with godly people, allowing them to speak truth into our lives, stirring us up to be more like Christ. This does not mean hide from anyone who is not a Christian. It is essential that in our Christian life we are making friends with people who do not know Jesus. That is the primary way we will have opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be diligent to make sure that we are the ones influencing our non-Christian friends and not the other way around.

Phil Piasecki

Worship Leader

Voice of God

Imprisonment and Doubt #2  November 21 Voice of God

In our culture today it seems that everyone is seeking after power and status. In the workplace, it is expected that each employee is trying to climb the corporate ladder, with the goal that they get to be the boss one day. We seek after more money, so that we can have a bigger house and a nicer car, so that when people drive by, they think, “Man that person must be really successful!”  Culture tells us to look out for #1, and not to worry about who we may bulldoze in the process of getting to the top. The sad thing is, this is contrary to the example Jesus sets for us in Scripture. I want to preface this by saying that it is not wrong to work hard, do well at your job, and get rewarded for that. The issue is our motivation. Our attitude and our heart need to reflect that of Christ and John the Baptist that we see here in the book of Matthew.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” – Matthew 3:13-17

John the Baptist had been paving the way for Christ, waiting for Jesus to appear to him. We see in the Scripture that Jesus comes to John asking him to baptize Him. Can you imagine what must have been going through John’s head at this point? He easily could have started thinking “Man, the Savior of the world wants me to baptize Him? I must be pretty incredible.” However, instead of becoming proud, John humbles himself explaining to Christ that if anything, he should be baptized by Christ. After this, we see that Christ insists that John baptize Him and he agrees. What happens after John baptizes Christ is incredible, the Spirit of God descends upon Christ, and they hear God speak down to them. When we read this account, we see two people who were willing to humble themselves. Neither John nor Jesus wanted to put themselves in front of the other person. Their attitudes lead to a couple of incredible things happening; they got to see the Holy Spirit move and hear the voice of God. I cannot help but think that if we would humble ourselves more, that we would see God move more in our lives. As believers, we should long to see the Holy Spirit do incredible works, and we should long to hear the voice of God. We see an obvious example in this Scripture that if we humble ourselves before Christ, we can see God do some incredible things.

Phil Piasecki
Worship Leader

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.



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