Devotions

Author Archives: Ryan Story

1 Thessalonians 4:14

Jesus Physically Rose Again & Ascension | Devotion #1: 1 Thessalonians 4:14
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

He Came Back 

Jesus was there at creation. Jesus looked upon humanity after sin came into the world. Jesus watched as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived out their covenants. Jesus watched as Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jesus watched as David defeated Goliath. Jesus watched as Solomon made Israel the strongest nation in the world. Jesus watched as Babylon and Assyria sacked Judah and Israel. Jesus watched as the remnant came back to rebuild their kingdom. Jesus watched all those moments in history happen until the day He came to be born. Jesus died on the cross. Jesus fulfilled God’s will. Jesus paid the price that we could not pay ourselves. All of that is worthy of what an amazing God has done for us, but the crown jewel of all of the acts of Jesus is that He rose again.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 says, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again.” It is a factual statement. It is as factual to say that Jesus rose from the dead as it is to say that water is wet. There has never been any historical document that has ever disproved the fact that Jesus rose from the grave. There has never been a movement against Christ that has ever buried, derailed, or slowed down the amazing truth that Jesus rose again. There has never been a king, dictator, ideology, or philosophy that has been able to rule over the fact that Jesus rose from the grave. The truest statement that we can say is that Jesus did, in fact, die and He did, in fact, rise from the grave.

We live in a society that only likes to reason in the physical realm. We no longer believe history as fact but as a narrative to those who win. We live in a world where on July 21, 1969, everyone woke up and everyone was in awe of the fact that on the previous day man just landed on the moon. Fast-forward thirty years and people now believe that it was a hoax.  We live in a world where despite the fact there has never been any document that disproved Jesus’ resurrection, 2000 years after this amazing event people believe it was just a story for the weak-minded. Every Christian should know and preach every day that “He has risen!”

We as Christ followers must make sure that the resurrection is at the cornerstone of our relationship. We are meant to live our lives in constant identification to the fact that our Savior rose again. The significance of the resurrection from death to life is shown in our lives of dying to our former self and rising to newness of life. Take a moment today and figure out how you show the world that you have the power of the resurrection living inside of you. 

Romans 3:10-12

Jesus Died for Our Sins | Devotion #1: Romans 3:10-12
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

Why do bad things happen to good people?

In August of 2015, a family member’s life was taken. He got himself caught up in a really bad situation, and another person took my cousin’s life. This was hard for my family and me. For a period, I became close to him. During his funeral the “pastor” overseeing the funeral started with “sometimes bad things, tragic things happen to good people.” The moment this man said that a cold chill went through my soul.  The majority of the people in this funeral were non-believers. I listened as a “man of God” got up and told an entire room that my cousin was a “good” person only to use Psalm chapter 23 as a reference point. 

I understand that comforting and mourning with those who are hurting during a funeral is one of the primary responsibilities of a Pastor during a funeral. The other major responsibility is speaking the truth. We live in such a hard, cold, cynical culture, but our culture also is terrified to offend people. Now I am not speaking ill of my cousin, but he was not a good person. I am not a good person. You reading this, you are not a good person. Every human who is alive is not a good person. We all have sinned. We all have this inherited inward disposition to rebel against our God. Hearing a person say “bad things happen to good people” out of the mouth of a man who is meant to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ was nothing more than hurting the people who were listening. 

In the book of Romans chapter 3, Paul puts every Jewish Christian and every Gentile Christian reader in the same box. Paul places every person into “the box of sin.” Romans 3:10-12 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” We have already covered that God’s Word is perfect and absolute earlier in this Majors Series. To have the Bible say that no one is righteous, no one seeks God, all have turned aside, and no one does good is an absolute truth. The only person to be born of a woman who was born good was Jesus, for the rest of us, we fall into the fourteen indictments that Paul places on all of humanity in the book of Romans. The grim, cold truth is there is no such thing as a good person except for Jesus.

Man’s sinfulness is plainly seen in any act of abuse, violence, neglect, envy, and anger. Those are easy for us to recognize. It is when we start to create our sense of what is “good” is when we get into trouble. The moment we stop using God’s way as the measuring stick to what is good or bad, we are in trouble. In God’s eye, glancing at a woman in lust is adultery. Being angry because someone cut you off in traffic is the same as you purposely, mercilessly murdering him or her. To answer the age-old, “why do bad things happen to good people,” my response is generally, “Show me a good person.”  This thought is not meant to be depressing; it should be uplifting knowing we are all on the same playing field in God’s creation. No matter how “not good” we are, He still loves us, and loved us so much He sent His son to die for us.  

John 19:4

Jesus was Sinless and the Virgin Birth | Devotion #1: John 19:4
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

We all know that critical person who can find something wrong in every situation. We all know the person who will say it is too hot or too cold outside. You know that person who is unhappy if their food takes too long to get to their table. They are the person who can spot cobwebs from fifty feet away and say that an entire room is filthy. We all know that person who is more focused on their preference than principles. Sadly, we all have moments of being critical, we all have the pet-peeves that drive us crazy. Think of the way we start to treat people when they do not live up to our expectations.  If a waiter takes too long to deliver food, we instantly jump to the conclusion that they are out to get us. We are so quick to find fault with people. Even worse, we are quick to finding fault with God as well.

In John chapter 19, Jesus is in the middle of a very bad night. The Pharisee leaders arrested Jesus. Now they want to put Jesus to death, but they cannot because they lack any true governing power. To execute Jesus, the Pharisees just need to get the Roman prefect to say this execution was just. John 19:4 says, “Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’” After meeting and questioning Jesus, Pilate was not able to find any fault in Jesus of Nazareth. It amazes me that Pilate was able to look at this Jewish man and see no guilt in Him. Pilate was a Roman leader who was doing his best to keep Jerusalem under control so he would not lose his job and life for failing the Roman Empire. To me, the easiest thing Pilate could have done in this situation would be to do what we all try to do, find a fault when one is not there. Amazingly, Pilate could not find anything to say showing Jesus was guilty.

Any Christ follower will agree with you that Jesus is God. He was sinless, perfect, and without any worldly blemish. Knowing that Jesus is the only person who we can say is perfect is such a peaceful feeling. Knowing that all of God’s ways are perfect, sinless, loving, merciful, and just should be at the central hub of our faith. Then why is it that when our situations in life are not where they should be, one of the first people we want to find fault in is God? Pilate examined Jesus for a substantial amount of time and found no fault in Him, and he was not even aware that Jesus was, in fact, the Christ, the world’s Savior, the King of kings. We are aware of all those things, and yet we still think God is unfair when there is turmoil in our families, a tragedy strikes, or when finances are not as bountiful as we were hoping. If we know that Jesus is, in fact, perfect and sinless, then His plan for our lives must be the same. Too often I hear people who think that difficult situations in life mean that God is not real, perfect, or just. Instead of looking for the problem in the One who is in control, look at how you can change your perspective. God is perfect and sinless. His plan is perfect. Take a page out of a Roman’s life, view God as without guilt, without fault, and perfect in all He does. 

John 1:1

Jesus is God | Devotion #1: John 1:1
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

I enjoy writing devotions. I enjoy getting different topics to study and then write about that topic. I enjoy studying, learning, and writing. This is one of those devotions I did not enjoy writing as much as devotions past. Not because of the topic, the topic of Jesus is God is amazing! Ideas, stories, analogies, and truths that can be applied that flow from this fact are numerous and beyond count! The reason this devotion was not that enjoyable was that in just three words one could sum up every clever, insightful thing I could possibly say: Jesus is God. There is nothing else that needs to be said. Jesus being God is such a fundamental fact in my mind, my mind would not let me go any further. I almost wanted to just increase the size of the font and say, “Jesus is God.” Those three words would cover the whole page, and it would be my entire devotion. That is all that needs to be said about this topic.   

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, he starts his account of Jesus’ life with some poetry. I love reading the Gospel of John because Matthew, Mark, and Luke write similar styles and even use each other as sources in their accounts. Then you have John who is super poetic and full of imagery.  In John 1:1, he says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In John 1:14 he continues, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So we can use some simple deductive reasoning. By looking logically at the premises, we can draw a conclusion. Since “the Word was God” that means that God is the Word. Since the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” means that God became flesh and dwelt among us. Finally, since Jesus was the part of the Trinity that became flesh to dwell among us, that concludes that Jesus is God.

We have already discussed the fact that everything in the Bible is true and comes from the creator of the universe. We must make the fact that “Jesus is God” a truer statement of our lives than us telling ourselves the sun will come up the next morning. “Jesus is God” must be the truest fact in all of our lives. 

Matthew 3:16-17

Trinity | Devotion #1: Matthew 3:16-17
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

I am new to the parent game. Figuring out holiday traditions has been one of the more enjoyable conversations I get to have with my wife. Last Easter, my wife and I decided that we would get our boys gifts that would have to fit into three categories. These categories were, “something fun,” “something to wear,” and “something to read.” We both agreed that we wanted to make sure any books we purchased had some “Jesus merit” to them. While wandering around a Christian bookstore, my wife found cute books about the ark, Bible sight words, and other colorful age-appropriate books for my, at the time, infant son and year-and-a-half son. What did I find you ask? I somehow found a children’s book about one of the hardest topics to explain. Yes, I found a children’s book that helps explain the Holy Trinity! My wife thought I was insane for getting this book because our sons would not be able to understand the complexity of the Trinity. However, in due time, I know I will need to teach my sons one of the most complex and necessary theological concepts.

The very difficult part of understanding the Trinity is there are only a handful of moments when God is fully present in all three persons. One of the easiest moments to see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit present is when Jesus is baptized. Matthew 3:16-17 says, “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.’” At this moment we see Jesus, the Son, being baptized. We read the God, the Father, saying that Jesus was “my Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Lastly, we see the Spirit of God descending like a dove. The account in Matthew might be the easiest story to see Father, Son, and Spirit all interacting with each other. 

We have to understand that God operates in three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. We also must look at God as one, Father, Son and Spirit are God. We must also know that each person of the Trinity has a different role. All three are all God, but all three “operate” differently. Run that through a few mental filters and when your brain starts to hurt you will be where you need to be when it comes to understanding the Trinity! Many people brush aside complex theology and leave it to a Pastor or scholars, but understanding the Trinity is so important!

When you look at any relationship you have, there are different complexities to it. I am a son of my father and a father to my son. I never treat my son as my father, and my father never treats my son like his son. It is important to understand that how we operate about others brings closeness. Way back in my young adult days I was given the opportunity to preach. At that time, I lived in complex theology, and I wrote a sermon titled “A Shallow view of the Trinitarian Godhead, Creates a Shallow Doxological Response.” I look back on that and realize I was a bit of a showoff. I should have simply titled this message “Not Knowing all Three Members of the Trinity Personally, can Affect the Way You Worship God.” This is why Matthew chapter 3 is so important. It is a perfect story to see all three members of the Trinity at work at the same time. At some point, I will have to teach my sons about God as Trinity, and this will be a tough task. I am welcoming the struggle because knowing them all personally will help the way my boys worship.



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