Devotions

Author Archives: Tommy Youngquist

Practice Righteousness

Chain Reaction | Devotion #3: Practice Righteousness
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

Everyone has heard of the saying, “Practice makes perfect,” right?  Yeah, I want to punch whoever coined that phrase right in the face. In my life, it seems like no matter how hard I practice righteousness, I never get better at it. How about you?

The Bible says in 1 John 3:7-9, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning since the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 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.”

That is an incredibly powerful Scripture! From what did Jesus save us? It was sin.  It is the very thing that separated us from God and condemned humanity to Hell in the first place. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin, we begin to live in Him; we no longer continue to live for sin. We have the power, through Christ, to practice righteousness.

It is important to remember, God cares more about what is on the inside of a man than the outside. That means that God cares more about the motives of why you do what you do, instead of what you do. He wants to discern why you choose to obey or disobey Him. Now, we are all human, fallible, and sinful. Those who are genuinely saved still sin. It is one of the reasons we should be looking forward to the return of Jesus. Then we will no longer have to battle with temptation and choosing poorly. But those who are saved do just that; they battle with sin. When they disobey God, their hearts and minds are not right until they seek forgiveness and try again. John speaks clearly to this battle in our verses. Those whose motives are to please God, try to practice righteousness.

We can use these very verses as a barometer to measure within our hearts if we truly are different than natural man (those who have not believed in the Gospel).  Do you continue to sin and sin with no conviction from the Holy Spirit to practice righteousness? If you do, maybe you need to get to the root of your problem. Ask yourself this question: Do you truly believe with all your heart in Jesus and what He came to change? If the answer is yes, then that belief changes your motives. You no longer live for selfish desire, but for something bigger. It is something that is a greater cause than just your gain. You will start to outwardly express qualities like kindness, sacrificial love, and self-control.

Living for Christ almost always means denying self. I have a general rule I live by in my own life: If I want to do something, I should probably do the exact opposite. I know that seems weird, right? But it is true. Self-denial is the synonym of practicing righteousness. Man’s righteousness is as filthy rags. But Christ works in me daily. Therefore, it is like the motto that practice becomes perfect. Ok, I do not want to punch that person in the face anymore.

Wearing a Mask 

Radioactive | Devotion #4: Wearing a Mask
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

My wife and I became homeowners in June of 2016. Shortly after that, we had our first child, Heidi Lou. She has filled our hearts with so much love; we cannot even contain it. We want the world for Heidi. We want to love her, take care of her, be there for her, and protect her. Now that she is walking around and wanting to be outside, I keep thinking to myself that I need to fence in the backyard. In case you have not noticed, we live in a crazy world. I do not want to constantly worry about something happening to Heidi while she is focused on fun and playing outside. I want to protect her from cars, stray dogs, other animals and honestly, creepers!  So, I will slave for multiple hours putting that fence up. Why? To protect her.

Let me ask you something. How come we, as parents, will go the extra mile to physically protect our children, but slack in the area of spiritual protection? I am guilty. I will let things into my home (the very institution structured to protect my family) that spiritually harm them in the form of movies, music, video games, and social media. In 1 Peter 5:8, it says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour!” Why do we let him prowl in our homes?

I recently counseled with a couple that needed help with their fourth-grade son. He was suspended from school because of a violent game he had created on paper to play with other kids during recess. The game involved multiple “weapons” to use to kill each other. The object of the game was to be the last person standing. When I asked the couple what types of video games he was allowed to play at home, I heard games like “Call of Duty, GTA, and Fortnite.” You could see the parents immediately put two and two together. They had allowed something into their home that was desensitizing their son to the value of human life. They had not spiritually protected him.

That is just one example. I could go on and on about movies that I hear elementary age kids talk about, lyrics I have heard them sing, and posts that I see on their social media accounts (How do they have these accounts when they are not even old enough?). We, as parents, are charged by God to protect them. The protection is not only physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. Most of the time, with children, protection means withholding something that they want because we know it is not good for them. Spiritual protection also entails teaching them to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind (see Deuteronomy 6:7).

It is not too late fellow parent!  You can make a change in your family today. It is my prayer that you place extreme importance on spiritual protection in your home. Lead your family. Set a godly example for them. Put a fence up around their hearts. Protect them from the enemy. Then watch God do amazing things with your children as they learn to love Him with all of their heart, soul, and mind.

Gospel

Bonded | Devotion #6: Gospel
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

Why have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind? It is because family life is better when everyone is practicing those character traits! But, is there a bigger reason? Dad, what if there is a more powerful reason you are to treat your children with those qualities? Wife, what if there is a reason you are to hold to these values that is far greater than the well-being of your marriage?  What if that reason is the Gospel? What if it is all about Jesus? Is our existence here on earth basically about Jesus or us? In other words, do I hold to those characteristics in my family life because it is what I must do or about what He has done?  

Jesus bled, died, was buried, and rose again for you, me, and all of humanity.  WOAH! Let that sentence marinate for a minute. Remind yourself that because of that, you can live life here on earth abundantly and then live life eternally afterward.  Remember the Gospel.  Personally, I am so grateful. Because of the Gospel, I get the opportunity to be a husband and a father. That is the base motivation for everything.  Showing our family who Jesus is, is the reason we take on those character traits Paul talks about in 1 Peter 3:8.  

We strive to create unity within our family because Jesus created a way to have unity within the church. We have sympathy for our family members because Jesus sympathized (and when He lived here, truly empathized) with us. We love each other because He first loved us. We keep our hearts tender toward our spouse and children because Jesus’ heart is unconditionally tender towards all people. We set our pride aside for the betterment of our families because Jesus humbled Himself for our future. Do you see why Jesus needs to be the base motive for everything we do?

It is my prayer for your family that the Gospel is why you do what you do. When we finally realize that Jesus is the reason for everything, we begin to love as He loved. We start to show our families, instead of just say, who Jesus is. They, in turn, will start to do the same.

Luke 12:35-38

The Return of Christ | Devotion #2: Luke 12:35-38
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor 

I am about to be way too honest with you, but there are times in my life where I will think about the second coming of Jesus, and the thought will run through my head, “Not Yet!” I mean, there are so many things I want to experience in this life. My wife and I just had our first child, and we want to see her grow up. I want to have more children.  I want to see the world. I want to experience being a grandfather.  “There are so many things I want to happen before my life is over,” I will think to myself. But then I check myself, and I have to realize that when Jesus comes back, true life begins!  It will be a life that is so much better than the one I have here. Imagine eternal life in a world that is perfect.

The Bible says in Luke 12:35-38, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!”

We are not only supposed to be ready for the return of Christ, but we are supposed to be anticipating it! “Stay dressed for action,” Luke says. Something is coming, and you need to be ready for it. Be prepared. You should be thriving with anticipation because it could happen at any second! 

When my focus shifts from “Not Yet” to “Get ready for Awesome,” my priorities change during my daily routine. Instead of focusing on earning money to do all of the things I think I want to do, I focus on the only thing I can take with me to that “Awesome.” Human souls are on balance.  I will spend more time with Ashley and Heidi. I will spend more time with the RiverKids. When I am forced to decide between earthly or eternal, I am more apt to choose eternally. Part of preparing for the second coming of Christ is doing everything humanly possible to get as many other people ready as you can. Are you doing that? Are you going to be the blessed servant that is awake when Jesus comes back? Or is your mindset “Not yet?”

Romans 3:23

Jesus Died for Our Sins | Devotion #2: Romans 3:23
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

I hate going to see a doctor!  I always think to myself, “This will pass, and I will be fine,” no matter what it is.  If I am sick, I never think that what I have is worth the trip, effort, and time it takes to see the doctor.  Most of the time the doctor just tells you what you already know and charges you a fee to do so.  Therefore, I am usually miserable until whatever I have “passes.”  Can any of you relate to this type of thinking?  Am I the only one?

This type of thinking reminds me of how the natural man views sin.  Sin is not a problem to them.  Human nature is not viewed as a bad thing.  “There is nothing wrong with me, and I do not need a doctor,” they think to themselves.  Why try to fix something if you do not think it is broke, right?  The problem is that all of humanity is sick and in need of a doctor.  We are debilitated with our selfishness.   

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The first step towards fixing any problem is recognizing that there is a problem.  Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Once you realize you have a problem, you will be more apt to let someone fix it.  This is our problem: All have sinned!  All of humanity has been branded with sin.  I have sinned (and still do).  You sin.  We have a sickness, a sickness that is destroying us.  When we realize this, we allow God the opportunity to fix us.

When we come to the point of realization about our sin, humble ourselves, and repent of our sin, Jesus starts to work in our lives.  He starts to heal our brokenness.  He begins to remedy our sickness.  He waits for us to come to Him.  He is always there for us, too.  Unlike the doctor, He does not charge us a fee to tell us what we already know.  He paid the price!



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