Devotions

Category Archives: Capsized

Why?

Storm Chaser • Devotion #6: Why?
Jen Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Josh Combs

This past May, Josh and I were able to go to Florida and serve with an organization that works with families that have terminally ill children. One thing that struck me while I was there was this storm had no regard of people. There were rich people decked out in their matching family printed shirts raising awareness for whatever illness their child had. There were back woods country people with hardly any teeth. There were British folks. Mennonites dressed in their overalls and dresses. There were Mexicans and Arabs. One family that stuck out the most to me was a handsome, tall, athletic, African American man with his little boy. Even this big strong man could not fight this battle for his son.  All types of people standing in line waiting for me to serve them dinner. It was only through Jesus that I could compose my emotions. I so badly wish I could tell them why. Why would God do this? Why would He let this happen? My heart broke as I stared into the eyes of these parents, siblings, grandmas, and grandpas who were going to be left behind without their little one. Maybe you are going through a storm that you are asking God “why?” I am going to tell you; I do not know. Just as in my head, I was telling these families. However, during unexplainable and torturous storms, we have to rely on God and His Word because that is all we have.

There is a story in the Old Testament about a man named Job. Job saw all kinds of tragedy. He was struck with illness, lost his fortune, and even all of his children. His friends told him to turn from God. His wife told him to curse God and die. (It is a long book but worth the read if you are up for it.) Job stays faithful to God and at the end of his life, God restores. Job 42:12 says, “And the Lord blessed the later days of Job more than his beginning.” He had more children and was richer than before. The Bible says, “…And Job died an old man and full of days.”  What do we learn from Job? To stay faithful to God through our storms no matter how awful they are and somehow on the other side of it, we are better than before. I do not know how that happens. However, God says in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For the heavens are higher than the Earth. So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We have to trust in Him that He knows what is best even if it hurts or does not make sense. Remember God has felt everything that we feel. He has felt hurt, anger, betrayal, poverty, sadness, and hunger. He even experienced the death of His Son. In the midst of our storms, remember He loves us, knows what is best for us, and has felt everything we feel.

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Be a Light

Storm Chaser • Devotion #5: Be a Light
Jen Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Josh Combs

I am currently sitting on a plane heading toward Orlando. Have you ever taken a flight to Orlando? It is full of families with little kids that are screaming. (I can say this because I normally am that family!) Not to mention I am squished in a seat that is too small with my husband next to me who is a little too excited, listening to his rock music pretending that I am his drum set. Did I mention that I am working on five hours of sleep?  To top it off they stuck us in an exit row.  Not the exit row with extra legroom either. It is the one that has less leg room and does not recline.

The truth is we all faces storms in our lives. They may not all be as little or insignificant as traveling woes, but we all face them. Sometimes they are thunderstorms that just leave a little bit of damage or ruffled feathers.  Sometimes they are tornadoes that wreak havoc and destruction in our lives that take years to rebuild.  The question is what do we do when we are in them? How do we cope? Let’s look at God’s Word and see what He has to say. Go to Philippians 1:12-14. Paul was writing this letter to the Philippian church while he was in prison for preaching the Gospel. I would say that is quite a storm, at least it would be for me.  Paul says, “I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Paul continued to love and honor Christ, even through his storm. He did not decide that because it was so difficult not to follow Christ. So often, we as Christians encounter difficulty, and we flee the things of Christ thinking this could not possibly be from God.  We lose our brains and revert to our old ways.  During his trial, people saw Jesus in him, and he in turn directed them to Jesus. Through Paul’s actions, other people came to know Christ and others were strengthened in their relationship. People are watching you…always. Your unsaved spouse is watching you, your kids, neighbors, extended family, and people at your job. They are watching to see how you deal with difficulties. Are you doing right? Difficulty is not an excuse to sin and do wrong. Always do right. How are you talking during your difficulty? Are you bringing your conversation back to Jesus? Are you whining, complaining, and cursing God? Are you looking for what God is trying to teach you in your storm? Are you so bitter you cannot see through the clouds? Remember, people are watching you, so be a light for Him. Glorify God in your storm.

Lean on Me

Storm Chaser • Devotion #4: Lean on Me
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

You have faced the storm.  You have gone into the storm.  You have come out of the storm.  You survived!  You are stronger because of it. Maybe you are not physically stronger, but spiritually stronger.  Now what?  How can you use your experience for God’s glory?

If you have lost a loved one, join a GriefShare group.  We have a great group that meets every Wednesday night.   Sharing your story of survival and how you coped may be just the story someone needs to hear.  If you have suffered addiction, or come from a family touched by it, check out The Road.  This group meets every Tuesday night and is always looking for people who can empathize with their situations.  Did you go through a cancer scare?  So are many others around us.  Reach out and offer to talk (or rather listen!) as they may just need someone to talk to today that has been through it and understands.

How can you help someone in need?  First, take them to Scripture.  They may not be strong enough to open the Bible and find the right verses of comfort, but you have been there, you know what might help.  Write it down on a 3 x 5 card so they can find it easily and read it repeatedly.  Next, pray for them.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”   Intercessory prayer is very powerful.  Another thing you could do is to send a card or text of encouragement.  Let them know you are available to talk anytime.

If we humble ourselves and put ourselves in others shoes, we begin to realize what they are feeling and how sharing our experiences might help them through it.  In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter writes to Christians, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  Paul also encourages empathy in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

It has been said:  You are either going into a storm, you are in a storm, or you have just come out of a storm.  In any case, it is God’s plan, and God will carry you through it.  He wants you to learn from it and grow from it.  When you reach out to another going through a similar situation, you will bless them.  Who knows, sometimes it is the other way around and YOU are the one who receives the blessing!  Reach out today.

Empathy

Storm Chaser • Devotion #3: Empathy
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

I am fascinated by the movie “Twister.”  A group of storm chasers rushes after tornadoes in hopes of studying how they work and get a better idea of how to predict them in order to save lives.  The idea of driving a vehicle quickly up one road and down another while trying to follow an unpredictable storm and facing risk of injury or death, well, it is quite exhilarating and gets the adrenaline flowing.

Sometimes in life, we are storm chasers.  We run into the storm head on.  More often, though, we are trying to run the other way, away from the storm.  However, there is a lot to be learned from facing the trial, going through the trial, and coming out on the other side.  We have that experience and can now empathize with others in the same or similar situation.  I have had many life experiences that I can share with others in the same situation.  They know I have been there, done that, and I truly know the pain they are feeling.  There are many life experiences I have not experienced that others have.  God makes us all unique.  Just as the Bible tells us that we are each given different spiritual gifts, we are each given different life events to be able to comfort others.  1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together.”

One of the great privileges of friendship is being able to help others through the storm.  Sometimes it is sharing how we got through it, or how it changed us.  Sometimes it is just listening and not talking.  However, for them to know that you have experienced the same situation makes all the difference.

Have you experienced a storm?  The loss of a baby?  Financial difficulty?  Addiction?  The list goes on and on.  How can you use your experience to help others?  Is there a group at church you can mentor through?  Is there a friend facing a similar problem that you can meet for coffee?  God gave you this experience so you could help others.  Just as Jesus suffered during his time on Earth, He was tortured, humiliated, alone, etc., He empathizes with us and knows how we feel in the same situation.  He loves us and cares for us through our storm.  Just as God comforts us, we need to comfort others around us and help them through their storm.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 says,  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Gratitude

Storm Chaser • Devotion #2: Gratitude
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Psalm 107:28-32 says, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.”

There are many conversations about how to get through the storm, how to endure it, but we do not usually talk about what we do after the storm. What happens when we survive? What does God expect of us on the other side? I know gratitude is the last thing that usually goes with a storm. Storms are devastating, they can destroy your life, and they can radically change your life. So how can we be grateful at the end?

Gratitude changes you. Think about it… when you are grateful your entire perspective changes. You see actions in a different light; you are more forgiving, more loving, and more Christ-like. However, gratitude is not a natural reaction for us; we have to strive for it. If we do not strive for gratefulness, we are useless. It says in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” An ungrateful heart is a heart open to bitterness, anger, worry, hate, and much more. When we go through a storm, we as humans can immediately become embittered because our perspective has been battered and abused. Gratefulness protects us. It allows us to gain a perspective that is focused on God and understanding that He is in control. It allows us to learn and teach from our storms.

God commands us to be grateful to protect us from our feeble human reactions. Be grateful, especially after a storm. Allow God to show us the what, the why, the deep down lessons that we need to learn through our storms. Gratitude allows that. It opens us up to being used by Him. Isn’t that the most amazing thing to be done? To have our storms used to help others, to change us to be better ambassadors for Him.

Choose gratefulness!



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