Devotions

Category Archives: Delivered

G.R.A.C.E.

Delivery Day • G.R.A.C.E.
Wes McCullough | Production Director

In the spring of 2004, a movie was released that rocked the world. It was bloody and violent, but people still flocked to see the rated R film. The premise of the movie was the brutal death of one man. Watching this film caused masses of people to weep and make life changes. The movie was THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.

Having grown up knowing the story of Jesus’ death, the movie was not as much a surprise as it was a reminder and a visualization of His sacrifice. I do not watch the movie every year, but I am reminded of it each year through the Easter season. Memories of the graphic visuals flood my memory, and I am humbled knowing Jesus accepted that fate in my place. I have fallen short of His glory, but God’s grace is abundant.

The theme of Easter 2015 at The River Church (Holly) was “Undefeated.” There was a boxing ring on stage as a visual for Christ’s battle with Satan. You and I were destined for a fight with Satan that we could not win. It was going to be an excruciating, torturous beating for the rest of eternity. When Jesus died, He stepped into that ring to fight Satan in our place. Christ’s victory in that battle was unquestionable. Jesus gave us victory over death and punishment.

1 Peter 2:24 says it all, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 

Isaiah 53:5 is similarly a favorite, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

These verses are a reminder of the punishment Christ took on our behalf. We have all sinned and been separated from God, but Jesus paid the price to reunite us with our Heavenly Father. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

If it helps, remember grace this way:

G- God’s
R- Riches
A- At
C- Christ’s
E- Expense

This Easter season do not be distracted by the commercialized Easter bunny, eggs, and candy. Focus on the victory you have been given and thank Jesus for fighting for you.

Special Occasions with Grandma Eddie

Delivery Day • Special Occasions with Grandma Eddie
Richie Henson | Production Director

I was privileged growing up to be raised by godly people. Both of my parents loved Jesus and gave their lives to the Lord through the church in full-time ministry. Beyond my parents, I spent a great deal of my time with my Grandma Eddie. She was truly one of the kindest and godliest people I have ever known.

My Grandma Eddie loved to cook for her family and holidays were a wonderfully special time. One of the biggest holidays at Grandma Eddie’s house was Easter. She would cook ham, turkey, thirty-seven sides and fourteen pies. Not to mention all the Easter cookies and candy. To say the least, it was a huge celebration that I look back on fondly.

In 2010, while on a trip to Yosemite National Park with the sixth-grade class I was teaching, I received news that my dear Grandma Eddie had passed away. It was, and on certain occasions still is a difficult truth for me. I was so very close to her, and the loss of her love and joy in this world can be heartbreaking. However, I make sure to never relinquish her memory. I try on all occasions to tell my son how wonderful and godly his great-grandmother was.

I am especially reminded of my grandma at Easter. Many of my family members including my wife have taken up the mantle of making Easter special by recreating Grandma Eddie’s famous sugar cookies. Every time I eat one of these cookies, I am reminded of the pain of losing her, but with each savory bite, I am also reminded that Easter is a time to celebrate the realities of salvation.

My grandma spent many years of her life struggling with pain and difficulty. She survived breast cancer twice and lived many years with diabetes. Nonetheless, today, she is in Heaven, devoid of pain and instead filled with joy and the fulfillment of meeting her Jesus just as it says in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Easter is such a special occasion where we can all celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in expectation of the fulfillment of our salvation when one day we are taken to be home in Heaven. I cannot wait for the day when I get to see Grandma Eddie again, and we both can sing our praises to Jesus thanking Him for the resurrection that makes Easter so sweet.

Celebrate

Delivery Day • Celebrate
Noble Baird | Community Center Director

Easter has always been an exciting time of year for me. When I was younger, I will never forget waking up in the morning and to search all over the house to find the eggs my parents had hidden. As I became older, Easter took on a more meaningful and special time. I started to understand the true meaning of Easter and how it was not all about the eggs, the candy, and toys that would be hidden around the house. Instead, Easter has become a time of remembrance, but more importantly a celebration!

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul gives the first written account of the resurrection of Christ. Within this passage, he lays out the foundational truths for which our faith stands. Starting in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, he writes, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” These three truths are pointed out by Paul: Christ’s death, Christ’s burial, and Christ’s resurrection. It is within these three declarations that we have the Gospel by which our sins are cleared.

One of my absolute favorite worship songs is “Resurrecting” by Elevation Church. It is truly a beautiful song, proclaiming the message of these foundational pillars in 1 Corinthians 15. This is the final verse in the song:

“The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave.”

I love this verse because that is exactly what happened when Christ walked out of that tomb. The soldiers were wasting their time, Christ was simply borrowing Joseph’s tomb, and then he robbed Satan of what he thought was his greatest victory. So, as we continue in this Easter season, let us never forget that empty tomb that was only borrowed, as we celebrate the victory that Christ won for us!

 

Victory

Delivery Day • Victory
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

I have never liked to lose. I feel like that is pretty common in most men, we just do not like to lose. Most of the time, I can be a gracious loser, but sometimes I am not able to hold in my disappointment. My brother and I both had so many battles growing up where inevitably one of us would end up angry because we lost. If we are honest, it was him (being the younger brother) who lost more than he won, but he occasionally beat me. There is nothing like the feeling of victory and nothing like the disappointment of defeat.

When I was asked to write about what Easter means to me, the first word that came to mind was “Victory.” As someone who does not like to lose, the idea of victory pumps me up. It is so easy to be beaten down by the world, sometimes to feel like the devil is winning. Easter is a yearly reminder that Jesus won. It is sad how easily believers can forget about the victory we have in Jesus Christ. So many of us live our lives with such a miserable outlook, dreading each day instead of celebrating it. When we remember what Christ did for us on the cross, and we understand that we are children of God, our attitude will change drastically. Each Sunday as we gather as the church, we should be reminded of this, and it is especially true on Easter.

Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

This verse is so encouraging to believers. Jesus rose from the dead, and His Spirit lives in us and gives us life. Easter reinvigorates the truth of that Scripture in my life every year. We get to come together as the Church on Resurrection Sunday and proclaim that truth together as the body of Christ. When I think of Easter, I think of victory. Jesus conquered death, hell, and the grave. He was raised up so that we would be able to spend eternity with Him. Whenever you are feeling discouraged, remember Jesus’ victory.

He is Not Here

Delivery Day • He is Not Here
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

When I was a child, Easter was nothing more than getting some candy. When I became a teenager, Easter was nothing more than getting a few days off of school. When I was in my twenties, I was working at a grocery store; Easter was nothing more than a week where I could get some overtime. Easter did not start to mean something to me until Jesus started to mean something to me. All my life I believed I would become my surroundings. My surroundings involved drinking, drugs, depression, anger, doubt, sadness, passive aggressiveness, neglect, chaos, and darkness. That is where I was going to be my whole life, but Easter changed that.

One of my favorite Easter verses in the Bible is only four simple words. If I wanted to embrace the contraction, it would be three simple words. Matthew 28:6 says, “He is not here.” An angel said that to both ladies named Mary when they went to visit the tomb where Jesus was buried. They expected to see what they saw the day before, a tomb filled with a loved one. The ladies never thought that view would change. Mary knew that her Son was buried and died, and she had accepted that as a reality. The hurt of being alone with no husband and now no son must have been heart-wrenching. Mary Magdalene went to see a man who loved her, taught her, and helped teach her about godly things. Now only hurt remained and that became her new reality. Before those two got to the tomb, I wish I could have been there as they woke up that morning to go to the tomb. Each woman was passing each other with those weak smiles that we show when we are destroyed on the inside. As they walked and got closer to the tomb, I am sure anger, doubt, and sadness started taking over their lives. But then they saw the tomb was open, and they were told the four greatest words recorded in the Bible, “He is not here.”

That means so much to me because at one point I never thought life could be any different. I was born into a family with a drinking problem, which meant my kids would be born into a family that had a drinking problem. I lived in darkness as a kid that means I would always live in darkness.  When I looked at my life, I was always going to be “here,” inside that tomb. I would never get out of “here.” “Here” in my life was the pit of sin and the hurt I encountered. Easter means the world to me because Jesus rose from the tomb so I could leave mine. Since Jesus was not “here,” that meant that I did not have to be or stay in my “here.” It is one of those sobering feelings to look back at where life used to be. I think back to being in a place of such darkness, and because of Jesus I did not have to stay there. Because He left, that meant I did not have to stay there. That is what Easter means to me.



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

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