Devotions

Category Archives: Expecting

Toilet

Back to Reach | Devotion #6: Toilet
John Carter | Director of Operations

After covering Reach, Gather, and Grow, we all can recognize areas in each of our lives where we can improve. The tendency might even be to exclusively focus on ourselves for improvement. Looking inward is a critical aspect of a believer in Christ as we always need to examine our motive for why we do what we do. Keeping it in line with God’s Word and making sure we are following God’s will and not our own is often easier said than done. With all this examining we do, it can be easy to forget that we also need to act. 

James touches on this brilliantly in chapter 2. In verse 15-17, he says, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Later in verse 26, he says, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

As I think about this devotion and contemplate the things we have already heard about in Reach, Gather, and Grow, I cannot help but think that this would be the natural progression for us. It takes all the inward changes and turns them into visible outward actions. It will look different for each of us as we each have different talents and resources. Consider how God might use you to influence or minister to others. You might say, “I do not know anyone lacking in cloth or food.” Do not miss the point, that was just an example, the point is our faith produces action. Maybe you see someone hurting, say something nice! Maybe you see someone that sits alone in the gathering, sit with them and befriend them! Maybe you know someone struggling to understand the Bible, offer to go through it with them!

Part of my job is to make sure that all the buildings are ready to go for gatherings and different events. One of the most important individuals in the church is the one who cleans the toilet. No one wants to go to a place where the bathrooms are not clean. The people that do this are often the people you do not see or hear, but their faith in God is louder than ever because their actions show it. You may not be an outgoing person, but trust me when I say there are ways you can get involved and help. We need people picking up trash, cleaning windows, mopping a floor, stacking chairs, painting, building, swinging a hammer, and the list goes on. The list is the actions of people you never see or hear that make all the difference in the world to the person that may not know Jesus. If you asked any of them why they do it, they would say, “Jesus!” 

Sometimes our actions that influence and or minister to others are the ones that no one ever knows we do for them. There are these people at every location; they understand that they do not just go to church, they are the church. They want that person that walks through the door to feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. I have heard it said like this, “I would hate for someone to miss out on the Gospel because I forgot to put a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.” How can you put your faith into action today? Take all the inward changes you have been working through and put them to use in outward action.

Step Four

Back to Reach | Devotion #5: Step Four
Noble Baird | Community Center Director

As a church, we have made it our mission statement and vision to Reach, Gather, and Grow. The cycle does not stop at Grow; we go right back to Reach. For many, they will hear this vision and think it is simply a three-step process. Once we work our way through Gather and finally start to Grow, some feel they have arrived. However, the most important part is going back to Reach! Matthew 28:19-20 is the foundational passage of all we do as a church, and it is where we find this concept of “Reach, Gather, and Grow.” This passage is often referred to as the Great Commission, and it was some of Christ’s final words before He ascended to Heaven. However, the story does not end there.

In Acts chapter 1, Luke records Christ’s call to all those who are gathered around Him and call themselves followers of Christ. Starting in verses 6-8 Luke writes, “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” Here, Jesus is giving us, His followers, the call and charge to go back and reach into all the world. He came and reached out. He gathered together with His disciples and followers constantly and helped them grow in their walk and faith. Then, just before He leaves, He gives the command to go right back and reach out just as we have all been reached at one point.

I love how Jesus gives the charge, “You will be my witnesses.” Wow, how awesome and powerful is it to think how our Savior has chosen us to be the ones to proclaim and stand for Him! Reaching out can be tough at times and even scary; however, if we take a look back at our life and our story of redemption in Christ, at some point, someone reached out to you and me. So, I want to challenge you not to simply stop and be satisfied with your Growth Communities and small groups. Do not just simply check off the gathering box every weekend. No, I challenge you to remember the call that Jesus gave us in Acts 1:8, truly going back to reach and being a witness for our amazing Savior!

Going to Work

Back to Reach | Devotion #4: Going to Work
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Lately, I have been reflecting on just how awesome God is. Sure, I have known this most of my life, but this week I just keep getting bombarded with the true reality of how awesome He is to me. I am reminded of how much He loves me and how faithful He is. Also, He gives the best gifts. He gave, for example, the gift of His Son Jesus Christ to be my Savior. That one is easily the best gift I could ever be given. Also at the top of the list is the gift of the Holy Spirit. He sent me that “Guy” when I got saved and man, do I love and need His help on a daily basis. The gift list is endless. God has given me so many gifts, and not because I deserve them, but because He is just that incredible. However, not all of the gifts He has given me are just for me to keep and cherish for myself. Nope! I think of the old Sandi Patty song when she sings “The Father gave the Son, the Son gave the Spirit, the Spirit gives us life so that we could give the gift of love. And the gift goes on.” (And on and on and on. That song is catchy and will now be stuck in my head for the next three days). When we become children of God, along with all the gifts that God gives us, He also gives us some jobs. We are called to spread the Gospel to the world. We are called to love people. We are called to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). God does not just give us His spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities to serve ourselves. He calls us to take those abilities and use them to serve others.

Serving others is not natural for the majority of us. We are born with sinful selfish natures, much-preferring others to serve us. But that is not what Christ calls us to do, and not what He modeled in His own life and death. He is the perfect example of a servant, being that He left His throne in Heaven, came down to Earth as a poor man, poured into others throughout His entire ministry and then died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could be counted righteous by the Father. He did not have to do that. But He did. And if God has saved you from your sin, He has called you to serve. 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NASB) says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God…whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” When we serve others with the intention to glorify God, I am convinced that He will deepen our love for people and turn our attention away from ourselves and more towards the needs of others. 

If God has saved you, you should not just be sitting. Get out there and serve! There are so many people in need of our help, and we are called to shine that bright light of Jesus to them. People should see Him when they see us. God has given us talents and abilities so that we can use them to help others as we glorify Him, so it is time to get out there to use them! Not only will serving others bless those in need, but it will also deepen our faith and help connect us with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that God will turn our focus away from our own needs and desires and replace them with hearts overflowing with care and compassion for those around us. It is time to get to work!

Serving

Back to Reach | Devotion #3: Serving
Sue Harrington

Mark 10:45 tells us, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” Ransom means paid the debt.

This is quite the opposite of the world’s view of serving. The world thinks that climbing the corporate ladder, having staff that does what they want them to do, and meet their needs and desires, that they have reached high status.  They believe they have achieved greatness.  That is a “me” mentality. The Word of God, however, tells us when serving others, we serve God.  It is a fulfillment like no other.  When focusing on someone or something else, the attention is then taken from us.   

Serving is not a glamorous concept in this world, but Scripture tells us in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, bothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Serving gives us the opportunity to reflect or imitate Jesus, our greatest example of selflessness. Others will be able to tell what you are by what they see you do. They will see the heart through the actions.

God is always looking at the heart seeing how willing we are to serve, not by how well, but why, and the why should be because of our love for Jesus and our gratitude for all He has done for us. We are called to serve with a grateful heart expecting nothing in return. God will open opportunities for you to serve if you just ask Him. He will also equip you for that very moment if you trust Him. So be obedient to God’s Word; try it and I know it will fill you with such joy and peace, and you will then become more like Him anticipating the next time you get your next mission. It could be as easy as opening a door for an elderly person or giving a hug to someone who is struggling. So go ahead, pray and then ask someone how or if you can help them. Open your heart to serving, and I think you will find it easier than you thought it would be. It not only reflects God’s love but points them to Jesus.

Martha and Mary

Back to Reach | Devotion #2: Martha and Mary
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 11:13

Serving should bring us joy, not feel like a chore.  When we love the Lord, we want to serve Him. The Bible teaches us that if we serve the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.

“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” Luke 10:40

God has given us two purposes in this life. We are to serve others and worship God. God teaches us that serving others strengthens our faith. Serving is a selfless act to show God our love towards Him. Jesus set the example of serving for us.  He said that He came to serve, not to be served. Serving should never be done out of a sense of obligation, but with a giving heart, as part of worship. 

We should all be a balance of Martha and Mary, taking time to learn and rest at Jesus’ feet and taking the time to serve and worship. Serving is an act of worship; we should remember when serving Jesus, we have to have a servant’s heart. 

Serving allows us to discover and develop our relationship with Jesus.  It will help us show the world that being a servant is what was commanded of us. That is part of obedience. The devil will remind us of all the reasons why we cannot serve: “I do not have time, I do not know what to do, I do not have the right skills, no one asked me to help.” These are weak excuses.

We can all serve; it helps us build bonds with others.  It allows us to be a part of spreading the Gospel.  Offering to help is a simple step that builds your relationship with Jesus. On the flip side, it helps those around us. You walk away with a feeling of joy because you were a part of the big picture of helping spread the Gospel to those who may not know Jesus. 

Remember that it was Jesus who first taught us to serve.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45



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