Devotions

Category Archives: Fulfilled

Christ #7 – Three Words that Changed the World

Christ #7 – Three Words that Changed the World
Ken Perry | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Extra, Extra, Read all about it! King of the Jews’ tomb is empty!!!

That would have been the shouted headline of the day if papyrus boys existed in the first century. The town would have been buzzing with the news of Jesus’ resurrection. The truth, though, is that the rulers did not want the news to get out. They knew what Jesus predicted His death, burial, and resurrection and in Matthew 27:62-64 we read of the religious rulers asking Pontius Pilate to have the tomb sealed to prevent that from happening. Silly boys, they did not know that death could not hold Him, and no grave could contain Him.

Modern day Christian congregations around the globe repeat these three words every Easter Sunday…HE IS RISEN!  Which is followed by the familiar retort of “He is risen indeed.” As if saying these words is a secret password whispered to each other in passing.  The simple fact is that no three words have ever changed the world like these have, and we should be shouting them from the hilltops every day.

Central to our Christian faith is Jesus dying on a cross and being buried in a borrowed tomb, yet crucial to our faith is the belief in His resurrection three days later. If Christ did not rise from the grave, then our faith is in vain. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (NLT), “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Hebrews 12:2b (NLT) says that we are the joy for which Christ went to the cross and that He is NOW seated at the right hand of God. Notice the present tense. He is still there ever interceding on our behalf.  We have the hope of Heaven because of the resurrection. We have the hope that we will see our believing loved ones again because Jesus rose from the dead. We live a life, according to Scripture, to the best of our ability because we know there is a God in heaven who loves us and we cannot wait to see Him. All of this and more were made possible by the Father sending His Son to earth to pay the penalty for our sin. He gave everything to a people that can give nothing in return. The words of Elvina Hall echo in my ear. She wrote, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”

Oh Christian, won’t you take time this day and think of the “all” that Jesus paid for you. Think of the immense price of God’s only Son when contrasted by the nothing we have to offer in return. It should bring us to our knees in sorrow, but to our feet in joy for that which awaits us in Heaven because of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you, Jesus!

Christ #6 – Right in Front of Us

Christ #6 – Right in Front of Us
Noble Baird | Guest Services Director

I love learning, reading, and watching anything that involves history, specifically the Middle Ages and the World Wars. In 1065 AD, we have the beginning of the Crusades. Shortly after this war, we have the beginning of the Knights Templar in 1119. It was a time of “Holy War” in which the Knights Templar carried out the mission that they believed they were called to do, defend the Holy Land. During this time, it was honestly a mess just as any war is. However, one story about the Templars that has always caught my attention is that of the Holy Grail. For centuries, people have made up stories, and some have even taken trips in search of this supposed chalice, which held the blood of Jesus. Now, I do not believe that such a chalice exists, nor do I believe that it holds any sort of mystical power; however, the idea of people being in search of something so desperately that they would dedicate their lives to finding it, and at times even give their lives in search of it, amazes me. Likewise, for hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish people were studying and dedicating their lives searching for the Christ, the Messiah that was to come.

Over these past seven weeks, we have been discussing and taking a look at who Jesus is. We began with Him as King and Judge, and then all the way to Him being our Substitute and the Son of God. This week, we are taking a look at Him as Christ. In John 4:25-26, John writes, “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” I love this passage of Scripture because it is the first recording where Jesus calls Himself Christ. This woman at the well was hurting, searching, and in need. Jesus saw that hurt and gave her hope, and at that moment, the hope which she had been searching for was right in front of her. In the same way, the Jewish rabbis and teachers of the law were waiting and searching for the Messiah. They knew He was promised to come and were looking everywhere for Him. Once He finally came and was right in front of them, they still did not see Him!

As we celebrate this Easter season, do not miss the hope that is right in front of you…Christ the risen Messiah.

Christ #5 – The Back Row

Christ #5 – The Back Row
Pat Macdermaid | Clothing Closet

Matthew 16:15-16
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

In the Bible, there are endless verses referring to the name Christ.  The name Christ means “The Anointed One,” “Son of God” and The Messiah.”

This morning as I sat waiting for worship to start, I was looking around at the people taking their seats and still coming in.  It struck me what a group we are, all so different yet so alike.  We are all in need of Christ, the Son of the Living God.

I sit in the back row.  I am a people watcher.  There are people who always come early.  They scan the room looking for the best seat.  There are young families, moms carrying their babies, and dads with little ones by the hand.  I say a prayer for them that all is well.  I notice that some people who come in are walking a little slower these days and look like they are in pain.  I wish I could make it go away.  I see teenage girls giggling together, and I wonder what their world is like for them, so different from the world I grew up in.  I watch as the worship begins, some people bounce to the music as they sing, others raise their hands in surrender to “Christ the King,” and some stand quietly waiting for the singing to end.

As I watch the people, such a feeling of love for every one of them came over me.  I think to myself, “If I can feel love for this room full of people young and old alike and I am just a sinner loving a room full of sinners, how must Christ our Savior love us?”  He let Himself be nailed to a cross so we could become blood-bought children of God.

I can almost see Him sitting in the chair next to mine, checking out His family from the back row.  He can see all of us; we cannot hide anything from Him.  He knows everything there is to know about us.  Maybe as His children, we should try to know everything about Him.

Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!

Christ #4 – Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!
Debbie Gabbara | Community Center Director

I have always LOVED Easter!  When I was a little girl, my family all went to church together, and Easter was a very special day!  Yep, Easter was the day I got to wear my new dress, hat, and shoes to church.  What girl doesn’t love new clothes!  I loved church, and I loved Jesus, yet as a little girl, I did not really understand all that God had done for me.

Luke 24:46 (NKJV)
“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.”

For several years my husband, Larry, and I helped with the Passion Play at Faith Church (now known as the River Church, Waterford location).  Together we took care of all of the props for the play.  He worked the back of the stage, and I worked the front of the stage.  Sitting for weeks in the audience watching every move of the cast it was incredible to see the love of Jesus come to life. 

As they worked through the scenes, I watched everything making sure the audience would see and not see things the way they were supposed to.  At the end of each night, the props had to be placed where they would need to be for the next performance. As I walked around the stage placing everything, my mind would walk through the play.  I often thought about the significance of the cross that had been carried to the back as I gathered up the whip they would beat Jesus with, and the hammer and nails, spikes really, that they would use to show how my Jesus was put on that cross. 

What no one ever saw were the tears I cried in the dark during all those rehearsals and performances as I watched them portray the beating Jesus suffered and listened to the hammer striking the cross.  No, the whip and the blood were not real for our play, but my heart would become so filled with gratitude to think of all that Jesus, the Son of God, my Lord, went through for me. The Bible says that He willingly lay down His life for each one of us.  Nails were put into His hands and feet.  Jesus suffered and died on the cross.  However, death on a cross was not the end for Jesus, and I always knew that my favorite scene was coming…

The darkness would be taken over by the bright light in the tomb, the stone was rolled back, and the Angel would sing, and then, there He is, CHRIST IS RISEN! 

1 Corinthians 15:20a (NKJV)
“But now Christ is risen from the dead…”    

John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”  

Who do you say that I am?

Christ #3 – Who do you say that I am?
Ryan Story | 
Student Pastor

When I first started working with high school students, I was given the opportunity to teach a Bible Study. I was a little bit geeked and prepared extensively for about a week. I had my illustrations all planned, I had my questions all ready to go, and I was so excited to see God do something great. We started the night with a game, some icebreaker questions, and then we jumped into the Bible. We all jumped into reading Matthew 16 and looking at how Peter declares Jesus as the Christ.  After reading it, I asked the first question of the night. I asked the group of high school students Jesus’ question that he asked His disciples, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” I was so excited to hear their answers. I was on the edge of my seat ready to hear them glorify our Lord with their uniquely personal answers. After about ten minutes of what I thought was deep thinking, all I got was silence and blank faces.  Baffled, I asked if they understood the question.  One brave high school boy spoke up and said, “Other than Christ what else should our answer be?” All the bravado that I went into this lesson with slowly began to dissipate.

I will admit as an unsaved teenager that I always thought that Jesus’ last name was Christ. I remember one of the first times I admitted it to a group of Christians they all started laughing thinking I was joking. I played it off as if I was but the word Christ was confusing when I first became a Christian. Christ is a title. The word Christ is the Greek word that is the same as the Hebrew word “Messiah,” which means, “Anointed one.”  Now, the reason why that is so important is that Jesus has several names and titles. I often go through different seasons in my life where His name has a different meaning. In the story of Matthew 16 where Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am,” I have always been curious what Jesus thought the disciples were going to say. If Peter did not speak so fast would Simon the Zealot say the same thing as Andrew?

We all have those unique names that we give to our friends and loved ones.  Those names have so much meaning behind them. For instance, my son’s name is Broly, I will call him Bro Bro, while my wife calls him Turtle. Now that may seem odd, but it is because his wardrobe is full of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle clothing, thanks to me of course.

Now since we cannot play “what if” with the Bible, I think the next best thing is to look at our lives and ask that question, “Who do you say that Jesus is?”  We all come from different families, with different stories, different struggles, and different victories, but our Jesus is the same. We live in areas such as Grand Blanc, Holly, Goodrich, and Waterford, but our Jesus is still the same. However, the conversation that is amazing to have with believers, and non-believers, is “Who do you say that Jesus is?” Now a few months later, I taught this exact lesson to the same group of High School students. Their answers were amazing.

He is my Rock.
He is my Shield.
He is my King.
Jesus is my Friend.
He is the One who keeps me from falling.
Jesus is a Warrior.
Jesus is my Strength.
Jesus is my Shepherd.
Jesus is my Everything.
Jesus is my Protector.
Jesus is my Lookout.
He is my Peace and Joy.
Jesus is my First Love.

Take some time today, and answer this question for yourself. If Jesus looked at you and said, “Who do you say that I am,” what would your response be?



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

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