Devotions

Category Archives: Johnny B Good

Swimming Lesson

Death #6  December 2 Swimming Lesson

My prayer life often leaves something to be desired. I struggle remembering that God wants us to ask, even for the small things. A short time ago God reminded me of that truth, and it prompted me to write this.

I got a few days off and got the chance to go up north fishing with some close friends. One of the guys lost his prescription sunglasses, and we began looking anywhere and everywhere we possibly could to try to find them. After about half the day of searching, I said a quick prayer just asking God to do something cool and help us find his glasses. Literally, within minutes he found the glasses and I thought “wow that was cool” and then just forgot about it as the day went on.

Later that night I was making the drive from where we were fishing to my parents’ cabin when I saw red and blue flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I knew I was speeding and knew this was going to be another ticket on my record that leaves something to be desired. The officer was very polite, and I tried to be as I fought off my annoyance with myself for speeding when I know better. He went back to his car to run all of my information, and while I was sitting there, I thought about how great it was to have a couple of days off and that this ticket was going to be the blemish on the whole time. For the second time that day I said a quick prayer telling God that I knew the ticket was my fault but that it sure would be awesome if I did not get one. About that time the officer came back, handed me my cards, and my paperwork and told me to slow down but never gave me a ticket.

While I was continuing the drive to my cabin, I asked why in the world God would do these things for me, a guy who screws up multiple times a day. That was when a small voice inside of me said “I reached down for Peter, even though he could swim” (Matthew 14:22-33).  Peter spent his whole life on the water, he would have been an excellent swimmer, but Jesus still reached down to lift him out of the water. Just because you are not drowning in this world does not mean that you should not grab hold of the hand Jesus is holding out for you.

Through my life, I had wondered if or when God was going to tell me that enough is enough and that He is done helping me until I clean up my act. Let us be honest God has done plenty of huge things for us. He sent his only Son so that we could have a way to get to Heaven, He pulled me out of an enormous self-inflicted mess, and He gave me my dream job working at a Church.

When you look at your life, and you see the big things God has done, like letting Peter walk on water, it is easy to forget the little things He does, like reaching down to pick somebody up who could already swim. Do not wade your way through life, grab hold of Jesus’ hand and walk on water with Him!

Brett Eberle

Production Director

“Listen to my Mouth”

Death #5  December 1 “Listen to my Mouth”

When my daughter Mackenzie was four years old, she loved to talk non-stop.  She talked from the moment she opened her eyes in the morning until she closed them at night.  That was a tough season.  Truth be known, she exhausted me.  After a while, all I heard was the sound of her voice (much like Charlie Brown’s teacher; “Wha, wha, wha…”) and I would just give any answer to quiet her.  Mackenzie, being intelligent like her mother, realized I was not actually listening and would shout: “Listen to my mouth!”

As I read my assigned verses on John the Baptist, my attention kept turning to Matthew 11:15: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  I discovered that Jesus repeated this two other times in Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 4:5-6.  And as we all know, when Jesus repeats Himself, we need to LISTEN.  John the Baptist was the last and the greatest of the prophets.  He was THE prophet who would announce the long awaited Messiah.  It occurred to me that much like Mackenzie wanted to be heard, John the Baptist wanted/needed to be heard.  Or did he?

Webster defines hearing as perceiving with the ear the sound made by someone or something.  Listen is described as giving one’s attention to someone or something.  However, actively listening is the practice of paying close attention to a speaker and asking questions to ensure full comprehension.  These different “levels” of hearing require various levels of attention and effort.  Have you ever heard someone say: “You need to put on your spiritual ears?”  Spiritual listening takes hearing to a whole new level.  James 1:22 (NIV) says: “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I believe this is the type of listening John the Baptist prayed/hoped for whenever he shouted: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).  And frankly, this is what Mackenzie had hoped.  Not just hearing, not just understanding, but responding.

In John 4, we find an excellent example of spiritual listening when the woman at the well encounters Jesus.  To begin with, we see Jesus speaking to this Samaritan woman.  Culturally this was totally frowned upon and could have caused trouble for both of them.  The woman chooses to listen to Jesus’ words. Initially, she lacks understanding.  She believes Jesus is offering her water and a way to avoid the inconvenience of the well.  She pursues understanding by continuing to ask questions and by the end of the conversation she understands who Jesus is and the magnitude of what He is offering: living water, eternal life.  After hearing and understanding, she responds by going home and telling all who would listen about her Jesus (John 4:28-30).

This is the spiritual listening God demands of all who believe.  We are called to hear the Word of God, understand the Word of God, and share what we have experienced with all who will listen.

I wonder how many times John the Baptist wanted to yell: “Listen to my mouth!”

Holly Boston 

Women’s Ministry Director

The Compliment

Death #4  November 30 The Compliment

I get some nice emails, texts, calls, or Facebook messages (well, they are not always nice). I love the encouragement and the feedback, good or bad. I believe I am exactly where God wants me and I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I believe God made me to praise, worship, and serve Him. I was not an accident: I was made on purpose for a purpose.

John the Baptist was also made by God for a purpose.

Mathew 3:1-3 says, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

John’s purpose, the reason he was born, was to prepare the way of Jesus.  I am not going to lie that is a lot of pressure. He was constantly in battles with the Pharisees. He lived in the wilderness, wore camel hair as clothing, and ate locusts (bugs) and wild honey as food. I just picture John the Baptist to be this man who dressed crazy, did crazy things, and talked crazy (and people complain about Pastor Jim’s beard and appearance). Regardless of all these things his ministry grew and grew.

Then one day Jesus shows up, and John’s ministry begins to shrink drastically. John’s disciples began to complain.  They have concerns with Jesus and the lack of people coming to learn from John. He then is quoted in John 3:27- 30, “John answered, ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him’. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’’

John the Baptist got it. It was not about him or the great things he was bale to do. It was all about Jesus.

Matthew 11:11 adds, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Jesus pays John the Baptist the greatest compliment a man can receive. He is the greatest man ever born. John decreased himself and made his life all about Jesus.

I am thankful for the compliments I receive from texts, emails, calls, and Facebook. But I want greatness that comes from only Jesus. I must decrease myself and make it all about, for, and because of Jesus.

He must increase.

Mathew 23:12 (NIV) says, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Become the least, and you will be the greatest.

Isaiah Combs 

Worship Leader & Young Adults Director

A Job Well Done

Death #3  November 29 A Job Well Done

Often we wonder what was going on in someone’s head. I recently watched my son head-butt a wall, and I wondered, “What are you thinking?” I have watched teenagers do the most idiotic things, and I stare at them and ask, “What was going through your brain when you thought that was a good idea?” I also try to do this when reading the Bible. What was going through Enoch’s mind when God brought him to Heaven? What was going through David’s head when Goliath went down? What was going through Peter’s mind when he walked on water? Finally, what sort of thoughts were going through John the Baptist’s mind right before he was beheaded.

Take some time to read the story of John the Baptist’s beheading in Matthew 14. For the gruesomeness of this passage I do not want to go into great detail about this passage, and since anyone from 8- 80 could be reading this devotional, I will have to put a “parental advisory” on verses 8-12 as I continue. I always wondered what was going on in John’s mind. He is sitting in prison; he may or may not have been able to hear that his minutes are numbered. I wonder if John felt regret. He stayed committed to the calling God put on his life. John lived a rather odd life of eating insects and wearing uncomfortable clothes, all for God. He devoted his life to preparing the way of the Lord, and he was now in a place where he would not get to see the end result. Now, John was stuck in a room, where eventually a man would come in, murder him, and display his head.

We all have a tendency to look at how a situation ends and define the end as the result of the whole thing. Think of every team that loses in the championship game. The moment the clock hits 00:00 and a team loses, why does everyone throw their entire season out and considered them failures? Atlanta just lost the Super Bowl with a 95% probability of winning with five minutes left in the game. Now that was a great comeback, but Tom Brady being the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), does not take anything away from Matt Ryan or Julio Jones. Just because something does not end in what we deem as a “win,” does not make it a loss.

Switching gears from football to John the Baptist. John lost his life in prison after faithfully serving God. John boldly preached repentance to a society that did not want to hear him. John stood up to self-righteous religious people that would murder anyone who stood in their way. John was willing to be an odd-ball, just because it was what God commanded him to do. Go back to Matthew 11. While John was in prison, he had doubts. John sent a servant to ask Jesus if he was truly Jesus. Jesus’ response was, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them”( Matthew 11:4-5). At that moment I think we can see what was going on in John’s mind. Yes, John’s life was about to end. However, the job that John was tasked with was just starting to take off. The job that John started was about to be finished by Jesus. The Kingdom of God was starting to roll, and God used John to start the momentum. The reality is all of our lives are but a vapor, and we never know when that last moment will be. But in John’s case, I feel he was able to move from this life to the next easily knowing that he did a job well done. He finished his race. He fought his fight. He left this world with no regrets. We can learn a lot about our walk with Christ in even the most brutal of stories. So let us take a page out of John the Baptist’s book, and go work for Christ. Let us all go live a life that is worthy of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Pastor Ryan Story

Student Pastor

Prompting

Death #2  November 28 Prompting

In Matthew 14 we find John the Baptist arrested and thrown in jail. Herod had arrested him because John had told Herod that it was not lawful for Herod to have his brother’s wife. The story only gets stranger from here as well. At Herod’s birthday party he decrees that whatever the daughter of Herodias (Philip’s wife) wants, she could have. We see in this next piece of Scripture that Herodias quickly takes advantage of this decree.

“Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.” – Matthew 14:8-11

After being prompted by Herodias, her daughter demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The king had no choice but to honor the oath he made in front of all of his party guests, so he commanded the death of John the Baptist. The phrase “prompted by her mother” stood out to me in this section. Herodias’ daughter allowed her mom to influence her to do something horrible. I am sure most of us find this appalling, but the scary thing is so many of us let this happen in our lives. This story should serve as a warning to the negative influence people can have on our lives.

In my life, I have learned the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” I have seen it happen in my life, and I have witnessed it ruin the lives of many other people. It is so sad when you see someone who gets wrapped up with the wrong people, and you see their relationship with God slowly disintegrate. When we think of a situation like this, most of us probably think about a student being influenced by his friends at school. However, this issue is something that affects all people in all stages of life. No one, no matter their age, is impervious to the impact their friends have in their life.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

We need to surround ourselves with those who are wise, and we need to seek out those people who love God with all their heart. Being around people who are truly on fire for Christ is contagious. This is one of the reasons it is so important to be involved in a gathering and attending a Growth Community. We need to constantly surround ourselves with godly people, allowing them to speak truth into our lives, stirring us up to be more like Christ. This does not mean hide from anyone who is not a Christian. It is essential that in our Christian life we are making friends with people who do not know Jesus. That is the primary way we will have opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be diligent to make sure that we are the ones influencing our non-Christian friends and not the other way around.

Phil Piasecki

Worship Leader



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