Devotions

Category Archives: Johnny B Good

Prophet vs Politician

Death #1  November 27 Prophet vs Politician

Our country has just gone through a political process that might be considered the most controversial in history.   Respectfully, our country has elected a man to the office of the presidency that simply did not fit the mold expected of a political leader.  We have a president that did not come through the ranks as one would expect to leave him open to criticism.  His legacy remains to be seen, but the uncertainty gives way to protesting, rioting, and confusion.  If this is happening in our world today what must it have been like when Jesus walked the earth professing to be “The Messiah?”

Was Jesus who He claimed to be?  He certainly did not fit the mold of what people thought He would be.  The Bible is filled with Scriptures and prophecies describing who Jesus is, His life and what He came to do. The Jews had expectations of what the “Messiah” would be, but they expected an earthly king.  Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) says, “And the government will rest on his shoulders and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” 

During His ministry on earth Jesus did not deny that He was the fulfillment of prophecy; He spoke very openly about who He was.  John 5:39-40 says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”  The signs and wonders that He performed were merely a testimony to who He was, but His message was salvation and eternal life.

Even today there is controversy about who Jesus was; was He a prophet? According to Scripture? “Yes.”  After Christ’s death and the establishment of the Church, the understanding was that Jesus was the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy. Peter explained that Jesus Christ was the One spoken of by Moses (Acts 3:22-23),Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.’”

We see this fulfilled in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus did not come to govern as a political king; He came to give His life that through His death and resurrection we have the opportunity to receive Him. In receiving Him, He will govern our hearts until His return when He rules the earth as King of King and Lord of Lords. 

Instead of skepticism and wonder go to Scripture. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Katrina Young 

Nursery & Pre-K Director

Blessed to be a Blessing

Imprisonment and Doubt #6  November 25      Blessed to be a Blessing

One of my first mission trips I ever went on, was to the streets of Atlanta. Our mission was to help clean at a homeless shelter, then to travel the streets in the afternoon to try and minister to the homeless. During our walks, we took backpacks with supplies such as clothing, food, Bibles, and essentials. We not only wanted to be able to help meet the people’s physical needs but also hoped to reach into their spiritual needs. Every person we came in contact with, we offered prayer. Instead of trying to thump them with the Bible, we simply wanted to love on them by meeting their needs and prayer. It was through this time of prayer that we, as a teenage group on a mission trip, were most blessed.

In Matthew 3:4-6, Matthew sheds some light into the physical attributes of John. It reads, “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” John was a simple man. He did not have much, nor was his appearance anything that caught one’s eye. However, it was through that simple and what some would consider “poor” appearance, that lives were changed.

When I was on the streets asking if I could pray for the homeless, they turned the tables on me. They asked me if they could pray for me! I was dumbfounded and speechless. Our whole goal on the trip was to pray for, be a blessing to, and reach the homeless; yet, they ended up blessing my life. I thought that I was the one who had something to offer. Yet, it was through those men and women on the streets – who had nothing more than the ripped, torn, and dirty clothing on their backs – that I was shown what the actual message of Christ was. John’s mission was not to gain followers to his cause. His mission was to spread the message of Christ, through the repentance of sins and baptizing them.

In the culture we live in, we often can let the outward appearance of people bring about a judgment of them. For me, I saw homeless men and women and never once thought that they would have anything to offer me; and I could not have been more wrong. God chose to use a simple man to change the lives of those throughout Jerusalem, Judea, and Jordan. So, as you move forward each day, remember that it is about the message inside; not what the deliverer looks like on the outside.

Noble Baird

Director of the Community Center

The Red Pill or The Blue One?

Imprisonment and Doubt #5  November 24 The Red Pill or The Blue One?

In 1999 a movie took the Box Office by storm. It spawned a franchise that grossed over 3 billion dollars in revenue worldwide. The basic premise is this: Thomas Anderson is a computer hacker who goes by the name Neo and is considered by Morpheus (the leader of the rebels) to be ‘the one,’ the one that will save them from ultimate destruction by the sentient machines of The Matrix.  As the movie progresses, it becomes apparent that many people doubt whether Neo is the one. They have placed their hopes of a future without being controlled by the machines firmly on Neo’s shoulders and as time goes on, and he does not overthrow the machines in the time frame they have set in their minds, the question of Neo’s ability comes forward. The question of “are you the one?” starts to make it around the ship. They begin to doubt whether they were correct in placing their trust in Neo. They were correct by the way.

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun and we see that here because this plot line was played out in reality over 2000 years ago. It is the early part of Jesus’ ministry, and John the Baptist has been imprisoned by King Herod for rebuking his sin. Like many people, John was probably confusing Jesus’ coming to establish a new kingdom to mean He would spearhead the overthrowing of the Roman government, thereby freeing the Jewish people from the oppression and tyranny of the harsh Romans. To the point, John the Baptist in Matthew 11:3 (NLT) sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Just as in the Matrix movie, they were asking “are you the one?”

Some commentators believe this is John asking the question to help clarify the doubt of his disciples. Others say this is John’s frustration of being imprisoned and not being able to do what he was called to do, coupled with the misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose. Either way, we see some real-life doubt creep into the lives of some devoted followers. Have you ever been there? Have you ever started to doubt God? Maybe something you were told, or some promise you claimed but was taking too long to come true made you question whether or not you could trust what Jesus said to you. I know I have.

So, let me share from experience a few verses that can help in these situations. 

Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) says, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’”

Doubt creeps in when expectations are unmet. We need to understand that we cannot fit God into our mold and try to make His plans conform to ours. We must work hard to fit into His plans. Not only are His thought higher than ours, but His timing is also perfect. 2 Peter 3:9a tells us, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness…” and Philippians 1:6 (NLT) says that He is faithful to complete the work He started in us. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

So, when doubt and fear creep in, when frustration rears its head, when you begin to question whether or not God is hearing your cries and listening to your heart, when you think God’s plan for your life is never going to happen, be reassured. Please remember that His plans and purposes are high above ours, His timing is perfect, and the work He began in you will be completed. Stay close to Jesus and do not allow the toothless words of the enemy to cast a shadow of doubt on the greatness of the Word that comes from a Father who loves you dearly.

Ken Perry 

Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Doubt

Imprisonment and Doubt #4  November 23 Doubt

Now when John had heard about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3). We all have some expectations. Many of us have high expectations on what we want out of life and who we want to become. We work hard to live up to the expectations that are given to us or to fulfill on our very own. So what do you do when the curve ball comes into your life, and things totally change direction? Or maybe things just do not turn out the way you planned. How do you deal with the issue of disillusionment when the way God works shocks or disappoints your expectations? What do you do with your doubt?

John the Baptist’s ministry was a call to repentance. He was the messenger preparing the way. John was the first true prophet in 400 years, and he was also kin to Jesus. John baptized Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him. Even as He came down to the Jordan River at Bethany, John proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah in the book of John. But now locked up inside a prison facing death for boldly confronting sin, John was having some doubts. If Jesus was the coming Messiah, why was he locked away instead of preaching and preparing hearts for Him? John was so bold at pointing repented hearts to the Good News of Jesus, and yet his circumstances stirred up doubts if Jesus was the One he knew Him to be. Have you ever been there in the middle of unforeseen circumstances; feeling alone, uncertain, confused and having doubts? Sometimes things just do not add up or make sense. When our world seems to be up-side-down, and doubts arise, you are not alone! Even John, who Jesus said “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11, NIV);  was feeling those very things.

John needed to know Jesus was the Messiah. John had known who Jesus was, but he needed reassurance from Him. He needed to know that even though he was in prison and things were not playing out the way he had envisioned, that there was a bigger picture, he just could not see it. So often in our trials, we cannot see what the Lord is doing. Sometimes we do not see the Lord do the things we think He should be doing. We cannot see the big picture, and in those times we need to do as John did and take our doubt right to Jesus. Jesus did not rebuke John for his question; He gave him reassurance. Rest assured that the Lord knows the big picture and trust He is working all things for the good of those who love Him.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

Danielle Hardenburg 

Nursery & Pre-K Director

True Humility

Imprisonment and Doubt #3  November 22 True Humility


C. S. Lewis said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” I am not a humble guy. Pride is one of the hardest sins in my life. This has always been a struggle for me. The thing that is ironic to me is that I struggle with both sides of pride, the self-conscious part of pride, and I struggle with the egocentric part of pride. Any given day I can have sinful thoughts that I am the greatest, smartest person on this Earth, to the next day thinking that everything I do is useless and meaningless. That is why I enjoy that quote by Mr. Clive Staples Lewis (bet you did not know his name was Clive) because he can tap into the core of what humility looks like, thinking of ourselves less.

I have enjoyed studying John the Baptist over this last month or so. I try to make sure that I read as much as I can about a Biblical topic before I write. One of John’s most famous quotes he ever says is found in John 3:30, where he says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is one of those common Christian jargon verses we like to throw around and make for some amazing Christian tattoos. But like many things in the Bible, things that have been written, we have lost the true meaning, the real depth of the beauty that John is saying.  Sadly, I have to admit, I did not realize that John the Baptist said this in John 3. I feel ashamed to admit this, but when I first started reading, I said to myself, “I thought John 3 was all about Nicodemus and Jesus.”

Take today to really, really study a conversation that is had in John 3:25-30. A disciple and a random Jewish man (I am assuming) are having a conversation, and they ask John a question. They even ask it using “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), which is a huge sign of respect in the Jewish culture. The men proceed to listen to John as he waxed eloquent exaltations about Jesus. John was a man with a following. John was thought of as one of the champions of the Jewish nation, Elijah. John was a man who could out-preach the Pharisees. John was a man who knew his place.

John knew who Jesus was, as many reading this do. If we want to begin to think about Jesus as John did we have to answer two paramount questions:


1)What areas of your life do you need to start decreasing?


2) What areas of your life do you need to start letting Jesus increase?

Are you trying to control too much in your life? Are you afraid to give, or serve because you do not know when you would get that time or money back? Are you afraid to ask God how to serve Him because it might not be in your plans? When will you start acting like Jesus and finally stop gossiping, swearing, or talking negatively about someone? When we get to a place where those are the hard questions, we get to a place where John was. John was able to serve God faithfully, boldly, and so counter-culturally that he was used to be the small spark that ignited the Jesus movement. And it came from one simple idea; I am going to humble myself, so Jesus can indeed be seen through my actions.

Pastor Ryan Story
Student Pastor



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