Devotions

Category Archives: Spoken

Lifetime Achievement Award

Finished | Devotion #1: Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I have a friend who is a college professor in mathematics. He has been working on an “unsolvable problem” since 1971. Whenever I saw something labeled “unsolvable,” I turned the page. He likes to point out that it is unsolvable for now. He took a yearlong sabbatical to study with someone in Sweden who also had the same goal. He has been working on a problem for about 40 years. Most of us remember math class. If we could not find the solution in five minutes, we flipped to the back of the book and hoped there was an answer key. Not only has he labored over those numbers and letters, but his actual goal is also not to necessarily solve the problem. He just wants to help the progression so someone can eventually solve it. It has been his lifelong goal. 

For some, finishing a puzzle, book, or room renovation can be quite the accomplishment. However, few have lifelong projects.

Jesus came to Earth to die. He lived a perfect life, fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, and never got distracted. He left Heaven because mankind needed a Savior and He was and is the only one suitable for the task.

We sinned and earned death, Hell, and eternal separation from God. However, Jesus died in our place to offer us the “free gift” of eternal life (Romans 6:23) and life to the full (John 10:10). This mission took 33 years. It was literally a lifelong project.

John 19:30 says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Jesus woke up every morning with the same goal in mind. He chose to do the right thing in the right way every day. He lived for us; He died for us. Finally, while on the cross struggling and gasping for every breath, Jesus gave the ultimate mic drop and said, “It is finished.” 

Lifetime achievement awards are very honoring. It is interesting to see what someone finds so valuable that they spend days, weeks, months, years, decades, and their entire life and resources to accomplish. Jesus found you to be that valuable.

Jesus lived with you in mind; Jesus died with you in mind. He is not asking you to die for Him, but will you live for Him?

Obedience in Love

Commit | Devotion #6: Obedience in Love
Richie Henson | Production Director

When considering the life and death of Jesus, I believe we can take the immeasurable significance of each moment for granted. In my own life, I know that to be true concerning the crucifixion. I think of the gruesome nature and purpose of the event, but I rarely consider the lessons that Jesus taught us even in His death. Jesus’ final moments on the cross are recorded in Luke 23:46, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.”

As I consider the purpose of Luke’s recording of Jesus’ final words, I am baffled that even unto the point of death, Jesus was willingly laying down His life. His final breath seems to come of His own volition, not coaxed from Him or ripped from Him, but given freely not unlike the rest of His life. 

I think Jesus wants us to understand that free will means obedience is of our own will. God does not desire servants who grumble and complain. The Father does not want us to obey because we have to or are forced. Instead, God desires for us to obey out of love. However, many of us go through our lives complaining and frustrated by our sufferings and difficulties. We fail to see that God finds purpose through sacrifice. I think Peter was aware of this truth in 1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Jesus suffered and died for us willingly. He was not compelled by duty or responsibility but truly loved us enough to suffer on our behalf. As the Father calls on us to suffer for the Gospel, we must submit and obey in love maintaining, until the end, our desire to see God’s will accomplished.

Thy Hands

Commit | Devotion #5: Thy Hands
Ryan Story | Location Pastor Burton

There is a limitless amount a person can learn about Jesus’ heart in the seven sayings He called out while hanging on the cross. Luke 

Death is a hard aspect of life. We all know death is a natural aspect of life. Everything that lives will eventually cease to be alive. From the smallest ant to the largest star in the sky, everything has a life span. You and I are lumped into the same reality; however, there is something special about humans. While God did not give humans the ability to avoid this reality, God did bless us with the fact that death is not the end for those who believe in Jesus. They come to a place where death becomes only the beginning of their eternity in Heaven.  Romans 

Sadly, people, even Christians, fear death. This is where Jesus teaches us something amazing. When Jesus calls out, He is calling out to His father. Jesus is calling out to the creator, the Father, the One who is and is yet to come. Jesus is calling out to the One who is in complete control. Nothing that Jesus endured was outside of God’s plan. Jesus was in complete trust in this plan. Therefore, when Jesus cried out, He knew who He needed. Then after one last “loud call” Jesus died, but He leaves us hope.

Jesus knew where His spirit was going to be. Jesus knew His spirit was going to be with His Father. While doing some research on this devotion, I found an amazing quote by John Piper explaining what happened when Jesus committed His spirit to God’s hands, “Not: into the grave. Not: into the void. Not: into the dark unknown. But: into the hands of God.” That is an amazing truth that I hope brings you hope. 

Death is hard to navigate. My hope for you is two-fold. The first is that you know Jesus as Lord and you have given your life to Him. Being in a saving relationship with Christ is the only way to navigate through death. The second hope is that you put your trust in knowing where it is you put your soul. We are not bodies with souls; we are souls with bodies. Our body will fade away, but our spirit is eternal. Our souls will spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell. I plead with you that if you do not know that your soul will be with our Heavenly Father for eternity that you make that right and re-read the Romans 10:9 verse again.

You’ve Never Failed Me Yet

Commit | Devotion #4: You’ve Never Failed Me Yet
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Recently, the mother of a sweet friend of mine had a massive brain aneurysm and stroke, which led to her being unresponsive in the hospital for a month. This month was filled with prayer: prayers from her family and friends, from the girls in our Wednesday night Growth Community, and from pastors both here at the River and at other churches in the community. We prayed that God would miraculously heal her, knowing that He has complete power and authority to do so. We also prayed that He would bring comfort and peace to those who loved her and trusted in Him, knowing that He would be faithful to deliver on that promise. My friend spent much of the month at the hospital, and every Sunday she sat right next to her mom watching the live gatherings online, singing along to the worship. One Sunday she sent me a text during the message, and I told her that I would soon be closing with one of my favorite songs which include the lyrics: 

“I’ve seen you move the mountains,
and I believe I’ll see you do it again.
You made a way when there was no way,
and I believe I’ll see you do it again.
Your promise still stands,
great is Your faithfulness.
I’m still in Your hands,
this is my confidence-
You’ve never failed me yet.” 

Since I could not be praying with her in person, I figured the next best thing I could do would be to dedicate that whole song in my heart in prayer for her mom, and as she sang along with me from the hospital, it could be like we were praying together. Even though it can be difficult, placing our trust, lives, and the lives of those we love in the hands of God, it will always be for our benefit. He is so faithful, even when we cannot see it or understand His ways. Friend, I assure you that you can trust Him. 

I was really hoping that God would choose to heal her, but after a month it was clear that the time had come for the family to let her go. Like many of those other Sundays, my friend spent the morning in the hospital next to her mom, watching the gathering live, and worshiping with us. This time I closed with another favorite song, singing over and over about how good God is and how He will never let us down. The whole family was in that room that morning, singing those words with me. As we sang, my friend’s dad, the high school sweetheart to his beloved wife, sat and whispered those words in her ear as she passed on from this life and leapt straight into the hands of her Heavenly Father.

I am so thankful for what Jesus did on the cross. Without it, there would be only death. However, because of what He did, we have the opportunity to leap into the arms of the Father when it comes time for us to leave this Earth. Jesus acknowledges this as He drew His final breath on the cross, “Calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’” (Luke 23:46). Surely there is no better place to be than in the arms of the Father. Whether committing our spirit to the Lord when we leave this Earth, or placing every single worry, fear, and situation right into His hands while we are still here, I can promise you this: He is good, He is faithful, and He will never ever let us down.

Darkness, the Curtain, and the Tombs

Commit | Devotion #3: Darkness, the Curtain, and the Tombs
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

When Jesus was calling out to His Father, He was acknowledging that His time on Earth was over. His 33 years on Earth were done. He had accomplished what His Father had sent Him to do. 

Have you ever finished a task that felt final and complete? I retired from 50 years of work in retail sales in March 2017. That last day I felt I completed my task; I had this feeling of completion. I left with my head held high. I had completed my time in the retail pharmacy business, yet I knew that my time for working had not ended. My work was not done; I felt I still had a lot to contribute somewhere.

These are four very remarkable and extraordinary events that happened at the time of Jesus’ death: 

1. Darkness fell over the whole land. Luke 23:44 says, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” According to Bible references, Jesus was said to have been hung on the cross at about nine in the morning. While Jesus died, darkness fell across the whole land and lasted from noon to three o’clock. This could also represent the Father’s anger on how His Son was being treated. Darkness is frequently a sign of judgment.  

2. The curtain was torn. Matthew 27:51 says, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Some theologians point out that the curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Temple. One study note I read said, “Its tearing symbolized Christ’s opening the way directly to God.” Scripture tells us that the curtain would have been 60 feet long, and 30 feet wide! 

3. The earth shook. Notice Matthew 27:51 again, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”  The earthquake according to Albert Barnes was a miraculous convulsion of the earth that was felt in many countries. Earthquakes in the Bible are usually accompanied by a divine revelation. Warren Wiersbe connects the earthquake at Jesus’ death to signify that the demands of the law were fulfilled in Jesus. 

4. The tombs were opened. Matthew 27:52 says, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” These resurrections show God’s incredible power over death and the grave. Christ’s resurrection is the basis of Christianity. This shows the enormous power of the Trinity!

Finally, Mark 15:37 adds, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” 

Jesus said with a loud voice, “Father I commit my spirit.” He was telling the Father He had completed His task on Earth. He had indicated His willingness to submit Himself to the will of His Father. 

Jesus offered Himself, and the Father received Jesus’ spirit. This was His human soul. With this, He was a perfect man. This was a total offering of all the sins of our lost world. 

He has completed the payment for our sins. He was the only sinless man ever to walk the earth; there was never one before Him or after Him. We owe our eternal salvation to this selfless act!



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