Devotions

Category Archives: What a Mess

The Open Door

Everyone loves the weekends. There is something about knowing that you get to sleep in on Saturday (hopefully) and have two days free of work. I used to love getting up and watching Saturday morning cartoons with a big bowl of cereal. Now for those with kids or housework, I understand the plight that there is no such thing as a weekend. Nonetheless, we all love the weekend. If you are reading this, and went to that dark pessimistic place in your heart and are refusing to come out, try to remember a time when weekends were amazing. Take a second to think about how this weekend will start. Most of us have tasks we need to complete such as yard work, shopping, or simply just spending time with family. When you are making your plan for the day, how often do you think of the opportunity you have every weekend at church?

While Paul was wrapping up his letter to the church in Corinth, he wrote them his “weekend plans.” “I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (I Corinthians 16:5-9).  As much as Paul wanted to see the people of Corinth, he tells them that he has an amazing opportunity in Ephesus.

In life when we are blessed with any amazing opportunity, we run into adversity. What do you tend to focus on? Many times in life, I know I focus on all the adversity I see rather than the opportunity I am given. This takes an entire shift in how we view our lives. I wonder if Paul was looking at the advertising in Ephesus, or if he was looking at the opportunity. How did Paul get to this place in life? Paul could have gone to live with the people he knew in Corinth, help that church get some things right, get ready for another journey (which we should all be eager to go on journeys for God), but instead, he stayed in a city that he knew he would run into adversity. He knew he would face people who hated him. Paul did not see the negative, the painful, the awkward, and the struggle in the situation; he saw the opportunity.

Now back to this weekend. What opportunity has God placed in front of you that you have not seized? For many it is getting to church consistently. Let’s face it you may have randomly opened your email and saw this devotional. Some of you have the great opportunity to get involved serving. Satan loves to make sure there is always some sort of adversity in the way to keep God’s people from serving as Jesus served. Yes, serving takes time, energy, and sometimes-even money. However, are you letting those adversities get in the way of you seeing how God can use you? Now for the coup da grace that most of us struggle with…. inviting someone to church. Inviting someone to church can become present numerous adversities. Those difficulties can range from your own fears and self-consciousness to issues with the person you are trying to invite. No wonder these things pop up, the enemy does not want us, or that person, to get closer to God. So this weekend, take a moment to think of that person whom you know God wants you to bring to church. It can be hard, it can be awkward, but think of the opportunity.

 

Ryan Story
Student Pastor

Letters to my son- “Let all that you do be done in love”


1 Corinthians 16:13-14:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.

Broly,

Read this list.

Love is patient

Love is kind

Love does not envy or boast;

Love is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way

Love is not irritable or resentful;

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends

Be all of those things. I hope you took a second to realize how hard that will be.

My last prayer I have for your life is that everything you do in your life is done in love. This will be the hard part. This is hard for me to even challenge you. I cannot look you in the eye and expect you to do these when I can barely handle doing two consistently, but my ceiling will always be your floor and I will do my best to show you how to do it, but I want you to take it further.

Such a small verse holds years of application. When you ride your bike, make sure it is done in love. When you go to school, make sure it is done in love. When you take out the trash, let it be done in love. When you fail, let it be done in love. How in the world does one do that? Also, any act that cannot be done in love should not be done at all, so how does one become better? I could sit here and ask question after question about how one applies this verse to their life, but it would get us nowhere. So let’s not look to ourselves to solve this problem, let’s look to the one who show us how love is done, Jesus.

“God is love” (1 John 4:8). If you want to become something in this life, look at someone who is a professional. If you want to learn to build, get to know a builder. If you want to learn how to play basketball, go get to know a ball player. If you want to learn how to let every action in your life be love, we need to go to Jesus. I cannot tell you how to do everything, and I cannot write out every way to love. However, I can tell you that if you want to learn how to let every action of your life be done in love, you need to get close to the one who is love. When you get close to Him, it will be amazing to see how these actions will start becoming who you are.

 

Ryan Story
Student Pastor

Letters to my son- “Be strong”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Broly,

You are strong. There will never be a moment in your life when I will not tell you this. I hope you always understand what strength is. You are not strong because of what you can lift. You are not strong because you are tough. You are strong because you understand what strength truly is. If you completely give your all physically, you will exhaust yourself time and again. True strength comes when you give yourself completely spiritually.

Life is hard. Life can be unfair. People can be harsh. People will hurt you. There will be times in your life that you will want to give up, but be strong. There is nowhere in the Bible where it says that Jesus is going to make sure that everything will be easy. The truth is Jesus Himself even says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16). Your strength does not come from you; it does not come from you grinding harder. Your strength comes from Him. You are strong because of His strength. Your strength comes from surrendering your life to Jesus.

Be strong. Life will be hard. Jesus will help you, but you had better keep moving. A strong man has determination. A strong man never stops moving forward. If life gets hard, keep moving. When you feel like quitting, understand that is not the voice of God. Never quit, refuse to give up because when you embrace the strain of life, you will get His strength. “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48). You know I love this verse. Learn to take the pain in order to get the refinement. The strain of life helps build strength. God will use difficult times to make you stronger. If there is never any strain, is there ever any refinement? In times of pain, son, learn to ask God for life, joy, liberty, or/and wisdom. In those moments, He will be there, and He will give you strength.

You will never know how strong God can make you if you are always giving up. Don’t look at the pain, don’t look at hopelessness, and don’t look at the impossible. Broly, grow up and be strong. Grow up realizing that Jesus is your strength. Realize that there is no impossibility with Jesus. Embrace the pain. Embrace the difficulty. Embrace the challenge. Never embrace giving up. Embrace the strength that defeated death, hell, and the grave. Hold tight to Jesus.

Stay strong son. When you keep moving forward, God will open doors that you cannot even imagine.

 

Ryan Story
Student Pastor

Letters to my son- “Act like a man”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Son,

Being a man is an interesting thing. Men can watch something on YouTube and become experts at any task; however, true manhood can only be learned by being welcomed into this “fraternity” by another man. Son, since the moment I bit into that cupcake and saw blue, my life changed. You went from being my baby to being my son. As excited as I was, there was also a new feeling I have never felt before. I felt a mixture of excitement and fear with a dash of “over-whelmed-ness.” Broly, the hard reality is this; there are not many men in this world. There are tons of adult boys around, but few are men. This world does not need more boys. It needs men! Men that are strong, Godly, and mature. So I challenge you, my son, act like a man.

For years, I feared the day that God would bless me with you. I am terrified of the idea of failing you and not showing you what a man is. I prayed and prayed for weeks when you were first born about how I was going to show you how to be a man, and each time I came to the reality that I will always fall short. I am a failure. I could not figure out how to show you how to be tender and loving and yet be tough as iron. How do I teach you to hold your tongue in meekness and humility, and yet be bold enough to stand up for the things you believe in? How do I teach you to walk with confidence and boldness and be willing to put everyone before yourself? How do I teach a boy to protect his loved ones, and yet turn the other cheek? Sadly, I am horribly unqualified to show you such things, but I knew someone who was.

I realized very quickly that if I am going to show you how to act like a man, I better show you who the perfect man is. True manhood does not mean being perfect; it means trusting in Christ’s perfection. Broly, I lived more than half my life without Jesus. I put all of my hopes and dreams in my own hands. I modeled my ways after me. Trust me; a man is not someone who builds his life with his own hands. A true man is someone who allows Jesus to build us into His image. I tried to build my life into what I thought I wanted. I want you to let Jesus build you into the man that you need to become.

The best advice I can give you about growing up is always to have a map. Men do not like maps. Men like to figure out stuff on our own; we like to make our own path. However, without a map, son, we can get lost very quickly. Feeling lost is the worst feeling you could ever experience. Your map is right in front of you. Your map is Jesus. He has always known you. He knows the path you are going to walk. The question is, do you try to read this map? Broly, I cannot make you read the Bible, I cannot make you pray, and I cannot force you to spend quiet time with God. Broly, He is your map. Will you use it?

 

Ryan Story
Student Pastor

Letters to my son- “Stand firm in the faith”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Broly,

I hope you are a sports guy. Right now, your mother is telling me you cannot play hockey or football. I have about 15 years to change her mind, and I hope you can help me. One of my biggest regrets is never playing football in high school. I look at myself and realize that I am a huge guy, and I am pretty sure I was equally as big in high school. I wish I had the courage to play. I think I was afraid of being hit. I played a lot of hockey in my younger days, and I took several checks in my day. Sometimes they hurt sometimes they didn’t. The thing I realized was when I was skating and collided with a person it seemed to hurt less than if I was staying still. For some reason, moving forward makes the impact less impactful. That is how life is. If you are not moving forward, if you are not ready to put up any resistance, the world will run you over.

Above your bed, it says, “Stand firm in the faith,” I want you to stand up for many things, but the one thing I hope you learn to stand for is your faith. Your faith in Jesus is the one thing that brings you strength. Your faith in Jesus is the one thing that gives you purpose. Your faith in Jesus is the one thing that can save you from Hell. When the world is coming at you full speed ahead, let your faith shield you. Let it protect you, because it will. However, this is where I need you to understand that there will be a time where you will have to stand up for your faith in the same way that your faith stands up for you.

It is not popular to live for Jesus. You will lose friends. You will lose opportunities with girls. You will lose out living like a “normal” kid. Also, because you are my son, you will lose out on more because of what God has called me to be. For that, I am sorry, but for that, you are welcome. Son, there will be moments in your walk with Christ where you want to stop fighting. There will be moments when you do not want to push as hard as you can. There will be moments when are ok with letting your guard down. There will be moments that people hate you. There will be moments when people judge you. I beg you to take these words to heart and stand firm in your faith. Jesus stood firm to the point of sweating blood, and all the disciples were martyred. You will have a moment in your life when you will have to stand up for what you believe in. The question for you is, are you going to stand up and take the hit and keep going, or take the hit and fall down and never get up?

 

Ryan Story
Student Pastor



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