Devotions

Category Archives: World Changers

Isaac

Lesson Three | Devotion #1: Isaac
Wes McCullough | Production Director

There is a funny saying, “Do you want Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now?” This particular phrasing applies to women anxious to get married, but the concept applies to everyone’s life in some aspect. Do you want the right house or the house you can have now? Do you want the right car or the one you can have right now? What makes you anxious? In my life, I was anxious for my family.

Since my early teen years, I wanted the wife God had planned for me and the blessing of children that followed. I trusted that God would deliver those blessings at the right time. God made me wait until I was 26 years old to deliver the first blessing, a beautiful, God-fearing bride. During those ten years of waiting, I could have tried to make it happen myself. I could have married some other woman much sooner, but it would not have been right. It would have been wrong to rush God on that blessing. Instead, I was patient, and God delivered a woman who was more of a blessing than I thought possible. God used those long years to prepare both of us for each other. My patience led to God’s plan being perfectly clear to me.

In Genesis, we read about Isaac. After waiting 40 years for his bride, Isaac and his wife Rebekah struggled to have children for another twenty years. Isaac himself was the answer to Abraham and Sarah’s prayer for children and now God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants too numerous to count seemed doubtful. Isaac remained faithful and “prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Genesis 25:21). We can learn from Isaac, as we can from many other biblical figures, that patience on God’s plan will be rewarded. God blessed Isaac’s patience with countless descendants including King David and Jesus, King of our salvation.

My wife and I had to wait longer than we would have liked for children but the sorrows of want and wait pale in comparison to the joy that our son now brings to our lives. All my memories of wanting have been replaced by the smiles and giggles of an answer to prayer named Jackson.

God has faithfully returned my patience with blessing. I challenge you to remain faithful and patient and expect God to bless you for it. Allow God to work in His time, and you will not regret the wait.

Rachel

Lesson Two | Devotion #6: Rachel
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Genesis 30:1 says, “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I shall die!’”

I have always thought world changers had big, huge lives that made big splashes. As I have gotten older, I see people have influence over others, and it is not massive, no one knew them, yet their impact is felt for many years and many generations.

Rachel was one such quiet influencer. We do not know much about her, but Rachel’s struggles are something that we can all understand and from which we can learn. Rachel compared her life and was envious of what she did not have. She was not able to see past her pain, her desires and to be able to see that God had a bigger plan for her.

The Bible is very clear about comparing ourselves. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

When we are blinded by what others have and comparing our lives to others, we miss opportunity after opportunity to feel God’s presence and love His people. Think about it, if we stopped comparing, if we stopped being envious, what greater influence could we have on the lives of others?

God’s plans will always happen. He always intended Rachel to give birth to Joseph, that Joseph would become one of the greatest stories ever told, and that Rachel’s influence as a mother would help Joseph navigate the difficult situations God placed him. The point is not that we drastically change God’s plan with our human inabilities, but how greater of opportunities will He give us if we accept where He has placed us and allow Him to use our lives to bring Him more glory.

Rachel is a reminder of what an envious life looks like, full of despair, anger, and comparison. What she could have accomplished if she had not been distracted by how she perceived her life and instead been open to what God had for her is immeasurable.  Do not be bogged down by comparison and instead recognize that we are all uniquely made and loved by God, that should be freeing enough to live our lives unshackled by doubt and envy.

Job

Lesson Two | Devotion #5: Job
John Carter | Director of Finance & HR

The story of Job is one often shared and talked about in churches and Christian circles. If you are not familiar with Job, let me give you a brief “cliff notes” version of his story. Job was a wealthy man with a very happy family. He lived the “perfect happy life” that many of us chase after all these many years later. Job was called blameless and perfect. One day, Satan came to God and challenged God by saying the only reason Job loves You is because You protect him. Let me have my way with him and let us see if he still honors You? So, God being confident in Job, grants Satan to have his way. He gives Satan only one restraint, “just do not take his life.”

Then the struggles of Job began, and it is a horror story of pain and difficulty like no other. His wealth and his family are all lost in a short period of time. Job is left alone sitting in pain from physical illness. He is no doubt questioning his status with God and his faith. Then God comes and has a conversation with Job, and restores Job. Again, this is a very abbreviated description of Job’s story. There are so many different good studies that can come from Job’s story. I want to focus primarily on the conversation Job has with God in Job chapters 38-41.

When I read Job 38:1, I cannot help but be brought to tears when I think of where Job is when God comes to him and answers him in the whirlwind, aka the storm.

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind.”

If you have ever experienced any struggle, heartache, or difficulty in life, I would think this passage to be one of great joy! To me, this passage is very overwhelming. I am secure knowing that in the midst of our storm the Lord is present! He is not only present in the storm, but He proceeds to explain how mighty and awesome He (God) is to Job. He asks Job questions:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?
Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?”

I would encourage you to read the whole passage in Job chapter 38-42. The questions God asks may seem harsh, but I believe they are meant to encourage Job. They are meant to help make very clear who God is and of what He is capable.  You soon realize how big God is and how small we as humans are. Job’s response acknowledges this. “Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.’”

God then continues to ask Job some more questions, several in particular stick out, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”

Again, Job responds to Gods questions, in a way that is so profound, “Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’”

Wow, what a powerful acknowledgment of who God is. God is present in the time of storms, God can do all things, God has a plan, and God is far more wonderful than we can even know. In this dialogue, we can see how great, mighty, and awesome God is. Let us take this story of a world changing man named Job and apply it to our lives.

Do you ever question God? Have you ever thought, “Why me Lord?” How about, “What are you doing God?” Have you ever been in a position where the burden felt so heavy? Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever wondered if there was anyone who cared? Have you ever hurt so bad that it made you question if God was real? If you claim Jesus as your Savior, is God so real to you that He is the first one you call out to in the storms of life? Maybe as you read this dialogue between God and Job, you will come to know the One who laid the foundation of the earth. The One who has commanded the morning since the beginning of time, the One who has knowledge of the gates of death, and the One who established the ordinances of the heavens. Maybe you have heard about Jesus your whole life, but you have not yet seen who He is, Job’s response is the Gospel message, “Now my eye sees You; therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Life by no means is an easy thing, but when we have God, we can rest assured no matter how hard the storm, we have a God that will answer! Knowing God also means that we recognize how big He is and how small we are. He gets all the Glory!

Lot

Lesson Two | Devotion #4: Lot
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

One of my favorite songs is “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by a band called The Postal Service. They are not a Christian band, but there is a line in the song that has always resonated with me as a believer. In the second verse of the song it says, “I am a visitor here, I am not permanent,” and we see that theme carried throughout the song. Anytime I listened to that song it was always a reminder to me that as a believer this world is not my home, all Christians are just visitors on earth waiting to return to our eternal home. While we live here, we have been tasked with the challenge of influencing the world for Christ, while not letting it influence us negatively. Romans 12:2 says, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” This is something that believers have struggled with since the beginning of the world. Many people find themselves slowly becoming more and more like the world without even realizing it. We see an example of this through Lot in the Old Testament.

In Genesis 13 Lot and Abram were living together, but because of their great wealth and disagreements between their herdsmen they decide to split up, and each finds land of their own. Genesis 13:11-13 shows us what they both decided on, So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” We see that Lot decided to move his tent to the same valley as Sodom, even though he knew that the men of Sodom were wicked. I am sure Lot thought being that close to Sodom would not be a big deal, he could handle that temptation! This is the same trap many of us fall into, we get too comfortable and get closer to sin, thinking that it will not burn us. However, in Genesis 19 we find the next account of Lot, and we start to see how much has changed. Genesis 19:1 says, The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth.” Lot no longer just lives in a tent in the valley of Sodom, he now lives in the city and is even conducting business within the city gate. He has gone from living on the outskirts of Sodom to living within the walls of the most wicked city on earth at the time.

The rest of this story is seriously “R” rated, but it shows the slippery slope that sin is. I would encourage you to take some time and read all of Genesis chapter 19 and see how comfortable Lot had become with sin in his life. The account of Lot and the city of Sodom needs to serve as a warning in our own lives. We always need to be vigilantly looking out for sin in our lives and making sure we get rid of it. The more comfortable we become with our sin, the more likely we are to get into it deeper. We need to confess our sin to Christ, asking for his strength and power to conquer whatever we are facing. Unchecked and unrepentant sin in our lives will lead to destruction; there are no exceptions. God is gracious to us, just like He was with Lot, but let us not make the same mistakes that Lot did.

Hagar

Lesson Two | Devotion #3: Hagar
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Sarah and Abraham are significant in the Bible, their lives are followed, and yet in the middle of it all, a young woman named Hagar is thrust into their lives by one decision. She finds herself in a place I am sure she never imagined, did not want, and was not happy with how her life was moving. Genesis chapter 16 walks us through Hagar’s journey.

Genesis 16: 1-4 says, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.”

HAGAR FLEES

Genesis 16:6 adds, “…Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.”

After all of this, Hagar fled. She could not take the pressure, the shame, the anger, and her role in it all. We sometimes do this, we get to the middle of a season, a season that has been difficult, one that has hurt, and we leave. It is not just a situation, but we leave where God has placed us. It is easier to walk away, convince ourselves that God did not place us there and that God would never make us walk through this valley. It hurts too much to be accepted as being from God. Please listen, if we go through life by running from every valley and trial God has for us (whether that is self-inflicted or not), our faith will be small and weak. God grows us; our faith is strengthened through these moments. We see this throughout the Bible. We see it with Paul and his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). It is evident throughout Moses’ life, whether it be his doubt or valleys God walked him through. We are not promised an easy road; we are not promised a life void of hardship.

God meets Hagar on her flight, and the first thing He does is remind her where she should be. God will not let world changers take the easy way out; you have to go through the valleys to get to the mountain tops.  You cannot go around; you cannot take a shortcut, you have to go through it.  He then quickly follows it up with a promise, can you picture it? Hagar is distraught and angry and bitter; God has just reprimanded her. Have you ever been there? It can feel lonely, joyless, and scary, yet God in His grace and mercy still gives us His promises.

GOD’S PROMISES – Genesis 16:10-12

God gives Hagar a promise, she will bear a son, and his offspring will be many. Her needs would be met.  Her life may not be what she wanted, but her needs would be met. God’s promises are what brings us out of deep waters. One of my favorite songs is Oceans, by Hillsong United. Part of lyrics are, “Your grace abounds in deepest waters; Your sovereign hand will be my guide; where feet may fail and fear surrounds me; You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.” Hagar calls Him the “God of seeing.” He sees us, He sees you, all of your imperfections, all of your hurt, and all of your dreams. He sees EVERYTHING. He sees us, loves us, and gives us promises upon promises. He has never failed us and He never will.

GOD PROVIDES – Genesis 21:14-20

I wish the rest of Hagar’s story was one of joy and peace, but she finds herself in another valley.  Once Sarai has a baby, Isaac, the reminder of Hagar and Ishmael is raw and ever present. So, Abraham sends them away with only a bottle of water and some bread.

Ishmael and Hagar go through the water and bread that Abraham provides and are on the verge of death. She cries out to God, not remembering His promise, but simply sitting, waiting to die. An angel calls from Heaven, tells her to take Ishmael, reminds her that God promised to make him a great nation, and then He provides for their earthly needs. Verse 18 and 19 say, “‘Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.”

I read in one commentary that Abraham gave her a bottle, but God gave her a well. Man’s attempt to provide will always pale in comparison to God providing for us.  Our feeble human attempt to provide for ourselves or even for others without God amounts to a bottle versus a well. Even when we forget, even when God has to open our eyes, He still provides, and His promises endure. Even when we cannot see it, even when we doubt, God provides.

Hagar should be a reminder that no matter our circumstances, God provides, His promises endure, and He will never fail us.



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