Devotions

Monthly Archives: November, 2015

Tuesday | November 24th

Who Impacted Paul?

The Apostle Paul was one of the most impactful followers of Jesus to ever walk the face of the earth. He preached the Gospel in many cities, was persecuted for his faith, and eventually was killed for his proclamation of Jesus. Before Paul was killed and persecuted for being a Christian, he was the one persecuting and even approving the murder of Christians. While Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute and potentially kill more Christians, he experienced an encounter that would radically transform him forever.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do” (Acts 9:3-6).

Following this life-changing encounter, Paul would grow to be one of the most influential and prominent Christians in all of history.

As Paul began to proclaim the Gospel and grow with other believers, he didn’t do it without the power of God working through him and he didn’t do it without the help of someone who was willing to step into his life.

And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:26-27).

Barnabas was willing to step into Paul’s life when everyone else was afraid.  Not only was he willing to step into Paul’s life, but he would continue to spend a great amount of time and effort serving alongside Paul and building him up.

So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:25-26).

A person of impact is someone who is willing to step into someone else’s life when no one else is willing to. A person of impact is someone who encourages and builds another up. A person of impact is someone who is willing and able to not just teach how but to serve and fight alongside another.

 

Matt Hatton
Student Ministries Director

Monday | November 23rd

Disciples Making Disciples

Imagine what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples: Being an ordinary man doing an ordinary job and all of a sudden you encounter a mysterious carpenter from Nazareth who you then begin to follow as the Messiah. For the next three years you witness Him perform miracles, restore lives, and do the impossible. Then one day in the blink of an eye, He dies and it’s over just like that! For the next three days the disciples must have been confused and in disbelief. Maybe they questioned everything they had seen Jesus do and say for the past three years. Maybe they thought it was a waste of time, wondering if the caused they lived for was worth it.

Then all of a sudden, three days later, Jesus rises from the grave victorious over sin and death. He proved to the disciples that there was nothing to doubt or be concerned with from the beginning. Jesus, the hope of the world, has risen from the dead! The one that the disciples had believed and followed has now given them even more reason to believe and follow! He just rose from the dead; how could you not listen to Him? Not long after Jesus came back from the dead and not long before He was going to ascend into Heaven, the disciples were standing firm in belief with their ears and hearts perked to King Jesus awaiting their instructions.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Anyone who is a person of eternal impact has taken this command seriously. As a disciple/follower of Christ we are all called to fulfill this Great Commission. We are all called to be people of impact. Have you taken this command seriously? Are you fulfilling the call of the Great Commission, to be a person of eternal impact by making disciples who make disciples? Is there someone in your life that has impacted you in this way? Who was the bold disciple that shared Jesus with you? Have you thanked them for it?

We are called to finish what Jesus started when He was here on earth. He made disciples and left them with a command to make more disciples. Jesus was, is, and will always be the perfect example of personal impact, and He left you and me with the call to do the same.

 

Matt Hatton
Student Ministries Director

Saturday | November 21

Hey Thanks
Doers Do

So what’s the point?  The point is that serving others is what life is all about.  This whole week we have looked at the what’s, why’s, how’s, and where’s of serving others.

WHAT? Serve others.  Just like the stubbed toe, we affect the whole body.  We can either hurt the body of Christ or help it.  Choose wisely! (Don’t make me look at you like the old soldier from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and say, “He chose… poorly”)

WHY? We serve others because of what Jesus did for us and because we are called to imitate our Savior.

HOW? Serve with just your hands, if needs be.  Remember that practical list I gave you: Help your family, volunteer at church, donate your “junk”, encourage, listen, anticipate, etc.

WHERE?  Serve wherever you are at in life.  No matter what you are doing or how busy you are, you can help others.

But we all know that hearing something and actually doing it are two totally different things.  God challenges us multiple times in Scripture to act on what we hear.  James 1:22-25 says,

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Paul adds in Romans 2:13:

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Even Jesus addressed the topic in John 13:15-17:

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Let’s be doers!  Not because people see us, but because they will see our God.  The purpose of serving others isn’t so people will see how good you are.  Rather, when you serve others, they see a reflection of God, which brings Him glory.  That’s what it’s all about: Bringing God glory!

God is up to something big in this world, and the amazing thing is that He wants us to be part of it.  This week, as we have learned what it means to lend a hand and serve others, I’m praying that you have been inspired to use what has been given to you to join in the work God is doing and make a difference in the world.  I’m praying that we, as a church, will be doers of the Word and not only hearers.  I’m praying that our motives behind helping others are to bring God glory and not self-praise.  I believe in you, River Church!  We have the potential to see greatness by working together for the cause of Christ.  Get on board today and start serving others!

 

Tommy Youngquist
Children’s Pastor

Friday | November 20

Hey Thanks
Actions that Speak

Is serving really a big deal?  According to Jesus, it is.  When we truly understand what Jesus has done for us, we desperately want others to know Him and to find the same joy and hope we have.  Telling people is not enough.  We have to show them.  James 2:18 says:

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

The way we serve people shows them who Jesus is.  Here our some practical ways you can show others who Jesus is by your works:

  • Help your family. (Romans 12:10)

When was the last time you cleaned the dishes or made dinner, not because it was your turn, but just because you can?  It’s easy to forget that the ones you need to serve the most are often the ones closest to you.

  • Volunteer at church. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

God isn’t looking for super-Christians.  He is building the church with normal people just like you and me.  Everyone is busy, but making time for church is essential in our friendship with Christ.

  • Donate items to the River Downtown. (Matthew 25:41-46)

We all have more than we need.  Get the family together and clean out the house by gathering clothes, toys, books, furniture, and coats to donate.

  • Encourage someone today. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Encouragement is a gift you can give that costs us nothing.  Pick a friend or family member today and tell them they are awesome and why they are awesome.

  • Buy someone a gift card. (Hebrews 13:16)

I can say from personal experience that receiving a random gift card from someone to take Ashley out on a date makes both our days incredible!

  • Help other people shine. (Philippians 2:3)

You want people to acknowledge your accomplishments and our successes, but in Philippians, Paul tells us “to consider others better than our selves.” Helping others showcase their gifts and talents is an awesome way to serve someone else.

  • (James 1:19)

Take time to sit with your kids, your spouse, a friend, or a neighbor and just listen to them.  Make a point to put your own agenda aside, and focus on what someone else has to say!

  • Anticipate serving. (Galatians 6:9)

One of the best ways to find opportunities to serve is ask God to give them to you.  God WILL answer you, so be ready to jump whenever the Holy Spirit nudges you.

 

Tommy Youngquist
Children’s Pastor

Thursday | November 19

Hey Thanks
Serving God from Head to Toe

Have you ever been walking around your house and stubbed your toe?  Ouch!  I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced it.  If you are like me, the pain didn’t just stay in the toe.  How could something that small have such an impact on the rest of your body?  Paul does a pretty incredible job of comparing this very thing to the church.  In 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 he writes,

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

What Paul wants us to understand is that we are all part of one body and each one of us has a specific function.  Each member of the body serves a purpose and together they serve each other.  When they all function together, the body can accomplish things that each individual part couldn’t on its own.

In 1 Peter 4:10-11, Peter further addresses this point when he says,

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Peter is telling us the gifts God has given us are for us to use to serve others.  The time, talent and treasure God has blessed us with are to be used to bless others.  Jesus came to serve us in order that we could be saved.  Because of this, we should serve others in order that they too can be saved.  By using the gifts that God has so graciously given us, we can expand His kingdom here on earth.

What gift or gifts has God given you to help serve others?  Are you using those gifts selfishly or selflessly?  Are you that “toe” that is hurting the rest of the body? Or are you contributing to the body in positive, helpful ways? I want to encourage you to ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly.  If you don’t like your answers, do something to remedy the problem.  Together, the River Church can use their gifts to change the world for the glory of God.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be apart of that!

 

Tommy Youngquist
Children’s Pastor



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

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