Devotions

Monthly Archives: December, 2015

Thursday | December 31

A New Creation

Well, today is the last day of 2015! At midnight tonight (in each time zone), people all over the world will be celebrating and ringing in the New Year in their own special way. In New York, the ball will drop; in Paris, the Eiffel Tower will be illuminated as people celebrate all down the Champs-Elysées; and in Moscow, people will crowd in the Red Square to listen to the chiming on the Kremlin clock. No matter where you may be or what traditions you may have, there is one common theme: saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new!

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we see this concept of saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new, as Paul writes about our lives in Christ. He writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” When we become followers of Christ, just as Paul writes, we’re a new creation. As humans, it is honestly hard to let go of the past sometimes. Yes, we read it in Scripture and know that our Savior has forgiven us. However, truly forgiving ourselves can be a struggle. Yet, Paul reminds us how literally everything that we have done in our past, is wiped away by His blood. Yes, He knows our past, but He looks right past it because we are made new in Him.

For some, 2015 has been one of the best years ever. For others, it has been rock bottom. No matter which end of the spectrum you may fall into, I challenge you to focus on the good. Look back on the year and reflect on Christ. Reflect on the times where He showed His guidance and provision over you this past year. Then, look forward. Look toward the new year to come. As you do, look at it in light of who you are in Christ – A new creation in a new year, in Him.

 

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Wednesday | December 30

A Cup of Cold Water

This Christmas season, The River Church was blessed with a huge opportunity to give back to the community. Toys for Tots contacted us and asked if we would be the main location for all of Northern Oakland County. The amount of toys that were picked up, dropped off, sorted, and wrapped at our Downtown Community Center in Holly was simply incredible! There were literally thousands of toys being sorted and separated throughout the whole building. It was truly a blessing to be able to be a small part in helping pick up toys around Northern Oakland County, so that we could distribute them to families in need.

All throughout the Gospels, we continually see how important children are to Jesus. In Matthew 10:42 He says, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Then, in Matthew 18:6 Jesus warns about what will happen if one causes a child to sin. So what does this all mean?

Something as simple as donating a toy for a child to open on Christmas, is one of the most Selfie(less) acts anyone can do. As followers of Christ, we are called to love and serve as He did. It doesn’t matter if it is the next-door neighbor, co-worker, random stranger in the Wal-Mart parking lot, or a homeless person on the side of the road. We need to show them all the same love and grace that He has so greatly given to each of us. In Matthew 25:40 it reads, “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Toys for Tots, is just one example of the many Selfie(less) acts we are presented with every day. Even though our series on Selfie(less) is now coming to a close, our acts of being Selfie(less) are not. So, as we gear up for this new year, I challenge you to remember what it truly means to be Selfie(less) and that no matter how big or small the act is, you are doing it for Christ.

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Tuesday | December 29

Me, Myself, and Immanuel

“I want to talk about me, want to talk about I, want to talk about number one, oh my me my…I want to talk about me.” Unashamedly, I am a huge country music fan. From Johnny Cash and George Strait, to Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum, I am always listening to country. One thing I love about it, just like with most music is that it tells a story. With Toby Keith and his song I Wanna Talk About Me, the whole focus is talking about oneself and all that is going on in ones life. Simply put, the song is all about focusing on self.

In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus is teaching His disciples about what a life following after Him requires. He says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Here, Jesus is preaching the complete opposite of what Toby Keith is singing. As followers of Christ, we cannot have the mindset and mentality of wanting to talk about ourselves. Jesus spells it out plain as day. If we want to follow after Him, we have to take the focus off oneself and focus on Him.

Denying ourselves daily is not an easy task. This act of Selfie(less) is not something that is achieved overnight. Jesus even says that we must do it daily. That means that we must continually remind ourselves to throw away our desires, selfish ambitions, and our focus on me, to follow after Him. Just as Pastor Jim always reminds us, we are a bunch of imperfect people, serving a perfect God. So, as you go throughout each day, remember to deny yourself as we strive to truly become Selfie(less).

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Monday | December 28

Godly Goggles

December is always a crazy time of year. For some, it is the end of the year, which brings on final reports, reviews, and many late nights at work. For those in the retail world, from midnight (more like 6PM nowadays) on Thanksgiving till New Year, the stores are constantly filled with craziness. Thanksgiving is traditionally a day to reflect, breathe, rest, and remember all the things we are thankful for and that God has blessed us with. Then, we jump into the Christmas season – A season that is supposed to be filled with joy, happiness, and hope. However, with the day and culture we live in, sadly this is not the reality of the season. Thanksgiving is now all about that 50% off deal at Best Buy and Christmas is about what can I get or how many gifts are you getting ME.

Over this past month, we have been taking a look at this concept of Selfie(less). By definition a selfie is, “an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.” Now, before I go any further, I will be honest in admitting I have taken a lot of Selfies with my friends or simply for fun. There is nothing wrong with taking a selfie. Yet, it is the focus on oneself, which can cause us to stumble. In 1 Samuel 16:7, Samuel has come to the house of Jesse to find whom God has chosen to be the next king of Israel. As Samuel is going over all of Jesse’s sons, the Lord says to him, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

It is always funny to me how God doesn’t hold back. He will always tell the truth and isn’t afraid to tell us how it is. I love this passage because it is always a self-check for me. Am I looking at this person or situation as the world does, or am I looking at it how God does? So, as we come to a close with this series of Selfie(less), I challenge you to do a self-check. Step back from the situation you may be in, or that person who you have preconceptions about, and take a look through the eyes of Christ.

 

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Saturday | December 26

Born to Die

It should be remembered that Jesus came to earth to die.  He lived to die.  Our sin had broken connection with God.  The only way our relationship with God could be restored was through a perfect sacrifice.  The only suitable sacrifice was God’s only son.  So, from our perspective, Jesus had to die.  Philippians 2:5-8 points out how Jesus died and yet did so much more:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus only needed to die.  Yet, he chose to humble Himself.  He died as a common criminal.  He chose the cross.  Jesus did more than expected.  Romans 5:8 points out that Jesus died for us while we were sinners:   “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  It makes more sense to die for a family member or a dear friend than to die for those who are your enemies.  Jesus truly died for His enemies.  Jesus died for sinners.  He didn’t have to, but He chose to.  It wouldn’t surprise us to have a mother die for her child.  Children even speak of being willing to die for the dear family pet.  Men have always been known to fight for their families.  But Jesus did more.  Jesus died for us.

Not only did Jesus die for sinners, but He chose the humblest of means.  He chose the cross.  It should be noted that the cross was the fulfillment of prophecy.  Psalm 22 describes Jesus’ death in graphic detail one thousand years before it was to take place.  Amazingly, the Messiah’s crucifixion was described years before anyone experienced or even knew of this means of execution.  Jesus could have written prophecy to have Himself die a heroic death.  Yet, he chose the cross. Instead of people cheering, Jesus heard them mocking and felt their spit and fists.  Men dream of dying the heroic death.  In war films, the hero dives on the live grenade or jumps in front of a speeding bullet.  Jesus chose the cross.

Movies often display examples of heroic sacrificial deaths:

In John Q, Denzel Washington plays the part of a father who is willing to lay down his life for his son.

In Armaggedon, Bruce Willis allows himself to get nuked to destroy the asteroid hurtling toward earth.  All praise him as he goes back to “press the button.”

In The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner dives in front of Whitney Houston to take a bullet.  He doesn’t die, but his sacrificial move is classified as purely heroic.

Jesus didn’t want the glory.  Jesus chose the cross.  Jesus chose an extraordinary humble death. Interestingly, the events of His life piece together an extraordinary humble life – Selfie(less).

He died for us.  He didn’t ask us to die for Him.  He asked us to live for Him.

 

Randy “Doc” Johnson
Growth Pastor



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

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