Devotions

Monthly Archives: March, 2017

Serve Above our Circumstances

Servant #5 – Serve Above our Circumstances
Mike Fox | Production Director

When I think of serving others, I get excited. Helping a neighbor, family member, or friend with a task is easy for me. Everyone has his or her own gifts, but it brings me joy to know I can help someone else. Serving comes easy for some and others not as easy. What is great is there are so many different ways to serve others.

Jesus called us to serve, in Mark 9:35, “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

Jesus gave us the ultimate example; He came to earth as God’s Son, and as man. He showed us how to serve others with many examples Himself.

Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 15:12-13 adds, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

It is easy to be caught up in what “we” feel is necessary for our lives. It is easy to find excuses not to serve. I like to reflect on two truths from John 13:1-5 when that happens in my life:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

  1. Jesus knew He was going to die, but He served His disciples by washing their feet in the midst of that struggle.
  2. Evil was present (Judas would betray Him), and it did not stop Him from serving.

What is important to remember is whom you are serving. We reach out to our family, to our friends. The purpose should always be to reach them for the cause of Christ. Our desire as a church is to Reach the Lost, Gather with the Saints, and Grow in the Word. Reaching the lost can start by serving others, sometimes in the smallest way, and bringing them to a relationship with Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Man Gots to Know His Weakness

Servant #4 – Man Gots to Know His Weakness
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

Servitude, sacrifice, and humility are not something our culture tends to affirm or even recognize, but it is something that we are called to do by God. Jesus, being fully man and fully God is the best picture of the ultimate sacrifice, which is, of course, the cross. Leading up to His impending death, however, Jesus battled with the sacrifice He knew He had to make. He understood, being fully man, the pull of the flesh and the pull of His Father to do what He was sent to do. As I read over the verses in Matthew 26, one part jumped out at me in verse 41, “… The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

I found such comfort in these words. Jesus, even in one of His darkest hours, understood the pull of our flesh and warned us. It was a perfect moment that showed His full awareness of our humanity. This is the tension we live in, here on earth. Paul says it perfectly in Galatians
5:17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Sometimes the difficult part of living out our faith is not the lack of knowledge on what to do but instead, knowing what we should be doing, having a desire to do it, but still, our flesh fails, and we give into the very base of our humanity. In Matthew 26, Jesus warns His disciples and gives instructions on how to avoid the flesh winning, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation…”  What temptation is He speaking of? The flesh winning, even when we want to do good. If we do not prepare and we are not ready, then our flesh will win.

The Bible continually speaks about us being a servant for Him (John 12:26; 2 Timothy 2:24; 2 Corinthians 6:4; Romans 6:22). We fight it because our world and our culture do not uplift sacrifice and servanthood, but instead pushes us to feed our most basic fleshly desires. However, let’s not forget Jesus’ tender words to His disciples, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Remember that even Jesus was tempted to let His flesh win, but He was active and in constant prayer with His Father. That is what helps guard us against a weak flesh, being active in His Word and prayer. Dig into His Word, pray, and be ready to fight the flesh, because even if our flesh fails us, we know we have a God who is powerful, loving, and He will never fail us.

One of my favorite songs is “Give Me Faith” by Elevation Worship, “And I may be weak but Your Spirit’s strong in me; my flesh may fail, but my God, You never will.”

Letter to my Pastor

Servant #3 – Letter to my Pastor
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

I have an unusually good memory. I think it is such an amazing thing how moments can become etched in our brain and become so much more. I remember the first time I saw my son. I remember almost every detail of the first night I ever met my wife. I remember when I realized I wanted to marry her. Now those are the big things that clearly changed my life. December of 2007 was the first time I ever willingly stepped foot into a church for something other than a funeral or a wedding. I remember feeling out of place; I remember the awkwardness of meeting new people. I remember exactly where I sat. I also remember the first time I heard Pastor Jim Combs speak. I remember laughing and being challenged to live differently. I walked away that night with a memory that I would never forget. I can recall that night almost as if it was yesterday, and I remember almost questioning the authenticity of this man. Now know my heart when I write this, I am not trying to suck up or improve my status. I merely wish to convey a moment that has been burned into my brain and heart forever challenging me to be more like Jesus ever sense.

After a gathering sometime in September, it was time for staff to be leaving. The last of the guests and volunteers were on their way home. Babies were all picked up, all the sound equipment was turned off, and it was now time to get some lunch, and watch the Lions. When I walked into the office, Pastor Caleb, Pastor Jim, and Jim Mann were standing in the hallway chatting about something. I paused to say good-bye and to make light, small talk with the three. At that moment, I witnessed something. Pastor Jim walked out of the conversation and slowly knelt down to one knee to pick up a piece of trash that was just lying on the floor and threw it away. Now I am not an ageist (one who looks down on older people), but you could tell there was a struggle getting up and getting down. Let’s be honest, preaching four times has got to take it out of you (I preach one time in a weekend, and I am exhausted). I watch a 57-year-old man, who in all rights has “earned his keep in ministry” become a janitor, without hesitation, before my very eyes.  I was blown away by that kind of servanthood. The conversation I was in went mute as God gave me an opportunity to witness how real Jesus can be.

Romans 12:3 reads, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” How many times do you see an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to someone but you do not do it because there is no audience or there is no reward? How often in your week do you deem that you are too busy to serve with children, teens, or babies? How many times in the week do you act like Jesus and become a servant? We can all pull stories out of the Bible about Jesus being a servant, and most of the time we love the idea of Jesus being a servant, but we do not intend to become a servant ourselves.

Thank you, Pastor, for always teaching a young dude like myself what ministry truly is.

The Empathizer

Servant #2 – The Empathizer
Phil Piasecki | Worship Leader

We have all gone through a difficult situation in our life, and someone says to us, “I understand what you’re going through.” In reality, that person has never actually experienced what we are experiencing. Unfortunately, because they have not actually gone through what we have gone through, their sympathy is not as meaningful. This is why support groups are so prevalent. People want to be able to talk about what they are going through to other people who have experienced the same thing. Those people can truly sympathize with one another because they understand what they are going through. One of the aspects of Christ that I believe frequently is overlooked is the fact that He is a man as much as He is God. He is the Son of God, and at the same time, He is the Son of Man.

Philippians 2:5-8 says, “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.” Christ came to earth, emptied Himself, became a servant, and was born a man. We see this truth expressed in John 1 as well.

John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

He left His seat at the right hand of God, was born as a baby, and grew up in the same way you and I have. Imagine the God of the universe had to learn to walk, talk, and eat. In Scripture, we see Jesus experience basic human instincts. On the cross He was thirsty, He felt pain, and was even tempted as we are. When we read about Jesus in the garden, He prayed that the Lord would take the cup from Him if He willed it. Hebrews 4:15 shows us why this truth is so significant in our lives.

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

When we are struggling in our lives, we can know that Christ honestly understands what we are going through. He lived 33 years on this earth fully man and fully God, He knows and understands our temptations. When we cry out to Christ, we can take comfort in that fact that He understands us and loves us. Even though He was going to have to suffer on that cross, He still willingly took that punishment on our behalf. When we understand the fact that Christ was fully man and fully God, we can better understand the true depth of His love for us.

Sleepy Head

Servant #1 – Sleepy Head
Bryan Fox | Deacon of Facilities

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray before being arrested and taken away to be crucified. This final act of servanthood as God, in human form, shows how much He loves us. The disciples had served Jesus throughout His ministry but could not manage to serve Him as He asked when He went further into the garden to pray. Instead, they fell asleep.

Jesus was about to begin His greatest act of being a servant. Being unfairly judged, mocked, and beaten so badly that he was within sight of death; He then hung on a cross to die.

1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Imagine if you were living back then and were one chosen to follow and serve Him. At a critical time of need, when asked by Jesus to do something, you disobeyed and did your own thing. You have been around and taught by Him, you have seen the amazing miracles He performed, but when asked to do something, you lose focus and disobey. How awful and guilty would you feel?

We are commanded to serve and have been given the strength to serve by God.

 1 Peter 4:10-11 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. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I have always loved to serve. I remember as a child being asked by my parents to do various things. I actually liked helping them and felt proud when I received a thank you or other forms of praise from them. Looking back, I believe that gave me a good start toward wanting to serve others, but now with the understanding of what Jesus did for me; I do it not for the praise to get thanks but to truly try to be a blessing to someone else.

If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and profess to live for Him, serving is something that must be in your normal daily routine. Please do not ignore His calling and fall asleep. In doing so will you will miss out opportunities to bless someone including Jesus.

Matthew 25:40 says, “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.’”



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