Monthly Archives: April, 2018

Ready | Who?

Ready | Devotion #1: Who?
Katrina Young | Nursery & Pre-K Director

My closest friends are the ones that are always by my side in both difficult times and those of celebration. They are the ones that I share deepest secrets with and will laugh at my not so funny jokes. Having the right friends in my circle is what keeps me balanced. There is a select group that I have become close with over time and have built long-lasting relationships. This group has stretched me, motivated me, and encouraged me. I believe in them, and they believe in me. They are with me during the highs and lows of life.

Have you ever thought about what it was like to have the privilege of being one of Jesus’ closest friends – one of “His elect?” What was it like to sit down and have a meal with Him or to witness first-hand His teachings? What was it like for them to see His nail scarred hands and pierced side after watching Him die on the cross?  The disciples were gathered together on many occasions with Jesus. He chose them carefully to be in His inner circle and, ultimately, to carry out His ministry.

Jesus had many followers, but those closest to Him, the apostles, were the ones present at the important moments in His life. They were the select group that He shared with and trusted. They were the ones with Him when He fed the 5,000 and when He rose Lazarus from the dead. It was the twelve that He gathered together and gave a divine mandate to as all power and authority were given to them to carry out the Great Commission. It was the twelve that sat down at the Last Supper with Him, and He asked them to pray with Him in the Garden. It was the apostles that were together in the upper room at the time of Passover. Jesus continually proved Himself to them despite their doubt following His resurrection. He appeared to them and “…rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14). But Jesus’ love and commitment continued as He gave His closest friends a front row seat at the time of “The Ascension.” They witnessed this spectacular event as Jesus was received into Heaven, where He was seated at the right hand of God.

They were His chosen.

The awesome part is that so are we! 1 Peter 2:9 says,You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” We are His chosen! We have the opportunity to walk closely with Him, to trust in Him, and build a relationship with Him so we can witness first-hand the work He is doing.  He loves us!

John 15:13 adds, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Obey | How?

Obey | Devotion #6: How?
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

“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

We have been talking about the great commission this week, the who, what, where, when, and why. Today I want to focus on the how, which, quite frankly, is a little intimidating. How do we adequately, successfully, and clearly give the Gospel out to the world today? We are living in the midst of a shift in America. As Christians, we are no longer the majority, we are not given the benefit of the doubt, and we are not given space to reach out as we have in the past. So, in our everyday life what does that look like? I think we first start with what God gave us, His Word.

The Bible is our conversation with God; it is our answers to how we live our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

God promises to equip us to “every good work.” I do not know about you, but that is a relief. That means I do not have to do it on my human abilities. I tend to freeze up during important conversations. I think about what I want to say, and it sounds really good in my head. I sound smart, together, and eloquent. Then I open my mouth, and I sound like I have never had a complete conversation with another adult, at least that is how I feel. Can anyone else relate? I feel like a failure, like the life of that person was in my hands and I failed. However, this is what is so unbelievably humbling about God. He takes that feeble attempt, and He rescues peoples lives, in spite of my fumbling, in spite of my arrogance, and in spite of my nerves. He comes in and speaks directly to them, making our words work mysteriously. I am writing this, and I feel inspired that I can go and talk to people about my experience and God uses that, not because of me but because of Him.

Knowing when to speak is also a difficult thing to navigate. In Acts chapter 9, we learn of Saul’s conversion, and specifically in verse 20 it says, “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus.” I think it is that simple, immediately. Do not over complicate it. If you feel God’s prompting, act upon it. We all have stories where we felt God telling us to go and talk to someone, and we have ignored it. We should not do that anymore. We do not have time, and nothing else is more important. I am not advocating awkward, bursts of Gospel bombs, but a conversation, to connect with someone and tell them why your life is different. In 1 Peter 2:9 it says, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” If you get intimidated, scared, or unsure, remember this verse. Here it is again, because for me, when I read this all I want to do is cheer and honestly sing the song, “Into marvelous light I’m running, Out of darkness, out of shame. By the cross, you are the truth. You are the life; you are the way.” If you know the song, you are probably singing it, too!

Again,1 Peter 2:9 says, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” People want to come out of the darkness, they are searching and longing to come into the light. We cannot squander our chances to tell them how to come into the light.

So, as we go out living our lives, do not forget to listen to God’s prompting. Be ready to share why your life looks different, to be able and willing to give the Gospel because it is not our ability but God’s who will reach the lost. We get to be used by God to point people to Him. We can not take that for granted, nor lose out on the opportunities He gives us!

Obey | Why?

Obey | Devotion #5: Why?
Noble Baird | Community Center Director

One of my favorite questions to always ask is, “Why?” As a child, this was often the case when my parents would wake me up at six in the morning for school or when they told me to go to bed early when I was cranky! As I look back, I now understand why they chose to do these things. I had to get up early so that they could drop me off to morning daycare so that they could get to work on time to provide for our family. Then, sending me to bed early was because waking me up at six made me tired and cranky at night! Much has changed since I was a young child, some good and some bad. Some of the changes have been easy, and some have been honestly very difficult, at times I still find myself asking this question, but now instead of being directed to my parents, it is to my Heavenly Father.

At the end of Matthew, after Christ is raised from the dead, He spends 40 days with His disciples and followers. His parting words before He physically left this earth, were a mission to all those who call themselves followers of Christ. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “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.” Here, Jesus does not just go back to Heaven saying “See you guys later, it has been a fun couple years hanging with Y’all!” No, He gives them and us a mission, a mission that will not be over until He comes back.

So, “Why?” Why was this mission given and why were these Christ’s parting words? I believe it is because out of all He taught during His earthly ministry, this mission says it all. You see, during His ministry, He was constantly teaching, advising, guiding, instructing, fellowshipping, and correcting His followers. In the beginning, and even as they were at His side throughout the three years of ministry, I am sure the disciples still wondered about why Jesus was doing some of the things He did, or teaching them certain lessons. However, on that day when He gave them their mission, I believe their eyes were opened. Much like myself with my parents, years after I was old enough to finally understand, the disciples and all His followers understood why Christ had done all He did with them.

We have just come out of the Easter season; however, our mission is far from over. As you continue on this week and the months and years to come, never forget this mission. You will have times where you just look around and say “Why God?” However, do not be discouraged, because “why” always leads to a greater understanding of His plan.

Obey | When?

Obey | Devotion #4: When?
Mark O’Connor | Student Director

Picture if you will, you are one of the eleven remaining apostles. This is a dark time for you. Your leader, your teacher, your Messiah is gone. You do not know what to do next. You have no idea that Mary Magdalene has just encountered the risen Jesus.

Matthew 28:10 says, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’”

Then, all of the sudden, you have been summoned to see Jesus. This might not be a big deal had you not seen him die earlier. So what do they do? I imagine with some amount of skepticism, they go. You listen to the request and obey. You show up not sure what to expect. Right then and there, you see Jesus, as He always does, coming through on a promise.

The timing could not have been better. Imagine how dejected they must have felt. People would have been searching for them and mocking them for what they believed. Then He starts talking and instructing them, teaching one last time.

Matthew 28:19-20a says, “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.”

Then showing His constant love for us, He reminds them something we all too often forget, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). You see, when we listen and obey, Jesus will be there at the right moment all the time.

Obey | Where?

Obey | Devotion #3: Where?
Josh Lahring | Production Director

“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)

When we use the word “go” we usually are referring to things like I need to go to the store, to work, or on vacation.  I think we have the same mentality when we hear we need to “Go make disciples,” however we are already where we need to be to make disciples.

Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples” but we do not need to travel anywhere to start accomplishing that goal, we just need to start where we are.  It is more like a race where they say “Ready, Set, GO!” Start right now! We are not in this race on our own, Jesus said He is with us to the end of the age.  Think about if you teach your children the Gospel and they get saved and become a missionary one day, or you tell an old friend about Jesus, and they travel across the country to tell their family about Jesus. You are a part of something bigger because you were faithful in telling the Gospel here.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  The people did not leave and say anything until they traveled somewhere.  They told everyone they met.  It is very unlikely these people made it very far, but the Gospel did.  From a few people the Gospel spread to millions, not by them traveling, but by them proclaiming it where they were.

We are where we are at right now for a reason, and in spreading the Gospel where you are now, you are a part of it reaching to the “end of the earth.”

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