Devotions

Monthly Archives: December, 2018

Anticipation

Immanuel | Devotion #1: Anticipation
Richie Henson | Production Director

As a child, Christmas is all about waiting. After Thanksgiving is over, you wait to visit Santa in the mall. Then, you wait for Christmas vacation at school. Finally, you wait for Christmas morning, just hoping that the event can live up to the hype. Often, the anticipation or expectation of the morning arriving became heavy and burdensome. It felt that it would never come. 

This Christmas season, I have been looking at the Christmas story from the perspective of a child waiting for Christmas. In Matthew 1:22-23, Mary is told by an angel that she will bear a son: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jews had been waiting in expectation for hundreds of years. The Old Testament prophets promised that Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, would come as their Savior. However, as the decades passed, and the Roman captivity began, there is no doubt that their expectations for God to be with them became a point of anxiety. 

Although we live after the times of Jesus, I think it can be just as easy for us to feel loaded down with the need for the presence of Jesus. We can feel in our struggles and difficulties that we are waiting around for God to show up. However, we must always remember that the names of Jesus are references to His perfect character. So, Immanuel does not just mean God is with us when we feel Him, or that God is with us when Jesus returns. Instead, we can know that God is with us always because it is in His character and nature to be present with His people.  

Life is rarely ever easy, but we can live with ease knowing that Jesus is always with us. He is Immanuel.

Peace and Glory

Prince of Peace | Devotion #6: Peace and Glory
Bryan Fox

Now and then, I will look at comments on news articles regarding tragedies in the world. Whether it is about war or killings there are usually comments along the line of “how can a loving God allow this to happen?” Then a terrible shooting takes place in a church building, and people go off the charts trash talking God, religion, and faith.

I have no answer as to why these things happen other than all things work for the glory of God. His plan is not ours and to pretend to understand in our small brain what His ways are is quite prideful and arrogant, to say the least.

To me, Prince of Peace means having an inner peace with God. The fact that I am a child of His brings me comfort and the basis that I can rationalize the many difficulties I encounter in my life. Jesus did not promise a life without pain, sorrow, or difficulties. So when I face these trials, I look to my faith in Jesus for peace in dealing with them. We were born as an enemy to God through our sin, but because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we have the hope and security of eternal peace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been brought back to a relationship of peace with God.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

In the meantime, tragedies will continue, there will be sickness, disease and famine, mass shootings, death, and destruction. True world peace will become a reality only after Jesus returns.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Endless

Prince of Peace | Devotion #5: Endless
John Carter | Director of Operations

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

The title attributed to the coming Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 is attributed to Jesus Christ. The particular title “Prince of Peace,” indicates some significant things about Jesus. The title “prince” would have been understood as the future leader of a particular people or group. When Jesus is our Lord, He fulfills that title; He is our leader. In our current world and society, peace might be hard to understand. We for sure see the opposite of peace in a very real and dynamic way with current news. So, we see Jesus’ title as the one that will lead a particular group of people and will have peace. Verse 7 of this particular passage in Isaiah states that “of peace there will be no end.” Consider that Jesus is not only the leader of peace but the one who gives it without end. Wow! How awesome is that?  

To know that no matter what trial, difficulty, or life circumstance that may arise our Lord is the Prince of Peace, the one who will give it without end. Maybe you have never considered Jesus Christ as someone that holds this title in your life? Maybe you have held onto something that has kept peace from becoming a reality? May I encourage you to look to Jesus as the holder and giver of peace. He is the One who knows every kind of pain that you may endure today. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

I want that kind of peace to exist in my life, in my family, and in every aspect! Jesus is the answer to that desire. I hope this short reminder may be an encouragement today to look to Jesus for your peace in the difficulties of everyday life. 

Letters to the Next One

Prince of Peace | Devotion #4: Letters to the Next One
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

For the prophet Isaiah, or any of the prophets for that matter, to prophesy that Jesus was coming has the same significances as me writing to my next child. To immerse myself in how the prophets of old must have felt, this month I will be writing to a child that I do not know. My wife and I have not even begun talking about another child, but to understand how amazing the first coming of Christ was, we must understand that people were writing about a person who they did not know.  I am writing theses devotionals November of 2017, and I am eager to read these December of 2018.  

Dear Child,

There is a concept I would like you to have instilled in your heart. There is a Hebrew word, “Shalom.” That is a fancy way to say “peace.” In Isaiah chapter 9, Isaiah uses the phrase “Prince of Peace” to describe Jesus. The root word for peace translates roughly to a peace from completeness. Knowing how to be at peace with the completion of Jesus’ work is one of the most amazing types of peace you could ever have. Knowing that in any situation, hardship, adversity, and attack, you can rest assuredly that Jesus is in control should calm your heart in such a great way. Knowing Jesus brought a peace to our relationship with God should calm you during any ordeal.

Do not let yourself live in the area of stress, doubt, or faithlessness. There is nothing of profit there. As I type, I am reminded of a song by Hillsong United called “Prince of Peace.” It is playing in my headphones. One verse of that song strikes out to me:

  “When fear comes knockin, there You’ll be my guard
  When day breeds trouble, there you’ll hold my heart

  Come storm or battle, God I know Your peace will meet me there.”

No matter what the outcome, know that our God is there for us. He protects us and wants us to know He is there for His children.

Peace is not something that comes from anything we can do. Peace can only come from growing in God. Peace is a Fruit of the Spirit, and apart from the Spirit, you will not grow in it. To have peace, you have to have the Spirit and to get the Spirit inside of you, you must know the Son, who is the Prince of Peace. Child, I want you to have peace that is true but know that you will never have that if you do not know who Jesus is. Jesus is the only one who brings true completeness in our lives.

Irony

Prince of Peace | Devotion #3: Irony
Ken Perry

Irony is a situation or writing that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems contrary to what you would normally expect. Some examples of irony might be these:

  1. The Bible is, among other things, a written code of conduct for Christian living and the irony is that it is the most shoplifted book in America. 
  2. A Charlie Brown Christmas is a program essentially about the over-commercialization of the holidays, and the irony is that it gets cut in length each year to make room for more commercials.
  3. William Eno is the inventor of the stop sign, traffic circle, one-way street, and the crosswalk and the irony is that he never learned how to drive.
  4. Jesus Christ is described in the book of Isaiah as the Prince of Peace; the irony is that the mere mention of His name causes more contention and division among people than any other. You would be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing figure in all of humanity.

In Isaiah chapter 26 verse 3 we read these words, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” A relationship with God gives us “The peace that passes all understanding.” It is a peace that transcends all that people have conceived or imagined. 

We read the word “peace” and often ascribe a meaning in alignment with groups and individuals being calm and tranquil, yet the reality is that even the most peaceful looking people are still in utter chaos if they do not have the deeper meaning of the word peace which is brought about by being restored to God. As sinful beings, God can have no part with us. The Bible tells us that darkness and light cannot coexist and it is only through the shed blood of Christ and the remission of sin that a person can be in unity and harmony with God. 

I had the pleasure of serving the church as the assistant to the Reach Pastor and each day I got to see how the Lord uses The River Church to minister to lost and broken people. I got to be on the front lines as this church “reaches” into prisons and jails to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to men and women that can give nothing in return. They are people who are so desperate to find peace in the midst of chaos and hope where there is no hope. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only through a right relationship with God that we can have peace with Him. 

It is no wonder then why the Apostle Paul was so fervent with his words in 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV), “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 

It is pure irony that people shun a relationship with God in an attempt to find peace and yet the One they are pushing away is the only One in whom true peace can be found. If you are lost, be reconciled today. If you have strayed, be reconciled to a right relationship today. I want to leave you with the words from the purveyors of sage advice around the country, the bumper sticker, “No God, No Peace- Know God, Know Peace.”



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