Devotions

Monthly Archives: February, 2019

Prayer of the Righteous

Chain Reaction | Devotion #4: Prayer of the Righteous
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director  

One of my fondest memories of my life is watching the movie Gladiator with my father. I recall us sitting down and my dad telling me how awesome of a movie it is, and we began to watch it. I think I was around age 14 when we did, and I still can see Russell Crowe saluting his officers and saying, “Strength and Honor.”

James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

To prepare for this devotion and the writing of it, I decided to go to a commentary set that I love, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. As I read the section on James 5:16, I see this quote which has inspired me to write this, “Weak prayers come from weak people; strong prayers come from strong people. The energetic prayers of a righteous man are a potent force in calling down the power of God for restoring weak, struggling believers to spiritual health.” It hurts reading that because I know I am not a strong prayer warrior. I remember a time where I was down, and I needed encouragement. I was up at a youth camp with the church, and I was struggling. A man who I can honestly say is one of the strongest men I know, placed his hand on my back and prayed for me. At that moment I felt an energy I had not had in me, I felt this pushing of my soul, and with that, I was able to keep going.  

Men, it is our duty as the spiritual leader of our house not to be weak, we need to be strong. Our job is to defend our house, and with that, we need this strength, we need to pray to strengthen not only ourselves but our families. I see more times than not, weak men who do not let their families move. I see men who would rather sit on the sidelines and not pray and dig deep. Our job is to move and see the Holy Spirit move in our families. 

Women, encourage your husbands. I say this with love and with the utmost respect, but your husbands do not need you to convict them of their wrongdoings. If they know Jesus that is already done. Instead pray for them, with them, and over them. Encourage them where they need to be and motivate them to go there. 

Do not forget that quote, “Strong prayers are from strong men.” Stay strong and do not stop praying.

Practice Righteousness

Chain Reaction | Devotion #3: Practice Righteousness
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

Everyone has heard of the saying, “Practice makes perfect,” right?  Yeah, I want to punch whoever coined that phrase right in the face. In my life, it seems like no matter how hard I practice righteousness, I never get better at it. How about you?

The Bible says in 1 John 3:7-9, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning since the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”

That is an incredibly powerful Scripture! From what did Jesus save us? It was sin.  It is the very thing that separated us from God and condemned humanity to Hell in the first place. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin, we begin to live in Him; we no longer continue to live for sin. We have the power, through Christ, to practice righteousness.

It is important to remember, God cares more about what is on the inside of a man than the outside. That means that God cares more about the motives of why you do what you do, instead of what you do. He wants to discern why you choose to obey or disobey Him. Now, we are all human, fallible, and sinful. Those who are genuinely saved still sin. It is one of the reasons we should be looking forward to the return of Jesus. Then we will no longer have to battle with temptation and choosing poorly. But those who are saved do just that; they battle with sin. When they disobey God, their hearts and minds are not right until they seek forgiveness and try again. John speaks clearly to this battle in our verses. Those whose motives are to please God, try to practice righteousness.

We can use these very verses as a barometer to measure within our hearts if we truly are different than natural man (those who have not believed in the Gospel).  Do you continue to sin and sin with no conviction from the Holy Spirit to practice righteousness? If you do, maybe you need to get to the root of your problem. Ask yourself this question: Do you truly believe with all your heart in Jesus and what He came to change? If the answer is yes, then that belief changes your motives. You no longer live for selfish desire, but for something bigger. It is something that is a greater cause than just your gain. You will start to outwardly express qualities like kindness, sacrificial love, and self-control.

Living for Christ almost always means denying self. I have a general rule I live by in my own life: If I want to do something, I should probably do the exact opposite. I know that seems weird, right? But it is true. Self-denial is the synonym of practicing righteousness. Man’s righteousness is as filthy rags. But Christ works in me daily. Therefore, it is like the motto that practice becomes perfect. Ok, I do not want to punch that person in the face anymore.

Train in Righteousness  

Chain Reaction | Devotion #2: Train in Righteousness 
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

“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.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I want to start out by asking a question, for what are you training? I played hockey growing up and had to train to be able to be good at it. I was one that took practice seriously. Some would want to skip practice and go straight to games. But I knew that you had to take practice serious to get better. Your practice would show during a game. I trained to become a better player. When I was not on the ice for practice, I was running, practicing in my driveway, or watching videos of players and how they played. I spent the majority of my time on hockey and training myself to become a better player and teammate. We all have something that we are training for in some way. These things do not have to be a sport either. Some things we could be training for are parenting, being a good employee, or playing an instrument. While some of these things may be good, they are not the most important thing that we should focus our training. 

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Bible tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by God. This is saying that the Bible as a whole is God’s Word. Yes, the Bible was written by human hands, but it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. God was giving them the words to write. When we look at the Bible this way, it changes how we should view it. It is no longer just a book written by man, but it is a Word from our God! The importance of the Bible now becomes infinitely greater. If we continue in verse 16, we see all the things the Bible is profitable for such as teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. We cannot focus on only verse 16; we must also see the reason for these things in verse 17.  

I want to focus on “training in righteousness” and what that means for us. To be righteous means to have the quality of being morally right or justifiable. We see in Scripture God’s righteousness and His call for us to be righteous. Now we are only made righteous by the blood of Jesus alone, and we can do nothing to become righteous. However, that does not mean we do not change when we accept Jesus as Lord. Now we are living life to worship Him. When that is our focus, our lives change, and we want to become more and more like Jesus.

The Bible is the way we can train ourselves in righteousness and be more like Jesus. The Bible is God’s Word to us on how to follow Him. If we want to become better followers of Him, then we will take God’s Word and not only read it but apply it to our lives. We must train ourselves to be in the Word daily. The more we are in the Word, the closer we will become to God. The less you are in it, the more you fall into sin and draw yourself further from Him. It is our way to train to be like Him. We must discipline ourselves to make the Bible a huge priority in our lives. It is living and active and can change our hearts and lives. We do this so that we may become a man of God that is complete and equipped for every good work. We should want to become the best follower of Jesus that we can. Not that we can be the best, but that we can live as a sacrifice to Him for what He did for us on the cross.

There are a few questions you should discuss as a family this week. 

For what are you training? 

How can you be training yourselves in righteousness more? 

How often are you and your family spending time in the Word? 

Are you applying the Word to your life?

Pursue Righteousness 

Chain Reaction | Devotion #1: Pursue Righteousness
Mark O’Connor | Student Director

Flee – think of a time when you have heard this word in the news. Sometimes people have fled their homes because a wildfire is approaching the neighborhood. We see refugees fleeing their countries because of persecution. The point is, there is always danger lurking somewhere when we hear the word “flee.” I can recall a time when I was a child that our fire alarm went off in the middle of the night. It was very loud and disorienting. I recall my mom coming into my room to wake me up (as if I could have somehow been sleeping), quickly got me out of bed, and dragged me out of the house. Thankfully, nothing was wrong, and we and our house were fine.

Paul tells us, and more specifically you, this action in 2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

He says to flee youthful passions. Like we discovered above, this implies danger. Our natural reaction when we recognize danger is to run, but it is the hidden dangers that we do not see that can bring some of the greatest pain. Satan tries to pull us away from chasing the righteousness for which Jesus has called. While it is important that we flee from the things that pull us away from Jesus, it is equally important that we move in the other direction and chase after Him. 

Attaining righteousness is an unreachable goal. Do not fret, that is why Paul tells us to pursue it. Knowing full well that only Jesus will ever have perfect righteousness here on Earth, we are simply called to seek it out and pursue it. So, we are called to live out a moral life to the standards the Bible sets for us. It is also a bit of a relief that we do not have to worry about being perfect. 

Long story short – flee. Turn and run as fast as you can from the things that tempt you to walk away from Jesus. Then chase after Him with all you have. Never stop and do not slow down.

Gospel

Radioactive | Devotion #6: Gospel
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

A moment ago I just read an article about the Marjory Stoneman High School students returning to school. I know that in a year most of us, including myself, will have forgotten about this tragedy. We have all read stories about tragic events; young children dying, someone taking their own life, or families being broken and split apart. I love moments where you see a community rally around a family, but too often we see society quickly move on from these situations, and a family still left trying to deal with their grief. I read these articles, see these news stories, and know that no words can even begin to articulate the hurt, pain, and numbness that is in each situation. We empathize with how those going through these situations feel, but certainly do not understand the full weight of the darkness they are facing.

In your life, bad things will happen that feel as if they will destroy you. In your life, there will be nukes that land in your life and seemingly level everything around you. There are times evil seems to prevail. There are times when the most unforeseeable circumstances happen, and it leaves us wondering “why.” We have all experienced and suffered from some sort of death, hurt, abuse, divorce, neglect, pain, or manipulation. We have all woken up after a fallout, looked at our life, and had to figure out how to start putting the pieces back. Life is hard, life hurts, and bad things happen, but that does not take away from how great our Jesus is. 

In the book of Daniel, three men are sentenced to death. These men are taken to a furnace that is so hot, it killed a man because he got too close. These men were being pressed hard to forsake the God of their fathers. A king that wanted them to relent their worship was attacking these men. We have been in similar spots in our life. We have all stood in front of a blazing inferno. We have all stood in front of scenarios we never thought we would encounter. We have stood and looked upon our lives and felt that the only thing we can see is the horrible fate that awaits us. I take refuge in something that these godly men said. Daniel 3:17-18 says, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 

To stand in front of such horrible circumstances and say, even if God does not deliver you in the way that you deem appropriate, that He is still worthy of your worship is beautiful! The three men were looking at the end of their life, and they did not just call out to God to save them from their circumstances; they called out to God and worshiped Him for who He was. Life is hard. Bad things happen. Evil will attempt to destroy your life. But even then, He is always there. No matter what has happened, or what will happen, Jesus is in every situation we encounter. He is too faithful to abandon us. He is too loving not to offer us comfort. He is always with us.



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