Devotions

Monthly Archives: April, 2019

Do Not Miss the Gift of Salvation

Easter • Devotion #6: Do Not Miss the Gift of Salvation
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

I was born a sinner. I was a lost sinner for most of my adult life. I believed in God, but I knew I was missing something. I was empty, living a worldly life. If it were not for my wife and her prayer partners, I would have never known the wonders of God. Today, I am a saved sinner, because I responded to the Holy Spirit. One day I will be able to fellowship with Jesus in Heaven for eternity.

Salvation is a gift from God. We cannot earn it. Our works here on earth will not reserve us a place in Heaven, only Jesus’ blood does that. Without salvation, we are spiritually dead. God loves us all no matter who we are, and no matter what our past entails. God wants all of mankind to accept His gift of salvation.

Nothing can compare to this gift from God. It is, in Billy Graham’s words, “Forgiveness, Justification, Adoption, Eternal Life. The Crowning glory of Salvation is promised when we enter into the presence of the King.”

Have you ever thought about giving your life for a spouse, child, or loved one? That is what Jesus did for us on the Cross. He gave His life to save us, and give us the opportunity to spend eternity with our Father in Heaven.

I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Accepting the gift of salvation is as simple as, opening our heart, mind, and life to Jesus Christ and giving Him control of our life.

Romans 10:13 adds, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

All you have to do is open your mind and heart to Jesus. A simple prayer will do. Ask the Heavenly Father to forgive you of your sins, believe that Jesus died for you on the cross for your sins. Acknowledge that Jesus rose from the dead. Ask for Jesus’ help to turn away from your sinful nature. Jesus wants to lead you to be the person He has planned for you to be.

Miss-sigh-ah

Easter • Devotion #5: Miss-sigh-ah
Debbie Gabbara | Assistant to the Gathering Pastor

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’” John 12:12-13 NIV

Can you imagine with me? It was Passover; the city was crowded with people who came to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival. Jesus was coming into the city. People all over the area had listened to His teaching. They witnessed the miracles He had done. There were lame people who now walked, blind who could see, people who had been healed of demon possession, and all kinds of diseases. Word would have spread through the city that Jesus had raised a man from the dead a few days earlier. Crowds of people walked along shouting and praising Him as Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city.  He did not come on a powerful horse, but humbly on a donkey. Jesus came not as a king but as a servant. Crowds of people shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Then, just days later, the fickle crowd shifted; Jesus would be condemned to go to the cross as the crowd cried “Crucify Him.” The One who came in the name of the Lord was among them, and they missed it.

The Pharisees baffle me the most. They spent their lives studying the scriptures and looking for the Messiah.  How could they miss all the signs they were constantly asking Jesus? He fulfilled every prophecy; Jesus spoke into their lives through His teachings and the parables. The people among them who had been healed gave them physical, tangible evidence that Jesus was the One for whom they were watching and waiting. When you read the New Testament, the Pharisees were always around. They were constantly trying to test Jesus, trying to find ways that He was breaking the laws of Moses to which they clung so tightly. No matter what Jesus did or said, they argued with Him and demanded that He show them a sign from Heaven. How did they not see that He was their sign from Heaven? In the end, they plotted the death of Jesus. The King of Kings was among them, and they missed it.

“But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep.  How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.” Luke 19:41-42a NLT

Only Jesus offers the way to true peace, but so many missed it. They missed it then, and so very many miss it today. So many look but do not see, they hear but do not listen. Jesus wants to come into your life and bring you triumph over your sins.  Do not miss Him!

Grasping at Straws

Easter • Devotion #4: Grasping at Straws
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“And especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones.” 2 Peter 2:10

I was raised in a family of skeptics. It can create a mindset where nothing was what it seemed. Rooted in cynicism, all claims were deemed false until proven different. Motivation was always based on money or some other self-interest. It was a way to protect yourself from someone taking advantage of you. The fear of being someone’s pawn was real and embarrassing. This became my stumbling block. It was not until the day I received Christ that I would understand my error.

To many, the resurrection is shrouded in mystery and doubt and has become a stumbling block to them. The fact that His body was not present has brought many explanations. Sceptics have preached ideas from the swoon theory (Jesus was not dead, but unconscious) to the disciples taking the body themselves. These are just a few stories that satisfy the unbeliever. However, the closer you look into these theories the more you realize that it is a “grasping at straws” approach. In the swoon theory, it is hard to imagine the humanity of Christ having the strength to move the stone after the physical torture and crucifixion He endured. As far as the disciples stealing the body, would they have been willing to die for a lie? Would they be willing to be tortured and crucified in the same manner as Jesus? I wish the mindset of the unbeliever was an anomaly and that the Deity of Christ would be considered first. That instead of doubt, they would walk this through to completion. I wish that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they would arrive at the truth. They could have replaced the cynicism with which they lived, with a life-renewing faith. The missing body speaks the whole truth. God raised Jesus from the grave!

He is alive!

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 

Because He Lives

Easter • Devotion #3: Because He Lives
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

Have you heard the news? The body of Jesus is missing! What does this mean? To me, it means everything. Let me explain.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. In Matthew 16:15-17, we read, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’” Later in Matthew 20:17-19, we read,And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way He said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day.’”

The morning after the Sabbath following Jesus’ crucifixion, a great earthquake occurred, an angel of the Lord descended and rolled away the stone from the entrance to the tomb. The soldiers, overtaken with fear, fell to the ground like dead men. Shortly after, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb and were surprised to see the stone rolled away. In Matthew 28:5-7, we read, But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you.’” They ran and told the disciples what had happened, and Peter and John raced to the tomb to see for themselves – the body was not there. Then they remembered what Jesus had told them and they knew Jesus had risen as He said He would.

Why do the empty tomb and missing body mean everything to me? The words of the hymn “Because He Lives” say it all:

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus, 

He came to love, heal and forgive. 

He lived and died to buy my pardon, 

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future, 

and life is worth the living just because He lives.

Futile?

Easter • Devotion #2: Futile?
Philip Piasecki

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 NIV

There is power in the Word of God. Every time I read this verse, it gives me a new sense of wonder for the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I feel like we often hear in Christian circles things like “remember the cross,” “think about what Jesus did for us on that cross,” and the like. While there is nothing wrong with these sayings, I feel like our focus is sometimes misdirected. It seems like believers sometimes miss how important the resurrection was. If Jesus had died on that cross and stayed in that grave, we would have no hope. Paul says that our faith is futile without the resurrection! Essentially Paul is saying that without the resurrection we are not forgiven of our sins, anyone who has died believing in Christ is lost, we have no hope, and everyone should pity us. Those are some strong words. The resurrection of Christ is the most important event in the history of humanity. This one event solidified that Jesus Christ was who He said that He was, and it sealed the offer of salvation to everyone who believes in Him.

The truth of the resurrection should stir up action in your life. I love thinking about the lives of the disciples after the resurrection. They saw the resurrected body of Jesus Christ, heard His command to go into all the world to preach the Good News, and many of them took that message up until they were killed for their message. They saw their Savior raised to life, and they knew that they needed to go and tell the world about it. We may have not physically seen Jesus resurrected, but we have the historical accounts of it in Scripture, and we have our accounts of how the resurrected Christ has impacted our lives. Take Jesus’ story and your story of salvation in Him and tell anyone who will listen. Do not be inhibited by fear of how the world will react to you; the disciples did not let threats of death keep them from sharing their message. We cannot miss the importance of the resurrection. When you fully grasp the significance of it, I promise it will radically change your life.



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