Devotions

Word

Promises #2 – Word
Phil Piasecki | Worship Leader

My brother is currently a missionary in the country of Oman in the Middle East. Last year before he left the country, he decided that he wanted to get a tattoo of Michigan. I had always wanted a tattoo as well, so I thought getting one together before he leaves would be an awesome brotherly bonding experience. We came up with a plan and agreed to get them together. The only problem was that when he called me to tell me he was at the tattoo shop I bailed. I came up with every excuse in the book on why I could not get a tattoo. Luckily, he had another friend with him who got the tattoo alongside him. I am sure he is still a little upset with me that I bailed, and I do not blame him. Now, if I ever agree to do something like that with him again, he is never going to believe me.

Scripture says in James 5:12, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” When we make a promise, we need to keep that promise. For some reason, Christians are viewed as some of the flakiest people, and I think it is for good reasons. Our actions and behaviors reflect Christ, and one of the simplest ways to positively reflect Christ is to be a reliable person. If a friend asks you to help them move and you say yes, then show up on the day of the move. If you tell your kid that you are going to take them to the park tomorrow, follow through and actually take them. Kids, if you tell your parents you are going to get your chores done, do them. When we honor our word, we are honoring Christ. It is a powerful testimony when someone knows that if you tell him or her you are going to do something that you will follow through with it. An area where this issue is painfully evident is within serving in the church.

The body of Christ relies on believers serving, and we put the Church leadership in impossible situations when we agree to serve and then do not follow through on it. Serve Christ, and be committed to it. If you agree to serve in the nursery, do not cancel Sunday morning. In whatever area you have agreed to serve, there is an eternal difference waiting to be made; you just need to follow through on your word. We need to reflect the character of Christ by being people who follow through on our promises. We have a God who never breaks His promises. We know that we can count on Him no matter what the circumstance is, and as followers of Christ, we should be able to be counted on in the same manner.

Standing on the Promises

Promises #1 – Standing on the Promises
Matt Hatton | Student Ministries Director

A promise is simply a declaration made by someone that something will or will not happen. We make promises to one another to give a peace of mind, ensure security in a difficult time, and to pledge our allegiance where it may be questioned. “I promise to do my homework if I can go to the game.” “I promise always to be patient and selfless.” “I promise to take the trash out.” I cannot count how many promises I have made and kept. I also cannot count how many promises I have made and have not kept. Maybe I do not know how to count in general. The point is that we, humanly speaking, tend to make promises, keep promises, and often break promises. Our word is flawed because we are flawed people. We make predictions with our promises and sometimes those predictions are left empty.

As Joshua was getting older, nearing his final days, he gave a charge to all the leaders of Israel to trust in the promises of God. In Joshua 23:14 the Bible says, “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” Not only are there promises of God’s provision and grace, but there are also the promises of His justice. God does not fail us. God will not fail us. What He says in His Word is true; His promises are true.

The promises of God are much different from the promises of man. The promises of God are eternal, not temporal. The promises of God are not predictions. He knows what He is going to do and does it. God promises Eternal Life for those that believe in Him. He promises forgiveness, Himself as the Holy Spirit, to supply our needs, wisdom, guidance, peace, victory over sin and death, protection, and an end to suffering. God’s promises are something we can put our hope in. His promises are something we can stand on. He is the firm foundation that we can place everything in our lives upon.

As God’s Word teaches us in Matthew 6, we must be careful with our promises. If we make promises on our own grounds, then they will be flawed and broken.  If we live our lives according to God’s Word, then our words should be reflective of that. As followers of Christ, we need to be trustworthy people with a trustworthy word because out of our lips we can share the promises of God that are not flawed, broken, or fallible.

My prayer is this: “Lord, thank you for your wonderful promises.  Thank you for being a firm foundation that I can build my life upon. Let my words reflect your words.  Help me to be an honest and trustworthy person because of my trust in you and your promises.”

Dear Me

Lust #6 – Dear Me
Noble Baird | Guest Services Director

Seven years ago, in my high school psychology class, I wrote a letter to my future self. Our teacher made us do this to parallel a study we were doing in our class. I received my letter back in February of this year and was surprised and delighted at what my younger self was so concerned about for my future. Of course I made mention of old friends and different aspirations I had hoped for in the future, some of which I had succeeded in, others went to the wayside over the years. One note in particular that I was delighted to read about was my concern for my faith. I was concerned that I would not stay the course and endure through whatever was to come.

Whenever one hears the term “lust,” it is usually used regarding a sexual nature. If we take a look at the Greek word for lust, “epithumia,” it is defined as a desire, passionate longing, and lust. In Titus 3:3-5 Paul writes, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us.”

Although I was able to write my future self a letter, I wish I could do the same now to myself back when I was in high school. If I am honest with myself and all of you, one of my greatest struggles in high school was lust. I have always struggled with my body image. All throughout middle school, high school, and even into college I desired to have the “perfect” physique. For years I dealt with jealousy because I was so unhappy with my weight. I can remember many times where I was even mad at God trying to figure out why He did not give me the same body type as all my peers. It was this desire and lusting after the world’s image of the “perfect male physique” that ruined me. I had truly become a slave to my desire and lusts for the perfect body.

It is easy to become entrapped in the passions and desires of this world. Whether it is through social media, TV, music, etc., the world is constantly painting a picture and a new standard for the “perfect” image. I fell into this trap. I was caught in the chains of the passions and desires the world had shown me. When I realized God’s goodness, kindness, and love, I was able to shake those chains of lust. I was able to see myself not through the world’s eyes, but through my Father’s.

To my younger self and all of you, I just want to say this…

God made you perfect the way you are. He has made each one of us unique and perfect in His image. Do not worry about what the world says or portrays because we are not called to please this world. Yes, I know it is a struggle, and I know it is not easy, but do not let the desire and want to fulfill the world’s standards of a “perfect” body control you. Do not let it ruin your life and make you unhappy, jealous, and angry towards others. Instead, look to the One who has shown you love in a way that you have never experienced before. Look to the One who has shown you goodness and kindness. Look to the One who has saved you.

Desires of the Heart

Lust #5 – Desires of the Heart
Katrina Young | Nursery & Pre-K Director

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”  James 1:14-15   

I once heard a pastor teach on lust and the desires of the heart.  The emphasis was that “anything that distracts you enough to pull you away from your focus on God is something that you desire more; therefore, you are lusting after that thing.”  As a new believer, that statement influenced me and still does today.  There are so many things in this world set up to distract us, and once distracted we are vulnerable to temptation and ultimately sin.

We live in an age of technology. We do not go anywhere without our phones.  From anywhere and at any time we can check e-mail, bank account, social media, or purchase something on Amazon. Ads are everywhere and geared to sell and appeal to our senses.  We are constantly being lured to purchase the latest and greatest thing. What effect is this having on our relationship with God? The enemy wants nothing more than for our thoughts to be consumed with enticing things of this world and to distract and pull us away from the things of God. The verse in James tells us “the desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin.”

Psalms 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we truly “delight” in the things of God, our desires will begin to parallel with His, and we will never go unfulfilled.   Matthew 6:33 says,But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  We will never be deeply fulfilled with the things this world has to offer. It is only when we place our joy and hope in Him that all of our desires will be met.

Clear the Stage

Lust #4 – Clear the Stage
Debbie Gabarra | Community Center Director

All through the Bible, God uses examples of lust and adultery to teach us about how He feels when we put other things before Him.

Lust: a passion or overmastering desire or craving, desire; inclination; wish

Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:28 that if you look with your eyes lustfully, you have sinned in your heart.

2 Samuel 11 sounds so casual as it begins the story of King David’s lust and adultery with Bathsheba. “It happened, late one afternoon… that he saw from the roof a woman…”   That look from the roof would begin a journey of incredible sin and sadness.  David tried but could not cover his sin.  He stole another man’s wife, committed murder, and lost a child to death.  Remember, God called David a man after His own heart.  However, when we seek things that are against the ways of God, it can lead to hurt and destruction that we never imagined.

I recently came across a song, “Clear the Stage” by Jimmy Needham, that begs us to put aside everything that gets in the way of our relationship with God.  It challenges us to do whatever it takes to clear from our lives the things that our flesh craves, seek the Lord, and wait for what He has in store us.

The lyrics from “Clear the Stage,” suggest some ways to examine our lives.

“Take a break from all the plans that you have made

and sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper.”

“Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak,

and pray for real upon your knees until they blister.”

“Shine the light on every corner of your life

until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.”

“Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard,

until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.”

“Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store,

and know that great is your reward so just be hopeful.”

 

What do you need to clear from your life to make God first?

Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped.”             Psalm 28:7a



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