Devotions

Guard the Door 

Radioactive | Devotion #1: Guard the Door
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Monsters, Gremlins, Oogey Boogeyman, and things that go bump in the night, remind me of an old Carman song:

Don’t want no monsters in my house tonight! 

Don’t want no monsters in my house!

You won’t get me screaming, 

You’re nothing but a demon, it’s time for you to go now!

While Carman may have been talking about literal monsters in his house, we are here to talk about other types of demons. It is the demons that affect our homes and our families. These are the ones that are harder to get out than just screaming at them. 

We live in a world where there are demons and sin that disguise themselves. When we used to think of monsters, we would think vampires, werewolves, and mummies. But now we have to worry about forms of monsters like anger, lust, and bad influence. It is difficult to keep Christ strong in our homes when so many in the world and our culture are not teaching our families the difference between right and wrong. However, it is important to realize that there is a doormat at our front doors to get rid of all the dirt before entering the home. The dirt is sin and worldly desires.  

Galatians 5:16-17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

We need to teach our families to walk by the Spirit rather than the desires of the flesh. While the world and culture may be trying to teach our families things that are in opposition to what the Spirit teaches, if your passion for the Spirit in the home is strong enough, then those things will not be let inside your home. 

To do this, your family needs to spend a healthy dose of time together in the Word of God. It is hard to understand the difference between right and wrong if we are not first allowing God to teach us. The only way to learn what is allowed in our home and what is not is allowing the Spirit to guide our families. Read the Word of God together so that your kids know when they go into the world, what is allowed there is not always what is going to be allowed in your home. 

Shout to those demons, “It’s time for you to go now!”

Gospel

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

The definition in chemistry terms for combustion is “rapid chemical combination of a substance with oxygen, involving the production of heat and light.” Just reading that takes me back to the horrors of my high school chemistry class. After reading that definition over and over again, I started to see combustion in a very interesting biblical way.

There are certain steps of combustion.

  1. Rapid Chemical Combination

For combustion to happen there has to be elements that will change. The reality is Jesus is in the life-changing business. Anyone who has had their life rescued knows what this “rapid change” looks like. Ephesians 2:5 says “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” The combination of understanding that our sin can be overcome by His love is the strongest combination in existence. To add one element into something that is dead to bring about life, that is power. The truth is when we accept that Jesus is Lord and we cry out for repentance, there is a gigantic change in our life. We go from life to death. 

  1. Oxygen 

Oxygen is one of the most necessary elements to produce combustion. We have all seen a flame suffocate because there is not enough oxygen getting to it. In the same way, if we are not getting the proper amount of breath in our lives, our life can become suffocated. Our breath comes from God. Our air is Him. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Our Heavenly Father gave us the very breath we take. 

  1. What it Produces

When we understand that there has been a chemical change and that it is fueled by the breath that God has given us, two things are produced.

  1. Heat 

When there is combustion, there should be heat. In the same way, when there is Jesus, there should be passion. Now passion looks different for every person. Some people are more external with their passion, while others are an inferno on the inside. The reality is there has been that combination of His love and grace. When there is the breath of God, there will be a source of passion.
Jeremiah 20:9 says, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”

  1. Light

When we have heat, we have light. When we have Jesus, we have The Light. When we have The Light, Jesus says in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” When our passion becomes visible, and others start to see that there is something different, we go from just spectating in God’s plan, to being used in God’s plan.

Keep your Lips from Speaking Deceit 

Combustion | Devotion #5: Keep your Lips from Speaking Deceit
Michelle Moshier | Nursery & Pre-K Director

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’” 1 Peter 3:8-12

 

Anyone remember that old saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” I said it constantly throughout grade school. I am sure many of us find that to be an untrue statement including myself. Our words have power and can instantly demolish someone’s spirit. Peter says if we desire to love life and see good days, we must keep our lips from speaking deceit. The word deceit is the act of representing as true what is known to be false; a deceiving or lying, a dishonest action or trick; fraud or lie. Many women fall into the trap of gossip, especially with other women. I have teenagers who can be dishonest at times and speak harsh words directly to another sibling. These are fair examples of deceit. Deceit is very destructive and can cause an immense amount of pain to another.

Proverbs 16:28 says, “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Speaking deceit is the opposite of what we are to be to one another. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:6 NIV

When I was growing up I had to witness this between my parents who would verbally abuse one another, so it felt like second nature to fight just like them in my marriage. This is something I struggled with for many years. I never thought I would be able to tame my tongue. I would fight with the most hurtful words and wait to see the impact my words could have. I had to be sure “I had won.” 

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 

The good news is there is hope! The Bible tells us that with the help of the Holy Spirit we can have power and control over our tongue.

Keep your Tongue from Evil 

Combustion | Devotion #4: Keep your Tongue from Evil
Mark O’Connor | Student Director

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

Oh, let us count the ways that our tongue causes us to do evil! It is always amazing to me how little control students have of their words. It is even more amazing how little control adults have of their words. Not only does it amaze me, but it also annoys me in a way that few other things do.

I can remember times when in stores, public places, and even in the church where a parent says downright degrading things to their child. At the same time, I watch students do the same thing to or towards their parents, their peers, and any adult in general.

We see in our culture today, a mindset to speak first, get your feelings and your opinion out there, and have no regard for who it affects and how. We live in a share before you read, copy and paste society. Our kids, whether they are yours or not, are learning from watching how we react and then how we speak. When kids are watching their parent do nothing but rant and complain, they will naturally do the same thing.

I am a naturally very sarcastic person, as is my wife. Actually, both sides of the O’Connor and Meyecic clan excel at sarcasm. We saw fairly early on the effect that this had on our kids and the way they interact with others. This is something I have had to stay very focused on in dealing with both adults, my kids, and the students in the church.

It is imperative that we learn to control our tongue in our homes and within our families. It does not mean we are perfect. I am certainly guilty of speaking before I think. It is something that I work very hard to control and keep in check. James tells us this:

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” James 3:5

Left unchecked, our word can burn our worlds to the ground, even worse, it will burn our kid’s world to the ground. It is our responsibility to tame that fire. It takes very little to shift those words from a fire, tearing things down, to a place of edification. We can lift up those around us. We need to be an encouragement to our spouses, lift our kids up to the Lord, and spur them on to do incredible things in the name of Christ rather than tether them down.

So the next time we start to react to a social situation, and most importantly our family, let us stop and consider what we are going to say. Let our words glorify Jesus and not tear others down.

Bless

Combustion | Devotion #3: Bless
Danielle Hardenburg | Nursery & Pre-K Director

“Do not repay evil with evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 

Wait for a second, what? Bless people who have hurt me? Bless people who have betrayed someone in my family or my circle? Bless someone even when the cost can equal more stress or hurt? Oh, ouch. That is not easy. Okay, it takes a serious heart-check here. I admit that is not the first thought flying through my mind at that moment or often well after that moment has even passed. I think we can agree blessing someone who has caused us pain and heartache can be flat tough and appear impossible or overwhelming. We need to get real honest. Sometimes I feel I do not even bless the amazing people God placed in my life enough, let alone my efforts to bless the ones who have let me down. But yes, it is a heart check!

Christine Caine shares in her devotional book, Unshakeable, about her painful childhood and how the Lord shaped and healed her heart piece by piece. She writes, “Defense mechanisms can be great, if they’re serving a purpose. You duck and cover when something comes flying at you. But spiritually, defense mechanisms can be a problem.” Whether your response is fight or flight at that moment or reviewing and calculating your plan afterward, we have to check our hearts. Yes, we have to be safe and guard our families, but also God has called you and me to be a blessing to others. The Bible does not say just to bless those who have blessed you. It says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Why in the world should we live this way?  

Check out these verses from Romans chapter 5. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

If you know who Jesus is and your heart has been reconciled to God, then you have the understanding of a gift given that was not deserved or earned. The Bible says while in our sin we were enemies of God, yet His perfect and sinless Son redeemed us in spite of our vast intransigent flaws and separation. We have been blessed and not repaid equally for what we deserve. Who else is overjoyed that grace is not earned or given tit for tat? If you have not accepted this gift of grace and reconciliation, please know He is there for you no matter where you are. Because Jesus gives us this ultimate gift of grace, we are called to do the same for others.  This is not an easy thing, but when you grasp what Jesus has done for each of us, this is how we are called to live.

Caine writes an illustration at the end of her devotional about what the transformation can look like when we choose to bless instead of repaying. She shows how over time we can transform our hearts with God’s help and even become blessed right back in return.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 

“This divine exchange may begin quite subtly. But over time you will see transformations like these:

  • Hurt people hurt people, but helped people help people.
  • Broken people break people, but rebuilt people build people.
  • Damaged people damage people, but loved people love people.
  • Wounded people wound people, but healed people bind up wounds.
  • Bound people bind people, but freed people lead others to freedom.”

Friend, I challenge you today to check your heart. Pray for His Holy Spirit to help you lift up those who may be the very hardest for you to pray. I truly have found in my own life that when it is the hardest to pray, or worship, or fall to my knees, that is when I need to do it the most.  



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.