Devotions

The Messenger

Ministry #1  November 13 The Messenger

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” – Mark 1:1-6

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” – Luke 1:80 

God chose John the Baptist as His messenger: The one who would point everyone to the Messiah, the one who would baptize Jesus, the one who He formed and shaped for this role. John was the answer to the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” He was shaped and created for a purpose. I do not know about you, but that brings me a lot of peace and a lot of joy. I remember growing up and thinking I wanted to be a teacher, for those who know me well now would probably laugh at that idea. I am not a teacher; God did not make me to be a teacher. He gifted me with other talents, and I believe that we are all created with talents and gifts. I think sometimes we are so focused on what we want to do and not what God has equipped us to do. Most importantly, though, is that no matter what He has shaped you to be, we are to use that to point people to Jesus.

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” – Mark 1:6

I have heard the saying ‘be in the world, but not of it,’ and I have always thought of John the Baptist when I have heard this. He dressed weird, ate strange things; he was not part of the world. But I believe this idea has lent Christians an excuse to huddle together and shun the world and in doing so has somehow created a message that we are better because we are separate. I read a blog the other day that talked about this concept and shed some light on it. David Mathis, on the Desiring God website, said this, “Jesus’ true followers have not only been crucified to the world, but also raised to new life and sent back in to free others. We have been rescued from the darkness and given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others. So let us revise the popular phrase ‘in, but not of.’ Christians are not of this world, but sent into it. Not of, but sent into.”

John the Baptist was given the privilege to go before Jesus, we have the privilege of coming after Jesus and as Mathis said we have been “given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others.”  John the Baptist was actively “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  We are the messengers now; we are to point people to Jesus, not by isolating ourselves but to actively share the Gospel.

Jill Osmon

Assistant to Lead Pastor

Trust and Obey

Miraculous conception and birth #6  November 11 Trust and Obey

One of my favorite parts of church gatherings is when we do child dedications. For me, it is so exciting to see parents coming before the congregation to dedicate their child or children, to God. Now, this dedication does not signify the child’s walk with Christ or express their faith in Him. However, it is the proclamation before God that the parents of the child will do all they can to surround the child with the love of Christ and to raise them upon godly principles. Likewise, the congregation is charged to help surround the child in a Christ-centered community that will exemplify His love and teachings. 

In Luke 1:57-66, we read of the birth and dedication of John the Baptist. Luke writes, “Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, ‘No; he shall be called John.’ And they said to her, ‘None of your relatives is called by this name.’ And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?’ For the hand of the Lord was with him.” As we read in this passage, when Elizabeth and Zechariah named their son, there was much surprise amongst those who knew them. It was custom during this time and to name your child, if not for the parents, then after a relative. That being said, naming John was an act of Elizabeth and Zechariah being obedient to God.

Obedience to God is a foundational part of our walk with Christ. When parents bring their children before the church and congregation, they are doing it out of obedience to God. When Elizabeth and Zechariah named their son John, it was out of obedience to God. When Christ was baptized by John, it was Him showing obedience to the Father. It can be tough to be obedient in our lives; whether it be at work, with parents, teachers, or you fill in the blank. However, it is a foundational part of our walk with Christ that should reverberate throughout every facet of our lives. So, as we dive deeper into this guy named John, his life began with the foundation of obedience from his parents. I challenge you to take a step back and find an area in your life where you need to be more obedient to God.

Noble Baird

Director of the Community Center

Promise Fulfilled

Miraculous conception and birth #5  November 10 Promise Fulfilled

I want what I want, and I want it now.  We have all heard that phrase in mainstream song lyrics, out of our children’s mouths, and of course on the movie screen spoken by the infamous Veruca Salt.  Perhaps you have spoken those words yourself.  And are you not glad that you did not get what you wanted when you wanted it?  God ALWAYS has a better plan.  We call that, “His perfect timing.”

We all know how challenging it is waiting and trusting in His perfect timing. All week long you have been reading and studying about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  Does God’s “perfect timing” have anything to do with them?  I mean, after all, Elizabeth was barren, and they were both at least 60 years-old which had meant their time to conceive had expired quite some time ago. Who cares about timing, it is a hopeless situation for sure.  Or is it? 

Luke 1:24-25 says, After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’”  Verses 57-58 adds, “Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.   And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.”

Wow. Promise fulfilled. The shame, the disgrace, the reproach, and the disappointment has been taken away. God does accomplish His perfect will in His perfect timing and sometimes in very unexpected (perfect) ways. Our God is a God of the impossible. There are thousands of promises in the Bible, and they help carry us through times of support and need. If you are in a difficult season and craning your neck to look ahead, please do not miss out on seeing what God is trying to show you during your time of waiting. Keep praying as Zechariah did. Remember God is faithful. He is true to His people; He is faithful to His Word and faithful to Himself.  He is Perfect, each and every time.

Chris Cain

Women’s Ministry Director

Absolutes

Miraculous conception and birth #4  November 9 Absolutes

There are absolutes in this world. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Everything that goes up must come down. We do not question these rules because they are known and accepted truths. There is another absolute, the Almighty God is not bound by absolutes, and we can learn from Zechariah that it is not a good idea to be skeptical of God’s Word coming from an angel. Zechariah was told in Luke 1:18-23 that he and his wife would have a child. Zechariah was doubtful because his wife was barren and they were now well beyond their child-bearing years. For his lack of faith, Zechariah was made unable to speak until his child was born. 

In the book of Matthew, Jesus gives a powerful lesson, “If you have faith and do not doubt…if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen” (Matthew 21:21). In Matthew 14 we read about Jesus feeding over 5000 people. The Disciples doubted that they could afford to feed the large group that had gathered to listen to Jesus. Jesus stunned them all when His prayer to God turned a small boy’s lunch into an abundance for thousands of people. Also in Matthew 14, we read of Jesus walking on water and calling Peter out to Him. Peter successfully walks on water until he is distracted by the wind and waves and begins to sink. Somehow Peter forgot that he was already doing the impossible.  These are a few of the countless examples of God’s power over the “impossible.” Our thinking tends to be limited to what we think is possible when we should remember Matthew 21:22, “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” 

Zechariah was a faithful, God-fearing man. He knew God had no limits, but like us, he was distracted by his limitations. For nine months his inability to speak was a daily reminder of the sin and doubt that was in his heart. We need not doubt. God knows the desires of our heart, and we should bring them to Him humbly and honestly. “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).

We are all going to face doubt and uncertainties in this life, but one thing is for sure, faith is much stronger than any doubts this world can cause. God has no restrictions and no handicaps. Focus on His power, not your limitations.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Wes McCullough

Worship Leader

The Spirit of Elijah

Miraculous conception and birth #3  November 8 The Spirit of Elijah

Be honest, have you read the Bible and not understood what something meant? Sadly, we run into those hard verses, and if we did not have Google, we all might be in serious jeopardy. I will admit, preparing to write about John the Baptist I ran into such a verse. Luke 1:17 says that John “will go before him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elijah.  Now we all know what John the Baptist did, if not I recommend reading the Bible a bit. John was to prepare the way for Jesus, but when reading this, I ran into “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”  Instantly, I paused and let out an unexplainable sound of confusion. What does it mean to have the spirit and power of Elijah? Better yet, how do I take this verse and make it applicable to my life? 

John and Elijah had something in common. Now we must not think that John is the reincarnation of Elijah. John himself even dismisses that claim. The spirit that John and Elijah both had in them was a bold, uncompromising stand for the Word of God. Elijah was willing to stand against King Ahab, Jezebel, and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah never wavered, never backed down, and was willing to say what he needed to say and do what he needed to do to be obedient to God.  Likewise, John the Baptist stood up to a Jewish and Roman nation that viewed him more as a madman than an instrument of God. John preached against the self-righteous religious elite. John and Elijah were not always perfect. Both had moments where they questioned God. John’s moment came while he was facing his death in a jail cell and Elijah’s came by a riverbank facing virtually the same issue. There were moments in both these men’s lives where they lost sight of things, but that never took away from the fact that God was still their primary focus.

There are a lot of times in our lives where as Christians we can fall into a stereotypical doormat Christian. Whenever a Christian speaks the truth, it is amazing how often the world will rebuttal with “that was not godly.”  It can become a scary thing if we become the type of Christian who operates in the safest most non-confrontational way.  Now there is a time for meekness and gentleness, but there are times when God’s people need to rock the boat.  I am not saying to sin while doing this, but there needs to be a point where God’s people come out of hiding and be willing to show they live for Him. It is easy to live an undercover Christian lifestyle and just go to church on weekends and no one knows it. We should all be willing to take a page out of John or Elijah’s book and be willing to speak the truth (this must be done in love) boldly.


Imagine a nation where all the people who claimed to be living for Jesus turned around and were not afraid to evangelize to their co-workers or fellow students. What would it look like if Christians were bold enough to not act like the world and were willing to take public scrutiny for the sake of Jesus? Imagine the world where men lead their families as they were designed. Imagine the world where teens would be willing to pray before school every day. Imagine the world where we stopped to pray for people who were hurting. A follower of Christ is meant to be bold, is intended to be counter-cultural, and a follower of Christ has no fear in this world.

Pastor Ryan Story

Student Pastor



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