Devotions

Author Archives: Pastor Ben Kirkman

Grow • Devotion #1: Trusting Your Worry Away

Have you noticed how worry has a way of sucking the joy out of your life? Sometimes we can be so consumed by worry that it is literally hard to breathe. It does not have to be a huge crisis that we are worrying about; even the minute daily details can leave us miserable if we are not careful. Have you been there? Are you suffocated by worry right now?

About five years ago, I found myself being consumed by worry. I could not get past it. I was inundated with what seemed like an unbearable amount of pressures and worrisome situations. I vividly remember staring out the window feeling like someone was squeezing the air out of my lungs; I could not breathe. I was trying to figure out how I could get myself out of the grip of worry. My thought process was, “I am a man. I can figure my way through these difficult situations.” I was letting the weight of all my worries build-up, and I was suffering in my own stubbornness.

As I stared out the window (I may have been banging my head on the glass), God said, “Hey, I did not design you to be consumed by worry! Quit trying to carry the difficulties of life on your own. Give your burdens to me. Trust me to help you through them.” I instantly stopped banging my head on the window and started praying. I poured my worries out to God; I gave Him every single one of them. I cannot even explain to you the immediate peace that God gave to me. I could breathe again, and the weight of my worries was gone. The difficult situations were still there, but God taught me I did not have to face them alone. He was with me every step of the way; I just needed to give them to Him and trust Him with the outcome.

Since that life-changing day, God has greatly helped me deal with my problem of worrying; He reminded me of the instruction and promise of Philippians 4:4-7 to help me understand how to deal with worry. Do not get me wrong, I still battle with worrying, but He has helped me grow to a place where I at least know how to battle it.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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.”

We have an almighty, all-powerful God that is greater than any worry we may have. He wants us to trust Him with our worries. His desire is that we go to Him with all of our problems. Do not let worry suffocate your joy. Give your worries to God. He will help you through them. Remember: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

“However”

Twelve Spies | Devotion 4: “However”
Pastor Ben Kirkman  

Every time I study the Israelites and their wilderness wanderings, my temptation is to jump to judgment and say, “What is wrong with you people?” God literally led them, fed them, and provided for their every need. The only responsibilities they had were to love, trust, follow, and obey God. As they followed God, He was miraculously proving His power and faithfulness. Reading through their adventures in the wilderness, you can predict how they will respond to the “difficult situations.” A perceived problem arises, and what do they do? They start to whine, complain, and forget the promises of God. What a miserable way to live! God has never failed them, yet they refuse to trust that He will take care of them again.

In our study today, we find the children of Israel close to the land God has promised to them (Do not miss the part that it is the land God has promised to them). They are on the outside looking into their future. Twelve spies are chosen to sneak into the Promised Land and take a survey of the land and the people that occupy it. The spies return and give their report to Moses and the people. The land is awesome! It flows with milk and honey! The fruits and vegetables are incredible. On the other hand, Numbers 13:28 says, “However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large.” They emotionally retreat thinking, “There are too many obstacles for us to take the land God has promised to us. The enemy is too strong, the walls are too tall, and the cities are too big for us to defeat. We cannot do it!”

What? God has said the land is yours. God has never let you down before. Trust God and go take the land! Earlier, Numbers 13:2 said, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel.” It was a land that God described as “which I am giving.”

Of the twelve, there were two spies who believed God and tried to encourage the people to trust God and take the land He had promised them. The Israelites responded to the two by trying to kill them. The consequence for the doubting people is they end up dying in the wilderness and never entering the Promised Land.

The Israelites let their perceived problem become bigger than their God. They had an amazing God who had never been anything but faithful and trustworthy, yet they chose to let their fear dictate their actions. Their fear became bigger than their faith, and it destroyed their lives.

Instead of saying, “What is wrong with them?”, we need to reflect on our own lives and consider, “Do I trust God, His promises, and the way He is working in my life?”

Do you believe God is in control and that He is bigger than any problem you may face?

God Responds

Murder | Devotion 5: God Responds
Pastor Ben Kirkman

“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel and God knew.” Exodus 2:23-25

In Exodus chapter two, we find the people of Israel stuck in a real-life nightmare. They were controlled and oppressed as slaves in Egypt. As we read their story, it is easy to make light of their daily hurt, because we know how the story ends. We know that God miraculously rescued them and freed them from bondage. However, have you paused and thought about how horrible their day-to-day must have been? They were real people abused, suffering, and groaning for years and years. These people are dealing with a real problem, and they were really hurting. As we empathize with their hurt, consider how hopeless they must have felt as they dreamed of escaping bondage. They were not strong enough to rebel and fight the Egyptians, nor could they count on another nation to come to rescue them. They seemingly had no hope.

We find the people of Israel so hopeless and helpless that they resort to audibly groaning and crying out for help. Who were they crying to for help? You would think (and hope) that they were crying out to the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Verse 23 gives the indication that the people were just desperately groaning and crying out, hoping someone ( and anyone) would hear, but as you can see, the Bible does not specifically tell us they were crying out to God. Watching how the Israelites forget and neglect God going forward, it is definitely possible they were not crying to Him.

You can picture the scene: A massive group of people is living in a constant groan, desperate for deliverance. God in His faithful graciousness, hears them. “Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel and God knew.” They may have forgotten about God, but He had not forgotten about them. The people cried out, and God heard, God saw, God remembered, God knew, and God responded. God already had every detail of their deliverance figured out; freedom was coming! The people of Israel would one day walk right out of Egypt.

We have all faced miserable days, wondering if anybody cares and if anyone can truly hear and help. We can have full confidence in our faithful, gracious God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sees, hears, and knows. We need always to remember to turn to Him first and trust Him to work no matter how desperate our situation.

He Relates

Thirst | Devotion #4: He Relates
Ben Kirkman | Associate Operations Pastor & Facilities Director

Try to visualize the scene: Jesus, the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, hung on a cross between two criminals. He had just been mocked, beaten, whipped, spat upon, had a crown of thorns smashed into His head, and nails were driven through His hands and feet. He hung on the cross struggling just to breathe – bloody, cursed, and rejected. The crowd around Him hated Him and wanted Him to die. You could hear the people still shouting and murmuring curses and accusations against Him. Nearing the end of His suffering, Jesus spoke. He said, “I thirst.” It was a simple, seemingly unremarkable and very human request for relief. How did the soldiers respond to the Lord of all creation? They lifted up a sponge on a stick, and the sponge is soaked not in cool water to satisfy but in sour wine that must have stung His parched mouth and turned His stomach. It was cruel for sure, but more had happened than solving an unquenched thirst.

John 19:28 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), I thirst.”  By saying “I thirst,” Jesus was bringing about the fulfillment of a prophecy, and it let us know just how thirsty He was. Psalm 22:15 adds, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” His mouth was so dry that His tongue was sticking to the side of his mouth. Have you ever been that thirsty? John 19:29 gives us the details of the soldiers’ response, “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to His mouth.” This jeering action actually fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69:21, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” 

​I hope that from Jesus speaking those two simple words “I thirst,” you will be reminded that He was human as well as God. Jesus had emotions, felt pain, and even experienced thirst. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We have a Savior that can sympathize with our troubles and pain. We have a God that knows how to help us with our hurt.

​I also hope from Jesus thirsting on the cross you will be reminded of the pain and suffering He physically endured to make the payment for your sins and how much God loves you. In 1 John 4:9-10, we read, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  

Gifts That Do Not Get Old

Spiritual Gifts | Devotion #4: Gifts That Do Not Get Old
Ben Kirkman | Associate Operations Pastor & Facilities Director

This time of year brings back all kinds of memories from past Christmases. As a child, one of my favorite things in all the world was Christmas morning. I loved the anticipation of what awesome present I might unwrap. One of the best was a replica of our family barn handmade by my dad. It was perfect for storing all my toy tractors. I enjoyed everything about the whole day: time with family, yummy food including all the pie and desserts I could handle, but especially the presents. I remember thinking, “I wish this day could last forever.”

However, going to bed on Christmas night was probably one of my least favorite things in all the world. Seemingly every year, I would lie in bed bummed out that the day was over, thinking, “Aw man, 365 days until I get to celebrate Christmas again.” I knew those new, exciting gifts would get old and break and let me down, leaving me wanting another round of presents by February (at the latest).

Looking back and thinking about the Christmas presents that I have received over the years, there are very few that have lasted and I still value. But then I think of the greater gifts that were not in the bright paper under the tree. Gifts from God will never decrease in value.

One of the gifts that I greatly cherish is a mom who planted the Word of God in my heart and mind. I grew up in the country, thirty minutes from everywhere. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in the car. Whenever we drove anywhere, my mom would teach us kids a Bible verse (I did not necessarily think it was a gift at the time). But she was filling our hearts and minds with God’s Word. She knew that Psalm 119:11 teaches, “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” God gave the gift of His Word; my mom helped me store it in my heart from a very young age. I feel I cannot begin to tell you how extremely helpful this has been as I navigate through life in this sinful, fallen world. God’s Word stored up in my heart helps me with daily decision making. He helps me with questions like, “How would God want me to handle this situation? How should I respond to this person right now?” The Scriptures stored up in my heart come to mind when I need them. How does it happen? This is another gift from God. The Holy Spirit brings the right Scriptures to mind at just the right time. John 14:26 says “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” What an amazing gift that never gets old, worn down, or outdated; it never breaks or becomes boring!

I am forever grateful for a mother who helped me store God’s Word in my heart. Do you have children, grandchildren, coworkers, friends, or family that you could give the gift of God’s Word? Finally, are you storing God’s Word in your own heart?



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