Devotions

Author Archives: Pastor Ben Kirkman

Praying at Gethsemane • Devotion #6: See the Love

The details of the week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus amaze me every time I read them. Most recently, in reading through them, I really tried to focus on the display of unquestionable love Jesus showed in His actions and reactions. It is an understatement to say He was a great example of what love looks like. Today, we will look at Jesus praying to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane.

Luke 22:41-44 says, “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Can you picture this playing out in real life? Jesus is within hours of being crucified. He is the perfect, innocent, spotless lamb of God and is about to pay the necessary price for our sins. What an incredibly emotional, physical, and spiritual burden He must have been bearing. With all of that going on, Luke gives us some insight into this intense time of prayer Jesus has with His Father as He prepares for the events about to unfold. We see Jesus “in agony,” “kneeling down,” “falling on His face” (Matthew 26:39), “greatly distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33), and “earnestly” praying while “His sweat became like great drops of blood.” That is an intense time of prayer. Being fully man and also fully God, He understood what was about to happen. He was aware of the physical pain He was about to face. He fully grasped the necessity of the redemptive work He was about to accomplish. He knew He was the only one that could pay the required price that would make it a possibility for sinners to be declared righteous before a Holy God.

Christ’s obedience to the Father and love for the world is on display as He proceeds with the plan to go to the cross and pay for sins. As you consider this intense scene, I hope you see a glimpse of how much God loves you. We do not have a God that simply claims to love us but we have a God that clearly puts His love on display for all to see.

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.”

How have you responded to God’s unquestionable display of love?

Grow More and More • Devotional #2: “Mind Your Own Business”

“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Have you ever stuck your nose into someone else’s business? It can be so easy to look at other people and see their flaws (and by that I mean what you think their flaws are), or the way you would live their life if you were them. The reality often is that we have no idea what others are actually dealing with, or what the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives. We have a limited understanding of what they are going through, yet we know exactly what they “should” do and how they “should” respond.

Do you ever look for other people’s flaws so you can feel better about yourself? Do you ever look for struggles in the lives of others so you can “stir the pot?” You know the scenario, it will give you something to talk about with your friends: “Have you heard,” “did you see,” and “can you believe?” Before you know it there is a whole group of people dogging on someone over something that may be a complete misunderstanding or even completely false. It can get pretty messed up and cause a lot of hurts. It is shameful to think we might actually be guilty of any of this. However, it happens, does it not?

I think of Luke 6:41-42, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye, You hypocrite, first take the out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” When Paul tells the believers in 1 Thessalonians to “mind your own affairs,” I believe he is pointing out a whole lot of self-righteous speck-seekers that were overlooking their own problems. That nonsense could have been avoided if they would first check themselves and their motives.

There is a real opportunity as we follow Christ’s example to love, encourage, and help people through whatever hurt they may be facing. As believers in the finished work of Christ, we are children of God; we are family. We should be loving, encouraging, and helping one another. Our reaching out should be with pure motives founded in truth and love.

Pure in Heart • Devotion #4: I Want That

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

There is a scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Uncle Rico is trying to sell a set of Tupperware-like products to a young couple. To motivate the potential buyers, he offers to throw in a small sailboat model (it was clearly something he picked up at the thrift store) if they will buy the 24-piece set. When the woman sees the sailboat, she leans over to her husband and whispers, “I want that.” I enjoy quoting that ridiculous line from that ridiculous movie anytime the opportunity presents itself.

It seems pretty messed up to use that illustration when thinking about the words of Jesus. However, as I read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” over and over, I could not help but sincerely and honestly think, “I want that.” I doubt I am alone in that thought either. I would guess if you are taking the time to read this devotion you would have similar feelings toward the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:8. 

I want to have a pure heart. I want to see God. The problem is found in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”We have impure hearts, and we are incapable of purifying our own hearts. Our greatest attempt to purify our hearts will still fall short of God’s perfect holiness. As Romans 3:23 points out, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

There would have been “religious” people in the audience while Jesus was preaching this sermon. They were people that had given their entire lives to following religious laws, traditions, and rules. They saw themselves as pure and righteous before God because of their dedication to a system. The reality was, no matter how much “right” they did, they were still sinners and still fell short of God’s perfection. They had, as we have, an impure heart issue. The only hope for a pure heart is found through Jesus and the sacrifice He made with His life.

Many of the people listening to Jesus that day would reject His message and, later, His personal sacrifice as well. It kind of hits our pride to admit we are incapable of doing something on our own. The Gospel calls for us to admit we have a sin problem that we cannot fix on our own. We must believe Jesus paid the price to make our hearts pure before God. We must turn to Him to be made truly righteous. In God’s Word, we find the truth that those who trust in Christ “are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).Have you turned to Jesus to make your heart pure? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

There is a scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Uncle Rico is trying to sell a set of Tupperware-like products to a young couple. To motivate the potential buyers, he offers to throw in a small sailboat model (it was clearly something he picked up at the thrift store) if they will buy the 24-piece set. When the woman sees the sailboat, she leans over to her husband and whispers, “I want that.” I enjoy quoting that ridiculous line from that ridiculous movie anytime the opportunity presents itself.

It seems pretty messed up to use that illustration when thinking about the words of Jesus. However, as I read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” over and over, I could not help but sincerely and honestly think, “I want that.” I doubt I am alone in that thought either. I would guess if you are taking the time to read this devotion you would have similar feelings toward the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:8. 

I want to have a pure heart. I want to see God. The problem is found in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”We have impure hearts, and we are incapable of purifying our own hearts. Our greatest attempt to purify our hearts will still fall short of God’s perfect holiness. As Romans 3:23 points out, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

There would have been “religious” people in the audience while Jesus was preaching this sermon. They were people that had given their entire lives to following religious laws, traditions, and rules. They saw themselves as pure and righteous before God because of their dedication to a system. The reality was, no matter how much “right” they did, they were still sinners and still fell short of God’s perfection. They had, as we have, an impure heart issue. The only hope for a pure heart is found through Jesus and the sacrifice He made with His life.

Many of the people listening to Jesus that day would reject His message and, later, His personal sacrifice as well. It kind of hits our pride to admit we are incapable of doing something on our own. The Gospel calls for us to admit we have a sin problem that we cannot fix on our own. We must believe Jesus paid the price to make our hearts pure before God. We must turn to Him to be made truly righteous. In God’s Word, we find the truth that those who trust in Christ “are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).Have you turned to Jesus to make your heart pure? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Gather • Devotion #4: Celebrating the Gospel

There are many misconceptions about what people think a Church gathering should be. We will not be addressing any of those right now. Instead, I want to point out one of the greatest opportunities that gathering together as followers of Christ presents to us, one thing on which our gathering together should always be centered. When we gather, we have the opportunity to celebrate the Gospel together. 

The Gospel is what gives us life and hope. The Gospel is what changes and heals broken lives. The Gospel is a gift from a loving God to people who have a need they can never meet on their own. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The Gospel is good news for people that are born into some really bad news. Every person is born a sinner, and as a sinner, they are separated from a perfect, holy, and righteous God. As sinful people, we have no hope of having a relationship with a perfect God. However, God in His mercy and grace made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and declared righteous. He made it possible for the relationship to be restored. In I John 4:14, we read, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” John 3:16 adds, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus left perfect Heaven, came to this imperfect world and was born of a virgin. He was completely God and completely man at the same time. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, yet was executed on a cross, bore God’s wrath, and took the punishment we deserve for our sin. He was buried, and three days later, He rose from the dead, defeating death and sin and giving us hope. We can repent of our sins and call on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and He will justify us and restore our broken relationship with the Father. Faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross is the only way to stand right before a holy God. Jesus made it possible! That is the Gospel. When we gather together as believers, we have the privilege of celebrating Jesus and the Gospel. When we gather together, we need to be mindful of what the Lord has done for us and make it a priority to celebrate our amazing God. Psalm 34:1-3 says, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

Gather • Devotion #4: Celebrating the Gospel

There are many misconceptions about what people think a Church gathering should be. We will not be addressing any of those right now. Instead, I want to point out one of the greatest opportunities that gathering together as followers of Christ presents to us, one thing on which our gathering together should always be centered. When we gather, we have the opportunity to celebrate the Gospel together. 

The Gospel is what gives us life and hope. The Gospel is what changes and heals broken lives. The Gospel is a gift from a loving God to people who have a need they can never meet on their own. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The Gospel is good news for people that are born into some really bad news. Every person is born a sinner, and as a sinner, they are separated from a perfect, holy, and righteous God. As sinful people, we have no hope of having a relationship with a perfect God. However, God in His mercy and grace made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and declared righteous. He made it possible for the relationship to be restored. In I John 4:14, we read, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” John 3:16 adds, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus left perfect Heaven, came to this imperfect world and was born of a virgin. He was completely God and completely man at the same time. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, yet was executed on a cross, bore God’s wrath, and took the punishment we deserve for our sin. He was buried, and three days later, He rose from the dead, defeating death and sin and giving us hope. We can repent of our sins and call on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and He will justify us and restore our broken relationship with the Father. Faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross is the only way to stand right before a holy God. Jesus made it possible! That is the Gospel. When we gather together as believers, we have the privilege of celebrating Jesus and the Gospel. When we gather together, we need to be mindful of what the Lord has done for us and make it a priority to celebrate our amazing God. Psalm 34:1-3 says, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”



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