Devotions

Author Archives: Debbie Kerr

Cleansing the Temple • Devotion #6: Be Angry and Sin Not!

Have you ever been angry with someone or something, but you did not sin? It is easier said than done considering the wickedness of our flesh. I am pretty sure I fail at this 100% of the time. God never gives us a command that we cannot obey, but we will only succeed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew, Mark, and Luke share eyewitness accounts of Jesus cleansing the Temple for the Passover celebration. At first glance, it can be confusing to learn that Jesus became angry and overthrew the table of the money-changers. As we look closer, we realize that Jesus became righteously angry because the people who were exchanging the currency were literally making a profit by overcharging the faithful foreigners. Interestingly, this is not the first time Jesus encountered this type of situation. The first time is found in John 2:13-17 at the beginning of His earthly ministry. It took place right after the wedding at Cana and before His encounter with the Samaritan Woman. It is interesting to note that Matthew, Mark, and Luke record this account for the second time, but this was at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. It was also the beginning of the week He would be crucified and risen from the dead. Matthew 21:12-13 (KJV) says, “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

The issue was not about a building. It was about people spending time with God. It was more about their attitudes than their actions.

The Old Testament Temple was a very important and sacred part of the Jewish culture. It is still very sacred and held to the letter of Jewish Law in Orthodox Judaism. Today on this side of the cross, as believers in Jesus we are no longer held to the Law but are now under grace. Unfortunately, many churchgoers treat the church building as a sacred place much like the Israelites. The difference being the Jewish people were given strict instructions from God Himself. Today, we operate by our preferences. Many churchgoers believe the church building is the place God resides and must be treated a certain way. I agree to a point, but there have been church splits over issues God never deemed important. People get angry over pews or chairs? Steeple or no steeple? Hymns or worship music? Okay, you get the point. What matters to God should matter to you!

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”

Persecuted • Devotion #4: Rachel Scott

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

The word or concept of persecution is foreign to the American church. Miriam Webster defines it as the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook. Christian persecution goes all the way back to the early Church. We have been extremely blessed in America for centuries because of the faith of our Founding Fathers. America was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs and freedom of religion is part of the First Amendment of our Constitution. Other areas of the world do not have such an amendment and Christian persecution is an actual thing today. What Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:10, explains that there is a special blessing for people who are persecuted for their faith and righteous living, they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This account in Matthew is before Jesus’ shed blood on the cross which brings salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus is speaking to the Jewish people that followed the Law of Moses, but I believe the promise extends to the believer in Jesus Christ as well.

Have you ever thought about being asked the question, “If someone put a gun to your head and told you to deny Christ and live or profess Christ and die, what would you would do?” That is a very hard question but many, many early Christians and missionaries around the world have died for their faith. There is a book called Foxes Book of Martyrs. It’s a very old book with several accounts of those who gave up their own life because of their commitment to Christ. Ten of the twelve disciples were martyred for their faith in Jesus. I fear that in the day in which we live in 2021, Christianity has grown weak in our commitment and devotion to Christ. We tend to be consumers more than devoted followers. It is often more about, “What is in it for me?” I thank God for the devoted Christians that have been a faithful example in my life.

In 1999, at Columbine High School in Colorado, two young men entered the school with assault weapons. They went up to the library and held several students hostage. They began to ask the question to each one of the students, “Do you believe in God?” One girl in the library, when asked the question, said, “Yes.” She was shot and killed right there on the spot. She was robbed of growing up, getting married, having children, and serving Christ, but her story has reached the masses and her bold testimony for Christ lives on. She did not lose that day, she actually won! Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

What would you say?

“He is no fool who

gives what he cannot keep

to gain what he cannot lose”

Jim Elliott

(Martyred missionary)

Pure in Heart • Devotion #2: Silversmith

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

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all of the time! I would like to add, more importantly, you can never fool God!In 1 Samuel 16:7, we read, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Jeremiah 17:9 adds, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

How do we obtain and maintain a pure heart in the eyes of God? One of the most painful, yet effective ways God uses to purify our hearts is through trials. I often hear people say, “God won’t give me more than I can handle.” The truth is, He will not give you more than He can handle. Is it hard to rejoice through our trials, but James teaches us why God uses the trials in our life. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

I heard the story of a woman who asked a silversmith about the process of refining silver. He graciously invited her to come to his shop and watch the process. As she watched him hold the piece of silver over the fire, he explained why the flame needed to be in the direct center of the silver piece. He said, “It is where the flame is the hottest in order to burn away all the impurities.” The woman immediately thought of the verse in Malachi that says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3). She then asked the silversmith if he needed to stay the entire time it was being refined. He said, “Yes, but not only to hold onto the piece but to keep my eye on it while it is in the fire.” He said, “You see, if the silver gets too hot the piece will be destroyed.” She then asked, “How will you know when the silver is fully refined?” He said with a smile. “Oh, that’s easy! When I can see my image in it.”

I appreciate the song, “How Firm A Foundation:”

When through fiery trials, thy pathway shall lie

My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply

The flame shall not hurt thee, my only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The condition of our heart is very important to our relationship with God. We can be deceived into believing we have a pure heart but God tests all motives, thoughts, and actions. I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to purify your heart each day.

Hunger • Devotion #1: 2020

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

At the time of this writing, there are 84 days, 08 hours, 39 minutes, and 21 seconds left of 2020, but who is counting?

2020! What an interesting, challenging, crazy, confusing, fearful, and unique time in human history! Did you survive so far? I guess if you are reading this you did, maybe by the skin of your teeth. What did you learn? What did you change or re-evaluate? Life is uncertain at best but throw in a global pandemic and all bets are off. We had no dress rehearsal for 2020, so we all pretty much figured it out in our way and timing. I, for one, do not want a do-over and I am anxiously waiting for what 2021 has to offer, or do I? Can it get worse? We shall see.

2020 was a rollercoaster ride that would put the Millennium Force at Cedar Point to shame. However, there were also some bright spots, in my opinion. Families were forced to stay home and spend time together. People gathered around their televisions or computer screens to attend church gatherings (which hopefully for someone other than myself, made us realize how much we need each other in our worship experience). Things we so easily took for granted became a cherished treasure. Our faith was tested by extreme fear, and I saw faith win many times. As I am writing this, I realize we are not out of the woods, but our God is Sovereign and in control, we have nothing to fear!

2020 was also the year we saw extreme evil rear its ugly head in biblical proportions. I was astonished and saddened time after time that humanity could turn so ugly and hateful at the drop of a hat. There was murder, riots, and a destroying of our nation’s beloved history. It seemed like right is wrong and wrong is right. Freedom of speech is no longer upheld. Religious freedoms are at stake and many of our inalienable rights are being stripped away one by one. I have always been a seeker for righteousness, but Matthew 5:6 has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I no longer feel at home or satisfied in this world. I do not trust people and I question everything! I truly hunger and thirst for one thing, righteousness! The world needs His light to shine brighter in us because His light overcomes darkness. Is that not the exact point Jesus is making in this narrative? We were created for Him and Him alone. We need to daily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. He alone leads to eternal life, joy, peace, and love. I pray you will seek righteousness with your whole heart and flee from all forms of evil, for in doing so, you shall be satisfied. Because of that, we just may owe 2020 a thank you.

“Do not be overcome with evil,

but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:21

Grow • Devotion #1: Study the Real Thing

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Growing up is a painful and seemingly long process. When I was a young girl, I would complain to my mom that my legs hurt, and she would say, “You are having growing pains.” For me to grow up, my body had to work hard and endure the process, especially through the awkward phases. When we first come to faith in Christ, we are like newborn babies. We can only handle and assimilate a small amount, but as we begin to grow, we begin to tolerate solid food. This part of our spiritual journey can be discouraging because we need help to gain our balance to walk worthy of our calling. We fall and get back up again by the grace of God. Peter encourages us in 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow into salvation.” In order to grow spiritually, we need to develop an appetite to study and apply God’s Word. It takes time and discipline, but it is the most valuable investment of time we will ever make. 

When we decide we are going to make it a daily discipline to study God’s Word, beware the enemy will put every obstacle in our way to keep us from it. That, right there, should tell us how powerful and life-changing it is! We need to be intentional and dedicated to growing in the Word. I once saw a great object lesson on this. There was a huge jar filled to the top with beans, the person then tried to fit a tennis ball in the top of the full jar, but there was no room left. Then they emptied the beans from the jar and put the tennis ball in first then added the beans. Guess what? It all fit perfectly! The lesson is this: when we fit God into the first part of our day, we will accomplish so much more. Conversely, when we try to add Him in at the end of the day, there will likely be no room left.  

I recently joined a Bible reading accountability group. We use an app on our phone for the Scripture reading along with a ten-minute recap and application of the passages. In three months’ time, I will have read the entire New Testament chronologically. I look forward to my time in the Word every morning; it has truly become the very best part of my day. When we get into God’s Word, His Word gets into us. Even if we do not comprehend everything we read, the Bible says we will be washed by the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). It is the only book that is 100% true, accurate, alive, and has the power to change us into His image!  

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” 

In 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV), we read, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Did you know you will not recognize a counterfeit by studying it?

You only recognize a counterfeit by studying the real thing!

Study the Truth!



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.