Devotions

Author Archives: Donna Fox

From the Heart

Gather | Devotion #4: From the Heart
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

I love to sing worship music and praise God! Every aspect of worship has a special meaning to me. I am honored to pray for people (that is why I manage the email prayer line). I give in obedience (it all belongs to Him anyway, right?). I love the sermons (all of our pastors are inspiring and good teachers). But probably my favorite, if I had to pick a favorite, is the worship music.

I get to the church building early, and the band is practicing. As soon as I walk in, I stop and listen to the song they are practicing. Quite often I find myself singing along or humming along as soon as I step into the building. I also sing along to worship music in the car all the time.

A special time between God and me is always when the band cuts out, and we sing a capella. I have always enjoyed a capella (just voices, no instruments). It is just me, and God. My eyes are closed. I am not worrying about what anyone else around me is singing, doing, or thinking of me. It does not matter. All that matters is that I am worshipping God!

Each Tuesday morning, our staff gathers for worship, devotions, and a meeting. We are in a smaller classroom, as opposed to a large auditorium. When we begin singing, especially a capella, I get goosebumps and tears stream down as I think of all of us lifting our voices together to the One True God who deserves all our praise and worship! It is the best part of the work week!

I have many great songs in mind that have special meaning. Many hymns come to mind, as well as contemporary music. But I guess my all-time favorite would be “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.

“And darkness tries to hide, and trembles at His voice.” I am a visual person, so I am envisioning in my mind the devil cowering in the corner and shaking as God’s booming voice overpowers him. It gives me chills to think of God’s power over everything, especially evil. 

How great is our God

You’re the name above all names
You are worthy of our praise
And my heart will sing
How great is our God

We are worshipping God when we are singing from the heart. We can stand and read the music on the screen, mouth the words, or sing the words to make us look holy to the person sitting next to us, but that means nothing to God. What He is looking for is true worship from the heart. It does not matter if you cannot carry a tune, if you do not know the words, say a wrong word, are loud, or soft. All that matters is your heart. That is all God wants!

Ephesians 5:19 says, “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”  Next time you sing a worship song, make sure it is from the heart, and you truly mean it. If not, get your heart right!

Humbly Serving

Vision | Devotion #4: Humbly Serving
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

You have likely heard the stories of Jesus serving. Whether you have been around church your whole life, or you are new to the church, you have heard the stories. Jesus healed the sick, He fed the hungry, He washed the disciples’ feet, and ultimately He died for our sins on the cross.

Consider 1 Samuel 12:24: “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” Did you catch that? “What great things he has done for you.” He served you and me by dying on the cross for our sins and making a way for our salvation! “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

As Christians, we are to be Christ-like, to look to the examples of Christ serving in the Bible and be like Him. If we are to be “Christ-like,” then we, too, are to serve. What does that look like?  

I think our church body does a pretty good job of being servants. We have greeters at the door, welcoming with a smile. We have wonderful volunteers in the nursery taking care of our precious babies. The list is without end.

We also have wonderful ministries that provide clothing and food for the community, visit those in the hospital or homebound, provide meals for those recently hospitalized, and have a prayer chain for those in need of prayer. The list can include everyone.

But why do we do it? Why do we volunteer, sign up, and commit to giving our time and resources to help others? We do it to follow Jesus’ example, to be “Christ-like.”  Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Serving others, humbly, was modeled by Jesus. Matthew 20:28 shows Jesus’ purpose, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  

Jesus’ life can be summarized in two words: humbly serving. Galatians 5:13 (NIV) says, “Serve one another humbly in love.”

It is by Jesus’ example that we humbly serve one another. Look around you today and in the days ahead and see where you can help someone out with a meal, babysitting, or an encouraging word. There are so many ways to humble ourselves and serve another, but we need to keep our eyes open and be aware. Opportunities are all around every day!

John 13:15 summarizes it beautifully: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

Don’t Look Back

Lot’s Life • Devotion #6: Don’t Look Back
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

“Flee for your lives!  Don’t look back…

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:17, 26 (NIV)

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had become evil. Terrible, unspeakable things were happening there, and God was going to destroy them and all the people there. An angel appeared to tell Lot to take his family and flee immediately. Lot, his wife, and daughters hesitated, so the angel had to grab their hands and force them to flee. Once out, Lot’s wife turned and looked back. She looked back at what she left behind. She fondly looked back at where her heart was. She disobeyed.  She died because of it.

Worldly things ensnare us. They tempt us day and night. If we give in to temptation, we sin. Sodom and Gomorrah had become very sinful cities. God had sent two angels to warn of destroying the cities and the evil people. But He chose to save Lot and his family. The angels said, “Go now, don’t look back.”

Lot’s wife disobeyed. She showed where her heart truly was, in the sinful city. She did not want to leave that behind. First, she had to be forced to leave, taken by the hand and forcefully removed. Then she turned around to look back in direct disobedience. She lost her life that day because of her disobedience.

I remember another story in Genesis 2:16-17, the story that started it all – sin, disobedience, and death. Adam and Eve were in the Garden. Everything was perfect. God had said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Enter Satan in the form of a serpent, to tempt them. Eve, and Adam, disobeyed. The consequence was death. Their demise was not immediate as was Lot’s wife, but nonetheless, it led to death which had not existed before.

God desires our obedience and will not tolerate any less. There are consequences for our behavior, for our disobedience.  Sin cannot be hidden and will lead to repercussions, if not in this lifetime then we will have to answer for them on the Judgment Day.

If you do not guard your heart now, each day, and flee from worldly, evil things, your heart becomes harder and harder, and obedience becomes harder and harder.

How can you guard your heart? Have a relationship with Jesus that is every minute of every day, not just Sunday morning for an hour. Be in the Word. Fellowship with other believers. Grow in the Word in a Growth Community. Pray. Immerse yourself in the love of Jesus, and He will help you flee from temptation and sin. Of course, you will still sin, no one is perfect but Jesus. But when you do sin, repent, ask Him for forgiveness, and the sin will be forgiven.  It is when your heart stays in Sodom that you will run into trouble!

God Exists

Creation • Devotion #1: God Exists
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

“In the beginning, God…” Genesis 1:1a

The Bible begins with God (Genesis chapter 1) and ends with God (Revelation chapter 22). He was there at the beginning and will be there at the end. He is omnipresent (all-present), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing).  He has no timeline; He just has always been.

God exists. Period. If you profess to be a Christian, you have a relationship with the Son, you have faith, and you just know He exists. What about those who do not yet have that relationship? How can they know God exists?

Creation and nature were my first clue. Before salvation, I would look at the earth, the trees and flowers, the human body, the eyeball, and birth of a baby, and just know that there had to be a God that existed and created such intricate, beautiful things. How could the planets not crash into each other? How could a baby grow into a child, then an adult, from some “Big Bang?” I knew that could not be true. The Holy Spirit was pursuing me, it was very evident to me, and that was another clue. I resisted for a long time, but I kept feeling that tug on my heartstrings wanting to have a relationship. Of course, God existed, He wanted to have a relationship with ME!

The existence of Jesus was, of course, the most compelling! It has been proven time and time again that Jesus did, in fact, live on this Earth. As you study the Bible, learn the stories, hear of the miracles, and compare it to other historical events, it becomes more and more evident that the Bible is the truth. God did exist, does exist, and always will exist.

If you have not researched it for yourself, if you have not read the Bible, if you have not seen the proof and developed the faith, you need to start that journey NOW!  Open your Bible. “In the beginning, God…”  That says it all right there. Keep reading, and as the stories unfold, you cannot help but fall in love with God over and over again!

Prayer Changes Things

Requests • Devotion #2: Prayer Changes Things
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

My daughter gave me a plaque years ago that said “Prayer Changes Things.” It does, it changes you! It is all about a relationship with Jesus. Prayer is a conversation between the two of you that deepens your relationship with Him. You tell Him your heart, you are hurting, you need a job, you want a baby, and He speaks to you through His written Word, and through the Holy Spirit. As you dig deeper into His Word and listen to the Holy Spirit, you begin to realize He has a plan for your life. He knows what tomorrow will bring, and it may be bigger and better than what you are hoping. If we pray for His will, our minds and attitudes are the ones that change, and we begin to look for what is going to happen next that God has planned for us instead of our worldly desires.

Prayer is not trying to change God’s mind about His plan for our lives. It is about changing our mind to align with His will so that we open our eyes to see His plan.

Prayer changes me! It gets my mind focused on His will, not my will. I ask for things “if it be Your will” and if I do not have my prayer answered, I understand it is either not His will, or not in His timing. When I ask for what He wants me to have (peace, joy, love), He answers because I know He wants me to have these things. This does not mean that life will be wonderful, always. There will be trials, but even in the midst of the trial, I am at peace knowing He is by my side. He is hearing my prayer of sorrow asking for the pain to go away. But I know during this time, He has a plan, and He has a purpose for this trial. I ask “what do you want me to learn from this trial?” I thank Him for it and rejoice that He was with me the entire time and did not abandon me. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

In Jesus’ example of prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, He says, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Here He is talking about our physical needs. Bread was a staple in the Jewish diet, a symbol of God’s provision in the Old Testament.  His audience would understand “our daily bread” as meeting their day-to-day needs. When we come humbly in prayer and ask Him to meet our day-to-day needs, we know that He will provide. Jesus did not say, “Ask for lots of money or a better job.” Instead, He said, “ask for your daily needs to be met, and I will meet them.” He knows what we need, and want, before we even ask. But by asking, through prayer, we are the ones who change – our hearts, our minds, our attitudes – about what is important and what God wants for us each day. That is, to be humble, to be still, and to watch and listen for God’s leading in our lives.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

“Remember that prayer doesn’t depend on how you pray. The power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer.”  Max Lucado



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