Author Archives: Gareth Volz

Go Again

Ten Plagues | Devotion 3: Go Again
Pastor Gareth Volz

God has something for each of His children to do to glorify Him. In Exodus chapter 3, Moses minded his own business, tending sheep for his father-in-law Jethro on the back side of the wilderness. God got Moses’ attention by speaking to him from a burning bush. He went on to tell Moses that He had heard the prayer of His people who were enslaved in Egypt, and He had chosen him to go to Pharaoh and tell him Jehovah Elohim (the holy, righteous, self-existing God) said, “Let My people go.”

The Lord God went on to tell Moses that Pharaoh would not listen to him because he had a hard heart and God would harden it further. Beginning in chapter 7, Moses went to Pharaoh and delivered God’s message, Pharaoh did not listen, and God sent the plague of blood on the Nile River, Egypt’s water source. In chapter 8, God sent Moses three more times to Pharaoh with the same message, “Let My people go,” and three more times Pharaoh refused. These refusals resulted in three more plagues upon the people and land of Egypt: the plague of frogs everywhere, inside and outside the homes in Egypt; the plague of gnats on the people and animals everywhere throughout the land; and the plague of flies everywhere inside and outside the homes of Egypt.

Finally, Pharaoh relented and said the people can go and offer sacrifices to God in the wilderness, but not to go far. I go crazy if just one fly gets in my house, so I can understand why Pharaoh finally agreed to do what God said. What I cannot understand is why as soon as the flies left, Pharaoh changed his mind and refused to do what God said. He had seen the power of God but refused to acknowledge Him as God.

So now we arrive at chapter 9, where God again sent Moses to Pharaoh and told him to let His people leave. Moses is further told to tell Pharaoh that if he refuses, He will send a plague on all the livestock of the Egyptians, but the livestock of the Israelite slaves will not be killed. The next day the Egyptian livestock died, but nothing happened to the livestock of the Israelites.

Still, Pharaoh refused to listen to God, and Moses was sent once again to Pharaoh with this message God gave to Moses and Aaron: “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land” (Exodus 9:8-9 NIV). Moses and Aaron did as God told them, and festering boils broke out on the people and animals of Egypt. However, once again, Pharaoh refused to do what God said. Pharaoh had a hard heart, and with each refusal to heed God, God made it harder.

Has God ever called you to tell someone about Jesus, and that person refused to listen to God’s words? Have you ever been led to share the Good News of the Gospel to hard-hearted people? If so, we can learn a lesson from God’s assignment to Moses: Do not quit! Do not give up and say, “What is the use; they will not listen?” God does not give up on us when we do not do what He says, so do not give up on others. Many will never listen, but some will.

God has extended grace upon grace to you and me, and He does not want any to perish. Moses could have been discouraged by Pharaoh’s hardening heart, but the Bible never records this. Moses continued to go to Pharaoh time and time again until finally in Exodus chapter 12, after ten plagues, Pharaoh does what God said and let God’s people leave.

God told Moses that the reason for all this was so that He would be glorified, and the Egyptians would know that He is God. Keep doing what God tells you to do, do not give up, and God will be glorified.

Answering Prayers

Burning Bush | Devotion 4: Answering Prayers
Pastor Gareth Volz

“Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’” Exodus 3:7-12

If someone were to ask you if you believe that God hears and answers our prayers, I am sure that just about everyone reading this devotional would say, “Amen.” However, have you ever stopped to consider the various ways God chooses to answer the prayers of His people? God’s people had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. They had been crying out to God to deliver them, and God heard their prayers. Yet, He answered them in His perfect time and in His perfect way.

Moses was tending his father-in-law, Jethro’s sheep on the west side of the wilderness around Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1). It was there that Moses had a new encounter with God. Out of a burning bush, God spoke to Moses and told him to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let His people leave Egypt. This must have come as a shock to Moses because he had once been a powerful man in Egypt but fled to the wilderness because of a crime he had committed.

I heard a sermon a few years ago on God working upstream, and Moses is a prime example of this. As a baby, Moses was miraculously saved from a death sentence on all Hebrew male children age two and under and wound up being raised by Pharaoh’s daughter in Pharaoh’s palace. However, as a young man, he saw one of Pharaoh’s commanders beating a Jewish slave, so Moses killed the Egyptian, and then fled into the desert. Here he met Jethro, married his daughter, and worked for him as a shepherd.

Out of the burning bush near Mt. Horeb, Moses heard something I am sure he never expected to hear from God – that he was going to be used by God to answer their prayers for deliverance from Egypt. Moses tried to tell God that he did not have the ability to do what God told him to do. However, God replied that He would be with Moses.

Have you ever considered that God might choose to use you to be part of the answer to someone else’s prayer? I love the quote, “God doesn’t call the equipped, God equips the called.” Are you walking with God, studying His Word, and talking with Him each day? He may be using the things in your life to prepare you for His answer to someone else’s prayer. When He calls you, do not question Him – just submit and see what amazing things He will do that will bless you and answer the prayer of another one of His children.


Thirst | Devotion #3: God-Man
Gareth Volz | Senior 55+ Director

In John 19:28 we read these words, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’” The first two words of this verse indicate something that happened previously to Jesus saying this on the cross. What happened? 

  • Jesus had been betrayed by one of His disciples – Judas Iscariot.
  • Jesus was taken by a band of the temple guard and officers of the Pharisees and brought before the High Priest for intense questioning.
  • Jesus was then taken to Governor Pilate’s palace, where they demanded Jesus should be killed.
  • Finding no fault in Jesus, but wanting to please the Jews, Pilate had Jesus beaten by Roman soldiers and then sought to release Him.
  • The Jews demanded that Jesus be put to death, threatening to send word to Rome that Pilate was no friend of Caesar’s since Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews.
  • Pilate then had the Roman soldiers beat Jesus again, put a thorn of crowns on His head, and had Jesus carry His cross through the streets and up to Mount Calvary, the place where He would be crucified.
  • Jesus then hung on the cross (crucifixion was the most hideous and torturous form of execution) from 9am to 3pm.

Jesus was not only the Son of God, but He was also the Son of Man. John 1:1-4 says of Jesus “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This clearly states that Jesus was truly God. John goes on to say in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This clearly states that Jesus was truly a man. Jesus was truly the God-Man, and as both, He suffered greatly and thirsted.

As the Son of Man, Jesus had completed a hard task, suffered greatly while doing it, and in need of refreshment. As the Son of God, taking on the sin of the world had caused the Father to turn away from Him until He completed His task, and He thirsted for that relationship to be renewed.

There are a couple of great lessons for us as Jesus thirsted on the cross. Jesus never gave up on completing the assignment His Father had given Him of paying for the sins of the world so that man could have a renewed relationship with Him forever. We need to remember this when God gives us assignments in this world – do not give when things are difficult. If God called you to do something, He would equip you to do it. Do not give up; stay the course until you complete what God wants you to do.

Jesus also had a great thirst for the relationship He had with His Father. We need to have a great thirst for God. We need to long for His presence and desire to be with Him on a daily basis. We need daily to have conversations with Him. When we read His Word, He speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to Him. 

The fact that Jesus thirsted is not a sign of weakness. He did what His Father wanted and now desired refreshment. He is the source of life, and He was pouring out His life on the cross for us. We need to do what God desires of us and seek refreshment from Him.

Miracle Man

Forgive | Devotion #4: Miracle Man
Gareth Volz | Senior 55+ Director

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” Luke 23:34

For the longest time, this was the hardest statement for me to understand of the seven statements Jesus made on the cross. My first impression was that Jesus was saying “Father forgive them for killing me.” And while I believe that is true, I believe it was so much more than that. As Jesus unjustly suffered hanging on that cross on Mount Calvary between two criminals who deserved this death sentence, I believe He was looking at a crowd of people who lacked an understanding of the God they claimed to love and serve.

As He looked over the crowd, I am sure He reflected back to the previous week when He entered Jerusalem with His disciples, and the crowd welcomed Him by shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). Matthew 21:10-11 adds, “The whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’”

How had they missed it? They had seen or heard that He had:

• Turned water to wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11)
• Healed an official’s son in Galilee (John 4:43-54)
• Driven out an evil spirit from a man in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-36)
 Healed Peter’s mother-in-law who had been sick with a fever (Luke 4:38-39)
• Healed many sick and oppressed one evening (Luke 4:40-41)
• Given His disciples a miraculous catch of fish one morning after a fruitless night of fishing on Lake Gennesaret (Luke 5:1-11)
• Cleansed a man from leprosy (Luke 5:12-14)
• Healed a centurion’s paralyzed servant in Capernaum (Luke 7:1-10)
• Healed a paralytic who had been let down from the roof by friends at the house where He was (Matthew 9:1-8)
• Healed a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6)
• Raised a widow’s son from the dead in Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
• Calmed the storm on the sea (Luke 8:22-25)
• Cast out demons into a herd of pigs (Luke 8:26-39)
• Healed a woman in a crowd who had an issue of blood (Luke 8:42-48)
• Raised Jairus’ daughter back to life (Matthew 9:18, 23-26)
• Given sight to two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31)
• Healed a man who was unable to speak (Matthew 9:32-34)
• Healed an invalid at Bethesda (John 5:1-15)
• Fed 5,000 men plus women and children with just five loaves of bread and  two fish (John 6:1-15)
• Walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33)
• Healed many sick as they touched His garment at Gennesaret (Mark 6:53-56)
• Healed a gentile woman’s demon-possessed daughter (Mark 7:24-30)
• Healed a deaf and dumb man (Mark 7:31-37)
• Fed 4,000 men plus women and children (Mark 8:1-13)
• Healed a blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)
• Given sight to a man born blind by putting mud on his eyes (John 9:1-12)
• Withdrawn the temple tax from a fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:24-27)
• Healed a blind, mute demonic man (Matthew 12:22-23)
• Healed a woman who had been crippled for 18 years (Luke 13:10-17)
• Healed a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)
• Cleansed ten lepers on His way to Jerusalem (Luke 17:11-19)
• Raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany (John 11:1-45)
• Restored sight to Bartimaeus in Jericho (Luke 18:35-43)
• Withered a fig tree on the road from Bethany (Mark 11:12-14)
• Healed a servant’s ear while He was being arrested (Luke 22:50-51)
• Gave a second miraculous catch of fish on the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:4-11)  

Jesus could only have done all these miracles if He was Who He claimed to be – the promised Messiah – the Son of God. Yet they had missed it. They were rejecting Him, and He was their only way to God. I believe that He was telling His Father, “I forgive their sins by my death on this Cross.” 

His death not only paid for their sins, but for your sins and my sins. Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and accept Him as your Savior? Rejecting Jesus means eternal separation from God. Do not wait!

Jesus in Disguise

Back to Reach | Devotion #2: Jesus in Disguise
Gareth Volz | Senior 55+ Director

In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus tells us how He values service. We are told in this passage that when Jesus comes to earth again as King of kings and Lord of lords in glory with all His angels, He will sit on His glorious throne and reign forever. He will gather all the nations before Him and separate those who put their faith in Him from those who rejected Him. He will judge both groups. Those who rejected Him will be banished from His presence. Those who accepted His grace by faith and became His children will be judged for the works they did for Him after their salvation.

Jesus said in these verses that when we serve others, we serve Him. He says in verse 35:

“I was hungry, and you gave me food;
I was thirsty, and you gave me drink;
I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” 

He goes on to say in verse 36:

“I was naked, and you clothed me;
I was sick, and you visited me;
I was in prison, and you came to me.”

In verses 37-39, the righteous asked:
When did we see you hungry and gave you food?
When did we see you thirsty and gave you drink?
When were you a stranger and we welcomed you?
When did we see you naked and clothe you?
When were you sick and we visited you?
When were you in prison and we came to you?

Jesus responded in verse 40 that when we did it to these the least of His brothers, we did it to Him.

So, let me ask you, how are you serving Jesus today? There are many opportunities to serve our Lord both within and outside the church. Here are some various ministry opportunities within the church:

  • You can serve Jesus as a greeter at the door on Sunday, sharing a smile and letting them know how glad we are that they came to worship with us.
  • You can serve Jesus as an usher, assisting folks in finding a seat and in the worship of giving.
  • You can serve Jesus as part of the worship team, leading God’s people in praise and worship.
  • You can serve Jesus in the nursery taking care of little ones so parents can focus on worshipping Him.
  • You can serve Jesus by teaching God’s Word, whether to children, teens, young adults, couples, or senior saints.
  • You can serve Jesus by being part of the prison ministry.
  • You can serve Jesus by being part of the recovery ministry.
  • You can serve Jesus by visiting the sick, whether in the hospital, a nursing facility, or their home.
  • You can serve Jesus by leading or hosting a Growth Community.
  • You can serve Jesus by helping in special outreach events like Sunday at the Fair, the Passion Play, Men’s or Ladies’ Retreats, and Wednesdays at the Park.
  • You can serve Jesus by praying for others.

Outside the church we can serve Jesus in para-church ministries like Bible Study Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, serving meals to the homeless at places like Grace Centers of Hope, and sharing God’s love with your neighbors, fellow workers, friends, and family.

What we need to remember is that when we share God’s love with others by serving them, Jesus says we are serving Him. In that final judgment, when Jesus is on His throne in all His glory, He wants to honor you for what you did for and to Him. If you are already serving, keep pushing forward. If you are not serving, ask Jesus to show you where He wants you to serve Him. 

There is great joy in serving Jesus – and great reward. What an honor it will be to hear Jesus say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21).

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