Devotions

Author Archives: John Hubbard

Back to Reach • Devotion #6: Feed My Sheep

My ultimate goal in life is to be more like Jesus Christ. Jesus made it clear in His life and His ministry that He loved people. He met people where they were, and He met their needs. There are so many examples of this that I could go on all day. The third time Jesus appears to His disciples after His resurrection, He tells Peter repeatedly to “feed My sheep” (John 21:17). 

As we grow in our walk with Christ, part of our job is to help “feed the sheep.” We need to be reaching out to those who need help. We need to be reaching out to a lost and broken world. When Jesus performed a miracle by feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6:30-44, He showed another example of how to reach out to a broken world. The Scripture says that Jesus and His disciples withdrew to a quiet place to rest. They were exhausted and needed to get out of the chaos for a moment. The crowds heard where they were, and they followed Jesus. Instead of being annoyed at this group of people who followed Him and constantly expected something of Him, Jesus felt compassion for these people. Mark 6:34 says that Jesus saw the crowd and had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then Jesus fed them. Mark 6:34 says, “And He began to teach them many things.” Jesus feeds His sheep twice in this Scripture – once by feeding them spiritually (teaching them), then again by performing a miracle to meet their actual physical needs for food. 

This is a theme we can see throughout Scripture, starting in the Old Testament when God provided manna to physically feed His people in the desert and then said to them, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus also quotes that verse when being tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4). 

Jesus knew the importance of meeting people’s very real physical needs. He saw a broken and hurting people, and He made sure that they were not hungry. I love that beautiful picture of our Savior; He cares about our human needs, hurts, and pain in this life. Jesus also knew that just meeting their physical needs was not enough. If he had just given the people a four-course dining experience and sent them on their way, they would continue to wither in this broken world. He knew that part of “feeding the sheep” is feeding them spiritually. God’s grace and mercy are the only things that can save anybody in our broken world. 

So, how about us? Are we feeding His sheep? Do you need to get more involved feeding His sheep? Come serve a free meal on Tuesdays at our recovery gathering. We provide a free warm meal for people every week because we know it is important. After we feed them physically, we have our gathering with worship, a message, and table groups where we feed His sheep spiritually. Get involved in a Growth Community! Maybe get brave and lead one! This is an excellent way to spiritually feed His sheep. Did you know we have a food bank? It is open on Saturdays, and we provide free food to those who are hurting in the community. There is also the Community Center in Holly, where we provide clothing, food, and the Gospel message to His sheep. I am grateful for a Savior who cares about all of the needs of His sheep.

1 John 2 • Devotion #6: You Heard It Here First!

It is so hard to imagine life in the early church, and probably even harder to imagine life in a gentile city. As a gentile, you were not raised with the hope of a coming Messiah. You likely worshipped a Greek god or goddess at the local temple. All of a sudden, a disciple, or maybe even the Apostle John himself, comes to town and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ to you. From that moment, you receive the free gift of salvation. You are radically changed and are ready to take the next steps. You sit under John’s teaching for as long as he is in town, but the time comes for him to leave. 

What is next? You try to spread the Gospel yourself, and it does not go as smoothly as you hoped. You just do not have the words right, as John did. The questions are confusing, and you do not know how to answer them. You cannot hop online and find out, you cannot get John on the telephone over in Ephesus, and unless you have one of the few, if not the only, hard copies of the Book of John in town, there is no obvious way to figure out what is what. False teaching, Gnosticism (knowledge-seeking), and other heresies are attempting to chip away at the foundations of your faith. 

This is what John is writing about in 1 John 2:24-29, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”

Who has been teaching you lately? Who are you letting speak into your life? Often times, we look for the answers we want to hear or the answers that make sense to us at the time. We will try to fix things on our own, in our own power. If we develop this mindset, we can so easily deceive ourselves into thinking that, on our own, we can earn or maintain our salvation. We must always remember that it is a “free gift” (Romans 6:23). Eternal life is the promise of God that John points out in these verses. Paul also stated this in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

When you first heard the Gospel, and you responded to it, you then received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). John says that we abide in the Spirit so “that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” Have the confidence that only comes when you abide in the Holy Spirit today!

Back to Reach • Devotion #2: Servant Minded

I think that everybody knows that as the church and as believers of Christ, we are called to serve. As I looked up verses on serving in the church, one verse stood out to me. In Romans 12:11, it says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” This was an eye-opener for me. Not only am I called to serve, but I am also called to be “fervent” in serving. We are instructed to serve passionately, to serve with a burning fire in our soul. I am not called to sigh, roll my eyes, and drag myself to AWANA, Tuesday night gathering, worship or band practice, the nursery, or insert-your-ministry-here, all while wishing I was watching Netflix on the couch. Serving should not be a time of counting down the minutes until it is finished. 

Our serving might look different if we were serving with the attitude described in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” This is an important part of serving. Serving is an incredible opportunity for us. I think we may sometimes forget that serving is our opportunity to worship Christ by loving people the way that He did and does. This is not something we should take lightly. When serving in ministry feels mundane, do not be discouraged. Do not lose your passion. When you feel like your serving goes unseen as you change uncountable numbers of dirty diapers in the nursery week after week with no thanks for your service, do not lose heart.  

Remember what Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” Ultimately, God wants us to serve Him fervently. He sees our efforts; He sees our heart and our attitude when we serve. When you are scooping food for the recovery gathering dinner on a Tuesday night, ask yourself how you can do this with passion. How can you use every interaction to love people the way Christ did and worship Jesus with your passion? When you are setting chairs up for an event, how can you do that passionately and fervently for the Lord? Will you pray for the people who will soon be sitting in those chairs? When you are serving in an unseen area, how can you remind yourself that you are ultimately serving an audience of One? Do not lose heart. He sees your service. Serve Him passionately.  Finally, 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

3,000 Dead

Broken Tablets | Devotion 6: 3,000 Dead
John Hubbard

I noticed something that I never noticed before in the story of the golden calf at Mount Sinai. I remember that Moses was so mad when he got back that he threw the tablets down and broke them. I remember that he melted the calf down, ground it up, sprinkled the gold dust into the water, and made them drink it. However, I did not recall that Moses had all the sons of Levi kill 3,000 of the men right after all of that. The crazy part about that display of violence is that Moses had just pleaded with God a few verses earlier. He pleaded for God to spare them rather than wipe them out for making the calf and being a “stiff-necked people.” However, when Moses comes face to face with their sin, he is forced into action. Exodus 32:30-35 says, “The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.’ Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.”

It is hard to believe that Moses would offer himself up in place of the people who have just sinned so greatly against God. Perhaps Moses felt he had dealt with enough of their punishment, and now he could try to persuade God to go easy on the rest of the Israelites. I cannot help but feel like Moses is coming to God and saying, “Hey God, I dealt with this sin in my people. Really, I have handled it. Are we good?” In a surprisingly, gentle way, God tells Moses that justice will always be brought by God alone, and it will always come exactly how and when He decides. Moses brought his own justice by way of the Levites, but God blots them out of His book and later on brings a plague to them. How many times do we try and play God when people close to us sin? We are instead called to love and point people to Jesus. We can leave justice to God.

Standing on the Promises

Water, Manna, & Quail | Devotion 2: Standing on the Promises
John Hubbard

The Israelites up and down relationship with the Lord in the Old Testament is so fascinating to me. The Israelites witnessed incredible miracles from God so many times but then were so quick to turn from Him and chase false gods. They would eventually return to God and experience these incredible spiritual moments with God, but no matter how much He manifested His power to them, they always seemed so quick to doubt Him when faced with any trials or even when they just got “bored.” Looking through the Old Testament, you can see this pattern repeated seemingly countless times. It is easy to read this and disconnect yourself from the story. It is easy to read this, shake your head, and think, “Man, these guys were such idiots.” It is easy to read about the Israelites making the same mistakes over and over and feel that this story is a bit redundant, but we know that all Scripture is God-breathed. Every line, every verse, and every word is placed there intentionally by Almighty God. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV), Paul says, “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition.”  I have read over Exodus 15:22-27 so many times and never really paid much attention to it or tried to thoughtfully consider what God’s purpose was in inspiring Moses to write it.

At first glance, this seems pretty par for the course for Israel if you are familiar with the pattern of the Israelites. The passage finds the Israelites in the wilderness, they had been walking for three days, there were somewhere around two million of them, and they were running out of water. They come to a place called Marah and found water there, but the water was bitter and undrinkable. The people were desperate and started grumbling against Moses. Moses cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord gave Moses instructions (which Moses followed), and God made the water drinkable for the people. It is important to notice the context surrounding this passage. The Israelites had just experienced God’s miraculous and powerful parting of the Red Sea that saved them and destroyed the Egyptians who were attempting to bring them back into captivity. The beginning of chapter 15 is a beautiful song of praise about God’s glory and power. They are singing and praising their wonderful God who rescued them, and then a couple of days later, they have completely lost faith and are grumbling against God’s faithful servant who was leading them.

Are we like the Israelites? In a sermon Pastor Josh preached during the prayer series (titled “Temptation”), he talked about how after we experience these spiritual highs, these mountain top moments with God, we often then will face trials or temptations. This was true for Jesus after His baptism, where the people heard the audible voice of God, declaring that Jesus was His Son. Jesus was then immediately tempted by the devil. The Israelites had just experienced the incredible parting of the Red Sea where God powerfully showed that they were His people that He loved and would protect them. Yet, just a few days later when they were faced with hardships, they despaired. Let us not fall into the same trap the Israelites did. God never promised us that life as a follower of Him would be easy. In fact, He promised the opposite. In John 16:33 (NIV), Jesus states, “In this world you will have trouble.”

What God promises is that He will be faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13: Hebrews 10:23).  He promises that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He promises that He will never leave us in times of trouble (Matthew 28:20: Deuteronomy 31:6: Isaiah 41:10). Next time you feel that you are entering into the wilderness and are stuck in the land of bitter water, next time you feel desperate and do not know how to respond, please remember what you know to be true. He is faithful, He cares for you, and He has not left your side no matter how alone you may feel.



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