Author Archives: Josh Lahring

Back to Reach • Devotion #3: A Jar

About 16 years ago, when I came to know Christ, I was so thrilled about the things of God I wanted to serve Him with my life in any way I could. I started serving at my local church, helping with tech and music. I was studying music at U of M Flint and decided to transfer to a Bible college. I wanted to learn more about the Bible and someday hoped to be in full-time ministry. A few years went by, and college was not helping my desire to study the Bible. It just did not interest me like I had thought it would. Eventually there came an opportunity to be in full-time ministry, and I was as excited for that as when I first started serving in the Church. I loved to be busy for the Lord. However, year after year, I was more drained, exhausted, stressed, anxious, and depressed. I struggled to find the desire I once had and wondered why I was even in ministry. 

Through many people God brought into my life, and hearing the Gospel preached, He revealed what my problem was. I had left the glory and wonder of the Gospel. I left the cross as if it were just where I started in my faith, and I would move on without the needed growth. Through being broken down to nothing is when I realized how glorious the Gospel is.

Paul wrote, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). 

I was a shattered jar, and all I had left was that beautiful treasure that was inside. In my brokenness, it shone brighter than it ever had before. I recall my years as a believer when I spent time thinking I had to serve in Church and live life a certain way to be worthy of the grace I received. However, God does not need my works or anything from me as the best of my works are as filthy rags. He wants us to see that the power belongs to Him. He is the one who saves, who transforms, who renews, and who sanctifies. It is all by His power alone. 

Romans 5:6-11 adds, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” 

I am weak, broken, and sinful. I need the Gospel every day, every hour, with every breath I take. Christ died for me while I was dead in my sins. He came and lived a perfect life to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law that I could never obtain. He willingly went to the cross for me and bore all my sins, past, present, and future, so I could be justified by His blood. He bore the wrath of God that was upon me, and I am now reconciled and at peace with God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Oh, how much I rejoice in this good news. 

You can easily force yourself to do the Church vision (I have done it for years). We reach by going to events, gather by going to gatherings, and grow by being in a Growth Community. However, you will never truly live out the Great Commission without the Gospel being the engine that drives you and gives you a deep burning desire to live for Christ. With the Gospel at the heart of your actions, reach becomes brokenness over the lost, gather becomes a desperate desire to be with believers to praise the One who saved you, and grow becomes a daily dependency on growing in the knowledge of the Word of God. My friend, never leave that cross and never forget the power of the Gospel that saved your soul.

Lesson Four • Devotion #5: Our Word

Have you ever had someone who said they would be there for you, and they did not show? Maybe it was a game, a family event, or during a crisis. It definitely hurts and causes you to assume things about the person who did not show. You start to think that the other person just does not care or assume things about them that you just do not know if they are true. In the Corinthian church, Paul had said that he would come to them, and he did not show up when they thought he would. That caused some people to start saying things about Paul assuming that he probably did not care or that he was not who he claimed to be.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:15-18, “Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.”

Here we see that Paul is making it clear that he does want to visit them, but he does not make his plans according to the flesh. His plans are always to do what the Lord would have him do. When he desires to visit them, he means it, and the Lord knows that he is trustworthy in that.  

This same concept is seen in James 4:13-15, Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ —  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

We are to live in this way, that we should not make plans according to the flesh.  Our word should always be trustworthy, and our word should always be bowing to the will of the Lord. When we promise to do something, as far as it is in our power, we will do what we say; however, it must always submit to the Lord’s will. There are those times in our walk with the Lord that things do not seem to be happening the way we think it should happen. We begin to doubt and wonder what God is doing or if He will show up. We see this many times in Scripture where man is waiting on God to do what He said, wondering if He will ever show up. Over and over, the Scripture proves that God is always faithful to do what He said He would do.  Therefore, we can have confidence that God is faithful to His promises even when we do not see a way or feel it is possible.

Finally, in 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, we read, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

1 John 3 • Devotion #5: “To Die For”

Is there anyone in your life you love enough that you would die for them? It may be a friend, family member, spouse, or your children. 

Would you die for someone who hurt the person you are willing to die for? That probably would be much more difficult, if not impossible, for us to say we would do. However, this is the great love that Christ has shown to us. We are the ones who sin against a holy, righteous, perfect God by even crucifying His only Son, and yet He showed His great love and mercy upon us. 

Romans 5:6-8 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Since we have received this great love, we are to love as He loves us. For if Christ abides in you, that same love will abide in you. This is what drives us to love others. We have received immeasurable riches of love and grace that all we can do is pour that out towards others because we are so undeserving of it. 

Ephesians 2:4-7 adds, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” 

It is impossible ever to measure or comprehend the riches of His grace. We will forever be in awe and wonder of the love that Jesus has for us. The more you try to comprehend, the greater you will realize how beautiful it is. Receiving this kind of love and grace will bring us to action to love and serve others.   

We also read in 1 John 3:16-18, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

God did not just tell us He loved us; He demonstrated it on the cross. We are to also demonstrate our love to our brothers by laying our lives down for them, putting them before ourselves, and taking care of their needs. This is the love of Christ shining through us. 

Back to Reach • Devotion #6: Love of Christ Controls

When I graduated from high school, I decided to go to college for music. After a year of that, I thought, “How am I ever going to have a career that would provide for a family from music?” I then transferred to computer science the next year and made it three weeks into the classes when God made me realize that He had something else for me. I was more interested in planning out my future and how to provide for myself than I was about serving and trusting Him. I was not living with God as my master and provider. Instead, I was my own master. I obeyed that calling and it completely changed the course of my life. I moved away to go to a Christian college to study music and Bible theology. I did not want to move; I did not want to go to a new college. I hated change, and through the years I had no idea what was going to happen with my life. I just kept following the path before me knowing that I was doing what God asked of me.  

Serving the Lord is not just a matter of once a week. It is not just coming to a gathering and being involved in a ministry. It is your entire life. Every day, every hour, we are to serve the Lord. If Jesus is Lord of your life, are you obeying Him? Are you giving Him glory in everything you do? Are you serving Him in the things you do?   

When I decided to go to Bible college, I was not just changing the course of my life. Instead, it represented all my treasures, gifts and talents being given for God’s glory and not my own.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Who or what are you living for?

Who do you obey?

Who do you worship and glorify?

Who do you serve?

Grow • Devotion #2: No Reason to Fear

For the most part, I tend to be a very negative person. When things happen in life, the first thing I see in my mind is the worst possible scenario that will happen. I have been like this since I can remember being a child in elementary school, having anxiety about everything. I remember hating change, having to do new things, or go to new places. I lived in fear of the unknown. This is still a huge struggle I fight to this day. Within the past few years, God has transformed my heart, and it came down to realizing that I did not fully trust God in all things. Fear ruled my heart.

Reading about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt has played a huge part in changing my attitude and trusting God. The Israelites had just witnessed God free them from their bondage in slavery when they came to the Red Sea with seemingly nowhere to go.  

Exodus 14:10-12 says, “When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’” 

Their mindset was:

 Leave us alone. 

 Leave us in our slavery. 

 It was better there than where we are now.

Growth can be difficult. We get comfortable even though life might be unpleasant. We do not want to step into the unknown. Attending a Growth Community and opening up to others seems scary. 

Do you ever feel this way? Would you rather be back in the past of your life when it was the “good old days?” Are you mad at God for leading you somewhere as it now seems to be falling apart? We say, “I thought you cared for me, God? Why am I here? What is happening? Where are you, God?”  

Exodus 14:13-14 adds, ”And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’”

If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you have no reason to fear. You can stand firm for you have seen the salvation of the Lord. There is no better place than where you are now, out of slavery to sin and in the hand of God. Stop the complaining, stop the bickering, stop defying leadership in your life, and start being silent and remembering that the Lord will fight for you. All of His promises are true. We have to live as though we believe that.

The Lord is walking with you. Not only that, He has placed believers around you that need you and can help you. Step into an unknown future with the God who knows and holds the future.

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