Devotions

Author Archives: Josh Lahring

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.

Paradise

Shining Face | Devotion 2: Paradise
Josh Lahring

Years ago, I was up north in Paradise, Michigan, camping in a remote cabin out in the woods. There was no electricity and no city lights around for miles, so at night it was pitch black. One night, I was outside and could not help but just gaze at the stars. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the stars were so bright, you could see the Milky Way Galaxy so clearly. It was an incredible sight. It was the glory of God on display. I remember the feeling of being in such awe of how amazing our creator God is and just worshiping Him and giving Him glory at that moment.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

Have you ever had a moment where you have been in awe of the glory of God?

It is when your mind cannot comprehend it no matter how hard you try. Every day we live, we should be in awe of His glory and to see it on display. Moses desired to see the full glory of God so much that he asked God to see it. God allowed him to see his back only, for if he saw His face, he would die (Exodus 33:20). Once the Lord descended on a cloud, the Bible says, “And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance’” (Exodus 34:8-9). 

His response to the glory of God is to fall on his face and worship. He asked for God’s presence to be in the midst of them and to have mercy on them. The glory of God humbles us to our knees so that we realize who we are and how holy He is. It is amazing that this perfectly holy God has made a way through His son Jesus for us to know and experience His presence.

Do you take time to stop and recognize God’s amazing creation? Are you recognizing and acknowledging His involvement in your life?

Enjoy some “Paradise” even now.

From Praise to Distress

Water, Manna, & Quail | Devotion 1: From Praise to Distress
Josh Lahring

I like to think that had I seen the Red Sea part open, that I would totally trust God and all His ways and that I would always believe that He will make a way. There is no way there could ever be any doubt after seeing something like that, right? However, this is not the case. I have personally seen God do miraculous works in my own life and yet when another circumstance comes up, I am quick to forget that God was there for me before and He is with me now.

After the Red Sea parted and they had crossed over on dry land, Moses and the people of Israel sang a song to the Lord. At the end of the song, it says, “You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The Lord will reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:17-18).

Moses was proclaiming the promise of God was true! God said He would bring His people into the place which He had made for them. Then only three days later, Moses is crying out to God to save them from death.

Exodus 15:23-25 says, “When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”

We often think that since we believe the promises of God that He should be there making our path easy. Why was the water not just drinkable when they got there? God knew they were thirsty since they had been in the wilderness for three days without water. Think about if the water had been good to drink right when they got there. Would they even have acknowledged or thanked God for it? No. They would have been happy that they had found the water just in time before they died. God wants us to rely on Him for all our needs totally. He wants us to cry out to Him and need Him more than anything else. Then when He moves, we will fully realize that it was only through Him that a way was made and that He is the only one that deserves all the glory!

To God be the glory!



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