Devotions

Author Archives: Josh Lahring

Finger of God

Ten Plagues | Devotion 2: Finger of God
Josh Lahring

With the advancement of science and technology, there are many things that we think we know about the working of the world. Everything has an explanation, and this deeper understanding causes us to lose our sense of wonder for God. We know why the sun rises, the rain falls, seasons change, and how to heal many sicknesses. You name it; people will come up with all sorts of answers, explanations, and theories.

I have heard the story of the Egyptian plagues many times as a child. I always thought it was odd that God did the things He did. Why did He choose frogs and gnats? Maybe God just really wanted to annoy them. After some study, I realize God attacked the false gods the Egyptian people worshipped. The Egyptians had a god for everything, even a god with a frog head named Heqet. Knowing that God hates false worship, it makes sense why He sent plagues demonstrating the falsehood of their gods.

In our own lives, there are many times we worship things other than God. We may not even realize it, and God has to get our attention. When circumstances come into our lives, we rationalize in our minds. We come up with reasons and explanations or consider it to be a coincidence. Have you ever had something random happen and not even consider that God caused or allowed it? I know I can look back and see that I have done that in my own life.

In Exodus chapter 8, Pharaoh had his magicians recreate every plague to show that the curse coming upon his land was nothing of God. Exodus 8:6 -7 says, “So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.” 

By plague three, the magicians realize that the plagues are of God. Exodus 8:18-20 says, “The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”

Plague after plague Pharaoh would not acknowledge the Almighty God even when his magicians realized that it was God who was causing them.

God will remove idols from our lives. He wants all of our worship; He wants all of the glory. Sometimes when bad things are happening in our lives, it is because of God’s discipline trying to rid our lives of idol worship. Do you always have an explanation for what is happening in your life instead of acknowledging that it is the hand of God? I pray that in our lives, we continually examine ourselves for idols and make sure that God is the only one we serve.

Living Water

Thirst | Devotion #6: Living Water
Josh Lahring | Worship Director

Think of a time you have been desperate for a drink of water. When I was around fourteen years old I was home, my parents were gone, and my grandma’s house was two miles away. I wanted to go there and could not drive, so I went to find a bike to ride. The tires were a little flat, and I thought that was not a big deal.  Have you ever ridden a bike with half-filled tires? Halfway there I was dying and so thirsty.  All I could think of was keep going so I could get some water.  By the time I made it there I was a little dizzy and felt sick. I drank so much water and just laid on the floor thinking I will never ride a bike again.  

When Jesus was crucified on the cross, He said, “I thirst.” John 19:28 records the event, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’” At this point, the Father had looked away from Him for He had taken on the sins of the world. Jesus was physically thirsty, but more than that He was thirsting for His Father. Jesus, the one who was telling others to come drink from Him, the living water, had no water to give, it had been completely poured out. He Himself thirsted for that relationship with His Father.  

When Jesus said from the cross that He was thirsty, He not only fulfilled prophecy, He also showed again that He was 100% man while being 100% God. However, my mind was reminded of Him as my living water. Looking back at John 7:37, we read, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’”  

Jesus is our living water, and He is all that can satisfy us. We are to thirst for Christ like our greatest times that we thirst for water.  

Sweet Child o’ Mine

The Gift of Grace | Devotion #5: Sweet Child o’ Mine
Josh Lahring | Production Director

Getting to serve by playing music in prison has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I would have never thought that God would use my talent of being able to play “Crazy Train” or “Sweet Child of Mine” to help spread the Gospel. I used to play all sorts of music on guitar when I was in high school and once I got saved I never really played that music anymore. I just longed to play music that glorified Christ. Then one day I got asked to learn a bunch of songs because we were going to start going into prisons. I was fairly anxious about it. I had grown up in a Christian home and was fairly sheltered. I never really got into trouble or was around friends that got into trouble. Going to hang out with criminals kind of terrified me. You have no idea what the people around you have done. However, after one trip, my heart was changed. We were able to make someone’s day who never really has a good day like you and I. We give our best in all we do there to the people who have done the worst. We have the opportunity to minister to the broken who basically are forgotten. 

The Gospel is not just for the people who think they have it all together. It is not just for people that you are comfortable being around.  It is for all people.

I am always amazed that I get to use the gifts that God has given me to have the opportunity to share the gift of God’s grace with others. Once we are finished with our program, many people come to talk with us. Many do not understand why we would come and put all that effort into a program for them. Then we get to tell why we do it. 

Ephesians 3:7 says, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.”

Because of the Gospel and God’s grace, I am able to minister to all people. It does not matter if I have something in common to talk about with them, or whether or not we grew up a similar way. The Gospel is for all people, and it is by His power that it will go forward, my part is to be faithful in telling people about His love and living for Him every day. Pray to God that He would show you opportunities to minister and that He would provide the grace you need to do His will. 

Rachel’s Sons

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #4: Rachel’s Sons
Josh Lahring | Production Director

The story of Jacob and Rachel is one of love, sin, deceit, and irony.  The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Rachel and labored for seven years just to have her hand in marriage.  Genesis 29:20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” 

If you have ever loved, you know the love that Jacob had for her. He was willing to do anything to be with her. However, when Jacob went to be with her on their wedding night, Rachel’s father and sister plotted to trick him. Instead of Jacob sleeping with Rachel, it was Leah instead. This may remind you of a story two chapters earlier when Jacob and his mother plotted against his brother to receive his father’s blessing.  

Now Jacob is married to Leah, and he is angry that he was tricked. The father says to finish the bridal week with Leah, and he will give him Rachel as well for another seven years of labor. Now Jacob finally has the wife he loves. As you can imagine Leah is bitter that he loves Rachel more.

However, the Bible says that Rachel could not bear children, but Leah did. Genesis 30:1 (NIV) explains, “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’” Now Rachel, who is loved, is bitter at her sister that she gave their husband children.

By now Leah had given Jacob four sons, so Rachel was extremely jealous. However, Rachel was more loved than Leah and Leah was jealous that Rachel was loved. All through chapter 30, it is a war of jealousy between Rachel and Leah to give their husband more children.  

Then in verses 22-24 (NIV), the Bible says, “Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, ‘God has taken away my disgrace.’ She named him Joseph, and said, ‘May the Lord add to me another son.’”

Rachel was bitter and became selfish. Instead of seeking God and waiting patiently upon Him, she did things her own way; she had her servant have children with her husband. It did not work out well for Sarah with Hagar, and it did not work out well here either. In both cases, God decided to bless the women with children.

In all of our mistakes and sinfulness God still hears us and listens to the cry of our hearts. He will not abandon you. Although we have gone our own ways and are selfish and bitter, He still listens and blesses us.  

When God blesses us with something, it is easy to take it for granted and not see how blessed we are. Most of the time we get so focused on one thing we want but fail to see all the other blessings God has been giving us. Sometimes we receive our blessing, but we want more rather than being thankful. Right after giving birth to her first child, Rachel so desperately longed for another that she named him Joseph and said, “May the Lord add to me another son!” God did give her another son. In chapter 35, she had another son but she died after childbirth.  

Faith 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #5: Faith
Josh Lahring | Production Director

In Genesis chapter 22, we see Abraham being told by God to take his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar made of wood. Genesis 22:6-8 (NIV) records, “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.”

 Here we see a couple of things. First, Isaac had faith in his father and second, that Abraham had faith in God that He would provide even though he did not know what the outcome would actually be. In both cases we see the child obeying his father.

After I graduated from high school, I did what every student did and tried to figure out what I should do for a career. I decided that I would go to the University of Michigan Flint to study Music. After a year of that, I realized that there was no way I would make a career out of music and that I had to change to something different.  After reviewing the degrees they offered, I started the fall semester in computer science. I knew quite a bit about computers so I thought it would be a good fit and there would be a lot of jobs available. I was consumed with being in control of my future, as everyone tells you, you have to have a plan.

Three weeks into the program, I was at a church event, and God made me realize that I could not live my life that way. When I got home, I told my mom I was dropping out and transferring to a Christian college to study Music and Bible Theology. I was nervous about it, but yet at peace that I knew it was what God had called me to do. Years later, I was asked to come work at the River Church in Goodrich full-time and every day I am able to use all my gifts for His purpose.

Imagine the fear Abraham had while heading up that mountain to sacrifice his son.  He knew he had to do what God had called him to do even though it did not make sense. Yet, he knew that God would provide. When he was about to kill his son, an amazing thing happens. Verses 12-13 (NIV) record, “‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” 

Sometimes what we are called to do does not make logical sense, but we must have faith that God will provide and that His ways are perfect. Trust God, have confidence, walk in faith, and look for God to provide.



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