Devotions

Author Archives: Larry Gabbara

Home • Devotion #1: Husbands

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31 (NIV)

As a young husband, I thought I knew what it meant to be a husband, leader, and the “man in charge.” I quickly realized I did not have a clue! It took years until I learned that the only way I could lead was to be in line with what God had designed me to be, that is, to be a man of God.

John 13:14-15 says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” 

My model is Jesus! Jesus came and served us while He was here on Earth. He laid down His life to provide us with the free gift of salvation. I serve Jesus with my wife and love, respect, honor, and protect her. In order to be the spiritual leader to my wife, God needs to be the center of my life and our relationship. Spiritual leadership is knowing where God wants me to be and living a lifestyle that honors God in all my ways.

Even though my wife loves the Lord with all her heart and is well versed in the Word, I need to be the spiritual leader of our family. This was not how I grew up. As a young Catholic, I thought the spiritual leader was the church, the priest, and the Pope. My father did not take the spiritual lead. The expectation was that I would learn everything I needed to know about God in the Catholic school that I attended. So this principle was not natural to me, not part of my upbringing. I have learned since I gave my life to Christ that I am to be the spiritual leader. I have worked on growing in my faith and in the Word.

Ephesians 5:25-28 (NIV) adds, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” My responsibility as the spiritual leader will be to continue to stay in the Word, look to the Lord for guidance, and to continue to love, honor, and cherish my wife.

Grow • Devotion #5: Growing in Love

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63  

Jesus is the Living Word. His words were spoken for us to learn and grow. People come to know Jesus through the Word of God. The Word of God is the Christian believer’s food to feed us through our minds, to learn the will of God. Growing in the Lord should be the purpose of our lives.

Job 23:12 states the concept well, “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”

Deuteronomy 8:3 adds, “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.”

Billy Graham, in an article from 2015, gives us nine ways to grow in our faith: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

The Bible calls those traits the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Dr. Graham goes on to explain that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Bible says we receive supernatural help from the Holy Spirit. God expects us to have faith, and if we live according to that faith, God will be pleased. From that, we will be blessed. If we lack in faith, God will be displeased.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:3 continues, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

To grow in grace is to mature as a Christian. We are all saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, ”For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

We are sanctified by grace. Grace is a blessing we do not deserve, something that we did not earn. It is a true blessing from God because He loves us!

In 2 Peter 3:18, we read, ‘But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 

We have “Grow” events throughout the year. In the summer, all of our locations have summer grow events. At our Holly location, we get together on Wednesday nights during June and July for dinner, a devotion, and then softball. It is heartwarming to see the church family getting together for food, a devotion, and fun. This is a picture of how the church should grow together.  

To grow is to mature and learn, just like a baby, we never should stop growing in our faith. Living for the Lord is why we are here; the Lord created us so that we could grow to love Him.

Darkness, the Curtain, and the Tombs

Commit | Devotion #3: Darkness, the Curtain, and the Tombs
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

When Jesus was calling out to His Father, He was acknowledging that His time on Earth was over. His 33 years on Earth were done. He had accomplished what His Father had sent Him to do. 

Have you ever finished a task that felt final and complete? I retired from 50 years of work in retail sales in March 2017. That last day I felt I completed my task; I had this feeling of completion. I left with my head held high. I had completed my time in the retail pharmacy business, yet I knew that my time for working had not ended. My work was not done; I felt I still had a lot to contribute somewhere.

These are four very remarkable and extraordinary events that happened at the time of Jesus’ death: 

1. Darkness fell over the whole land. Luke 23:44 says, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” According to Bible references, Jesus was said to have been hung on the cross at about nine in the morning. While Jesus died, darkness fell across the whole land and lasted from noon to three o’clock. This could also represent the Father’s anger on how His Son was being treated. Darkness is frequently a sign of judgment.  

2. The curtain was torn. Matthew 27:51 says, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Some theologians point out that the curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Temple. One study note I read said, “Its tearing symbolized Christ’s opening the way directly to God.” Scripture tells us that the curtain would have been 60 feet long, and 30 feet wide! 

3. The earth shook. Notice Matthew 27:51 again, “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”  The earthquake according to Albert Barnes was a miraculous convulsion of the earth that was felt in many countries. Earthquakes in the Bible are usually accompanied by a divine revelation. Warren Wiersbe connects the earthquake at Jesus’ death to signify that the demands of the law were fulfilled in Jesus. 

4. The tombs were opened. Matthew 27:52 says, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” These resurrections show God’s incredible power over death and the grave. Christ’s resurrection is the basis of Christianity. This shows the enormous power of the Trinity!

Finally, Mark 15:37 adds, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” 

Jesus said with a loud voice, “Father I commit my spirit.” He was telling the Father He had completed His task on Earth. He had indicated His willingness to submit Himself to the will of His Father. 

Jesus offered Himself, and the Father received Jesus’ spirit. This was His human soul. With this, He was a perfect man. This was a total offering of all the sins of our lost world. 

He has completed the payment for our sins. He was the only sinless man ever to walk the earth; there was never one before Him or after Him. We owe our eternal salvation to this selfless act!

Our Free Gift

Paradise | Devotion #4: Our Free Gift
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23 :43

Jesus showed the world that all we need to do is ask and accept our free gift of salvation. Even the thief on the cross was given this wonderful gift. He was not saved until the last hours of his life. He did not have an opportunity to be baptized, receive the Lord’s Supper, attended church, or perform any good works. We assume that he did not live a righteous life. He was a criminal, sentenced to death.

Luke 23:42 says, “And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” 

Jesus loves us all no matter who we are, or what we have done. We just have to believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord and ask for our sins to be forgiven. Just ask for this free gift. The Lord has an abundance of mercy and grace for us. His love is limitless. 

It is natural that while on Earth we all want comfort and assurance about life after death. It is so simple to have eternal life. We do not need to DO anything. We cannot earn it or work for it. Just ask for it. The Lord offers forgiveness to us all through His Son’s death. Jesus paid it all. Salvation is the free gift!

Many denominations teach and believe that our salvation, or the way to Heaven, is through works here on Earth. This is not true! Jesus offers us the free gift by just asking for it. The thief proves it; he realized he was a sinner in need of a Savior and asked Jesus to save him.

God sent His one and only Son to Earth to live a human life, like us. Jesus suffered and died for us. It was the greatest sacrifice of all time. The Father’s love is so immense that He sent His Son as a sacrifice to show His love for all mankind.

Romans 6:23 adds, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Just like the thief on the cross, Jesus offers us freedom and the gift of grace just for the asking!

The thief’s only responsibility and ours is to receive this amazing gift. We are saved by believing in Jesus and asking for our sins to be forgiven.

John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

Faith is what makes this free gift attainable, and that is what was offered to the thief and to us. It is so amazing; through faith we can be saved from our sins.

The gift of grace saves sinners like you and me. Because of grace, the thief who was on the cross next to Jesus will spend eternity in Heaven! God wants to spend eternity with each and every one of us. He is waiting for us to ask for the gift of salvation.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

Changes

Grow | Devotion #6: Changes
Larry Gabbara | Financial Bookkeeper

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28

Are you growing in the Lord? As we mature in our walk with God, we should be growing. There should be a noticeable change in our character, our relationships, in our personal lives, and our work life. The changes should be able to be seen in all aspects of who we are.

Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” 

Now, this is not the easiest thing to do. The devil is always attacking us where we are the weakest. He knows where we are the most vulnerable. We have to put on the whole armor of God every day to be protected. 

Growth in the Lord should be a natural progression in our Christian life. However, we will always have to deal with the obstacles of the world. 

Our experiences can draw us closer to the Lord. The Lord used the prison ministry, a place I was not familiar or comfortable with, to stretch my faith and trust in Him.

In September 2017, I was asked to go with the men on a prison trip to Lorain and Grafton Correctional in Ohio. I was extremely nervous; I had not done anything like that before. What made me most nervous was knowing I would have to talk one-on-one to guys in prison about Jesus. I felt like I was not qualified to do that, but through spending time in prayer talking to Jesus, I got up the nerve to approach a guy. When I started to speak to him, I almost started to cry because I was so moved. Remembering that I was in a prison yard in Ohio with around 200-300 inmates, I caught myself and regained my composure. I was then able to tell him about how the Lord changed me from a sinner going down a wicked path to a child of God. That God could do the same for him.  

That experience was a huge part of my growing in the Lord. I want to resemble a man that is drawing closer to God daily. It is never too late to seek the Lord and ask Him to help you make changes in your life.

In 2 Peter 3:18, we read, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Whether you have been a Christian for a short time or most of your life, you must choose to grow with the Lord. Change of any kind requires the repetition of forming habits to make a change in our ways. Change can come in our prayer life, through Bible study, keeping our mind and heart directed towards God, fellowship with like-minded people, and attending Church gatherings. Building an intimate relationship with Jesus is important to all of us. Our growth should be a reflection of what God is doing in our lives and draw us nearer to Him.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”



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