Devotions

Author Archives: Philip Piasecki

Jesus Betrayed • Devotion #3: Put the Sword Away

We all have that person in our life that is fiercely loyal to us. It is so encouraging knowing that there is someone who will always go to bat for you. For me, that person is my wife. I know that if I need someone in my corner she will be there. Having that person is such a blessing, but I know we have all had times where we have had to pull them back too. That is the situation we find Jesus in with His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas shows up with soldiers and the Pharisees to arrest Jesus, and fiercely loyal Peter decides that it is up to him to fight on behalf of Jesus. He strikes the high priest’s servant and cuts his ear off. Quickly Jesus diffuses the situation, heals the servant’s ear, and then rebukes Peter.

John 18:10-11records, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?’”

Peter was ready to fight to protect Jesus, but the Lord had different plans. As we have been studying the countdown to the cross, we see moment after moment where Jesus willfully pushes forward towards what He knows is going to be His crucifixion. Jesus did not need Peter to fight His battle for Him. He knew what He was doing, what was going to happen, and He had it under control. How often do we also find ourselves in this situation where we are trying to fight a battle that the Lord has clearly told us to let Him handle? We can start simply with salvation, so many of us are trying to achieve our salvation through our own efforts when Jesus is looking down on us saying, “I already fought that battle for you, just accept this free gift!” 

I think of David declaring to the Israelites about the victory the Lord was going to have in His fight against Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17:47, it says, “And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

This concept not only applies to our salvation but also the battles that we are fighting in our life. The battle is the Lord’s! When we are struggling, fighting through the battles of our life, our natural inclination is to stand up and try and fight back in our own strength. Instead, we should lean into the Lord knowing that it is only by His power and His strength that we can have any victory in the battles of life. The story of the cross shows the power and the strength of the Lord, He has already won! Next time you feel the urge to draw your sword like Peter remember that it is the Lord, not us, that delivers the victory.

The Triumphal Entry • Devotion #5: We Get to Help

A lesson that I have learned over my few years of having kids, is they just want to be a part of what you are doing. I do not have all the time in the world to play with them and their toys, but I have learned that if I just invite them to “help” me with what I am doing, those are some of our sweetest times together. They love running errands with me, knocking things off my to-do list at the church building, helping me fix things around the house, and the list could go on and on. Are these things I could do by myself? Of course. However, because I love my kids, I want them to be a part of what I am doing, and them being a part of what I am doing brings them joy.

Luke 19:30-31 says, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’”

Whenever I have studied the accounts of the Triumphal Entry, this part of the passage has always been so interesting to me. Jesus essentially tells the disciples, “Hey go find a colt, take it, and if anyone questions you just tell them I need it.” As you continue reading the account, the plan works, the disciples get the colt and bring it to Jesus, then Jesus rides into Jerusalem on it all to fulfill prophecy from the Old Testament.

So how does this apply to my illustration from the beginning of the devotion? I do not think Jesus actually needed His disciples to do this for Him. He could have made the colt appear right in front of them to ride it, but He wanted to use them. He let those disciples be a part of fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah. How amazing must that have been for them?

The same is true for us in our work as believers here on this earth. Jesus designed His church in a way where we get to be a part of what He is doing. He is the Creator of the universe, He could accomplish everything He wants to with the snap of a finger, but instead He decided to use us to accomplish His plan. What an amazing honor and privilege that is. As we are beginning the countdown to the cross, let this passage remind us that God has chosen to use us to accomplish His mission. Then get out there and start accomplishing it! The Lord wants us to help in doing what He wants to do, we just have to be ready and willing. We have to trust that through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us that God has equipped us for every good work. We want people to know who the Lord is. Prepare the way for Him by being bold to share who He is with the world. I am so grateful that the Lord loves me enough to let me play my small part in growing His church here on this earth.

Reviled • Devotion #1: Did You Hear?

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

There are few worse feelings in life than when someone says, “Hey, did you hear what ‘so and so’ said about you?” I want to be clear, rarely ever is that a good thing. I would love it if the follow-up sentence to that was, “Yeah, they are just telling everyone how amazing of a person you are!” Normally it is quite the opposite, normally that next sentence is filled with how someone has been talking bad about you behind your back. It is even more hurtful when that slander is being directed towards you because of your faith.

We have this false idea that if we are following after the things of Christ that people are going to love us and get along with us. If you thought that, then read the verse above, I am sure it hit you like a ton of bricks. Christ said people are going to revile us, persecute us, and utter all kinds of evil against us on His account. We are currently living in very turbulent times, with the direction of our culture seemingly getting more hostile towards Christians and the truth that we proclaim. I constantly see people surprised by this. These believers are more passionate about protecting themselves and others from encountering these things than they are about actually sharing the truths of Christ.

This verse does not instruct us to complain about the evil that may come our way. It does not instruct us to seek out revenge for the injustices that may be done for us. It does not tell us to hide from the world so that we may be protected. It tells us to rejoice and be glad. Let me highlight this again so we do not miss it – Rejoice and be glad when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely.

This is what Scripture is teaching us, and it says that we are blessed when this happens. We are blessed because it means that we are truly living a life for Christ if this is happening to us. We are in good company as well, Scripture says that they also persecuted the prophets who were before us. What an honor to even be considered in the same sentence as the biblical prophets that Jesus is talking about here. If we are followers of Christ, there will be a deep-rooted joy in who Christ is, but that does not protect us from encountering persecution. These things in Matthew 5:11-12 will happen to us, but if our faith is in Christ alone, we will persevere and His name will be made great through our adversity.

Pure in Heart • Devotion #6: Image Is Not Everything

I love sports. I played baseball, basketball, and soccer growing up. Not to brag, but I was an intramural basketball and dodgeball champion at Oakland University, it was a big deal (it was not a big deal at all). It seems like every year there is a player somewhere on some team that tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Anyone who knows anything about sports knows the first reaction from a player when they test positive, “What? Me? No way, must have been a mistake.” It goes from that to apologizing for their horrible mistake and vowing to never be that selfish again. However, we all know what they are really sorry about, they are just sorry they got caught. They only cared about the outward appearance of how they were playing, with no guilt or remorse for how they were cheating until they got caught.

It seems that all humanity is concerned with these days is how we look externally. It is easy to attack the “world” on this issue, but I think Christians in the church are most guilty of it. We know the right things to say, the right stuff to post on social media, the times we need to show up to the church to make it look like our life is just cruising along, and then internally our hearts are moving further and further from Christ.

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What God looks at is the heart behind our external actions. In a world that constantly looks at the external, God is looking internally at what is truly behind our behavior. As believers we need to check our hearts often, taking inventory of what is actually motivating our actions. I will warn you too, you can only keep up the charade of “good” behaviors coming from a heart that is far from God for so long. Scripture warns us that “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart.” This means that eventually if your relationship with God is failing, your external behaviors will reflect that. When I find myself being mean to my wife or impatient with my kids, normally it is when I have not been taking proper care of my relationship with the Lord. God wants us to be pure of heart, not just appear “pure” to those around us. Be honest with yourself about what drives you actions, and make a change if needed.

It seems that all humanity is concerned with these days is how we look externally. It is easy to attack the “world” on this issue, but I think Christians in the church are most guilty of it. We know the right things to say, the right stuff to post on social media, the times we need to show up to the church to make it look like our life is just cruising along, and then internally our hearts are moving further and further from Christ.

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What God looks at is the heart behind our external actions. In a world that constantly looks at the external, God is looking internally at what is truly behind our behavior. As believers we need to check our hearts often, taking inventory of what is actually motivating our actions. I will warn you too, you can only keep up the charade of “good” behaviors coming from a heart that is far from God for so long. Scripture warns us that “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart.” This means that eventually if your relationship with God is failing, your external behaviors will reflect that. When I find myself being mean to my wife or impatient with my kids, normally it is when I have not been taking proper care of my relationship with the Lord. God wants us to be pure of heart, not just appear “pure” to those around us. Be honest with yourself about what drives you actions, and make a change if needed.

Mercy • Devotion #2: Mercy Triumphs over Judgment

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

One of the things I absolutely love about the Bible is how within its pages it can hold such mind-boggling, earth-shattering, and cosmically-altering truths, while also giving us every day, practical, life wisdom. Sometimes, you even get all of that within the exact same verse. I believe this is true for the Beatitudes, with so much depth, yet so much practical wisdom as well. When I read Jesus saying, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy,” I first think of my own personal relationships. I want to be known as someone who is quick to give mercy and slow to give judgment. When my wife makes a mistake, I want my first reaction to be mercy. Then when I make one of my many mistakes, I pray that she will show me mercy as well. How can I expect mercy for the mistakes that I make in my life if I am never giving mercy as well? I would encourage you to pray that the Lord would soften your heart if your first reaction is normally anger and judgment to others instead of mercy. The Lord can change your reactions, even if you feel like you cannot be changed.

However, to take this deeper, I want to be like Jesus and show mercy to people knowing that since I am saved, one day Jesus is going to give me the greatest amount of mercy imaginable. He is going to let me into His kingdom and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” because of my faith in Him. If the way you live your life looks nothing like the way Jesus commands us to live, then I would pray that today you reevaluate how you are living. We only have the ability to extend mercy to others because of the great mercy that Jesus has shown us. I keep thinking of the song lyric, “Your mercy triumphs over judgment.” The Lord desires to show mercy to each and every one of us if we would just accept Him. If we deny Him, then we will one day receive the proper judgment for our sin. Think of the mercy you have received from the Lord, or even think of the mercy you have received from other people in your life, take the challenge today to be more merciful just like our Lord is merciful.



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