Devotions

Author Archives: Ty Woznek

Lesson Two • Devotion #1: “They”

“They” is a dangerous word. One would think that is a silly statement, but over the years, this truth is proven again and again. As we embark on our journey in this series in 2 Corinthians, let us be warned of the dangers of they. This warning carries over into any book of the Bible we read. Why? It is because “they” quite often becomes “we.”

They can; I cannot.

One of the dangers of “they” is looking at what others did and thinking we cannot do the same. The thought comes that “we” are lesser than “they.” The Bible is written by real people, to real people, with real struggles, and for real reasons. The Bible is not a book of fairy tales, but of history and theology merged into a color portrait to help us grow. “They” were just like us. “We” are just like them. What is also the same is a loving God striving with them just as He does with us.

They should not; I would not.

The other danger of “they,” is thinking “we” would not do what “they” did. During my Bible reading on sabbatical a few years ago, this truth leaped out at me. We often see ourselves as the heroes in the Bible, but not as the wavering crowds. We see ourselves as the disciples (minus the “o ye of little faith”) and not as the Pharisees. Do not look down at what “they” did, because “we” do the same things.

They were growing.

The church of Corinth is a church of growth, not problems. This goes against what we often hear for preachers, but growing in Christ is a messy task. Seeing our sin and gaining victory over it often lacks the smoothness of a well written movie. They were called out on their sin, made changes, and also harbored some bitterness. They, however, grew and changed. They were scared or exhausted to restore one they removed in sin, and were quick to look down on Paul. Despite all this, they were growing.

We struggle too.

We do the same things they did. When someone calls us out on our sin, we resent them, even when we changed for the better. We often harbor bitterness, resentment, and emotional exhaustion when it comes to restoring someone who sinned. Simply put, we want to save face instead of embracing grace. Rather than viewing the Corinthians as problem people, embrace the freedom of grace to say, “We struggle with that too.” 

“They” is a very dangerous word indeed, for it excuses of us working on the same things we struggle with too. When “they” becomes “we,” it frees us to live out this truth: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

1 John 1 • Devotion #2: Stop the Presses

When I was a kid, I loved it when a Muppet yelled, “Stop the presses!” The newsroom came to a screeching halt as it normally means something is up, but it was a joke. In first grade, I yelled it out. My teacher was not as enthusiastic about the joke. Next to her desk from then on stood mine. We do not like disruption, inconvenience, or anything else that messes with our busy lives. We place our church, family, and work in their “boxes.” When there is that brief moment of free time, we ought to open the enjoy life box. We do not like people messing with our “boxes.” Sometimes we need to stop and remind ourselves of something. John is being disruptive. If I may (I always wanted to do this): Stop the presses!

Seriously, stop. Stop worrying about work, kids, drama, finances for a moment. If 1 John 1:1-4 is already familiar to you, read it again in a different translation (The NET Bible):

“This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life— and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 

John is screaming, stop the presses to people. He is telling us something incredible. Are you and I too busy to listen to what John is saying? We heard it preached, and we read about it yesterday. However, did it sink in? Reading these devotions can become routine. It does not have to be that way. People say, “Nice sermon,” but then ignore it the rest of the week. John’s news is not something that can be ignored.

Biblical meditation fills our mind with God’s Word. It chews on a passage over a period of time to move from knowledge to joy, and then to action. You probably can already explain this passage to someone. You may even have that joy of Jesus John writes about. Here is the stop the presses question: Is your joy complete? Are you satisfied with the number of people who know about Jesus? Are you satisfied with the number of your family, neighbors, and coworkers who know Jesus? 

Hurry up, grab a pen and paper. Time is probably tight as you are reading this. Let us do three things before we resume our day:

  1. Write down two or three names of people you like who do not know Jesus.
  2. Write down how you would feel if they chose to follow Jesus.
  3. Pray that John’s desire for complete joy would be your desire as well.

For some of you, that prayer will be one of repentance; you honestly felt nothing after writing their names down. For others, it will be for boldness; you are scared of what would happen if you shared Jesus. I hope for all of us, it would be that John’s desire to share Jesus would be our desire as well. Do not be afraid to yell, “Stop the presses.” The news of Jesus is worth it!

We’re Mean, Not God

Storm Damage • Devotion #6: We’re Mean, Not God
Ty Woznek | Lead Instructor of the Pastor’s Academy

People often reject the Old Testament because they view God as a mean grump. The fact check is quite the opposite. We were mean to God. We should be very careful to think we are better than God’s people in the Old Testament. We do the same things. Evil is when we try to replace God with another god. Most storms in life are manmade whether by our own choices or suffering from the poor choices of others. As you read the rest of this, ask yourself if and how you are rejecting God. It is never too late.

God warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of a certain tree. Adam and Eve rejected God’s instruction. You and I suffer death, disease, and suffering as a result. God promised a Son that would redeem.

God warned Cain that sin wanted to control him. Cain rejected God’s instruction and murdered his brother. Salvation seemed lost. God provided Seth.

God warned people to repent or he would flood the Earth. Mankind rejected God’s instruction. According to creationist accounts, the world population was about six billion people. They all died. God saved Noah and his family.

God told Noah and his family to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the Earth. Instead, they congregated under one rule to make a name for themselves, rejecting God’s instruction. God confused them by creating languages. God chose Abraham’s family so the world would still know a way out.

God told Israel to go into the Promised Land that He provided for them. Israel sided with ten spies who said otherwise. A whole generation was wiped out for rejecting God’s instruction. Only Joshua and Caleb were able to cross into the Promised Land.

God told Israel to destroy everything in Jericho. One man thought otherwise and brought failure to Israel and the loss of his family. God still forgave, and Israel took the land.

God told Israel to teach their children about who He is. Israel ignored God’s instruction, and there arose in Israel a generation who did not know God. They suffered under tyranny from other nations. God provided Judges to redeem them.

God told Israel the Law, and their Elders were to lead them. Israel rejected God’s instruction and requested a king like the other nations. The monarchy brought about the destruction of the nation. Through one king, David’s line, God protected to bring us a Savior, Jesus.

God sent many prophets to warn Israel to repent and turn back to the Bible. They rejected and killed off God’s prophets. God handed them over to their enemies. In all the promises of destruction, God also promised restoration and a Savior.

God sent Jesus to heal. Jesus was rejected and hung on a cross one time for all sin. God raised Him from the dead on the third day, providing the perfect way out of a nasty cycle.

Why does God love us even when we reject His Word repeatedly? God is a God of grace and mercy. The Old Testament should serve as a massive warning to us. God, is there something you are trying to tell me that I am rejecting?

No Excuses

Storm Damage • Devotion #5: No Excuses
Ty Woznek | Lead Instructor of the Pastor’s Academy

Micah says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

We were warned

In a Hebrew class, we were instructed to pick a verse and do an in-depth report on it. I loved the song growing up that quoted this verse. It was a sweet tune of a verse that is often a favorite of those who love Jesus. After studying it, I realize the tune missed the tone of what Micah was saying. Micah 6:8 was an indictment. God’s people were to be punished, deserved to be punished, and they were without excuse. Why? God showed them the answer. They did not follow.

Hard of hearing

Israel, like you and I, were hard of hearing. God showed them the way but they chose a different path. God showed them what good was, what justice was, love, kindness, and humility. These were rejected like at the beginning. Often when life is hard, we want to get mad at God, but the reality often is we ignored God. An older businessman said that if communication is the problem, it is that people are not listening, not that people are not talking. The bottom line is, are you and I listening to God?

Too many stories

When Doc asked me to write a couple of devotions on the devastation of sin as a storm of life, my heart sank. There are too many stories of heartache I could share. That is just starting with me. In all my years of ministry, they sadly add up. I noticed a common theme in many of the stories. They simply did not listen. Without fail, many pastors and I deal with an issue on Mondays that we addressed on Sunday, but the person was absent. I would not be surprised if some of you reading this today ignored what some of the pastors shared this past Sunday.

Hear

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses writes about loving the Lord our God with everything we have. He instructs us on teaching our children and talking about the Bible constantly. However, before that Moses wrote the bottom line, “Hear of Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is one.” There is more I could say on this, but here is what we need to do. Take a moment and simply ask God this question, “God, how well have I been hearing you?”

The reality is

We can be mad at God when he allows hard times in, but sometimes the reality is we knew the right answers but chose to go our own way instead. Micah 6:8 should be a depressing song. God gave them the answer; Israel did not listen. I guess that is why Paul so urgently warned us to no quench the Spirit. Like a good soldier, we would be better to answer “No excuses.”

Endure

Paul says, “Love endures all things.”

We sing, “His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.”

The Challenge

Life is hard and not fair. Responsibility, a sign of adulthood, is not always fun. Putting up with people’s faults is annoying. This is what the writer of Ecclesiastes had in mind when he wrote that poetic book. Life on Earth without God in the picture makes no sense. However, key to love is endurance.

Don’t give up

The bottom line is love does not give up. It is not a hormonal, twitterpated feeling. Love is a deep-rooted commitment to something beyond you that does not, nor will not quit. Core to love is commitment and promise. Those federal grounds are where love flourishes. Love puts up with a lot because it knows what God can do if we do not give up.

God, Others, You

The Bible says in Second Timothy that if we are faithless, God remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself. We are secure in our relationship with God. He loves us that much. This is why love is the greater way. While there may be hard things we have to do because love requires it, biblical love does not give up. The core issue is the choice you make.

Love is…

Patient. Ask yourself this question regularly, “What is God teaching me in this circumstance?”
Kind. Ask yourself this question regularly, “How can I bless others in this situation?”
Bears all things. Ask yourself this question regularly, “How can I be there for people in this situation?”
Positive. Ask yourself this question regularly, “How sure am I that I am right and how important is it?”
Endures. Don’t give up! We do not always understand why things happen, but we do understand that God is in control.

Based on this truth, love hangs on. In the end, there is only love as faith and hope are fulfilled when Jesus returns. When Jesus returns, we will love perfectly. If we struggle with endurance, then it is a good sign we need people in our life to help carry us, for we should not love alone. Even Moses had Joshua and Caleb to hold his hands up as he endured in prayer.

 

Pastor Ty Woznek
Pastor’s Academy Lead Instructor



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