Devotions

Author Archives: Wes McCullough

Cleaning House

Broken Tablets | Devotion 5: Cleaning House
Wes McCullough 

“Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, ‘All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.’ And all the Levites gathered around him. Moses told them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone—even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.’ The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, ‘Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.’” Exodus 32:25-29 (NLT)

This is such an intense passage. Can any of us imagine being this obedient to God? It is a true nightmare to consider. A more likely choice we would have to make today is to remove toxic influences from our lives. If you struggle with drugs, it will be much harder to get clean if you hang out with other addicts. If you are convicted about alcohol consumption – avoid bars, the liquor aisle, and perhaps friends who are always drinking or asking you to join them at the bar. If your conviction is profanity, you will have to get away from people and places where that language is used.

A good friend of mine had a “return to God” moment several years ago. He decided it was time to repent and rededicate his life to God. He had to make tough choices and separate himself from close friends because they would pull him away from godly living. He also chose to remove media and other things that did not honor God.

One of my favorite Bible stories is contained in 1 Kings chapter 18 – Elijah versus the prophets of Baal. The Israelites could not decide if they followed God or Baal, so there was a sacrifice showdown. God showed up in an undeniable and incredible way that day (I would love to see this portrayed in film one day!). After the Israelites are reminded that God reigns supreme, all the prophets of Baal are round up and executed. They led people away from God and had to be removed as influencers.

Be careful about the influences you allow in your life. Honor God with your choices and be obedient. Following God will often mean making personal sacrifices, but God will honor your obedience.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Leap of Faith

Water, Manna, & Quail | Devotion 4: Leap of Faith
Wes McCullough

If you have ever needed confirmation that God will supply your needs, Exodus 16:13-36 is the perfect Scripture to affirm your belief. Sometimes God arranges things so clearly perfect, but our human minds cannot rationalize what happened.

Here is a quick recap of this passage:

The Israelites have been delivered from Egyptian slavery and are about to spend significant time in the desert where there is not much to eat. God does the impossible and sends manna, a flakey and sweet wafer-like substance, every morning. Everyone gathered as much as they wanted for the day, and the manna melted away. If manna was kept overnight, it spoiled. These rules applied for six days of the week. On the Sabbath, however, no manna came. Everyone was instructed to gather two days worth the previous day. Only then would the manna last two days.

Some people will struggle to comprehend this situation. On only one particular day does the manna not spoil. There is no logical explanation here; it is simply God being God. He is not bound by the laws of nature, time, or logic; He is infinite in all aspects.

A classic movie scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” comes to mind. As the movie climaxes, Indiana is making his way toward the Holy Grail and must make a “leap of faith” to cross a bottomless void. From his perspective, the task seems impossible, but he puts disbelief aside and steps out in faith.

Our minds will never be able to comprehend the fullness of God’s power and wisdom. We like concrete truths. We like to feel in control of our situation and future. When our perception of control wavers, we are prone to worry, and the Bible is clear about that. Matthew 6:25-27 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” 

God has promised to supply our needs. Put your worry aside and focus on serving Him. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Safe Place

Birth | Devotion 5: Safe Place
Wes McCullough

This is one of those special Bible stories that smack you in the face with God’s awesome plan. Sometimes it appears that everything in life is against you, but God guides you through step by step.

When my best friend was a toddler, he drowned in a filthy river in the summer heat. His father was able to revive him, and he was rushed to the hospital where doctors expected his best case scenario was extreme brain damage and a comatose state. God had other plans for him. My friend made a full recovery and went on to live a healthy life, play high school football, and serve in the Air Force. He and his wife now have three children.

I heard his drowning story when we were in high school, and I knew God had big plans for him. It was no stroke of luck that he had survived in such a miraculous way. My friend went through his rebellious phase, but then something changed. God spoke to him, and he listened. He began to make changes to his life; distancing himself from unhealthy friendships, volunteering in church, and going back to school to prepare for ministry. He was hired as the worship pastor at our home church and has been preparing himself to become the senior pastor one day. He has gone from a friend I felt I was mentoring to a friend I admire and in whom I can receive godly counsel.

I see in Moses’ early life a similar plan from God. A little boy who was supposed to die was saved. Pharaoh decreed that Hebrew boys should be drowned in the Nile, but it was that river that carried Moses to a safe place. Moses was raised in the household that ordered his death. Laughter is an appropriate response when you read that Pharaoh’s daughter offered to pay Moses’ mother to nurse him.

This story is a reminder that God is all-powerful. He is bigger than our circumstances. He can turn our roadblocks into open roads. Always trust the path on which God puts you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
 and he will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Few Words

Paradise | Devotion #6: Few Words
Wes McCullough | Production Director

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

There is a simple and profound concept conveyed in this one verse; your salvation comes from faith in Jesus alone. Sadly, some are taught that one must be baptized and have a long record of good deeds to reach Heaven. Luke 23:43 shows us that even in our final minutes we can receive salvation and be headed for Paradise.

It is good to look at some context surrounding this verse. Jesus is on a cross between two criminals. In these two criminals, we see opposing ways humanity responds to judgment. Some respond with indignation and denial, lashing out with anger, mockery and blaming others. On the contrary, some recognize and admit their guilt and accept that they are rightfully due punishment.  

It is interesting that the repentant thief recognized Jesus’ royalty and lack of sin through such minimal interaction. He witnessed the verbal onslaught against Jesus and saw how severely He had been beaten. Jesus responded, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At that moment Jesus was focused not on His physical suffering but on fulfilling God’s plan. It was certainly a life-altering revelation for the thief to see the servant King in action.

As someone who is not much of a talker, I find it encouraging that the repentant criminal did not need a wordy and dramatic prayer to receive salvation. He spoke to Jesus the best way he knew how, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). God knew his heart, his repentance, and that he had turned to Jesus for salvation.

Years later, Paul would write to the church in Ephesus, “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9). From the repentant thief, we learned that God’s salvation is instant. There is no payment of good deeds required, nor a lengthy life of obedience. Come as you are and be welcomed into the family of God. 

Biking

The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #1: Biking
Wes McCullough | Production Director

When I was young, there was little better than an early morning mountain bike ride with Dad on the mountains in the Phoenix area where we lived. Dad had spent much of his young life riding and working in bicycle shops and even owned a shop. I had been on two wheels since shortly after my third birthday. Biking was our special father-son time. 

As Christmas approached when I was around ten years old, I spied an incredible mountain bike on display in my Dad’s bike store. It was chrome with purple trim, awesome Ballistic front shocks, and Shimano rapid-fire shifters. Without even sitting on it, I was sure it was the perfect size for me. I immediately pointed it out to my Dad and begged for it. He casually agreed that it would be nice for me to have but that was as far as the subject went. Christmas morning came shortly after and there in the living room was the bike! My Dad had custom built it and “hidden” it in plain sight. 

The oldest modernly recorded person lived 122.5 years. That is a long time. The Bible tells us Methuselah lived 969 years (nearly a millennium). No one can imagine living that long. As long as that is, it is still just the blink of an eye relative to eternity. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Sometimes it is hard for our finite minds to remember that our day-to-day and year-to-year problems will not matter when this life is over. Our bodies on this Earth are a temporary home, and everything we have stays here when we leave this life. 

As Christmas is now so close, much of our focus is on the presents we will give and receive. My Dad gave me a bike so we could spend time together bonding. The one true God offers something we can get nowhere else, eternal life. Because of the sacrifice of His Son, God offers the present that will let us be in His presence for the rest of time. I pray you will not pass on this gift.

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



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