Devotions

Category Archives: 1V1

Correction • Devotion #2: Never Too Late

“And he said to his disciples, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.’” Luke 17:1-4

My daughter is almost five years old, and my son will turn three later this year. Molly’s favorite thing to do is to tell Ander when he is doing something wrong. Her justification for it is, “Well I want to be a good big sister.” We have been working on explaining that being a good big sister can mean just playing with him, and keeping him safe. It does not mean correcting every little thing that he does. It is in our nature as humans to want to correct one another, and scripturally we see that it is important for fellow believers to hold each other accountable to what Scripture says. For many of us, we read “if your brother sins, rebuke him” and cannot wait to follow that Scripture, but then we struggle with “if he repents, forgive him.”

When there is correction and repentance there must be forgiveness. One of the biggest issues I see in the church is people carrying around past hurts, not willing to forgive, and move on. If someone sins against you and they apologize and ask for forgiveness, Scripture commands us to forgive that person. It goes as far as to say that they could sin against you seven times in a day, ask for forgiveness each time, and you must forgive them. This is so difficult to do as sinful humans. We would rather hold on to our hurt, instead of releasing it. When we withhold forgiveness we do more harm to ourselves than anything. Our example of forgiveness is the Lord, He is willing to forgive any that come to Him and ask for it. How many times each day do you sin against God, yet He still forgives. When we withhold forgiveness, we become bitter, and when we are bitter we become ineffective for the Gospel. I have seen so many people derailed in their walk with the Lord because they have unforgiveness they cannot release. If someone is currently coming to your mind today that you need to forgive, take that step today, and reach out. It is never too late to forgive and move forward effectively in the mission of the Gospel.

Correction • Devotion #1: Without Wrinkle

Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” 

How often have you heard this said? Both from within the church and from those on the outside, it is a phrase echoed often. The indignation in a person’s voice after being called out for some perceived sin is palpable and resounding to the ear. Backed into a corner, these words of condemnation become fighting words. With no place for retreat, all there is left is a defensive wall. Self-preservation is a very real instinct and one that is hard to overcome. While the accuser’s intent can be one of care and concern, their approach has prevented an honest dialogue within the conversation. Pushed back on their heels, the accused has no other choice, but to fight back. So it has been for many years in the world of Christianity. Our accusations have brought darkness to those who see little light in this world. We must be careful about pronouncing sentence on someone of which we have no authority. Let our light shine to those who have no knowledge of our Savior.

In 1 Corinthians 5:12, we read, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

What is this? Here we find Paul telling us to leave non-believers alone. We have no authority over those outside the church, but the responsibility to judge fellow believers. The church of Corinth at this time was plagued with the sins of the world within its walls. Sexual immorality, bickering, pride, arrogance, and other transgressions were commonplace. Influenced by the culture around them, they had become numb to the decadence by which they were surrounded. They began to see this as normal as it began to creep into the church. Considered an international city, the outside influences were many and varied. This boastful bunch began to look the other way as incest had made the way into the church. Instead of dealing with what was thoroughly disgusting, they hid their head in the sand to protect their dignity. Paul had his work cut out for him.

Ephesians 5:11 adds, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

Church discipline is messy. It hurts but is a necessary heartache for a church to carry on the mission to which it has been called. Exposed to the light, the darkness of sin fades and no longer is able to create havoc in the body of Christ. We have been called to defend the very reputation that the church stands for with humility and love. We are to examine those who call themselves believers and in the same way, examine ourselves. If we say “we love the body of Christ,” should we not also be willing to defend it? Paul’s call for action was a defensive action to protect what he loved. Allowed to fester, sin will become an ever-increasing stench to those who are seeking a Savior. Appearing as the world, but cloaked in the robe of arrogance, we could never finish the mission Christ has set before us. Just as He was willing to die for us, we should want to defend that which was ordained by God so that He can present us “without blemish.”

As Ephesians 5:27 says, “So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Grow• Devotion #6: Imitation

As a Student Director, oftentimes I do not get a chance to meet the parents of a student until after I have already spent time with their child. One thing that is always interesting to me is seeing how similar many students are to their parents. I see similar mannerisms, vocabulary, morals, and even humor on some level. Every time I see this in a student, I get really nervous for when the day comes for me to be a parent. It reminds me of 2 Thessalonians 3:7 and 9, “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you… It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.”

We naturally imitate those we are in close proximity to, especially those we admire. So, if we want to see ourselves grow, we need to surround ourselves with people we can imitate to grow. You might be saying, “Well Justin, I cannot pick who I am in close proximity with. I cannot change my family, co-workers, or roommates. So how am I supposed to shift who I am imitating?” You may not be able to change those things, but that does not mean you cannot be more proactive about placing godly people in your life. You have to seek out places where you can imitate those people who you know have a solid foundation in Christ. This is something that you have to actively do, and cannot be something left to the backburner. 

Ephesians 4:22-24 adds, “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”You have to actively put off and put on a renewed spirit and new self. It takes active steps to grow, and the first step in ensuring strong and stable growth is making sure that those you imitate have a strong relationship with the Lord. That might mean you need to join a Growth Community and regularly meet with the leader of that group. It could mean serving in a ministry at the church and observing the head of that ministry and how they follow God. It could mean finding an experienced, wise Christian to mentor you and meet with you regularly. Do not become passive about who you allow yourself to imitate. Imitate those that will push you to truly grow in your relationship with Christ.

Grow • Devotion #5: Escalator

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Do you have a spiritual mentor? Are you mentoring a younger believer? Do you realize how important spiritual mentoring is to our spiritual growth? By definition, a spiritual mentor is someone spiritually more mature than the mentee. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul was writing to the people of Thessalonica about the need to lead others in love and by example. The Bible teaches that when we are born again we are like newborn babies that can only tolerate and desire the simple things of Scripture. The Bible calls it the “milk of the Word.” 

If we are left to ourselves, it will be difficult to grow to maturity where we can tolerate the meat of the Word. Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus loved this body of believers so much that they were committed to sharing the Gospel with them and pouring themselves into them so they could grow in their faith. Salvation is the first step of the Christian life but it does not end there, it is the beginning of a lifelong journey with Jesus. Growth requires time in the Word, prayer, corporate worship, and the example of mature believers. Once we begin to grow in our faith and in the Word we should begin to serve. Children’s ministry is often a great place to start as we are learning along with them. In order to grow it is also vital to surround ourselves with stronger, mature believers. As we learn and grow we should desire to mentor someone younger in the faith. Weekly gatherings are vital to our growth but we cannot eat one meal a week. 

Can you remember a time where you were so spiritually on fire that you could not wait to serve and share the Gospel? That is a great feeling but we cannot exist on our feelings alone. We need the encouragement and example of stronger believers. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord.” The Thessalonians were growing in their faith because Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had spent time with them teaching them the deep things of God. They were compelled because of their great love for them. No man is an island. We need each other to encourage and help one another. It may sound scary but that is how every mature believer began their walk with God. The Christian life is like riding a spiritual escalator, we are either growing up or growing down, there is no resting platform!

Grow • Devotion #4: Thank You, Coach

When I was in high school, I went to a small Christian school. In my senior year, we got a new basketball coach. Our coach happened to be the superintendent’s husband, but that did not matter to all of us on the team. To us, he was just the new guy who was our coach. I cannot remember how exactly it started, but all of us began calling him “Coach.” We would do it at practice, throughout the school day, and even in the psychology class that he taught. He was always just “Coach.” However, I have to admit, he was not the best basketball coach. We went on to lose every single basketball game that season, which, sadly, was not out of the ordinary for my school. 

Coach always seemed to like me. He appointed me and another senior as the captains of the team. However, it went beyond that. Coach always took opportunities to go out of his way to encourage me, to lovingly call me out when I was falling short, and to praise the abilities and giftings that God had placed in me. He pushed me to do things I never thought I was capable of doing. While those are all good things that I am thankful for, the reason I tell you this is that Coach still does those things to this day. When I preach, he watches the video and is one of the first people to encourage me in the giftings God has given me. A relationship that began as a basketball coach and player has become a discipleship where he continually points me to Christ. I had no idea when I graduated that Coach would still be in my life seven years later. He saw something in me and has stuck by my side this whole time. 

In 2 Timothy 2:1-2, the Apostle Paul is writing to his protégé, Timothy. Speaking of enduring hardships, he says, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” He does not tell Timothy to look to his own strength, but to be strengthened by the grace that is found in Christ Jesus. Paul understood that Timothy could not endure hardship or preach the Gospel on his own. So, Paul told him to entrust the Gospel message to faithful men who would teach it. In the church today, so many Christians are so caught up in themselves that they miss the incredible opportunity to entrust the Gospel message to people younger than themselves. If you are a follower of Christ, have you ever entrusted the Gospel to someone younger than yourself? Have you seen gifting in someone and encouraged them in it, then stuck by them?I am so thankful that Coach saw something in me and has stuck by me as I learn what it means to be a follower of Christ! Thank you, Coach!



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.