Devotions

Category Archives: Expecting

Action and Obedience

Back to Reach | Devotion #1: Action and Obedience
Debbie Gabbara | Assistant to the Gathering Pastor

My grandmother was a huge influence in my life, and she was a beautiful example of a humble servant. She taught me that it was important to be involved in God’s work.  She was a quiet woman who taught children in Sunday School to love Jesus and know the stories of God’s Word. She taught me the importance of serving.  I am so thankful for all that I learned as I served alongside her.  

The Bible has a lot to say about serving. The Bible study notes from biblereferenceguide.com say that the word “serve,” “servant,” and “service” occur in the Bible well over 1,100 times.   The text continues, “In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for servant, ‘ebed,’ contains at least two key ingredients: Action (the servant as ‘worker’) and Obedience.”

Action and Obedience: It is easy to understand that serving requires action, as you are usually actively doing something when you serve.  We do not necessarily think of obedience when we think about serving.  In His Word, God tells us over and over to serve.  Commandments require obedience.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

This verse in Ephesians is very clear.  God has work for us all to do, specific work that was prepared just for us. It is about good works! God has great expectations for each one of us.  

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

We cannot out give God! He challenges us to give generously. God wants to lavishly give back to us. Invest your time, your energy, and your talents and God will give back to you in ways that you never imagined possible.  

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

God asks us to be obedient, work willingly, and do all things as if we are doing it for Him. I know that when I get to Heaven, I want to hear my Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We are serving Christ Jesus! He went to the cross for us and paid the debt for all of our sins. We could never repay all that Jesus has done for us. We should want to serve Him well all of our days.    

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10

God will remember what we have done to serve Him. He sees the love that we share when we serve others. 

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16

You have a lot to share! We all do, and it pleases God when we do!

  

What better reason could we need to serve?  

Get Up and Grow

Grow | Devotion #6: Get Up and Grow
Pat MacDermaid | Clothing Closet

Grow is a small word that means so much. A newborn baby grows fast from infant to toddler, child, pre-teen, teenager, and finally to a fully grown adult. They are learning and changing along the way.

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.” How do we do that? One thing we need to do is read God’s Holy Book. It is important to pray for understanding and wisdom to grow from what we are reading. Another excellent way to grow is to join a Growth Community Bible Study. One will learn a lot and meet other people who also want to grow.

Growing in Christ is not only reading the Word of God, but it is also living the Word of God. Prayer is another way we grow in Christ. The conversations we have with Him will help us to know what He would have us pray. It may be an individual, group of people, situation, or our country. Get used to asking Him to direct your prayer life and He will. Spend more time praying for others than yourself; He knows what you need.

You can grow more like Jesus by acts of kindness, a smile, holding a door for someone, and saying, “Thank you.” Take someone’s cart back for them. Cut someone’s grass.

Jesus did so many kind things. He fed thousands of people before He sent them home. He healed the sick and brought dead people back to their loved ones. 

Kindness matters. I remember a lady who spoke to my heart. Before I came to serve at the Community Center, I managed the local video store. She was my first customer. One morning, she came in the door and went right to the back wall, got a movie, and came to the counter. As she got close to the counter, I could see she was wearing a very pretty pair of earrings. I told her how pretty they were. She paid for her movie and left. The next morning the phone rang; it was the lady from the previous day. She said, “I don’t know if you remember, but I was at the video store yesterday, and you complimented me on my earrings.” I told her I remembered and asked if I could help her with something. She replied, “I have been up all night thinking about how kind you had been to me. I have been feuding with my family for the last two weeks, and you were the first person in two weeks that has said a kind word to me. I had to call and thank you.” Kindness matters.

That phone call touched my heart. When she comes to my mind, I always say a prayer for her and her family. Growth is a process, a lifelong thing. There are many ways to grow, and kindness is a good place to start.

Walk this Way

Grow | Devotion #5: Walk this Way
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

When I hear the word “grow,” my first thought is always to a plant, a vegetable, or even something like a tree. Our faith starts as a small seed and grows deeper into the soil and sprouts up from the ground, and it begins to bear fruit once it is mature. I have been intrigued by another example of growth in Scripture, walking. God walked with Adam and Eve, Enoch walked with God, and Noah walked with God. Proverbs chapter 9 refers to Wisdom as walking in the way of insight. 

“Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight. Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:6-10).

This verse reassures us that having wisdom is not what makes you wise; a wise man is one who loves reproof and instruction. Our mentors, pastors, and, as much as you do not want to believe it, spouses are going to give you reproof and especially instruction. How are you going to receive that critique, with hostility or humility?  God will use many things to refine us, do not push away from those people in your life who are constantly in the Word. A lot of the time we feel like we are learning more of the Word to be better at arguing against our opponents, or to prove to our fellow church people how much higher our path is and how much narrower our gate is. That is just not the case; argue with a scoffer or a wicked man and no good will come of it.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’”

We are learning more of the Word to continue to die to self and to walk with God daily. Each day we decide, “Am I going to live for me today or am I going to live for God?” Growth comes when we choose to walk with God, and when we are not afraid to get involved with a community of believers that are striving to do the same.

Got Word?

Grow | Devotion #4: Got Word?
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director

You will often hear the terms “Reach, Gather, and Grow” here at The River Church. We believe these three principles are a key thing for the church. Each member should consistently be doing their best to achieve these in their lives. 

In focusing on growing, 1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

We all know that children are supposed to be constantly growing in their lives physically. If they are not, we start to figure out why and try to address the problem. Infants need their milk to grow properly and become the toddlers they are meant to become. Toddlers and children need their fruits and veggies to grow as they should.

Children are constantly growing and need select food to do so. Our spirituality is the same way. We need our nutrients to grow. One of our nutrients, in a spiritual sense, is the Word of God. We need to be in the Word to be growing as the Bible has called us to do. We never see in the Bible that God wants us to stay stagnant in our walk with Him. We see over and over He wants us to grow and know Him deeper. If we are not growing, we are not doing what God has called us to do. 

Do you long for the Word of God in your life? It is a simple truth but one that we often do not find in our lives. If the Word of God is not found in our lives, we are not growing. To grow, you need food, and the Bible is our food. If you want to do what God wants, then you need to be in His Word. His word will change your life. The more time you spend reading, the more you will grow as a follower. 

I want to challenge you to dive into the Word today. Take a few minutes away from your phone and distractions and just read. You will be amazed how much you can learn and grow if you just spend a few minutes every day in the Bible. I challenge you to go and do as the Lord says. Grow and become more mature. Do not stay as an infant never growing. We all know that a 20-year-old should not look the same as an infant, right? So why do we do that with our relationship with the Lord? 

Love Brings Growth

Grow | Devotion #3: Love Brings Growth
Matthew Darden | Facilities

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:7-8 (KJV)

People define growth in many ways. At its very basic definition growth is the breaking down of something over and over causing it to strengthen. The result far exceeds the starting point. Often in my own life, I have looked to grow without experiencing the pains that accompany the process. These pains vary but can be things as simple as discomfort or irritating circumstances. Other times they can be complicated such as letting go of the hurt and bitterness you have been harboring. In my personal life, I have struggled with both of course, but the release of pain and anger was the most difficult to process. We see in verse 8 that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This love was given to me before I was born, during my years of rebellion and self-indulgence, up until the point of salvation, and will continue through the remainder of my days on this earth. It is a love I did not and do not deserve, forgiveness I had no ability to earn. 

Job chapter 14 says man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. Growing up in the chaos and dysfunction of the drug world I witnessed and experienced much trouble. This trouble broke my family down separating my siblings and parents. My father got off of drugs for a time and made an effort to be a parent. However, my mother never did. In her selfishness and dysfunction, she did not fulfill her role as a parent. As a pre-teen and teenager, this was something that gnawed at me causing a lot of bitterness and confusion. Time continued, circumstances changed, and as my mother got sick, I moved in to take care of her. For the first time, I began to see my mother not as a woman who had failed me only but as a person. She is a person who had influences and enablers who helped to lead her astray in life, a person who was raised by a selfish addict of a mom, and a person who was broken and confused. Where no light dwells, there is only darkness.

In pursuing my relationship with Christ, I experienced light and illuminated many flaws I had within myself and things I would have to get past to grow. Forgiving my mother was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But remember that we are called to love as Christ loves us and recall what He did for me in my brokenness. He gave me strength and endurance to face the process of that growth. The result will be an improvement.



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