Category Archives: Reach • Gather • Grow: Fall 2020

Back to Reach • Devotion #6: Love of Christ Controls

When I graduated from high school, I decided to go to college for music. After a year of that, I thought, “How am I ever going to have a career that would provide for a family from music?” I then transferred to computer science the next year and made it three weeks into the classes when God made me realize that He had something else for me. I was more interested in planning out my future and how to provide for myself than I was about serving and trusting Him. I was not living with God as my master and provider. Instead, I was my own master. I obeyed that calling and it completely changed the course of my life. I moved away to go to a Christian college to study music and Bible theology. I did not want to move; I did not want to go to a new college. I hated change, and through the years I had no idea what was going to happen with my life. I just kept following the path before me knowing that I was doing what God asked of me.  

Serving the Lord is not just a matter of once a week. It is not just coming to a gathering and being involved in a ministry. It is your entire life. Every day, every hour, we are to serve the Lord. If Jesus is Lord of your life, are you obeying Him? Are you giving Him glory in everything you do? Are you serving Him in the things you do?   

When I decided to go to Bible college, I was not just changing the course of my life. Instead, it represented all my treasures, gifts and talents being given for God’s glory and not my own.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Who or what are you living for?

Who do you obey?

Who do you worship and glorify?

Who do you serve?

Back to Reach • Devotion #5: No One Notices?

We may think that no one is watching because no one is around while we are serving, but God sees, and God knows what you are doing. He is the most important one to please. Matthew 6:1 says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

One of my classes in 7th grade was music. Ugh, I did not like that class. I seriously could not understand anything in the class. I would cut up, be silly, and make jokes about how easy this class was. However, deep down inside I was panicking because I had no clue and I did not want others to think I was dumb or anything. So instead of asking the teacher for some help, I took it upon myself to cheat off of a friend’s test. I got a “C.” Man, I was so proud that I did not get caught and I got a passing grade. I felt like, “Boom, you do not know me, I totally get this class.” No one knew. Well, guess what? God knew! At that time of my life, I did not know that God knew, but He knew. 

After the test, I started to feel guilty, I still did not understand what the class was doing, and I could not pass another test because it was based off the first test. I was in some serious trouble here. I did not want to tell the teacher that I cheated. I did not want everyone to know that I was not getting the class. I did not want to be known as the slow girl, but I surely was not able to go any further. So, after God flooded my heart with the truth of what I did, I went to the teacher, explained my situation, admitted that I cheated, conveyed that no one else knew and that I was clueless on what to do next. Thank goodness my teacher had some grace in his veins and did not have me suspended or fail me for cheating. He explained to me that I would be allowed to retake the test. I retook it and received a “B.” It was crazy good news. 

I realized that just because I thought no one saw anything or knew that I cheated, God knew. Although it appeared I got away with something and I was not viewed as the slow one in the class, God knew. I believe He put the Holy Spirit in my heart to convict me into telling the truth. I would have never done that if I knew someone was watching me. I tried to play the part of understanding the class. I never wanted to need anyone’s help. I tried to convey that I could do anything by myself and everyone would then look at me with respect and amazement. I was surprised to be reminded that God saw and sees everything. He knows everything. He knows your heart. I think back and wonder what would have happened if I would have spoken up and asked questions. Maybe I could have helped someone else in the class who was struggling as well. I am sure there were others who did not understand all the material. I am sure I was not the only one.

I read an article ( that said biblical integrity is not just doing the right thing. It is a matter of having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. I did not want my teacher or classmates to think of me as the dumb one, so I cheated, but what I also did was show that I was a cheater. It was the wrong choice. I am thankful that God and the teacher forgave me. 

Psalm 139:1-6 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

How awesome to know that God is watching you at all times. I think we as people would act and feel different if we knew God Almighty knew what we were doing. God has called us to serve one another. Sometimes we get to serve when folks are watching, and sometimes we get to serve when no one is watching (of course, except for God).

Back to Reach • Devotion #4: God’s Holy Goodness

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10 (KJV)

It is confession time: I am a planner. I like things organized and little ducks in straight little rows. I am a rule follower, and I honestly thought I had my whole life planned out since junior high. Actually, I do enjoy challenges and learning new things as long as I can completely anticipate the outcome or foresee any speed bumps along the way (I am only half joking, maybe one quarter). Clearly, you can imagine how often God uses these things to refine my heart and my fleshy control freak tendency.

God has been so patient, and He has stretched me. Honestly, my salvation was found in the middle of a complete mess where I could control nothing. I am so thankful He took me to that place, but I do not want to rap my redemption story. I want to impart what happened afterward, and I truly think many of you can relate.

I had this constant urge to get out of my comfort zone and find some way to learn more, give more, and experience more of whatever God would bring my way no matter the cost. I was a young mom who was very unsure of how to do these things or how I could possibly find the time. However, I knew if I kept praying for God to use me in some way, He would direct my feet. I began to serve in a few family ministries and doing life with some folks in a Growth Community. It was not easy for me in the beginning. I had passing thoughts like, “Am I really able to teach children about God? How could I go to someone’s house I do not even really know and talk about Bible things when I do not have it all sorted out? Will they see my mess? Will they see how much I do not know and ask me to leave?” Well, the answer to all that was yes (less the throwing me out part). But I found that I was in the wonderful company of people all looking to experience whatever God had for them.

Acquaintances soon became friends, and they took the time to teach me, pray with me, and encourage my family each week. They were people like me, trying to grow and sort it all out, too. God placed on my heart the importance of growing together by intentionally being a family of believers who are serving and praying for each other. I wanted then and still burn for families to be supported by a community who do life together. That is where God has directed my passion. I am so blessed to be a part of a ministry that is not only fun but also a group of women who all are seeking for families to grow stronger in their faith. These women who serve have a great passion for reaching families during one of the busiest seasons in life by loving and caring for their little ones. These women are moms, wives, students, daughters, and grandmothers who serve and give their time to our church family so that they may grow in God’s Word each and every week during Growth Communities, gatherings, workshops, and even serving together. 

Back to Reach • Devotion #3: Nudge

When I was 18, our youth group needed a bus driver. For some reason, it was something I felt like I could do, so I studied, took the test, and received my CDL license. I am really thankful for the Holy Spirit’s leading and the “nudge” I probably received to begin serving. Over the years, it has become a small joke where I try to hide the fact that I have this license, so I do not get asked to drive. However, I actually do enjoy doing it, and looking back it has been a great way for me to serve over the years.

I began my journey as a Christian when I was twelve, and as I began to learn about God, study the Bible, and listen to those around me with wisdom, a common theme began to surface: Serve. In middle school, a friend of mine invited me to church. I was reached. Then I began to attend church, I gathered. As time went on, I attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and youth group. I began to grow. Here at The River, we talk a lot about the vision of the church which is Reach, Gather, and Grow. I can look back and see my journey and the path through this process, and I am thankful for those people in my life that helped shape me.

As believers, we are also called to go “Back to Reach.” That is what I believe I did when I went and tested for my bus license and began to serve in that ministry. Over the years, I have served in many different areas. There are many to choose from for you as well. A natural response after salvation is serving God, furthering His kingdom, and finding ways to carry out His will for us. John 12:26 reminds us that God calls us to serve Him, and He will honor us for it: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

In 1 Samuel 12:24, we are reminded to be faithful in serving, and remember what God has done for each of us: “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” 

Finally, Joshua 22:5 says, “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Back to Reach • Devotion #2: Servant Minded

I think that everybody knows that as the church and as believers of Christ, we are called to serve. As I looked up verses on serving in the church, one verse stood out to me. In Romans 12:11, it says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” This was an eye-opener for me. Not only am I called to serve, but I am also called to be “fervent” in serving. We are instructed to serve passionately, to serve with a burning fire in our soul. I am not called to sigh, roll my eyes, and drag myself to AWANA, Tuesday night gathering, worship or band practice, the nursery, or insert-your-ministry-here, all while wishing I was watching Netflix on the couch. Serving should not be a time of counting down the minutes until it is finished. 

Our serving might look different if we were serving with the attitude described in Colossians 3:23-24, “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.” This is an important part of serving. Serving is an incredible opportunity for us. I think we may sometimes forget that serving is our opportunity to worship Christ by loving people the way that He did and does. This is not something we should take lightly. When serving in ministry feels mundane, do not be discouraged. Do not lose your passion. When you feel like your serving goes unseen as you change uncountable numbers of dirty diapers in the nursery week after week with no thanks for your service, do not lose heart.  

Remember what Hebrews 6:10 says, “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.” Ultimately, God wants us to serve Him fervently. He sees our efforts; He sees our heart and our attitude when we serve. When you are scooping food for the recovery gathering dinner on a Tuesday night, ask yourself how you can do this with passion. How can you use every interaction to love people the way Christ did and worship Jesus with your passion? When you are setting chairs up for an event, how can you do that passionately and fervently for the Lord? Will you pray for the people who will soon be sitting in those chairs? When you are serving in an unseen area, how can you remind yourself that you are ultimately serving an audience of One? Do not lose heart. He sees your service. Serve Him passionately.  Finally, 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

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