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Devoted

A people devoted to spending time with their Lord and Savior. Taking a moment and meditating on a passage of scripture that will fill you with the knowing that our God is above it all.  

In the Old Testament often times things were devoted for destruction, not kept for oneself, cherem . I Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” John Piper would say it this way, “Christ purchased you not only by virtue of his paying a price, but also by your willing surrender to him.” Friends may our lives be an expression of devotion, a people that have forsaken all for the cause of Christ. Devoted no matter what the price.

Tuesday, March 31st

“Way Maker !!” by Lynn Koehn

Please take a moment today and read the entire chapter of Exodus 14.  Allow the Spirit of God to flood your heart with amazement and awe of His boundless love and care for you.

I invite you to meditate on the phrase in vs 14, “The Lord will fight for you…”.  The Israelites standing on the banks of the Red Sea, hearing the hoof beats of Pharaoh’s army baring down on them, found themselves, in their own hearts and minds, in an impossible situation.  But God…“Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness!”

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”    -Exodus 14:13-14

Way Maker is one of those anointed worship declarations that expresses several undeniable truths of our God:

                             Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

                             Even when I don’t feel it, you’re working

                             You never stop, You never stop working

My favorite rendition is by Kristian Stanfill, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes at Passion 2020.  Click this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kBvpS3z9Qo

Imagine with me today the young Israelite mother scooping up her small child in her arms, walking through the Red Sea on dry ground with towering walls of water on each side saying, “Thank you God for making a way when there was no way!”  Imagine the Israelite father grasping the hand of his young son saying, “You, God, are a Miracle Worker!” Imagine the Israelite leaders going before the people exclaiming, “Our God is fighting for us!”

“Heavenly Father, I thank you that in every overwhelming circumstance and every impossible situation you are fighting for me!  I thank you that in those moments I am able to quiet my heart, be still, stand firm and watch God work!

Monday, March 30th 

‘Not to us, but to your name!” by Bob Elliott

Ps. 115:1 “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

In these testing times for our nation, it is healthy and good for us to get the focus of our attentions centered on God, rather than ourselves and all of our problems. This may sound like a difficult thing to do. However, there is a good reason for having this perspective. As Christians, we have a distinct ability to place our trust in the God of the universe! It’s not about us, it is about Him. The promises given to us in this passage of scripture are that He loves us steadfastly and He is faithful to the max. When I think about the steadfast love that He has for us, I am reminded of the scripture found in Luke Chapter 11 verses 11-13 “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

God knows us, He knows our situation. His promise of steadfast love is for our best interests, not to harm us. He has given us the presence of the Holy Spirit as a comforter, a guide, and a teacher to help us live above all of our earthly challenges. Yes, God loves us with an unfailing love, and he is also faithful to all generations. As Christians, we have been adopted into His family with inheritance rights of redemption, peace and security. We are kingdom people. Moreover, this kingdom will come to fruition, no matter how bleak our circumstances may appear to be. I find great consolation in this understanding. Matt. 28:18 states, and Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” In the past, this scripture has challenged my level of faith. How can Jesus be in control and not intervene in history when really bad stuff happens? The answer to this probing question is found in the power of the resurrection of Jesus. The bible says that by his passion, Jesus conquered and destroyed all of his enemies, including death itself. That is most certainly good enough proof for me.

Not to us, but to your name, be the glory!

Friday, March 27th

“The Road to Brokenness” by Warren Stroup

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”                                                2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (ESV)

We are jars of clay, that doesn’t sound very appeasing, but that’s who we are.  We are fragile, but inside we are full of the incorruptible Spirit of the living God.  Our condition is brokenness, but our position is righteousness.  Paul speaking to the church saying, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” How does this inside transformation take place?  We have to come to a place of surrender, handing over the "authority keys" to Jesus.  Brokenness is where we need to get to, before we can truly surrender all to Jesus.  I think we sing the song, “I surrender, all to Jesus, all to him I freely give,” with our fists clutched firmly around the keys to our lives.  It’s only until you come to a place of brokenness that your grip loosens and you come face to face with the truth that giving all authority to Jesus is your only option.  We live in a world with options, McDonalds’s, Burger King, Pizza, Chinese, Korean, etc… Google is built for a people wanting choices.  God wants to take your choices from you and give you the best, and the Sunday School answer is…” JESUS”! That’s right kids, he wants you to know the gospel, to breathe it, devour it and clothe yourselves with it. Here’s the underbelly of it all, I can’t tell you to be broken, you have to experience it.  I can’t teach you, tell you to read a book, send you to a hot conference or watch the latest motivational speaker. Brokenness is a place you have to walk through and only you can get there. My prayer is that you get there soon.  What is waiting for you can’t be explained, but when you arrive you’ll be forever changed.

Thursday, March 26th

"Let our words reflect a Christ Centered Heart" by Galen Troyer

In Psalm 19:14 we see a portion of David's prayer; "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."   

King David sometimes experienced difficult and surprisingly unpleasant times and even though he was a man after God'.s own heart, his words and thoughts were not always pleasing to God.  His heart was to honor God and he knew that he would fail if he relied only on his own strength, so he prayed often. Certainly, the circumstances we find ourselves (and our nation) in right now are unfamiliar, stressful and for many even difficult.  

How I respond to stressful and/or unpleasant situations when they occur, affects not only me, but also everyone around me. As a Christian I am called to respond with love and kindness, always thinking of others rather than thinking of myself. Sometimes I fail, but it is God's unfailing love and faithfulness that makes me want to pray again as David did. My prayer (for all of us) is "Father, we need your help each day in choosing the words we speak and in deciding what we will allow our minds to think on.  Our desire is that the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to you O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer."      

May our love and kindness be a blessing to many.

Wednesday, March 25th 

"God is Faithful" by Warren Stroup

“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar…”                                                                                                                                                               Romans 3:3-4 (ESV)

What a joy to know that his faithfulness is not dependent upon ours.  The stories in the Old Testament are often times a reminder of Israel’s unfaithfulness, but Jesus loved her. We shouldn’t be shocked by those words, but rather allow them to bring us to our knees.  It’s not the love of the unfaithful that is surprising but the perfect love of Jesus.  God knowing our unfaithfulness did not withhold his son’s hand in marriage.  He willing gave us his son who through his perfection would perfect his bride.  Just think on those things that shockingly expose our unfaithfulness.  Now think on the surpassing love that penetrates through the darkest of hearts and the most perverted of minds. He loved us so much that he wouldn’t allow our sin to be a bearer to his love.  His love keeps no record of our wrong, it does not boost in our evil.  His love never fails.  Friends, let us think on these things, let our hearts burst with a love that is richer and deeper than the most priceless treasure or the deepest trench.  He died so that he might love and be loved.

Jesus we love you, may our lives be an expression of your love. Though I might fall to my fleshly desires your love will sustain me and draw me back to your embrace.

Tuesday, March 24th 

"Peace…the gift that Jesus gives" by Lynn Koehn

My heart is filled again to overflowing as my wife and I spend the evening together, relaxing in the quietness of our home and listening to Pandora life-giving worship!

“’You’re a good, good Father,” “You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right” are just a couple of songs that declare the absolute certainty of Jesus and calms my mind and brings peace to my heart. John 14:27 is one of the many bed-rock declarations that has power to “set things right” in my mind even when it doesn’t make sense. It is one of those declarations that calms my heart in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Listen to this amazing wonderful promise Jesus makes to us. The New Living Translation reads this way: “I am leaving you with a gift— peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.” I want to share with you several practical steps that will help us live in the peace that Jesus gives…today! 

         1. Listen to the promises of God. Of all the things we hear each day… what can we trust to be true? We know we can trust the Word of God. I invite you to Google or YouTube; “Audible Promises of God.” Select one of the many available videos, plug in your ear phones, turn up the volume, relax, breath in deeply and allow the promises of God to wash over you and fill you to overflowing with the gift of peace that Jesus gives.     

         2. Express praise and thanksgiving to Jesus. Select one of the many great worship channels on Pandora, turn up the volume, sing, dance and express the gratitude in your heart to Jesus for the gift of peace He gives us.

         3. Communicate with Jesus. Throughout the day, thank Him for the peace that He gives.

My dear friends, my church family, I invite you to celebrate with me today, “Thank you Jesus for giving us your precious gift of peace. Thank you, Jesus, my mind and my heart are guarded and controlled by peace rather than anxiety, apprehension and fear. Thank you, Jesus, I am not troubled, nor am I am afraid.” 

Monday March 23, 2020

"Raising our temperature to Pray" by Bob Elliott

Colossians 4:2-6

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

This is part of Paul’s directive to the church at colossi. It is interesting to note that Paul is in prison at this time. Many of us can relate, as we may feel like we are locked up in a social distancing prison right now. However, that does not stop Paul from being intentional about advancing the Kingdom of God, despite his circumstance. There is such urgency in his voice to the people of God. He reminds them to be continuing steadfastly in prayer. This may sound obvious, but his clarion call is for his people the church, to be very purpose driven and not be disengaged from kingdom business.

In light of the circumstances we find ourselves in today, I would say that there is an urgency for us to follow this call to continue steadfastly in prayer. There are so many out there that don’t know the mystery of following Jesus and this time of uncertainty could very well be a catalyst to belief. I believe that God can use this calamity for His own purposes and the Holy Spirit is in the business of drawing spiritually hungry people. Paul tells his people to pray that God may open to us a door for the word.

Can we all corporately pray River Center for this to be the case in our community? Pray that God will help us to be salt and light. That we may know how to inject salt into our conversations and know how we ought to answer each person.

In the book titled The Prayers of Many Mike Betts describes the corporate prayers of many believers as “heavy weaponry.” How appropriate that President Trump describes our situation as that of being in the state of war against a virus!

We are locked in a spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of humanity. Betts further says, “If we take seriously the Bible’s imagery of spiritual battles then we need to realize that prayer is our heavy weaponry. It needs to be on the front line and not in the refreshment tent. If we feel besieged by the surrounding culture then as we pray we begin to realize that it is quite the reverse. We are in fact bringing the stronghold of godlessness under siege.” Our prayers engage with partnership with God to see the release of His power and authority into any and all situations. Lets raise the temperature of our prayer lives in this season and walk in faith. Many around a watching and searching for answers.