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Daily Devotionals

A Harsh Truth
Feb 24, 2017
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“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
— Matthew 12:30

A person who doesn’t confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is an enemy of God and is destined for hell. A harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless.

Some see salvation in three categories:

  • Category one consists of those who are followers of Jesus.
  • Category two is made of those who are against Jesus.
  • Category three, which is the largest category, includes those who are in the middle, who are trying to figure out faith in Jesus Christ.

There is a common belief that those in category three are safe, as long as they stay in the middle. The problem is that category three does not exist. For the unbeliever, there is no middle ground; a decision must be made to follow Jesus Christ. The Bible is very clear that you are either with Jesus Christ, or you are with Satan. Those are the two options. The person who is not a follower of Jesus Christ is, by default, a follower of Satan.

Kayla was a former student of mine. At the time that this story took place, she was in seventh grade, and her older brother was in high school. Kayla came from a difficult home situation and, naturally, had some issues with God and authority. Most of the students at the Christian school where I taught claimed to be Christians. It was a rare occurrence for a student to admit they he or she wasn’t a believer in Jesus. It was actually quite refreshing to have someone admit their true beliefs about God. Kayla was just such a person. She was honest about her faith and what she believed. I enjoyed conversations with Kayla, although it saddened me that she was not a sister in Christ.  One Friday afternoon in early spring, the students were busy playing all around the school. Kayla stopped in my classroom to chat, but it seemed like there was something deeper that she wanted to talk about. After discussing some of the riveting topics from my class, I decided to ask Kayla about her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So, I took her through the ABCs. I asked her three simple questions:

“Kayla, do you admit that you are a sinner?”
She said, “Yes.”

“Kayla, do you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord?” Again, she said, “Yes.”

“Kayla, do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord?” She said, “No.”

I was discouraged by her final answer, but hopeful that she was on the right path. Kayla also seemed hopeful. She seemed to bounce out of the room with more joy than she had entered with. Before Kayla exited out the door, the Spirit prompted me to make something very clear to her. So, I called out to her and met her in the hallway. As we walked down the hallway, I told her how grateful I was for her honesty and how hopeful I was for her spiritual journey. I was so happy that she was taking her faith personally and really considering the claims of Christianity, but there was one thing that bothered me about our conversation. I felt that Kayla had misunderstood something. As lovingly as possible, I told Kayla that I wanted to be very clear about one thing:

A person who doesn’t confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is an enemy of God and is destined for hell. A harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless.

You could tell that this information shocked and disappointed Kayla. She quickly responded that she was open, she was thinking, she was hopeful, that she was moving in the right direction. I agreed with all of her statements, as I felt the same way, but I informed her that the Bible is very clear that you are either with Christ or you are against him. I confirmed with Kayla that she wasn’t ready to confess Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, which meant she was against Jesus.

Make no mistake about it: a person who doesn’t confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is an enemy of God and is destined for hell. A harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless.

The most loving thing I can tell you is that you are an enemy of God, but the best thing I can tell you is that you don’t have to stay that way! Today, salvation is offered to anyone who is willing to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Daily Devotionals

The Need for a Savior
Feb 23, 2017
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Sometimes people know they need help. There are times when the need for a savior is clear. At other times, however, people make sure to spend a lot of time being nice and accepting of others, and it can be tempting to look around and to feel really good about ourselves and our efforts. In times like these, we might not feel the need for any help or for a savior. In a spiritual sense, this is dangerous territory.

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S Lewis makes this observation:

Niceness is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up to be nice. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might be even more difficult to save.

Mere improvement is not redemption.

We need a savior. The great news is that, even before we come to understand that, we have one. We have a savior ready to save, help and empower us as his children. That is the good news of the gospel.

One day, when all of our efforts at self improvement and niceness fade away, we will find ourselves in our Savior’s presence. Our efforts then will look foolish, but his work on our behalf will look glorious and will be eternal.

Even when we feel like we are being nice, we need a savior. The good news is we have one.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Romans 5:1

Daily Devotionals

Without Him
Feb 22, 2017
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And on this road to righteousness

Sometimes the climb can be so steep

I may falter in my steps

But never beyond your reach

— Rich Mullins, Sometimes By Step

Growing up in a Christian family, I was surrounded by deacons and preachers. Just about every adult male was one or the other. Throw into that mix the three generations of church pianists keeping my older brother and me immersed in the church hymnal. I suppose it was my fate to follow suit in some like capacity, and I did, but not before the prodigal years of my youth that would find me drowning in a sea of despair that reciting Scripture and singing hymns could not rescue me from.

I was 7 when the pastor first lowered me into the baptistery. That was good, and everyone was proud of me. After all, that’s what is expected of a kid with such a rich spiritual heritage, isn’t it? It was cool, too, having all those people pass by to shake my hand, give me hugs, smile and tell me how good I was. But I wasn’t good. Not even close. My teenage years would find me into sex, alcohol. At 15, I almost died from an overdose, which turned out to be both good and bad. Good in that it drove me to seek the counsel of my pastor, bad in the counsel he gave.

I knew that I had to make a change, and I knew what that change needed to be. The following Sunday at church, when the altar call was given, I was first in line. A desperate teen, I poured out my heart to the man who gave the invitation, telling him, “I need Jesus. I need to be saved.”

“Haven’t you made a profession of faith in the past?” he asked.

“I have, but —“

He cut me off and said, “It’s just the old devil playing head games with you. You’re only saved once, Pat. You just need to rededicate your life.”

With a brief prayer, he sent me back to my pew, back to a life without Jesus. Ironically, the invitation song we sang that night was called Without Him, and I still was.

I bounced back a little, managing my misery for the following couple of weeks, but old habits die hard and, without Jesus, they’re always there hanging close, like a crouching tiger. Inevitably, the big cat sprang from the tall grass where he lay hiding in wait, and I was back to the same old self-serving, godless me I had always been.

A few years later, I suppose God must have said, “Enough.” At least, that’s how I think of it sometimes. After a lengthy hospital stay, I sat at home recovering — a jobless man with a family to support and no means of putting food on the table. In that, the most desperate moment of my life, I didn’t call on a man. A man could do me no good. I called on Jesus, and he heard me.

Dear friend, I have no way of knowing where you are as your read this — the crisis you may be facing or the depth of despair you may even now be drowning in — but I do know this: God still loves you, and it’s not too late to call on him. Just do it.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
— Ephesians 2:1–7

Daily Devotionals

Good News in a Bad Place
Feb 21, 2017
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Good news has to enter into a not-as-good situation, or else it’s not good news.

Let me explain.

Every kid wants to go to Disney World. Literally every kid. If you think your kid probably doesn’t care that much, you’re probably wrong. It was on Christmas morning, when I was 6, that my parents told me we were going to Disney, and that morning couldn’t have gotten more joyous, because every kid wants to go to Disney. And when kids are told they are going to Disney, it’s the best news ever to them. If you don’t believe me, go search YouTube for “kids get told they are going to Disney” and watch the results. It’ll melt your heart. It is such good news to them, because Disney promises that it’s a place where magic happens and dreams come true! Kids are promised that, no matter their lives are like now, Disney will make them better. To kids, it’s the best news because it promises them something that is better than where they currently are.

In order for it to be good news, it has to enter into a not-as-good situation.

As we saw on Sunday, that’s what makes the Gospel such good news. The Gospel brings the best news possible into the worst situation imaginable. The Gospel brings life into a world of death. The Gospel turns enemies of God into friends of God. The Gospel changes children of flesh and wrath into children of the Spirit, mercy, and grace. It’s the best news entering into the worst situation.

As Christians, it’s so important for us to remember who we were before the Christ. Not to make us feel guilty or shameful, but to make us remember how precious the Gospel is to us. It can be so easy for us to get caught up in the everyday stuff of life that we forget how desperate we were — and continue to be — for Jesus.

So today, remember who you were. Remember where you were going.

Then, remind yourself who you are. Remind yourself of how the Gospel has changed you, and ask God for the grace to live out of that truth.

Daily Devotionals

You Can't Fight Your Nature
Feb 20, 2017
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Nearly 11 years ago, we adopted Parker the Wonderdog when he was just a three-month-old puppy. As it turns out, he is a natural-born hunter. If you’re a bug, mouse, possum or rabbit, I don’t recommend hanging out in our back yard, because Parker will chase you, and there’s a good chance that he’ll catch you. One time, I even saw him snatch a low-flying bird out of mid-air. (No joke. It was awesome.)

Nobody ever taught Parker to hunt. Before he ever saw his first prey, he had no idea he was a hunter. But the first time a rabbit crossed his path, his body and instincts — his flesh — took over, and the hunt was on.

As humans, we are also born with a certain nature. Unfortunately, it isn’t anything cool, like super-rad hunting skills. We are born with a nature of sinfulness.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
— Psalm 51:5 (NIV)

We are all natural-born sinners. We can’t help it any more than Parker the Wonderdog can help chasing after a trespassing rabbit. And, for each of us, our sinfulness has a consequence: death, in the form of eternal separation from God.

Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save,
and His ear is not too deaf to hear.
But your iniquities have built barriers
between you and your God,
and your sins have made Him hide His face from you
so that He does not listen.

— Isaiah 59:1–2 (HCSB)

You were once dead because of your failures and sins.
— Ephesians 2:1 (GW)

From the get-go, we are all dead men (and women) walking. Some people may have read or heard passages from the Bible and know that they’re dead. Some may have a vague idea that something’s not right in their lives. But many people have no idea that they’re dead.

Even so, as clear as the Bible is about our sinful nature and its consequence, the Scriptures are equally clear that God has provided a rescue.

The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:23 (GW)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
— Romans 8:1–2 (NIV)

If you have accepted salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, take a moment to thank God for this profound gift. However, if you do not yet know Jesus, I pray that you come to understand that you were born with an eternal death sentence, but God loves you and has provided a pardon if you’ll take it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (ESV)

Coming Events

Momentum
Every Wednesday, 6:45 PM - 8:30 PM

Momentum is our weekly Wednesday night program for students in grades 7–12. Come hang out as we worship, play games and look at God's Word together!

Mother/Son Nerf Night
Saturday, March 25, 2017, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Relax everybody, Nerf Night is here. This year, we’re building the best experience yet: LEGO NERF WAR! Of course, there will be the traditional free for all and ...

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