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Our new series, No Turning Back, starts on Sep. 20!

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Our new series, No Turning Back, starts Sept. 20!

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Daily Devotionals

Cry Out To God (Day 2)
Sep 21, 2020

Out of the darkest moment in all of creation comes salvation, redemption, and hope. As we read Psalm 51, in light of David’s life circumstances in 2 Samuel 12, we also understand there is a need for healing to occur after the sin and after confession. But where does this healing come from?

Read Matthew 27:45–54.

In the darkest moment of human history, the world turns dark. Jesus is on the cross as the perfect sacrifice and payment for sin. After three hours of darkness on the cross, Jesus cries out to God, “Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani? That is my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

If Jesus was indeed the Son of God, how could God have forsaken him? These words can be some of the most confusing in scripture and, at the same time, give a great explanation of how hope can be restored. At that moment, Jesus took on the sin of the world for all eternity, and where there is sin, the holiness of God cannot be. Jesus had to be cut off from communion with God to receive God’s full wrath for the payment of sin.

To further illustrate this, verse 48 says someone dipped a sponge in wine, placed it on a reed, and lifted it to Jesus to offer him a drink. Most believe this reed to be a hyssop branch that was common in the area — the same hyssop branch that we see used in Exodus 12 to dip in the blood of the lamb and put blood over the doorpost at the very first Passover.

The blood of the lamb covered God’s people from the wrath of God in the book of Exodus. The blood of the perfect lamb, Jesus, covers God’s people from the wrath of God today.

In Jesus crying out to God in that darkest moment, and through his resurrection, we are healed. We have access to forgiveness, redemption, and the mercy of God that King David also experienced. Do not be afraid to confess and cry out to God. He has made a way for you to receive his grace and never again receive his wrath.

Take a few minutes and listen to the words of Man of Sorrows by Hillsong.

Cry out to God.

Daily Devotionals

Cry Out To God
Sep 20, 2020

Today starts a five-week study through Psalm 51, called No Turning Back. This week we will focus on verse 1, where King David, the writer of Psalms, cries out to God. What does it mean to cry out to God? When we pray, we often pray for God to bless our food, help us in our day, and protect us while traveling. But to cry out to God is something very different. When a baby cries out, they are in desperate need of something. When we cry out to God, it is because we are desperate.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
— Psalm 51:1

Why did King David cry out to God?

Read 2 Samuel 12.

David’s sin was brought to light by the prophet Nathan. The king had an affair with a married woman, got her pregnant, and had her husband killed. Yes, David did all these things, yet we still regard him as a man after God’s heart. Why? How can this be? How can he still be considered one of the pillars of our faith? How could God use him after the sin he had committed? Because David cried out to God. He begged God for mercy. He called upon God’s steadfast love to overcome all the evil he had done. And God, in his abundant mercy, is willing to forgive.

Today, you might be thinking that your sin is too much for God to forgive. The enemy has convinced you your past is too egregious, too horrible, and too unforgivable… but God! But God, rich in mercy, can forgive, heal, and strengthen when we cry out to him.

God knows your sin, so don’t try to hide it. Confess it, admit it, and cry out to the God of all mercy and grace to forgive you and heal you. If God in his mercy forgives you, then you too can forgive yourself.

Visit clifec.com/NoTurningBack for series discussion resources and more!

Daily Devotionals

The Gift of This Life
Sep 18, 2020

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
— Revelations 12:11

The theme of our devotionals this week was to be “Lessons we learned from COVID–19.” What a heavy topic. What did we not learn from COVID–19? It seems that everything we thought has changed.

When I think long about it, it seems that, in our big family, we learned that our time is one of our most precious commodities. Some of us lost jobs and income. Some of us became ill and were quarantined. Some of us lost our sports teams and schooling. Everyone lost something, but we all gained time. At first, we were scared and sad and a little lost and uncertain. Every time we turned around, some other bad news was delivered to our doorstep. Though the bad news didn’t stop coming, things slowly seemed to change.

Slowly we discovered something more precious than gold. More time gave us more togetherness, strengthened our marriages, reinforced multigenerational bonds, increased our understanding of one another, decreased our believed differences, raised our empathy, inspired creative ways to connect and visit with those isolated, and created of our family a well-oiled, working machine of togetherness. Our lives became better through the storm. We became more joyful and more in love with each other despite the increasing uncertainties of the world. In short, our souls grew. Our increased love for one another sparked and increased desire for the Lord. We began praying for our church to open completely so that we could worship the Lord in full, and we worshipped with open churches in the meantime.

Soul growth is a funny thing. While love and joy increase in this life, hope and strength in the next life grow even bigger. We learned that disease, fear, violence, politics and death ultimately have no hold on us. We learned that this life is so very important and such an incredible gift because it gives us but a fraction of a glimpse of the next life we have eternally with Christ as a gift from God Himself.

Because our joy in this life increased, our hope and longing for the next are magnified. What an incredible journey.

Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

— Hosea 10:12

Daily Devotionals

What Have I Learned from Quarantine?
Sep 17, 2020

What was the most challenging part of quarantine for you? Was it the isolation? Was it the boredom? Was it the debate over if downloading Disney+ was worth it? I haven’t found any pertinent scripture that justified the one day I spent watching The Mandalorian, or the subsequent monthly fees for a subscription service I no longer use, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Considering my TV habits were one of the biggest sources of inner conflict this year, I had it fairly easy. When I lost my job, my parents took care of me. When I felt alone, I had the people I love most to support me. When my graduation track was rearranged by COVID–19, I had more than enough support to continue on. For those of you with real hurts, those of you who have lost so much this year, there is no consolation I can offer, no wisdom or comfort I can share, save the comfort provided in Christ Jesus.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
— 1 Peter 5:10

Peter understood that to live is to “suffer a little while”. He also reminded the church that this world’s suffering will fade and give way to an unimaginable peace with God. In Peter 5:7, he advised believers caught in a turbulent time to cast all of their anxieties on God, “because he cares for you.” Then, as seen above in verse 10, Peter doesn’t say that God would take all of their problems away. In fact, he implies something quite the contrary.

In life, I like expecting to suffer. It keeps me singing my gratitude for the luxuries God provides. I know that suffering is indicative of a life well lived for Christ.

Resist [the adversary], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
— 1 Peter 5:9

I am grateful to be experiencing a time of relative comfort, but I feel prepared, knowing that when suffering comes along, it will only be for a little while.

Daily Devotionals

What Might Your Story Become?
Sep 11, 2020

Saint Augustine of Hippo (345 AD - 430 AD), one of the most significant figures of the post-apostolic church age and a substantial contributor to the development of Western philosophical thought and the theology of the church, was canonized and recognized as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298. Why this tidbit of church history, you may ask? Well, should you spend a little time digging into this saint's life, you will discover not all saints are very saintly, which is good news for hopefuls like me.

In the writing of his Confessions (397-400 AD), Augustine allows us to see the man as he once was: the father of an illegitimate son, and a mischievous adolescent less interested in religion than in sex and high living. Add to that the fact that he was an admitted thief who took pleasure, not in the booty gained, but in the thievery itself. Not a likely candidate for sainthood, wouldn't you agree?

What's your story? When you contemplate going to church on Sunday or when the idea of actually becoming a Christian crosses your mind, do a thousand reasons why God would have nothing to do with you run through your head? Have you ever considered that such a thought might be God's invitation? His way of telling you a reservation in your name has already been made?

Like so many whose stories are chronicled in the Bible and throughout history, Augustine was a most unlikely candidate for service in God's eternal purposes. But in the grander scheme of things, this womanizing thief was to be a significant player in the divine plan.

What is your story? More importantly, what might your story become?

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