Reminder: Please do not use any of the images contained in these devotionals as a form of worship. They are contained solely to represent the devotional.
Death: The Subject No One Likes To Think About
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."
Mark 8:34-35 ESV
Death is not a pleasant subject to talk about, but the truth is if you really want to follow Jesus you must think a great deal about dying. There is one death that is the final end of our earthly life:“It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). And there’s another death required for followers of Jesus:”If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). The Greek word for “deny” means to disown and renounce one’s self, to disregard all your personal interests and enjoyments. You must crucify these things on the cross that you make for yourself for Jesus’s sake.
All the benefits and blessings of your life that God has graciously given you He asks you in your heart to voluntarily and willingly give back to Him. He asks you to voluntarily lay on the cross all the provisions He supplies for your life’s daily needs, so that you don’t turn your life upside down trying to get them yourself, but rather keep your eyes focused on Him only. In your heart He wants you to turn over to Him all your life’s possessions that He has given you, so that you love Him only. He wants you in your heart to sacrifice all the people dear to you to show Him that you love Him more than all of these. He wants you to willingly give up all the privileges or “rights” He gave you to think or do what you want in your life, so that you will do what He wants. He wants you to allow your purpose for your life to die so that He can give you His purpose for your life.
If you don’t “lose” your life in this way you will never “save” it, no matter how hard you try. You must die this death each and every day. You must die daily in order to live eternally. If this sacrifice seems too harsh for you or too hard to do, Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, assures you that you CAN do it:“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke (slab of wood that connects animals) upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (ESV with added yoke definition)
PRAYER: Lord, If following You means to die to self, then I give myself wholeheartedly to die for You. I will follow You to the ends of the earth because You are My Savior and My Lord. Amen.
Are You a Slow Learner?
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
Hebrews 5:8 NASB
We all would like to be fast learners. That’s fine if we’re talking about learning “ABC’s” and “123’s” in a regular school of learning, but in God’s school of suffering it usually takes a lot of time to catch on to the lessons God wants us to learn. One reason is it’s painful, and pain is not pleasant to bear. For another, we usually don’t know how long our suffering will last, which gnaws away at our minds and causes us to cry out, “Lord, when will it end?” or even, “Will it ever end?” And many times we can’t figure out WHY this thing is happening to us. We know God wants us to learn something from this experience, but what?
God answers that question through the writer of Hebrews, who tells us that even though Jesus is our Lord and the Son of God,“He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” He learned obedience by submitting to His Father’s will, which was to drink deeply from the cup of suffering. As the Son of God clothed in human flesh, Jesus had to learn slowly, step by step and through every painful moment by moment, what it meant to obey and submit to His Father’s will.
The passing through the valley of the pain of suffering is itself the learning that must take place in order to learn obedience. There are no alternate routes, no shortcuts. But remember our Savior’s words, “...I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:32-33 NASB
PRAYER: Lord, it is hard and it seems such a long time to pass through this valley of suffering, but through it all I want You to teach me how to be Your faithful and obedient child. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Your Footprints Were Not Seen
“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”
- Psalm 77:19 NIV
This portion of Psalm 77 describes the miraculous crossing right through the deep waters of the Red Sea by about 2.5-3.5 million Israelites! What is more amazing is that this journey was made on dry ground, with one high wall of water on their right and another one on their left! Without a doubt, God was the one who led them all the way through these mighty waters. But no one saw Him do it. Not one person saw Him walking through their midst or holding back with His mighty hands millions of tons of water from crashing over them for certain death. When it was all over, no one saw God’s INVISIBLE footprints left behind, showing that He had been with them every step of the way, guiding them, carrying them, protecting them.
Are you also facing the high waters of your Red Sea? Are you at this very moment asking God, “Where are You, Father?” Look for His invisible footprints. They ARE there.
PRAYER: O Lord, open my eyes of faith so that I can see Your footsteps as I pass through my Red Sea with you. Amen.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
- Colossians 3:2 NIV
The RICHEST MAN treasures God’s Word in his heart; the POOREST MAN sets his heart on earthly treasures.
PRAYER: Lord, please help us to turn our hearts toward the true treasures of life. Amen.
It’s Your Choice
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
- Matthew 6:10 KJV
In our life we all have to make many choices. But the most important choice each one of us must make is where we will spend eternity. God graciously has given us the freedom of our own will to make this crucial decision. C.S. Lewis in his book The Great Divorce eloquently describes the outcome of our life-or-death choice:
There are only two kinds of people in the end:
those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and
those to whom God says, in the end, Thy will
be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it.
Whatever you decide, remember…it’s your choice.
PRAYER: O God, let THY will be done in my life. Amen.
Calm in the Eye of the Storm
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
- John 14:27 NASB
Have you ever been caught in a raging hurricane? It can be scary, with rain and winds spiraling up all around you from speeds of 75 to 200 mph! But amazingly, when you reach the center of the hurricane, which is called the “eye,” there you will find only light breezes and clear skies. An “unworldly” calm fills the inside of the eye of the storm. Jesus promises us a quiet place of peace inside the eye of life’s storms. His comforting words, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you,” can calm our fears and anxious thoughts. We will never find the peace we need from the world around us, but only from the “unworldly” calm found in the peace Jesus has given to His believers.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I thank You for Your peace that is always there, living inside me, always available to bring calm into my life in the midst of trouble. I’ll never know how You do it, but I thank You so much for “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.”
Are You a "Fair-Weather" Christian?
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my savior.”
- Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV
Are you “ok” with God when everything is going your way (you have “fair” weather)…but when things seem to turn against you (“bad” weather comes) you fall apart and blame God? We all have had our weak moments like that. But you know in your heart that is not the child of God you really are. The figs may not bud this year for you and the grape vines right now may be empty in your life, but you have already made up in your mind that “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my savior.”
PRAYER: O dear God, when I get discouraged remind me once again to rejoice in You, my Savior and the Lord of the harvest. Amen.
Community Christian Church
541 Liberty Way
Lanoka Harbor, NJ 08734
Phil Strunk, Preaching Minister
Avaible 9:30 AM
These include a nursery, Sunday School Classes for children and Bible Study groups for teenagers and adults.
Sunday Worship Services 10:30AM
All are welcome! Please join us.