JANUARY 21 // 

AUTHOR:  Randy Wills             READING:  Hebrews 12:1-11 

Hebrews 12:1 is one of my go-to scriptures in the Word. It has helped me so many times. It reminds me of the people that have gone on before me and are now worshipping God in paradise. Yes, part of me is green with envy.

 

This scripture also has some theological value in that it lets us know that those people are witnesses of what we do. Let me say, though, that they are not angels and they cannot aid us in any way. They are witnesses of our victories and our struggles. They can see the trials I go through and the wins I have. Sometimes I think of them in the stands of a great race that I’m running. (The older I get the harder it is to think of that.) They are cheering for me. They already know the greatness of heaven and want to see me there.

 

I have grandparents, friends, Aunt Jane, John Swartz, and many others watching. I have to run this race with patience and endurance. No matter what. They can’t help, but Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior gives me all the help I need. So, someday I will be part of that cloud of witnesses cheering on my brothers and sister waiting for their great advancement. 


Pastor Randy Wills


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 20 // nourishment

AUTHOR:  Anya maestats             READING:  1 thessalonians 2:1-12

“What does Paul know about nursing children?!” That was my first thought when I read verse 7. But as I kept reading, I could definitely relate to the hardships he was describing and understood why he used that analogy. I am a mom of two boys now. My second son is only three months old and we are deep in the throws of nursing. Let me tell you, it is not for the lighthearted. A nursing child is constantly attached to you (literally), taking all possible nutrition it can in order to grow in the healthiest ways.


Nursing takes a tremendous amount of energy, dedication, lots of patience, and many late nights and early mornings. (Hello, verse 9!) Nursing means sore backs, sore wrists, sore everything. It means that I can’t just leave my baby with anyone as he would not survive without the nourishment I provide for him. He is relying on me for survival, and that’s huge! Even now as I write this, my son cries for that nourishment...


It really paints the picture well of how Paul teaches us to make disciples. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take an immense amount of work and dedication. New believers are “babies” after all. They need the truth for nourishment in order to grow, and it’s our job to give it to them, despite the costs. Just like nursing, sharing the gospel is going to make some people uncomfortable! There’s going to be opposition. But as Paul said, we are not trying to please people, but God.


I love that Paul also says that he dealt with them as fathers do with their children. It is our job to encourage, comfort, and urge our brothers and sisters to live the lives God called them to live. It’s simple. Not easy. But simple. I like that.


Anya


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 19 // god's complete character

AUTHOR:  mario mendoza             READING:  Philippians 1:1-11

Often I’ve limited God’s character. From a human perspective, I think I can only be one thing at a time. I’m either happy, or sad. I’m either being graceful or judgmental towards people. My feelings tend to limit truth into being only what I’m experiencing at that very moment.


But God’s character is so different. God doesn’t choose between grace and truth; He applies both together. God doesn’t choose between being a judge and a witness; He applies both at the same time. As we grow in Him, I am confident we will see more of this type of spiritual character in us--character that isn’t limited to one aspect of how we feel.


Paul’s letter to the Philippian church reminds me of this truth because he calls God as his witness, not just as his Judge. The letter starts addressing the genuine love he feels for his people, and, in equal measure, the need to rebuke and change some of the issues within the Church.


As we go about our daily interactions and possible arguments with one another, I hope we can all apply more of God’s complete character that isn’t limited by emotions. Like Paul, I hope we can call God as both a witness and a judge when we find ourselves in the middle of an issue that needs to be addressed.  


James 1:19-21 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”


Mario


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 18 // mom says yes

AUTHOR:  brook binstock             READING:  Acts 4:1-22

“Mom says yes,” Jackson, my 3 year old will say or “Mom says no.” To him, mom’s word is the highest. What Mom says goes...even more than Dad’s word. In fact, if Mom says no, that goes for everyone in the house, even daddy! Not really, but according to Jackson it is. He’ll even go by mom’s word if he’s with other people! He knows what Mom says yes to and no to, and he usually sticks to it!

Peter and John are amazing in this set of scriptures. They WILL NOT stop speaking about Christ. They know what they have been taught, what they have seen. They have had their extreme ups and downs with Christ. They learned how to trust him and believe in him. They knew what they knew and they were not going to back down.

As I was reading this, I just kept hearing Jackson say, “Mom says yes!” If Mom says yes, he can have a cookie, there is no arguing with that...the babysitter knows, daddy knows, the brothers know...he gets a cookie! If Mom says no, no cookie until after dinner, no one gets a cookie...cause Mom said so! Haha. He has been through it with me. He trusts me. I’m the authority, the final word in his life. And so, what mama says goes. That’s how I want to live. I want to speak about Christ to anyone that will listen—and never stop. I want to talk about my experiences with Him and share from a heart that has seen Him and knows Him. I want to follow Christ’s leading, not man’s leading. I want to have my foundation built on the cornerstone that is Christ Jesus and believe His final word over everything else!


Brook


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 17 // poured out

AUTHOR:  sheila WILLS              READING:  2 timothy 4

I think the first four verses of today’s reading could’ve been blasted on the internet today and it would’ve been relevant. Really relevant. I looked it up and found out there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world, and that’s not even counting private beliefs.


I’m the first to admit that, without the Bible, man, I’d take a run at my own religion—I like to imagine, create, figure things out, problem-solve…and having a blank slate to create my own system of beliefs? That would be an awesome challenge. Let’s see…a short list of things to do so I could feel like I’m sacrificing something, a long list of things to do that make me feel good about myself, and another list of conditional promises (meant to be broken depending on how I feel at any particular time). Yep. And dare I say it would attract at least some of the world’s population?


The problem with all of that is I’d be ignoring TRUTH. I don’t know if it’s the way God’s wired me or what, but I’m a major truth-lover. If the Bible says it, well, no matter how much I might scowl at certain verses, I have to accept them; I have to believe that they’re true. I’d hate to think that I have itching ears and that I’d turn away from something just because it didn’t suit my own desires, as Paul puts it.


Instead, what does Paul say? Keep your head, Sheila (my add-on), keep the faith during tough times, share the Good News, and do what you’re called to do. THEN he gives his own life-position: He’s being “poured out like a drink offering.” I want that. I want to be poured out for Christ. It’s not always easy; in fact, far from it, but when you’re a truth-lover, you can’t compromise the integrity of your soul.


On a lighter note, I really wanted to work in something that had to do with the Vikings’ incredible, unbelievable, close-to-miraculous win last Sunday, but just couldn’t find the place.


Sheila


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 16 // Caretaker

AUTHOR:  Randy Wills              READING:  2 Corinthians 9

Sure, give the pastor the scripture about giving money. Just have to tease our blog director, Ceydi Pries, who is doing an excellent job.


This is an area of my life that God has proven Himself over and over again. 2 Cor. 9 is definitely talking about money. God is telling the Corinthians if they give generously they will receive generously, sparingly they will get sparingly. As Sheila and I have been obedient to God, He has more than taken care of us. Don’t get me wrong, my bank account is not overflowing, I still live by faith at times, but knowing the principle that God has set down, it’s easy for me to have that faith.


I’m continually realizing that this isn’t just about money, though. It’s about time, energy, stuff, anything that is mine to give. If we are generous with those items, God will always bless us. If I give my time, I will have more time, give energy---get energy, give tools---have tools available. BTW, I’m looking for my nail gun…whoever borrowed it last…? I want to be able to give it out to the next person that needs it so I can open the door for God’s blessing on my life. ☺


I pray that God continues to mold me into having a generous soul, a person that realizes everything is God’s. I’m just the caretaker.


Pastor Randy

To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 15 // step aside

AUTHOR:  patrick maestas               READING:  John 17:20-26

I have had a bunch of different friends while growing up. Friends from school, church, and work. Most of whom I almost never talk to anymore. Some of them I see on Facebook, and others I've kept in contact with. It's funny to say it this way, but just to be frank, some of them I can't really stand being around. (Gasp, I said it!)  For some reason, there are some people I used to be friends with that today I wouldn't want to be in the same room as. Maybe it's pure awkwardness on my part. Maybe I was mean to them and I know it. Maybe I just don’t get along with them anymore. It could be that I feel judgment from myself about how I’ve acted around them. On the flip side, I have some (fewer) people in my life that I love to be around. The kind of friendships that makes it hard to leave the gathering or conversation, to the point where my wife is begging me to get out the door. Recently, I've started to feel a tug on my heart to encourage and love the ones I initially run from. Especially the ones I know are not believers. I catch myself kind of hiding my faith from certain people. Selfish, I know.


The Lord has trusted me with the task of sharing my faith. Which means I don’t have the luxury of deciding who deserves to be around me. They all do. Not be around me literally, but to be presented the Gospel. Everybody I come into contact with should know I am for God. The problem is, I stand in the way of that calling. It’s like having the last functional flashlight while in the depths of a cave, and I just keep it hidden from everyone who is stuck there with me. But Patrick, you are a Youth Minister… That’s what makes my convictions even bigger! Our mission is to shine that light, and lead as many as will follow to the Lord. Not to pick and choose who gets to come with.


That's what I want to do, be a reflector for God. To put aside my pride, self judgment, and awkwardness. To just be what God wants me to be. John 17: 25-26 is my model in this. Jesus says He will continue to make the Lord known. That's what I need to replace my pride with: a willingness to make my Father known. In those times that I want to just run from people, I need to check myself and tune into Holy Spirit and see what He has for me in that moment. I can honestly say that the times that I've just given it to the Lord have yielded the most growth in my life. I'm obviously not perfect, and this conviction drives me back to God every time.


When I'm gone, I want to be remembered for how I chose God. I want my legacy to be rooted in the Lord. My life should be a testament pointed towards The Father. It shouldn't matter what I did for work, how big my house or bank account was. I just need to get out of the way, and allow Him to love His creation through me. I don’t want people to question if I was a believer. Hopefully, the ones I leave behind will continue the mission I've accepted, maybe even be encouraged by my faith. But that all starts with me choosing to answer my calling.


Everybody deserves to feel the love that Jesus was describing in that prayer. Who am I to get in the way.


Patrick


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 14 // rejected by his own

AUTHOR:  Mario Mendoza               READING:  Luke 4:16-30

It’s one thing when someone doesn’t listen to you and doesn’t hear what you want them to say, but another when someone completely dismisses your truth. Rejection hurts. And even more when it’s from your own family and your own people. The pride of life has such a hold on people, it’s just unbelievable. I remember when our family first started going to a Christian church, we had very strong opposing opinions from our very own family members. The opinions left no room for debate. We had no chance to even share our perspective because in their eyes we had betrayed them.


Now we can have some conversation about Christianity, but, in the end, it will still take time and God working in their heart before they will open up and see that we aren’t debating different religions; the only thing we are debating is whether we need a  relationship with God or not. 


We might not see hope for the people here who were listening to Jesus speak truth, but God isn’t done with the story. There are some who eventually open their eyes. My encouragement for today is to pray for them and don’t stop living out truth because I guarantee you that they will notice and it will slowly turn that heart of pride into a heart of spirit.


Mario


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 13 // in my weakness

AUTHOR:  brook binstock                READING:  2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Wow. Well, there’s that! If you haven’t read 2 Cor 1:1-11 yet, go ahead and stop now and read it...then come back. 

So yeah, Paul doesn’t “put it lightly” or sugar coat things, does he?! Can I just say that God has perfect timing? Over and over I’m wrestling with something and He gives me an answer or direction in His word. 

It’s not always going to be easy. It’s not always going to be comfortable. We’re not going to have perfect conditions in which to minister to others, but that’s truly when God shines. That’s when we learn that it’s really not us that’s ministering anyway--it’s the Spirit through us! In our weakness, He is made strong.
 
I’m not always going to feel 100% healthy, or I may be fatigued mentally. I may not have the perfect balance of confidence and humility. God is in all of that! I’m not experiencing anything more than Christ experienced when He was here...and we know that nothing slowed Him down. To know that God is with me in the good and the bad, in the troubles and the victories, in the comfort and the suffering, helps me to stop and think before I act. To take a pause before I complain and then decide to charge on. To give my all, putting my trust in Him and not in my own abilities or strength. I’m so thankful for God’s presence in my life!


Brook


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 12 // special abilities

AUTHOR:  sheila wills                 READING:  exodus 31:1-11

What an odd set of verses to choose for us to read while we’re fasting, right? Like, Bezalel and Oholiab don’t exactly spring to my mind when I think of giants of the faith. Yet here they are, counted worthy to be mentioned by name in the Word of God. Artisans in metals, woodcarvers, stonecutters, craftsmen.


It’s way encouraging to know that God has given us abilities that He can use, no matter what they are. Maybe He can use my typing skills, cooking skills, even my reading skills? I love the saying “God doesn’t want our ability, but our availability.” So the word “ability” may be a little loose, but I still like it. I think, by and large, it’s largely thought that abilities have to be those things that are larger than life, amazing skills, things that everyone goes “Oh!” when they see or hear them happen.


The Lord Himself chose Bezalel and Oholiab, but they still could’ve said “Nope. Not gonna do it.” Maybe B was just too busy with his job, family, and archery (maybe some DP tricks?), and O, well, he just didn’t want to. They could’ve thought, “He can use someone else.” But God wanted those two guys. Apparently, they were His first choice.


God, when You ask me to do something, no matter how mundane or inconsequential it may seem, I’ll put my abilities on the line for You. Use me for whatever You wish. All for Your glory, Lord.


Sheila


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 11 // Charged

AUTHOR:  randy wills                  READING:  Mark 5:1-20

I’m afraid that some day Sheila will come into the living room and find me lying on the carpet, electrocuted from static electricity. At this time of year, after walking across the room, we are terrified to touch each other. As I go toward our wood stove to fill it with more fuel, I can sense the electricity building up and I realize that there is about to be a ¼ inch spark come out of the end of my finger toward the handle of the wood stove. It is genuinely scary!


I wonder if this is just a little bit of what Legion felt. As I read Mark 5, that’s the impression I had. He knew that he was facing the Creator, the Most High God, and something was about to happen that wasn’t going to be pleasant. And why did Jesus send them into the pigs? I have several different thoughts, but what struck me this time about the story is that Satan knew he was up against a power that was so much more than what he was.


In the book of John, Jesus says that He needs to go back to His Father so that the Holy Spirit can come and be in us so that we can do even greater things than He did. Am I living a life that makes the devil see me as a threat? Can those demons feel me (of course, it’s the Holy Spirit within me) when I enter their area? Are they afraid of what the Holy Spirit will do as I come into the picture? Oh, how I want them to fear what God will do through me. Satan, be very, very afraid.


I don’t like the feeling of static electricity building up in me, but the Holy Spirit? Yeah, that’s a charge of power I’ll take anytime.


Pastor Randy


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 10 // LIGHT, Love and Life

AUTHOR:  Mario mendoza                   READING:  Matthew 22:36-40 & 28:16-20

God is light, love, and life. These three qualities are part of his character and cannot exist without Him. What light does is it puts a spotlight on God’s love for us. When we experience God’s love it puts a spotlight on the real life we can have in Him. The best part about it all is that as we have fellowship with God his qualities are displayed in us in the same order as they came; we are able to become his light, love, and life for others.


I want to encourage everyone during this time of fasting and prayer that as you focus on being God’s light, love, and life to those around you that you remember it cannot exist apart from God. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is like the first because without first loving God we can’t truly love people. Genuine Love for people flows from our fellowship with God. Loving the unconditional way God loves is impossible without him doing it through us.


"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5


Mario


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.


JANUARY 9 // Light from the 90's

AUTHOR:  brook binstock                   READING:  Genesis 1:26-27 & Mat 5:14-16

I went to a Delirious concert in the late 90’s. (that photo is me in the 90’s) Remember Delirious? Martin Smith? Well, anyway, it was awesome! So awesome that every time I read Matt 5:14-16, I think of this concert. Martin Smith (btw is still cool now…look him up) quoted this scripture. He said it with so much passion and conviction that it has stuck with me for…well, it’s been a few years.


I can’t help but think that is how Jesus said it that day on the mountainside. “You are the light of world….let your light shine before others…” God made us in “their” image and now Jesus is telling us to let it shine!!


This last week I have been thinking about the things I don’t like about myself and hearing other people say the things they wish were different about themselves. I’m not talking sin stuff, cause that HAS to go! We can’t hold on to sin or “be ok” with any of that in our lives. I’m talking about the way I have to touch just about everyone I come in contact with. Haha. It’s true. If you’ve ever met me, you know it’s true.


Sometimes I wish it wasn’t part of who I am. Just keep your hands to yourself, Brook! I just can’t. I hug. I’m a hugger. I’m also a crier. It’s just me. And as I read these sets of scriptures, I heard Christ saying, “This is who I made you to be….let it shine.” It really is much easier to live freely in the person God created me to be. There isn’t time for shame or guilt. There are a whole lot of people out there that need to see His light in me, and if I’m too “self” centered, I’ll miss the chance to introduce them to the Light.


So here’s to letting our light shine so more will come to know Him and glorify our Father in heaven!


Brook


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 8 // Grace for his children

AUTHOR:  anya maestas                   READING:  Ephesians 2:4-10

Recently one afternoon, I was feeding my toddler, Milo, some lunch. I couldn’t pay super close attention to him as he ate because my newborn also needed me at the same time. When Milo is done eating, he has a habit of playing with his food, his plate, silverware, etc. This particular afternoon, he decided to throw his bowl off of his high chair, shattering it into pieces all over the floor. My first instinct was to spank his little behind. But instead, I tried to collect myself and calmly lead him to his room for a time out, and then to bed.


Anyone who has kids knows how hard it can be to have grace with them when they misbehave. I often wonder how God has so much patience with us as we misbehave. It is this unfathomable mercy that I think we often take for granted, that He gives to us over and over. I love that I can’t earn it, because I would never get there. And if I did, I would boast, just as the scripture says. But even knowing our nature, our Father still wants us to sit next to His son, Jesus, in the heavens and show us this grace that we don’t nearly understand.


Even before my children were born, I had great plans for them. To teach them how to be polite and kind, to treat their wives with love and respect, to be honorable men. How much more does God desire for us to do His good works that He has prepared for us to do!? But as it is, we cannot do it apart from Him. For it is His grace in us that allows us to produce good fruit. My children cannot earn my love by “being good,” although it would surely help, right? (You can laugh here!) In the same way, we cannot earn God’s love for us because it is way beyond our comprehension. We are alive in Him because of His grace for His children. Thank you, Lord!


Anya

To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 7 // growing up

AUTHOR:  Sheila WILLS                   READING:  1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Children are wonderful little humans, aren’t they?  Innocent, curious, obedient. Well, at least innocent and curious.  One of the adorable things about little ones is there absolutely egocentric world view. Everything, and I mean everything, is about them and what they want. Of course, that becomes not so cute when your child throws a tantrum in a store because you’ve dared to say no to candy or a toy. Somewhere down the line, we learn that the world does not revolve around us and other people’s feelings/needs/wants are important.


I love this analogy Paul gives the Corinthians (and us). There comes a time even in our spiritual life when we look around and realize “Hmmm. Maybe this isn’t all about me.” We begin to serve, help others, share the love of Christ. We’re a little more careful with what we say and how we act; we remodel our attitudes and character.


And one of the coolest parts of verse 11? Paul says he himself put his childish ways behind him! He didn’t beg God to take those things away, then wait and wait and wait for God to do it. He took the initiative to say, “It’s time to grow up and be an adult.” Wow. What a concept. We can’t choose not to be a child physically, but spiritually? Yeah, you bet.


Sheila


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 6 // pruning 101

AUTHOR:  Randy Wills                   READING:  John 15

A few years ago, I planted a couple of Concord grape vines on both sides of a walkway we have in our back yard, the thought being that I would guide them and prune them to make an arch over our walkway. I thought that it would take maybe a year or two. Concord and I have been at it for four years now, and I think that maybe this next year we may finally make it.  I’ve pruned, tied, and bent these vines every way that I thought was right, and the plant still seems to go where I don’t want it to grow.

 

As I read the scripture for today, I was reminded of my grape vine. It made me realize (just a little) what God goes through with us. He instructs, guides, and yes, even prunes us at times, and at the same time, we’re still pursuing things that are not spiritually healthy for us. Time isn’t an issue for Him. He uses our entire lifetime to make us into what He wants us to be…healthy, mature, and molded into His image.

 

I’m an amateur gardener, you might even add another couple of “amateurs” on to that statement. I really don’t have the patience, knowledge, or time to spend as I should to help Concord. Thank God that He has all of those qualities and a million more to continue to help us get rid of the idols in our lives. His timing and grace is always perfect.

 

I just got “re-inspired” for spring. I’m going to whip that Concord into shape.

 

Pastor Randy


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 5 // resurrected flesh

AUTHOR:  Mario Mendoza                    READING:  Galatians 5:16-26

I love when God brings us back to the same places in life, and we are able to see how He has changed us. Sometimes I picture life as a track race where you are advancing in the race but yet you are running in circles, crossing similar points again and again. These points in life allow us to reflect on what God has done in us.


On this trip to Mexico, I got to see a friend who inspired me when I first started running and helped me learn how to train. This time I got to take his son out for a run because he can no longer run. I found joy in something so simple. I told his son that when I have a son, he will have to take him for a run. It would take me a few chapters to talk about the things God has peeled away in me since I first started running.


Life in the spirit means being changed by God so that we get restored to the image He originally created us in. He created us in His image and each of us with a unique design. With the ability to feel, with the ability to love, and with the ability to choose. I say this because I believe we make the mistake of thinking God just wants us to put the flesh to death and never again feel or experience anything in it. Yes, the flesh and spirit are in opposition, but only because the flesh is not operating under the spirit.


Really, what God wants for us is for us to live with His Spirit. When we do, He produces the fruits of the Spirit in our resurrected flesh. Jesus Christ, the Champion, can turn weeds into an avocado farm. When we die in Him, we are resurrected with Him.


Mario


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 4 // Finding His Love

AUTHOR:  Patrick Maestas                    READING:  John 17:20-26

Reflecting on this last year, Holy Spirit has been really highlighting how much love is in my life. No, not the mushy, gushy, newlywed type of love we would all assume I’m talking about. Not even my love for my growing family. Don’t get me wrong, my kids and wife are awesome. In fact, they are the best ever. Period. I would do anything for their love. Anything. Whatever it takes to bring joy and love to their lives, sign me up. Most of my days at work, I find myself dreaming of getting home to be with them. When I am apart from them, it even hurts at times. But the type of love I feel for my family is different than the type of love Jesus is praying about.


I need the refreshing love of Jesus because life is not perfect. When it’s 6 AM and still dark outside, and I need to head to work without anyone saying goodbye. When I come home to a messy house and the kids are crying and there is more work to do. When my wife is too “touched out” to remember to give me a kiss because I “need” one. It is during those moments that I need the refreshing love of the Father, through Jesus Christ. That agape love that brings fullness, relaxation, and joy.  


My desire is to feel the love of the Father the way Jesus did. Sometimes it’s easy to seek the love of my family before the love of God. My family and friends are only human, and they love me the best they can. But my soul needs more, and my spirit desires the Father’s perfect love constantly. I pray to be more intentional about seeking His love first, because then I can truly accept the love from others, and I can love them better as well. This was the prayer Jesus was praying, for me to be One in Him, and for us to be One for His glory.


Patrick


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

JANUARY 3 // Wow God

AUTHOR:  Brook binstock                  READING:  ROMANS 8:1-17

When I tell my three-year-old son something that's a bit over his head or even just too good to be true, like having ice cream BEFORE dinner, he looks at me with this cautiously-happy-stunned-stinkin-adorable face, while his eyes shift back and forth! Is this for real?! Can I really go ahead and believe this?! That's how I feel when I read this passage in Romans. Did Christ really do all of this for me? Can I really live in this kind of freedom from my flesh? Could I possibly share in His glory?


Then I go ahead and tell myself to believe it. Paul talks about some things here that go directly against what the world around me is saying. I do not have an obligation to my flesh. This is truly so difficult for me. I want what I want, I am going to try with everything in me to get what I want...just ask my husband. But seriously, how often do I really say “no” to my flesh? I can blame the enemy for a lot of temptations and things going sideways, but most of the time, it's just me giving into my flesh over and over and over again.


If I go ahead and believe what this passage says, I am no longer a slave to myself! I don't have to keep giving in to my own wants and sinful desires. Like verse 11 says, I have “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” living in me. I mean, is this for real?! I have the Spirit of God in me, and my obligation is to Him, not to my flesh. As I tear up writing this (I know, predictable), I feel empowered to die to my flesh and live according to the Spirit. God, how would you have me respond? God, what do you want this to look like? God, what do YOU want? I could never do this in my own strength, but I can do it with the Spirit living in me. Wow!


Forever in awe of Him,

Brook


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

january 2 // skirmishes

author:  sheila wills                    reading:  romans 7:14-25

We have a lot of good family memories. One is when Randy and I would sit around the dining room table with our two kids and play games. Of course, we’re not competitive. No. We’re actually over-the-top competitive. I can still hear our daughter, the peacemaker, more than once saying, “I’m not going to play with you guys anymore if you don’t stop arguing!” And we would calm down, at least for a few minutes. (Seriously, isn’t arguing an integral part of “Scattergories”?)

 

Sometimes, being competitive comes in handy, especially Christian-wise. We’re in a war, plain and simple. God vs. Satan. Of course, God’s going to win in the end, but these daily personal skirmishes are the here and now.

 

An example? Or five? My reaction to people who run red lights, my blunt comments to people close to me, impatience with my own incompetency, procrastinating cleaning the house, forgetting all about asking God when it comes to a decision…the list could go on, but really? I’d rather not. Vulnerability may be highly overrated.

 

Always, always, always, when I start to get down on myself, something rears up inside of me that says, “I’m not going to let the devil win.” And maybe just because it’s the way God has wired me, something begins to happen in my spirit-man. The flesh begins losing its hold on me and I feel God’s Spirit buoying up inside. I can see hope, and truthfully, even if I don’t SEE hope, through that declaration, God has suited me up once again—uniform in place, sword in hand.

 

Thank God for Jesus Christ! “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25) Absolutely lost without Him.


Sheila


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

January 1 // CHOICES

Author:  Randy Wills                    Reading:  Daniel 10

As I start off this New Year, I’m filled with all kinds of excitement for the future anticipation of what is to come, and a hope for more people to know and grow in Jesus Christ. These are feelings that can turn to dust by the end of January along with other resolutions that were made with such good intentions. Excitement, anticipation and even hope can ebb and flow like any other feeling I may have. 


As I read Daniel 10, verse 12 really stood out to me. “Don’t be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.” 


Feelings may come and go, but I can choose to set my heart toward God and humble myself toward Him--I can make choices that will help my spiritual growth. So I choose to set my mind on Christ and to humble myself through fasting.


Now I'm in a place to see what God will do in me.


Pastor Randy


To read today's Bible Plan and Devotional, click here.

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