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Family Devotion 4.20.22

Good morning,

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

I heard someone say once that the older they get the more that they think about the “hereafter.” By hereafter, he went on to say that as he goes into other rooms looking for something he forgets what he came for and wonders what “he is hereafter.”

Life is like that sometimes as we seem to be in search of what is truly significant. We have a longing for something and many times we are so restless. We try to fill these longings with things, experiences, accomplishments, and exploits but the longing remains.

The prophet Jeremiah described this problem well when he said we are trying to drink and be satisfied from broken cisterns or wells. In other words, from a source that will never satisfy. I love how C.S. Lewis spoke to this issue when he said:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

As C.S. Lewis said, we were indeed made for another world and thus our priorities ought to be different. Our focus as believers should be first and foremost to seek the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus gave the secret of being satisfied in Matthew 5:6. What did He mean by this verse? First, I think we need to recognize that Jesus is directing us to a new priority. To “hunger and thirst after righteousness” conveys the same meaning found in Matthew 6:33. That verse declares: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.”

Can you imagine how our lives would change if we focused our lives around the idea of seeking God first? What would our days be like if we prioritized time with God each day before anything else? What would it be like if we sought God for what He would have us do with the decisions and directions of our lives?

The answer is found in Matthew 5:6. The last part of that verse tells us that we will be filled or satisfied. We will then begin to find what we are searching for!

Instead of pursuing all the things that this world can offer, we must recognize that the only way to find satisfaction in this life is to make Jesus Christ the #1 relationship of our lives and then pursue His agenda for our lives.

Many of you reading this today may be a little discouraged in your walk. My prayer is that God will use this verse to encourage each of us that He is the only answer to our heart’s longings!

Blessings,

Rick Calloway

Family Devotion 4.6.22

Good morning,

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.” Psalms 118:5 

For years, hunters and fishermen have set traps to capture fish or other animals to be used for food or clothing. These traps completely take hold of their pray and keep the prey from escaping. Sometimes, you will see sportsmen like fisherman who will catch the fish with bait and then release the fish.

If you have ever witnessed this, you will remember how excited that once entrapped fish is to be set free. Similarly, we too can be entrapped by sin, problems, and difficult circumstances. As the Psalmist says above, these times could be called times of distress.

Greater still today is the fact that we can like the Psalmist says pray to the Lord and share with Him our deepest needs, fears, and disappointments. He is the only One who can truly set us free. What I want to remind us of today that even during difficulty we have already been set free as a child of God.

Why is that? I am so glad you asked. In John 8:36, we are told: “So, if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

Child of God always remember that when Jesus saved you, He set you free at that moment from sin, worry, stress, and anything else that could come against us. However, amid tough battles we need to be reminded of this truth.

Today, we can realize once again that we have been set free. I love a song by Hope Darst sings called “Set Free.” The words of that song remind us of this great truth.

“Here I surrender, lay down every weight
Remember Your love has broken all my chains
What You have finished cannot be undone
The work of the cross was more than enough

I've been set free; I've been set free
Sin has no hold, shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy, I've been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed
I've been set free”

Don’t miss the words “the work of the cross is more than enough” and “what you have finished cannot be undone.” When Jesus saved us, He set us free!! Whatever you are dealing with today, lay down every weight because you have been set free! My prayer is that those of you today who are discouraged that this truth will encourage your heart!

Have a great day!

Rick Calloway

Family Devotion 4.4.22

Good morning,

We all have experienced those times in lie when things did not work out the way we had hoped. Maybe it was some bad news that you were not expecting or maybe it was that you have worked hard, and no one has noticed. Regardless, we have experienced those times when things didn’t go as we planned.

The feeling that comes with those times is what we call discouragement. Webster defines discouragement as “a loss of hope or something, a loss of confidence, or loss of courage.” If we could be a bit more practical and put it in a math equation it might look like this:

Continual struggle plus uncertain timeline plus social isolation= Discouragement

I think we can all relate to experiencing aspects of this formula during the pandemic. Joshua was a man who faced discouragement in his life. I really believe that God gave him a strong word that we all need today in Joshua 1:9 -“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

In this passage, God is not just giving Joshua just a pep talk. He is reminding Joshua and us where to place our confidence. You see, courage is only as good what you put your confidence in. The big question for each of us today is where we have placed our confidence. Or better said, who have we placed our confidence in.

Prior to verse 9, God reminds Joshua of this in verse five of the same chapter - “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”

In essence, God is reminding Joshua that I have got you. You can trust me. Just like Joshua, our courage must be based on our confidence in God. Now that being true, it is also true that continual discouragement may be an indication of misplaced confidence. What have we placed our confidence in today?

The idea of who to place our confidence is even born out in Joshua’s name. Originally, his Hebrew name was Hoshea which means salvation. Moses changed his name to Yeshua which means “the Lord is my salvation.”

My prayer is today that we will once again realize that we cannot do life and face all of its challenges ourselves alone. Just like Joshua’s name says we must realize that God is the only one who can save us.

The easiest way to find courage is to put our confidence in God.

Have a great day!

Rick Calloway

Family Devotion 3.30.22

Good morning,

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

During my work career, I have always wanted to know exactly what I was responsible for doing and who my boss was and their expectations. I think like to know upfront who is responsible for what. Unfortunately, many times people confuse those roles. Conflict and stress are inevitable when someone tries to do things that are not theirs to do.

The same thing can happen to us in our spiritual lives. We begin to get this idea at times that we are responsible for doing great things for the Kingdom on our own. John 15:5 makes it clear that this was never God’s plan for us.

In that verse, Jesus tells us that that He is the Vine, and we are the branches. It is interesting that He uses this analogy of a plant or tree. The vine is part of the tree that provides the nutrients and ingredients necessary to produce fruit. The branches simply bear the fruit.

What Jesus is telling us here is that He alone produces the fruit in our lives. As much as we try, we cannot produce fruit like love, joy, and peace in our lives that will last apart from Him. What then are we responsible for? We are responsible for staying in close relationship to Him.

With John 15:5 in mind, our responsibility is to abide in Him. What exactly does that mean? The idea of the vine here is that we must be connected to Him to receive the things necessary for us to produce fruit in our lives. Not only must we maintain the connection, we are also dependent on the vine for our direction, our hope, and our path forward. Also, we must continue or abide in Him for us to stay fruitful for the Kingdom.

All of this is reminding us who is responsible for what. We are not responsible for producing fruit. We are responsible for abiding in Him. This means that we are to no longer pursue our agenda for our lives but instead commit the control of our lives to Him. To do this, we must daily cultivate our relationship with Him through prayer and study of His Word.

I love how Frances Chan described this idea when he said: “There are periods that we forget that in the pursuit of fruit, that if we just abide in Him, then fruitfulness is a guarantee.”

May we all find comfort in knowing that Jesus will do in our lives what only He can do if we remain in Him. Because “apart from Him we can do nothing.”

Have a great day!

Rick Calloway

Family Devotion 3.28.22

Good morning,

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Genesis 22:2 

God had told Abraham previously that he would become “the father of many nations.” God had also done the miraculous in Abraham and Sarah’s life by giving them a son at an age when they had given up the possibility of having children. How now could God ask Abraham to take his son and sacrifice him. Better than that, how could Abraham obey this directive.

In verse 2 of Genesis 22, the Bible describes Abraham’s feelings for him as one “whom you love so much.” Like any good father Abraham loved his boy. However, Abraham loved God more and his desire to obey and please God made it possible to start up Mt. Moriah trusting God with what he loved the most and that God would provide.

Can you imagine his thoughts? He had no idea what God was up to. Abraham was prepared to obey God no matter the cost and not knowing what lay ahead Abraham got to the point after arriving at the top of the mountain of raising his knife to sacrifice Isaac when he heard from God.

 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

“Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So, he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Genesis 22:12-15

There on Mt. Moriah, it was confirmed to Abraham that God will indeed provide in the most difficult of circumstances and facing the unknown. It was also confirmed just how much Abraham loved and feared God. Abraham faced the unknown of losing his only son with the determination of his faith. He stood ready to obey God regardless of losing what was most important to him.

Abraham trusted God with the unknown so much that he believed that God would raise Isaac back from the dead. He knew in his heart of hearts that God would provide.

“Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” Hebrews 11:19

Yes, we will face tough times and impossible, uncertain situations. Nothing will be of more comfort to you than knowing that God provides.

Have a great day!

Rick Calloway

Rev. Rick Calloway
Head of School


 

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