This is what it sounds like. As we wrap up our series on ALL IN, and as we focus on it as our theme for 2017, it seemed beneficial for us to end with a week devoted to praying -and even fasting as God would lead you- over how God is asking us to take new Next Steps to be more ALL IN in 2017. Here you will find devotions each day this week (written by some of your own RCC leaders) aimed at helping us do just this. We really hope these are a blessing and challenge -and as always if you have any questions email us.
In the book of Exodus, Moses writes about how God had called him up to the mountain top in order to lay the foundation for the future of God's relationship with His people. Moses spent forty days and forty nights on the mountain top with God, and all the while he fasted and even went without drink. (Ex. 34:28) In my mind I can only understand that Moses was able to do this solely based on the fact that He was with God. I would love to spend forty days and nights on a mountain top; just me, God and His creation. However, I admit I would probably prefer at least some beef jerky and some water to go with me too.
The Bible says that all the while God was writing out what we now know as the Ten Commandments. Those ten rules that so many of our world look at as a legalistic set of "have to's" that Christians impose upon the world. However, I submit that that's not the case at all. God know's His people, and He knows their hearts. He knows that we need structure, and that those laws would be a healthy standard of living for His people, and that ultimately we would struggle to keep the law. The law displays God's holiness, and the good news that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law for us display's God's amazing love for us. In fact His love for us is so strong that it has been described as a jealous love -He wants us for Himself.
Back to the mountain top. As God began to etch out the commandments, He began with the statement, "I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from ... the place of your slavery." He's our rescuer. He went to extremes to rescue us from our slavery and sin. That's why it's no surprise that His first commandment is, "You must not have any other God but me." (Ex. 20:1-3)
He knows His people and their hearts. And He knows that we don't need anything else, but Him as our God. Just as He sustained Moses on the mountain top for forty days and forty nights, so will He supply all of our needs. (Phil. 4:19) We only need to concern ourselves with keeping Him first. So, as we are praying this year and stepping out to be ALL IN, let's remember that He is ALL we need.
-Pastor Ricky Vest
Faith as Big as Moses
It was her first college class. She grew up in a small Midwest town and was home schooled her entire life. She was overwhelmed with the new faces, the new setting, and the pressure of her new circumstance. And now, within the first five minutes of her first class, she was told that she had to stand up and give a 5 minute talk on a topic that would be drawn from a hat! She knew she was not gifted at speaking in public, not to mention trying to talk about a topic she had no time to prepare for. What would they think or her? Would she flunk her first college class? What if she looked like a fool in front of everyone? She felt so scared she just wanted to run out of the room.
At the same time, just on the other side of town was a middle aged Bank Executive facing one of the most difficult decisions of his life. He had just been told by the doctor that he had to change his lifestyle. The many years of traveling, eating on the run, and late nights at work had to end. His body was breaking down and something had to give. He knew that his job performance was slipping as a result of his health and that it was just a matter of time before he was either terminated or moved into a lower paying position. He was too old to find another job... This was all he knew! Fear was gripping him daily. How could he pay for the Mortgage with a lower paying job?
Just as these two poor souls are experiencing, fear can grip us and cause us to lose focus on what our next steps should be. When things don’t go as we think they should go, we immediately try to rationalize a way out. We spend time and energy trying to make as many excuses as possible for trying to make it all just “go away.” We allow the circumstance of the moment define us for a lifetime. Fear is one of our greatest challenges, but God did not intend for fear to slow us or to cause us to be less. It is in times like these that God asks us to call on Him, trust Him, and place our faith in Him.
Moses too struggled with lack of faith. When he was clearly picked by God to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt, all Moses could think was.... What will they think of me?.... Will they believe that the Lord actually spoke to me?.... I’m sure they won’t even listen to me!
But the Lord had another plan. A plan where all Moses had to do was to be obedient and God would handle the rest. And boy did God handle the rest. After turning Moses staff into a snake, turning the Nile to Blood, killing Pharaoh’s first born, and of course we can’t forget the parting of the sea so that the Israelites could make their final escape from the bondage of Pharaoh.
So how does parting the sea have anything to do with finding another career, or helping us through a scary time in college? If God can do what he did to release the Israelites from their bondage, he certainly can release us from the fears that bind us in our daily walk.
Ask yourself the following:
Am I Fearful about anything in my life right now? If so, have I truly placed my trust and Faith in Him to help me through this fearful time?
How can I look at the many circumstances in my life where fear has often gripped me, and see that God is truly trying to grow me and let His light shine through me?
Pray and ask our Heavenly Father to take your fear and replace it with a Faith as big as Moses.
- Terry Bane
The story of Noah begins like this,
“This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.” (Gen. 6:9-12)
One of the first things Pastor Tim mentioned about Noah in his sermon was, “The way you live your life might be the only testimony people ever see about God.” As we think about being ALL IN in 2017 this is one of the main things we need to keep on our mind. That your coworkers, classmates and friends are all watching you as a Christian. You are where you are for a reason! There are NO accidents with God! He has placed you there as a witness to live out your faith so others will come to know Jesus!
Pastor Tim also spoke on the four Blueprints of a Boat Builder.
If we are going to be ALL OUT in 2017 we must have these 4 ideas Noah had:
-All out WALK with God!
-All out FAITH in God!
-All out WILLINGNESS to follow!
-All out OBEDIENCE to God!
The greatest step we can take for God is to say yes to God before He asks us to do anything. What a statement for us as Christians. To tell the God who spoke the world into existence that our lives are His. We will do whatever it takes to make Jesus famous!
As you pray today, pray that God would guide you to have an ALL OUT FAITH! Pray that even if you are the only person living for Jesus around you, that you would still LIVE OUT your faith. Don’t ever let the fear of what others think, keep you from doing God’s will. Fight the temptation to quit or to give in. Live for Jesus Christ, BECAUSE he committed to die for you, the least we can do is be ALL IN for Him!
“When it comes to the blueprint of your life be ALL OUT!” In your walk, faith, willingness and in your obedience to follow God!
-Pastor Michael Nunn
When we give ourselves to Jesus have we arrived? No – our story has just begun.
“Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
“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: 1-2).
Abraham could have thought he had “arrived” when he and Sarah were given the promised son. God showed Himself faithful beyond what Abraham and Sarah could have imagined by giving them Isaac the son of promise. Now with all the difficult years behind that he had endured increasing his faith, Abraham probably felt he could sit back and enjoy his wonderful blessing. But God was not finished with him yet. The scripture reads, “God tested Abraham.”
When God commanded Abraham to “take his son” he did not reply to the Lord’s command, “I am not ready for this” or “Is He judging me?” or “Is He even real?” No, the story continues with – “The next morning Abraham got up early and saddled his donkey…” (v.3)
By faith Abraham offered Isaac… (Hebrews 11:17) and he obeyed God. God had proved Himself faithful to Abraham many times; this was Abraham’s chance to prove himself faithful to God. He refused to allow himself to believe anything but God’s word. Abraham passed the test! In doing so Abraham has a testimony worthy of mention throughout the Bible. Abraham loved God more than all the giftings God had given him. Abraham chose to worship! How about You?
Faith is never brought to maturity without a measure of suffering attached. God’s ultimate goal is Christlikeness, our yes to be yes, a worshiping people. Interestingly the text says in verse 5, “We will worship and then come back to you”. Abraham’s obedience is worship.
Abraham and Isaac went to the utmost height of obedience (worship) possible to man. Jesus went the whole distance. When we make ourselves available to God, placing our life in His hands, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to work in us. Sometimes this means taking risks. But always remember “to obey is better than sacrifice”. The worst suffering and most severe tests may lie ahead in the future, but remember, God will provide the lamb. He will make you into a living sacrifice. Beloved ones! Don’t be squeezed into the mold of this age! “Surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.” (Rom. 12:1)
Matthew 16: 21-26
“21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. ‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’
23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.’
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?’"
This week when you pray, ask God about your motives. Are you coming to to truly worship God, or are you coming to fulfill a sense of obligation? When Peter rebuked Jesus and told Him that He (Jesus) wouldn’t be tried and crucified, Jesus turned to him and said, “get behind me satan.” Jesus told Peter that he was being selfish -thinking only of himself and not the things of God. Pray and ask God to help you realize that it isn’t about you but all for HIS GLORY. Ask God to open your eyes to areas of your Christian life (be it worship, serving, etc.) where you might be living in a selfish manner, for your pleasure and benefit and not for His.
Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Pray daily and seek the Lord’s will for your life. Ask God to show you specifically what HE would have you to do. Church is infinitely more than just coming and having your needs met. Seek God and earnestly ask Him how HE would have you to serve. Jesus said He came not to be served, but to serve. When we grasp this concept that the Savior, Himself, was a servant, it should radically change how we look at ourselves. We should begin to place others before ourselves and realize it’s not about us.
In Matthew 16: 25-26, Jesus tells us that if we desire to save our lives living in safety, we’ll lose our lives; but if we lose our lives living dangerously for Jesus -stepping out in faith and obedience to Him- we will find life. “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (vs. 26)
Pray this week and have your “now or never moment”, realizing that it will cost you everything to be totally All In for God, but what you gain is worth more than anything this world could ever offer.
-Pastor Scott Burchfield
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37. Right here, we see Jesus quoting the Shema out of Deuteronomy 6:4, a statement of faith that was recited daily by every Orthodox Jew. The word ‘Shema' comes from the Hebrew word which means “to hear.” Essentially in Matthew 22:37 what Jesus was saying to this Pharisee, or expert in religious law, who was trying to trip Him up was this: “Listen here. Listen up. If you want the answer to your question, ‘What is the greatest commandment?’ You have to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”
It wasn’t about Jesus having the right or wrong answer to his question; it was about Jesus giving him the answer to what was wrong in his life. So many times, we try to get the answers to our questions thinking that it will bring us peace, hope or joy, but really, what we need is not answers to questions but the illumination of the missing pieces in our lives. It’s clear in this passage that Jesus knows what’s missing. When I think about the year 2017, I believe that what we can see as we look at the landscape of America and the church is that there are pieces that are missing. There are pieces of our hearts, of our souls and of our minds that are missing. What Jesus is telling this Pharisee is the same thing we hear today. We need to be all-in. He needs to own our past, present and future. Our heart, soul and mind. So we can’t even begin to think about an all-in year without first doing an assessment of where we are, who we are and what we are. We have to look deep within ourselves and ask, “Are we all in?” “Does God have my heart and soul?” “Is God the controller of my mind?”
As we pray this week, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the things that are hindering our heart, soul and mind from being all in. We kicked off 2017 with the mindset of being all in.
This requires 4 Major Commitments:
-A Love for God and His Word
-A Loyalty to God and His Church
-A Life Surrendered to God and His Will and
-Laser Focus on God and His Purpose.
As you pray today, I encourage you to dig through Scripture. Revisit Matthew 22:37. Maybe even flip to Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and ask these simple questions: Do I have a love for God and His word? Am I loyal to God and His church? Is my life surrendered to God and His will? And do I wake up everyday with a laser focus on God and His purpose? Because if we’re ever gonna live all-in, we have to first be all-in in our heart, soul and mind. These are not my words; these are words from the mouth of the very One who died for us: our Savior, Lord and King, Jesus.
I think He deserves our All-in life.
-Pastor Tim Owens