Online Campus


Service Time: Sunday 10:30am EST

Fairview Park Campus

440-331-7700

Service Times: Sunday: 9:00am | 10:30am | Noon

Twinsburg Campus

440.331.7700

Service Time: Sunday: 10:30am

Jefferson Campus

440.331.7700

Service Time: Sunday: 10:30am

Avon Campus

440-331-7700

Service Time: 9am, 10:30am & Noon starting March 19th

Category Archives: The Forty Devotionals

What Are You Storing?

Day 22 The 40 -What are you storing-

Scripture Reading: Luke 12:13-34

In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells a parable about a rich fool who stored up for himself barn-fulls of treasure on earth instead of in heaven. When his time on earth came to an end, he missed an eternal reward because he was too focused on earthly rewards.

After Jesus finished this parable, He shares an incredible truth in verse 22-23: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

Before we focus on what Jesus is saying here, it’s important to recognize what He is not saying. He did not say it’s wrong to enjoy food or go shopping for some new clothes. He isn’t saying it’s wrong to have a retirement plan or savings account. Let’s examine His words closely again.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” Worry is the root issue Jesus is addressing in these Scriptures.

In verses 29-31, He confirms this by saying, “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

What “things” is He talking about? He’s referring to food and clothing which represents our basic needs. He says the pagan is the one who runs around seeking more money, better clothes, a bigger house, more ‘stuff’ in this life. But that pursuit will always leave you empty handed in.

Jesus goes on in verse 34 to say, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, if you treasure money, your heart will be set on money. And if your heart is set on money, your life will reflect it through greed, worry, and anxiety (Proverbs 27:19).

However, if we treasure Jesus, our heart will be set on Him. And if our heart is set on Him, our life will reflect this through a life lived according to His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

So, do not worry about this life. Cast your cares upon Him and rest in His promises. God provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. He knows your every need and will provide you with it when you seek His Kingdom (Luke 12:31).

APPLY:

  • Where are you storing your treasure? Is it on earth or is it in heaven?
  • Are you willing to replace the pursuit of temporary treasure for eternal rewards? What does this look like practically in your life?
  • Is there an area of worry in your life you need to surrender to God?
  • How does what you treasure reflect the degree to which you are living a fully surrendered life?

 

*Devotional contributed by Matt Pshock

Always Get Up

Day 21 The 40 -Always get up

Scripture Reading: Luke 11:33-52

We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all pushed when we should have pulled and zigged when we should have zagged. You get the idea. This is innate, human, and given (Romans 3:23). God does not expect perfection, but God does expect us to pursue perfection with the way we live.

However, as believers and new creations in Christ, we no longer live according to the sinful flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 5:8). We are called to a higher standard. There’s a difference between falling down and staying down. It’s why we all love Rocky. We love the underdogs.The one that refuses to be done. It’s why most of us don’t like the Patriots.

In Luke 11, Jesus charges us to maintain our vision. He says to keep our eyes clean and healthy to the best of our ability. This isn’t an order to be perfect. It’s an order to get up and fight on. The eye represents our perspective. If we can learn to renew our mind and keep our focus on Jesus, our whole body will be full of light and we will walk according to the Spirit.

This charge is rooted in logic as much as it is faith. If all that passes the eye is darkness, than darkness, it will see. If the eye is constantly filled with light, the mind (and body) will follow. Verse 36 says, “Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

If you mess up, it’s okay. .Next time, consider what’s allowed in front of your eyes. Choose next time to better control what you allow in front of your eyes. Focus on the light and learn to shut out the darkness. If you get knocked down, get back up. Always choose to get back up.

APPLY:

  • What does it practically mean to live according to the Spirit?
  • What do the eyes represent in this story?
  • In what areas am I Rocky?

*Devotional contributed by Marcus Bierbaum

 

He’s Not A Machine And Life Is Not A Game

Day 20 The 40 -He's not a machine

Scripture Reading: Luke 11:1-14

Everyone has played the claw machine at an arcade. You put in your quarters, move the dangling claw as strategically as possible, and hover directly over the prize that caught your eye. When we hit the button we’re sure we’re precisely on target and we expect to have the prize in hand in a few seconds. You take a deep breath as you press the release button and watch the claw open. It gently grabs the prize and then somehow, with no known explanation, the prize slips through the claw and rejoins the other prizes that so many others have lost.

Sometimes, we treat praying to God like a claw machine. We pray and expect quick answers and simple resolutions. We want our prayers answered as soon as we “click the button” and we want the prize we have our eyes set on. Sometimes, we put our change (prayers) in and the machine doesn’t even work. How dare it take our money and not give us anything in return? We kick it, we press the buttons a million times… we walk away. If God loves us so much, we think to ourselves, why is He not answering me?

Thankfully, God is not a machine and life is not a game. While God can and does change circumstances, more often than not, He changes us — He changes the one playing the game. Rather than getting angry and walking away from our prayer, we need to change the deposit we put into the “machine.” We need to learn to pray.

There is always more room to grow in regard to our prayer life. Even Jesus’ disciples weren’t sure how to talk to God. They simply and humbly asked Jesus how to pray. Jesus didn’t give a magic formula to use to enable us to “win the game.” Instead, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach about who God is. Jesus models how to talk to God, approaching Him with reverence, but also with the expectation of a child. When we pray, we aren’t informing God of anything He doesn’t already know. We are inviting our Heavenly Father into our lives.

God wants us to pray confidently and boldly. We don’t always have the correct change for the machine, but our “claw,” the Heavenly Father, has His grip in every area of life. Nothing slips through His fingers. And if we will invite Him in, He will always bless us with the greatest prize: a deeper relationship with Him.

APPLY:

  • How can you grow in your prayer life?
  • What prayers have you walked away from that you can talk to God about in a different way?

*Devotional contributed by Emily-Allison Peck

Prayer For Your Friends May Change Your Future

Day 19 The 40 -A Prayer To Change Your Future

Scripture Reading: Luke 10:25-42

Have you raised a teenager? If not, perhaps you were one at some point? We know teenagers can be a special breed and require lots of attention and grace. Lord knows they can push you to the very brink of darkness. They tend to be mouthy and carry a “know it all” attitude, convinced they don’t need a parent’s love and guidance. All of a sudden they know everything and advice falls on deaf ears covered in ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’ headphones.

You can’t help but wonder if this may be how God feels at times when it comes to us as adults. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably have had many moments where we act like the know-it-all teenager who thinks, “I got this in the bag.” If we continue to be honest with ourselves, many times this type of attitude has gotten us in quite a pickle at times. But as we reflect on times of troubles, who has consistently been there to pick us up, dust us off, kiss our head, and show unlimited mercy? Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

What an example of endless love and grace — a seamless, boundless amount in abundance. Jesus is the shining example when it comes to compassion and love for a person, even when we are frustrating and mouthy like a teenager arguing about study time. He knows that underneath the stubbornness and the urge we have to take control, our hearts yearn for His love and guidance, like a stubborn teenager who secretly desires an “I love you” and a big hug. So He forgives and He forgives and yet again – He forgives.

Let Jesus be the example in your life. Teenagers really come in many sizes, shapes, and ages. There is even a new up and coming breed – threenagers. Little pint-sized terrors that attempt to test you beyond limits that you even knew existed. Have you ever negotiated with a three year old and begged and pleaded for them to put on a coat in 10 degree weather? Phew. This is probably where the phrase “Lord have MERCY” came from. Friends, family, the person in line in front of you on their cell phone, all deserve a moment of your time and patience. They deserve your love even when there are times you are struggling with loving them. After all, isn’t that how God is with each and every one of us?

Being the hands and feet of Jesus has its challenges, especially in times of busyness, distractions, and way too many apps on our phones to bury our faces in. We are all teenagers stuck in adult bodies (if only we still had the body of our teenage selves). God’s desire for each of us is to stop in these moments and reach out to each other and help each other do this thing we call “life”. With an endless supply of mercy, even when humans can be frustrating, just like He has for us.

“Lord Have Mercy!”

APPLY:

  • Is there someone who desires your attention or needs your help? Have you reached out to someone lately?
  • Have you created margin to spend with Jesus? What are your common distractions?
  • Is there someone you can forgive and reach out to?
  • Does the way you forgive others reflect a fully surrendered life?

*Devotional contributed by Danielle Leonard

A Bad Habit

Day 17 The 40 - A Bad Habit

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:57-62

Most of us have a bad habit. We keep looking back. We focus too much on the past and not enough on what lies ahead. Whether it’s former successes, failures, obstacles; good times or bad times; sins or holy moments; we get trapped in the days gone by.

Jesus encounters three people who confess a desire to follow Him. But each one has their own reasons for not following through on what they said. One doesn’t believe trading present comfort for future glory will be worth it. Another fails to recognize the future impact they can make if they let go of past pain. The last is too focused on relationships they had established before they met Christ.

At the end of it all, Jesus says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Jesus’ reply may seem cold and calloused if we focus too much on the beginning of the sentence and miss the last few words.

We have been invited into the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom where, when it is fully established, weeping will be replaced with joy. Pain will be replaced with comfort. Injustice will be replaced with equality. Hate will be replaced with love.

Being invited into the Kingdom is a beautiful thing. But, perhaps even more beautiful is the opportunity we have to draw others in with us. This is the point of Jesus’ statement. He’s trying to get us to see that the beauty lying before us is much greater than anything behind us. He knows if we take our eyes off the future and instead focus on the past, we will drift off course.

The invitation of Christ is an opportunity to break off your rear view mirrors and fix your eyes straight ahead; on the way, the truth, and the life.

APPLY:

  • What elements of the past are you drawn too? Victories? Defeats?
  • How can you better focus on what God has called you to?
  • What emotions do Jesus’ words evoke in you? Why do you think that is?

*Devotional contributed by Paul Grodell

You Are Chosen

Day 16 The 40 -You Are Chosen

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:28-45

“Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you…” Jesus admonished His disciples. Lean in, pay attention, and listen carefully to this announcement. He said this to them after a man reported to Jesus that His disciples could not drive out a demon from the man’s son. The man’s words were part desperation and part tattle tale. “I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” This man went to the boss and complained about poor customer service.

“You unbelieving and perverse generation… how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” Jesus replied to him. The man stood in proxy for all those who are standing by waiting for a hero to solve all their problems. The man was expecting a rebuke for the disciples, but what he received was a good old fashioned rebuke for himself. Jesus did deliver the man’s son, but His words let us know this was not a job for Him alone.The disciples could have done it… the father could have done it for his son.

Jesus takes some time with His disciples afterwards. He pulls them in for a quick huddle. He pleads with their hearts to receive this, as He does with our hearts today “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you.” He was preparing them, and us, to accept the authority,responsibility, and power every believer has. Jesus took that moment to speak to them about the days ahead. He had their attention,, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”

Jesus is preparing His disciples for life outside the nest. They have to know what to do when He is no longer walking with them from town to town and how to survive outside of the safety net. He revealed to them that someday soon He would be delivered into the hands of men. They did not comprehend and they did not ask.

Jesus prepared the disciples and He has prepared us. Are we like the man whose son suffered under oppression because he was waiting for someone else to come and free him? Do you believe the ministry of deliverance comes from the hands of someone else? Jesus wants you to know – that YOU are His chosen vessel of deliverance. You don’t have to wait, you don’t even have to tattle. The power that is at work in Christ is at work in you! You have the power to allow God to heal, reveal, cast out, and deliver through you. around, life is a little more lovable. We weren’t ever meant to do life alone, so don’t!

APPLY:

  • Who have you been waiting on to bring about deliverance to your situation?
  • Confess to God those areas that you have not believed His power to be strong enough and allow Him to stir up the gifting within you to make a change in someone else.

*Devotional contributed by Tesha Fritz

Sign Up Button

Watering Cans

Day 15- The 40 - Watering Cans

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:11-27

One of the best things you can do to keep plants healthy is water them on a regular basis. While the water is what helps the plant grow, a hose or a watering can is required to transport the water from the faucet to the plant.

In Luke 9, the disciples suggest Jesus send the crowd that was gathering around Him away so they can go home and eat. Jesus has a simple response, “You give them something to eat.” Wait, hold on a minute…Did you catch it? Jesus didn’t say, “I’ll give them something to eat.” He said, “You give them something to eat.”

Jesus challenged the disciples thinking by telling them to feed the 5,000 people in the crowd. They respond the same way we all would, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” In other words, “But Jesus, how is this going to work?”

Jesus never answered their question. Instead, He told them to split the crowd into groups of 50. The disciples had a decision to make. They could walk away in doubt or listen to Jesus. We read in Luke 9:15 how they responded, “They did so, and had them all sit down.”

Jesus then went on to perform an incredible miracle by multiplying the fish and the loaves right in front of them to feed everyone in the crowd.

Much like the gardening analogy, God is the one who brings growth, breakthrough, freedom, healing and peace to every situation. But He often chooses us (believers) to be His hands and feet on this earth, acting as ‘hoses’ and ‘watering cans’ to carry Him to meet those in need.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit tells us to do things that don’t make sense. He asks us to do outside of our comfort zone. While it can be scary to take a step of faith and follow what we think God is calling us to do, we have to understand who we are carrying.

Once we understand that we are a tool in the hands of the Creator of the Universe, our nerves will be put to rest. Our job is not to grow the plants. Our job is to water the plants and trust that the water will do its job (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).

APPLY:

  • In what way(s) is God asking you to be a ‘watering can’ for His glory?
  • Study 1 Corinthians 3:6-8, what does it practically mean to ‘plant’ and ‘water’ seeds?
  • Will you commit to listening to Jesus even when it doesn’t make logical sense?

*Devotional contributed by Matt Pshock

Sign Up Button

You Got Power!

Day 14 - The 40 - You Got Power

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:1-10

Yeah, let’s go. Let’s do this. Let’s go kick some tail! This might be the response a handful of us would have had as Jesus gathered the Twelve to go drive out demons, heal the sick, and cure diseases. But, for most of us, I think the real response would be: who, me?

Why is this? When Jesus says, “Go!” why do we respond with fear and a lack of faith? Why do we question whether He would really give us power and authority to bring heaven down to earth? Two reasons: we don’t know who we are and we don’t know who lives in us.

Jesus hits the second reason in verse two. He sends them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is the “rule” or reign of God. This means you have the greatest King living and dwelling inside of you. It’s no surprise, then, that you would be given the power to go and establish His Kingdom further.

Verse 6 says, “And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere.” The Gospel is the Good News of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It’s telling others how Jesus has paid for our forgiveness.

This is what we have been called to do. We are to go out and use what we’ve been given to help others find freedom and forgiveness in Jesus.

So then how do we get past our fears and anxiety about sharing Jesus and His love? Jesus gave the antidote for that fear in Verse 3. “Take nothing for your journey neither staff, nor bag, nor money, nor clothing.”

In other words, get your mind off of yourself. Be willing to toss it all aside for King Jesus. Think of the needs of others more than yourself. Think of the sick, the hurting, and the lost. And if you do, His Kingdom will be revealed to you in ways you could never imagine.

APPLY:

  • Is Jesus King (Lord) in your life?
  • .In what simple way can you go out today and share God’s Kingdom? (Encourage, buy someone’s coffee, etc)
  • Be His hands and feet!

*Devotional contributed by Dave Lobas

***

O God of my Exodus,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons, when Egypt died upon the shore,

Far great the joy

when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.

Jesus strides forth as the victor,

conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;

He bursts the bands of death,

tramples the powers of darkness down,

and lives for ever.

He, my gracious surety,

apprehended for payment of my debt,

comes forth from the prison house of the grave free,

and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.


Prayer from The Valley of Vision

***

 

Sign Up Button

Faith & Acceptance versus Fear & Rejection

Day 13 - The 40 - Faith Vs Fear

Scripture Reading: Luke 8:40-56

Many of us are like Jarius, the synagogue official or the Woman hemorrhaging for years.

Jairus fearfully fell at Jesus’ feet to plead with Him. The Woman fearfully snuck from the side to try to touch Him.

It seems something was wrong with the way both of them viewed Jesus. They seemed afraid. They seemed like they felt the need to beg. They seemed uncertain of how He would respond to their request.

On the other hand, in verse 40, we see a different response to Jesus. This response comes from the crowd. Instead of being uncertain, they were excited. Instead of fearing, they were expectant.

Are you of the mindset of the crowd, excited, full of faith, waiting on Jesus? Or, like Jairus and the Woman and many of us, do you view Jesus as someone to be feared and uncertain of? We have all been like Jairus and the Woman. We have all had moments when we wanted to be forgiven, wanted to find healing, but were fearful to approach God.

Maybe it was because of past sin and pain, or like the Woman, maybe it’s because of present pain and circumstance.

These two individuals each had a different story, just like the rest of us. Perhaps you have tried many different things to solve your problems. Counselors. Doctors. Substance abuse. Alcohol. Anything to ease the pain, whether it be physical or emotional.

Where do you fit in these verses? Are you excited and expectant to see Jesus or are you pleading like Jairus and trembling like the Woman?

Jesus allowed the crowd to hear Him answer both with love and compassion. To the Woman, in verse 48, He said, “Daughter (a title of love and acceptance) your faith has healed you. Go in peace.

To Jairus, He spoke directly and told Him, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

Will you believe? Will you come to Him with faith?

Apply:

Do you believe Jesus is for you?

Do you know He wants you to come to Him, even with all your blemishes?

What is He asking you to extend and grow in faith for?

*Devotional contributed by Dave Lobas

Sign Up Button

Identity Theft

Day 12 - The 40 - Identity Theft

Scripture Reading: Luke 8:26-39

What comes to mind when you hear the words “identity theft?” Do you reach for your credit card or wonder if your computer password wasn’t strong enough? Believe it or not, identity theft has been happening for a very long time. The man in this story was, not the first, but definitely a very serious victim of identity theft. In this passage we learn that “for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.” (Vs. 27) Two things that make us human: wearing clothes and living in a house, had been taken from him. Rather than living among people, this man would “be driven by the demon into the desert.” (Vs. 29) Tragically, when Jesus asks this man his name, it is not the man who responds, but the demon with the name “Legion.” Even this man’s voice and name had been stolen.

Where there is the influence of the enemy in our life, whether it be through unrepentant sin, a constant fear, etc. there is a loss of identity. Rather than seeking counsel, accountability, and freedom, we allow ourselves to be driven to isolation. We slowly give up on the things that make us human, the things that we used to love doing. We are afraid of other people and what they might think, so we do not let them in. Most importantly, we do not let Jesus in. It is only through His grace and forgiveness that we can be truly healed and have our identity restored.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not allow the man to come with Him? Wouldn’t you think that being at Jesus’ side would be the best way for this man to have remained free? Jesus, in His grace, sent this man back to the people who he had run from. People who knew about his mess. Jesus sent him to tell the truth of what God had done for him. Jesus put an end to this man’s isolation once and for all. By telling the man to go back to those people, He was encouraging him to take back his identity. He desires the same for you. We were not meant to live life alone. If you feel your identity has been stolen, the first step is to seek Jesus and then to let someone into your isolation.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, ESV) 

APPLY:

  • Are there areas of your life where you feel driven to isolation?
  • What does it mean for you to let Jesus into those areas?
  • Is there a trusted friend who you can share your struggles with and take your first step out of isolation and into freedom?

*Devotional contributed by Faith De Zort

Sign Up Button