Devotional Blog

Make Yourself an Ark

13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.

Genesis 6:13–14a (ESV)


After a recent visit to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, I began to think more about the time when Noah was instructed by God to build and subsequently started building the ark. It seems to me that people around him probably thought he was crazy for building this massive ship on dry ground, and possibly not even near the coast. Notice also in Genesis 6 that God gave Noah very specific instructions on how to build the ship.

Think for a moment now about God’s power. God could’ve saved Noah, his family, and the animals that went on the ark through other means that wouldn’t really require any work or obedience from Noah – but God didn’t. He chose this way – and I’m sure it was perfect – evidenced in part by the reality that this story in the bible is certainly one of the better known stories, and many people have learned from it and God has received much glory through it.

Has God given you instructions in your life that seemed incomprehensible at the time but you decided to be obedient and do what God was asking? How did that turn out?

If you’ve never had a moment like this in your life, be sure that you are prepared for it. Be sure to also test that it is from God. If you determine that your instructions are from God, I encourage you to be faithful and obedient.

By: Marcus Steury

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Find Your Quiet Place

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.

Lamentations 3:25-28


This past weekend, we went to Shipshewana for our annual leadership retreat. It was a time of conversation, r&r and quality time focusing on God and His church. While we were there Jay led us to a beautiful park with trails, picnic tables, a small river and even a waterfall. We were instructed to spend about 3 hours in absolute silence praying, thinking and hearing from the Lord. We all walked to different locations all over the park and found nice little peaceful locations to spend some quality time alone with God. It started out as quite a challenge for me to calm my mind and solely focus on the Lord. But as I did this, I was able to rest my mind and give more and more of my focus to God. Being silent isn’t exactly my gift, but I found myself feeling so refreshed and at peace after such a long time alone with our Lord. He had many things to show me and my eyes were opened to some things I never thought of before. It made me realize the value that can come from taking time from our busy schedules and spending some serious time alone with God. God has so many things to share with us about the future and about major decisions that are going on in our lives. The world tends to drown out God and if we're not careful we can easily miss the things He wants to share with us. My challenge to you this week is to find a quiet place and spend some quality time with the Lord. See what He has to share with you and I guarantee, it will be worth every minute. 

By: Pastor Kevin Troyer

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THE AGE OF ANXIETY!

“Historians will probably call our era ‘The age of anxiety’.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and his will for us.” - Billy Graham. Billy Graham wrote this in 1965 and over 50

years later this is still an accurate description of this present era.


The news that we are bombarded with daily is not encouraging. Our world is in chaos and evil abounds. For some, this causes fear and anxiety to set in and the enemy uses it to distract us from our relationship with God. If we

allow it to, anxiety and fear will cripple us and take over our lives. But there is hope! 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.”  This verse says God has given us power! We do not need to fear! Philippians 4:6-7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:8 tells us what we are to be focused on: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” If you read on, verse 9 tells us that if we put these into practice the God of peace will be with

us. 


Are you allowing fear and anxiety to control you or are you focusing on the things that are true, lovely, pure, admirable, etc? The circumstances in our lives or even in our world may look grim but we can choose what we put our focus on. We can choose hope and peace over fear and anxiety because John 16:33 tells us that Jesus has already overcome!


By Elton Gingerich

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No Outsiders to His Love

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)


The words of Rend Collective’s song “No Outsiders” grabbed my attention recently – “There are no outsiders, to Your love, We are all welcome, there's grace enough”. For many followers of Jesus that statement may seem elementary and not profound at all. We have come to understand (though probably not fully) that God does indeed love us all.

Think for a moment though about two scenarios: First, think back to before you accepted Christ. Did you have doubt or uncertainty about God’s love for you? Second, if you’re a follower of Jesus, think about times that you’ve fallen in sin. It's likely that some believers doubt God’s love for them when they’ve fallen in sin.

It's important to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ that God loves us. Let’s encourage one another with the truths of God’s love, because we don’t always feel like God loves us. Let’s also be more aware of sharing God’s love with the people around us who don’t know Jesus personally as Lord and Savior. Let’s demonstrate that they’re not outsiders to God’s love, but that God loves us even when we're sinners!

By:Marcus Steury


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Little Less Talk and a Whole Lot More Listening

 “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5


This week’s revival meetings with Merlin has been an absolute blessing to me. I was thinking a lot about Merlin’s last message and the different steps to prayer he talked about. He spoke about different key steps to prayer, which are Asking, Listening, Surrendering and Obeying. This had me wondering how often, I really follow these steps in my own prayer life. One step that I always seem to forget about is listening. How often do I ask God for something and forget to stop long enough to hear what he responds. Do you think the prophets of old just heard from God without actually listening to what God was saying to them? This is something I definitely need to work more on and believe God has so much more to tell me and all of you as well, if we just listen. In a world full of distractions, it gets easy to forget what it means to listen, especially when we get used to hearing our own voices. Jesus has so much to share with us and wants what is best for us, but the only way to know what He wants is to listen. The verses today remind us that God will lead our lives and will direct our paths, but we have to be willing to stop and wait for a response. My challenge to myself this week is to spend more time listening and less time talking. I need to remember that our prayers to God are a conversation and I definitely don’t want to be that person, we all know that rule every conversation, especially with God.

By: Pastor Kevin Troyer

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Deny Yourself!

“​​Then Jesus told his disciples, “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 will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

Do you want to follow Jesus, the Savior of the world? According to His own lips, there are three required actions: self-denial, picking up an object of torture, and pursuing Him. Basically, scrap all of the plans that you had for your life and be single-minded in your devotion to Him. In fact, losing your own life is a prerequisite for finding life in Him. These words are imperatives. They are required. It’s not like you can skirt around them and expect to find life in Jesus. So… how is it going with you? I confess that for me personally, pain and self-denial are hard. I want what I want and I want it NOW! Following the words of Jesus, makes no sense to my carnal mind! And yet His Words are true whether I want them to be or not! So I have an invitation for all of you. Join me in losing our lives! For His sake! That we might live.

By: Pastor Jay Mast

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Praying for the Impossible

Joshua 10: 9-14 9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw

them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at

Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to

Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah,

the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by

the swords of the Israelites. 12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to

the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of

Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as

it is written in the Book of Jashar. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the

Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!


Who would even think of that prayer asking God for the sun to hold still? God listened to Joshua and

answered with a big YES! Why didn’t Joshua ask for a swifter victory? He could have done that instead of

asking God to lengthen the day. Joshua asked for something impossible, and God listened to man and

did it. What if I prayed bigger? What if you prayed bigger? Our God has great things in store for us, his

children. He is merciful, he is big on miracles, and he loves us. The enemy wants us to doubt and

mistrust God. He is not limited to what he can do! I thought that this was a good challenge for my prayer

life. To remember that nothing that we ask is too big or too small and that nothing is impossible with God.

By: Michal Troyer

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I Don't Deserve This!

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

 

You likely know someone (or perhaps you are someone) who has said with disgust and self-pity during a hardship: “I don’t deserve this!” It could be that you have worked through feelings of anger, resentment, envy, and bitterness in times when you went through something you thought you didn’t deserve. Sometimes, these times in our lives are spiritual battles, and sometimes they are even due to our own bad decisions. It's also possible that we suffer consequences from decisions of other people near us.

Have you really stopped to consider what you’re saying though, when you say, “I don’t deserve this!” The truth is, I believe, that we don’t deserve God’s grace and His love, but He gives it! The truth is that we don’t deserve a life of eternity with Him, but He gives it if we make that choice to follow Jesus.

I would submit to you today that what we think we deserve is a matter of perspective. If you’re struggling this week with hardships and wondering why you’re going through a certain difficulty, take it to the Lord and seek Him. It could be that He is trying to teach you. It could be a spiritual attack from the enemy. If this week finds you on a mountaintop and things are going great, praise the Lord and thank Him for that. No matter what, let’s try to thank the Lord for His love, grace, and forgiveness, because we definitely don’t deserve those.

 By: Marcus Steury

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Consider What God has Done

As I was reading the great prophet Samuel’s farewell address to Israel, the following verse jumped out at me: “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24 ESV). Obviously, my desire is to fear and serve the Lord, but according to the verse it seems that I must also “consider what great things he has done” for me. Now, I would imagine that the nostalgic ones among us are continually doing this; reflecting back through the years and ruminating over all the ways that God has been faithful in our lives. Sentimentality and nostalgia are emotions I don’t often experience, but in an effort to apply the Scripture, I dove into my past and rummaged around for a while. And what a marvelous exercise it was. The Lord was with me through the marvelous miracle of my birth! He kept me safe through the troubling years of adolescence, led me into some valuable relationships in my teens, guarded me throughout some difficult life-changing decisions in my early twenties, and even brought me to the superb people of Hicksville Mennonite Church. What an amazing God I serve! Maybe it would serve you well today, to also “consider what great things he has done for you.” Your life is not a random accident. God has done great things and kept you near. Reflect on them, fear God, and serve him faithfully. 

By: Pastor Jay Mast


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Learning From Adversity

Definition of adversitya state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune.

In the middle of adversity, we begin to think that we are under attack from the enemy. We begin to believe that our Heavenly Father is against us, and that we must have fallen from HIS graces.

Well, part of this thinking may be true; our enemy is against us, but our Heavenly Father is for us. Ro. 8:31b NLT If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

So how many of us as followers of Jesus love adversity; it being a state of continued difficulty or misfortune? Not too many of us. But the real question is, does adversity advance the maturity of our spiritual status?

Jesus understood adversity, for he had not a place to lay His head. In the book “The Imitation of Christ” by THOMAS À KEMPIS it has this quote.

IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances’ men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.

When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.

By: Pastor Steve Eicher

 

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