WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Calvary Chapel Blogs" [11-25 thru 12-02] Devotional

Seven Days of Devotion

The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him. 

Contributed by Calvary Chapel Magazine

He Lived in God's Grace

Story by Debra Smith

Part 1:

As attendees exited the room after a Bible study session at a family camp in California, Brad Lambert reclined on the small carpeted stage. He stared at the ceiling, tears of deep humiliation trickling toward his ears. After recently becoming an assistant pastor, Brad had just “preached”—sort of. At 10 the previous night, he had been issued a surprise request to teach in the morning. Terrified at the thought of speaking extemporaneously, he had stayed up until 3:30 a.m. preparing. When he stood up to teach the next morning, Brad recounted, “I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even read my own notes. And the verses I knew in my sleep, I couldn’t remember.” He endured 20 minutes of agony before sitting down after declaring, “I’m sorry, but I need to conclude this message now.”

Brad lay back, seeking invisibility. Please, God, don’t ever let me teach again, he silently prayed. “As I lay there in despair,” Brad described, “suddenly Bob came up and read, 'For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh'" (2 Corinthians 4:11).

Brad reflected, “He wasn’t afraid to approach me, even as I was ‘lying in a pool of blood’ emotionally. That was Bob: He would find the hurting person and somehow counsel them back to life.” During subsequent years as both served at Calvary Chapel Vista, CA, and its CC Bible College, the two became close friends. Bob impacted Brad deeply, especially Bob’s emphases on the believer’s sufficiency in Christ and on God’s grace. “Bob constantly talked about the great contrast between the death and insufficiency we have in ourselves and the life and sufficiency we have in Christ,” Brad testified. “And the grace of God—for living. Those words pound in my head, in my heart, as I remember Bob. God gives us grace, not only for salvation, but for living. God doesn’t stop with saving us; He empowers us to live a life pleasing to Him. When I understood that, everything changed. I was transformed. It was like I’d been born again—again.”

In December 2011, Pastor Bob Hoekstra passed away at age 71. Founder and director of Living in Christ Ministries (LICM), Bob’s life in ministry included 14 years as senior pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Dallas, TX; 11 years as senior pastor of CC Irvine, CA; and 10 years as director of International Prison Ministry, which was founded by his father, Chaplain Ray Hoekstra. Bob and his wife, Dini, raised three children. His last few decades involved teaching at churches, Bible colleges, and conferences worldwide on topics including biblical counseling, growing in grace, and contending for the faith.

 

  MONDAY

Powerfully Proclaiming Christ

by Debra Smith

Him we preach [Christ in you, the hope of glory], warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28

“The purpose of LICM could be stated most concisely as a ministry of ‘Proclaiming Christ to Christians,’” wrote Bob on LICM’s website. “In order to grow in maturity, wholeness, fruitfulness, and Christ-likeness, we must be feeding on the truth from God’s Word about the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bob’s oldest son Dean recalled, “Giving Christ to unbelievers was not enough for Dad. His vision was to give Christ to believers as well; discipleship was his passion. For what does our Lord tell us in the Great Commission, but to go ‘and make disciples’ [Matthew 28:19b]? How easily we fall into the trap of believing that the Great Commission is about making a decision for Christ. It is not; it is about making daily decisions for Christ. Do we take a young recruit who decides to be a soldier and kick him out the door? No. We know that a battle awaits, and the temptations are strong.” Even stronger are the sinful human tendencies to exalt self over God, Dean contended. Bob’s mission was to proclaim Christ in order that believers in Jesus might die to self and grow into His likeness.

“Bob proclaimed Jesus in deed, not word only,” said Jodi Possenti, who met Bob while she was studying and he teaching at CC Vista’s Bible College. “He was so much like Jesus. When I met him in the early 1990s, he was so gracious, gentle, and patient that I thought, Can this guy be like this all the time?” Through circumstances that Jodi saw as divinely arranged, she joined LICM staff in 2006. “By serving alongside Bob daily,” Jodi remarked, “I saw that his Christlike character was indeed unwavering. It was obvious that he spent much time with the Lord; he was permeated with Jesus.” Before working at LICM, she continued, “I was kind of anxious, not really at peace within. But Bob’s example was life-changing for me. I now have peace in Christ as a result of being discipled in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. I was taught to embrace ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27).”

 

TUESDAY

Ripples of Grace

by Debra Smith

Associate Pastor Brian Brodersen of CC Costa Mesa, CA, whose close friendship with Bob lasted decades as both held various ministry roles, said, “The greatest way Bob showed me his friendship was by praying for me. James 5:16b says, ‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.’ Bob was that righteous man. His prayers and counsel gave me confidence regarding huge decisions, including our family’s move to England to plant a church. He was honest and didn’t flatter yet always spoke gently in love. … His tremendous ability to take younger guys under his wing made him a father figure to many. At pastors’ conferences he was sought out for wise counsel; he was a pastors’ pastor.”

LICM staff member Shahn Flood recalled, “Bob spoke very little of his pre-Christ days. When he did, he would call himself a ‘scoundrel,’ referring to the spiritual bankruptcy of a life apart from Christ. Then he would quickly follow with a triumphant, ‘But God … !’ That was one of his favorite phrases; it embodied the transforming grace of God that he loved so much.” When Shahn joined the LICM staff in 2002, he continued, “I was very shy. The first time Bob asked me to teach the Bible, I was terrified, very aware of my inadequacy. But he encouraged me and provided counsel and prayer throughout, pointing to God’s sufficiency.” Sharing that ministry opportunity was one small example, Shahn said, of how Bob encouraged others to walk in the sufficient grace of Christ that he so vigorously preached.

Grace Amidst Suffering

Bob lived his last two years with severe abdominal pain, which mystified the many specialists he visited in a fruitless search for a diagnosis. During Bob’s hospitalizations, family members observed him witness to medical personnel countless times. Bob’s son Matthew recalls him praying, “Oh Lord, please don’t let me waste my words,” before sharing Christ with a nurse through intense pain. Matthew reflected, “I don’t think he ever complained once. There are not many people who can receive pain from the hand of God and turn around and worship Him. But he did. He wanted it all to be about glorifying the Lord.”

Dini and the Hoekstras’ daughter and son-in-law, Heidi and Joe Ceballos, now oversee LICM and International Prison Ministry. The ministries continue to distribute Bible teaching materials to the body of Christ, including prisoners in the U.S. and abroad.

 

 
 

 

WEDNESDAY

Love The Whole Church p1

Kellen Criswell

[This is part 1 in a three part series]

In case you haven’t read your Bible lately, Jesus is absolutely crazy about His church!  The Bible describes us as “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”[1]  I only pay high prices for things that are really important to me.  How valuable do think Jesus’ people must be to Him that He would pay for their lives by giving His own? 

The truth is Jesus doesn’t just love His people; He wants them to share His love with each other.  Jesus was clear on this when He said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”[2]  I believe that if we would love the church as we should we need to have a broad biblical understanding of the church.  This post begins a three part series on the church.  And my goal in the series is to remind us about three important ways we need to understand the church, in hopes of provoking a fresh outpouring of love toward the church from all Jesus’ people who read it.      

The first aspect of the church we will consider is the universal church.  The universal church consists of all individual followers of the biblical Jesus who have been born-again through faith in the biblical gospel.[3]  For those who don’t know, the term gospel means good news.  When used in the biblical sense, it refers to the good news about what God has done for all people so they can be restored to a relationship of peace and acceptance with Him.[4] 

The Bible tells us that God created humans to know Him and be known by Him.[5]  But our first human parents disobeyed the loving restrictions God placed upon them to protect their relationship with Him.  Through that act of disobedience they became spiritual criminals.  We know that law-breakers in society deserve to face the consequences of breaking the law.  In the economy of God it’s no different.  And sinning against the only holy God of the universe brings with it the highest consequence imaginable—the death penalty.[6]  As a result of their sin, our first human parents began to experience death in all its forms—relationally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.[7]    

All of us have followed in the footsteps of our first human parents in rebellion against God, and are subject to the same consequences.  We are sinners (those who miss the mark of inherent and behavioral righteousness God desires us to hit) by nature and choice, and experience death in all ways possible.[8] 

But there’s good news!  The good news is that God came to earth as the man Jesus Christ on a great rescue mission of love two-thousand years ago.[9]  He lived a life of perfect obedience to the divine law.  He never once had a sinful thought, engaged in sinful behavior, or sinful fantasy.[10]  He died the criminal’s death we deserve to die on a cross, in our place, for our sins.  He rose from death, conquering Satan, sin, demons, death, and hell for all.[11] 

When a person understands their guilt and need of God’s forgiveness and trusts in what Jesus did on their behalf, God saves them.[12] Their spiritual crimes—past, present, and future—are forgiven.  The perfect life Jesus lived in their place is credited to their spiritual bank account.[13]  The Holy Spirit comes to live in them and He brings them to spiritual life for the first time.  As Paul said, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”[14]   

Every time a person believes the gospel and becomes born-again, the universal church grows a little bit more.  In spite of what denomination, movement, local church, or culture they may come to associate with, they are part of God’s forgiven people, His church. 

Many times I’m so consumed in the things going on in my own heart, family, and church that I don’t give much thought to Christ’s people in other lands and cultures.  Maybe that’s true of you as well.  What would it look like for us to demonstrate love for the universal church right now, today? Christ cares that we love one another and express a spirit of unity with all His people.  This was His prayer:            “I pray  . . . for those who will believe in Me . . .  that they all may be One . . . .”[15]

May the lives we live clearly declare our “faith in the Lord Jesus and . . . love for all the saints.”[16] 

 


[1] Acts 20:28 NKJV

[2] John 15:12 NKJV

[3] Hebrews 12:22-24

[4] Romans 5:1-3

[5] Colossians 1:16

[6] Romans 6:23

[7] Genesis 3; Ephesians 2

[8] Romans 5:12

[9] John 1:1-3; 14; 17-18

[10] Hebrews 4:15

[11] 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

[12] Ephesians 2:8-9

[13] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[14] 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

[15] John 17:21-22 NKJV. Paraphrase.

[16] Ephesians 1:15 NKJV. Emphasis Added

 

 

 

THURSDAY

Receiving One Another

Brian Brodersen

 

In the seventh verse of the fifteenth chapter of Romans, Paul says, “Receive [or accept or welcome] one another … to the glory of God.” Christian unity glorifies God! Remember the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20–21? “I pray … for those who will believe in Me … that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.”

Since Christian unity glorifies God, and Christian unity testifies to the truth of the gospel, Satan is always looking to cause division; and Christians seem to go along with his efforts more often than not. My church is better than your church; my denomination is better than your denomination; my pastor is better than your pastor; my Bible version is better than your Bible version; our doctrine is purer than your doctrine, etc. These are sadly the sentiments of many believers toward their fellow Christians. The long history of the church has been filled with infighting and division, mostly over non-essential doctrinal issues and varying methodologies of ministry.

There have been divisions over baptizing methods; those who believe in dunking can have no fellowship with those who sprinkle. There have been divisions over methods of evangelism. Some say that giving an invitation to come forward is manipulation and gives a false sense of hope to people who might not really be saved; therefore, we cannot work with those who give that type of invitation. Some say the “sinner’s prayer” isn’t found in the Bible, so it’s wrong to lead people in that prayer, and we will not participate in such a thing. Some say that a particular evangelist doesn’t really preach the gospel because he doesn’t emphasize sin enough, so we won’t support his outreaches. There seems to be no end to the things that we Christians can come up with over which to divide. Then there are the hot topics like speaking in tongues, the rapture of the church, God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, and on it goes, with believers dividing against one another depending on one’s view of these non-essential issues.

There are also opinions about ministry methods that often divide Christian leaders. We warn people from our pulpits to beware of this or that church down the street, creating suspicion in people’s minds about the legitimacy of a particular ministry and teaching them to be suspect of Christians who don’t do things the way we do at our church. This is reality, it’s tragic, and it’s wrong. We are judging God’s servants, yet we justify it by claiming that we are being discerning. How do I know this is happening? Because I have been guilty of it on numerous occasions in the past and have had to repent of it, as the Lord has not only convicted me but also proven me wrong in my evaluation many times over. How did that happen, you might ask? Well, I started meeting good, godly, solidly converted people who got saved and were members of some of those congregations. Whoops. Sorry, Lord, for dissing Your people!

Now, I’m not one of those who is crying for unity at all costs, nor am I minimizing the importance of sound doctrine or suggesting that we seek unity at the expense of truth. But what I am saying is that too many times we are overemphasizing minor, non-essential doctrinal issues rather than looking to come together with other brothers and sisters around the major and essential doctrines of the faith.

When evaluating other ministries and church leaders, we should not be questioning whether they are Baptist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian or Anglican or Charismatic or Methodist or Calvary Chapel or Purpose-Driven or Seeker Sensitive or whatever other network or category there might be.

Here are the issues we should be concerned about: Do they believe in One God who is Triune in nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do they believe that God the Son was born of a virgin and took upon Himself human nature for the primary purpose of dying in the place of sinners, that He did die in our stead and through that death provided our redemption, that He then bodily rose again from the dead the third day? Do they believe that He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father and He will come again in glory to establish God’s everlasting kingdom? Do they teach that no one can be saved apart from personal faith in Him, that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, eternal Word of God, without error in all that it teaches and the final authority for faith and practice among Christians? Anyone who believes these things is your brother or sister and a member of God’s family and beloved by the Father, regardless of whatever other banner he or she might rally under. So to criticize, judge, and slander them is to grieve the Holy Spirit, promote division (which God hates, see Proverbs 6:19), and detract from the witness of the church. This kind of behavior blinds people to the love of God and the power of the gospel.

Will we ever get beyond this? Let’s hope so. We cannot change the past, but we can determine to have a different future, and it begins with taking the Word of God to heart and no longer judging one another. For after all, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

 


 

  FRIDAY

 When to Make Peace With God

Bob Coy

Sixty years from today, you probably won't be here. 30 years from today – in the time it takes to pay off a mortgage – you're dead! You can refinance your house, but you can't refinance your life.

I recently read a story in the paper about a high school boy - a basketball player - who just lost his dad. He died in his sleep (he was only a year older than I am). Now this teenager is without a father. Out of habit, he'll look up into the stands to look for Dad and someone he probably doesn't know will be sitting in his dad’s seat. It makes me lie awake at night and wonder: when is MY last day?

Now

Statistics are sobering. Ten out of ten people die. It would be wise to make peace with God right now. It's not a given that you’ll get Heaven. Many people think it's as if God has a big scale where he weighs your good deeds against your bad. If your good deeds outweigh the bad, then Heaven is your reward. If not… well, you still think God should let you in.

But the Bible doesn’t teach that. It says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” [John 3:36 NKJV]. The Book that gives us Heaven also gives us Hell.

People would love it if I only talked about Heaven and Grace. But I teach the Word of God - the whole counsel of God. I have an obligation to teach from Genesis to Revelation. If I teach Grace, I have to teach Judgment. If I teach Heaven, I have to teach Hell. I don't get a personal prerogative. I must teach the truth.

When is the right time to make peace with God? Right now. Today!

Honestly

How should you make peace with God? Honestly. Be honest with God. Some people approach God deceitfully because they only want to escape Hell. Don’t try coming to God with your old bag of sins hidden behind your back. He knows that you don’t want a real relationship with Him. God knows the secrets of your heart. When you come to God with secrets, you'll run to your sins rather than to Him when the trials of life come your way. 

How do we pave the way for or more honest relationship with God? Drop the bag and come to God for the right reasons. God knows that the sins in your bag will kill you. He's asking you to hand over the sins you love because they're poison. Be honest with Him and ask for His help. You'll find that He has all the power necessary. But you need to come honestly.

Faith

Why should we make peace with God? It's a matter of faith. Your faith is reward-able.  Faith is the result of an honest, transparent relationship with God.  It is by faith that you can live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10. But a warning precedes the promise: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

Your enemy is at work to destroy your faith by causing you to focus on what you see rather than God who can’t be seen. Satan knows that when you shift from faith to sight, you won't talk to God. You depend on you for what you need rather than God.

The only way to prove authentic, genuine love for God is through faith.

Here

Where do you make peace with God? Make peace with God right here. One day of serving God is better than a thousand days doing anything, anywhere else. When you do that, God gifts you a place in His Kingdom all the way into eternity. Today is the day of salvation.

God doesn't just gift us heaven for a time that’s there and then, though. The Kingdom of Heaven is for here and now. Don't put it off. Make peace with God now, honestly, by faith, right here.

 

SATURDAY

The Cross of Christ

Brian Brodersen

In eternity past God the Son made the decision to save sinners by dying in their place. He also chose the means by which He would die. He chose death by crucifixion! Death by crucifixion is arguably the most painful, most shameful form of execution ever devised by man.

Why then did Jesus choose the cross?

Two reasons come to mind. One, Jesus’ death on the cross displayed most clearly God’s abhorrence of sin and the punishment that sin merits. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was the most vivid display in all of history of the wrath of a holy God against sin. On the cross, Jesus was being numbered with the transgressors and bearing in His own body and soul the punishment sin deserves. The cross testifies to the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the absolute holiness of God.

Two, in the cross Jesus was identifying fully with a suffering humanity. Man has suffered immensely throughout history: disease, disaster, injustice, cruelty, torture, heartbreak, death—history is a long tale of suffering and woe. In His love, Jesus chose to experience the full impact of what sin had done to the human race. The cross testifies to the immeasurable compassion of the Son of God for suffering sinners!

This is a special week where we as the people of God take time to reflect on the great love of the Father—a love that was demonstrated in Him giving up His only Son to die in our stead. As we meditate and reflect on the cross over these next few days, may the Holy Spirit move us to a greater love, appreciation, and adoration of our Savior who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross.

Come and see

Look on this mystery

Lord of the universe

Nailed to a tree

 

Christ our God

Spilling His holy blood

Bowing in anguish

His sacred head

 

Sing to Jesus

Lord of our shame

Lord of our sinful hearts

He is our great Redeemer

 

Sing to Jesus

Honor His name

Sing of His faithfulness

Pouring His life out unto death

 

Sing to Jesus

His is the throne

Now and forever

He is the King of heaven

 

Sing to Jesus

We are His own

Now and forever

Sing for the love our God has shown

 

(“Sing to Jesus”; Studio Series, Fernando Ortega)

 

 

 

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