Let’s Talk: Devotions for Valentine’s Day
“Call to me and I will answer you.” — Jeremiah 33:3
Did you ever have an important person give you their unlisted number? If someone does this, it’s a great privilege and it makes you feel special or important. Amazingly, the kind of person who gave you His invitation in the Scripture is the Lord of Hosts! He says to us “call me.” Most of us can't call any big shots.
But please don’t ever say there is nothing you can do about a concern in your life, because you certainly can do something about it, you can pray to the Lord of Hosts.
The invitation to call comes with the confidence of a promise too. The Lord of Hosts says, “I will answer you.” Now, that is either true or not. God Almighty says, “I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not understand.”
The answer to your call may be specifically delivered by the Lord, or it may be strategically delayed, or it may even be sovereignly denied, but bank on this fact: It will be answered.
Take time to thank God for every prayer answered, whether it was the way you wanted it answered or not. Hear his voice right now saying to you, “call me.”
Lead Pastor Rob Decker
As I look toward Valentine’s Day, and once again wanting to do something nice for the one I love, I reminisce back over the 35 years of gifts given (that I can remember). Yes, sir! I love my wife, and like most every other husband, try my best to find different ways to show her each February.
Over the years, those “ways” have included chocolate, flowers, dinner, cooking a meal, a movie, jewelry, and yes, even helping with housework (do I have to turn in my “man card” now?). None of these outward signs of love are wrong or bad. In fact, there are lots of things one can choose to give.
However, as I consider the “Be Mine” Valentine’s candy heart, I am reminded that the most important thing one can give is themselves, in time spent, sacrifices invested, and true devotion and faithfulness. Without that, gifts are simply things. On the other hand, with a committed relationship, gifts can be a genuine extension of true love.
I believe God sees things the same way. Often, I am tempted to think that “Be Busy” is the same as “Be Mine.” It’s not. Love is not just the things we give, or even an emotion, but seen as a perpetual act of devotion. True devotion will always lead to loving actions. 1 John 3:18 says “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
This Valentine’s Day, may God challenge us all to “be” who we ought to be for those we love (including Him), instead of being tempted to think that an outward action is enough.
Executive Pastor Tim Gerber
There is something within every person that longs for peace. Whether it be global, at work with your boss and co-workers, at home with your spouse and children, at school, with your neighbors or pretty much with all your human relationships. But in the deepest part of each one of us is a quest to be at peace with God.
We are all born as sinners (Rom. 3:23) and at war with God. (Rom. 5:10) Our problem is that we try to devise our own way to draw up a peace treaty with God, when in fact, He’s already got one. He came up with His plan before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:19-21), because He created us and loved us so much.
His peace treaty is a person, His Son, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It’s only when we are at peace with God (vertical relationship) that we can truly and fully experience peace in our human (horizontal) relationships.
Some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples were these, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
God loves us and wants us to be at peace with Him, and experience His peace each day.
Worship Director Scott Compton
When texting, it’s not uncommon for me to use symbols while trying to communicate. If you were to see my most frequently used emojis, my number one is the laughing-so-hard-I'm crying face which has been my favorite ever since I began using them. Back before emojis became popular, we used short-hand abbreviations in text messages. Some may remember BRB (be right back), TTYL (talk to you later), and countless others. The one I remember best was LOL (laughing out loud).
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” When was the last time you laughed out loud? I mean that time that you laughed so hard that it hurt, and you couldn’t stop.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, but perhaps most notably, he was a survivor of the Holocaust. Even in the midst of his poor circumstances, he was able to find joy, and he was able to laugh. He said this, “I would never have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.”
No matter what you’re going through, laughter can go a long way. Find something to be happy about; find a reason to have some fun and laugh today.
Connect Group Pastor and Recreation Director Jason Shuler
Committing to doing right all the time and never ever feeling discouraged is kind of like committing to eating only one M & M from the M & M bag. Impossible! [I know I should have used the candy heart for my analogy, but they are not nearly as tempting to me as M & M’s are!]
Let’s say that my one M & M is branded with the phrase “Be True” on it. Simple enough, Be True to God. But, can that be achieved? My desire is to please my Savior and be true (faithful) to Him, but my flesh is weak. So, knowing that, is it really that simple to “Be True?”
For me, the key to being true is to be focused.
I admit it, I require discipline to be focused, and that’s not easy for busy, creative, overachievers, who are easily discouraged by setbacks, so what I am learning to do is to “set my affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2)—in other words, focus on the bigger picture.
God desires for us to have a personal relationship with Him—He wants us to trust Him. If we are going to be true we have to trust His authority and plan, we have to stay focused on the end goal—eternity.
Okay, stay focused, easy enough! Well…maybe not. If you are asking yourself, “how can I stay focused?” never fear, Paul laid out a plan for us. Colossians 2:6-8 says “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Here are Paul’s three rules: 1. Walk in Him—study your Bible and spend ample time in prayer. 2. Establish your faith—surround yourself with a community of believers that will lift you up and point you toward Him. 3. Be thankful—there is always, always, always something to be thankful for—search deep, find it, and release it to Him! Trust me, He loves that!
Creative Communications Director Jeremy Chandler
See You Soon
When you’re apart from your wife/husband, kids, parents, or best friends for even a few days or weeks you begin to long to see them again. When you’re on the phone or get the text that they will be there soon, you begin to get excited. Once you see them face-to-face you begin to feel complete again.
Our relationships are little pictures of our relationship with God. Imagine what it will be like when we see our God face-to-face. Since the fall of man, we have been separated from the presence of God. Due to our sin, we have not been able to look at or see God.
In the Old Testament, Moses asked to see God and God said, “You can only see my back.” He couldn’t reveal his whole glory to Moses, because Moses couldn’t handle it. Moses would have died, and we are in the same boat as Moses. Christ died on the cross to make this reunion for us possible.
Now we have access to God and will one day see Him face-to-face, if we have trusted in Christ as our savior. Are you ready to see Him? This is the most important question you can ever ask yourself! Are you ready to see God face-to-face?
He’s made it possible for you to see Him. Have you taken that step of faith, yet? Much like when you see your family after a time apart and you feel complete again, so will it be when you see God face-to-face.
My prayer for you is that you will put your trust and faith in Him. I pray that you will feel that sense of completeness for all eternity. It's what you were designed for. It’s what we have all been searching for since the fall. God is saying, “See you soon.” Are you ready?
Student Pastor Toby Pegram
What is LOVE? Is the word a noun, verb, adjective, or possibly all three? Is love an emotion, action, state of being, or an elusive dream? Webster’s Dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.”
The Bible in I John 4:8 states that “God is love.” So, as we search for love throughout life’s journey, for what are we searching? If God is love, then the best we can achieve is to pattern our love after His. How does He love us?
TobyMac in his song “Everything” uses the following lyrics:
I hear You talking to me
It’s in the boom of the thunder, it’s in the cool of the rain
And I’ll say I don’t ever want to get away
Tonight is beautiful
It’s got my mind on You
And everywhere I turn is a reminder
I see You in everything, all day
And every beat of my heart keeps reminding me
I see You in every little thing, all day
No matter where I go I know Your love is finding me
I see You in everything
You’re all up in everything
My soul’s awaken
I’m taken by all the beauty You bring
You got it blarin’, I'm starin’
Love watching You do Your thing
There’s no mistaking Your style
No mistaking Your touch
I see the grand, I see the subtle of Your love
Lord, I see You in everything, all day
And every beat of my heart keeps reminding me
Cory Ashbury in the song “Reckless Love” describes the love of God as reckless with these words:
Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me
There’ no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
Now that we have seen how a couple of our contemporary artists define love, how do you define it? How would you paint a picture of God so vivid that your lost friends could easily see that “God is love?”
Personally, I see the unconditional love of God illustrated the best in a puppy. We lost a toy poodle a few years back to cancer and decided not to adopt another dog for several years. Then in January of 2018, we decided to venture into the world of pet ownership again and found an adorable Maltese-Poodle we purchased.
Oreo is a five-pound bundle of energy, but loves us unconditionally. No matter how we treat her, she comes running to greet us with jumps and kisses and will not stop until we acknowledge by picking her up. We can forget to feed or fill her water bowl, scold her, take away her food late at night, ignore her demands for attention, or just leave her out of our routines; but she still comes running to us as if we had been gone for days.
What a picture of God’s love for us. No matter how much we disappoint Him, ignore Him, fail to pray and read His word, abuse each other, or just omit Him from our daily lives; He is still there loving, caring, providing, and protecting us. Maybe we should be running to meet God at every opportunity the same way Oreo runs to us. We need to learn how to love unconditionally.
Executive Administrator Dennis Roberts
The word “Love” is an interesting word in our culture these days. It can mean several different things. We use it often to describe how we feel about our favorite food. For Morgan and I, we often say we love Mac and Cheese or she loves hot dogs. Or many people will say they love their new car or they love their new purse. It’s become a word so often used that at times it seems to have little meaning in our society.
But, I believe we can express love in a way that can never be watered down no matter how often we use it, and that’s through our actions. We see the greatest example of this in the life of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8. Paul tells us that Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped.”
Rather, he emptied himself, made himself like us, and came to serve us. Not only did Jesus serve us throughout His enter life; but He gave himself up for us by making Himself obedient to death, even death on the cross.
If you want someone to know that you love them, sometimes it takes more than words to describe it. I believe we can challenge ourselves to love like Christ did for us.
He loved us through humility and selfless acts of service for others to the point He was willing to lay down his life for us. In what way can you love somebody today by humbly serving them?
Student Ministries Intern Chris Smith