Easter Devotionals

Addiction Day 1

It is finished

John 19:30 “It is finished.”
When Jesus won the victory on the cross, He destroyed Satan’s power to control your mind and life.

If you do not have the power of Jesus in your life, you will not have any weapons to fight Satan. Satan can manipulate your emotions and mind. He has two favorite tools, temptation and condemnation.

When you are tempted to sin, he says, “No big deal everyone is doing it, no one will know.” So you do it and now you hear, “I can’t believe you did it, God will never love you now.” First he tempts you and then he condemns you. So crafty!

If you have Jesus Christ in your heart you have the weapons to use. Use these weapons to defend yourself and not give into temptation.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Satan will use resentment, guilt, worry and fear to get a foothold. But you can choose to say no, reach out for help.

Colossians 1:13 For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness & brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Father: Thank you that I can always turn to you in my weakness. Thank you for having a plan for my life and loving me even when I sin. Surround me with your peace and people that will speak into to my life with your word. Amen

Addiction Day 2

Rescue

We recently celebrated 9 years of sobriety at our home. It took me a long time & many hours of counseling to understand addiction & how it worked. I am still not sure if I have it figured out.

I’ve learned that at the core of addiction is our feeling unworthy of love, especially God’s love. We have lost our core self, maybe we never had it. We fight feelings of loneliness, doubt, pain and worthlessness. So we chase our addiction, hoping to numb our fears and the pain.

Believing we can win on our own, or we’ll only give in “one last time, then I’m done for good.” In those moments of self-loathing and defeat, we create a false foundation to fight these feelings. And we continue to spiral down believing the lie.

Our passage tells us that God has a way out of addiction. The way out begins with owning our failures but looking to God to rescue us. We can’t rescue ourselves, that’s why Jesus came to save us from our addictions. He provided a way for us to be accepted by God, even with all of our baggage.

God hasn’t given up on you He’s given up His Son for you. Why not give up your vain attempts and call on Him now. He’s waiting and he knows the worst you’ve done and knows the best you could be.

Father: Thank you that you still love me with all my junk. Thank you for sending Jesus as my rescue party of one. I acknowledge my desperate need for you today, tomorrow and forever. Please come into my life and help me find the life you have planned for me. Amen.

Addiction Day 3

Community

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.1 John 1:5

Community
In our addiction, whatever that is, we lied and lied and lied. We lied to ourselves, we lied to our families, and we lied to our friends. Lying became second nature.

In recovery we learn if we are going to make it out of our addiction we have to be brutally honest with ourselves. Without that honesty recovery can't happen.

The first step says: we admit to ourselves and others that we were powerless over (fill this space with your addiction), that our lives had become unmanageable.

This is probably the first and most difficult truth we had to tell ourselves and others. There is power in bringing your addiction into the light. We had to admit we are powerless and our lives have become unmanageable.

But, there was hope and that hope lay in crying out to Jesus: "Deliver me from lying lips and from deceitful tongue," Psalm 120:2

And when we admit our complete helplessness, Jesus leads us into that healing process. We heal in community, the idea comes from the sense of responsibility we have for each other. In the Bible, God encourages us to take care of our brothers and sisters.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Father we thank you for your faithfulness, never leaving our side in the midst of our addiction and journey to healing. Help me to stay in community and truth.
Give me the grace and wisdom to go about repairing the broken relationship that my actions have caused me. Amen

Celebrate Recovery: www.ehope.org/cr
SASC: www.sasc-dbq.org

Addiction Day 4

Recovery

Jesus is all about recovery. “The Father has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). For three years, Jesus discipled 12 aimless men, whom he left behind to build something we now call the church. Jesus was all about setting people free–from chains, sickness, and strongholds. Jesus was, and is, all about recovery. In reality most of us - especially addicts - are more comfortable with the familiar sickness than an unfamiliar solution. It is uncomfortable, scary and painful to face the root of our issues. But the trade off is freedom in recovery.

The story of Lazarus is one of recovery and hope. His friends came to Jesus with sad news: “The one you love is sick” (11:3). That’s good news for each of us who suffer. Jesus loves sick people. He does not just love us after our addiction, but in it.

Jesus said so himself: “Lazarus is dead” (11:14). Four days later, he was still dead (11:17). But hear Jesus’ said “This sickness will not end in death” (11:4). He never said Lazarus wouldn’t die. He said it wouldn’t end there. God gets the final word and to me that is HOPE!!!

Nothing is not sifted through Jesus' hands and He has said "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." Jeremiah 1:5

Jesus cares about sick people. Those of us who have risked everything at the altar of our addictions are the definition of sick people. But there’s still hope for each of us. Jesus is for addicts, more than any person who ever lived. You can get well, but only if you do it his way. In desperation you’ll find hope and in honesty you’ll find a life you have only dreamed of.

Father: We thank you for loving and healing the sick. We know this is a daily battle and you see our pain. Help us to be strong and brave. Make our only addiction be you. Amen

Addiction Day 5

Freedom

Jesus met the woman at the well. It was time for honesty. Her secret had to come out. Jesus said to the woman, “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” John 4:18

He promised her a “living water” for her soul. But first, she had to confess. The woman, like many of us, was out of control. Her lifestyle was lived in shame and secrecy.

That’s what addiction does. It takes us further than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay and costs us more than we want to pay. At the root of addiction is secrecy. And the only answer is full honesty. Only by being known can we be well and heal.

Jesus shed light on the sins of her past and present. Honesty changed everything. The change happened within days, “Many of the Sadducees from the town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony” John 4:39. When the addict comes clean, it affects others.

God is the master of second chances when we are honest with him, ourselves and others. Then the chains can be broken and healing begins. I know this is not an easy road, and I am so grateful everyday it was the road we chose. It was hard work, tears and many prayers. But in the end we have freedom with Christ. He is our anchor.

This is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18

Father: We are so grateful there is freedom and hope in the anchor of your son Jesus. We ask that you work in the hearts of others who need to be honest about their lives and bring any darkness to light. Bring people around them to walk through this journey. Amen

Next Steps Day 1

Great Command

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

We often think of the Bible as being a big rule book filled with the lists of the things we need to do. When asked about all of the rules and which is the most important, Jesus summed it up this way. Love God and love others. We overcomplicate things sometimes. When it comes to being a Christian, someone who has decided to follow Jesus, it is rather simple. We love God, first and foremost, we also know that God created and loves all people and so we love others.

If you love God - it is going to show. People are going to take notice because your love for God is going to affect every part of your life. When we love God it changes the way we see ourselves, and the world around us. We understand who we are: sinners saved by the incredible love of God. This love that we receive from God overflows in the way you treat others. True followers of Jesus are known by their love.

Father: Help me to understand your incredible love for me. And as I begin to know your love, help me to love you with everything that I have. Let your love flow through me as I love those who you have surrounded me with.

Next Steps Day 2

Great Commission

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

The last instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples before he ascended into heaven are probably important. And yet, often we brush over them because they make us feel awkward. Go and make disciples - it feels like I am intruding, or telling people what they don’t want to hear. We have all seen examples of people who are obnoxious trying to tell everyone about what they know, or pushy sales people trying to close a deal. The last thing we want is for people to think of us in that way. And yet - Jesus' command to us is, Go and make disciples.

What does it look like to make disciples? Our purpose is simple. We were made to know God and make Him known. We have been given an incredible gift, our sins have been forgiven and we have been made right with God. This amazing truth should be something we want everyone to know about. The people in our sphere of influence, the people we see each day and know, shouldn’t we want to share with them the good news. Being obedient to the Great Commission, the last instruction that Jesus left with the disciples, is simply making Christ known. It’s not the pushy salesman, or the obnoxious person, it's just looking for opportunities to give God credit. To share with those around you the reason for the hope that you have.

Father: Help me to love people the way you love me. Open my eyes to the opportunities this day to share with others the hope that I have found in you. Give me opportunities to invite others to see what I have found.

Next Steps Day 3

How and Why to Read your Bible

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

My parents had a saying that was always used around our house. “What you put in is what you get out”. It’s the way my parents taught us the importance of paying attention to what we watched/read or listened to. The statement rings true, what you read affects you - what you put in - comes out. What is it that you fill your mind with? The Bible is God’s written word to us. In it we see His character, we understand His purpose for us, and His love for the world.

As followers of Jesus - we need to know and understand the God who loves us. We need to spend time each day reading His words to us. It is in the Bible that we see and understand the good news. God uses his word to teach us, to show us where we are missing the mark, to help us to follow him. God has not left us alone without instruction, He has given us the Bible - His written word to us.

But how do you read the Bible? It’s just a big confusing book filled with stories and rules. I have tried to read it before and I just don’t get it. We all struggle with this same thing. How do I read the Bible and understand what God is saying? Start small. Take some baby steps. Don’t try to read through the entire Bible in a short period of time. Just read a couple verses at a time, maybe one part of a story. Ask yourself, “what does this verse/story that I read show me about God?” Do you see His patience in the story of Jonah? His mercy with sinful David? Sometimes it is helpful to talk about what you read with others. Pray and ask God to show you a little bit of who He is as you read.

The important thing is not how much you read, it's about the time you spend with God.

Father: Thank you for giving us your written word. Thank you that it is so easily accessible to me. Help me learn to love your word and to depend on it. I ask that you cause me to recognize how much I need you. As I read your word each day I ask you to open my heart to understand your truth, to see you and know you more.

Next Steps Day 4

Community

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12

We were made for community - to be in relationship with others. We were not meant to do this life on our own.

Our world around us knows this, just watch the movie Castaway? Trapped on a deserted island, Tom Hanks character creates community the only way he can - by naming and talking with Wilson - a volleyball. We need one another.

As christians we are no different. The Bible verse we read today tells us that we are all one body. No one can do everything on their own. We all have unique gifts, talents and abilities that God has given us. And He gave them to us for a reason. Not to take care of ourselves, but to serve others and work in unison with the body of Christ around us. The Bible is filled with instructions that we cannot do on our own. In order to live them out we have to be with one another.

Love one another (John 13:34)
Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
Build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Admonish one another (Romans 15:14)
Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
Bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)

Clearly this requires more than just sitting in a room together once a week. Being a part of community is not just showing up to church and saying “Hi” to people. It means getting to know each other, to spend time with one another, to learn together, to help each other, to share each other's troubles. It means we do life together - one body together seeking to know Jesus and make Him known.

Father: Thank you that you have not left us alone. Thank you that you have given us one another to walk through this life together. Help me to both serve and allow others to serve me.

Next Steps Day 5

Prayer

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We often fall into the trap of not praying because we don’t know how. Prayer is simply talking to our Father in heaven. We don’t have to pray with specific language in a specific way at a specific time in a specific place in order for God to hear us. He wants us to talk with Him, anytime, anywhere, about anything.

When we pray it is often helpful to use the following tool as a reminder about all of the things we can talk with God about.

Adoration - Praise God for being the awesome God that He is.

C. Confession - Admit your faults and ask God for forgiveness.

T. Thanksgiving - Thank God for all the wonderful things He has done.

S. Supplication - Bring requests for others and yourself to God.

Father: You are greater than I can fully understand and yet you want to be with me. I am sorry that I don’t always talk with you, that I get too busy or simply make my time with you a ritual. Thank you for being so patient with me. Help me to be mindful of you throughout my day, and to talk with you about everything.

Forgiveness Day 1

What great forgiveness!

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I think about my life and all the times I have messed up. I think about all the times I will continue to mess up.

Then I think about the fact the Jesus died on the cross to forgive me for all of that.
It amazes me how much God loves me and that He is willing to forgive so incredibly.

Jesus died for our past, present and future sins. I do not need to be sinless or perfect to come to God. He came to pay for sins. We are forgiven if we are in Christ.

Our relationship with God has been broken because of our sin. God wants that relationship restored. He wants to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:11-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Lord, thank you that I am forgiven. Thank you that even though you know everything about me and all I have done, you still call me your child. I love you Lord and praise you for who you are.

Forgiveness Day 2

Because we have been forgiven, we need to forgive others

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
When we realize how much we have been forgiven by God, it should in turn cause us to be more willing to forgive others.

Many times our focus is on how we have been hurt. The focus should be on how much God has been hurt by us yet still chose to forgive us.

Have you come to the point of realizing how much God loves you and how He has forgiven you once you have accepted what Christ did on the cross for you?
Once you come to that realization, start to think of those you may need to forgive.

“In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another.” Andy Stanley

This is a great quote. It reminds us that when we look at a person who has hurt us through our human eyes, we feel like forgiving them would be giving them a free pass and have rewarded them. But when we look at them through the lens of the cross, we realize we are as undeserving of forgiveness as that person who hurt us.

Once we realize that we are in need of forgiveness from God as much or more than anyone needs forgiveness from us, we realize that we are just as undeserving of forgiveness as the person we are struggling to forgive.

Lord, I praise you that you have forgiven me. Please help me look at others through the lens of the cross. Help me realize how much I have been forgiven and how much I need to forgive. Soften my heart, if needed, to be willing to forgive others.

Forgiveness Day 3

When we choose not to forgive, we make ourselves a prisoner

Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Growing up, I struggled a lot with forgiving my dad. It took me over 25 years to get to the point where I could forgive him. Once I forgave, my eyes were opened to how much I hurt myself holding on to my past. It was destroying me much more than it was hurting him.

Studies show that unforgiveness can affect your health, anger, bitterness, sleep, levels of anxiety, depression and stress.

By surrendering what happened to God and forgiving the offender, it can free you from those affects.

Sometimes we feel down but have no idea why. One reason might be because we are holding on to bitterness that God wants us to give to Him.

By forgiving someone, often times we feel that we are letting them off the hook. But the real person we are letting off the hook by forgiving, is ourselves.

Lord, I pray that you will help me realize that you want the best for my life. Help me learn to forgive those who have hurt me and truly give it to you. Thank you that when I do that you free me from the bondage that unforgiveness brings.

Forgiveness Day 4

You want me to pray for who?

Proverbs 24:17, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles

Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
When we are bitter toward someone because of what they have done to us, we sometimes pray for revenge. God tells us to do just the opposite. We are to love them and pray for them. When was the last time you prayed for a person who hurt you? Not a prayer of God destroying them, but a prayer that God would be with them. That goes against everything inside of our human hearts.

I’ll be honest with you. I have been hurt by some people and the last thing I wanted to do was pray for them. There were a lot of other ideas that came to my mind before prayer. Most likely, this will take some time. But when we finally decide to truly pray for them, we open up opportunities for God to work in our heart and begin the process of forgiveness.

God there is no way in my human heart that I am able to love and pray for those who have hurt me. The only way I will be able to do this is with your strength. Please give me your strength and ability to love and pray for those who have hurt me. Help me surrender those thoughts I have toward them over to you and when Satan brings that hurt up, help me give them back to you again. Thank you that you care so much about this area of my life.

Forgiveness Day 5

You may need to keep forgiving

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven

Jesus is not saying to forgive someone 490 times and then you are good. He is saying to continuously forgive.

The teachers of that day proposed forgiving someone 3 times. Peter thought he was being generous by saying 7 times. Jesus really messed up Peter’s thinking.

Forgiving someone more than once seems hard for many of us. Never mind having to do it continuously.
This is not something that we are able to do in our own power. It is only through God’s power that we will be able to forgive someone who continually hurts us.

Forgiving someone is not saying what they did was right. It also does not mean that they will not face consequences for their actions. It is just allowing room for God to take control.

Romans 12:19, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."

Lord, help me to daily remember that you call me to forgive. Give me your strength to do this because on my own I am unable. I trust you that you know what is going on and will take care of it in your way and in your time, which is always perfect. I lean on you and thank you that you care so much about me
In Jesus name, Amen

Worry Day 1

Pray about Everything

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus." — Philippians 4:6–7

We are instructed not to be anxious, not to worry, but to pray instead. I don’t know about you, but I find myself doing the opposite. I worry about too many things and pray about too few things.

When we worry, we focus on the problem. Worry comes because we don’t have control of a situation or a person. We have forgotten the One who holds this world and our lives in His capable hand. We have forgotten that He is aware of what we are going through. He knows and understands our struggles. He hasn’t forgotten us. When we pray, we begin to focus on the solution instead of the problem.

Only God’s peace will guard your heart from the attacks of anxiety and worry. Call out to Him with prayer and petition. Reflect on His faithfulness in the past and thank Him for it. As we begin to pray instead of worry, we will find our hearts redirected into a place of hope and comfort. So don’t worry, pray instead.

Father: Thank you for your faithfulness in my life in the past. Thank you that you have a plan for my future, a place for me. Thank you that though I am struggling right now, you are with me, and you care for me. Redirect my anxious heart into your loving care. Amen.

Worry Day 2

Meet Him in the Valley

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." — Psalm 23:4

We are familiar with this passage, but do we really know what David is saying? He’s talking about going through hard times. David tells us that when we find ourselves in a dark valley, we are not alone.

Oftentimes when we are in a dark place in our life, we feel abandoned and alone. We feel like no one understands and everyone has left us. But David reassures us that we have not been abandoned and we are not alone. God is with us in our darkness.

When life gets dark, when you’re going through hard times, look for Jesus. He understands your fears, doubts and struggles. He is with you.

Father: Thank you that you never leave me and that you will always love me. Help me to look for you in those dark times. Thank you for meeting me when I have nowhere else to turn. Amen.

Worry Day 3

Worry is a Waste


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” — Matthew 6:25–27

It’s no secret, we all worry. We worry about money. We worry about relationships. We worry about our children, our house, and our pets. We can worry about almost anything!

Jesus knew you would worry. He spoke these words to you so that you can overcome your worry. He shows us that when we worry we don’t accomplish anything good, we only make things worse. Worrying doesn’t work.

Worrying is unnatural. The birds don’t worry, the cows don’t worry, only humans worry. We should be the least of all of God’s creation to worry. We are made in His image, He sent His Son to die for us, He has given us His Spirit. If God has already invested so much in us, why would He neglect us? Worry doesn’t make sense.

Father: Forgive me for questioning your commitment and goodness in my life. I know the enemy wants me to question you but I know this doesn’t bring glory to you or help me in any way. I trust You and I trust in You. Thank you for your goodness in my life, and help me to trust you more, especially when I am tempted not to. Amen.

Worry Day 4

Choose Your Future Today

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." — Romans 8:28–30

One of our greatest fears is the future. We fear for the futures of our families, our friends, our jobs, our health and communities — and the list grows.

We might not be in control of our future, but God is! He created the whole universe and the world we live in. He is working in our world moving human history to a climax, a destiny. One day Jesus is coming back to Earth and no one and nothing can stop Him.

In the same way, He is working in your life with all the ups and downs to accomplish His perfect purpose. We will have trouble and tribulation. Jesus warned us of this. He had trouble when He was on this earth and He was perfect! But we can be overcomers - just as He has overcome, both now and forever. Not everything that happens to us is good, but we understand that He can take anything and use it for ultimate good. We must trust Him in the process.

There are problems in our world and in your life today, but God has overcome the world and He has a plan for your life today. Will you choose to trust Him, even when your life gets hard?

Father: Thank you that you love me, that you have a plan for my life. I choose to trust you now, today. Please help me to walk by faith trusting you more and more. Amen.

Worry Day 5

Hand Over Your Backpack

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” — 1 Peter 5:7

We often walk through life carrying an invisible backpack with all our worries and cares. Some of us carry backpacks with other people’s stuff in them too. We are carrying burdens that we weren’t meant to carry and that we can’t fix.

The Bible talks about giving your anxiety over to the Lord. Take off that load. You weren’t meant to carry it. Give it to the Lord. He loves you and cares for you and will help you through whatever is weighing you down.

What burdens are you carrying that God never intended you to have? Will you take them off and move into the freedom that God has planned for you?

Father: Thank you that you love me and care for me. You loved me so much that you sent your only son to be my Savior. If I can trust you with my salvation, why can’t I trust you with the burdens of everyday life? Please help me to give my worries and anxieties to you. Amen

Congratulations

Day 6

Congratulations on completing 5 days of devotionals. As followers of Jesus it is so important for us to spend time with God each day. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time, just reading the word of God and talking with Him. Keep it up.

There are hundreds of reading plans that can be found on the Bible app. Everything from specific topics to reading through the entire Bible. As a start, we recommend reading this 21 day plan through the gospel of John. https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/817-john-reading-guide/day/1

You can even set up a reminder for each day.

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11893 John F. Kennedy Rd, Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Services: Sundays 8:30am, 9:45am & 11am