February 17 – ReGen – Forgive

Read Ephesians 4:32 – 5:1

Regen – Step # 8 – Forgive: We forgive those who have harmed us and become willing to make amends to those we have harmed.

I was 13 years old and in 8th grade when I first walked into therapy. You see, I kept trying to feel anything but sadness and unworthiness and I didn’t know how to get out of it, so I chose to hurt myself on the outside, thinking that would kill whatever was happening on the inside.

It didn’t work, never does.

I sat on that couch for a few months going over why I felt what I felt until my therapist taught me to think of the root to all my thoughts and emotions. After many weeks of working through my short eleven years, we found it.

Just 4 years prior, I was on the phone with someone, having a conversation that would set the course of all my decisions and choices for years to come. I was asked, like most 9-year olds, what I wanted to be when I grew up and I purely stated “a singer”.

I was met with a simple reply of, “Well, you’ll want to look more like your sister if you want to do that.”

Later in life, after having a conversation with them about this phone call, I realized that they had no idea what their words did to me for so long. They never understood the pain and torment I put myself through, comparing myself to my sister.

I was met by the Lord at 21 years old, attempting to take my own life because I never allowed myself to forgive this person for the words they said to me. I was met by the Lord to learn what forgiveness meant after studying His Word. I was met by the Lord, in the love and fellowship I was called to have with this person because they are, above all, a fellow Christ follower.

Forgiveness is not an easy step.

Especially when someone or something someone does hurts deeply. However, forgiveness is a gift that we received from Christ. Forgiveness was a gift that I received from Christ and I was called to live out to those who harmed me.

It’s not easy and it takes a lot of work, practice, prayer, and surrender to get to that place, but I’m thankful that forgiveness is a part of my recovery!

I was able to not only forgive this person in my 20’s for what was said, but I was able to forgive them as that 9-year-old girl who dreamed only of using her voice to make people smile and feel joy.

There is a lot more to this step in our recovery than simply forgiving, but it is a step, nonetheless, which allows us to give up the control and surrender all that we are and all that we were and all that we have for the Lord to use us and our story.

I pray that, as you re-read Ephesians 4, the Lord prompts you to begin the steps to forgive those who have wronged you and think of those who you have wronged to prepare that process of mending.

Kelly Lawson

ReGeneration is a ministry for people battling the storms of life. From emotional struggles to substance abuse, ReGen is a ministry for those who want to experience healing, recovery, community and accountability in the midst of their storms. Currently, ReGen meets on Tuesday nights (7p) at Grace Church in Wooster. We would LOVE to host you! Text “regen” to 3302649459 if you want more information or want to attend!

February 12 – ReGen – Trust

Read Ephesians 2:4-5

One of the great disappointments in life is when you believe you can trust someone and then find out that they aren’t trustworthy. This happened to me many years ago and the reminder of that situation still stings. I thought I could trust a particular friend, but then found out they weren’t trustworthy after all.

God, on the other hand, IS trustworthy. We CAN trust Him. And we can trust Him because love is the foundation of trust and God is love. He loved us long before we loved Him. He showed His love for me and for you by sending His Son to die for our sins.

That’s incredible love!

Step #3 of the 12-step Regeneration program is TRUST:

“We decide to trust God with our lives and wills by accepting His grace through Jesus Christ.”

We trust God with our lives and, in doing so, we trust that, no matter what circumstances we face, God is worthy of our trust. Romans 8:28 says:

“God works all things together for good for those who trust Him and are called according to His purpose.”

No matter what struggles and heartache we have faced or are facing, God will ultimately use that for good. Not just for ok, but for good. In the midst of these heartaches, it is often hard to imagine how God could possibly do anything good with it, but I have seen Him do it time and again.

We trust God with our will. Back to Romans 8:28, when we submit our will to Him, we not only trust that God will do good, but, if we act as best we can to be in His will, that’s when we find the good that God is in the process of doing. Submitting to His will is, at times, incredibly hard. We all want WHAT we want, WHEN we want it and HOW we want it.

Letting go of how I would do things “if I was in charge of the world”, and trusting that God’s plan is always going to be better than mine, I can know with certainty that, as much as I want to hold onto my ways, they will always fall short.

His ways are best.

Have you decided to trust God by accepting His grace through Jesus Christ? Are you trusting Him with your life and your will? These are the best choices you’ll ever make!

Sharon Karhan – ReGen Leader

ReGeneration is a ministry for people battling the storms of life. From emotional struggles to substance abuse, ReGen is a ministry for those who want to experience healing, recovery, community and accountability in the midst of their storms. Currently, ReGen meets on Tuesday nights (7p) at Grace Church in Wooster. We would LOVE to host you! Text “regen” to 3302649459 if you want more information or want to attend!

January 4 – Habits – Forgiveness

Read Ephesians 4:32

Now, I would usually have considered myself to be a pretty forgiving person. It typically isn’t too difficult for me to forgive someone for something they have done against me. Visiting Israel years ago, friends hid my bag as a joke and, as a result, I was without clothes and toiletries for a couple of days. For some reason, I was able to forgive them for their joke gone wrong and move on pretty easily.

Other times, however, it’s not as easy.

I remember meeting with a ministry mentor and, expecting to get some ministerial advice, he kept asking me if I had forgiven someone in my past for the emotional abuse I received at their hands. I was quick to cast it off like “of course I have”. However, he kept circling back to it to the point where I was frustrated until he pointed out that a lot of my emotional issues were coming as a result of unforgiveness in my heart. While I had thought that I had forgiven them, I was still holding what they said and did against them and myself.

Forgiving someone means to not hold an injustice against them anymore. It’s easy for us to think of examples that don’t require complete forgiveness, but it’s really a black or white issue:

Have you forgiven them or haven’t you? Do you still hold anything against them?

Perhaps the believers is Ephesus were struggling with forgiveness because Paul tells them to forgive others just as Jesus forgave them.

Perhaps you are aware of what unforgiveness can do in your heart? How can it affect different areas of your life that you would view as unrelated to the original issue?

It wasn’t until I completely forgave this person that I was able to begin taking steps to heal and to mature in my faith as well. Looking back, I can confidentially say that I have made great strides in many areas of my life ever since I made the choice to forgive.

As you look over your life, what are you still holding onto? What do you hold against someone that is eating you from the inside out?

Are you fully aware of the impact unforgiveness is having on your life?

Are you willing to sit down with a trusted friend/family member and ask them if they see the fruit of unforgiveness in your life?

Jake Lawson

August 10 – Perseverance – When things go right

Read Hebrews 12:2 and Ephesians 6:17-18

Dolly Parton is the fourth of 12 children and grew up in an extremely poor home. She married Dean, who is now retired from running an asphalt road-paving business. Dolly suffered from endometriosis, a condition which eventually required her to undergo a hysterectomy. So they don’t have children of their own.

In interviews and in her music, she has looked back on her destitute upbringing, concluding that, while she values the lessons it taught her, she would not want to go back.

She wrote a song titled, “When life is good again”:

“When life is good again

I’ll be a better friend,

A bigger person when,

Life is good again,

More thoughtful than I’ve been,

I’ll be so different then,

More in the moment…

I’ll open up my heart,

And let the whole world in,

I’ll try to make amends…”

Parton sings that she will prioritize her personal relationships and share her appreciation for life when life is good again.

Whether things are going right or wrong in our lives, we must persevere – with persistent effort despite opposition – in our relationships. Work to improve relationships with others. Continue to talk and listen to God.

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.” Ephesians 6:13-15

Because God’s gift of salvation is an eternal gift, believers should persevere in the Christian life, whatever the circumstances.

To persevere when things go right, we need to keep God first!

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

When things go right, you are most vulnerable.

On November 30, 2013, Alabama and Auburn were playing in a college football game. With the score 28 to 28, there was one second left in the game. Alabama attempted to win the game with a 43-yard field goal attempt. What happened next was unforgettable for anybody who watched it, including me (see video below).

When things go well, you cannot relax! Be prepared for trials.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2,4

Dolly Parton’s attitude of perseverance is admirable. Take time today to patiently listen to God and develop an attitude of perseverance, regardless of your circumstances. 

Tom Weckesser

August 8 – Perseverance – While displaying kindness

Read Psalm 141:5 and Ephesians 4:29

When I think of perseverance, I begin to sweat. I feel drenched, exhausted, and short of breath. You see, perseverance reminds me of training to be a stand-out athlete with lots of running and exercise. In order to be a good athlete, you must train and practice over and over. And so, all that practice and working out makes me think of running, lifting weights and…sweating.

Not my cup of tea.

I can think of other pursuits I would rather persevere towards. One such area would be to pursue kindness. We hear the slogan “Be Kind” in a lot of places today. It’s on t-shirts, posters, and embedded in children’s programming.

A single act of kindness here and there is not all that hard to achieve.

When a teacher encourages students to be kind in the classroom, they will look for a dropped pencil to pick up, or assist a fellow student in picking up trash in the hallway. Often, when students are caught being kind, they are rewarded with a treat or recognition. As an adult, it is not that difficult to contribute to a community food drive or help a neighbor care for their pets. We feel good about ourselves when we are kind.

Living a consistent lifestyle that demonstrates kindness requires perseverance. Being kind sometimes requires a person to share some hard truth. Perhaps a child needs to be corrected for inappropriate behavior, or a spouse needs to be reminded that their words hurt, or an employee needs to be told about a mistake they made. It would be easy to look the other way and ignore these problems, but it wouldn’t be kind. In the moment, the truth may not seem kind, and may not be received well. That’s why consistent kindness over time is important. Kind words and actions build trust and demonstrate love. Then, when a hard truth must be shared, it will be more easily swallowed.

Psalm 141:5 says

“Let the righteous man strike me – that is a kindness; let him rebuke me- that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of the evildoers.”

We all can begin training to be kind by following the advice found in Ephesians 4:29:

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Pursuing kindness takes perseverance as it won’t happen overnight. It takes careful practice and repeated attempts to consistently respond with kindness. Perhaps you are a person who needs to accept the truthful words of a kind person. It can be difficult to hear that you aren’t doing something correctly or need to stop doing something hurtful. You may not even perceive the behavior as inappropriate, but let the kind words of a trusted advisor sink in and change you, even though it stings.

Use your words carefully today. Be kind…even if it requires a little sweat on your part.

Tammy Finney

June 29 – Names of Jesus – Mediator

Read 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Colossians 1:21-22, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 7:25, 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Five adult bodies, plus a Shih-tzu puppy, were crammed into my daughter, Kelsey’s, 2001 Jetta. We were headed to Flagstaff, AZ, which is a hair over two hours from Phoenix, where Kels lives. Spending the day shopping and taking in the town we had run out of adventure and kicked around the idea of going to the Grand Canyon. Some were interested; some were not. While conversing with a chatty, young girl at one of the shops, she assured us it was worth the trip. “You can be there in an hour and a half, tops!” Convinced, I pushed in that direction, so, off we went.

Google agreed with the chatty girl but for some reason it took us more like two and a half hours to get there. Trying to pass the time, we played games, but it was a l-o-o-n-g ride while we tried to stay out of each other’s personal space. There was ample time for my mind to wander to comments I had heard in the past, it’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not a big deal.

Arriving (mostly ecstatic about exiting the tiny Jetta) we trekked to the rim. As we walked, doubts were still circling around us like an annoying swarm of mosquito’s, until we finally got close enough to peer over the edge. Gasping, we took in the enormous view. God’s imagination and creative power on display left me tingly. I was awe-struck by the depth, expanse, and beauty. There was not an ounce of disappointment in me. Not one.

I don’t know if you’ve had the joy of seeing the Grand Canyon in person? I hope you have, but if not, could you imagine yourself standing on one rim and God standing on the other? Now, imagine trying to get to Him. If you’re anything like me, you immediately start thinking of ways: calling for a helicopter (my personal favorite), rounding up climbing gear, filling a backpack with water and food, finding a companion to go on the journey with you.

It’s our human nature to think we can get to God, isn’t it. We think we can somehow make it happen if we plan well enough, work hard enough, think smart enough. But as we read today God is ‘unapproachable light.’ The only way into His presence is pure perfection and we fall short.

Thank God He made a way to bridge the chasm. No gear required. None of my effort required, just a humble, life saving, admission of faith that I need Him.

Jesus is the one and only mediator. He is the pure, perfect, peacemaker that takes me from enemy to friend. From alienated to reconciled. The cost was great as He laid down His holy life for my necessary ransom and I’m forever grateful that He mediates for me.

Shelly Eberly

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • How would you describe the giant chasm between God and you in your own life? In what way did it cause you to lean into a relationship with Him?
  • What feeling does it bring you to know that God is incredible and divine yet personable? How can this truth, and the illustration of the Grand Canyon, influence someone to trust in Him for the first time?

April 23 – Grace – Amazing Grace

Read John 1:16 and Ephesians 2:8

What is amazing grace?

We sing about “amazing grace” in a number of worship songs. We talk about God’s grace in church. Do we really know what amazing grace is?

Amazing grace is a part of the greatest redemption story of all time. Forgiveness is possible despite the sins we commit and the soul can be made new through the mercy of God. The love story of Jesus’ sacrifice through life, death, and resurrection is amazing grace. God gave up His son for our sins, knowing we would sin against Him time and time again. He still chose us and continues to choose us.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”

Titus 2:11-12

“How precious did that grace appear…the hour I first believed.” Two powerful lines in the song, Amazing Grace. The truth is we did not deserve salvation, but the moment we first experienced God’s amazing grace was so precious. The moment is sweet and surreal. You desire to surrender every ounce of your being to Him. You sacrifice pieces of yourself to live a self-controlled and righteous life for Him. This is a beautiful moment. 

Next time you sing “Amazing Grace” in church, I challenge you to truly think about how amazing God’s grace truly is. Think about what your life might look like without God’s forgiveness and redemption. Thank and worship Him for saving you from the brokenness and emptiness you would experience without His absolutely amazing grace.

April 19 – Grace – Saving Grace

Read Ephesians 2: 1-10

Some of the best stories I hear about include a rescue and victorious ending. That is what we read here in Ephesians. It is more than a story or an account of someone else. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, it is our story. It is a story where our despair and death are turned into a victorious redemption and resurrection. 

In verse 1, Paul reminds individuals in the church in Ephesus that they lived in a dead state.  That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s so true. It is the same for us. We lived according to our cravings (v. 3) and fed them. What cravings and thoughts have you gratified? That kind of a life is a sad and empty existence, and yet we may have temporary happiness. 

We were deserving of wrath (v.3). You may be taken back by this last sentence. Wrath is expressed by an angry judge or an authority that has the power to punish wrong. Our holy and sinless God has the authority to extend that to us. The God of the universe and our hearts is perfect! He desires to have a relationship with us. He created each one of us for that exact purpose.

He created us to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship with us.  We chose to follow the “ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (v.2)

Now, the Victor enters with a triumphant message of redemption. This in true for each one who chooses to place their faith and trust in Jesus and His powerful love. Our gracious God knew what we needed and provided it through the death, burial, and resurrection of His only Son Jesus. 

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in sin- it is by grace you have been saved.” v. 4-5

This all has a wonderful purpose. We have been rescued and brought to spiritual life. It is a gift! Have you received it? If not, ask for it by faith! If you have, are you seeing your life as a handiwork of God and engaged in good works that He has prepared for you? (8-10)

Each day and moment we can walk in His purpose and plan for our lives if we choose to and live out the amazing grace that was extended to us and covers our sin. Live it loud and share it boldly!

Celeste Kern

December 27 – Gospel Readthrough – Matthew 1

Read Matthew 1:1-25, Ephesians 1:13-14 and 2:13

I couldn’t pass up writing this devotional. Speaking of passing up, did you pass through that list of names in Matthew 1, or did you savor some of them, at least?

No shame here. I realize that I’m writing to a group of readers in various stages of their lives with Jesus. It’s only recently that I’ve come to recognize a lot of those names and have grown to appreciate the stories that accompany them. Keep reading! You’re doing great!

As important as that list of names is, I’m fast forwarding to my favorite part of this chapter… “they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

I can’t get enough of this truth. I need God to be with me every moment.

Jesus told His disciples in John 16:7 that He would be leaving them. This had to be devastating news from the One they had come to love. But He also told them He was leaving them with something better, His Spirit. Not only do we receive forgiveness and a place of belonging when we put our faith in Jesus, His Spirit also comes to dwell in us.

I’ve been reading through the New Testament and just read Acts 13 this morning. This is an account of Barnabas and Paul’s first adventure of traveling to share the gospel. In this single chapter we learn of the ‘high’ they experienced as almost the whole city gathered to hear them share the word of the Lord. A few sentences later we feel the weight of their ‘low’ as they endure rejection and persecution for their obedience. Then we read this humbling verse…” And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)

If Barnabas and Paul only rode on the surface of their experiences, they would have found joy impossible to embrace.

It’s not that hard to find ourselves skimming along on the ups and downs of life ourselves. My family has gone through some lows being caught up in the mix of an illness of a loved one and the restrictions put on us by a world with COVID.

It feels impossible and sad.

And I’m not alone.

Now, if I’m stuck with someone I find annoying, if I have a companion I can’t trust, if I’m bound to someone who constantly reminds me how much they don’t know me, it’s torture.

But Jesus is trustworthy. He does know me. He loves me. He understands grief and suffering. He walks in joy and victory. He is my perfect companion and friend.

And He has the power to change my highs and lows. He has the wisdom to work everything for my good. He not only walks with me, He carries all of my luggage (even uphill).

What luggage are you carrying around? In what way do you need to entrust it to the Lord? How has He showed up for you in the past?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Ps. 139:8-10)

God gets us.

He is behind, ahead, and with us.

And He’s someone I love being ‘stuck’ with.

Shelly Eberly

December 10 – Family Christmas – Introduction

The following is a YouVersion plan. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

Family Christmas

Don’t forget to share your comments and takeaways every day!


Read Ephesians 2:19

“You are members of God’s family.”  – Ephesians 2:19 (NLT)

Imagine if God were to have a family reunion. What would that look like? There would probably be some very interesting and unexpected people there. I think it’s safe to say that the lineage and family tree of Jesus Christ is as colorful as a Christmas tree. 

You may look at it and say, “That person doesn’t look like they belong in the family tree of the Savior of the world.” But that’s the beauty of the gospel: no one belongs; yet everyone belongs. This tree is full of imperfect and unique characters—ordinary people God used in extraordinary ways to carry out His ultimate plan of salvation. 

We can learn so much from Jesus’ relatives. But the best lesson we learn is that, through Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. That means that you and I, and everyone who has made the decision to follow Jesus, has been grafted into His family tree, made sons and daughters of God, and we have a part to play in this epic story.

Over the next 12 days, we’re going to take a journey through history . . . your history! We’ll explore our family heritage, see how the Old Testament brings us to Christmas through the lives and stories of different people in Jesus’ line, learn some unique aspects of their characters, and see where we belong in God’s bigger story of redemption. 

As you read and reflect on these devotionals, my prayer is that you’ll learn where the roots of your identity come from and the great lengths that God went to so you can belong to Him and His family of faith! I also pray that, just like the people we’ll be studying, you’ll be able to leave a legacy of faith that will continue to impact people long after you’re gone.