May 16 – When I Get Out – City on a Hill

Read Matthew 5:14-16

This devotional series was inspired by a point that Pastor Nick made in a message recently. While it is very important to look forward to the changes that you need to make as a result of something (such as quarantine), it is equally important to not procrastinate the life change that needs to happen. Nick’s vision for our church during this time is to be a church that rises out of the ashes in our community and shows people the love of Jesus.

In the midst of this crisis, we (Grace Church) have been intentional to be more present in our community than ever before. From giving out food to those in need to thanking the heroes of our community who are on the front lines of fighting this virus, we want people to know just how thankful we are for all of them as well as just how much Jesus loves them. In all of our efforts, we don’t want people to be a beneficiary of an act and say, “Oh, wow, Grace Church is amazing”. Instead, we want people to benefit from our generosity and see the love of Jesus.

We want them to see Jesus.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the people on the Sermon on the Mount that they are, as believers, a city on a hill. At the time Jesus said these words, it was during the festival of lights (Hanukkah) when lights were lit all around the city of Jerusalem. Jesus, being a master of object illustrations, pointed out the distinction between light and dark by having people look around at the lights lit around them.

I have always marveled at just how powerful light is. As someone who is terrified of the dark, there is always a calmness that comes over me when I turn on a light and illuminate a room. When I lived at home, my Dad hated when I would use “transition lighting”. I would never go through a dark room without flipping the light on…sorry Dad :/ The monsters never did get me so my paranoia served me well 😉

In the same way we, as believers, we are called to be a light in a very dark world. The distinction between how we live our lives and how the world does should be night and day…white and black. How are you using this time to be a light for Christ?

Do people see you and see Jesus?

Just because we aren’t meeting on Sunday’s in person doesn’t mean that lives cannot be changed. What changes do you need to make in your life TODAY to better spread the hope of Jesus? How is your life going to be different, more beneficial for the kingdom, “when you get out”?

May our light never dim. May Jesus always be visible to those around us.

Jake Lawson

May 15 – When I Get Out – Thankfulness

Read Ephesians 3:20-21

Shortly after purchasing the book JESUS CALLING by Sarah Young last December I broke my knee in a car accident, had surgery on it and I was laid up for 10 weeks. Then shortly after the bone healed the pandemic arrived. So I have pretty much been at home since December 5 – about five months.

Well, I certainly have had the chance to read my new book every day. During this time I have read The Bible more than usual and I watched almost all the bowl games on TV.

Minutes after the Buckeyes lost to Clemson in a close game in the Fiesta Bowl National semi-finals, Tiger Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was interviewed on the football field and he recited Ephesians 3:20-21 from memory. He said it clearly and he said the verses inspired him.

That was December 28, and I have been thinking about those verses ever since. I believe that Ephesians 3:20-21 gives Trevor inner strength through Christ. The verses help his confidence knowing that he was just playing the game of football. As a Christian this is how he lives his life. He appears to be thankful.

During the pandemic these verses have reminded me of how fortunate and thankful I am. It gives me strength and confidence in knowing that I can actually do more in my life than I could ever hope or even imagine. God has already given me more than I can hope or imagine.

The verses preceding verse 20 tell me that He can strengthen me with power through his Spirit in my inner being. Christ dwells in my heart through faith. THIS LOVES SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE.

I have learned to fix my thoughts on Jesus (Hebrews 3:1). My thoughts can be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. I have learned that I can fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). That is how God can do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine through Him.

And I am excited that I have discovered over the last few months the many verses in The Bible about trusting in God. He is My “Anchor” (song by Skillet). He is my “Strong Tower” (song by Kutless).

Hebrews 6:19 – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”

Psalm 61:2-4 “You are my strong tower.”

Explanation points are used in a sentence to express strong emotion, especially excitement. Did you notice the explanation mark in Ephesians 3:21?

Tom Weckesser

May 14 – When I Get Out – Days of Opportunity

Read Titus 3:1-15

How many times in your life have you made confident statements of what you have planned and put them on the calendar without a second thought? Here are a few of mine.

  • I am flying to Oklahoma to see the grand kids!
  • I am having a family meal with my in-laws this weekend!
  • I am going to a Bible study at church next week!

None of these seem like a challenge to say or achieve, but that all changed didn’t it?  I’ve heard the phrase “new reality” used quite a bit. In this “new reality,” I have experienced moments of sadness and joy. Ultimately, I have recognized my lack of control.  That is the main thing for me.  I have less and less control. And you know what? I sure needed it.

In my world of freedoms and whimsical choices I have been re-awakened to the reality of how temporal this earthly life is. My conversations with family and others as I go about the neighborhood, using social distancing of course, have so much more meaning and my conversations have been laser-focused.

I ask questions and take time to hear answers. “How are you? How is your family? Do you need anything?” The response has been authentic and has encouraged neighbors to pop over and share with us or ask questions.  Questions or statements have been about church, and faith and God purposes and what is going on in their homes and how they are really doing!  The weather is rarely a topic and I don’t really care if I am still in my sweats and haven’t brushed my hair when I see them. I am just SO HAPPY and THANKFUL to see them and serve them as I am able.

I enjoy simplicity and beautiful things.  I believe what I have shared is just that for me.  I am thankful to my Heavenly Father who prompts my heart with His Word and asks me to worship Him in each situation of my life.

I have read the book of Titus repeatedly over these last few weeks. Ponder these truths as Christ followers so we can live them out and share the hope and peace of Jesus Christ during theses days of opportunity.

Titus 3:5-6 “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us; through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Because of this relationship with Jesus Christ, we can, with excitement and perseverance, live out Titus 3:14 as a church.  “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”

When I get out, I desire to have been a fruit bearer for my Heavenly Father! Join me!

Celeste Kern

May 13 – When I Get Out – Encourage Now and Later

Read Hebrews 3:13

I grew up playing baseball and hockey.  I love those sports, and I wanted to be the best player I could be.  For hours when I wasn’t on the ice, I would retreat to our basement, where I had taped a 6’ x 4’ goal on the concrete wall.  With blue chalk, I colored in four circles, one in each corner of the “net.” I took thousands of shots at that concrete goal, trying to develop my proficiency so that I could hit any corner of the net with the puck from any place on the floor without looking.

I can’t tell you how many times I swung a baseball bat, but I know it was at least several thousand times, without even having a baseball thrown to me.  Just swinging in the mirror, or in the reflection of our front storm door, to make sure my swing was just right, from start to finish.

I figured that if I put in good work off the ice and off the field, then I’d be a better contributor to the team when I skated onto the ice or ran onto the field.

The author of Hebrews said, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13; emphasis mine) With each day – even during a stay-at-home order, even under quarantine – God has given you and me an opportunity to encourage someone and to especially encourage them toward greater faithfulness.

We can practice off the field, so to speak, what we would normally do in person.  Even when we can’t be with them, we can encourage others.  Encouragement is vital. Encouragement instills courage. It imparts strength. It lifts perspectives. It influences attitudes. It empowers. It motivates. It inspires faithfulness.

So, let’s not wait until we “get out” to encourage one another.  Send an encouraging text. Make an encouraging phone call. Post an encouraging message. The more you do it now, the better you’ll be at it later… when we get out.

Dave Lawson

May 12 – When I Get Out – Resilience

Read Job 1:21b and Hebrews 12:1b

The 4 x 800 relay race is a very challenging race in the great sport of high school track. Four individuals each run 800 yards with guts and perseverance and then hand the baton off. They each run one “leg” of the race. The hand off involves an amazing amount of practice. If the baton is bobbled or dropped during any of the hand-offs, then your team will lose time.

My friend, Sierra is a senior and a runner on a local track team. She has been a runner much of her life and she’s worked hard at her skills. Her cousin, Maya is on the same track team and they both run the 4 x 800 relay race. In 2019, their relay team earned the ultimate sports thrill and qualified to the state championship in Columbus, Ohio and they ran on The Jesse Owens track. (Jesse Owens was an athlete from Ohio who experienced discrimination years ago and became the greatest athlete I’ve ever heard of. I actually shook his hand in 1976.) Although they did not win the state championship, they set the school and area record in a great performance.

As track season approached this past February and March, Sierra, Maya and their teammates were preparing for another season and hoping to not just qualify for the state finals but to win the state championship. It was a lofty but reasonable goal.

Then the pandemic arrived. School and the Track season was canceled. For the first time in the history of Ohio, the sport of Track was canceled. There would be no opportunity to run on The Jesse Owens Track.

As all these events have taken place over the last few months, I felt really bad about all the 18 year olds who missed track, baseball, softball, concerts, plays, The Prom, graduation and many other awesome parts of life. I know the work that goes into it. I’ve seen it as a high school coach and sports official. It has been somewhat heartbreaking for me to observe all of this happening. But when I talked to Sierra‘s dad, He said “this pandemic will make her more resilient in her life. This will make all these young people more resilient.”

Other losses from the pandemic include health, finances, sickness, death and more. What is gained is not visible – backbone, character, resilience…grit. Nobody likes bad experiences but that is often where there is deep growth. (James 1:2).

The challenge for followers of Jesus Christ is to be resilient like He was and never stop trusting in God even when things don’t go their way. Run the race of life with perseverance.

Think resilience!

Tom Weckesser


May 11 – When I Get Out – Giving Up Control and Knowing Him

Read Colossians 3:16a and 2 Peter 1:2

I admit it. I’m a bit of a control freak. Many leaders are. In fact, I’m not even a big fan of surprises…because they’re out of my control!

But I have been learning there are many things I cannot control in life. That lack of control can create not only uncertainty, but also anxiety.

So you can guess how I initially responded during this coronavirus quarantine. I loved spending more time at home with my wife, but I also felt a bit like a caged animal because all of this was out of my control.

Recent days have reminded me of bedrock truths on which I have built my life – especially the importance of the Word of God. Nothing produces peace during uncertain times like the perspective which comes from knowing that God is in control. That’s why Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you….” (Colossians 3:16a NASB).

It’s a bit like flying. I’m not a big fan of turbulence, but few things are more exhilarating than breaking through clouds below into the calm and glow of a higher altitude. That’s what the Word of God does for us. It provides perspective when things are turbulent down here on earth.

Early in this season of social distancing, Pastor Randy Moomaw challenged us to memorize 2 Peter, and I joined the challenge. Immediately I was confronted with these words: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2 – NIV).

When Peter uses the word “knowledge,” he’s talking about knowledge that comes by personal experience.  That personal knowledge of God comes through interacting consistently with His Word.

Sure enough! God showed me again that peace does not come when I’m in control. It only comes to me when I understand that He is in control.

In the middle of all this uncertainty, I’ve been reminded that real peace is available only through my personal knowledge of Him!

And I’m taking that with me to “the other side” of this quarantine!  I hope you will, too!

Bob Fetterhoff

May 10 – When I Get Out – Trust is Contagious

Read Matthew 7:24-27, Psalm 40:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:4-6

I was trying to sleep but my mind was replaying the events of the day. It was September 11, 2001, and I couldn’t get past this eerie feeling that life was never going to be the same. I was scared. I wondered about the safety of my kids, our freedom, if we would be at war, if more attacks were coming. I wondered what this invasion would cost me.

I prayed. I asked God to calm my worried mind. I asked Him to speak into my restless soul. He was gracious and reminded me of the words to a hymn that I hadn’t sung in a long time…

“I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

I thought about the ‘sweet frame’ of the World Trade Center. These buildings were awe- inspiring, tall, stately. I’m sure the people that worked there were proud and felt secure. But the buildings fell. They couldn’t stand up to the evil and pressures of this world.

Lying there in the dark, I felt exposed. There’s nothing quite like an interruption to normal life to reveal what we’re made of. I was counting on so many things: my government, my freedom, my American dreams, my safety.

It was humbling. God uncovered my lack of control. He revealed all of the things I was leaning on that had nothing to do with Him and He invited me to a deeper trust in Him alone.

Wholly. This telling word from the hymn writer’s pen, reminds us of the depth of faith we long for but often lack. It calls us to surrender all to Him…

Yet, we get distracted. We get comfy. We start building on the wrong things so God graciously exposes our flimsy foundations. It’s in those quiet moments that we can be honest with God. We can confess our reliance on earthly things and ask Him to rebuild us into spiritual houses that withstand anything the world can throw at us.

It’s all part of the growth process. He loves working this out in us. It’s His favorite. He loves to see us move from weakness to strength. From flimsy faith to fierce faith. From reliance on ourselves, our government, our wealth, our health, our freedom, to reliance wholly on Jesus.

He will see us through anything and everything. If we put that truth into practice it will be evident in our actions and through our words. If we wholly lean on Him and not our own understanding, our faith will lead the way for others. It will be contagious. The right kind of contagious in this eerie world we live in.

On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand

Shelly Eberly

May 9 – When I Get Out – Called For This Time and This Place

Read Psalm 23 and Psalm 46:10

I had first heard of the novel Coronavirus in early January when I was on a winter vacation to Mexico. At that point, little was known about the virus and I, like many Americans,  wrote it off as a disease in some distant land that would never really impact me, much like that of Ebola or Zika that have occurred in my lifetime. I could have never imagined what would come just three short months later.

Life as we know it changed forever.

Adjusting to life in lock down was hard, and I anticipate the adjustment to the “new normal” will be as well. While I look forward to the day that a vaccine allows us to formally return to our normal lives, attending sporting events, and being able to hold large gatherings, the reality is the best science says that will not be a reality broadly until at least this time next year. My heart hurts typing those words. Yet, I must resist the urge to just wish away the next twelve months. God has made something abundantly clear to me during this time in isolation- we have been called for this time and to be in this place. He has a plan and something to teach each of us.

If we have had the chance to meet, you know I am a “go go go” individual. Isolating and being in lockdown has been particularly hard. But in many ways, it’s been good. I had read the words in Psalm 46:10 many times before. But now for the first time in my life, I am able to fully appreciate the beauty of this passage. In the stillness, in the quiet, I am reminded of the power and majesty of our God. During the moments when I have felt weak and powerless in the face of an enemy I don’t quite understand, I am reminded that there is nothing that our God cannot do; He will be exalted over this world. When I feel most alone, and loneliness creeps into my thoughts, I am reminded of the words we read in Psalm 23:6 “surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.” The world we live in is anything but calm, but it has opened the door for us to truly be still. This time of physical quiet has opened the door for each of us to have a spiritual awakening in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

While the world looks to begin a slow phased reopening and folks (me included) chomp at the bit to get back to work, take the Lord up on his offer to truly “be still” before the full lockdown ends. For me, He has reminded me of some of the foundational truths of faith that I hadn’t had the chance to rest in for quite some time. I wonder what He might want to say to you today?

Worship the Lord with me today by listening to “Be Still” by Hillsong Worship.

Taylor Bennington


May 8 – When I Get Out – Alone Time

Read Matthew 14:22-23

If you could choose; would you choose solitude or people?

I am a diagnosed outgoing introvert. I love to be around people, I love conversations and outings with people; however, I need alone time. I need time to reflect, time to rest, time to just be alone, with no distractions and no to do list haunting my every thought. This time is often spent with the Lord or with those close friends that I live life with.

During COVID I haven’t had much alone time.  In our household, “Mama’s time” is set aside each week for me to either meet up with close friends for coffee, prayer, or just to sit and write. “Mama time” isn’t successful at home as we have a very wonderful but active little boy who loves my every moment’s attention (mama’s, I know you get this). So, I go to the environment that most relaxes me, a coffee shop.

Since COVID this has not been possible with the stay-at-home order. Being an essential worker I have work, and then home. People…all day. Though it’s people I care and love deeply; that alone time is crucial for me to be able to thrive and be the best person I can be.

I used to think this was a bad trait of mine. I used to think wanting to be alone or being exhausted after being around people a lot was something I needed to work on. However, I read more than one account in Scripture where Jesus chose solitude over people. He chose to go before the Lord, alone, in order to recharge, gain wisdom, surrender, or just rest; without eyes watching, without work or life interrupting, for just a time.

The account we read in Matthew 14:13; Jesus sent the people away, his disciples ahead and went to be alone to pray with the Lord. With the things to come, there were many reasons as to why He was seeking time alone with the Lord. Yet, the principle that the Lord has given me in the many times that Jesus chose solitude, brought me peace about how God created me.

The biggest lesson I have learned throughout this stay at home order is that to be the person God intended me to be is to not pretend that I don’t need that time away. To ask for help when needed, to make it a priority, because spending a designated time alone with the Lord not only makes me thrive but also helps my family thrive.

Kelly Lawson

May 7 – When I Get Out – Intentionality

Read Matthew 22:34-40

“I’m just too busy.”

“I wish my day had a pause button.”

“24 hours just isn’t enough!”

We laugh at these phrases now, wondering what in the world were we thinking as we wished for more time. Well.. we got it! I’d even argue to say that we got more than we hoped for, at least I know I did! Our schedules have been turned upside down and the search for more time has been replaced with how we can fill the hours.

But I think God wants to shift our thinking….

If we are honest with ourselves and each other, time gets away from us. The moment that school, kids, spouses, work, sports, and appointments get thrown into the mix, then our priorities become the plans that we’ve made for ourselves or that others have made for us. When the above is our schedule, it requires us to “make time” for a coffee date with a friend or spending the evening with your husband or wife. Our priorities get cluttered and it causes us to miss out on the good that God has planned when HE is our priority!

In Matthew 22, the Pharisees question Jesus about what the greatest commandment is and Jesus responds with two simple answers: love God and love people.

Now, I am sure this isn’t the first time you’ve read these verses.. but it just might be the first time you’ve read them in the context of quarantine. Jesus gives us these two simple, yet vitally important commands for how we are to live. The two greatest priorities written out right in front of us: love God and love people. Not the other way around and not only when we feel like it, but with everything we have, in every moment of our lives.

During this season, I’ve been challenged by these two commands because just about anything I have chosen to put before God in the past has been put on hold. Quarantine has left me in a place where it’s just me and God. And guess what? You’re there too. Sure, our daily routines look different and some homes are fuller than others.. but in this season there is more time than ever to take a moment – maybe more – to give our full attention to God! The other distractions have been tuned out for us and God is waiting to meet you right where you are!

Not only that, but there has never been a greater time in our lives to be intentional with how we love the people around us. We have an opportunity unlike any other to seek people out and let them know we care for them! They need hope and we have hope to share! So start that group FaceTime call, drop off those homemade cookies on the porch, send some snail mail, and get creative with your connections!

Here’s something to think about for today:

  • When I get out, how will I prioritize moments to give my full attention to God?
  • What are the intentional ways of connection that I want to keep doing when I get out?

Becca Harbaugh