Day 29 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jonathan Rager

Hello First Family,

Today’s devotion is shared by our Pastoral Care Pastor, the Reverend Jonathan Rager. Enjoy!


Code Word: HAMMER

Have you ever hit yourself with a hammer? As a teenager growing up on a farm, I was always in a hurry to finish a job. While repairing the roof of our barn, I missed the nail and hit my finger hard. It immediately turned black & blue and my fingernail had a dent in it. The end result of my foolish rushing of the job was a visit to the doctor and having a hole drilled into my fingernail releasing pressure and fluid. “Ouch”


A hammer can be used for good as well as bad. Consider the hammer that nailed Jesus to the cross. When we think about the horrible pain it caused our Lord and Savior, we immediately think of the hammer as a bad use of this tool by cruel and foolish people.  But if we examine what Jesus did for us, His words on the cross and how this had to happen to pay for our sins and rescue us from eternal fire and separation from God, we must admit that the use of this hammer was for good.  However, it just does not make any sense that God would want to do that for us.  John 3:16 is the most amazing verse in the whole Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.


By the way; the pain that I experienced with my finger is NOTHING compared to the pain and agony that Jesus endured for me. No one has ever, or will ever, come close to having that kind of pain.  Join me in thanking our Lord for His sacrifice.
See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.


Rev. Jonathon Rager


Day 28 – Journey to the Cross – Dr. Jason Harrison

Hello First Family!

Today’s devotional comes again from the pen of Dr. Jason Harrison, our Discipleship Pastor and Academy Headmaster. Enjoy!


Today’s Code Word: Gift        

We typically define a gift as, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment”.  In our modern culture, we may feel that we deserve “gifts” from the world due to our high performance, or even just for being “awesome”.  Those two concepts are in essence a form of payment.  The world will more often than not, comply with this concept – payment for earned giftedness.  Fortunately for us, this is not how God operates. 

Romans 3:23 (ESV), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

God gives gifts to us that we cannot, and did not, earn.  God can gift us with blessings of health, performance skills, finances, and even the greatest gift of all, His Son who died for man’s sin on the cross.  The fact that we cannot earn these items, makes them all the more valuable, but also, all the more accessible to anyone who recognizes their innate sinfulness just as they recognize Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV), “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

I am so thankful to serve the living God who clearly states that salvation is an absolutely free gift, that no one can earn through deed or action, fully available to anyone who will accept His free gift by faith alone.

See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.


Rev. Dr. Jason Harrison


Day 27 – Journey to the Cross – Dr. Jason Harrison

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code word devotional comes from the pen of Dr. Jason Harrison. Enjoy! See ya Monday  on our Journey to the Cross!

Code Word: Presence

              Even devout Christians often struggle with the concept of what it means to be in God’s presence.  Maybe you have even wondered what being in God’s presence even means if God is omnipresent.

               First, we need to try to understand the concept of God’s “all-pervading omnipresence” verses His “manifest overt-presence”. 

              His omnipresence can be viewed as His overall effect on His creation, when we are in right relationship to Him.  Consider these two verses:

  • Psalm 16:11 (ESV),  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • Psalm 21:6 (ESV), “For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.”


              Then we have His overt presence.  This is where God actively engages man by performing miraculous and extraordinary acts of power and glory.  Moses experienced this several times with God.  Some examples would be with the burning bush, and when he received the ten commandments.

             Either situation reveals the glory and majesty of the living God who permanently dwells in His children, in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13 (ESV)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.


              Today’s focus verse is from Hebrews 13:5 and states all we need to know about the Presence of God in our lives, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Praise the Lord as you ponder this thought today.


Rev. Dr. Jason Harrison


Day 26 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code word is Open.

This code word is a great one for us to consider to day when so many of the things that we are accustomed to are closed. We can’t go to sporting events, our favorite restaurant, the gym, or even to church. But let me say emphatically, the church is still OPEN!
We need a reminder today that the church is not located at 6050 Palm Coast Pkwy.  The church is a living organism that is more alive and open today than most people give it credit for.  We, brothers and sisters in Christ, are the church and we should be more active and present and engaged  in this current environment than we ever have before.  So, to dispel any rumors, the church is still open for business – the business of the Kingdom – to make disciples and to share the Gospel.  We should always be ready to receive those who are hurting and in need with open arms and open hearts. In this way, we emulate our Father in heaven. O.S. Hawkins reflected on the Father’s heart in the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:20.  When the son went his own direction and left the Father, the Father did not become bitter and closed off to the son. He remained open and, in fact, was looking for his son to return. This is good news for us!
Our Heavenly Father has His arms open wide when we go to Him repenting of our sin and asking for help in our various times of need.  I am encouraged to think that the Lord is waiting for me to come to Him and take my anxieties and fears to Him, to receive His strength, hope, and encouragement in exchange.
Today, as we are engaged in the process of opening doors, drawers, letters and The REFRIGERATOR, let’s remember our Father who is standing with open arms to forgive us and encourage us in our times of need. We serve an amazing and loving God! Praise the Lord! See ya tomorrow on Our Journey to the Cross!


Pastor Kevin


Day 25 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!


Today’s Code word is Wash

In this season that we are in with the COVID-19 pandemic, our global response has been a renewal to wash our hands and keep our distance from others. When we wash we focus on our hands to make cure they are clean and as germ-free as possible. Today, O.S. Hawkins focused on the hands of God and the way that He deals with His people. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father let his son go. He did not force him to stay or guilt him into submission. He let him go with open hands and kept an open heart for him to return. God does the same thing with us. We are free to go in any direction that we want. Most of the time we are traveling in a direction that would lead us further from the Lord rather than to Him. He doesn’t force His hand and allows us to wander until we return to Him. O.S. Hawkins highlights the reason that God deals with us with an open hand, “Like the father in this story, your loving, heavenly Father has an open hand toward you. You are not a puppet. You are a person, with the ability to make decisions in life. And so, He lets you go . . . because the love you can voluntarily return to Him is indescribably valuable to Him.” What an amazing love our Heavenly Father has for us.

Today’s focus verse, in Romans 8:38-39, is a great reminder that no matter how far we travel away from God, NOTHING can separate us from Him, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Today, as you wash your hands, let it be a reminder of God’s love and care. See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!


Pastor Kevin


Day 24 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jimmy Freeland

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word devotional comes from our newly ordained pastor, the Reverend James Freeland. Enjoy!

See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross,

Pastor Kevin


Good day church family!

Today’s code word is Welcome.

“Excuse me, I think you might be sitting in my pew.” Perhaps you’ve heard these words in church before. Or worse, perhaps you’ve said them. Either way, this is just one of a myriad of examples of an unwelcoming heart found in churches the world over. In my mind, this is merely an opportunity to speak to someone I may have never met. It might even be a way to get to know a regular church member that I haven’t had the opportunity to connect with before. Maybe, just maybe God could use this interaction to foster a relationship with another lost soul, or a soul that is hurting, or a soul that could just use a smile and a kind word. Maybe this is just one more chance to shake off that negative attitude, hand over your pew, and be Jesus to someone. In Galatians 3:28 we read, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Friend, the Lord isn’t concerned with the status of a person before they know His Son, and He is certainly not concerned with whether or not you get to keep your pew! So, scoot over, and allow both the person next to you, and the Lord Jesus Christ to dwell there. I promise you won’t regret it.


Pastor Jimmy


Day 23 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word is Politics.
Wow! Do we have to bring politics into our Journey to the Cross?! Politics have divided our society like nothing else in the day that we live. You are either a Democrat or a Republican, or a liberal or a conservative. There is no in-between, no moderate approach, no conversation, no give to any position. Our country, communities and the church are being ripped apart because of partisan politics and how divided we are have become. O.S. Hawkins refers to the story of the Good Samaritan told in Luke 10:30-37. The Samaritan did not allow political and ideological differences to get in the way of a neighbor who needed his help. The Good Samaritan responded to the person’s physical need in spite of their differences. I am going to make a statement that some of you will disagree with – some things are more important than POLITICS!  Jesus sets the example for those who are following Him. Jesus left the comfort of heaven, stepped into humanity, and came to our rescue to fulfill our need.
In the same way, we are to leave our comfort zone (political opinion) step out in faith and meet the needs of those around us, even if we do not agree politically. Our calling is to be like Christ, not to stay true to a political opinion. Imagine for a minute,  standing at the Bema Seat of Christ described in Romans 14:10-12. This is the place of reward for those who have placed their faith in Jesus. We will give an account of our lives and be rewarded according to the way we lived our lives for Christ. The Bible does not say that we will earn a reward for being a good Democrat or Republican! Many Christians are wasting their time, resources and talents to prove they are right in their political opinion, rather than prioritizing their Christian testimony. Politics has become an idol that has divided man from man and man from God. When we repent of this sin of political idolatry and leave the comfort of our own opinion, we can be used by God to minister the Gospel and answer people’s most pressing need. Let’s follow Jesus example and teaching from Matthew 5:44, “But, I say to you, love your enemies.” See ya tomorrow on our journey to the Cross.


Pastor Kevin


Day 22 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Mike Robinson

Hello First Family!

Today’s devotional thought comes from one of our amazing servant leaders, Deacon Mike Robinson.  Today’s Code word is Lunch. Enjoy!  


  Across America, lunch is usually a meal that is grabbed on the fly so that we can get back to work, to class, or to whatever we have going on during the day.  We grab just enough to sustain us and sometimes through our quick choices, things that are not healthy for our bodies.

     Our Christian lives are sometimes like that.  We do just enough to make us feel good about our walk with Christ and are not really expanding our relationship with Him.

     Like Andrew, who found the little boy with the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, we don’t think we have the resources to accomplish the task at hand. What we fail to understand is that Jesus can bless our endeavors and make them more than enough when we give Him our all, just like that little boy.  We will strengthen our faith in Christ when we allow Him to be in control and utilize what we offer up in the way He has already ordained.  Through Christ, we can see our resources, even if they are small, grow into more than we ever expected.  We are blessed for striving to do what is right for Christ and for trusting that He can fulfill what He wants to accomplish through us.

     We need to stop looking for the possible and depend on the God of the impossible.  Only then will we keep our eyes on Him and understand that in everything, God is in control.  Whether it’s a building project, a volunteer project, disaster relief, or anything else, if we are following God’s will then we shouldn’t be moaning and complaining about how that particular event will be accomplished because God already has it worked out and His ways are so much better than ours.

     So when you go to grab lunch again, think about how God can use that little meal to bring about big changes in your daily life by the simple act of putting your faith and trust in Him.  God is never caught by surprise.  Even if what we do seems small, we always end up reaping blessings because of our faith and obedience to Him.  On our journey to the cross, we need to be looking beyond the size of our lunch to the power that brought resurrection and salvation to a lost and dying world.

     See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!


Mike Robinson


Day 21 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word is Return. This is a loaded word in Scripture. Return means to go back to a position, place or state that you have already been. After reading Revelation 2:4, one could say it was necessary to return to our first love. The Apostle John records the words of Jesus concerning the church of Ephesus, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” OF course in my mind the first thing I think of when I hear the word return is the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ! He will return to set all things right. Revelation 19:11-16  speaks of this glorious event, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

O.S. Hawkins refers the lesser known story in Luke 17 of the 10 lepers being healed and only one returns to thank Jesus. There is something about thankfulness for the things done for you that communicate love, humility, and gratitude. Unfortunately, many Christians today have become accustomed to the good things of the Lord and are growing less and less thankful. A global event like the Corona Virus has made many stop and be thankful and more appreciative for the everyday blessings of the Lord. Today’s focus verse is from Psalm 107:1, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” I think there is a song that goes along with that! We should confess an ungrateful and entitled heart for the sin that it represents and return to the Lord with a thankful heart for His great mercy and love for us. Spend some time today, wherever you are social distancing at, to return to the Lord and just thank Him for all that He has done. See ya Monday on our Journey to the Cross.


Pastor Kevin


Day 20 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Jerry Patton

Today’s Devotional thought comes from one of our Deacons, Jerry Patton. Enjoy!

Today’s Code word is Newspaper!

As a former newspaper editor, each week I had to choose what “news” to put on a page for printing and what was less worthy of receiving space in our paper.  Determining what was fact (truth), what could not be proven, or what was just somebody’s opinion, was a daily task needed to be done to ensure that what we presented to the readers was honest and trustworthy.  Sadly, today what is presented in most media as truth is more propaganda than truth.

The dictionary describes a newspaper as:  “A printed account of news; a publication containing news and comment on current events.”   That seems to pretty well describe the Bible as well.  While it was written more than 2-thousand years ago, reading it today is just like reading current events.  As we move closer to the day of the promised return of Jesus, God’s Word tells us of what we can expect and what’s about to happen.  And just like a newspaper, there is good news and bad news in the Bible. 

The Good News is that Jesus died for our sins and offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay the debt we owe for our sins. (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)

The bad news is that if you don’t personally accept His sacrifice as payment for your sins then you have no hope of paying that debt and will suffer the consequences for all eternity.  And don’t get the idea that this doesn’t include you.  As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Today’s verse for meditation is from II Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

This is a great reminder that God sent us His only Son to pay the debt we owe so that we can look forward to that day we will forever be with Him… A day that may be here very soon.

So, today, think about the mercy that God extended to us through the death of His Son, to cover our sins and give us the promise that we will be with Him forever. What Amazing love He has for us!


In His Service,

Jerry Patton