Devotions

Author Archives: Richie Henson

Sing It Out – Lamb of God

Gather | Devotion #3: Sing It Out – Lamb of God
Richie Henson | Production Director

The most profound truth for all times is that Jesus, the Son of God, came down to be the ultimate sacrifice and payment for our sins. As profound as this truth is, it remains unmistakably simple. This simplicity is eloquently expressed in the song “Lamb of God.”

The Lamb of God in my place
Your blood poured out my sin erased
It was my death You died I am raised to life
Hallelujah the Lamb of God 

Jesus died on our behalf to pay a debt of sin we could never overcome, pulling us out of death and into life. What a beautiful truth that we get to spend everyday living in Heaven.

I believe there are times when we feel our sin is so complicated that salvation must be complicated. We think that there must be some other knowledge or understanding that we need to fully grasp God and our faith in Him. However, we must learn to embrace the beauty of the simplicity.

I think this truth is evidenced by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NLT),

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.”

If anyone had the ability and authority to complicate the message of the Gospel, it was Paul. Paul was an Old Testament scholar having all the ability and tact in the world to express the deepest truths of the Word of God. However, Paul felt it necessary to forsake all other messages except Jesus Christ as Messiah.

The Bible is full of rich truths, but only one is necessary for salvation. Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on our behalf. If we could simply cling to the reality of our Savior, I believe we would see this city and state changed for Jesus in a radical way. As we sing Lamb of God, it creates a special moment for all of us to let go of the complexity of life and faith, just spending a moment affirming our faith in the foundational truth of Jesus as Messiah.

Nicodemus

Lesson Thirteen | Devotion #4: Nicodemus
Richie Henson | Production Director

Some characters in the Bible are hard to contextualize. They appear and disappear so quickly that it can be difficult to figure out why they are even mentioned. Nicodemus is one of those people. Nicodemus only appears in the Gospel of John on three occasions, but through those mentions, a spectacular lesson is taught.

We first see Nicodemus in John 3:1-2, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’”

Nicodemus was obviously intrigued by Jesus as a teacher, but Nicodemus was not so bold as to come to Jesus publically because there would no doubt have been a severe level of push back from the elite group of religious leaders with which he was in association. So, Nicodemus comes to ask his questions at night, when no one can see him. Nicodemus and Jesus have a very interesting conversation about being born again, and it leaves Nicodemus quite confused and unsure.

However, Nicodemus obviously continued to consider this encounter and eventually came to believe Jesus’ teaching enough that he was willing to speak on Jesus’ behalf to the other Pharisees.

In John 7:50-51 Nicodemus speaks out concerning the validity of the actions taken against Jesus by the religious leaders. “Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?’”

Nicodemus is still battling some uncertainty as the religious leaders pursue the crucifixion of Jesus, but he is open to Jesus being the Messiah. However, Nicodemus had a lot to lose by accepting Jesus completely. He would be ostracized from the only society he had ever known.

After Nicodemus speaks out, we do not see him again until after the death of Jesus in John 19:38-40. “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.”

After the death of Jesus, Nicodemus was finally ready to make his choice. Nicodemus became a public participant in the burial of the very man his cohorts had just put to death and in doing so, he also violated his oath as a member of the Sanhedrin to never touch a dead body. In these final words concerning Nicodemus, we see that he cares more about Jesus than he does about religion. Nicodemus had cast off the shackles of religious elitism and replaced them with the freedom found through faith in Jesus.

This can be a huge lesson for us. Often we grapple with emphasizing our preferences, and we forget that our lives should focus on faith in and service to Jesus, not our religion. As we let go of our religious feelings and embrace a life of service to Jesus, our barriers will break down making way for a life of true freedom devoted to a risen Savior.

Saul

Lesson Seven | Devotion #5: Saul
Richie Henson | Production Director

The story of King Saul is deeply tragic. Saul was a man called out by God to be the first king of Israel, and over time, Saul became more concerned with the people of Israel than he was with the God of Israel. As Saul began to focus his God given influence on the happiness of people instead of the will of God, things began to crumble quickly.

Saul makes several decisions that prove his fear of man to be more prevalent than his fear of God. An obvious example of this is Saul refusing to fight Goliath, but allowing a child to fight instead. Although David was obviously full of the faith needed to slay Goliath, I often feel that the ultimate responsibility to be God’s warrior rested with Saul.

Over time, Saul’s heart becomes hardened, and then, in 1 Samuel chapter 15, we see that Saul has exhausted the grace allotted to him as king. Saul disobeyed God by keeping the plunder of wars for himself instead of destroying it all as God commanded. Samuel, God’s prophet, approaches Saul on this issue and we see their final conversation before Saul’s death.

1 Samuel 15:24-26 says, “Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.’ And Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’”

This passage records a terrible realization and consequence. Saul realizes and admits that he feared people more than he feared God. That is a scary and truly sad feeling. The thoughts and opinions of God were out weighed by the demands of the people. The consequence of Saul’s actions is being rejected by the Lord.

Saul made many mistakes in life to which most of us will never relate. However, I think Saul’s life serves as a warning to all of us. God gifts and places each of us for a specific purpose. After salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit and in turn, spiritual gifting. How easy it has become for us to take our gifting for granted and use it selfishly. How easy is it to stop pursuing the growth of our gifts and allow them to become stagnant and stale?

We must look at Saul’s life with understanding that God desires for us to use the influence and gifts we are given to work for His purpose. If we are unwilling to obey the will of God, we must not be surprised when our gifts and influence are taken away.

Abraham

Lesson Two | Devotion #2: Abraham
Richie Henson | Production Director

Often, Pastor Jim encourages us to sit down with a cup of coffee and read a passage of Scripture during the week. I would like to take a page out of his book and encourage you to read Genesis 12 this week.

In Genesis 12, God begins to speak to an older man by the name of Abram, later to be called Abraham. God tells him to leave the only home he has ever known to move to an unknown land. God speaks to Abram and Abram hears. Abram is attentive to the words of God and makes the difficult choice of obedience, moving far from his home. Abram’s attentive ear, followed by radical obedience begins one of the greatest faith journeys of all time. Through this journey, Abram has his name changed to Abraham, has a baby with his wife Sarah who is thought to be beyond child bearing years, and receives the promise of a great nation through his lineage. All of this began with the acts of listening and obeying. Abraham lived an amazing life, and the record in Genesis is full of great truths about God’s power to fulfill His promises and to provide for those who trust in Him.

However, when I read the story of Abraham’s life, my mind wanders to strange and silly places. For instance, I often wonder how different Abraham’s life would have been if he owned a cell phone? Before you laugh hysterically at my ridiculousness, think honestly about the very real ramifications that could exist. Think of how distracted we have become as people since the advent of cellular technology. Most of us are so attached to our phones that we have developed phantom ring syndrome – that feeling when you believe your phone vibrated in your pocket only to pull it out and realize you had simply imagined it. We have become self-absorbed and distracted. I think it is fair to say that if Abraham were a cell phone user, he would have struggled to hear God as often as he did. Even if he had heard God, how much easier would it have been for Abraham to distract himself from the leap of faith to which God was calling him?

Do not get me wrong; I do not think cell phones are the work of the devil. I think they have great value as we can communicate in ways that are so simple and effective. However, I do believe that we allow our cell phones, as well as other forms of escapism and entertainment, to insulate us from the lives of obedience to which we are called. Whenever God leads us down a path that feels scary, we can pull out our phones and watch cat videos or text our friends about plans for the weekend.

I am full of faith that God has a specific purpose for each of us. I also believe that our purpose can only be realized as we walk in faith, putting our reliance for provision, guidance, and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ as He leads us by His indwelling Spirit. God wants us to experience the fullness of life that is only found through faith in Him. I pray that we would be able to put away our distractions so we may hear God’s voice and obey just as Abraham did so many years ago.

Recognize | When?

Recognize | Devotion #4: When?
Richie Henson | Production Director

During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, many of His disciples still followed the Jewish laws concerning food and work. One such law stated that no work could be done on the Sabbath, what we now call Saturday. This work would include going on a journey. So, as we look at Luke 24, we find two travelers, Cleopas and his wife Mary (John 19:25). They were followers of Jesus who had been present at the cross during the previous week, and due to the law, were unable to leave Jerusalem until this very Sunday, three days after the death of Jesus. Even though Mary had declared that Jesus was gone, Cleopas and Mary decide to leave town and head home. As the travelers are on their way, they are approached by the resurrected Jesus, but they are unable to see or perceive it to be Him. As they travel, Jesus begins to explain to them, using the Old Testament, that all of the travesties of the previous week, were part of a plan of salvation.

As the journey came to a close, it was dinner time, the perfect time for Cleopas and Mary to offer their companion a meal and a rest. It was during this meal that Jesus revealed Himself.

Cleopas and Mary were ready to move on from the seeming defeat of the previous week. They had spent their time in Jerusalem for Passover and witnessed the death of Jesus; however, on the third day, they were just ready to go home. Right at the moment where they should have been readiest to receive victory, they gave in to defeat. Thankfully, Jesus met them on the road and gave them understanding.

How often are we faced with overwhelming circumstances and difficulties, finding ourselves ready to give up? Life gets really hard, and we begin to question the plan of God, but if we will hold tight to faith and know God to be sovereign, at just the right time, God will come through in a way that is beyond comprehension. At just the right time, God will turn our devastation into rejoicing. My prayer for all of us today and this week is that we would push through our circumstances full of faith that God will come through at just the right time.



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