Devotions

Author Archives: Richie Henson

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.

Special Occasions with Grandma Eddie

Delivery Day • Special Occasions with Grandma Eddie
Richie Henson | Production Director

I was privileged growing up to be raised by godly people. Both of my parents loved Jesus and gave their lives to the Lord through the church in full-time ministry. Beyond my parents, I spent a great deal of my time with my Grandma Eddie. She was truly one of the kindest and godliest people I have ever known.

My Grandma Eddie loved to cook for her family and holidays were a wonderfully special time. One of the biggest holidays at Grandma Eddie’s house was Easter. She would cook ham, turkey, thirty-seven sides and fourteen pies. Not to mention all the Easter cookies and candy. To say the least, it was a huge celebration that I look back on fondly.

In 2010, while on a trip to Yosemite National Park with the sixth-grade class I was teaching, I received news that my dear Grandma Eddie had passed away. It was, and on certain occasions still is a difficult truth for me. I was so very close to her, and the loss of her love and joy in this world can be heartbreaking. However, I make sure to never relinquish her memory. I try on all occasions to tell my son how wonderful and godly his great-grandmother was.

I am especially reminded of my grandma at Easter. Many of my family members including my wife have taken up the mantle of making Easter special by recreating Grandma Eddie’s famous sugar cookies. Every time I eat one of these cookies, I am reminded of the pain of losing her, but with each savory bite, I am also reminded that Easter is a time to celebrate the realities of salvation.

My grandma spent many years of her life struggling with pain and difficulty. She survived breast cancer twice and lived many years with diabetes. Nonetheless, today, she is in Heaven, devoid of pain and instead filled with joy and the fulfillment of meeting her Jesus just as it says in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Easter is such a special occasion where we can all celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in expectation of the fulfillment of our salvation when one day we are taken to be home in Heaven. I cannot wait for the day when I get to see Grandma Eddie again, and we both can sing our praises to Jesus thanking Him for the resurrection that makes Easter so sweet.

David

Delivery Man • David
Richie Henson | Production Director

One of the most amazing things about the Bible is the ability it has to use the Old Testament to teach us about Jesus. Just think how spectacular it is that all of the writings that came thousands of years before Jesus ever stepped foot on the earth were pointing to Him. They were preparing the way for the one Messiah whom would deliver us all from the clutches of sin and death. To me, that is the greatest Bible attribute setting it apart from all other “holy” books. The Bible is singularly focused on helping people come to know Jesus as their Savior.

With this idea in mind, I would like us to look at David and more specifically his run in with Goliath. As we read the story of David and Goliath, it is clear that the people of Israel were being held captive by the Philistines. Each day, Goliath came out and mocked the Israelites and God and each day the Israelites cowered before him. When David arrives on the scene, full of faith, he firmly believes that God desires to deliver His people from the Philistines. So, David approaches Saul about going forth as the Israelite champion.

As Saul tried to discourage David, David recounted that God had given him the strength to deliver sheep from the mouth of a lion and in turn, God will give David the strength to deliver Israel from the Philistines. We all remember how the story went from there. David took smooth stones and slings one killing Goliath. The Israelites are delivered, and they gain the strength and power they need to run into the valley and defeated the entirety of the Philistine army.

I think it is of great importance to look at this passage in light of Jesus. The giant that is sin mocks us in the valley, declaring that we are worthless and God has no power. In our time of dire need and desperation, Jesus by His death, burial, and resurrection has slung the proverbial stone of victory, casting this giant that causes such fear to the earth in a heap of defeat. In the same way, David slew the giant to provide deliverance for God’s people; Jesus has defeated the giant debt of sin and death and delivered us to life eternal.

So, just as the Israelites were spurred on to fight valiantly following their deliverance by David, we as followers of Jesus should be even more spurred on by the deliverance we have through Jesus to fight the good fight each day, pursuing all that is holy and right in the sight of God.

Forgiveness

Pruning • Forgiveness
Richie Henson | Production Director

I have always loved the quote from the late Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, “It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” As a young man, I often used this quote to justify all sorts of foolish activity such as racing shopping carts and riding our bikes to go to get slushies at midnight. However, as I get older, and experience greater maturity, I realize how difficult it is to truly ask for forgiveness. It is not simply to say I am sorry, but to express my understanding of how I have wronged another and to attempt to make amends through humility.

This concept of true forgiveness has proven to be one of the more difficult hurdles in my family life. As a teenager, I became consumed with grudges and anger towards those who wronged me. I felt that justice was required for every offense both big and small. This poor attitude and perspective also found its way into my early marriage. It is truly a stumbling block that I must continually give to Jesus to overcome.

In the story of Jacob, beginning in Genesis chapter 32, we see that Jacob is asked by God to return to his homeland thereby putting him in direct contact with his estranged brother Esau. Jacob toils with the choice of facing his brother whom he has greatly wronged and eventually gives in to the will of God and goes to confront Esau. In my mind, this would be a perfect place in the story for Esau to unleash the rage of years gone by and exact justice against Jacob.

However, Genesis 33:1-4 tells us, “And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

What a beautiful scene depicted for us here. Two brothers torn apart by their past are reunited. Jacob is distraught by his past actions and knows Esau has every right to be angry, but Esau has taken the time to deal with the grief of Jacob stealing his birth right and he can embrace his brother in forgiveness.

We, as Christians, have all experienced a similar moment of total forgiveness. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God’s forgiveness comes freely and immediately. Although we are broken over our wrong doing, God shows nothing but forgiveness. It is my hope that as we continue to grow in the understanding of God’s forgiveness of our sins, we will be able to extend and teach our families the same kind of generous forgiveness that Esau expresses here.

Fig Tree

Planting •  Fig Tree
Richie Henson | Production Director

Life today can feel so complicated. There are so many responsibilities with places to be and people to see. There are times when I wish life could be more simple. However, when I take a moment to slow down and dwell on the important things in life, I quickly realize all of the over-complicating in life is my own doing. No one is forcing me to be as busy as I am, that is a decision I am making.

In Luke chapter 13, Jesus is speaking to a group of people, and they are trying to complicate the simple truth of repentance. The people were trying to establish a hierarchy of sinners, meaning some people are worse sinners than others and Jesus responds by declaring all people are equal in sin and thereby are equally in need of repentance (Luke 13:1-5). So, to illustrate the simplicity of His point, Jesus tells of a fig tree. This fig tree has not borne fruit for three years. The master is angry with the tree and seeks to cut it down; however, the vineyard keeper desires to add fertilizer to the soil and give it one more year to see if it will bear fruit.

We are all like fig trees, planted in this world with the sole purpose of bearing fruit. However, I think there are times when the idea of bearing fruit becomes convoluted, and we struggle to grasp the simplicity of it.

If we think of the fig tree, we may conclude that the only mandatory requirement for success is bearing fruit. So, we can say that bearing fruit is a direct reference to the fulfillment of a requirement. In our case, as Christians, bearing fruit is the fulfillment of the requirements of God. In Luke chapter 13, Jesus is specifically referencing the requirement of repentance; however, this truth is easily applicable to all of God’s directives in our lives.

God has given us clear directives throughout the Bible. As people saved by grace through the blood and resurrection of Jesus, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, thereby, we have received power to move past our human limitations and bear spiritual fruit such as repentance. This idea also means we can live with the Fruit of the Spirit as laid out in Galatians 5:22-23.

As parents and family members, we are only capable of succeeding if we are committed to bearing fruit. That means we must commit to living a Spirit led life as we seek what is holy and acceptable to God. If we commit ourselves to bearing fruit, that is, to fulfill the clear directives of God each day by the power of the Spirit, we can be assured that God, our Master, will be happy with us, His fig tree.



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