Devotions

Author Archives: Richie Henson

Long-Term Memory

Define It | Devotion #4: Long-Term Memory
Richie Henson | Production Director 

Each day, our brains are flooded with mounds of new and differing information. Some of it is sensory, like all the cars, trees, and the buildings we see while driving. Others are more intellectual in nature, new ideas we come across while reading or skills we develop through training or conversation. No matter how “busy” you feel on a given day, there is no doubt that your brain is under constant bombardment. I think that is why God designed long-term memory the way He did. As part of God’s great design, our brains consolidate information we receive during the day and items that are repeated multiple times make their way into our long-term memory. Our brains preserve these memories and store them throughout our brain ready to be recalled when the time comes. This is an amazing function that God has placed in us, but like most things in this fallen world, it can be a stumbling block in our walk with God. 

I grew up in the church, but my relationship with Jesus did not become my own until I was 17. Since that time, I have been trying my best to lay down my life and pursue the purpose God has for me. However, there are days when all I can think about are memories of my past life that plague me. There was a time in my life when I was full of hatred, and I took it out on everyone around me. I remember fights at school or with my parents that got out of hand. It makes me wonder if I can ever be the person God wants me to be. It makes it hard to feel that I could ever change.

I think the woman at the well probably lived this experience. Jesus called out the sin she was living in so that she could understand her need for Jesus to save her. I believe the woman at the well got saved, but I also know that her long-term memory was filled with actions she could never take back. It can be a struggle to live in the present when your memory banks are filled with the regrets of your past. 

I believe Paul is a prime example of someone who worked to combat this. He was haunted by a recent past full of hatred towards Christians, but he was able to overcome his past by the power of God to be the greatest leader of the early church. Paul gives us a glimpse into how he did this in Philippians 3:13, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Our brains are designed to remember the big events from our lives. There are times where this can be painful as we consider our poor choices and actions. However, Jesus did not save us to live in our past, and He saved us to strain forward to what lies ahead. Your past is exactly that, past. I pray we all would work to leave it there.

What is in a Name?

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #5: What is in a Name?
Richie Henson | Production Director

I was given the name Richard after my grandfather on my mother’s side. My name means “strong leader or ruler,”and I can tell you, this fact has had zero bearing on my life. I think the same could be said for many people in America. All of us have names that in all likelihood have a “meaning,” but that meaning does not impact our daily life. Due to this, I find the stark contrast of names in the Old Testament to be intriguing. It seems that no one in the Old Testament was named arbitrarily. Instead, each name has a very specific meaning that in some way relates to the narrative of said person’s life.

With respect to names and meaning, I think we are hard pressed to find a more interesting story than Jacob. Jacob begins his life, for lack of a better term, a hustler. He schemes and connives to get his way. In fact, at one point, Jacob even wrestles who appears to be Jesus. As Jacob wrestles with Jesus, he refuses to relent until he receives a blessing. Part of the blessing given was a name change. However, this name change appears not to stick until much later in the story. 

At the outset of Genesis chapter 35, Jacob has once again been forced to flee due to an unresolvable conflict with his neighbors. God instructs Jacob to flee to Bethel and to set up an altar there. As Jacob follows God’s instructions, Jacob’s enemies become afflicted, and Jacob is saved. It is at this point that God reminds Jacob of the name change given earlier in his life.

Genesis 35:10 says, “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel.”

 The name Israel means, “God fights.” In essence, God is telling Jacob that no matter what comes, Jacob will receive the promise because God fights for him.

 Our names do not always mean much to us, but what is undoubtedly meaningful is what God calls us. God names us so specifically. He calls us loved, saved, set apart, and friend. This world and the devil continually work to tear us down. I personally struggle with being reminded that I could never be good enough. No matter how hard I work, it is true that Richard Craig Henson will never be the person he needs to be. However, I know that with God, I am no longer Richard Craig Henson, I am Dikaioumenoi (“justified” Romans 3:24), Kleronomos (“heir” Romans 8:17), and Kainh Ktisiv (“new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17). My given name has little day-to-day meaning for me, but what God calls me, means everything. 

“God Tested Abraham” 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #1: “God Tested Abraham”
Richie Henson | Production Director

Life is lived on a vast spectrum of emotion. For some of us, we experience certain emotions more than others. For instance, I struggle with anxiety. For those of you who may be less familiar, simply put, I worry all the time about everything. Often, this worry can be crippling. Being that anxiety is a very real part of my life, I think my favorite feeling is relief. There is little as sweet as walking through a period of anxiety only to reach a resolution and gain a sense of relief.

Although not everyone deals with such strong anxiety, I know we all can think of times in our lives when we felt overwhelmed in our circumstances. As we finish Genesis chapter 21, Abraham is coming to the end of a very challenging portion of his life. Abraham made the terrible mistake of not trusting God for a son and had a child through Sarah’s handmaid. Now, at the age of 100, Sarah is finally bearing a son, and it seems that things are getting back on track and Abraham can finally have some relief from the stress of his situation.

We then come to the next chapter, and the very first verse says, “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Genesis 22:1). Abraham has just come through a very difficult time in life, and God turns around and decides to test Abraham. What would the purpose of this be? Why would God choose to test Abraham right after Abraham just completed a test?

This seems like a difficult question, but I think there is a simple answer. God is not content for us to stay the same. God wants us to continue to grow and become the people He desires us to be. The best way to grow is to be tested and stretched. As imperfect people, we always want things to be easy, but if we are willing to embrace the difficult, God will work to make us more like Jesus. 

I think at this point in his life, Abraham understood this as he immediately responds to God’s call. My prayer for us is that we would be willing to answer the call of God even when we would rather take the easy road.

“Make a Name for Ourselves”

Tower of Babel • Devotion #6: “Make a Name for Ourselves”
Richie Henson | Production Director

It seems like the greatest allure of the current generation is fame. I do not know many young people who would not like to be internet famous, myself included. I mean, who would not want a million strangers to watch videos about your life?

These desires for grandeur are not new to the current generation. In fact, they go all the way back to Babel. As civilization began to push East, a group of people came together to build a tower to the heavens. It seems strange to think that anyone might attempt to build a tower to heaven, but these people had convinced themselves the status of God was attainable. 

 As they began building the tower, an interesting statement is made in Genesis 11:4, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’”

These people were looking to set themselves apart as important on the earth. I am not sure I could ever understand building a tower to heaven, but the feeling of wanting to be important is hard to shake. Beginning with Satan, the allure of being like God has led to destruction. For the people in Babel, they desired to be famous like God. They desired to have a name as known as God’s. In what ways do we try to gain equality with God? Is it by accumulating wealth or possessions? Maybe we try to be equal with God by handling all of our problems or playing a large role in our community. 

Whatever the case may be, we must always remember that no matter how tall we build our tower, God will always be bigger. No matter how famous we make our names, God’s name will always be infinitely more famous.

 Thankfully for us, we do not have to strive for equality with God. Instead, we can live in the grace of our Messiah, Jesus and have favor as God’s children.

Cain’s Sacrifice

Cain & Abel • Devotion #1: Cain’s Sacrifice
Richie Henson | Production Director 

I attended Bible college at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. While there, I had numerous wonderful professors, but there were a few that became easily distracted by intriguing topics of discussion. Due to this, many students would purposefully pose questions and quandaries that required hours of discussion. One topic that came up more than once is Cain’s sacrifice in Genesis chapter 4 and why God did not accept the sacrifice. There are entire books written concerning this topic, and it is quite interesting. However, based on the text, no airtight argument can be made concerning the issue with the physical sacrifice Cain brought. There are some who would claim the sacrifice was not worthy as it did not fulfill the blood requirement for forgiveness. Although this is the clear and definitive practice later in the Old Testament, there is no indication that said the practice was a requirement at the time.

That being the case, I think there is one definitive and airtight argument we can make about Cain and his sacrifice. Cain had an attitude or disposition that would have disqualified any offering he would bring. If you look at the result of Cain’s interaction with God concerning his sacrifice, the murder of Abel, I think it is entirely apparent that Cain had a serious heart condition. How full of anger and spite must a heart be to act upon the desire to murder a brother? Cain struggled with an ailment of hatred and discontent. It is this wrong attitude that eventually makes all of Cain’s worship null and void.

As Christians living in the time of the Church, we can struggle to understand the sacrificial system. We have never been required to live within the confines of the law and therefore struggle to gain our bearing in the system. However, we are still called upon to make sacrifices. 

In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus details the way in which the church must give sacrifice, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’”

Whether we take the time to argue the validity of Cain’s fruit sacrifice or not, the principle remains that God does not ask for our offerings and sacrifices because He needs them, but rather, God asks for them that we may learn to die to ourselves and embrace the reality of Jesus as the Lord of our lives. As we “lose” our life, that is to say, lay aside our short sided misconceptions of fulfillment and happiness, we grow to understand true contentment in God.



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