Devotions

Author Archives: Richie Henson

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.

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.



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