Devotions

Author Archives: Roger Allen

Connect

Reach | Devotion #2: Connect
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

In Corinthians, Paul tells us he became all things to all people so he could save some. What might this look like today? How do we use our talents to serve others to bring them the Gospel.? Our ability to speak, encourage, and serve can make a difference. Each connection you make brings you closer to that outcome. Case in point, at one of my most recent hospital visits, I met the parents of a patient. Similar in age, I quickly connected with them. We had a similar background, mutual friends, and knowing their son was the start of a trusting relationship. I now have a chance to share the hope that is in me. Building the relationship is the key!   

Our strengths and weaknesses are invaluable tools to use in outreach. We build upon the relational aspects of who we are. Avoiding the pratfalls of less than genuine conversation, we can remove the walls that divide us. Finding the common denominator that allows us to connect in a deeper way can be easier than we think. Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Allowing the focal point to be on the person and not on us will allow an exchange of ideas that will be sincere and caring. It will become one in which we can effectively teach and connect.

On a larger scale, creating the connection to the community can look somewhat different. The modern church uses many ways to reach their neighbors. Trunk or Treat, Adventure Days, Ladies’ Tea, or social media, provide many avenues for outreach. While the purpose is the same, the approach is different. Reaching a multitude of people at the same time must be well thought out. Our neighborhoods are diverse and complex. Many hours are spent planning and developing ways that are most effective. What seems like a small event may take months to plan and implement. Relational concepts are used to reach the community. Gaining trust, we can now speak into families’ lives. It allows individual relationships to grow and prosper and will allow discipleship. Is that not what we are meant to do?

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 

Demas

Lesson Fourteen | Devotion #5: Demas
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”
2 Timothy 4:10

The present world was having such a draw, Demas could not resist. By all indications, he was an aristocrat from Thessalonica, who would have brought many skills with him. By his name alone, Demas (meaning “popular” in Greek), we have some insight into the man. He was a man of many means, most likely a gentile of higher learning. He was someone that would draw others to himself. Not unlike Paul, he would have stood out in a crowd! What happened?

One thing is for certain; he must have faced the same persecution that Paul had during their time together. The hardships they faced must have brought them closer together. Seemingly inseparable, they faced the same challenges day in and day out. As we know from Scripture, Paul took nothing from the church but would finance his work with his hands. Would he have expected anything different from his team? Probably not.

Some would say that Demas was not saved.

1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

However, I believe he was. Demas spent almost five years with Paul. The demands of the 1st century would have taken a non-believer out of action rather quickly. Facing real persecution and possibly death, they would have chosen another line of work. So, what happened? Did he succumb to sin, or was the temptation of a more comfortable life more than he could resist? Was there a disagreement with Paul? The Bible never says. All we know is that Demas was not there at the end of Paul’s life.

We see the same thing happen today. People who appear to be the strength of the church, disappear. We will often ask, “What happened to them?” Never really knowing the full story, we assume the worst. At times it could not be further from the truth. In an attempt to meet the needs of the many, those in ministry can and do burn out. Long hours, spiritual battles, and emotional needs of others will leave them a shell of their former selves. By not maintaining their own needs, they become ineffective to others.

By not saying “no,” their family and others pay the price! Whether you are staff or volunteer, make wise use of your time. Biblical priorities must be set and followed for the enemy is seeking to destroy you!

1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Nehemiah

Lesson Twelve | Devotion #4: Nehemiah
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

In America today, the “wall” has a significant meaning. The President has promised it, others have demanded it, and yet others have demonized it. Many believe it will protect us, while others feel it separates us from humanity. One thing seems certain; it is polarizing. Your thoughts on this one word can describe your political allegiance. You are either for me or against me.

About twenty-five hundred years ago there was another “wall.” Nehemiah’s concern for his people and Jerusalem had produced in him an unending desire to help. Alerted to the need of protection; Nehemiah 1:2-3 records, “Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.’” Nehemiah was moved. The cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia was so burdened that the King himself took notice. Nehemiah 2:1-2 adds, “In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.’ Then I was very much afraid.” So great was Nehemiah’s concern for the people that he was sold out by his countenance. To appear sad before the king could cost you your life. Is our concern for the lost so great that someone may notice? If so, what do we do?

Nehemiah fasted and prayed for the people for days. He sought God’s will for his life. Great leaders have a sense of responsibility for those around them and for those they oversee. Burdened by the need, they will act accordingly. They are not discouraged when opposition arises. The Bible says in Nehemiah 2:19, “But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’” 

Do we become discouraged when those around us do not share our beliefs? You should take comfort in the Bible when it says in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Knowing that God is with us should impart strength. Maybe, like Nehemiah, you have been called to be a leader in the church or the community. Will you have the resolve to follow through? Are you being asked to build a bridge instead of a wall? Remember, that through all of the opposition, Nehemiah never forgot where he received his strength. That should bring comfort to us all.

Absalom

Lesson Eight | Devotion #4: Absalom
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” (2 Samuel 14:25)

For Absalom, life was good. Gifted, handsome, and the king’s son, he was born with the proverbial “silver spoon.” Yet, by the end of his life, he was seen as rebellious, resentful, and manipulating. Constantly promoting himself, he was able to garner the support for his plan to be king. Fueled by jealousy, resentment, and pride, he went into action.

Absalom’s story is told in 2 Samuel chapters 13-19. King David’s third son had all the outward skills necessary to be a great leader. He could have been a force for good. When you read the story, you are reminded of the suspense and intrigue that so many kingdoms have seen. Whether it was the court of Henry VIII or the Romanov dynasty, the spirit of Absalom exists. Pride, fueled by a sense of entitlement, has brought down many leaders.

It does not matter if you are a leader in the church, business, or government, there can be an “Absalom” in your life. Building support for their own agenda they can fly under the radar. It is possible they start out with sincere intentions, but bitterness exposes their rotten core. In Hosea 14:9, the Bible tells us that, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” If Absalom had walked uprightly, the outcome would have been much different. Absalom, instead of his younger brother Solomon, may have become king. Then David would not have had to lament, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!”

“And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Samuel 18:33)

Believe | Where?

Believe | Devotion #3: Where?
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“Then he released for them Barabbas and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26

The year was 30 AD, and the disciples have just witnessed the capture of the Lord. Not understanding the full implications of what had just happened, they must have felt lost, abandoned, scared, and unprepared for what was to come. Fearing for their lives, they went into hiding hoping no one would betray their association with Jesus. The week had been one of many different emotions, from the triumphal entry to the last supper, and then the crowds turning on Jesus. Spending three years with Jesus, one would think that the disciples’ faith would be unwavering, and they would take Him at His word. But they were disillusioned and did not understand that Jesus would come back to life. Their hopes had been crushed for a new kingdom, and they feared for their safety in this environment that did not include Jesus.

“But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.” Mark 9:32

There are at least eleven different accounts in the Bible of where Jesus appears over the forty days He remained on earth. The tomb, Jerusalem, Galilee, the road to Emmaus, and Damascus were some of the places that He appeared. Jesus knew that He had to establish that He was alive.  Mary would be the first at the tomb to meet Jesus. The disciples would be given the Great Commission at Galilee and Paul would have a complete transformation on the road to Damascus. These encounters became a turning point in each one of their lives.  With their faith strengthened, they were able to finish the race and proclaim the Gospel.

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:16-20

Places can hold a special meaning to each one of us. For me, the church where I work is also the place I call “my road to Damascus.” Unforeseen, this is where my salvation story began. I did not search the “tomb” and neither did I believe those who told me about the Gospel.  Like Thomas, it would take a supernatural event to repent of my disbelief. It is where I met Jesus.

“And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.” Matthew 28:9



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