Devotions

Author Archives: Roger Allen

Promise to Abraham 

Abraham, Hagar, & Ishmael • Devotion #2: Promise to Abraham
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

In the summer of 1981, Kayla and I became husband and wife. We were married in a small church on the outskirts of Clare, Michigan. We were excited to begin our new life and the challenges we would face. Through many trials and hardships, we have remained together, and we are more in love than ever before. Our individualism is slowly evaporating and becoming as the Bible says “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Through a miscarriage and a failed adoption, our marriage has persevered. We are now in that stage of life where we no longer dream of children. The circle of life looks different to us than most couples.

In Genesis chapter 15, we find a similar situation. Abram, while still childless, asks what the Lord would have for him. With no child, his only successor is Eliezer of Damascus, who is at best a surrogate for an heir. Possibly a servant or extended family member, he was the only suitable successor. At least he would be one who would take care of them in their old age (and inherit their wealth). Led outside, the Lord shows Abram the heaven overhead and says; “And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Genesis 15:5). 

To a man as old as Abram (possibly in his eighties), this must have seemed a bold yet comforting promise. Abram and Sarai’s wish to have a legitimate heir would ultimately be fulfilled. Genesis 15:6 says, “And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

Because of his belief, Abram became the “father of many nations.”  The Lord became his protector and shield. His reward was great. What does that mean to us? How do we see the promise of God in our lives? I remember when I was first saved, I read most of the Bible within the first seven to ten days. I had an insatiable desire to learn the Word of God. One of the first verses I read was Romans 8:29 (CSB), which says, “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

The moment I read this verse, I realized what the Lord had promised. That through me, many in my family would be saved and come to know Him. To see that unfold in my life is a comforting example of the Lord’s promise. I am so glad that the prayers of my faithful wife were heard those many years ago. You see, it was not until I was forty-six years old when I accepted Christ, and I received the great reward. 

“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” Joshua 23:14 

Need for Community

Creation • Devotion #4: Need for Community
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

I love people. When in a crowd, I seek out those that look out of place, the “wallflowers” you might say. I believe that all should feel welcome. Even as a child, I would search out those who did not seem to be accepted. I encouraged those that would isolate themselves from others. I sought out the introverts. I would not allow you to leave without knowing at least one person in that room. Often that person was me!

I was constantly roaming in search of new friends. I remember one afternoon when I was about seven years old, after opening our Christmas gifts that morning, we traveled to my Grandmother’s apartment in Romeo, Michigan. A short time after arriving the search for me began. It finally ended at the end of the hall where I had introduced myself to my Grandmother’s neighbor. Excited, with a full plate of cookies and a huge smile, I proceeded to tell my story of how I introduced myself at every apartment on that floor. Did I tell you, “I love people?”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

As I have grown older, my desire to meet new people has not diminished. While I do seek alone time, I am quite content being surrounded by a roomful of people. Even in the most trying times, I prefer the company of others. As Ecclesiastes says, “Two are better than one.” I realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm about making friends, but there are wisdom and benefits in sharing experiences. Words of encouragement, compassion, and a helping hand make a difference. Friends, family, and most of all your spouse can comfort and console when it is needed most.

However, today we are becoming more isolated than ever. With the advent of social media, we have traded in a real and tangible relationship for a virtual one. People are never having a real commitment and end up settling for something less than intended. We are now in isolation instead of a relationship God had planned for us.

Proverbs 18:1 adds, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

Many today have chosen a life of meaningless partnerships in place of living, breathing relationships. Devoid of any real commitment and emotional attachment, they believe there is freedom in their lifestyle. Never caring to be their brother’s keeper and having the chance to leave at the first sign of trouble, they never really commit. God never intended it to be so. In Genesis, after He created the Heavens and the Earth, God looked at His creation and said, “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31). However, when it came to Adam, He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The whole verse in Genesis 2:18 reads, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”

“Eve” as she is called, is now Adam’s “help meet.” Unlike the other animals of the sea, land, and air, she is part of Adam. Created from his rib, she is a suitable helper to him. She is one that will strengthen and comfort him when he is weak. She was the perfect creation for Adam just as my wife has been the perfect creation for me. After 37 years of marriage, it has become very clear what God had intended all along. We have learned to care, encourage, and lift up each other. We walk side by side as He intended.

Grasping at Straws

Easter • Devotion #4: Grasping at Straws
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“And especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones.” 2 Peter 2:10

I was raised in a family of skeptics. It can create a mindset where nothing was what it seemed. Rooted in cynicism, all claims were deemed false until proven different. Motivation was always based on money or some other self-interest. It was a way to protect yourself from someone taking advantage of you. The fear of being someone’s pawn was real and embarrassing. This became my stumbling block. It was not until the day I received Christ that I would understand my error.

To many, the resurrection is shrouded in mystery and doubt and has become a stumbling block to them. The fact that His body was not present has brought many explanations. Sceptics have preached ideas from the swoon theory (Jesus was not dead, but unconscious) to the disciples taking the body themselves. These are just a few stories that satisfy the unbeliever. However, the closer you look into these theories the more you realize that it is a “grasping at straws” approach. In the swoon theory, it is hard to imagine the humanity of Christ having the strength to move the stone after the physical torture and crucifixion He endured. As far as the disciples stealing the body, would they have been willing to die for a lie? Would they be willing to be tortured and crucified in the same manner as Jesus? I wish the mindset of the unbeliever was an anomaly and that the Deity of Christ would be considered first. That instead of doubt, they would walk this through to completion. I wish that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they would arrive at the truth. They could have replaced the cynicism with which they lived, with a life-renewing faith. The missing body speaks the whole truth. God raised Jesus from the grave!

He is alive!

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 

Daily

Requests • Devotion #3: Daily
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

One of the most rewarding memories I have as a child is the smell of freshly baked bread. One late November afternoon, my mother had put her efforts into baking the finest bread I had ever tasted. The day was an overcast fall day in Michigan. My brothers and I came in from raking what was left of the leaves and preparing for the long winter ahead. Chilled and tired, the bread warmed and filled us.

As we know, bread has been a food staple for thousands of years. It is often referred to as the “staff of life.” Mentioned many times in the Bible, the references seem endless. From the symbolic, spiritual, and physical we are shown our most basic needs. However, here in America, we are rarely worried about our basic needs. Our needs naturally turn to wants very quickly. Wealth and prosperity consume our thoughts and prayers. Bread now represents cash, instead of something far more enduring. Instead of praying each day and trusting God for our needs, we covet for a nice little “nest egg” in which to rest, never having to depend on the Father who will sustain us through the Word.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

By being consumed by treasures here on earth, we show where our heart is at and that we still rely on our strength. Simply put, asking daily for our sustenance and believing He will provide, is having faith in the one who shed His Son’s blood for us.

Matthew 6:26 adds, Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Knowing His love for us should be like that sweet savor of fresh bread. Even when we are hungry and cold, we can have faith that He fills us completely.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” John 6:35

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 



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.