Devotions

Author Archives: Roger Allen

Good, Better, Best

Burning Bush | Devotion 3: Good, Better, Best
Roger Allen

 “Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings.’” Exodus 3:7

In the time of Joseph, a famine pushed Jacob (Israel) and his sons to the land of Egypt. It was a land where there was food and shelter. It was a place where they could feel secure from the famine around them. As they became comfortable with their new surroundings, the Hebrews grew and prospered. One day this would change abruptly when a new and fearful Pharaoh ascended to the throne. Life changed dramatically for them. Enslaved, they toiled under a new taskmaster. Yet, the Lord saw their affliction and heard their cry.

We often think of an oppressor as a person, political system, or structure that puts undue hardship on us. It comes across as unfairly treating us in a manner that keeps us from prospering and growing. Weighted, we desperately seek solutions to our position in life. Our afflictions come in many forms. Searching for acceptance, relationships, or feelings of inadequacy, we search for ways to fill that void within us. In our spiritual famine, we will retreat to our Egypt. It may be food, drugs, the lust of the flesh, or even our jobs, but we will feed our oppression. Our oppressor will eventually require all from us. We will sacrifice all in an attempt to fill the emptiness. For a brief time, we may even believe we have achieved the desired result. The Israelites felt and did the same thing.

In all our folly, the Lord sees our suffering. Whether by our hands or others, we need to be delivered from our bondage. As with the Israelites, God has sent One who will rescue us. He will intercede on our behalf as our deliverer, rescuer, and our salvation. In our brokenness, we will leave the “Land of Goshen” for the “Land of Milk and Honey.” His plans are designed to bring us out of oppression into life. He is Jesus.

Goshen met the need for a time. It was good, but good was not good enough. God offers better and even best.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Bloody Mess

Finished | Devotion #4: Bloody Mess
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

Close your eyes and imagine if you will, the altar in Solomon’s temple. It was made of bronze, twenty cubits by twenty cubits by ten cubits high. The altar was massive.  It was a place where the priest could offer the sacrifice for the people. From the voluntary sacrifices (burnt, grain, and peace) to the mandatory sacrifices (sin and trespass), the priests were busy atoning for the sins of the people. On this day, they were dedicating the temple to the Lord. Imagine now the smells, sights, and sounds of the day as Solomon offers a sacrifice. We read in 2 Chronicles 7:5, “King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.”

The sacrifice was so large that Solomon did not use the altar for the burnt, grain, or the fat of the peace offering, “And Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord, for there he offered the burnt offering and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat” (2 Chronicles 7:7). If your imagination works like mine, you will soon realize the enormity of what is taking place. There were thousands of people and animals moving to their destination. As a friend of mine said about the size of the sacrifice, “It was a bloody mess.” 

The Mosaic Law had strict rules that had to be followed. It ranged from the type of animal, grain, or wine that was to be used, to what part of the animal that was retained and what was burnt. In fact, the Mosaic Law contained 613 mitzvahs (commandments) in which they found atonement, worship, the sinfulness of man, and the holiness of God. Try as they may, the Hebrews could not overcome their condemnation through the law.

Fast forward almost a thousand years. As news of the Messiah reached the crowds in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin conspired against Jesus. It was the week of Passover. Riding in on a donkey as people put their cloaks and palm fronds at His feet, Jesus fulfilled the prophesy, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). 

As the next few days passed, the people who had praised Him would turn and despise Him. Cheerful hosannas quickly turned to shouts of “Crucify Him!” Utterly disillusioned, the crowd turned on their Messiah when they realized that He did not fit their idea of “The Savior.” 

Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Destined to be crucified, Jesus shared His last meal with those who had been with Him these past three years. As He retired to the Garden of Gethsemane with them, He prayed to the Father, “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).

These are just a few of the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled. Through Old Testament prophecy, to the New Testament fulfillment, we see that Jesus was the unblemished lamb of God. Realizing we cannot save ourselves, Christ’s full atonement for our sins allows us to have a relationship with the Father. That happened through His absolute obedience to the Father’s will; He presents us sinless. “Tetelestai” (It Is Finished).

Unquenchable Thirst

Thirst | Devotion #2: Unquenchable Thirst
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

I have been part of the Passion Play at The River Church for the last thirteen years. 

As a disciple, I am present at the scene depicting the crucifixion. I am one of the disciples who removes Jesus from the cross. With blood covering my hands and clothes, it is a stark and vivid portrayal of what happened to our Lord that day. From the flogging to the judgment of Pilate and the Sanhedrin, and finally at the cross, we see the broken body of our Savior. It is the purview of what He has done for you and me. His body was broken, and His blood was poured out for all. In the abuse He received, we see His sacrifice as the atonement for our sins. His humanity is on display for all to see. He was the perfect sacrifice. 

In John 19:28, we read His fifth and shortest statement from the cross, Jesus states “I Thirst.” He was showing that He was fully human. He was capable of feeling the pains of torture, death, sorrow, and sadness. This is one of the places where our Savior fulfills Scripture. Psalm 69:21 says, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”

On the surface, we see the crucifixion as a physical substitutionary atonement for our sins. Yet, in the fury of God’s wrath poured out over His son, we will find the full reason behind His thirst. It was an unquenchable thirst. It was one in which a mere drink would not suffice, no matter what the liquid was. His throat would remain parched and unsatisfied. Prior to taking on the sins of humanity, He had the perfect relationship with the Father, but because of that sin, His Father could no longer look on Him. Now abandoned and all alone, He thirsted to commune with God the Father. We need only to look at the previous statement on the cross to see His true suffering. Matthew 27:46 says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Now, try and imagine the true depth of what Jesus did that day. He took our sins and cast them as far as the East is from the West. It is where our dry bones are brought to life because of His atonement. He died so we could have everlasting life. He did it so that we may not have to experience the thirst that the rich man did in Luke 16:19-31. It is where he asked in verse 24, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” The weight of what Jesus did that day finds no true understanding in our finite minds. We are incapable of the magnitude of thought or depth that is required to understand. Yet, Jesus tells us in John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

He has offered Himself as a drink offering to satisfy our thirst for a relationship with God. Knowing we could not manage the breach which was brought on by the fall, He took the penalty for our sin unto death.

His sympathetic thirst for humanity is beyond our understanding. The love He has for us shows through all He did on the cross. Whatever trials we may endure, we can be assured that He is with us until the end. As long as there is suffering in this world, our Lord will thirst. He thirsts for the lost, who suffer the pain of separation from the Father, and for those who suffer from emotional and physical pain. Others, through their own folly, who have brought pain to themselves and others, He brings forgiveness. We know from Scripture that Jesus will thirst. He came here in order to fulfill the will of the Father and in doing so, brought us mercy. 

Hebrews 2:17 adds, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Age of Accountability

The Gift of Grace | Devotion #1: Age of Accountability
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

At the age of fifteen, I stood in a small clearing in the middle of the woods looking skyward. I desperately needed an answer to my question, “Is God real?” This question had burned in me for some time. Deep down I knew He existed, but those around me seemed to think otherwise. Struggling with a lack of faith in His knowledge He had imparted in me, I did the only thing I could think of, I challenged Him. Not knowing what the cost could be, I asked God to prove His existence. Shaking my fist in the air, I asked Him to strike me down to prove He was real. There was nothing but silence.

Sadly, this story is true. It would not be the last time I would challenge God’s authority, but it may have been the first. It truly was my “age of accountability.” I could no longer behave as if I were innocent. I continued to go to all the wrong places for the answers, yet I found nothing. It would be more than thirty years before I received the answer for which I was searching. He showed me how He had worked upstream in my life long before I was born. It was a truly unmerited favor.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

As we see, nothing we can do will produce the results we are looking for without the “gift of God” in our lives. It is by grace we are saved, and it is because of grace we have faith. Often times this can create a struggle within the believer and will always cause strife within those who do not believe. To understand that God is the giver of all including His grace in our lives, can be a difficult one. We would like to take credit so we can lift ourselves above others. Yet, the Bible makes it very clear in Romans 9:14-16 of Who is in charge, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

This is the sovereign choice of God to impart mercy on whom He will. Our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite wisdom of God. In fact, in Job chapter 38, God has a great conversation with Job about his ignorance and folly. We would do well to learn from the text, knowing apart from God’s tender mercies and grace, we are nothing.

Forty-Six

Define It • Devotion #1: Forty-Six
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:14-16 

My salvation story came later in life than most. Saved at the age of forty-six, the change in my life was profound. Clearing the junk that had accumulated through the years of selfishness and vain pursuits, clearly paid dividends. To many (including myself), the transformation was credible. The change in my life opened the eyes of many around me. It did not matter if you believed or not, there was something different about me now. Many that I had known for years wondered when it would wear off. Others wanted to know more of the exciting change they saw within me. In front of them, they had the transformation they themselves sought. It was an exciting time.  

A few years later, I realized there was a change in how I responded to the things of God. I was serving faithfully in the church and still attending Bible studies, but something was not quite right. I seemed to have lost the joy that was constant when I first believed. Disturbed by what was happening, I sought answers through Pastors and other leaders in the Church. Swayed by the emotion of “not feeling” as if my eternity was secured, I was becoming lukewarm. I was going through the motions with no conviction or enthusiasm. Prayer seemed difficult at best. 

Then one Sunday, the Pastor was speaking on forgiveness from those you had hurt. I needed to lay it on the table, bare your soul, and ask for forgiveness. Wrestling with God, I refused to obey. To disclose my past as an unsaved man was more than I was willing to do. I had too much to lose. The world would never understand. I wrestled for days on my decision whether I would be obedient to Him. My emotions overwhelmed me as I became a defeated man. I was broken. I finally relented to the Holy Spirit’s urging. This was the beginning of my search for His holiness and my obedience.

It has been over seven years since that day, and I look back in awe of what Christ did for me. The illumination of God’s will in my life to be obedient has forever changed the course of my life. The desire to seek His holiness has impacted not only myself but those around me.  Dr. Richard J. Krejcir wrote in “The Holiness of God” (an article from Church Leadership) that,                                                          

“God calls us, not to conform to the world, but to Him. This requires conviction, and the willingness to peruse through difficult times and people who have opposing ideas. We do this because we desire to because of what He has done for us, not because we feel obligated, or forced. Holiness is also a trust that many do not see, a trust that He is there, and that we can have comfort and confidence in Him in all aspects of life. Otherwise, we remain chained to the despair of loneliness and self-destruction.”

 Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Having trust is a game changer!



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