Author Archives: John Rigg

Death to Life

Red Sea | Devotion 5: Death to Life
John Rigg

I wonder how many people have seen Charlton Heston’s portrayal of Moses in Cecil B. Demille’s production of “The Ten Commandments” since its opening in 1956? For me, the movie’s climactic scene is when Moses, with staff in hand, raises up his arms and divides the Red Sea. Only then can the enslaved Israelites escape from Pharaoh, and cross over on dry land to their freedom. Once safely on the other side, and with Pharaoh’s soldiers in hot pursuit, Moses again stretches his hand over the sea, and the waters come crashing down upon the Egyptian soldiers.

Recently, I was reading the real-life account of this scene in Exodus 14:26-28 and was reminded of the reality that all the Egyptian soldiers, at least 600, died that day, “…not one of them remained” (verse 28). Although the Israelites were often stubborn and rebellious, they eventually listened to God’s messenger and followed Moses through the parted waters to their new life on the other side. The Egyptians, on the other hand, after repeatedly being warned, refused to hear the words that had been spoken by Moses and entered into the judgment of God.

Of course, for us living today, the message of future judgment is in view here as we read through the account of the Red Sea crossing. Those hearing and believing in God’s provision of eternal life through Jesus Christ will not enter into His judgment but will avoid the condemnation of sin, which is death, and pass to life.

Jesus Himself reaffirms this in John’s New Testament Gospel. John 5:24 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” 

Every time that I watch the movie or read Exodus chapter 14, I cannot help but think of those that will not pass from death to life but will enter into the judgment of a Holy God. Scripture tells us many times that the condemnation into judgment is not of God but of our own choice. John 3:18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Ezekiel 18:32 adds, “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”  

Our sin has condemned us all, yet through simple belief in the name of Jesus, judgment can be avoided. I wonder how many of the Egyptian soldiers would have listened to God instead of Pharaoh if they truly understood their final destiny?

I wonder how many of our friends, family, and co-workers might make the decision to follow Jesus if we were to be honest with them about their final destination?

The challenge from Exodus chapter 14 for us should be this. As God’s messengers, how can we be intentional about telling someone that God’s desire for them is to “turn, and live,” and that there is a way to pass from “death to life?”

Remember, not everyone died that day at the Red Sea, only those who heard and refused to listen.

Has everyone you know and love heard?

In Hand

Commit | Devotion #2: In Hand
John Rigg | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

As a young man, even before I was able to get my driver’s license, cars excited me. There was something about them that I was drawn to and could not wait to own one of my own. While driving the back roads with my dad one day, I spotted a 1971 Camaro in the back of someone’s yard, and I just had to have it. It was a little beat up and had seen better days, yet I could see the potential in that car. I proceeded to head to the front porch of the house and knocked on the door. The owner answered, and to my surprise, he was willing to sell the car. The price he was asking was fair, yet in order for me to own this car, it was going to take all the cash I had. Nevertheless, before he could change his mind, I went back home, hooked up a car trailer and sped back to gentleman’s house and began to pull the car out from the weeds. We soon secured it on the trailer and was ready to drive away, but the car was still not mine. I still had to pay for it. So, I went to the front door once again and began placing $100 bills, one by one into the gentleman’s hand until I reached the asking price. I then shook his hand, turned around and walked towards the trailer and my newly loaded car. I was so excited! This car had cost me everything I had, but it was finally mine!

I am not sure if we will ever fully comprehend just how badly Jesus desires to have us and to call us His own. Much like the 1971 Camaro, sin has left us a little beaten up and looking as if we have seen better days. God had warned us that if we disobeyed Him, we would die, both physically and spiritually (Genesis 2:17). We sinned, and as a result, we look nothing like we should. Yet, even before that dreadful day when sin first entered into the world and separated us from Him, Jesus began His submission to the Father and God’s plan to rescue us and get us back.

Luke 23:46 records Jesus on the cross, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.”

As Jesus entered into His last few moments of being nailed to a cross and paying the death penalty for the sins of the world, He cried out these words to His Father, “Into your hands I commit my spirit!”

Jesus placed His sinless life into the hands of the Father as payment for the sins of all mankind. However, it was not until full payment had reached the hands of the Father that made the transaction complete. Just as I was willing to pay the price for my car before I could take it home, Jesus was willing to pay the price to get us home!

Mary Did You Know?

Son, Mother | Devotion #2: Mary Did You Know?
John Rigg | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

One of my favorite songs of all time was written by Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry. The lyrics of this song are centered around this question, “Could Mary, the mother of Jesus, really comprehend who it was that she would give birth?”

Here is the first verse of that song which is titled, “Mary Did You Know?”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.

I am not sure how Mary could have fully understood the impact that her little baby boy would have on the world, but His future was not completely hidden from her. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary took their firstborn son to be circumcised and to present Him to the Lord. Simeon’s prophecy is recorded in Luke 2:34-35, “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’”

Simeon’s words became a reality 33 years later when opposition against Jesus developed as He proclaimed that He was the Son of God and that the only way to the Kingdom of God was by Him. Soon thereafter, Jesus was falsely accused, brought to trial yet found innocent. Nevertheless, He was beaten and scourged, then hung on a cross and left to die. John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, later wrote what he saw that day, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).

At first, the words of Jesus appear to be disrespectful when He calls His mother “Woman” as He makes provision for her future care through His friend John. No doubt this just added to her sorrow as she recalled Simeon’s prophecy of the day when a sword would pierce through her own soul also. But by addressing Mary as “woman” instead of mother, Jesus was letting her know that the Son she once delivered was about to deliver her and become her Savior!

Like Mary, the death of Jesus should pierce through our own souls as we come to terms with the fact that He hung on the cross that day in our place.

Did Mary know that her baby boy came to make her new?

I am not sure.

However, I know He came to make it possible for you and me to be new.

Sake of the Gospel

Back to Reach | Devotion #3: Sake of the Gospel
John Rigg | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

James Fell Aker was born in 1871 and was an active evangelist until his death in 1986. I will do the math for you; he was 115. At the age of 105, Aker was still preaching crusades as far away as Japan! Aker was able to share the Gospel for over 97 years and was known as a “Fire and Brimstone” style Gospel preacher. I know the term “Fire and Brimstone” has fallen out of favor these days, but I have come to realize that in most cases, guys that fall into this category are typically just extremely passionate about the sharing of the Gospel!

In 1933, Aker recalled a time when he was sick and was taken to the hospital for surgery, “The doctors said I had passed away. I was rolled into the dead room.” A nurse, who happened to go into the morgue, noticed Aker’s eyes moving; and he was revived.

So, what drives a man like James Aker to continually share the Gospel all the days of his life? What is it that motivated him, even with death knocking at the door? I believe Aker did what he did, for the same reasons that the Apostle Paul did what he did. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NKJV), “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now, this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”

Notice how many times in these verses that Paul uses the phrase “that I might win.” Six times Paul states that the reason he became “all things to all men” was for the “gospel’s sake.” But what does it mean, “doing something for the Gospel’s sake?” Paul says that his reason for sharing the Gospel was “that I may be partaker of it with you.”

Men like Aker and the Apostle Paul realized that sharing the Gospel with more people meant more people would share in the benefits of it. They deeply cared about those that needed to hear it!

Hearing and receiving the Good News of Jesus’ substitutionary death frees a person from the guilt and the penalty brought about by his sinful nature. This is news that was never meant to stop with the recipient.

Paul stated, “I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more.” In what way could we serve someone today for the sake of the Gospel? How might we engage in relationships other than those who already know about the Good News?

The meaning of the word “serve” means to furnish or supply someone with something they need. Are we ready to become “all things to all men, that (we) might by all means save some?”

I pray this is us, “for the gospel’s sake.”

Measuring Your Faith

Grow | Devotion #5: Measuring Your Faith
John Rigg | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Many of us have traditions in our family that get passed down from generation to generation. One tradition that my family practiced was “the measuring of the children.” Every visit to grandpa’s house included a time in which we would stand each child at the kitchen doorway, back them up to the opening, and place a small pencil mark on the door casing at the top of their head which included the current date. It would be rare that grandpa would allow a visit to his house without an opportunity to see just how much each of the grandchildren had grown. 

The Bible says that when someone first comes to know God and trust Him with their life, they are considered “babes” spiritually because they are infants in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). However, unlike natural babies that inevitably grow into adults, spiritual babes can remain infants (Hebrews 5:12-14). 

Just as my father would periodically measure his grandchildren to see how much they had grown, it is a good idea that believers check their spiritual growth from time to time as well. One of the best ways to measure if we are growing or not is to evaluate the manner in which we interact with people. After all, Jesus taught that after loving God, people were to be our next priority (Matthew 22:37-39). 

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 

The apostle Paul taught that we are to do nothing without first checking our motives. Is our ambition a selfish one or do we have the good of another in mind? Paul says everything should be run through the filter of “Am I doing this for my gain or am I doing it for the betterment of someone else?” 

So, how do we measure up? If our heavenly Father were to stand us in the doorway and place a pencil mark on the casing of our faith, where would the mark lie? Would it be above the mark that was placed there on the day of our salvation? Would we notice little or no increase in where the mark is placed? 

If we find that we could use some growth in this area, Paul has the answer for us, humility. Humility displays itself when you measure the needs of others and conclude that they are of more importance than your own. Growth is realized when we then set our desires aside to tend to the needs of another. Notice, Paul does not say that our interests are of no importance, but he teaches us that as we walk through this world, we can measure our spiritual growth by the way in which we look after people, and tend to their interests as well as our own.

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