Devotions

Author Archives: John Rigg

Grow• Devotion #3: Motives

Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone and they question your motives by asking you the question; “What is in it for you?”

How does that make you feel?

If you are like me, it makes me feel like they do not trust my motives. It is like they believe I must be getting something out of this, or I would not be willing to do something for them. All too often this is how people respond, and I am sure if we were ready to admit it, we too have reacted in this way. 

The Apostle Paul had a great love for the believers that lived in the city of Corinth and he was ready to give all he had, both monetarily and physically, for their benefit. However, they were unwilling to unconditionally accept Paul’s love and accused him of having an alternative motive. It is as if they were saying, “No one does that! What is in it for you?”

In 2 Corinthians 12:15, we read, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” This statement by Paul is small in length but great in love.

First, Paul says he will “gladly spend and be spent.” The word “spend” is translated from the Greek work dapanaō which means to expend and to incur a cost (in a good sense), or to waste (in a bad one). Likewise, the clause “be spent” derives its meaning from ĕkdapanaō which means to expend (wholly), exhaust, or spend.

So, what is Paul saying? He is saying that it brings him great pleasure to incur costs or to completely exhaust himself and his resources for the benefit of the Corinthian believers. Please notice that his labors were not just to ensure that they would live a comfortable life, but that their souls would reap the benefit of his efforts. Certainly, Paul’s concern for those he loved could include the salvation of their souls, but it is also likely that he is also investing in the growth of their souls as well. There were many vices that the young Corinthian believers needed to repent from and grow out of and Paul was willing to “gladly spend and be spent” to help them get there.

Can we say the same of ourselves? 

Can you think of someone you know that is struggling as they grow in their faith? 

What can we do to help them? 

Chances are, we will incur costs. It may cost us some of our time, resources, or both. The possibility exists that they may not even understand our motive and ask us the question, “What is in it for you?”

Nevertheless, do we love others enough to “spend and be spent” for the growth of their soul? 

Paul did it, and he did it “gladly.”

Reach • Devotion #3: Investment

When I began my life journey as a young man, I would receive financial advice from others to make sure that I invested in my future. It seemed like everyone had an opinion on what I should do with the monies I earned each week. The great difficulty in looking to the future was that I was trying to survive in the present! It was hard in those early years to even think of making any long-term financial investments. 

Years later, I began a new journey, a journey as a young Christian. I did not think much about investing at that time either. However, along the way, God has revealed a few things to me on the subject of investing and the following passages have been instrumental in reshaping my investment thinking.

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.”

In 2 Peter 3:10, we read, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” 

I learned from these Scriptures that God was wanting me to turn from investing in earthly things and begin investing in the eternal. Earthly treasures eventually rot and if my investments are stored up in a bank somewhere, chances are all my desires are in there too. 

Secondly, Peter makes it clear that on the “day of the Lord,” the final day of His great judgment, all earthly investments, including the Earth itself, will be burned up and destroyed! The old saying “here today, gone tomorrow” can be appropriately applied here. 

It has taken a while, but God has certainly changed my investment strategy. I am convinced that the best investment of my time, money, and resources, is in the spreading of the Gospel. The return is eternal. 

The word Gospel means good news and who would not want to invest in spreading some good news! However, to understand fully just how good the good news really is, a person must stand it alongside the bad news. The bad news is that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are deserving of God’s eternal wrath. The Gospel is good news because it communicates to us that we can be saved from God’s wrath by placing our faith and trust in the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for the penalty of our sin and enter into eternal life!

“Return on investment” is a term that is often used in financial circles. I am thinking that when I invest in sharing the Gospel and someone receives it, repents, and asks the Lord to rescue them, that is a pretty good return on investment.

1 John 4 • Devotion #5: Perfect Love

It has been some years now, but I can remember one summer day, standing in line at a major theme park with my nephew, as we waited to buy our tickets to ride the park’s latest tall coaster. This ride had been publicized for months as the tallest and fastest roller-coaster in the world, and we could not wait to ride it! The two of us were thrill-seekers and bantered back and forth for the entire ride in the car, and now here we were, just moments away from experiencing the thrill of our lives!

Because this was the coaster’s debut, the line was long, so long in fact that when we first entered the line, we could not even see the ride. As the line moved along, the coaster’s massive structure revealed more and more of itself the closer we came to the entry point. Words could not possibly express the excitement and anticipation that was running through me as I now could hear the screams of the current riders as they were coming to a sudden stop! All my senses were activated, and I knew this was my moment. The time had come, and I was ready to go!

On the flip side, this was not the case for my 13 year-old nephew. He was terrified! He was so terrified, in fact, that he tried to turn around in the line and go back to the entrance. However, it was too late; it was his turn to enter onto the ride. Yet, he was full of fear.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:17-18 

The apostle John writes about a time in the future called the “day of judgment.” It is a time when we will stand before the Lord. The question to us is, will we stand before Him in “confidence,” or like my nephew, will we tremble in “fear?”

John says that “perfect [or complete] love casts out fear.” What he is alluding to is the fact that Jesus’ love for us was complete, and that His substitutionary death on the cross for the penalty our sins was sufficient and final. There is no need for us to worry or live in fear of punishment on the day of judgment if we have placed our lives in Jesus’ hands. John tells us that “whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” In other words, if fear of judgment haunts us, then maybe we have never come to God in repentance and asked Him to forgive us of our sin.

With the work of Calvary finished, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, and “as He is so also are we in this world.” Knowing that His love was made perfect, we too can stand before Him on that day, not with the fear of punishment, but with perfect confidence that His love for us was perfected in His sacrifice.

Work • Devotion #2: Bad Boss

As someone who has been in the workforce for over 45 years now, I have come to this realization – I have been a good and bad worker and as well I have been a good and bad boss. I know that at times I have failed to meet the expectations of my boss and at other times I have also failed those who have worked for me.

For everyone that has ever had a boss, you know how pleasurable it can be when that person meets your expectation of a boss. Maybe your boss’s expectation goes something like this: a good boss never overworks you, gives you plenty of time off, dispenses raises frequently, and certainly does not scold you for playing solitaire on your work computer. When working for a person like that, fulfilling your role as a good worker is a breeze!

However, we would agree that the person in authority over you falls short at times of your expectations for a boss. What if this person is ungrateful for the work you do? Are they excessively critical or negative towards you and constantly making unrealistic demands of you? Does this change your role as a worker? Do you become a bad worker because you have a bad boss?

As with all things in life, we should look for wisdom in the Word of God. In 1 Peter 2:18 (NKJV), we read, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.”

I do not know about you, but this Scripture made me pause. That is why I continued to read it over and over and over again. Eventually, my understanding became this – workers (servants) are to be obedient (submissive) to their bosses (masters) no matter what kind of boss they are! Regardless of whether they are gentle or harsh to me, my reaction towards them is to be the same. I am to be obedient (submissive) out of reverence (fear). It is a fact of life that in any society or organization, there must be an authority on the one hand, and obedience to that authority on the other. Without it we have chaos.

If the lack of chaos in the workplace is not enough for you, then hopefully the next verse helps, “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.”

God is pleased when He finds us so conscious of our relation to Him that we endure wrongful doing without upholding self or fighting back. When we humbly take unjust treatment, we display Christ, and this gains us favor with God and is a witness to the world that so desperately needs Him! This does not imply that working for the “bad boss” is our only option, it just means that while we are employed, we are to work remembering Christ’s example. 

God’s plan to rescue the world from sin was contingent on the obedience of Jesus as He suffered unjustly, submitting to the authority and will of God.

Whether you work for a “good boss” or “bad boss,” God has a plan for your obedience.

Government • Devotion #4: Taxes and Us

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1–2 (NKJV) 

In these verses, the Apostle Paul describes to the Christians in Rome just how people and governing bodies are to coexist. People are to respect governing bodies by submitting to their authority, mainly because God has placed them there, and secondly by resisting governing authority, a person would bring judgment on themselves.

While there will always be a large variety of topics that the government and people do not agree upon, one of the greatest tensions between people and government, is taxes. For centuries, the government has collected taxes to pay for a variety of services. However, corrupt officials, misappropriated funds, and ineffective programs have created mistrust among people and a reluctance to honestly file their taxes or to even pay them at all.

Even in Jesus’ day, there was anxiety between the Roman government and the people regarding tax monies to be collected. The following Scripture records the Pharisees and Herodians approaching Jesus in an attempt to trick Him up by asking a tax question.

Matthew 22:17–21 says, “‘Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’”

We often quote Jesus when talking about taxes by repeating His answer, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” However, it is rare that we quote the full answer, “And to God the things that are God’s.”

According to the CSB Study Bible, “The denarius was a Roman silver coin that bore a portrait of Emperor Tiberius, a Latin superscription that said ‘Tiberius Caesar, son of the Divine Augustus,’ an image of a goddess, and superscripted titles of the Roman high priest.”

Jesus approved the payment of taxes to Rome. However, He said that coins ultimately belong to the one whose image it bears. So, if coins bearing Cesar’s image belong to him, give them to him. 

Then what are we to give to God?

Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” As mankind bears the image of God, we belong to God. It is just like how the coin bearing Cesar’s image belonged to him. Jesus wanted His listeners to understand that it is not only important to give the government their due taxes but to also give God what is due to Him as well.

So, for me, two questions arise from this:

Am I giving all my taxes to the government?

Am I giving all of myself to God?



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