Devotions

Author Archives: John Rigg

Leader or Rebel?

Hits Rock | Devotion 5: Leader or Rebel?
John Rigg

“And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” Numbers 20:10-11 (NKJV) 

The Bible records Israel being labeled as “rebels” because of their murmuring and complaining all throughout their wilderness travels. It was their constant refusal to obey God’s commandments through the leadership of Moses and Aaron that earned them this title. After almost 40 years of dealing with Israel’s rebellious attitude, Moses has had enough. After inquiring of the Lord what to do over Israel’s recent complaint of having no water, Moses receives his instructions. Numbers 20:8 starts off by saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.”

However, acting out of frustration and anger over their complaining, Numbers 20:11 tells us what Moses did, “And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.”

Numbers 20:12 gives some harsh consequences, “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’”

According to verse 12, Moses’ response to the rebellion was one of unbelief and irreverence towards God, costing him his opportunity to lead the people into the Promised Land, a judgment that seems a little harsh at first glance. However, it is not until we remember that God’s original desire was to bless the children of Israel with “water for them out of the rock.” They certainly did not deserve it, but what a wonderful example of grace and mercy!

In a moment of weakness and frustration, Moses disobeyed God by “striking the rock” instead of “speaking to the rock.” God desired the Israelites to see His power and His might so that they might believe in Him and trust Him; something they had been struggling to do since they first set out from Egypt. However, what they witnessed was Moses taking matters into his own hands. Verses 10 and 11 (NKJV) reveal His attitude and action, “‘Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod.” What the Israelites needed most was not to see the poor example of their leader, but to see the power and love of God through His graceful provision of water. God was not hallowed in the eyes of the children of Israel because of their leader’s poor decision. So, by disobeying God, the leader Moses became a rebel himself and shared in the punishment with the rest of the rebels.

If you have ever had the opportunity to lead people, eventually, you will find yourself in the same frustrating situation as Moses and Aaron. Listening to the complaints from those you are trying to lead is an inevitable part of leadership and joining in with the rebels is tempting. However, it will be your response to contention and strife that will either define you as a leader or number you among them.

Numbers 20:13 adds, “These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.”

“Meribah” translated into English, means provocation or strife.

From which waters are you drinking?

Convergence of Appearance

Shining Face | Devotion 5: Convergence of Appearance
John Rigg

Have you ever been to a shopping mall or walking a busy city street and encounter an elderly couple wearing matching shirts? Probably your first thought is, “Oh, how cute! That couple is adorable!” Then you realize that their mannerisms are eerily similar, and upon the further study, you notice that even their facial features resemble each other. Suddenly, this couple is no longer cute; they are creepy! So, you shake off this encounter, and then it happens again. You spot another couple with matching shirts, like mannerisms, and yes, they even look alike! Fortunately, there is nothing of which to be afraid. Apparently, science has labeled this phenomenon “convergence of appearance.” Studies show that the longer couples are together, the more likely they are to resemble each other. Really, it is true, I think? You should Google it.

Genesis 34:29-35 informs us that Moses, with the second set of the tablets of the Testimony in hand, came down from the mountain once again to read the Law of God to the people. Unknown to Moses, however, was that the glory of the Lord was upon his face as he began to talk with the people. When the people saw the glory of the Lord on Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near. Now every time the children of Israel saw the face of Moses shining with the glory of the Lord, Moses would cover his face with a veil until he would once again return and speak with the Lord.

I admit that I know very little about the subject of “convergence of appearance,” but I could not help but think about this phenomenon as I was reading about Moses’ forty days and forty nights on the mountain with God. Much like the couples who look and act like one another; Moses’ time with God left him mirroring the glory of God. Nevertheless, because of the Law’s inability to give full access to God, Moses placed a veil over his face symbolizing restricted access. Full access and full glory would be future events brought about by Jesus’ work on the cross represented by the tearing of the veil at His crucifixion (Mark 15:51-54).

The Apostle Paul eludes to this event in Exodus to help us understand the full access we have to God and the transformation that occurs when someone puts their faith and trust in Jesus, “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:16–18 NKJV).

The way I see it, it is all about “convergence of appearance.” The more time I spend with the resurrected Lord, the more I become transformed into His image. The greater the time with the Lord, the more I look and act like Him! However, notice it is not overnight. It is from glory to glory. Being transformed is a process!

So, with whom are you spending most of your time?

Chances are you look just like them.

Worship

Ten Commandments | Devotion 1: Worship
John Rigg

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6

God had just delivered what would come to be known as the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mt. Sinai. As instructed, “Moses went down to the people and told them” (Exodus 19:25). Right from the start, God reminded the people that He is “the LORD your God” and that He alone has brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

You would think that Moses would not even have to mention the first two commandments in light of the latest events. Think about it; God had just recently parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could pass from a life of bondage into freedom, while simultaneously crushing Pharaoh’s army that was in hot pursuit. Then amazingly, God revealed Himself at Mt. Sinai with thunders and lightings and a thick cloud…and a very loud trumpet blast so that all the people in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16). Nevertheless, Moses would soon realize that although the people had been removed out of the Egyptian culture, the Egyptian culture had not been removed out of the people and there was a need for “The Law.”

Moses was leading a people that had just been freed from a culture where many gods were worshiped, and if one of those gods did not produce what you wanted, then you just made up another god. Centuries later, the Apostle Paul would address the theology of false gods and the worship of man-made idols in his letter to the Romans, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22–23).

It is so easy for us today to look on this time in history and say to ourselves, “What fools!” “How could anyone ever believe in more than one god or bow down to man-made things?” However, in the New Testament, the time in which we live, the term idolatry is directly linked to covetousness. Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” 

Moses and the Israelites may not have had to worry about having too much stuff while wandering the Palestinian desert. However, we do. By worshiping the false god of self, we fall prey to bowing down to materialism. If we are willing to be honest, our homes are filled with all types of possessions. We continue to build bigger and bigger houses that contain more space in order to store all the stuff we need to keep the “god of self” happy. We may not call it worship but think of all the time we spend on maintaining our possessions. One of the definitions for idolatry is when worship or divine honor is paid to any created object other than God. Even the word worship has its origin in the word “worth” or value. So, in essence, we could determine the object of our worship by evaluating on what we spend most of our time, talents, and money. Fortunately for us, embedded in the commandments of God, we can see the result of choosing idolatry (loving stuff) or loving Him.

Exodus 20:5-6 says, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Just as in the days of Moses, the generations of those that follow will either be cursed or blessed by what they are learning from how we live our lives.

No other gods.
No carved images.
It is a choice.

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!



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.