Author Archives: John Rigg

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?

Grow • Devotion #4: Power of a Changed Life

On a recent trip to an Ohio correctional institution with the HIM Prison Team, I was able to witness something incredible. One afternoon, as the team was greeting each of the prisoners entering the yard, one of the inmates approached me, shook my hand, and said, “How’s it going, man? Thanks for coming in to see us! It’s good to see you guys again!” At first, his “good to see you guys again” comment did not strike me as unusual, as it is common for inmates to see the team multiple times over the course of their prison sentence. However, I soon realized that the man who was greeting me was an inmate that we had seen two previous times this year, in two different institutions! This was the third time.

To understand just how incredible this encounter was, we need an understanding of how the Ohio Correctional system works. When a prisoner first enters into the correctional system, they are assigned to a facility based on their security risk and behavior. Level 1 is for the lowest risk inmate, and level 4 is for the highest risk ones. This man was being transferred from facility to facility because of his improved behavior and reduced security risk. He had been in three facilities in one year, and from what I have been told, this is highly unusual! So, what is going on with this guy? He is growing, and his growth is evident. 

It was not long ago that this man surrendered to God’s will and gave his life to Christ. Now, with the grace and mercy of God, the power of the Gospel is apparent in his life. For the first time, he is growing spiritually and has begun the process of becoming like Jesus.

So, what makes this gentleman’s salvation appear different than others? Why does he seem to be growing, and others do not? The Apostle Peter gives us some insight into spiritual growth in his second letter.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:2–3 NKJV)

Notice that by God’s “power he has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”Anyone can live a life of godliness as long as they are using God’s power and seeking “the knowledge of Him.” For us today, this knowledge is obtained by the regular reading of the Word of God. If we ever expect to grow spiritually, we must have knowledge of the One we are trying to grow with, for, and like! 

As I continued my conversation with my inmate friend, it became really apparent to me exactly what was happening.

  1. He had received and believed in the power of the Gospel message, and the Holy Spirit now lives in him (John 14:16-17).
  2. He is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  3. His former nature is fading away (Ephesians 4:22-24).
  4. He is reading the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  5. He is willing to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

Like I stated earlier, I witnessed something incredible that day. It was the power of a changed life. Whoever thought this prison inmate could or would ever change? I bet the Ohio prison system did not expect him to change, but it is apparent, he has changed. They may not recognize his growth as spiritual, but I did. He is growing, all because he was willing to submit himself to God’s power and His Word.

So, whose power are we using to grow? Are you only using your own power, or are you willing to grow through God’s power?

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?

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