Devotions

Author Archives: John Rigg

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!

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.”



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.