Devotions

Author Archives: Patrick Bicknell

The Resurrection • Devotion #3: Why do you Seek the Living Among the Dead?

Everything about the Christian faith rests on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything about our hope, the way we live our lives, and the faith we put in God are totally dependent on Jesus rising from the grave three days after His crucifixion. One chapter earlier in Luke, we see our humble Savior take our place on the cross, suffer agonizing pain, and bury our sin in the dirt when He died. Now, that is amazing for a person to claim, to die for his brothers, for those that he loves. However, if Jesus did not rise again from the grave then everything that He has said is all a lie. All the faith and time that His disciples spent with Him were all in vain if there was no resurrection. Jesus would have just been another guy who said a lot of big words, performed some miracles, and then died a martyr’s death. However, that is not what happened.

On that blessed morning, a couple of women who were followers of Jesus decided to head to the tomb with the spices and ointments they had prepared to put on Jesus’ body. They were probably still mourning and missing their friend Jesus who had just been with them, alive, just a few days ago. As they approached, however, they saw that the stone was rolled away and Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. I cannot imagine what was going through their mind at that moment. Then we get to verse 5 where some of the most amazing words are spoken by an angel of the Lord saying, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5-6). That morning, everything had changed forever. Jesus truly was who He said He was. He truly was the one that came to this world, clothed Himself in flesh, lived a perfect life, died a terrible, humiliating death as the Son of God, and rose again three days later to offer sinners of the world the free gift of grace. There is now a way for redemption from sins, justification before the Father, and hope that will never be put to shame.

This is the amazing truth about Christianity and the biggest thing that sets it apart from all other religions and faiths. Paul addresses the necessity of the resurrection in his letter to the church in Corinth when he said, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). If Christ has not risen from the grave then none of this matters. The preaching of the pastors at this church is in vain. Those that spend their time serving and loving others are in vain. The outreach that we do at this church to save lost souls is in vain. Everything about the Christian faith is reduced to nothing if Jesus Christ stayed dead 2,000 years ago.

Paul even goes on further to say, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). If we put our hope in Christ only to get through the struggles of this life, and He has not risen, then we are to be the most pitied people on this planet. However, our God did not stay dead. He rose again, and now we have a hope that we are to share with everyone, that there is a Savior who died for the sins of the world, that whoever would believe in His name shall not perish but have everlasting life.

His Towel • Devotion #4: The Savior’s Humble Spirit

On the night that our Savior knew that His hour had to come to do the work of the Father that He was sent to do, Jesus displayed an amazing act of service and humility. John chapter 13 begins by saying how Jesus knew that His hour had come, that Judas was going to betray Him, and that He was going to die one of the most gruesome deaths imaginable. The first thing that Jesus does is get up from the table and begin to wash the feet of His disciples. Here is Jesus knowing all that is about to happen to Him, He gets up and begins to serve those around Him. He not only is doing this the night of His betrayal, but He is also washing the feet of people who walked around everywhere. This means that He is not washing the feet of some people who sat at a desk all day, drove in a car to and from work, and maybe had a little bit of foot odor at the end of the day. He was washing the feet of people who had been sweating from walking around everywhere in the heat and dirt while wearing only sandals. It is safe to assume that these were some nasty feet that Jesus was washing. Not only was He washing some disgusting feet, but what is so significant about this act of service is that he was doing a job that the lowest servant in the household at the time would do. He was truly living out what John wrote a couple of verses earlier at the end of verse one saying, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Jesus gives us two amazing examples here, one of how we are to love and serve others, and the other is that Jesus cleanses us and makes us clean through His sacrifice.

Jesus goes on to explain what He was doing in the act of washing their feet by saying, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15). Now I do not think Jesus was specifically telling us to always be washing one another’s feet, although that can be done and some people do it, but I think Jesus was giving a deeper example. I believe Jesus was telling us to humbly serve one another, to consider ourselves less than everyone, and meet the needs of others that we see regardless of how “low” the service may seem. I think it is fair to say if the Son of God, Creator of everything, humbled Himself to the position of a servant, we should follow His example and serve others at every chance we get. Secondly, Jesus was showing the disciples what He was going to do for them later that night. He knew that He was the only one who could wash away the sins of the world. In His response to Peter who did not want Jesus to wash His feet, He says, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8). Jesus is telling them that apart from the finished work of Christ on Calvary, the stain of sin remains on all. If we surrender our lives to Him, He cleanses us of all unrighteousness, declaring us justified and forgiven. We must follow the example that Christ laid out for us.

Siblings • Devo #3 • “Forgiveness Modeled”

In my family, I am the youngest of three. If anyone reading this is the baby of the family, then you already know where I am about to go with the opening of this devotion. When I was asked to write a devotion about siblings for our family month book I immediately thought back to all the times when I was younger when I was bullied by my two older siblings. Now, sure, as I look back on those memories I probably remember them a bit more dramatic as most babies of the family do.

Today I have a great relationship with my two other siblings, but the hurt that comes within the sibling dynamics of a family is very real. Whether it is from teasing when we were younger, or a deeper hurt that our siblings can cause us, one of the most important things that siblings must learn is forgiveness. Anyone who has siblings, and especially those of us who have older siblings, probably were able to finish that last sentence before they finished reading it. Forgiveness of our siblings is something that is essential to keeping a healthy relationship with one another.

One of the best pictures in the Bible that displays the real, raw, struggles within siblings, and how forgiveness can mend those relationships comes in Genesis. What I love about this story is that it destroys the objection that some people have when they are told they need to forgive, “But you don’t know what they did to me.” Now, that is probably true. I probably do not know what some of the people reading this have experienced from their siblings, but Joseph did. 

In Genesis chapter 45, at the climax of the story of Joseph and his brothers, we see a beautiful picture of forgiveness and trust in God. Before this happened, Joseph’s brothers had done some of the cruelest things that siblings could do to one another. It first began with jealousy of Joseph, which then turned into them plotting to kill him. Instead of killing him, they decided to sell him into slavery and lie to his father that he had died. From there Joseph became a slave, went through imprisonment, was falsely accused of crimes, and experienced some of the worst things that can happen to a person. Now most of us when we read through those chapters of Genesis we think, “How could he forgive them? I know that I wouldn’t!” Even now your sibling might have done something to you that you are telling yourself that there is no way that you can forgive them. The response that Joseph gives his brothers when they first see him after all of those years is incredible. He says, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:4-5).

The reasoning for Joseph’s forgiveness had nothing to do with himself or his brothers, but it had everything to do with God. He had realized that what happened to him was horrible, but that the God he trusted in was much bigger than his pain. He knew God had a much better plan than the plan of those who had plotted to destroy him. This response is coming from someone who had every right to hold a grudge against his siblings, yet he chose to forgive because he knew that God had a much greater purpose for the pain. That is how we ought to act towards our siblings. If we are going to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, call ourselves Christians, and believe in Romans 8:28 (that “all” things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose), then forgiveness is not just a suggestion. It is essential.

Parents • Devo #6 • “Worship”

Another important aspect to parenting, and to those who wish to follow Christ, is our worship. We must be careful that we are worshiping in truth and worshiping how God has called us to within Scripture. As parents, our children are oftentimes looking up to us and will try to copy and follow what we are doing. Something that my son picked up this past summer was spitting. I thought maybe he had learned to do it himself, but what I realized is that every time I would spit, he would spit on the ground, too. The way he learned to do this was by watching me. He wanted to be like his daddy and follow in what I was doing.

In the same way, we set the standard for how our children will worship God; for better or worse. An incredible role model within Scripture that teaches us how to worship and who sets the standard for generations to come is Abraham. Abraham as it is recorded all throughout the Bible is the father of Israel. He is the one that God chose to make His covenant with. God told him He would make him a great nation, that He would bless him and his offspring, and that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. He set the standard for how the Israelites, and even us today, would believe and worship God with our lives.

Paul talks about this in Galatians chapter 3 where he writes, “Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Know then that it is those of faith who are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:6-9). Paul writes that all of those who share in the faith that Abraham had are blessed. He is showing us how Abraham was setting the standard for generations to come, that God was to be worshiped by faith, believed by faith, and followed by faith. 

In the same way that Abraham set the standard for generations to come, we need to raise our children up worshiping God properly. The way in which our lives display our love for God, oftentimes, will dictate how our children worship God. If we are sacrificing our lives to God as our spiritual worship as Romans 12:1 says, then there is a good chance that our children will want to follow in our footsteps. We need to make sure that we are raising our children up to not only understand how to worship God, but how to properly worship God. It starts in our own lives. We need to be the standard in our homes; being the example that our children need to see. They are going to be told by the world many lies about how to worship God. If we teach our children from a young age what the Bible says about worshiping God then we will help guard them from the deception of this world.

Parents • Devo #2 • “Forgiveness”

The role of parenthood has taught me many things since I became a father almost four and a half years ago. I have learned a deeper meaning of love, I have experienced the joy that I did not think was possible, and overall I have received one of the greatest blessings in my life with my son. I also have learned a new level of anger, confusion, and forgiveness that I would have never experienced without my son. Just the other day we were playing in the living room with some of his toys. It was very sweet, we were laughing and having a good time. About 20 minutes into playing, he came up to me and, very gently, gave me a hug. Just as I was about to say, “I love you, buddy,” he slapped me in the mouth just about as hard as a 4-year-old could. I was enraged, but I also knew that I am trying to teach my son about Jesus. First of all, the most important job I have as a father is to raise my son up to be a man that hears the Gospel, loves Jesus, and surrenders his life to Him as Lord and Savior. One way, if not the most important way, I can do that is to model forgiveness to him.

The story of the prodigal son is one that I often run back to when it comes to how I should teach my son forgiveness. In this parable, the son asks for his inheritance, or his share of property that would be coming to him when his dad died. In this story, he seeks the inheritance early so that he could leave his father and do what he wants. This alone would be enough to break my heart. The son is essentially saying to the father, you are as good as dead to me and I want nothing to do with you. He is basically saying, “I want the money that will come to me once you are dead.” Most of us would have a hard time forgiving our children if they were to do something of this caliber to us. However, as we read later on in the parable, it says, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24).

What is amazing about what the father does here is that before the son could get the planned apology that he had for the father out, he was already embracing him and telling his servants to get a party ready because his son had returned. This shows that the father was not waiting for an apology and he was not waiting for his son to return the money. He had already forgiven his son in his heart and when he saw his son returning all he could do was rejoice.

My question is then, as parents, how can we forgive in this way and model this forgiveness for our children? We must always remember the cross and how God has forgiven us of everything. Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we had done nothing to receive forgiveness from God, Christ died for us so that forgiveness of all our sins may be possible. Remembering this is the way that we can forgive not only our children but also everyone in our lives.



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.