Author Archives: Richie Henson

Gather • Devotion #6: Streaming Is No Substitute

We live in a world that is increasingly less “in person.” In fact, major studies show that more people would rather converse via text message than a phone call or face to face meeting. That cultural shift towards an impersonal relationship makes it easy for us to sit on the couch, throw on the live stream, and say that we have gone to church. Although this seems like a great and easy way to attend church, it is a cheap substitute for the life-altering gathering of believers. 

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The point of the gathering is not to sing the songs and hear the message. Those are surely aspects of our gatherings, but they in and of themselves are not the purpose. As stated in Hebrews, the purpose of gathering together is to stir each other up to love and good works. Singing together provides an opportunity for this encouragement. The Gospel-centered preaching of the Word of God provides an opportunity for this encouragement. However, alone, they are not enough. Much like the early church, we need the community provided by togetherness to encourage us to continue fighting the good fight. Without each other, we are unable to make it out of our Sunday pump up into the trenches of Wednesday.

Being able to stream a gathering is a huge help to many people. There are some who are unable to attend a gathering. It may be due to a work schedule, vacation, or an illness. For people in these positions, streaming a gathering is a wonderful alternative to not experiencing a gathering at all. However, for those of us who are able to attend a gathering, we should take every opportunity to participate in the fellowship of believers to encourage and be encouraged that we may go out into the world to live in the purpose God has called us to.

No Perfect Churches

Shining Face | Devotion 4: No Perfect Churches
Richie Henson

There is an old quip that used to get passed around the church, “If you find a perfect church, go ahead and join it, it won’t be perfect anymore.” The fact is, the church is made up of imperfect people trying to live by the Spirit to fulfill God’s purpose. Even though we may all agree churches are not perfect, it can prove difficult to live with grace and mercy towards each other.

As we study the life of Moses, I think we see a picture of this. Israel continually messes up. They get off course, and Moses becomes frustrated. Moses complains about the people, and God demonstrates His love and goodness by giving grace.

In Exodus chapter 34, Moses returns back up Mount Sinai to get a new set of stone tablet commandments. I imagine this was not a fun walk up the mountain. If it were me, I would struggle to want to make this trip a second time as I thought about the idolatry that happened on the previous occasion. However, Moses is obedient to God and takes the stone tablets up the mountain a second time.

At this point in his life, Moses is clearly at a breaking point of frustration. I think we have all been there with our church before. We feel upset or hurt by something that does or does not happen. Maybe it is a program we loved is no longer happening, the bathroom is painted a new color, or an idea we have does not get the backing of the church. Whatever the case may be, most of us have times or places where we feel downtrodden within the church. Even though our natural response, as was Moses in chapter 33, is to ask God what in the world is going on, God makes a huge point to Moses and us in chapter 34.

Verse 10 says, “And He [God] said, ‘Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’”

No matter how we feel about the peripherals of the church, we must always remember that God has made a covenant with the church. It is a covenant established by the blood of Jesus to work in and through us to accomplish an awesome work. It is easy to fall into the trap of frustration and complaining like Moses, but we must continually remember and recognize that God has established this church and we must submit to His will and purpose focusing on what is actually significant – to reach the world, gather together, and grow in the Word.

Herding Cats

Raised Arms | Devotion 4: Herding Cats
Richie Henson

All over the world, there are idioms for pointless endeavors. In America, one of the most used is “herding cats.” Others I have heard are “nailing Jell-O to a tree” or “trying to squish water.” At some point or another, many of us have used a phrase like this in reference to a situation or circumstance that just seems pointless. As I read Exodus and look specifically at the life of Moses, I often think of these phrases. Moses, by the power of God, leads an entire nation out of slavery just so they can complain about the way in which God is rescuing them. As the leader, Moses was overwhelmed by the difficulty of “herding” these people to the promised land.

As if matters were not difficult enough, as we come to Exodus chapter 17, the nation is confronted with their first major battle. It is in this battle that the Israelites win as Moses raises his staff (if you have not read this amazing account, I encourage you to read Exodus 17:8-13). At the end of the battle, Moses is instructed by God to take a written account declaring that God will blot out their enemy (Amalek) and then, Moses builds an altar.

Exodus 17:14-16 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, ‘A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”

In life, we are continually confronted with difficulty. There is always a situation or circumstance that seems to be more than we can handle. I think Moses knew this better than most. He saw that there was no way to succeed. However, Moses chose to build an altar, to make a stand, that the Lord is his banner. That is to say; the Lord is his rallying cry.

Moses continually needed the Lord’s provision to accomplish all things as a leader. Our lives are no different. Unless we continually look to the banner of the Lord, that is salvation and righteousness, as our rallying cry, as our hard fast line for daily battle, we are doomed to drown in waves of anxiety and defeat. However, as we submit our will to God and put our faith in the battle cry that is Jesus’ name, we can live as conquerors.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Excuses, Excuses

Excuses | Devotion 3: Excuses, Excuses
Richie Henson 

As a kid, I hated doing my homework. I felt that if I spent the whole day at school, there was no good reason for me to keep working on school work once I got home. I mean, think about it, when my parents came home from work, they did not work another two hours. I think my logic was sound, but my parents always got on me about doing my homework. So, to combat this, I began to make excuses at every turn as to why I was unable to do my homework. It even got to the point where I was flat out lying that I did not have any homework. When I think about the feelings of avoidance at any cost, I am reminded of Moses in Exodus 4:10, “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’”

Moses is standing before God in a burning bush, and he has the audacity to make an excuse about not being able to speak to Pharaoh. If anyone was capable, it was Moses. As we find out in the book of Acts, Moses spent the first 40 years of his life living in Pharaoh’s court. He knew all the rules and regulations for interacting with Pharaoh. However, Moses was all about the excuses, I believe, because he was afraid of the enormity of God’s call.

It is easy to judge Moses at this moment. We can easily assume that if God appeared to us in a burning bush, we would stand at attention and take our marching orders without blinking an eye. However, I think on my own life, and I must admit, there have been many times where God has called me to something, and I have made excuses rather than heeded the call.

Quite a few years ago, I felt God calling my family to Michigan. We were living in California at the time, and I was terrified of moving. I made an excuse after excuse to God. I told Him I had a good job and friends I could not leave. I asked God to give me some time to get things in order. However, much like God did with Moses, He continued to pursue me with the call to Michigan. Eventually, I ran from God so fervently on this matter, and I began to experience God’s discipline. It was at this point, I had to stop making excuses and fulfill God’s calling.

The last few years in Michigan have not been perfect, but I know this is exactly where God wants me. I can see why He brought my family here, and I am excited for all that He will do.

God calls each of us to action in our lives. He has set aside good works for us and desires for us to fulfill them to His glory and the salvation of the world. However, this call is often scary or uncomfortable. We feel unprepared or unworthy. We must continually remember that we do not have to be prepared or worthy because a great God goes before us preparing a way for victory. My prayer for us this week is that we would run after God’s calling on our lives with the assurance that we need not be perfect to do God’s will, we must simply trust in the plan of God.

A Monumental Shift

Birth | Devotion 1: A Monumental Shift
Richie Henson

The life of Moses cannot be totally understood unless we take a moment to grasp the context prior to his birth. As we begin reading Exodus, there is a serious transition taking place. Joseph and the sons of Israel have all moved to Egypt, and their families have become quite large in number. At this point, Joseph and all the other people of his generation have died, and a new Pharaoh takes control in Egypt. Along with this generational transition, there is a cultural shift in Egypt.

Exodus 1:8-10 says, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’”

The new Pharaoh determines the massive number of Israelites is a threat to the security of Egypt. Pharaoh decides to deal with this threat by subjugating to slavery the entirety of the Israelites. In spite of these poor conditions, the people of God continued to multiply thereby increasing the fear of Egypt. In turn, the Egyptians begin to work the Israelites even harder in an attempt to keep them from rising up and escaping. This is such a jarring change. One generation previous, Joseph was a man of high stature within the government, and now, the entire nation has been lowered to slavery.

As I read this account in Exodus, I cannot help but think of our own nation. As the church, we, at times, put too much importance on our “Christian nation.” We allow ourselves to believe that our government is devoutly Christian. We get sucked into the false sense of security that our nation and government will always support our freedom as Jesus followers.

However, I believe Exodus teaches us that things can change quickly and we must continue to put our faith, not in our worldly government, but in the Kingdom we are eagerly working to build by the power of the Holy Spirit until the coming of our Lord Jesus. Do not get me wrong, if you love to vote or engage in politics, by all means, that is your prerogative. However, I would beg us as a church, as members of God’s kingdom, to focus our attention on the importance of the eternal government that will come at the return of Jesus. That we would put our hope and trust, not in our government, that could be as fickle as Egypt in Exodus chapter 1, but instead to put our hope and trust in a great and mighty King who will one day come again to rule and reign.

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