Author Archives: Richie Henson

Lesson Four • Devotion #3: Yes and Amen

There comes a time in the lives of young men when they determine to test the alpha status of their father. By the age of 16, most boys have, at least on one occasion, made an attempt, either physical or otherwise, to assert dominance in their household. Although there may be instances where the adolescent is successful, in my case, I was not. I challenged my father in feats of strength, both mental and physical, and lost in both accounts. Each time I would make my challenge to become alpha, my father would remind me, saying, “Don’t write checks your butt can’t cash.” This was a friendly, yet ominous reminder that I must be honest concerning my own abilities. 

As a grown man, I have come to live by this phrase in many aspects of my life. One such area is promises. It feels great to make a promise to someone, but it feels terrible to be unable to follow through on my word. As I consider my own shortcomings, I am reminded of God and His great ability to make promises and keep them. Paul discusses this truth in relation to promises of salvation in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

This is an amazingly important concept for Christians to understand. God is a promise maker, and all the promises He makes find the truth and fulfillment in His person. Wow! That gets me so excited. When I make promises, they are often contingent on my ability to get resources or help from elsewhere, but with God, the promises are all fulfilled in His person. 

God has promised us so much more than we could ever deserve. We have the promise of salvation, eternal life, and an inheritance that will never fade. These promises are trustworthy because God is trustworthy. In a world where promises are regularly broken, we can all find solace in the knowledge that God’s promises are incapable of coming back void as they are directly fulfilled by His person. 

Lesson Three • Devotion #5: Comfort Hoarder

As a child, my grandma used to sing an old hymn that reminded her to remember the blessing of God even in difficult circumstances. It was called “Count Your Blessings,” and it was a staple of her day. I remember the chorus of this song and often use the words to help me when I feel afflicted. It can feel so great to think about all the ways God has blessed our lives, but as I read 2 Corinthians, one section challenged my thinking with concern to comfort.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

In reading the book of Acts, as well as the epistles authored by Paul, we become familiar with the abundant and diverse sufferings met by Paul. Ranging from poisonous snake bites and shipwrecks to imprisonment and beatings, Paul, much like Jesus, was a man acquainted with suffering.

It would seem, given the circumstances, that Paul may consider stopping the above passage at the start of verse 4, “Praise God, the Father of mercies who comforts us in all our affliction.” That sounds wonderful! However, Paul continues and divulges the greater, selfless purpose of the comfort in our sufferings. God comforts us not that we may simply feel better, but instead that we may provide similar comfort to those around us. 

Although most of us will never suffer in a similar fashion to Paul, as Christ-followers, we are undoubtedly surrounded on all sides by a sinful world and a prowling devil. Our destruction is being sought by all manner of spiritual powers of darkness. The more we give to Christ, the more we will find ourselves under attack. The easy way out is to only seek God for personal comfort, but the Jesus thing to do is to take that comfort from God and give it to those around us who are similarly suffering. This requires two huge actions. First, we must be honest enough to express when we are hurting. This can be truly embarrassing but is essential if we are to live in real community. Second, we must be willing to dig deeper into the lives of others in order to empathize with their difficulties and then demonstrate and speak of the mercy of God continually seeking to comfort as God comforts us.

Hardship seems to find a way to snowball. One hurt is followed by another, and before we know it, there is a tidal way of damage tearing through our lives. God desires to comfort us, reminding us of His great mercy. In this comfort, we must remember to turn outward and pass the blessing of comfort to others.

1 John 2 • Devotion #4: Buying What They Are Selling

Every year, American companies spend $205 billion on advertising and marketing. It is their sincere hope that through brand exposure and coercion, they will garner business growing their company and expanding profits. Each person is in some way targeted by these ads. We see them every day on TV, on the road, and on our phones. Whether we like it or not, these ads are influencing us and our buying process. In this climate, self-indulgence seems natural and expected. However, if we are not careful, we can fall in love with the world and all it has to offer.

John warns us in 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

The world is easy to love because it is all about us and what we want. It is natural to want to get the car of your dreams, go on the vacation of a lifetime, eat at the coolest new restaurants, or buy the freshest new clothes. These things make a person feel great at the moment. Pursuing our wants always makes us feel full for a time, but the things of the Earth are fleeting. They are here today and gone tomorrow. Where does that leave us? We are left broken, alone, and hurting. God never designed us to be self-serving; instead, we are to love God and others enough to be a servant. As we learn to lay down our own desires and pursue God, we will be filled up by God’s will and purpose that will last forever.

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.

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