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September 25

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Running From vs Running To.

Sometime in the early ’90s we got a dog.  Samson, as I named him, was a drop off. A friend of a friend showed him to the friend who then showed him to my girls and that was all she wrote. But it was soon apparent Samson was my dog. He was part Malamute/part Shepherd and he was squirmy.  He was too big for Janna; Tami dropped him on his head when he squirmed out of her arms; and Jo couldn’t control him. I could. I walked him. Fed him. Played with him.  He knew my car sound as I turned the corner into our cul-de-sac.

We had a side yard with a fence. Only once did Samson get out. We were shingling the roof when someone left the gate open. I saw him take off and foolishly got off the roof to chase after him. Instead of running to me, he ran away. He was only a couple of months old and I was fearful for him. But I should have let him come back to me. My frustration level got greater the longer I went after him. I finally turned around and went back home.  He soon returned.

How much like Samson the human race is. We have safety, security, and all we need at home. But something bites us and we want to check out “the other side.” So we get out of our safety net and roam. Pursue. Chase a rabbit trail of unfulfillment.  God pursues us bidding us to come to Him. To come home. Ultimately, the decision is ours as to whether to continue pursuing the empty life or run to the One who gives life.

Samson came home eventually. I gave him a few swats across the flank then hugged him. He never ran again. We can run from God to a life filled with danger and missteps or run to Him where He may discipline us but then hugs us with arms of love. Run from Him to a life filled with hurt or run to Him and a life filled with love. Which will it be?

“Father, Peter once said, ‘Where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ Help me to always remember that. Help me not to pursue the empty life but to pursue your life.”

July 29

Monday, July 29th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Do vs Done.

One of the hardest things-I think-for many to grasp is the relative “ease” to obtain salvation. There is in many of us this feeling like salvation can’t be that easy; there has to be something I must do. So we get into this whole works and earning my way into salvation. We find ourselves in a game we play of “If I do this, this and this then I will be more acceptable to God.”

But that kind of striving takes away the sheer joy of unearned salvation. It’s like at Christmas time. Let’s suppose you as a parent or grandparent give your child/grandchild a present but say, “Now, you can have this for the price of $20 or (name your price) or even $1! No matter how you look at it, that is not a gift. A gift is not something that has to be paid for-no matter how much or how little.

I’ve heard it put this way:

Salvation is not a matter of what you do; it is a matter of what has been done.

Our salvation is not dependent on what we have or can do.  Our salvation is dependent on what Christ has done. The Bible is clear: “By grace you have been saved through faith. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone can boast.” [Eph.2:8-9] I like that last phrase. Actually, the whole thing but that last phrase tells me two things: 1) I have no reason to boast about my goodness; and 2) neither does anyone else. My good works; their good works; will not endear me or them to God. I have nothing to brag about.

“Father, thank you for changing the word from ‘do’ to ‘don’t.’ Thank you that my salvation, or anyone’s for that matter, does not rely on how good I am. I have no reason to boast. I’m a sinner saved by your amazing grace.”

April 18

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

My title is God’s Sovereign Plan vs Coincidence.

It’s not unusual to hear someone says, “I was lucky” or “Just happened to.” I cringe when I hear those words because I don’t believe in either one of those. There might be games of chance that’s true, but not in life. I don’t believe things which happen are “luck” or “chance” or “coincidence.”

Case in point: My Scripture reading the last two days. The book of Ruth. What a fascinating story! I’d encourage you to sit down and read it today. Slowly. Glean (pun intended) the truths from it. It can be read in one sitting; I chose to do it in two. It is full of love, commitment, jockeying, and deep spiritual truth. The way Boaz treated Ruth. The way he didn’t back down from being her kinsmen-redeemer. His “jockeying” and negotiation for her. His care for Ruth and Naomi. But here’s the coup de grat: “They named him Obed.  He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (4:17)

A son born to Boaz and Ruth (the Moabitess)! Check out Matthew 1-the lineage of Jesus. I love seeing a plan like this. It was not luck that brought them together; it was God’s sovereign plan. An interesting commentary follows verse 17. “Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron…Salmon fathered Boaz…(and you know the rest).” Even the illicit conception of Perez (Judah and Tamar, his daughter-in-law) was not a “chance” encounter. No. God’s sovereign plan was at work. I’m not smart enough to understand all of the theology surrounding God’s sovereign plan, but I am “smart” enough to know God is in control and I must trust that that truth. Ruth is a rich book. I love the whole story, especially the kinsmen-Redeemer one.

“Father, it’s not luck. It’s not chance. It’s not coincidence. It’s your plan. Thank you for this story of Ruth and Boaz in all its angles. Thank you for the beautiful story of redemption contained here. What a beautiful picture of God’s perfect plan of redemption through Jesus. Stepping in and saying, ‘I’m buying Him (me). He’s mine. The price is my life.’  How can I call that anything but love? Anything but ultimate sacrifice? Anything but the ultimate price? This Easter season I pray for that truth to deeply impact me.”