"Give us each day our daily bread." ~ Luke 11:3
Read Pastor Karl's daily devotionals!
New devotionals will be posted Monday through Friday, and will remain here on the website for a week's time.
Thursday, May 19, 2022
“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Who needed to change? God, or us?
There is a powerful belief among many Christians that Jesus’ death on the cross “paid the price” for our sins by somehow changing God’s attitude towards us. This belief says that God the Father: went from wanting to see us suffer for our sins, to wanting to see us forgiven our sins and wanting to see good come into our lives.
Scripture testifies otherwise.
“But God proves his love for us…"
John 3:16 testifies that, “God so loved the world that he sent his only son…"
It was not necessary that God change is attitude toward us. God has always reached out in love and mercy to “sinners."
Rather, it was necessary that we change our attitude, and our response, toward God.
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are empowered to accept, receive, and respond to God’s redemptive love.
Our God is always loving and gracious.
We are the ones always in need of the transformation that Jesus offers.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
“God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’” (Genesis 9:12-16)
Forgetting comes easy to most of us.
I water the parsonage lawn using a “tractor” sprinkler that moves along following a hose. It's not unusual for me to forget the sprinkler is running. Eventually I will remember, run out of the house, and find the sprinkler up against a fence or creeping out into the street. Forgetting comes very easy for me.
What about God? Does God forget?
The above words from the Lord came after the Ark had come to rest, and the animals had been released. Noah built and altar and worshipped the Lord. The Lord then made a Covenant with Noah and all who would come after him. Never again would the Lord destroy the earth by sending a flood.
Interestingly, the Lord said, I will put a bow in the heavens so that I will not forget my covenant. The Lord placed a reminder in the heavens for Himself so that He would remember to “turn off the sprinkler” before it “goes too far."
Does the Lord really need a reminder?
No, He does not.
Rather, we need reminding.
We are able to see the bow in the heavens. We are able to see a visible sign that declares, “The Lord remembers His covenant with us."
Our Lord does not forget His promises to us. The next time we see a rainbow let us see, not only beautiful colors, but also let us "see" our Lord’s faithfulness.
Better yet, let us see our Lord’s faithfulness even when we there are no visible signs.
Scripture calls this, walking by faith, and not by sight.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
“Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,…” (Isaiah 45:1)
King Cyrus was God’s anointed, God’s chosen.
Oddly, King Cyrus was never a king of Israel, but rather Cyrus was king of Persia. What is also odd is that Cyrus did not know the Lord (Isaiah 45:4-5). Cyrus was totally oblivious to the fact the he was a chosen and anointed instrument of God.
Cyrus was the Persian king who defeated the Babylonians. Cyrus then allowed the Jews, who had be carried off into exile by the Babylonians, to return to the Promised Land. Cyrus was the person through whom the Lord worked to bring His People home, even though Cyrus never even considered that he was doing the Lord’s work.
Cyrus undoubtedly wanted nothing more than to increase his own power and wealth by subduing the Babylonians. Though he had no intentions to do so, Cyrus ended up pursuing the Lord’s purposes.
Our God is able to work through those who acknowledge, obey, and worship Him. He is also able to work through those who have no idea of the role they are playing in the Kingdom of God.
Without a doubt, we are called to consciously and intentionally follow Jesus Christ our Lord. Unlike Cyrus, we are to be looking for, and taking advantage of, the opportunities for ministry that the Lord brings our way.
However, we ought not be surprised when we look back and see that despite our unawareness, our Lord has used our lives for His purposes.
Our Lord is able to work through our lives even when we are oblivious to this fact.
Of course, our joy comes as we see how the grace of our Lord has flowed through our lives.
Monday, May 16, 2022
“It was no messenger or angel
but his presence that saved them...” (Isaiah 63:9)
Youtube has powerful videos of United States servicemen and women surprising their families by showing up from overseas deployments in person. Parents, siblings, children, and sweethearts alike lose all control in expressions of sheer joy and celebration as they realize the one whom they love is present.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord providing mercy, salvation, and love for His people, Israel, in person. “It was no messenger or angel…"
Messengers provide great comfort. Just like the letters, emails, and pictures from loved ones serving abroad provide great comfort.
Nevertheless, there is nothing like the actual presence of the one whom we love.
God Himself came to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus continues to come to us in person through the Spirit.
The personal presence of Christ with us, each and every day, ought to fill us with the kind of joy we see in those videos…even if we tone it down a bit.
Friday, May 13, 2022
“It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you- for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
The Lord God had miraculously delivered the Hebrew people out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Why did He do that?
Apparently, the Hebrew People liked to think that the Lord had rescued them because of some inherent goodness they possessed. “There must be something about us,” they said, “that causes the Lord to favor us."
Through Moses, the Lord responds with the declaration that there is nothing about the Israelites that makes them attractive. Rather, the Lord’s mercy and deliverance have come to the descendants of Abraham solely because of the unprovoked and underserved love of the Lord.
Why the Lord loves Israel is a mystery, a mystery that lies in the depths of the heart of the Lord.
What was true for Israel is true for us. We do not: (1) deserve, (2) provoke, or (3) inspire God’s love for us.
The only answer to the question, “Why does the Lord love us?” is, “Because He is loving."
We do not deserve God’s love, yet God loves us. This is the very definition of grace.
Grace is, by definition, something we cannot earn. God’s grace is also, however, precisely that to which we can respond with faithful living.