MORNING DEVOTIONS

Jason opened the cabin door and stepped out, crossed the small porch, descended the steps, and headed down the path toward the lake.  Approaching the lake he diverted from the path and took a seat on his favorite rock.  He paused a few minutes to take in the view.  The lake was still with a thin morning mist hovering near the center.  Rays of sunlight angled through the trees as if to highlight the undergrowth.    The air was alive with fluttering birds chirping their happy songs, and a family of squirrels in the higher branches discussed Jason’s arrival. 

Jason smiled, and with a contented sigh opened his Bible to Psalm 19.  He read: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare the work of his hands.  As he continued the words of the Psalm filled him with wonder and awe.  Just then, Jesus appeared and took a seat next to him.

Jason exclaimed, “Lord I am amazed at what you have created, how it all fits together with such intricacy, and how vast you made it”!  He was excited to express delight with creation to the one through whom it was created.

Jesus smiled.

Jason continued, “As I look at you my heart experiences deep emotion.  I just realized that your love shown in the redemption of creation must also have been there at the beginning.”  Jason slipped from the rock to his knees; “Thank you for creating me; thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you that you have given me the opportunity to experience your love.”

Jesus reached out his hand, lifted Jason to his feet, and said, “You’re welcome.  Now come and join me, and let me know what else is on your heart today.”

“Well the treasured lady that you sent to walk beside me is always on my heart.  Bless her strengthen and encourage her today.  Help me to appreciate her in all our interactions.  Remember my children.  Help them to grow in their relationship with you.  I ask you to touch that little boy who is suffering, and be with his family.  They need your comfort.  My dear friend needs your healing touch.”  Jason stopped there.  He recognized that he was done.  The prayers on his mind had been expressed.

“What is on your heart for this day?” Jesus asked.

“Well, I really want to cut three limbs from that tree in my back yard before the sap begins to run.”

“Go and do it,” Directed Jesus.

Jason dismissed himself with a thank you, rose from his chair, and left his study.

GRACE

Grace – unmerited divine assistance given to man

This is a dictionary definition of grace.  I like this definition because of the word unmerited.  Grace is a gift of God that we did not merit.  Out of his love for us he gave us life giving assistance when we were dead in our sins.  I believe that grace is poorly understood by Christians because we are always talking about what we are doing for God, but our testimony should be about what God has done and is doing for us.  Our good works are inspired by the grace he has given us.

This passage from Ephesians 2:1-9 provides insight for us:

            As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

I stop before sharing the last verse of this section because we need to stop.  The explanation of our salvation is finished.

 

Then we read about what happens in response to this salvation by grace.

            For we are God’s workmanship, created in Chris Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

Now that our salvation is finished, God has works for us to do.  We don’t have to come up with these works.  He has already prepared them for us.  In humble gratitude, we seek his direction for what to do.  Remember: “…it is by grace you have been saved.”  “Have been” indicates that it has already happened, and it is ongoing.  Relax and enjoy the unmerited assistance that God has given you.

THE BLESSING OF RARITY

Here in the Central Valley of California, we average just over 11 inches of rain per year.  So you see rain is a rare seasonal event.  Last week we received our first significant rain of the season.  We are very thankful.  I seeded my lawn in anticipation of the rain.  With great expectation my wife and I looked for the arrival of the tender green blades of grass.  The rain brought them forth and we were delighted.  The lawn that had become brown and ugly is now green with promise.

I grew up in a large and poor family.  For us candy was a rare commodity.  When Halloween came around we were very excited.  Trick or treating was a phenomenal event in our lives.  I remember storing away my treasures and eating just a few at a time to make them last.  We were very blessed to have candy.

I now live on a very small income compared to the salaries my wife and I made before retirement.  What was pocket change then is now a windfall when it arrives unexpectedly.  Going to a movie or eating out is much more exciting now that it can’t happen very often.  With the scarcity of money comes a greater appreciation of what we have.

Rain, candy, money, and many other things when in abundance are taken for granted.  When they are rare, we are thankful for them.  In Proverbs 30:7-9 we read:

Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’  Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

My prayer is that I will always be thankful and content with God’s provision, Amen.