Devotional – Unexpected Gifts

Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

It is amazing to me how faithful God is. Just the other day, I was trying to remember where this verse was located. The passage came to mind as I was considering what to speak on for an upcoming luncheon – but I couldn’t remember where it was located. I thought about it again this afternoon as I was decorating the Christmas tree with my kids. Thinking about gifts as input into our lives. How much I love my kids – how much I want to teach them. The lessons I want to give to them so they don’t have to learn the hard way. And, yes – about presents. Gifts. How much fun it is to give things to them. The delight on their faces. The joy it brings them. Made a mental note to look up the reference to this verse during my devotional – but God did it for me. It was in the reading today.
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Devotional – Rinse and Repeat

Acts 15:10-11 10Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Ever notice the instructions on your shampoo bottle? Yeah, me neither really. We’re so familiar with how to wash our hair, we never need to look at the directions. I just checked three different brands of shampoo (I’m a couponer…I have a stockpile) – all of them say some version of the following: Apply to wet hair and work into a lather. Rinse. Repeat if necessary. This was a particularly funny set of directions I found:

I think God is in the “repeat if necessary” portion of directing my life. He keeps slamming home the point that it is thru Jesus that I’m anything at all. That there’s nothing so great and wonderful about me to set me apart from anyone else. That all I’ve got is His grace and love. And that is more than enough.

Today’s reading included this passage from Acts where Peter is once again defending those who’ve come to a belief in Jesus who are not Jews. The churchy people of the day were insisting that new Christians follow the old laws of Moses – including (yipes!) circumcision. I think it’s pretty obvious why the men folk weren’t too excited about signing up for THAT. Peter gets up and makes a little speech where he basically says “Back up churchy people! God knows what’s in their hearts. He has already chosen them. They’re all cool with the big dude – and they don’t have to go under the knife or prove themselves by following a bunch of rules. I mean really guys, WE haven’t been able to obey all these rules either…that’s why we needed Jesus. You do realize all of US needed Him too, right?” Yeah. Welcome to the New Tonya Translation of the Bible. Totally paraphrased. Read the chapter yourself in a “real” version if you think I took too many liberties here.

The point I’m taking away from all this is the same one (rinse and repeat if necessary) God has been showing me for a couple of weeks now. It’s not about rules. It’s about the heart.  It’s not about me being better or worse than anyone else. It is about all of us needing the same savior. Nothing we have done or will do can make us any more or less loved by God. I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t have to tow the line or make sure all my t’s are crossed and my i’s are dotted. It is simply accepting that I’m dirty, just like everyone else. There is no amount of life scrubbing I can do to make myself worthy of what God offers me freely. He stands with the shampoo bottle in hand, ready to lather my mess again until I finally get the point. Just like I cannot keep my hair perfectly clean, free from oil, dirt, dead skin etc – I cannot live a clean enough life to not need Jesus. Thankfully, God has a big bottle of shampoo, as long as I continue to recognize my need for Him (aka, realize my hair still isn’t clean), He’s there to give me another rinse and repeat.