Lent Reflection: It Is God Who Saves Us

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I am finishing preaching through the Book of Ruth at my church and I’ve been struck by how God works in the life of Ruth and Naomi when they are unaware of it. They encounter a series of trials and tragedies (famine and death being the main two), yet God works in the midst of these circumstances. The best example I can give in a devotional is in Ruth 2 when Ruth decides to go and gather grain in the field of a benevolent farmer. Of all the fields she goes to, Ruth ends up in the field of Boaz who would later marry Ruth- redeeming her and Naomi and preserving a family lineage that goes through David, Solomon, and ultimately Jesus.

As I read the text, what saved Ruth was not her decision to collect grain, but that God was at work paving the way for Ruth to encounter blessings and redemption.

The Psalmist writes:

“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength is cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” -Psalm 33:16-19 (NIV)

The Psalmist writes that kings, warriors, and even horses cannot save themselves and reminds us that the only one we should put our hope is His unfailing love.

This is a reminder to me, that regardless of my circumstances, regardless of my place in my life that salvation, redemption, and blessings come from God. There are certainly times when it is easy to give God praise, and there are times when it is difficult as well. But even in the difficult times, God is at work in my life. I must train my eyes and my heart to see how God is working trying circumstances and trust God that when one door closes that He will open up another. Ruth stepped out in faith in the midst of trials and tragedy and found redemption. I must continue to put my faith in God, to fear God, even in the difficult times and look to God for my salvation and redemption.

The Psalmist ends with this prayer of blessing:

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” -Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)

This Holy Week, whether you are walking in the highlands or in the deserts of life, I pray that the unfailing love of God would rest upon us.

Steve LaMotte is pastor of Hope United Methodist Church and Chaplain at Wesley College- both in Dover, Delaware. Steve was introduced to Delanco Camp by his wife, Andrea, who attended as a teenager. Steve has been an evangelist, Bible study leader, and worship leader at Delanco. He sometimes blogs at www.stevenlamotte.me and can be followed on twitter at @steve_lamotte. Image, via CreationSwap.

Lent Reflection: The Pursuit of Truth

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John 8:21-32

When I was in college, my friends and I had a Sunday routine that last four years. It included going to church, getting something to eat, watching football all afternoon long, getting something to eat, doing homework for an hour, watching The
Simpsons
, and getting something to eat. The pinnacle of the evening was when we’d all gather together to watch The X-Files. I loved the story, the mystery, and even some of the spirituality that was present in the show. It was Fringe before there was Fringe.

Moulder, played by David Duchovny, was assigned to a special task force within the FBI investigating strange and abnormal phenomena. He believed that aliens had abducted his sister, which has led him to the pursuit of the “truth” about what happened to his sister and to others. Each episode featured the words, “The Truth is Out There.”

In John 8:31-32, Jesus is speaking to the Jews who had believed him. He was teaching them what it means to be a true disciple. The reality is that Jesus doesn’t make this complicated. He has made discipleship as simple to understand as possible. He says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus said that discipleship is holding onto, abiding in, or obeying Jesus’ teaching. True disciples will seek to love God and love their neighbors.

There is a positive consequence or reward for holding onto the teachings of Jesus. Jesus says that we will know the truth, and that the truth shall set us free. John records later in chapter 14 that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life…” When we follow Jesus’ commands; when we abide in his presence; when we hold onto Jesus’ teachings we encounter the Living Truth. We encounter the freedom from oppression and sin. The Truth shall set us free.

A true disciple of Jesus Christ is the person who commits to following the teachings of Jesus. In the midst of holding onto Jesus’ example and commands we encounter the Truth of who Jesus is- our Lord, our Savior, and our Redeemer.

This Lent- how are you holding onto the teachings of Jesus? Have you encountered the truth of Jesus Christ and the life that Jesus came to offer? Are you walking as a true disciple?

 

Steve LaMotte is pastor of Hope United Methodist Church and Chaplain at Wesley College- both in Dover, Delaware. Steve was introduced to Delanco Camp by his wife, Andrea, who attended as a teenager. Steve has been an evangelist, Bible study leader, and worship leader at camp. He sometimes blogs at www.stevenlamotte.me and can be followed on twitter at @steve_lamotte.

Advent Devotion: More than a countdown

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“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet upon the rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.”
-Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

It’s been a week since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the father of a kindergartner and a 2-year-old, I cannot imagine the terror, pain, sorrow, and questions experienced by the families, teachers and community as they deal with this incredible loss. As a nation, we mourn with the people of Newtown and lift them up in prayer.

As I watched Facebook and Twitter over the weekend something else became evident; our world is broken and in need of redemption. Our world is crying that injustice would be made right; that lowly would be raised up; that the most vulnerable in our world would be cared for. This is likely not news to you, but every once in awhile we are wakened from our slumber to realize the grip that sin has on our world and how desperately we need God’s grace through Jesus.

In Psalm 40, the psalmist writes about crying out to God for rescue. Whatever situation he is in, he describes it as being stuck in a slimy pit- the mud and the mire. When he cries out, God hears his cry, pulls him from the pit, and sets his feet upon solid ground. This act puts a song of praise in the mouth of the psalmist. The psalmist’s circumstances have been reversed. Salvation has come and given him new life and opportunities.

The season of Advent is more than counting down the days until Christmas- it is our anticipation when Jesus will return. When he will rescue us from sin and death. Advent is a time anticipating that Jesus will renew and redeem creation and wipe every tear from our eyes. That redemptive work begins now when we surrender our lives to Jesus and will be fully realized when Jesus comes back as he promised.

Today, maybe you’re mired in the slimy pit. It could be sin, fear, depression, anxiety, confusion, dealing with a loss, or even overwhelmed at the holiday season. When we cry out to God, we believe that God hears our cries, rescues us, and even turns our “mourning into dancing” (Jer. 31:13).

God of creation, there are times when we feel lost, alone, or apart from You. Hear our cries- the cries of our heart for salvation, redemption, and renewal. Send Jesus. Immanuel, God-with-us, to comfort, guide, redeem, and save us. Call and equip us to be people of Hope wherever you lead us. Help us to stand on the firm foundation of Your Son, Jesus- and put a new song of praise in our mouths. Come, Lord Jesus! Come! Amen.

Steve LaMotte is pastor at Hope United Methodist Church (www.hopedover.com) and Campus Minister at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. He has been a speaker and worship leader at Delanco Camp. He is the husband to Andrea and father to Abigail and Chloe. He attempts to blog at www.stevenlamotte.me and tweets at @steve_lamotte.