Contrary to Popular Belief Our Redemption Has a Purpose

There’s a lot of inconsistency in the world. Like how I can fit into a specific size of jeans at one store, but am two sizes up at the next. Or how strawberries are delicious one week and terrible the next. Or how I can be roasting at Monday’s baseball game and donning my parka the next. Or how insurance will pay one bill but not the next. Or how my children are best friends one day and enemies the next. (You get the idea.)

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 9:1-12
Key Verse: “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

Yet other times, life is so consistent you can close your eyes and jump with both feet and have no fear of the landing, because you know the Chick-fil-a drive through will still have a line wrapped all the way around the building. The ­­­­­shortest distance between two points will still be a straight line. The baby will always cry the moment your hot breakfast is ready. And someone will inevitably need to pooh, when it’s time to leave for church.

You can count on it my friend, just as you can always count on it to rain after spending nine dollars on a car wash.

Honestly though, it makes me feel cozy. Confident even, having consistency in my life. Driving past the same potholes, on my way to the same stores, for the same foods. Getting up at the same time (relatively speaking) every day to talk to the same God who walked with Adam and Eve.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes change is good. There’s just something about rearranging the family room furniture that puts a skip in my step. But God knew we’d feel safe in consistency, just as our kids do. And He knew, with our inquiring minds, it’d be the least confusing route.

So, sin is still sin. Life lived apart from the Creator is still miserable. God is still the same he was an eternity ago. We are still saved by grace through faith, the same way Abraham was. And for the same purpose, to serve God.

Six times the LORD commanded Pharaoh, “Let my people go, that they may serve me” (9:1). Though each plague was uniquely different, God’s purpose remained the same. Whether it was frogs or flies or the death of “livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks” (v. 3), as we see in the fifth plague. Or “boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt” (v. 9), as we see in the sixth plague. It was all for the same purpose – so the Israelite’s would be freed to serve God.

But what struck me is not God’s consistency, because we’ve already established He’s good at that. What struck me is that God had a purpose. He wasn’t freeing the Israelite’s from bondage so they could go and live however they wanted to. Deciding for themselves what was right and wrong. What felt good and what didn’t. He was freeing them so they could serve Him!

Their redemption had purpose, and likewise, not surprisingly, so does ours. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Christ gave his life as a ransom not so we could say, “Hey thanks buddy” and then run off and live however we want. He redeemed us so we could be His. A people for his own possession, ready and willing to serve him (Titus 2:14).

Accordingly, Romans 6:22 says we’ve been freed from the slavery of sin to be slaves of God.  Not redeemed unto ourselves, but redeemed unto God. We are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Indebted to God forever for the free to us (not free to Him) gift of eternal life we serve, to the best of our ability, wholly and fully devoted to Him. (At least that’s the goal, though I frequently get in my own way.)

Yet for fear of legalism, or teaching a works based salvation, purpose often gets set aside. Burying it under a beautiful pile of grace, we tend to flash our eternal security badge more often than we display our gold engraved name plate, exhibiting our position in God’s kingdom.

But it’s for the very purpose of service we’ve been redeemed! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Not saved by our works (Eph. 2:8), but saved unto works, in order “that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4).

Not by living according to the law, but by living according to the Spirit. That they, a world in desperate need of a Savior, may see Him in us and seek the message of reconciliation we bear witness to. Thereby, fulfilling our purpose.

I see it as a clever tactic of Satan to make us so fearful of preaching a message of works, that in the end, we preach no works at all. But God’s standards haven’t changed. Obedience is still at the forefront of his agenda.

We aren’t saved because we serve, we serve because we’re saved. With gratitude and grace paving the way because grace isn’t a license to sin, but is in fact the core reason not to.

With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God didn’t change the purpose, he simply fulfilled the promise. Just as he did in Israel, granting life and liberty and the ability to serve Him.

He still expects obedience, just as he did with the Israelite’s. He still honors loyalty, just as he did with the Israelite’s. He’s the same consistent God. A God who’s set His people free, so they can freely serve Him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What purpose is there in your salvation?
What good works has God specifically assigned to you, that others may see and glorify your Father in Heaven?
How can you give glory to God today?

photo by Pixabay

Proof God’s Hand Is Still at Work

It’s spring. The time of year bugs and bees and flies and wasps and all manner of flying things creep out of hiding. Dive bombing innocent three-year-old’s (and thirty-some-year-olds) on front porches and back porches and swing sets across the nation.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:16-32
Key Verse: “The works of his hands are faithful and just.” Psalm 111:7

You know what I’m talking about…

Finally seated on my porch swing, nose buried in the latest library find, kids fighting over the hose, a giant bee rivaling the sound of my neighbor’s weed eater, does a flyby at Mach 3. Fighting the urge to scream at my boys to RUN FOR THEIR LIVES, I squeak out a calm and rational, “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a bee.”

But maybe worse than that – are the swarms of gnats you don’t see, until you walk right into them. Hands flailing, I scurry to a different part of the yard while desperately trying not to open my mouth. (Not that I know anything about this. It’s only hypothetical of course.)

Though with the third plague, it was anything but hypothetical. At God’s command, “All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt” (v. 17b). A euphemism for more than you can count (I.e. Abraham’s descendants in Gen. 13:16), all the dust of the earth meant swarms of gnats everywhere. In your home, your yard, your food, your bed. Escaping was not an option.

But according to the Hebrew it may have been more than just annoying swarms of gnats. The word used in this passage is kinnim, which can also mean lice or fleas or something akin to mosquitoes. Hence the fact the gnats were on (not just swarming around) man and beast (v. 17). Clinging, biting, digging, their way into legs and arms and hair, whether made in the image of God or not.

Sounds miserable, doesn’t it? Never in the history of man had an infestation of this magnitude riddled the earth. Babies couldn’t sleep. Mother’s couldn’t help. Fathers were desperate for relief, yet there was none. No amount of washing could rid their bodies of the little buggers.

Annoying for everyone, but catastrophic for Egyptian priests who cleansed themselves incessantly in order to approach the altars of the gods of Egypt. Yet covered in vermin, they couldn’t even get close.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time God brought forth something from the dust of the earth. In Gen. 2:7 he brought forth man. A humbling comparison to say the least, yet Christ died for us anyway.

Unable to produce any additional gnats, or take them away (because surely they tried), the magicians rightly proclaimed to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (v. 19). And they were right, of course, it was the LORD. After just three plagues there was no denying the sovereign power of Israel’s God.

Fittingly, when Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is recalled in later Scriptures, so is God’s hand. “And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders” (Deut. 26:8).

Over and over God’s mighty hand is remembered because it was glorious, the delivering of Israel. Undeniably the work of God for all the world to see. It was proof of His existence, proof of His power, and proof of His love. An experience they were never to forget and always to celebrate.

The plagues as crazy as they may sound, are not hard for me to believe. Because God did all kinds of signs and wonders in Bible times.

What’s hard for me – is believing his mighty hand is still at work today. Especially with a front row seat to the chaos happening around the world. The unjust actions of evil men. The persecuted church, the hungry, the poor, the staggering number of women and girls falling prey to sex trafficking.

Or maybe you need look no further than your living room or a diagnosis or a family disagreement to wonder, is God’s mighty hand still active today? Feeling alone you can’t help but wonder if he’s folded his hands and stilled them for one reason or another.

But my friend, “The works of his hands are faithful and just” (Psalm 111:7). He’s not given up on us. But if you’re like me and you need proof, I have some.

Did the sun come up today? Because “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19:1).

Are the birds outside your window well fed? It’s the Father who feeds them (Matt. 6:26).

Does the eagle still make its nest on high? It’s God who tells him to do so (Job 39:27) Is the ocean still in its rightful place? It’s Jesus who’s holding it there (Job 38:11).

The glorious work of God so often sharing space with all we take for granted, it’s easy to not see it.

Though I need not look outside to see the divine labor of his hands, just the breakfast table. My children are “all the work of his hands” (Job 34:19). The breath of new life an irrefutable testament his fingers have yet to still.

Or perhaps I need simply look in the mirror, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

But if that’s not enough to prove God’s mighty hand is still at work today, there’s more. Something so glorious, it’s undeniably the work of God. Something we’re never to forget and always to celebrate. Have any ideas? I’ll tell you.

It’s His spirit in us.

The unrepentant sinner brought to their knees by God. Saved by grace through faith. Sealed for the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit. Seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Washed, sanctified, justified, “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

It’s marvelous, I tell you. His mighty hand not just on display in Egypt, but on display in me. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

The redemption of every sinner is proof of His existence, proof of His power, and proof of His love. It’s undeniably the work of God for all the world to see.

So let’s sing for joy at the work of his mighty hands (Ps. 92:4). Let’s celebrate and let’s remember. Though doubt assails me at times, I know Jesus is working because he’s working always in me.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What proof do you see of God’s mighty hand working today?
How has God personally worked in your life? How does remembering the work He has done, encourage you today?