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

The Inefficient Excuse of a Dark Past

One thing I love about living in the country is the dark nights. There are no streetlights illuminating my bedroom. Only the red numbers on my clock and a small sliver of nightlight squeezing through the cracked door of my kids bathroom, wrapping the corner towards mine. So the other night when I awoke in the three A.M. range to the sound of wind and rain, you can imagine my surprise when I could see no red numbers, and no sliver of nightlight.

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 38
Key Verse:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7

As is perfectly logical for anyone who awakes in the three A.M. hour and is thankfully a hard sleeper, I quickly assumed someone had taken my clock! But upon further investigation someone had also taken my man’s clock. And turned off the kiddos nightlight. But who in there right mind would want two clocks and a nightlight? So I made the next most logical conclusion (since I was obviously in my right mind) – I’d gone blind! I quickly put my hand in front of my face to calm my growing fear but alas I could not see it!

I sat there for a few seconds in hopes of regaining my sight and thankfully gained a little sense instead. I was not blind. The power was merely out. And as is the case when you live in the middle of a field, and every little light from every device in your house has no electricity surging through it, it was dark. And I mean DARK.

Kind of like Genesis 38 which exuuuudes darkness in a #mansheartisblackwithsin kind of way. It follows the life of Judah. The progenitor of the messianic line. I’m not sure when I realized it. (Older than I probably want to admit.) But because of the number of chapters dedicated to Joseph and the excellency of his story, for many years I assumed the line of Christ came through him. You know – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Makes perfect sense right? But it did not. That blessing was actually handed to Judah.

Who by default was set to inherit the firstborn blessing (thus the promises associated with the Abrahamic covenant) because his three older brothers disqualified themselves by either having sex with one of Jacob’s concubines or committing genocide.

But Judah cared little for the firstborn blessing, based on the fact he married a Canaanite woman. His little lady conceived and gave birth to three boys – Er, Onan, and Shelah. When Er was old enough Judah gave him a Canaanite wife named Tamar. Which meant Judah’s half-Canaanite son Er and his Canaanite wife were all set to carry on the ever important Hebrew line of heritage Christ was to come through. (Not good.)

“But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD,” (v.7) so God put him to death. Since Er and Tamar had no children, it was the duty of the next brother (Onan) to father a child on behalf of his dead brother. That son would then be the legal heir to all firstborn privileges. But Onan didn’t exactly like that idea. He wanted those privileges for himself. So after pleasuring himself with Tamar he would spill his semen on the floor. Obviously a classy guy – so God killed him too.

Certain the death of his first two sons was Tamar’s fault, and not wanting to lose a third, Judah tells Tamar to go home to her daddy and wait until his third son is old enough to marry. But Judah had no intention of giving Shelah to Tamar. Which meant Judah might not have any heir! Just a small problem if the covenant promises are supposed to be passed through you to the next generation.

Here’s where I wish I could sit down and have a little chat with Tamar. Did she know of the promises? Did she risk her life for an heir? Or just because she wanted a baby? This poor woman, twice widowed and not getting any younger, found herself in a desperate situation. Upon hearing that Judah’s wife had died, she dressed as a temple prostitute, and waited for Judah to come to Timnah to shear his sheep.

The fact that Tamar knew he’d be lookin’ for lovin’ speaks volumes about Judah. As expected he approached “the harlot” offering a goat in exchange for her services. Yet he had no goat with him so Judah handed over his signet, cord, and staff as a pledge. Essentially he gave her his wallet. (Dumb)

After three months when Tamar could no longer hide her growing belly, it was told to Judah that Tamar had been unfaithful. To which he replied, “Let her be burned” (v. 24). (Because how dare she! He’d never do anything like that!) Now just picture this with me – “As she was being brought out, [to be burned, mind you] she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant” (v.25).

Bam! Any idea whose wallet this is Judah? Knowing the gig was up, Judah makes one of the best confessions in the history of confessions, “She is more righteous than I” (v. 26).

Well said Judah, well said. Yet God used this man. Even gave him honorable mention in one of Christ’s own titles: Lion of the Tribe of Judah. No way Judah deserved that!

Listen friend, an imperfect past doesn’t disqualify you. But NOT trusting in Jesus’ perfect past will. It’s only because of Christ that any of us are going to heaven. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).

No matter how dark the story, when you confess the inefficiency of your own righteousness, Jesus will cover you with his. 

Contemplate and Evaluate
Have you let your past disqualify you from serving God? Do you feel as though you are unworthy of God’s grace and forgiveness? Don’t let the devil deceive you. We are all unworthy. Christ is the only reason any of us have merit. That’s why it’s called the good news of Jesus Christ. Who in your life needs to hear it this week?


photo by