Weekly Devotionals

June 1, 2020

 

"I Cannot Unread the Book of Matthew"
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

 

David Brooks is a New York Times columnist, a practicing Jew. In 2013, when he began to write a book on "The Road to Character," he hired a research assistant who

 was a Christian. She told him, "You cannot earn your way into a state of grace-this denies grace's power, and subverts its very definition."

 

Curious, he began to read the Gospel of Matthew. His heart warmed to the gospel of grace. Wondering what this might mean in his spiritual journey, Brooks wrote, "I cannot unread the book of Matthew."


I'm not sure where Brooks stands in his spiritual journey right now. (He says himself that he doesn't know.) But I am struck by his acute observation: once you have been heard and understood truth, you can never go back and pretend ignorance. Brooks seems to understand that God revealed Himself to him as he read the Gospel of Matthew. Now he was responsible to act on what he had come to know. He could not "unread" the Gospel of Matthew.

 

There's a warning in this, as well. If we heard the truth, and turned away from it, we might not be able to understand any further revelation. That's the gist of John's Gospel chapter 12. "Because they would not listen when they could hear, then they could not hear." An accountability, a reckoning, comes with hearing the truth. Rejecting the truth does not make it untrue. But rejecting truth makes us vulnerable to falsehood.

 

But what a comfort it is to know that, if I really listen, then I will know the truth, and I will know what God wants me to do. That's what God promises in Psalm 32:8 (niv):

I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will counsel you
and watch over you.

 

 

I can't imagine a more comforting reality than to know that my Creator/God, my Heavenly Father, promises to be with me every step of the way. He will show me what I am to do, and He will keep His loving watch over me.


In these difficult days of COVID19, what a consolation this is! God has guaranteed us His wisdom, His guidance, the assurance of His presence, no matter what lies ahead, if we will just listen, and obey.

 


 

 

May 25, 2020

 

Some Things Change, but Some Never Change, Thank God!
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

 

"Change is inevitable," said Robert Gallagher, "except change from a vending

 machine." Sometimes that's not very funny! I remember struggling to make a vending machine at the hospital either give me the cup of coffee I'd paid for, or else give me my money back. I gave it money twice (I'm a slow learner) and it gave me back neither coffee nor change.

 

 

But Gallagher's right about change: it's inevitable. "If we enter this war," I remember an isolationist say on the radio back in 1939, "civilization as we know it will never be the same." It turns out he was right about the changes that war would make in American lives. (Regardless of his rhetoric, we actually were given no choice about fighting in WW II.) After every great national upheaval, like the 1918 flu pandemic, or the 1929 stock market crash, or the 9/11 attack, we Americans have had to make drastic changes.


Prognosticators say the COVID19 pandemic will have the same kind of major impact on every part of our lives. We may never again experience the casual, free and neighborly contacts we've enjoyed. (What have I missed most in this quarantining? I miss the smiles hidden by masks. I miss the spontaneous handshakes, the comforting hugs. I regret the loss of worshiping with other believers.) No doubt COVID19 will change our lives in unexpected ways.

 

But, thank God, some things are beyond change. God's sovereignty. His power. His unimaginable love. His righteousness. These will never, ever change. In a world overwhelmed by uncertainty and fear, we can rest in our unchanging, eternally trustworthy God. Here's how James 1:17,18 states it:

 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

 

 

Everything God has given us is good, and we can count on His steadfastness even in this time of terrible uncertainty. Your Heavenly Father doesn't waver. He doesn't disappoint. He never gets confused or upset. He always knows, and gives, exactly what we need. The Bible is full of stories of His loving care, His wise provision, His firm guidance. And because He never changes, you can count on His unchanging loving care just the same as He gave those who lived in Bible times. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."


When we get through this pandemic, (and we will, because God still has His plans in place for us) we will no doubt have to make some changes in how we earn a living, how we feed the family, how we spend our leisure hours. But one thing will never change:

 

The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying:
"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Yes, there'll be changes in our lives when we get out of quarantine. But there will never be a shadow of change in God's faithfulness to His children.