April 2, 2022

Through the Wilderness

So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. 

 Exodus 13:18
There are Christians these days who preach a gospel that the Bible isn't familiar with. They claim that, if we have enough faith, we will avoid hardship, we will never get sick, we will avoid financial want, our relationships will be perfect. This strange theology is known to some as the prosperity gospel, to others as name-it-claim-it theology. This latter name comes from the notion that we need only find a verse of the Bible we like, claim it for our own, and receive the promise we think it contains.
One of the most popular verses that some people think frees them from difficult is Romans 8:28: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Yet there's no promise of freedom from difficulty in this verse. The promise is not that those who love God and are called by God will avoid problems, but that God will work through the problems to bring us to where God wants us to be. Hardships are often part of the plan.
Israel needed to pass through the wilderness to reach the promised land; Paul and Silas needed to be imprisoned to witness to the jailer. How is my hardship going to help me reach my destination? Who am I meeting because of my current circumstances?
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Hear, O God, the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength that we may ever
live our lives courageously.
  
Not forever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly.
  
Not forever by still waters
would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along our way.
  
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our guide;
through endeavor, failure, danger,
Be the Shepherd at our side.
 Love M. Whitcomb Willis
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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Text selection ©2021 Evangelische Brüder-Unität. All scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.