Devotion for July 12
By Bryan Chapell

Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:1-2).

My ministry began with the privilege of leading an historic church. I soon discovered that I was not prepared for the problems and pain of the position.

The church was in a mining and farming community being ravaged by economic woes. The mines were closing, the farms were dying, but the sins were not. As jobs and incomes crashed, family problems skyrocketed.

I thought I knew what to do. With clear explanations of biblical texts I would thunder to those trying to medicate their pain with addictions, abuse, and adultery, “Stop it!” After a while, I had said, “Stop it,” so often, I couldn’t stand me! I said to my wife, “I didn’t go into ministry to hurt people, but I stand in the pulpit every Sunday, and do just that.”

Only when I was also despairing, did I become open to a mature minister teaching me to read the Bible not as a simple rulebook, but as a revelation of God’s redemption of the hopeless. Grace beacons from every page, if we will see how God is working to rescue those who cannot rescue themselves.

When I began to see grace, the Lord gave me hope to share with desperate people – and with my own despairing soul. Such hope resurrects desire to live each new day trusting in Christ’s love, and is available to you this day through faith in Jesus.

Lord, as I read my Bible today, save me from despair by showing me your heart in the ways you have worked to rescue those who cannot rescue themselves. Then conform my desires to the designs of your heart for lasting joy.

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