Roger Bothwell

Roger Bothwell
Roger Bothwell's Devotionals

Our Awful (Aweful) God

I had an awful father.  He had an incredible work ethic.  For decades he worked two full-time jobs making sure his family was well cared for.  While we were not rich, far from it on a school teacher’s salary, we had nice things.  Remembering him fills me with awe, making me awful.
English is an awful language filled with words that mean just the opposite.  I stopped at a yard sale and saw piles of priceless things.  Who could put any price on the junk they were trying to sell?  Here in New England things that are really fascinating and intriguingly good are wicked good.  Once I had to resign a letter resigning from a job.  I lost the first copy.
In 1719 Isaac Watts wrote, “Before Jehovah’s awful throne, ye nations bow with sacred joy; know that the Lord is God alone; He can create and He destroy.  Wide as the world is His command, vast as eternity His love; firm as a rock His truth shall stand, when rolling years shall cease to move.”
Most things in the universe change.   Even our sun will change.  It will burn out.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s a few billion years before that happens.  But we will be around to see it happen because another thing that doesn’t change is God’s promises that we will live forever.  Forever is a really long time.  How reassuring it is to know there is only one thing about God that will change.  It is His love for us.  Love grows and if He loved us so much two thousand years ago to give us His only Son just imagine how much He will love us when our sun burns out.

The DNA of Prayer

Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them how to pray.   To be able to communicate with the Lord of the Universe is a way to open our minds to an understanding of our origins, being and future.  We are curious creatures.  We want to know.  Real prayer is not a Santa Claus list of needs and wants.  Real prayer is the melding of our finite minds with the infinite mind of God Himself.
Each of us brings to any relationship a history of us.  For me to truly know you I must know your parents, your siblings, your culture, and your sins.  It is all these and more that make us us.  Your prayer life and mine are very different.  It would be erroneous for me to describe to you my prayer life and say, “This is the way to do it.”  All I can tell you is this is how prayer works or doesn’t work for me.  Prayer is as unique as DNA is unique to each of us.  As a forensic scientist can identify us by our particular code so God can identify us by our yearnings and cries.  He does not need us to begin each prayer with, “Dear God, this is ….. calling.”  He knows who is calling Him because He knows the very distinctness of our content.
Paul wrote, “When I was a child I thought as a child.”  He could have said, “When I was a child I prayed as a child. But now that I am a man I pray like a man.”  Jesus said, “We have not because we ask not.”  Ask.  Don’t beg.  The one who knows you better than you know you, hears and will open to you what you really need.

The Urge of Love

This afternoon I mailed a $5.50 book back to Amazon.  It cost me $3.50 cents in postage.  I probably used a gallon of gasoline to go to and back from the post office.  Gas is currently $2.50 cents a gallon so I am out of pocket $.50.   I should have just given the book to a friend.  One would think that as old as I am I would count the cost prior to doing something.
In Luke 14 Jesus speaks of this very thing.  He said, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,…”
So just what does it cost to follow Jesus?  Salvation is a gift, which, when thoroughly appreciated engenders love.  Love engenders a desire to give.  Sometimes we speak of an obligation of grace.  I’m not sure I like the word “obligation.”  I do not feel obligated to give my wife, my sons or my grandchildren anything.  But I certainly want to give them things.  Is the word “urge” better than “obligation?”  Obligation means have to.  Urge means want to.  I want to obey Jesus. I want to do anything for Him because He is so magnificently wonderful to me.  My cross, which Jesus speaks of, is not onus.  It is a joy.  Obedience is a joy.  Giving is a joy.  Love is like that.  Love and obedience are not obligations.   They are fruit.

The Bible is Not a Puzzle Book

I had a friend who treated the Bible as if it were the ultimate puzzle book filled with anagrams, numerology, mystic secrets and cryptic messages formed from taking letters out of context and forming words in English.  I never could get him to understand that his cryptic messages only worked in English and not Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of Scripture.  He also maintained the King James Version was the only legitimate version.  Again I couldn’t get him to understand that not everyone in the world spoke English. Spanish and French people need to have and use their translations. 
It is true there are some chapters in Daniel and Revelation that seem very mysterious but they are able to be understood in the light of history. They are not to be treated as Sunday Morning New York Times Crossword Puzzles.  The intent of God giving us His word is explained to us by Paul.  He wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  We wonder what Paul meant by “Scripture.”  It would have been the height of arrogance for him to have assumed his letters would be regarded equally with the works of Moses, etc.  Today we do regard them to be equal.
The Bible was given to us that we might find salvation.  It is there to aid us through the cares of this world into an assured understanding of just how good God is and what He was and is willing to do to make sure we are saved.  If you enjoy puzzles, go buy a book of puzzles.  If you want to live forever, experience the excitement of a living Jesus in the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Jimmy Carter's Greatest Adventure

Ninety year old former president Jimmy Carter is showing the world how a real Christian faces eternity.  When diagnosed with what could be terminal cancer he said, “I am ready for anything and looking forward to a new adventure.”   What a wonderful adventure is before him.  He will close his eyes and wake up to see the Jesus who he has loved all his life.  This past weekend President Carter taught his number six hundred and something Sunday School class.  He spoke of love which is exactly what our message is all about.  Love is the heart and soul of the Gospel.  The Good News is we are loved.
Jesus wants us to be filled with assurance.  If we believe He tells the truth how can we doubt our salvation?   Many people I know will say, “Yes, I trust Jesus.  It is me I don’t trust.”  Well, you shouldn’t trust yourself.  You are not worthy.  You never were and never will be.  It is all about Jesus and not about you or me.  Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled neither let it be afraid.”  He also said, “Fear not for I am with you even unto the end of the world.”
Jesus doesn’t care if you are a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Adventist, Mormon, or Jehovah Witness.   Church membership isn’t the ticket to eternity.  Accepting the freely offered gift is the ticket.  “Freely offered gift” is a redundancy.  If it isn’t free than it isn’t a gift.  Paul said it so well, “The gift of God is eternal life.”  Can we please stop worrying about our performance and cease looking at ourselves?  Smash the mirrors.  Rejoice in the One who promises you the best adventure ever.  It’s only one heartbeat away. 

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