Friday, March 18, 2005

Throw the Stone

3The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone 4and said, "Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. 5Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?" 6They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. 7They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, "The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone."
John 8:3-7 The Message

Preparing like thousands of other pastors this week for Holy Week coming Sunday, I've been reading the account of the ministry of Jesus in John's gospel. Today I stopped here. Or I guess I should say "it stopped me."

It probably was easy for the religion scholars to get all worked up over the woman in this story's sin. She was guilty of breaking God's law - no doubt. They could point and yell and grab and drag her to justice. It's always easier to see someone else's sin, and we've got an incredibly powerful ability to get angry when we can do that while keeping our moral distance from those we catch.

If we think about it, our lives are full of those instances. Growing up in the South, I heard about "those blacks. On a trip to Texas, someone wanted to talk about "those Mexicans." Even in church, we have a tendency to try to take the same moral high ground when we talk about "those abortionists" or "those homosexuals".

Feels good too.

Until God shows up.

This day, the men in their ignorance had made the mistake of bringing their feigned outrage to the only one Who had a right to be angry. They turned their attention from her to Him as they kept hounding the Son of God to agree that they were better than the woman they had caught.

Instead, He turned toward them and hurled their words back with brute force. "Throw the stone."

He only made one condition, but it was one neither they, nor you and I can ever hope to meet.

I wonder what it sounded like as the stones dropped into the dust?

I know what it sounded like here as I threw my stone away.

"Lord have mercy on me a sinner."



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at . May God bless you.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

After the Doubt

"I doubt it."

Those might be the words you live by.

People have let you down so many times that when you catch a glimpse of hope, or someone seems to come into your life that gives you an indication that things might be different - that your life could change, the first words that come to your mind are "I doubt it."

You aren't alone in that.

One thing I am constantly thankful for are the realistic pictures I get when I read about people's lives as shown to us in the Bible. Despite all the people we sometimes see in church making constant efforts to present a plastic "front" to their lives, when we look at the Bible, we see a quite different person emerging. One who is real in their fears, in their worries, and in their doubts.

I'm preparing for tonight's Bible study, and I come across Abraham and Sarah. "God bless them", my mother would have said. They were so mixed up at times and made so many mistakes along the way. An example:

Then one of them said, "About this time next year I will return, and your wife Sarah will have a son." Now Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent nearby. And since Abraham and Sarah were both very old, and Sarah was long past the age of having children, she laughed silently to herself. "How could a worn-out woman like me have a baby?" she thought. "And when my master--my husband--is also so old?"

Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, 'Can an old woman like me have a baby?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? About a year from now, just as I told you, I will return, and Sarah will have a son." Sarah was afraid, so she denied that she had laughed. But he said, "That is not true. You did laugh."
Gen 18:10-15 (NLT)

And that's where it ends. We are left with a picture of a woman who doubts that God can do what He says He will do, who laughs almost in His face - is caught doing it, then denies it to His face. Not a pretty picture.

We have several slogans around here at New Hope, but perhaps my favorite is a quote from an old saint named A.W. Tozer. I'm convinced it helped all of us as a church look past our doubts and focus on God's promises. Tozer wrote:

"Anything God has ever done, He can do now. Anything He has ever done anywhere, He can do here. Anything He has ever done for anyone, He can do for you."

Would Sarah have said that? Maybe not at first, but she did grow to believe God could. After the doubt, came a time of reflection, and a realization that God was able. Later we read:

Sarah, too, had faith, and because of this she was able to become a mother in spite of her old age, for she realized that God, who gave her his promise, would certainly do what he said. Heb 11:11 (Living)

Friends, I'm sending this to you today to tell you that God has not changed. But some of us need to. Embrace the idea that God loves you, and that He can do whatever He needs to do to help you see that. He can lift you when you are weak. He can still your heart when you are fearful. He can demonstrate His power anyway He chooses.

He can do that in your life, in the life of those around you, in your community, in a church.

Is anything too hard for the Lord?



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL.