Bible Readings and Devotion for August 11, 2020
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Devotion for August 11, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
Texas is big. (Yes, I know Alaska is bigger). One of the ways we measure things in Texas is by exit numbers and mileage markers on highways. The highway which I hear the most about is Interstate Highway 10. This is the longest Interstate highway in Texas. From East to West is runs about 880 miles. The immense distance of the east to west of this road is marked dramatically by a sign at the Texas-Louisiana border – see photo above. It tells the traveler the distance from that point to the city of El Paso, the westernmost major city in Texas. We see it is 857 miles.
In today’s reading from Psalm 103 we read in verse 12: “…as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.” This is a powerful image. It also needs context to make sense. In one way, if one would travel east or west in a straight line across the surface of the earth, then one would come back to the exact spot again. If two travelers would set out in opposite directions, east and west, then these two would come across each other on the other side of the world.
So, what do we do with this? We enter the context of the King David as he wrote this prayer song. There was no way for him to travel around the globe. He lived in the Holy Land. If he headed west, he would hit the ocean and stop. If he headed east, then he would eventually hit the desert and stop or get a camel. Eventually he would hit more desert, ocean, or high mountains and have to stop at one of these. Even if he just traveled from the Mediterranean Sea to the desert, he would still travel a great distance.
It is a distance such as this which he is talking about. As far as one can travel in opposite directions is the figurative distance God places between us and the damage and cruelty of our sin. God’s forgiveness is what does this. Our loving Lord continues to forgive and to put aside what we have done wrong which harms our relationship with God, others or ourselves individually.
In a sense, the Lord is removing from us the final and negative effect of sin on our lives. Think about it this way: we are standing on the border between Texas and Louisiana, and the bad thing, sin, is at the western edge of El Paso. That bad thing is not going to have any effect on us at that distance. Our amazing Lord is saying that, by his abundant love and forgiveness, the final power of sin over us is removed so far that it is no longer a consequence in our lives. This is all brought about by the power expressed by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for us. For this we can give thanks daily for God’s great love for us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we humbly thank you for your goodness to us and to all that you have made. We praise you for your creation, for keeping us and all things in your care, and for all the blessings of life. Above all we bless you for your immeasurable love in redeeming the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with thankful hearts we praise you, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving ourselves to your service and by living in your gifts of holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all worship and praise, now and forever. Amen