DAILY DEVOTIONAL – June 29, 2021
“Stay in Your Lane”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are our truth, our path, and our destination. You are the resurrection and the life. Help us, Lord, remain faithful and true following after You through Your Word and Sacrament ministry that You have given to Your Church and that sustains us in our faith in You. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 7:13-23
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 21Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Devotional – “Stay in Your Lane”
Getting seriously lost in an unfamiliar place can not only be extremely frustrating, but depending on the circumstances, it can also prove to be quite dangerous. In my senior year of high school, a group of friends and I were driving to our senior prom that was to be held at a convention center in Los Angeles. GPS navigation systems were not standard at that time, nor were smart phones that could tell you when you made a wrong turn and when you were going the wrong way. Long story short, we eventually got on a road we were certain was the right way, but in the end proved to be very wrong. We soon found ourselves in a part of town that looked very different in every way. Then, we started noticing people looking at us as if we didn’t belong there, because we didn’t. Almost as soon as we all were starting to get quite nervous, the inside of the car lit up with flashing red and blue lights. When the officer came up to the window, he asked my friend who was driving, “You don’t belong here. You’re lost, aren’t you?” “Yes sir” my friend replied. If there was any question we were in the wrong part of town, not only did the officer see us sticking out like a sore thumb from a mile away, but he then instructed us that he would escort us out.
Ross Fichtner was a defensive back for the Minnesota Vikings, and though a very different story, Ross tells a story that also teaches how important it is to make sure that you not only know where you want to end up, but that you also remain headed in the right direction. In his first game as a defensive back in 1964, the Vikings were going up against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49er quarterback, John Brodie, completed a short pass to the wide receiver, who was hit right away, causing him to fumble. Fichtner watched as one of his teammates, Jim Marshall, managed to capture the fumble and then proceeded to take off running as fast as he could. In the confusion and scramble for the ball, however, Marshall got himself turned around and began running toward the wrong end zone!
In an amazing role reversal, Fichtner was left to watch helplessly as the 49er players began to block for his teammate, Jim, keeping the other Viking players at bay until he reached his own end zone, earning a safety for the opposing team. The play ended with a few 49ers sarcastically patting Jim Marshall on the back and thanking him for the assist.
Ross Fichtner, who became a staff member for The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, used this story to illustrate an important truth not only about life in general, but a truth that is especially applicable to our faith in and following after Jesus Christ. You can have all the enthusiasm and ability in the world, but if you’re going in the wrong direction, the results will be disastrous!
Of course, as Christians, we know that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life as He said in John 14, but as my friends and I learned on the way to prom, and as Fichtner’s teammate learned on the football field, knowing the destination you desire to end up at is no guarantee you are traveling on the right path. What I found particularly applicable about Fichtner’s story when it comes to our faith and following Jesus, is how the opposing 49er team was just as enthusiastic and happy to help make the road to the wrong endzone as easy and painless as possible for Jim Marshall.
This is what our Lord is warning us about in Matthew 7 when He says, “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Why are there few who find it? Two reasons Jesus gives. First, Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” The enemy is real. The Devil is real, and so are his efforts to make the run to the wrong endzone as easy and enjoyable as possible. That should give us great pause when we think about how we evaluate what it is we are seeking, what it is we are aspiring to, and what kind of life motivates how we live. Secondly, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven… many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Our salvation is not ensured by what we do for Jesus or living what we think is a spiritually victorious (and easy) life. Our salvation is secured only by a living relationship with Jesus that involves being known by and knowing Jesus personally, not just as one of our many friends and family, but as the single most important person, priority, and relationship in our life. Yes, living this way in a sinful and dying world that is sprinting in the opposite direction will be difficult, but that should not surprise us given our Lord’s words of loving caution in Matthew 7.
We stay on the right path and headed in the right direction by living in and according to the Word God has given us, and staying in constant fellowship with God not only through the gift of personal prayer and devotion that He has made available, but also through the fellowship of His people in the Church that God has specifically established for encouraging us, holding us accountable, and helping us along the narrow path following our Lord together.
Thanks for joining me for another daily devotional, and remember that God has forgiven yesterday, is with you today, and has already taken care of tomorrow. Amen.