July 17

he Lord our God is righteous in everything he does. Daniel 9:14 NIV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 

There is a long prayer to read in Daniel, most of which is a confession that the people have been wicked and disobedient. In the middle he twice says that God is righteous, and also merciful and forgiving even though all of Israel has sinned and turned away from their God. God is so righteous that He cannot have these disobedient people go unpunished, and that is why they are in exile. Daniel then ends his prayer by appealing to God’s mercy for all these people who are certainly not righteous. He is actually asking for God’s mercy in order to save the people who bear the Name of the Lord. It sounds as though Daniel is appealing to God and reminding Him that these are His chosen people, even though they sure don’t behave like they are. These are the people to whom God made promises.

God had promised to always be with His people. And, God keeps His promises. Another translation of James 1:17 says that God “does not change like shifting shadows.” What He has promised is what He will do. He created the heavenly lights, and we see that even they do some changing. We people manage to change all the time. At one moment we are aware of our sins, and confessing and vowing to do better, and the next we are back acting as usual. God is unchanging; He is always righteous, and merciful and loving of us, His creation. He gives us good things and, of course, the greatest gift of all, His Son, our savior.

We have a God that loves us and has always loved us. Much of chapter one of James is about temptation leading to sin, about being tested and sins leading to death. It begins to sound like we have to do a lot of the work in saving ourselves; we have to avoid the temptation and pass all the tests. That probably won’t work out so well. However, with grace from our unchanging loving God, we can be secure in our salvation.

Almighty God, we thank you for the gifts you have given us. Present us with opportunities to use these gifts to grow your kingdom. We thank you for the perfect gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. May His light shine so bright and clear that even the shadows point to His kingdom. Amen.

Chris Gabel