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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Better Than Expected"

July 31, 2008

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Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12

James Marshall was building a sawmill when he discovered gold in California.

According to CNN, at a recent flea market a shopper, who wishes to remain nameless, bought a framed picture of a flower. The $10 spent appears to be a good investment.

How good? Well, in a figurative way, the unknown buyer, like Marshall, managed to strike gold.

When the buyer took the picture out of the frame, he found a handwritten manuscript of "America." Most of us know the song better by its first lines: "My Country 'tis of Thee; sweet land of liberty . . . ."

The song, which was written in 1831 by Samuel Francis Smith, was designed to help schools inspire and teach children. Sung to the familiar melody of the United Kingdom's "God Save The Queen," the song was first performed on the Fourth of July in Massachusetts, that same year.

And now this manuscript has come to light. Could it be a forgery? A number of experts say it's not. If they're right, the piece of paper, once unknown and unnoticed could be worth tens of thousands.

In some ways, I wish this story had come to light around Christmas. I see so many parallels between the finding of this manuscript and the shepherds' visit to the Savior.

The first and foremost is that something once overlooked can be very valuable. Consider how the Savior's entry into this world was, for the most part, unheralded; His long-expected coming remained almost entirely unobserved. But what Jesus accomplished with His life, suffering, death, and defeat of the grave makes Him, to sinful souls, more precious than gold.

That's what St. Paul was trying to convey when he wrote to the Ephesians. "In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, that He lavished upon us . . . " (Ephesians 1:7-8a).

That's right - - the riches of His grace, and by this grace we are saved. By grace we are adopted in God's family of faith. By grace we are given eternal life. It is all done by grace.

And this grace is better than gold, certainly better than any old, valuable manuscript.

THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, You give us many gifts we often do not see or acknowledge. Forgive us our shortsightedness. Grant to us a rich understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done. Let us, like the Christmas shepherds, look into His manger and empty tomb and see that same good news of great joy. In Jesus' Name, I ask it. Amen.

In Christ I remain His servant and yours,


Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries

Today's Bible Readings: Psalms 116-118    1 Thessalonians 4

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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