Links Daily Devotional

Make It Personal

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him… I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-10, NLT)

Every year, as I watch the U.S. Open, I can’t help but be reminded of the stories I’ve heard my father, Larry Nelson, tell of his U.S. Open victory in 1983. One of my favorite stories has to do with a personal interaction he had with Ben Hogan leading up to it. At that time, my father was playing Hogan equipment and it was known that he was mostly self-taught out of Mr. Hogan’s book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. Because of this, my dad had the privilege of spending some time with him personally and getting to know him.

In their conversation, my father asked, “Mr. Hogan, you won the Open at Oakmont, and I think of Oakmont as a high-ball hitters’ golf course because of the notoriously firm and fast greens, and I think of you as a relatively low-ball hitter. How were you able to win there?”

Mr. Hogan replied, “Larry, I take exception to being thought of as only a low-ball hitter; I could always hit it high when I wanted to.”

They proceeded to the range and my dad got a personal lesson from the winningest player in U.S. Open history and arguably the greatest ball-striker of all time on how to hit it high when he needed to. That in and of itself would be memorable, but the fact that my dad then went on to win the Open that year at Oakmont with that tip in mind makes that personal experience all the more significant and special.

It got me thinking about how amazing it is that God sent Jesus to this earth so that we could know him personally, so that we can overcome the fallenness of this world—including sin and death. Yet, how much do we neglect the opportunity to spend personal time with him and truly get to know him? Had my dad only possessed the head knowledge of Mr. Hogan’s book and listened to others teach their interpretation of it, he would never have received the personal lesson that helped him win at Oakmont, gained by one-on-one time with the author.

When you hear my dad talk about Ben Hogan, he refers to him as “Mr. Hogan” because he knew him. So, how do you refer to God? Is he personal or distant? Is he a God of love and grace, or is he a God of strict rules and laws? God doesn’t have to be the God of [fill-in-the-blank] religion, [blank] church, or the [blank] individual in your life that failed you in their interpretation of him. Rather, God wants to be your heavenly Father. He wants to live in you, work through you, do what’s best for you, and he wants to give you so much, just like any good father does. He wants you to experience his kingdom and the full righteousness you were intended to experience, but the only way to really know that is to spend time with him and ask him yourself to fill you with his Spirit and truth.

Discovering the amazing purpose and gifts God has intended for your life starts with knowing him personally. Reading commentaries and books, listening to good Bible teachers, and spending time with other believers are all great things, but don’t neglect experiencing him directly through prayer and time spent reading his Word for yourself. As you listen with your heart to what he tells you, he promises (read Luke 11:5-13) to give you more of himself and the blessings he wants you to have in your life to be a champion.

Josh Nelson
June 25, 2014
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