Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Week Eleven - Watermelon, Watermelon

When God created the fruit of the garden, He wasn't simply playing around making pretty things to look at or something that would excite our palate. Instead, he had a purpose, as He does with everything. 

As I thought about fruit and why God made it, I explored and found some benefits of particular fruits. These might surprise you!

If you are stressed - eat bananas.
If you struggle with high blood pressure - eat raisins.
If you want to prevent kidney stones - eat apricots.
If you struggle with high cholesterol - eat pears.
If you have hemorrhoids - eat figs.
If you feel fatigued - drink orange juice.
If you have an inflammatory disease like arthritis - eat blueberries and cherries.
And a funny one -
If you are in a bad mood - eat coconut!

And which fruits have the most cleansing powers? Watermelon comes out on top, followed by avocado, apple, cranberry, grapefruit, and lemon.

The vitamins and minerals in fruit have healing properties created and designed by God. So enjoy your watermelon!

We could give the vitamins a Bible application, too.

We need Vitamin C for correction, compassion, and consecration.
Vitamin E for exhortation.
Vitamin K for kindness.
Vitamin B complex for all the be ye's in the Word - be ye kind, be faithful, be steadfast, etc.
Vitamin A for agape love.
Vitamin D for diligence.

You could have fun thinking of other vitamins and Bible applications but don't miss the point. God created all things for our benefit and enjoyment. 

The graceful Christian also abounds in fruit - the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

God is so very interested in your well-being. He gives you physical fruits to nurture your body and spiritual fruit that nurtures your soul. However, these do you no good unless you add them to your diet. Just as you need a healthy physical diet, you need a healthy spiritual diet.

So the next time you cut into a big watermelon, or munch down on a banana, take time to thank God for the bounty and benefit of everything He created.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Week Ten - Jewels

First Corinthians 2 is a beautiful passage teaching us that the world's wisdom comes to naught - to nothing, but God's wisdom is eternal. From verses nine through sixteen, the Apostle Paul extols the beauty of God's wisdom, saying,

Verse 9 - God's wisdom is best.

Verse 10 - It is revealed to us through God's Spirit,

Verse 11 - and only through His Spirit!

Verse 12 - With that wisdom, we can know all God has given to us.

Verse 13 - We have access to spiritual wisdom.

Verse 14 - Wisdom the world cannot comprehend.

Verse 15 - This wisdom is superior to all others.

Verse 16 - It is the mind of Christ.

The question is, Do we use it? Do we appreciate and understand the beauty and power of what God has given? His wisdom teaches us to live differently, to value the eternal over the temporal, and to have protective boundaries and exemplary expectations. It gives us hope, not despair. We find joy and life in God's Word. God's wisdom never changes; it has eternal promise and is alive in the hearts of His children.

O Lord, let me revel in the beauty and riches of your wisdom. Let me seek to know it more. Remembering that wisdom is "more precious than rubies and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her."  Proverbs 3:15

 "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of lie to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her" (Proverbs 3:16-18).

Friend, the wisdom of this world seeks to skirt around God's wisdom. It laughs and mocks while changing with every whim and holds no lasting promise. But God's Word stands. His wisdom remains and will remain.

Proverbs 21:30 says, "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." Do you believe that? You should. God's wisdom is eternal and final.

Take time to read these two chapters - 1 Corinthians 2 and Proverbs 3 - and look for the rubies and gems that will strengthen your heart and gird your mind today.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Week Nine - Useless

The promise of Acts 1:8 is, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me." If you take this promise at face value, you must admit that though you might not know how or even feel like it could be true, God uses your life as a witness if you are His child.

He chose to use human instruments instead of rocks to tell His story. Person to person; that is God's method. None of us are useless in God's plan. Why? Because God is not dependent upon us to perform His will. He is the craftsman.

Someone wrote, "I am currently in the process of renovating a house. I am no professional carpenter and possess no exceptional skills. What I do have is a lot of borrowed tools. I have drills, a saw, a tenon saw, a jig saw, ladders, work benches, paint brushes that hold paint in a special tank, and many more. You might be impressed if you come to my house, but I need these tools to accomplish this job. I am not a qualified craftsman, and I can't take pride in how much money I spend on this project, either. 

Now, compare that to the way the Amish would construct a house. No power tools. No modern technology. From cutting down the trees and hewing out the timbers, to boring the holes for perfectly fit wooden pegs, the entire job is done with archaic hand tools that would be worse than useless in my hands.

If you visited their work site, you would say, "Wow, what a craftsman, what skill, all that beauty, and look what they used to build it." 

The more backward and broken an instrument, the more glory goes to the builder for being able to use it.

If God ever uses you or me in any way, it will be categorically despite us. The greatest miracle of all is that God can and does take an instrument that is nothing in itself but sinful defilement and produces a new creature that is perfectly holy to be used according to His will. 

1 Corinthians 1:27-29, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are might; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, that God chose, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."

Useless is never a word in God's vocabulary. Think through these -

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Jonah ran from God
Naomi and Ruth were widows
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
Zacchaeus was too short
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer

Lazarus was dead!

So, no more excuses. God will use you if you are His child. You are not useless in His hands.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Week Eight - Jehoiachin and Evilmerodach

Jehoiachin, the King of Judah, wound up a prisoner of war for 37 years. Eventually, the new king of Babylon, Evilmerodach, released him from his bonds and the Bible says, "he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; and changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life." 

Spurgeon uses this passage to explain to us a precious truth.

"Jehoiachin wasn't sent away from the kings' palace with provisions that would last him for months; rather, his allowance was given to him on a daily basis. In this he very much depicts the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a person really wants. We don't need tomorrow's supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may allow in the month of June doesn't need to be quenched in February, for we don't feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveler, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the complete glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful.

When our Father doesn't give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance. Jehoiachin's situation is ours; we have a sure portion, a portion given to us by the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here, surely, is grounds for thankfulness.

Dear Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day you must seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the world, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all necessary things are laid up for you. So, then, enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy."


Morning and Evening by Spurgeon - page 90

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Week Seven - Count Your Blessings

Pause and sing the chorus with me!

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
And it will surprise you,
What the Lord hath done. 

Have you ever tried restricting your prayer time to doing this only? Remembering all God has done in the past and counting the blessings, the joy, or the lessons learned? It is a good practice. It brings such joy and humility to the heart.

Paul says to the Thessalonicans - "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1 Thess. 1:3). He had watched these people grow in the Lord. Their testimony of faith, love, and hope bloomed in his heart, making them his joy and crown of rejoicing, a feather proudly displayed in his cap, if you will.

God gets the glory when we remember His works, mercy, and leading and then give thanks. I challenge you to try a moment of prayer right now thanking God for all He has done in your past. Let the tears of rejoicing flow as you see His hand guiding you, forgiving, and helping you through every trial.

But don't stop there. Take time also to pay attention to what is happening now. God is at work around you today. "This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

As you read First Thessalonians, you hear the heart of a man actively watching what is happening in Thessalonica, and he rejoices to see their faith and love that is resulting in extended influence for Christ.

Friend, God is at work. He is moving things into position for the rapture of the church, for Christ's return, and for God's final glory. Souls are being saved around the world. Churches are being planted, and the gospel is being heard by millions in a way we could not have imagined even ten years ago.

Let's not allow the noise of the world or the ugliness of life to block our view of God's eternal work. And we, as His children, are a part of that work. He works through us just as He did among the Thessalonicans back when Paul first visited Europe.

Let's be thankful. God is here, loving and caring for us today. Rejoice!

And then, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Think ahead. What will God do tomorrow, next week, or next year? We don't know, do we? But we can rest assured He will continue working. And all things, according to Ephesians 1:11, are done "according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." So we can begin thanking Him that He is in control. He knows our future and has it all worked out perfectly. We can thank Him because He will equip us and prepare our hearts no matter what is ahead.

In everything...give thanks. Everything. 

I have found that even in an awful situation, I can find glimmers of thanksgiving if I but look. And this always raises my spirits and helps me see God at work around me, helping me remember how He has worked in the past and giving me hope for both today and tomorrow.

Thankfulness is a key attitude and attribute of the child of God. Cultivate it each day by remembering how God has been there for you in the past, being aware of His activity today, and looking forward to tomorrow by faith with thanksgiving.

Then, you will have truly learned to count your blessings!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Week Six - A Bible Valentine

Beautiful, loving phrases sparkle throughout First Thessalonians as Paul writes to this beloved church. He begins expressing thankfulness for their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in Christ that has created an example for others.

He is thankful that they received the Word gladly and allowed God to work in their lives. Their far-reaching testimony was a joy to this traveling evangelist. His rejoicing brings him to encourage them to continue to walk worthy and stand fast in the Lord. And then he says, in 3:12, "The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you."

What a beautiful blessing - to love one another and all men with the same love Paul has shown them.

And what did Paul's love for the Thessalonians look like?

He spoke truth to them, not words of shallow flattery but of depth and honesty. His words built them up with life-giving instruction and strength. They were memorable words from God that saved their souls and equipped them to love others more.

He exhibited gentleness, not some mamby-pamby fluff, but graceful, gentle care and concern that drew them to Christ. His was an open and approachable message of heart and hand that cultivated trust, and an easiness of person that created a healthy, loving atmosphere.

He behaved himself wisely, living the gospel before them. He was never burdensome and heavy or demanding. No showing off, no bossing them around, no arrogance, just a worthy walk, holy, just, and unblameable. His love was true discipleship that affected them greatly.

And why? Because he loved them, and he loved the Lord. The two go together, you know? You can't love God and be effective for Him unless you love others. And Paul's love for the Thessalonicans created a loving mutual bond. What an excellent example for us to follow.

As love is the theme for the coming week, how might your relationships be strengthened if you reached out with loving, gentle words and actions and your behavior was about giving and sharing as you showed the love of Christ to those you love?

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Week Five - Life's Hard

My husband says, "Life's hard, and then you die," trying to remind me, and probably himself, that hardness is a part of this earthly life; we can't escape it. And certainly, it is true! But we needn't live focused on the hardness and allow it to drag us down. Life is hard, yes, and Jesus knows that. That's why He invites us to come to Him, lay our burdens at His feet, and allow Him to comfort our little souls. He is our refuge in times of distress.

When you begin reading the book of James, it will catch you off guard. After he does the customary epistle greeting, he jumps right into his subject of trials with an attitude of joy and positivity in the face of hard times. He actually says to count them all joy. Have a different mindset. Instead of moaning and being negative, look beyond the difficulty to see the outcome. Why? Because hard times have a process and a purpose.

James 1:3, 4a reads, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work." Of course, we might not like the process of having our faith tried. We might even detest learning patience, but that is how God designed growth during trials.

Let's skip to the purpose. Verse 4b reads, "That ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Now that gives me hope. The process might be arduous and uncomfortable, but the outcome is so beneficial! 

When the various temptations of verse 2 or the trying of my faith in verse 3 grab me, I focus on the word work in verses 3 and 4. God is at work in my life to produce the result found in verse 4. I will be perfect, meaning more mature. Entire means complete. And, wanting nothing? I will have learned a valuable lesson about God that better equips me for my faith journey.

It takes me back to Philippians 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Am I allowing Him to do a work in my life, even through trials? Am I yielding to Him or fighting against Him? Am I angry or rebellious?

I certainly try not to be! Because I have found the most incredible peace and blessing come from bending my will to His.

So today, if life is hard, look to see where God is at work around you. Set your heart to yield and allow patience to have her perfect work. Then, you will start to see the maturity God is planting within you. You'll learn a valuable lesson, making life seem less hard and more joyful.