The Well-Watered Life

unceasing fruitfulness tree by water
He shall be like a tree planted by the waters . . . ; its leaf will be green. —Jeremiah 17:8

I have a friend who lives on a ranch in the wide-open spaces of Montana. The road to his home is a long trail that winds through the parched and barren landscape of the wilderness. As you drive toward his home, you can’t help but notice the contrasting strip of green trees and vibrant vegetation meandering through the ranch. One of the finest trout rivers in North America cuts through the property, and anything that grows near its banks gets the benefit of an unending source of vital water.

This is the picture Jeremiah paints when he says that those who trust in the Lord are “like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river” (Jer. 17:8). Many may choose the wilting heat and choking drought of life apart from God, but those who trust in God will be vibrant and fruitful. Depending on Him is like putting our roots into the refreshing water of His goodness. We are strengthened with the confidence that His steadfast love for us will never fail.

God will ultimately make all things right. Trusting that He will turn our pain to gain and use suffering to mature us empowers us to become fruit-bearers in a dry and thirsty land. By Joe Stowell

The words of Jeremiah 17:7-8 echo those of Psalm 1:2-3: Blessed are those who “delight in the law of the Lord . . . . They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (nlt).

Lord, thank You for not leaving me alone
in the withering heat of life. I will put the
roots of my trust into the river of Your
unfailing promises and steadfast love!

Put your roots down by the river of God’s goodness.

The Danger of a Hardening Heart

Hebrews 3:7-9

God repeatedly calls to His children, but the condition of each heart determines the result. Those with soft and tender hearts hear His voice and yield to Him in obedience, but those with hard hearts resist His warnings and instructions. Surprisingly, upon hearing the same voice, believers will have different reactions.

Since hardening is a slow process that is often accompanied by excuses and rationalizations, the danger signs may not be readily recognized. How do you respond when the Lord speaks to you through His Word, your conscience, or messages based on Scripture? Carefully consider the following characteristics of a hardening heart:

• Insensitivity or resistance to what the Lord says

• Refusal to put yourself under His authority

• Disobedience to what you know God is instructing you to do

• Justification of sinful conduct

• Resistance to the reproof of others

• Preoccupation with the things of this world (career, relationships, possessions)

• Little interest in spiritual matters

• Absence of private devotion (Bible reading and prayer)

• Avoidance of corporate worship (gathering with other believers)

A hard heart does not have to remain brittle. If you’ve discovered any of the above traits in your life, begin today to return to the Lord. Ask Him to give you a new heart and the desire to know Him (Jer. 24:7). Remember, He specializes in making all things new (2 Cor. 5:17).

Lessons from the Rich Fool

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20)

This sobering verse gives, in a nutshell, God’s evaluation of people whose dominating concern is the accumulation of material possessions. Such a person is, by the Lord’s own testimony, a fool.

But before the man in this parable became a covetous fool, he first became a self-centered clod, interested only in his own desires. In the verses comprising his monologue (Luke 12:17-19), he used the personal pronouns “I” and “my” no less than eleven times, and then even addressed himself using the pronoun “thou” or “thine” twice more.

“My” is the devil’s pronoun. It was Satan who first said “I.” “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . . I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Lucifer’s primeval, self-seeking covetousness brought rebellion and sin into the angelic host, and then into the human family. Ever since his fall he has used this deadly sin of self-centeredness to keep men away from God and to lead them into all kinds of other overpowering sins.

In the case of the rich man, his pampering of self had led him into a life of such greed and covetousness that he was still concerned only with his own personal comfort (“eating and drinking”) right up to the day of his death. He “thought within himself” (Luke 12:17), giving no thought whatever to God’s will or the fact that all his possessions really belonged to God. Multitudes over the ages have been overtaken by this same sin of self-centered covetousness, perhaps never more pervasively than in modern America, even among American Christians. To anyone of such covetous spirit, the day may soon come when the Lord will say: “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” HMM

Our Fear of Emotions

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. —Acts 3:8

One cause of the decline in the quality of religious experience among Christians these days is the neglect of the doctrine of the inward witness.

Stamping our feet to start the circulation and blowing on our hands to limber them up, we have emerged shivering from the long period of the theological deepfreeze, but the influence of the frosty years is still felt among us to such an extent that the words witness, experience and feeling are cautiously avoided by the rank and file of evangelical teachers. In spite of the undeniable lukewarmness of most of us we still fear that unless we keep a careful check on ourselves we shall surely lose our dignity and become howling fanatics by this time next week. We set a watch upon our emotions day and night lest we become over-spiritual and bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. Which all, if I may say so, is for most of us about as sensible as throwing a cordon of police around a cemetery to prevent a wild political demonstration by the inhabitants.

Lord, open up my heart to receive, and then open up my mouth to declare, the glory of Your mighty work! Amen.

The Devil Hates Everything Dear to God

…For the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

I have observed among spiritual persons in the Christian fellowship a tendency either to ignore the devil altogether or to make too much of him.

Both attitudes are wrong!

There is in the world an enemy whom we dare not ignore. We see him first in the third chapter of Genesis and last in the twentieth of Revelation, which is to say that he was present at the beginning of human history and will be there at its earthly close.

This enemy is not a creation of religious fancy, not a mere personification of evil for convenience, but a being as real as man himself. The Bible attributes to him qualities of personality too detailed to be figurative, and reveals him speaking and acting in situations hard and practical and far removed from the poetic imagination.

He is said to be a liar, a deceiver and a murderer who achieves his ends by guile and trickery. While he is not omnipresent (omnipresence being an attribute of God alone) he is ubiquitous, which for his purpose amounts to the same thing.

Satan hates God for His own sake, and everything that is dear to God he hates for the very reason that God loves it. Because man was made in God’s image the hatred with which Satan regards him is particularly malevolent, and since the Christian is doubly dear to God he is hated by the powers of darkness with an aggravated fury.

In view of this, it cannot be less than folly for us Christians to disregard the reality and presence of such an enemy.

Think Like God Thinks

Search me, O God… try me, and know my thoughts. PSALM 139:23

If God knows that your intention is to worship Him with every part of your being, He has promised to cooperate with you. On His side is the love and grace, the promises and the atonement, the constant help and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

On your side there is determination, seeking, yielding, believing. Your heart becomes a chamber, a sanctuary, a shrine in which there may be continuous, unbroken fellowship and communion with God. Your worship rises to God moment by moment!

We have all found that God will not dwell in spiteful and proud and selfish thoughts. He treasures our pure and loving thoughts, our meek and charitable and kindly thoughts. They are the thoughts like His own!

As God dwells in your thoughts, you will be worshiping—and God will be accepting. He will be smelling the incense of your high intentions even when the cares of life are intense and there is activity all around you.

This leaves us no argument. We know what God wants us to be. He wants us to be worshipers.

Lord, I worship You this morning. I look forward to our fellowship throughout the busy activities of this day.