VIDEO Rock Morning Glory

Accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom…. Proverbs 2:1-2, NIV

Deserts are inhospitable places with little rain—blazingly hot by day and chillingly cold by night. Few plants can survive, but the rock morning glory can. It has large underground tubers resembling sweet potatoes that store water whenever it rains. In times of drought, it’s sustained by the water stored in its twenty or so underground reserves. 

Jeremiah 17:8 says of those who put their confidence in God: “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (NIV).

Sometimes we’re in the desert, and that can feel quite desolate. But if we store God’s Word in our hearts day by day, pondering and trusting all God tells us, we’ll have supernatural resilience.

Those who make God their hope, shall flourish like a tree always green, whose leaf does not wither. They shall be fixed in peace and satisfaction of mind; they shall not be anxious in a year of drought…. They shall not cease from yielding fruit in holiness and good works. Matthew Henry


Proverbs 2 – 3 • Exhortations to Wisdom

Listening Matters

I will listen to what God the Lord says. Psalm 85:8

“Come at once. We have struck a berg.” Those were the first words Harold Cottam, the wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia, received from the sinking RMS Titanic at 12:25 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The Carpathia would be the first ship to the disaster scene, saving 706 lives.

In the US Senate hearings days later, the Carpathia’s captain Arthur Rostron testified, “The whole thing was absolutely providential. . . . The wireless operator was in his cabin at the time, not on official business at all, but just simply listening as he was undressing. . . . In ten minutes maybe he would have been in bed, and we would not have heard the message.” 

Listening matters—especially listening to God. The writers of Psalm 85, the sons of Korah, urged attentive obedience when they wrote, “I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him” (vv. 8–9). Their admonition is especially poignant because their ancestor Korah had rebelled against God and had perished in the wilderness (Numbers 16:1–35).

The night the Titanic sank, another ship was much closer, but its wireless operator had gone to bed. Had he heard the distress signal, perhaps more lives would have been saved. When we listen to God by obeying His teaching, He’ll help us navigate even life’s most troubled waters.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

In what ways will you stay attentive to God and the Scriptures today? How can doing so help you to help others?

Father, help me to stay close to You in my thoughts, words, and actions. Please use me as Your servant to bring Your hope to others

From Alienation to Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

One of the hardest truths for many nonbelievers to accept is that they’re enemies of God. Even though they aren’t close to the Lord, they still consider themselves good people. Surely, they think, I haven’t done anything bad enough to make myself His enemy. But the truth is, everyone begins life alienated from God because all mankind is born into sin (Psalm 51:5; Rom. 5:12). 

To be saved, a person must first understand that the gap between perfect God and sinful man is vast. Human beings like comparing themselves with others to illustrate how good they are, but the standard for goodness isn’t other people; it’s a holy, perfect God. The only way to reach Him is through faith in His Son for forgiveness and reconciliation (John 14:6).  Whoever rejects Christ’s offer of salvation simply cannot spend eternity with God.

Only the cross of Christ spans the gulf between alienation and reconciliation. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and underwent the punishment we deserved. Now any person who trusts in the Savior’s substitutionary atonement can enter into a new life of communion with God

God Our Savior

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” (Titus 3:4)

Six times in the pastoral epistles Paul refers to God (evidently meaning the Father) as our Savior (1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). Usually, however, he and the other New Testament writers identify Jesus Christ as our Savior. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, for example). In the same fashion, Paul relates that his commission to preach the gospel came from “God our Saviour” (Titus 1:3), while elsewhere he says his commission came “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12).

Is this a contradiction? No! In fact, references to God as our Savior should not surprise us, for it is found in numerous places in the Old Testament. (See, for example, Psalm 106:21.) Furthermore, our understanding of the Trinity insists that all three persons of the Godhead are One in God. Of course, Christ made many references to the fact that He was not acting on His own but came to do “the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). Paul himself seemed to be comfortable with this seeming overlap, for in one sentence he wrote, “God our Saviour;…Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 1:3-4). Such usages further confirm also that Jesus is God.

While Christ was the primary instrument of salvation as the perfect sacrifice for sin, God the Father is the source of all human salvation, and the application of the title Savior to Him is proper. Indeed, we derive great comfort as we see the role of all three Persons of the Godhead involved in our salvation.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). JDM

“Go and Sin No More”

John 8:1-11

ONLY John records the account of the woman taken in adultery (8:1-11). The story is not found in some of the oldest manuscripts, however, and Augustine says it was left out of many copies for fear it might teach immorality!

It seems to have been a scheme of the crafty scribes and Pharisees—to cause Jesus to pronounce upon a matter which really belonged to the legal and civil authorities. But the Lord merely wrote upon the ground, a way of signifying unwillingness to deal with the matter at hand. It would be well if we learned to write in the sand and say nothing when many matters come up into which we need not be drawn. When reputations are attacked and personalities are involved, and we are asked to pass judgment upon others, let us write in the sand, as though we heard them not. We are not appointed to be judge or divider, and we shall save ourselves much trouble if we learn the art of writing in the sand.

But the accusers press for an answer. They are sure they have trapped the Lord. If He condemns the woman, they will say He has taken undue authority to judge in legal matters. If He does not condemn her, they will say He makes for loose morals and laxity of the law. Then He turns the tables upon them, and they are taken in their own snare: “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.” He neither justifies her conduct nor does He condemn her, yet He completely defeats the accusers. Since there was no one present except Himself who possessed that qualification, the accusers slink away, leaving only the sinless One and the sinful one. The only one who had a right to cast the first stone has, rather, mercy and love.

Wonderful is His word to the woman: “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” He did not excuse or justify her sin, but He only said He was not passing judgment upon her. We must remember that one day He is to be judge, and we are to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. This passage need not make for any light attitude toward our Lord’s position as to sin. He simply was declaring here His unwillingness to exercise the civil and legal authority of His time.

Likely the woman had repented, and our Lord surely knew it. In His not condemning her He seems to include His gracious forgiveness. How blessed to know that, though we have sinned, we may go and sin no more!

Throughout the whole story runs the precious note of compassion for the weak and erring. Too easily do we sit in judgment and forget that we also are not without sin. Writing on the ground will become us far better than casting stones. To be sure, there arise occasions when, as with Paul and the offending brother in Corinth, believers must take action in church discipline; but it is not for us to sentence sinners, but to seek to bring them to forgiveness through faith in Him who, though now their solicitous Savior and our Advocate, will one day be Judge.

Leave Nothing Behind

How can we who died to sin still live in it?—Romans 6:2

If we are to stay spiritually fresh we must break decisively with everything of which Christ cannot approve. We must get rid of everything that mars our relationship with the Master. This means that we must make up our minds that anything the Lord speaks to us about must go. There is to be no trifling with Him.

A gardener who works in an evangelical conference center tells how, during the first two or three days of a conference, Christians are keen to obey the signs that say, “Do not litter.” They go out of their way to carry unwanted paper to the litter bins. After four or five days have passed, however, he finds that people grow tired of looking for the bins and hide their unwanted paper under the bushes. They have enough conscience to hide the paper, but not enough to get rid of it.

Do not let this matter of getting rid of the things of which Christ disapproves end in a compromise or a stalemate. Look down into the hidden recesses where your sins may have been tucked away, and bring them all out—every one. They will plead to be left alone, but bring them all out. Not a thing must be left behind. Don’t be content with a conscience that will hide sins but not get rid of sins. If I had to put into one word the biggest single barrier to maintaining spiritual freshness, it would be procrastination. So be decisive—beginning today.

Prayer

Father, I have put my hand to the plow, and I do not intend to look back. This shall be no halfway business. Help me to bring to You everything that needs to be dealt with today. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 24:1-25; Jr 8:20; Heb 3:7-15

What was Felix’s mistake?

What lesson must we learn from the children of Israel?

Hidden in Plain Sight

John 14:6

The truth is often hidden in plain sight; so close, yet so very far away. It can’t be discovered in debate. It can’t be realized in religion. It must be mastered through a personal relationship.

The first space walk actually occurred on Mars Hill. Stoic and Epicurean philosophers walked there every day, cogitating, ruminating and speculating about the truth. You might say they were spaced out on Mars Hill! Theirs was an impersonal God, out there, somewhere.

A foreign force, a remote ruler, a distant deity. They had even erected an altar with the inscription, “To The Unknown God.”

Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said: “What you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you… in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:23, 28).

Paul is saying, “The truth is right there within your grasp. Come down to earth and enjoy a personal relationship with your Creator.” Some elected to continue their lonely space journey while others “joined him and believed.”

Pilate looked Christ straight in the eye and said, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). That’s a legitimate question. We all struggle with it.

Lenin said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” A brilliant scholar said,

“God is dead.” The Beatles said, “We are more popular than Christ.” A well-known religious leader said, “I am the Messiah!” What is truth?

The truth was standing directly in front of Pilate in plain sight, and yet he couldn’t see Him. Why? Because he hadn’t experienced the Truth personally. Paul was standing before King Agrippa witnessing to the power of a changed life, and yet Agrippa could not see Him. Why? Because the Truth cannot be known through persuasion; He must be experienced personally.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Christ never hides. He is always in plain sight calling, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Knowledge in this context requires an intimate personal relationship, one that is guaranteed to bring great joy and fellowship. He doesn’t have to remain hidden. And that’s the truth!

Joe Noland, A Little Greatness