VIDEO Ready for Harvest

You shall come to the grave at a full age, as a sheaf of grain ripens in its season. Job 5:26

Depending on when and where you shop for produce, you’ve likely seen the following: green bananas, rock-hard avocados, firm tomatoes, and fruits like peaches, plums, and melons that don’t seem to be ripe. International shipping means some produce can be picked long before it is ripe since many products will continue to ripen after harvest. The very best fruit, however, is plucked the day it is to be eaten—at the height of freshness, taste, and nutrition.

That ideal regarding food was also used metaphorically by one of Job’s friends who said, ideally, life should end “at a full age, as a sheaf of grain ripens in its season.” As with fruits and vegetables and grain, human life doesn’t always end “at a full age.” But for Moses, it did. He died at age 120 with his eyesight and strength fully intact (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). While we trust God with the number of our days (Psalm 139:16), we also should number our days so as to live a wise life (Psalm 90:12).

God’s harvest could come at any time. Be at the peak of wisdom and maturity each day—ready to be harvested at full maturity!

Make the determination to abide in Jesus. Oswald Chambers


Job 5:1-27, Right Words At The Wrong Time

Loving Your Enemy

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria. Acts 1:8

I ducked into a room before she saw me. I was ashamed of hiding, but I didn’t want to deal with her right then—or ever. I longed to tell her off, to put her in her place. Though I’d been annoyed by her past behavior, it’s likely I had irritated her even more!

The Jews and Samaritans also shared a mutually irritating relationship. Being a people of mixed origin and worshiping their own gods, the Samaritans—in the eyes of the Jews—had spoiled the Jewish bloodline and faith, erecting a rival religion on Mount Gerizim (John 4:20). In fact, the Jews so despised Samaritans they would walk the long way around rather than take the direct route through their country.

Jesus revealed a better way. He brought salvation for all people, including Samaritans. So He ventured into the heart of Samaria to bring living water to a sinful woman and her town (vv. 4–42). His last words to His disciples were to follow His example. They must share His good news with everyone, beginning in Jerusalem and dispersing through Samaria until they reached “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Samaria was more than the next geographical sequence. It was the most painful part of the mission. The disciples had to overcome lifetimes of prejudice to love people they didn’t like.

Does Jesus matter more to us than our grievances? There’s only one way to be sure. Love your “Samaritan.”

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How can you begin to show love to those who aren’t very loving? When have you been loving to a difficult person and then found them softening?

Father, may the waves of Your love crash over me, producing a torrent that streams to others through me.

Developing Patience

Colossians 3:12-17

On any given day, we may encounter frustrating people and situations, such as a mischievous child, uncooperative coworker, or slow commute. We might feel like lashing out, but God wants us to stay calm and be patient with everyone (1 Thess. 5:14). Scripture has a number of things to say about believers developing this important attribute.

First, it is our calling. God urges us to be tolerant, kind, and bear each other’s burdens (Eph. 4:1-3). Second, the Lord has set an example for us: He demonstrated patience toward Peter’s actions, the crowd’s demands, and the leaders’ false accusations. We should aspire to such composure. And third, we should recognize how damaging impatience is. It can hurt others and close off dialogue. Responding calmly gives people room to confess wrongdoing, explain their attitude, and make changes.

Patience is part of the spiritual fruit that increasingly develops as we’re conformed to Christ’s image (Gal. 5:22-23). When we rely on the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to wade through moments of waiting and provocation—without becoming agitated. A calm demeanor in times of delay or adversity can be a powerful witness to the transforming work of God.

Offering Willingly

“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.” (1 Chronicles 29:9)

As the people brought gifts for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, it is mentioned no less than six times in this chapter that their offerings were willing offerings (once in verses 6 and 14, twice each in verses 9 and 17). In fact, they were not only willing but also joyful in their giving.

Joyful giving is not the usual response to a fundraising effort for a religious cause. The great proliferation of causes today—not only for churches but for multi-church or para-church projects, usually associated with high-pressure solicitations by professional money-raisers—has developed a growing cynicism in Christians toward all such appeals.

That is not the way it should be, “for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The churches of Macedonia, though going through “a great trial of affliction” and in “deep poverty,” nevertheless “abounded unto the riches of their liberality,” and they did so in “the abundance of their joy” (2 Corinthians 8:2). What made the difference was that they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5).

No doubt another vital factor leading to the joyful offerings of the people for the building of the temple was the example set by David’s great personal joyful generosity, followed by that of all the other leaders of Israel (1 Chronicles 29:3-8). This encouraged the people also to give “with perfect heart” (today’s verse). They had evidently, like the Philippians of Macedonia, also first given themselves to the Lord. David had led them by example, not coercion, reminding himself and his people as he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving that “all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chronicles 29:14). HMM

Ballad of Burnout — Psalm 102

Burned Out

Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide Your face from me in my day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call. For my days vanish like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. My heart is afflicted, withered like grass; I even forget to eat my food… My enemies taunt me all day long; they ridicule and curse me… My days are like a lengthening shadow, and I wither away like grass (vv. 1-4, 8, 11).

I know what it’s like to run dry, both spiritually and creatively. The symptoms the psalmist describes in these verses are all too familiar. One day blends facelessly, into another, with nothing to show for it. Unbridled emotions produce almost physical pain before plunging me into a state of feeling almost nothing at all. I have no heart for my work, no inspiration. To top it all off, I suffer from periodic insomnia and, occasionally, even loss of appetite!

Psychologists diagnose this problem as “burnout.” Authors call it the “blank page syndrome.” Musicians sometimes refer to it as a creative dry spell. I call it low-grade motivation or no motivation at all. The psalmist feels that life itself is over.

But there’s a flip side to this record of griefs. This afflicted believer is doing the only thing he knows to do, thereby setting the pace for every depressed believer who has ever lived. He calls on the Lord! He cries out to him and groans in his presence.

Inspiration for victorious living and for creative music-making have a common source—intimacy with the Lord. One way to nurture intimacy with him and beat the cycle of despair is to begin with an uninhibited outpouring of raw and honest emotion. To deny these overwhelming feelings is to concede defeat. Pretending is fantasy; honesty produces reality. The psalmist’s way, though painful, is the only sure route to healing, wholeness, and renewed creativity.

Personal Prayer

Hear my prayer, O Lord. I’m burned out, dried up, and spiritually depleted. I turn to you—Savior, Fellow Sufferer, Songmaker.

Three Great Errors

Now I appeal to you … through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to join with me in fervent prayers to God.—Romans 15:30

“God is One, yet God is Three. How can such a strange thing be?” These are the lines of a ditty that supposedly was sung by troops on the march in World War I. Theologians down the ages have tried to illuminate this doctrine for us, but it is an issue that will never be fully clarified until we arrive in heaven (1Co 13:12). Basically the doctrine of the Trinity is God is One but with three distinct centers of consciousness. Around this truth a number of errors have been propounded.

The first was the teaching that there are three gods. The Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse present-day Christians of believing this and say that we conceive of God as a body with three heads. That might be true of ancient heresy, but it is not true of classic Trinitarianism. The second heresy taught that God is unipersonal and the other two Persons in the Trinity are simply manifestations of the one God. The third main error denied the equality of the divine Persons and regarded them as being of different rank.

The historic church formulated the Athanasian Creed, which states that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity. What we must see, however, is that no words can fully explain the truth of the Trinity. “The creed is a safety net to keep us from falling into error,” says one preacher, “rather than a verbal net in which to trap the truth.” We use the term “Trinity” expecting not so much that in that one word the truth may be spoken, but that it may not be left unspoken.

Prayer

Father, I see that life often presents me with facts which seem irreconcilable at one stage of knowledge, though better understood at another. Perhaps one day this great mystery of the Trinity may be cleared up. Meanwhile I simply worship and adore. Amen.

Further Study

1Pt 1:1-6; 1Tm 2:5

How did Peter distinguish the members of the Trinity?

What did Paul confirm to Timothy?

How Pure Must I Be?

1 Timothy 5:22

The pristine white brick building was evident from a block away. With the sun’s rays bouncing off the walls, we sensed an air of spotless cleanliness about the Environmental Monitoring Laboratory where our son Doug works as an analytical chemist.

The guide who welcomed us began by explaining the work that went on in that facility. In short, he said it was their job to see that our drinking water is kept pure.

As technology progresses and as the population grows, new sources of pollution present challenges to pure drinking water. For instance, as landfills continue to grow in size and number, the possibility of ground water contamination also increases.

The guide explained how with computers and robotic equipment the chemists and technicians can identify the tiniest potential threat to our water supply and correct it before it becomes a hazard. “We are looking for one part per billion of impurity,” he explained. “If you were to take an acre of sand, which is about 200 feet square, and try to find one impure grain at surface level, that would give you an idea of our task.” He concluded by stating, “There is nothing so precious, so priceless, as clean water.”

We left the laboratory, but I kept thinking of his words, “We are looking for one part per billion of impurity.” Is it really so essential that our drinking water be that pure? If so, what kind of standard must God have for our personal purity? How pure must I be?

“Keep yourself pure,” the Apostle Paul admonished young Timothy (1 Timothy 5:22). How can we live a pure life? It was the Apostle John who wrote the answer to that question. “The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9).

There is nothing so precious, so priceless as a soul cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ!

Joyce Winters, The War Cry