Friday, January 28, 2011

Hack in the Beanstalk (aka The Wheat and the Tares)

The farmhands asked, “Should we weed out the thistles?” He said, “No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too.” Matthew 13:28b-29 (The Message)

One summer, I discovered weed vines mixed in with my green beans. We had covered our rows to protect the plants from pests, so the vines were in full force by the time the cover was removed.

I sighed and started to pull at the creepers, gingerly attempting to untangle their strangle hold on the beans. The longer I worked, weeding them out took precedence over caring for the plants. My reasoning was simple: they would choke, limiting production anyway; why not just yank the vines and let the beans recover?

Determinedly I labored, confident that all would be well—until I got to the end of the row and looked back at the swath of destruction that had been the beans. I swallowed. The plants lay in a long, tattered, beaten-down mess. I had planted, watered, covered, and then destroyed them. Poor things; maybe they would spring back soon.

But they didn’t—not really, anyway. Some produced fruit, but not nearly as much as they should have. The whole event made me think about people. How many times had I damaged others in my impatience for them to throw off the world’s entanglements, and to grow and produce fruit? So simple!

Thank God that He has a different gardening method. He deals with us gently, knowing our weak (beanstalk) frame. His wisdom is pure, peaceable, and gentle; full of mercy and good fruits. How great is that harvest!

Father, You have planted, watered, and nurtured us. Help us to be gentle with others who are in the growing process, too.

© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cain Killed Abel - Right?

Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? Genesis 4:6 (ESV)

I always have a hard time remembering who did what in this Bible story. Did Cain kill Abel or vice-versa? The mnemonic “Killer Cain killed Abel, and Able Abel was able to please God” helps sometimes. In a recent reading of the story, I discovered why I mix them up.

Confusion starts with the question of God’s favoring Abel’s offering over and above that of Cain’s. Wasn’t the Lord being unfair? The answer is “no” because God was looking forward to the day of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Abel’s act symbolized the story of mankind. Cain’s did not.

But even though the Lord’s advice goes to Cain, Abel himself was not always a perfect being. The Bible story focuses only on one instance. This advice could have been given to Abel at another time for another reason. We all sin and fall short. The problem is an assumption that this one story gives an all-encompassing judgment towards Cain.

Logically, in another time, for another reason, it could have been Abel who killed Cain. That’s why it doesn’t really matter if I confuse the names. Sin crouches at everyone’s door, every minute of every day. Bottom line, there is only one way to do well – confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. Submitting to His will and His lordship is the way to rule over sin.

Prayer: Gracious Father, Keep us from reacting to our own emotions of anger. Keep warning us to come to You and let You triumph over the sin crouching at our door. Amen.

© V. Colclasure 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This Little Light of Mine I'm Gonna Let It Shine

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying ‘I am the Light of the World. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ (John 8:12 NKJV)

During the Christmas season, my neighborhood’s homes were decorated elaborately from roof top, outlining the house and windows, to the yards. The shrubberies were totally covered with lights. Trees, snowmen and lighted reindeer stood brightly in their front yards. For anyone driving past these homes, it was not night.

The lights are out. It is dark now.

Recently, I read an article about Marine Colonel John Glenn. In 1962, he orbited the earth three times in less than five hours. Intricate electronic equipment at a Tracking Station in San Diego monitored his flight and even showed his heart beat with blips on our television screens.

As the space capsule spun hundreds of miles above Perth, Australia, the people of that city turned on their lights. Col. Glenn’s voice reported from space, “I can see the lights of Perth. Thank everyone for turning on the lights.”

Do our daily lives still reveal Jesus is the Light of our world? Would He look down and say, “Thank you, your light of love for Me shines all year long?” Or is it dark now? Jesus said,“You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”(Matt.5:14, 16)

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, You are the reason we celebrate. I pray our Christmas lights will spark in someone’s heart that You are Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.©2011 Lois Gosley

Friday, January 7, 2011

In the Bag

"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2 (NAS)

Shortly after my husband and I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, I took a job in a gift shop in the historic Indigo Market. The shop had two levels; the office and telephone were on the second.

On my first day working solo, shortly after opening, a young man came in and quickly walked to the counter where I was stood. He stared in my face as he shoved his hand, hidden in a brown bag across the counter. I knew this was a robbery. There had been several in the area recently.

Silently, I called out to Jesus. Immediately the phone upstairs began ringing. Without thinking I bolted upstairs, yelling behind me, "I'll be right back!" My boss was checking on me.

"Is everything okay?" she said when I answered. I quickly relayed the situation to her while the fellow stood waiting downstairs. She hung up and dialed the owner of the jewelry shop next door, a large burly man, who kept a gun behind the counter. It seemed only seconds before he was there, escorting the would-be robber out the door to meet the police.

Standing in the shop with shaking knees, it was then that I realized I had not been working alone at all. I thanked God for sending help just in the nick of time!

Dear Lord, thank You that we never have to feel alone again. You are always watching over us and hear our every prayer. You know what our day will hold before we open our eyes each morning. What a comfort to know that You are with us. Amen.

(c) Bonnie M. Evans

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gloriously Forever After

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
John 1:1, 14a (KJV)

Once upon a time, long before time, and long before angels, the Father had a plan. Every detail was calculated—simple in concept, profound in magnitude. His Son willingly executed it, and the Spirit bears witness to the plan’s recipients.

He planned us. Not to interfere with our lives or to force our wills to fit His own, but He knew us; knew the choices that we would make, the thoughts we would think. He even knew the number of hairs that would be on our heads, the number of tears we would cry, and every joy and pain that would enter our lives. He knew these things before the world began, and created a provision so astounding that it will take eternity to reveal the overwhelming depth of His love, mercy, and grace.

Our lives are in the mind of the Uncreated One, Elohim, the Great I AM, the One Who is from Everlasting to Everlasting. And He loves us. So frail, so weak—we display the power of His plan. He has given us a choice to become the Bride of Christ, a gift from the Almighty Father to His Son in a union sealed by His Holy Spirit. All because the Word became flesh—one of us. He let us see who He is. And we can be His Bride! Think of it!

Father, thank You for Your plan of redemption and for the price paid to redeem us. Adorn us with righteousness as we wait in breathless anticipation of meeting Your Son—our Bridegroom—face to face, and living gloriously forever after.

© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller