Devotional

Quench the Thirst

 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like the tree planted by the waters…and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.                                                                                                              Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NKJV)

I bought a Gaura lindheimeri plant (aka. Butterfly Bush or Beeblossom). I was delighted that it had two plants within the pot, one with pink flowers, and the other with white.  Before I got them planted into the soil, a record heat wave hit our area. To my dismay, the next day part of the plant was crispy and dry, while the rest of it sat limp and wilted. The soil was dry, though it had received water the previous day.  I plunged the nursery container into a bucket of water, which revived part of the Gaura. Instead of butterflies visiting the airy branching flowering spikes of pink or white flowers, it lost all of its flower buds. It showed the damage done from going thirsty during trying times. It’s in the flower bed now. It took some time, but as it received the water it needed the new growth is once again beautiful.

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Guara lindheimeri – Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay

We can be like the Gaura plant, beautiful until the scorching heat of a trial arrives and it wilts us. We grow more and more anxious. Fear controls us. Our souls are thirsty, needing to plunge into the Word of God for the life- giving refreshment of the Holy Spirit. If we don’t quench the thirst, damage can result within us just as surely as it does for a plant without water.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote of a person being blessed because of his hope and trust in the Lord. “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes;…” (Jeremiah 17:8a)

If my Gaura had its roots in the water instead of trapped in a thin plastic nursery pot, water would have replaced what it was losing to the drying sun. The water it received before the heat wave was not enough to keep it healthy.

Likewise, the time we spent with God last Sunday or even yesterday is not enough to keep us thriving during today’s hot, drying winds. How can we be like that tree planted by the rivers of water?

  • Study the Bible. “…his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…” (Psalm 1:2, 3a; NKJV). Are we spending time daily reading the Bible and thinking about what the Holy Spirit shows us? Are we applying it to our lives?
  • Commit to staying immersed in the Living Water of Jesus. He replenishes us as we stay connected to him. We will remain fruitful for Jesus’ kingdom as others see us go through trials and survive them. We do not need to fear the heat.
  • Confession is on-going. Believers in Jesus Christ are forgiven once at salvation. However, we don’t always obey God. When we sin, we need to confess that to our Heavenly Father and seek His forgiveness.
  • Pray. Jesus Christ spent time praying to His heavenly Father. If Jesus, the Son of God, needed time with the heavenly Father, certainly we do, too.

Dear Lord, Thank you for being the source of Living Water. I confess I try to go through life on my own power and don’t spend time with you every day. Please forgive me. I need you, Jesus. Help me to sink my roots deep into You, and not into the dry dirt of the world. Quench the thirst of my soul. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

For information on watering plants, see my article “Quench the Thirst of Your Plants” on my Gardening page.

Devotional

Am I a Content Daylily?

Come to the Garden series

Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 RSV

I doubled my rose garden from six to twelve rose bushes; still, my longing gaze drifts to more varieties. I chafe to reestablish the large vegetable garden and flower beds I had before the gophers, water restrictions, and drought took out many of my plantings. I dream of overflowing flowerbeds of colorful annuals, perennials, and succulents. But such thoughts are selfish, for my budget currently only allows me to buy a few of my long list of desired purchases. Shouldn’t I appreciate what I have?

My discontentment isn’t limited to things. My adult child isn’t available to get together, my husband may be working on a project that takes priority over something we were going to do together, or someone may interrupt me and disrupt what I was scheduled to accomplish in a given period of time. I complain. I want to do what I desire, God, not be on the phone with the friend who needs to talk for an hour. “It’s too hot to weed.” “I don’t want to clean house.” My attitude is not Christ or others-centered. 

Oh, how I grieve the Lord with my discontentment.  I need to remember that my attitude is not reflecting the will of the Lord God.

I need to be more like the daylilies. They bloom where they are without demanding that conditions be “just right.” Daylilies are not picky about soil, or complaining they won’t bloom unless they get their full allotment of water.

Daylily at San Diego Botanical Gardens, 2019. Photo by Kathryn Hughes

Do you ever struggle with discontentment like me? Are you like a rose that gets leaf diseases if conditions are difficult? Or possibly a fern that wilts when the heat comes? Oh, that we would be like the contented daylily, blooming readily in different circumstances, satisfied with things as they are.

 When we desire more and fail to appreciate what we have, it shows an unthankful heart and a lack of trust in God. Scripture says “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NKJV) Do we focus on our fears and doubts and question what He says? Or are we content to let our Creator bring both the sun and the rain, knowing He cares for us?

The Lord said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can simply repeat it, or we can grow deep into knowing who God is and that He is with us. He doesn’t forget us. Even when life seems to be crashing down around us, we can know with certainty that the Lord is with us. He knows every detail. Jesus experienced the trials and difficulties of being human. He has compassion on us. The writer of Hebrews linked God’s promise to contentment. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul must have struggled with discontentment, for he said, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” How did he learn? Paul continued with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul took his wants and his needs to Jesus. Like Paul, we can learn to be content. Let’s give our discontentment to Jesus, trusting He loves us and knows what is best for us. Christ will help us

Lord, please forgive my grumbling and my discontented attitude. Teach me to be content no matter what my circumstances. Help me to remember that You are my helper and I don’t have to struggle or fear. You will never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Devotionals post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

For information on Daylily plants, see my article on Daylily Care on my Gardening page.

Devotional

Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection – Part 4 of 4

A special weekly series for the Easter Season

Reflections on the hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today

And the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 NASB20

Charles Wesley composed more than 6,500 hymns. Some of the best known among Wesley’s hymns are “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”; “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”; “Rejoice, the Lord is King”; “Jesu, Lover of My Soul” and the hymn of this week’s devotional focus, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” (also called “Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today”). The lyrics below were published in 1739; Music from Lyra Davidica, London, 1708 public domain. Six verses are shown here, so some may be new to you as verses five and six are new to me. Emphasis in bold is mine.

Verse 1.	

Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Verse 2.	

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Verse 3.
	
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
Verse 4.	

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Verse 5.
	
Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

Verse 6.	

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!
Easter Image by fedden from Pixabay
Christ the Lord is risen! I love that the angel showed the empty tomb to the women, people who at the time were around the bottom of the social strata. They weren’t allowed past the Court of Women in the Temple. The angel gave them proof that the seemly impossible had happened. Death no longer had its sting. Their Savior was risen, just as He said. Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. 

Jesus gave us reason to raise our joys and triumphs high. He died to save our souls. Our redemption from sin is done.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Foll’wing our exalted Head, Because Christ Jesus is alive, we can follow Him every day. Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, We can know Him by studying the Scriptures and by having a personal relationship with Him. His power is proven not only by His resurrection, but by the change He brings in our lives as we trust and rely on Him and become more like Him.  

Heaven is open to those who believe in Christ Jesus. When death comes, or if Jesus returns again before we die, His followers will rise to everlasting life.

Alleluia!

Let’s spend time thanking Jesus for what He has done. He fought the fight, the battle won. Christ the Lord is risen!  Let’s praise Him.

Lord, thank you that You gave me a reason to have joy! Thank you for Your redeeming work on the cross for me. I’m sorry it took the cross and Your death to rescue me. Thank you for allowing me to follow You. I praise You, for You alone are worthy of all praise. Amen.

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Dear Reader, thank you for following along with this four-part special Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection. If you missed any of it, or would like to review it, they are posted under devotionals on the following dates: 3/18/21 Part 1- At the Cross;  3/25/21 Part 2 – The Old Rugged Cross ; 4/1/21 Part 3 – Christ Arose; 4/8/21 Part 4 – Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Devotionals post every other Thursday (Special series may occur more frequently, such as the Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.) They are archived under Devotionals.

Devotional

What is LOVE?

Love… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13: 7, 8a NKJV)

What do you think of when you think of the word L-O-V-E? Is it hearts, flowers, and chocolate? Valentine’s Day hype? Or is it something deeper? Is love romance and sex? Is love the deep care for another? What about love for our family and friends?

If love, as we know it, is so enduring and never fails, why do so many relationships fall apart?

Could it be that we need to follow a better definition of love?

Let’s take a look at the Bible’s description of love using a variety of Bible versions of I Corinthians 13.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.  (NLT) The New King James Version replaces “Love is patient” with Love suffers long. Certainly some of our patience with others can require some longsuffering. It’s easy to lash out or become irritated rather than to show kindness and patience. I’ve found that I have to swallow pride to go to my husband of 36 years and tell him I was wrong in a spat. An ‘I told you so’ does additional  harm if I’m boasting I was right. Oh, that I would love like God does! I’m so glad my Heavenly Father is patient and kind with me.

5 [Love] is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (RSV)  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (NIV) Ouch. This part of the definition of love is one I need to practice more. How many times have I been irritated when the dishes have been left on the table, or angry when I thought my ‘rights’ were being ignored or I thought something would have been better if it was done my way. Didn’t I just tell my husband of someone’s wrong against me? That does not honor the person, and it certainly does not honor my Lord God.

6 [Love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. (NKJV) It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.(RSV) A prayer partner once told me that while she wanted me to pray for her prodigal child, the specifics were best left to the Lord and not told. She didn’t want the actions of her daughter to become the focal point, or a matter of gossip disguised as a prayer request. What was important was the young woman’s return to Christ.

7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV)

8 Love never fails.(NKJV)   Love never ends. (RSV) Did you note the words “never” and “always” in these verses? True love is consistent. The Lord’s love for us is the best example. He never gives up on loving us, no matter what we do or don’t do. His love endures whatever the circumstances.  There is always hope in Jesus Christ and His forgiveness. Jesus persevered even to the cross to show God’s love for us.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (NLT)

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

How can we show true, biblical love to others around us? Is our love the love with which God loves us? Let’s focus on showing true love to our spouse or romantic love interest, to our parents, siblings, children, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to flow through us with LOVE.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please teach me to love others as You love me. Help me to look past another’s foibles and to see them as You do. Amen.

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Key to Bible Versions:

NKJV- New King James Version; NLT –  New Living Translation; NIV –  New International Version; RSV – Revised Standard Version

Love Block photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Devotional

What Is My Purpose?

by Kathryn J. Hughes

May he grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4

New Year’s Day has come and gone. Did you make resolutions? I tend to spend some time in reflection as I change yearly calendars. How did I do on my goals? What should I try to accomplish this new year? How have I grown in my faith? What areas have I failed in? What are my goals for the next year and several years?

I’m late in going through this reflection this year. I’m reviewing a book on organization that I read many years ago. It talks about starting first with a mission statement. A mission statement helps to guide the goals. Another way of stating my mission is to ask, what is my purpose in life? Certainly being a wife, an employee, a friend, and a mother to adult children are all part of my life. But what is my mission or purpose as a follower of Jesus Christ?

Jesus knew His purpose. In telling His disciples of His coming crucifixion, He said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this Hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” John 12:27. He knew His purpose was to die to pay the penalty of sin so mankind could be rescued from eternal punishment. He knew He would come back to life, showing His power over sin and death.

Jesus gave His disciples final instructions regarding their purpose. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

It follows that telling others of Jesus and teaching them to observe His commands is part of my objective. Hmmm. I need to be more faithful in the telling and the teaching.

I also need to be better at knowing and observing Jesus’ commands.One of Jesus’ commands were to abide in Him even as He did in the Father. Keeping His commandments was key in abiding. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” If I’m abiding in Jesus, then my desires should reflect His desires. Another commandment was to love one another as Jesus loved us. (John 15).

Later followers of Christ were encouraged to continue in the Lord. When he (Barnabas) came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. (Acts 11:23) ‘Purpose of heart’ means it’s a firm, conscious decision. It’s said that people often do not choose to wander from God, but that it is a slow eroding away of commitment that leaves them open to the enemy’s attacks and to choices that do not honor God. Part of my mission, then, is to stay on target with God and not allow a foothold for the enemy. I’m to continue in the Lord, and not give up when discouraged, nor become ‘too busy’ to spend time with God.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

So what is my purpose? My mission is to follow Jesus, obey His commands, and to tell others how they can know Jesus and observe His teachings, too. My mission is to abide in Jesus Christ and His love. I am to love others as Jesus loves me.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith… I Timothy 1:5

What is your mission statement? Are your goals on target with your purpose?

Lord, I want to live according to the purpose You have for me. Please help me be faithful to You. Show me how to set my goals to match my purpose, and then to follow through. Amen.