For as long as Morgan and I have been married, there has been a joke that you should never give us a plant of any kind. We promise, that if a plant comes into our house it will wither and die! I think the record for a plant’s life span in our house was a large peace plant that was given to me when my mother passed away. Morgan was so stressed out thinking that I would feel like I was losing my mom again if the plant died. I think it might have lasted 4 months! It was remarkable!
Plants and flowers just die when they come into our house. Its a guarantee. And the number one reason is because they don’t get enough water. My kids have picked up the tradition of killing plants now too. Whenever they bring home a flower or plant from Earth Day or for Mother’s Day, we will make a good effort. We find a place near a window for sunlight, and we encourage them that they need to give it a little water every day. But sooner or later they will forget a day and then two days and then three days. And the next time they notice the plant its dry and withered.
The plants need sunlight and water. And because it depends on us, they don’t get water. But we are the same way; Psalm 1 describes someone who loves God as one who is planted by streams of water.
 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
If you want a tree or bush or plant to prosper, to bear fruit, you must put it near a strong, sustaining water source. This is an image that God uses to describe those who (v. 2) delight in the law of the Lord and who meditate on it day and night.
All of us have something, or multiple somethings, that we delight in. Right now, it is probably what are missing or have missed the most during the quarantine. March Madness, the first day of baseball, having dinner with friends, seeing your family. We delight in things. God made us that way! Often, they are not bad things. They are good things!
But Psalm 1:2 says we are to delight in the law of the Lord, and we are to meditate on it day and night. Now, I’ll be honest, sometimes reading the Bible feels like a chore. I do not always delight in it. It is not always more precious than gold and silver to me.
But it should be. I want it to be! I know that my love for God is not going to grow apart from my love of the Word of God. The bible teaches me who God is. It shows me the depth of His love for me. It gives me pictures of His majesty and wonder and power.
So how do we delight in the law of God? How do we start and persevere on that path?
- First, we ask God to give us delight for His Word. Stop depending on your own strength.
- Second, we start reading. If you don’t read it, you will never delight in it.
- Third, as you read, find one thing to meditate on throughout the day.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to an online panel discussion with a group of pastors. One of the pastors, John Piper, was giving advice to younger pastors on how to love the Word of God; how to read the Word of God for personal growth rather than just teaching others. His advice was so simple. He said, whether you read a chapter a day or four chapters a day, pick one thing every day and meditate on it. Continually throughout the day, put that one verse, that one thought, that one truth from what you read into your mind over and over and over. That’s what Psalm 1:2 means when it says the Psalmists meditates on it day and night.
So that’s my challenge to you today. Plant yourself next to the water of life. Pick up the Bible and read it. If you don’t know where to start, start in the Gospel of John and read one chapter per day. And each day, when you read, how much ever you read, find one verse, one thought, one truth to hold onto throughout the day.
That is how the Bible becomes a delight to us! That is how it helps us to prosper so that we will bear fruit and so our leaves will not wither.
I am praying that the Word of God would give you strength this week, that it would encourage you, and that it would give you hope as you meditate on the wonders of God!
Well it’s almost May and we have been doing this quarantine thing since the middle of March. I am sure all of us are wanting this pandemic to be done and are tired of waiting on our life to return to some semblance of normal.
One of my favorite characters in all of scripture is Joseph. And when we look at his life, how he faced difficult times, wanting and waiting for them to be over, I think we can learn some keys on how to wait well or to win at waiting, even in the difficult circumstance we find ourselves in with COVID-19.
Some background on Joseph, Jacob his father had twelve sons, but Joseph was the favorite and they knew it. His dad gave him a robe of many colors. He was also a dreamer and had dreams of his brothers and mom and dad bowing down to him. The robe and the dreams made the brothers very jealous. One day Joseph was coming to check on his brothers as they tended the flocks and they decided to get rid of him. Eventually sold him to Midianite traders who sold him as a slave to Potiphar in Egypt.
I can imagine Joseph often wondered how he went from a favorite son to a slave. I am sure the dreamer anxiously waited for this nightmare to be over. But he would face more challenges and I want us to watch how he faced them and learn how he won while waiting…how he waited well. I think three things stick out:
- Joseph grasped that he was never alone: Through all the challenges, wishing and waiting for them to be over, we see that Joseph was never alone in the crisis…God was with Him, caring, encouraging, and strengthening him for whatever he might face. In Genesis 39:2 and 39:21 we read “But the Lord was with Joseph”. While his brothers abandoned him and he was apart from his mom and dad, he was never alone. God was with him, helping him endure and over come the challenges. Well the same God that was with Joseph in his time of trouble is with us too as we face our current challenge…caring, protecting, and strengthening us as we face these uncertain times…we are not alone or abandoned and can cling to Him
- Joseph had a good attitude: Sold to Potiphar as a slave, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and imprisoned, forgotten by the king’s cupbearer in prison after he helped interpret his dream…not once do we read him complaining or cursing God. Now I am sure he questioned God about his life that seemed to be spinning out of control but we never read that He doubted God’s plan or purpose, even in difficulty. While Joseph couldn’t control the situation he found himself in, He could control how he responded. And as we see in Genesis 39-41, Joseph seemed to face the painful situations in life with a positive attitude. He seemed to make the most of the challenges, choosing to trust God and keep the faith. What a great challenge for us as well, as we face the trials of COVID-19, that we would respond graciously with a positive attitude trusting God is with us and is working for our good.
- Joseph gave it his all: This amazes me, every time I read his story. Whether it was as a slave in Potiphar’s house, in prison, or serving Pharaoh…Joseph acted faithfully. No matter where he was, he looked for ways to serve and worked faithfully honoring God. He didn’t give up, but got up and got to it, working for and serving others. He made the most of the situation and did what he could to help and serve others. We can do the same, even while we are under quarantine. We can make phone calls or send texts, or send notes of encouragement. We can make cookies to share, mow a neighbors grass, etc. Joseph faced some restrictions, but it never stopped him from being faithful in serving and helping others.
So no matter what is next as we face this pandemic, remember God is with us and choose to face each day with a good attitude full of patience and grace. Give it you all, looking for ways to honor God as we serve and help others around us.
Let's wait well!
If I had a dollar for every time these past 6 weeks that I heard the phrase, “In light of Covid-19” or “due to Covid-19”, or “because of Covid-19”; I would be able to pay cash for my daughter to attend college. 😊
This pronouncement is often followed by significant changes to the world that we have grown accustomed and perhaps complacent to and has been challenging our very definition of “normal.” In light of Covid-19, churches can only gather virtually, schools are closed, many businesses are closed, graduations are virtual or postponed, and we now must wear facemasks everywhere we go. Also, some less serious ones such, as in light of Covid-19, I will mow the lawn every day, I will have that 3rd bowl of Turkey Hill Double Dunker ice cream (which I love, but not agape love), and I will immediately head to the toilet paper aisle when I enter the grocery store. This uncertainty and change can lead to anger, anxiety, fear, and even depression.
So, what should we do in light of Covid-19? We should follow what the Psalmist encourages in Psalm 119:15 “ I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Ephesians 5:2 is a verse that I would like to challenge us to meditate on in light of Covid-19.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Wow do I love this verse, which is filled with so much truth in just a short phrase!
- WALK- the Greek word is peripateo. It means to be occupied with or make use of the opportunity. Walk is an active word. We should not let Covid-19 cause us to be paralyzed in fear or to be passive. So, the question is what should we be active or occupied or walking in?
- LOVE- the Greek word is agape. Agape love is not the love I have for Double dunker ice cream or what the Beatles meant when they sang all you need is love. Agape love has been described as the highest love of God for man. One commentator describes agape love as: “requiring faithfulness, commitment and sacrifice without expecting anything in return”. Wow, am I living that way with my family and community?
- SACRFICIAL- The next phrase in this verse explains to us what true love looks like and that is sacrificial as Christ demonstrated for us. In light of Covid-19 we are going to make sacrifices: some minor and some heartbreakingly sad. However, that is the love that Christ modeled for us.
- OUTCOME- Walk in love is a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God or as Romans 12:2 would describe it as our living sacrifices as our spiritual act of worship
- If you are reading this and don’t yet have a relationship with Christ described in Ephesians 5:2; reach out to our church so that we can share the good news and love of Christ. We would love to talk to you.
- If you do have a relationship with Christ; I challenge myself and you that every time you hear the phrase in light of Covid-19…. That you meditate on Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love!
Good morning! I'm praying for you today and this week, that we would be aware of God and his goodness in new ways. If you didn't get a chance to hear yesterday's sermon, it might be helpful to listen to it here before reading our devotion this morning.
In the passage that follows our text from yesterday, the Samaritan woman responds to Jesus' offer of Living Water. Take a few minutes to read what she does and what she says:
John 4:28–30, 39-42 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people,  “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”  They went out of the town and were coming to him.  Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
I love the Samaritan woman's testimony in 4:29! “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did." Then restated in an even shorter and sweeter way in 4:39, "He told me all that I ever did." Apparently that was enough for other Samaritans to believe. Can you believe that? The world's shortest evangelistic sermon that caused a village-wide revival. Come see a man who told me all that I ever did.
Not to shortchange her testimony, but how could that really be the only cause for people to turn to Christ as the Living Water? What was so amazing about Jesus' knowledge of this woman which would persuade people he was the Messiah? Presumably, the whole village already knew she had five husbands and the man she was with currently wasn't her husband. That was public knowledge and it was the reason she was being publicly scorned to the point of having to get water midday by herself. Could Jesus have told her more private details that could have convinced not only her but others that he was the Messiah? Perhaps, but the text doesn't tell us explicitly.
There is a detail in the text that makes me think there could be something else. ...and he stayed there two days. Jesus spent two days in Samaria. Eventually, the village people say they've had a similar experience, "We have heard for ourselves." In other words, he has revealed his knowledge in the same way for us personally and now we believe, too.
Jesus wasn't just a prophet or palm reader telling people their past for a few bucks then moving on to the next town. Here was a man who was omniscient in the darkest secrets of everyone and it was ok. For the woman at the well, he had knowledge and he still talked to me, asked me to serve him, and cared for me. For the people of Samaria, he shared with us and didn't pack up and go, but stayed with us for two days. In short, he knows me and he loves me still.
May you, today, be aware of your past, your mistakes, and your failures. May you be aware that He is aware. Yet, that awareness isn't to cause guilt, shame or embarrassment, but instead to help you "comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:18-19)."
I think most of us really struggle admitting weakness. We dislike being in need and for the circumstances of our life to be out of our control. We despair in being helpless. But that's where most of us find ourselves right now. We are living in the midst of circumstances that are beyond our control. Few of us know what tomorrow will be like; let alone next week. We are helpless to answer the questions of our children.
Each and every one of us are facing unique challenges and trials that are in stark contrast to what our lives were like a few weeks ago.
As you face the storms in your life this week, I want us to pause and consider the short account of when Jesus' disciples faced a real, physical storm as they sought to faithfully follow Him. As you read it, notice the weakness and the fragility of the disciple's faith.
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
I love how the truth of Scripture captures the weakness and fragility of the disciple's faith! They are so much like each of us! And yet God could not be more different!
Let's look at a few simple truths about Jesus from this passage that can encourage us:
1. Jesus knew a storm was coming. Jesus is God! He knew that a storm was coming and that a storm was going to hit them while they were out on the water. And yet, he led His disciples out into the water that night.
2. Jesus was not afraid of the storm. Even knowing that the storm was coming, Jesus was asleep! Even when the storm hits the boat, Jesus is still asleep! And while the disciples felt like they were perishing (v. 38); he was not afraid because He knew He was in complete control.
3. Jesus had power over the storm. God spoke creation into existence in Genesis 1, Here, Jesus speaks "Peace! Be still" and the winds ceased! What powerful words those are!
Today, you may feel like you are perishing! One minute you may be putting one foot in front of the other and the next you may be just completely overwhelmed unsure of what to do.
This week, as you go through the emotional, physical, and spiritual ups and downs; remember these very simple, but foundational truths about our current circumstances.
1. Jesus knew this was coming. He was not surprised by this pandemic. He is not scrambling trying to figure out how to respond. He knows exactly how this is all going to end.
2. Jesus is not afraid of this pandemic. God is using this pandemic to bring our lives to a screeching halt so that every one of us can draw near to Him. In the midst of the darkness and the storm, He is a beacon of light and hope calling people to trust Him.
3. Jesus has power over this crisis. Scripture reminds us over and over that God is our refuge and our rock. He is our shield! And He is an ever-present help in trouble. The Creator of the universe who spoke creation into existence, is speaking those same words to us today, "Peace! Be still"
The idea of being still is one of letting go. It is one of relaxing. Of ceasing. Most of us face the trials in our lives by trying harder and doing more. And yet the most important thing we can do is be still and know that He is God!
This week, know that the staff at Mount Calvary is here for you. We want to encourage you, pray with you, and to walk alongside you!