01 Psalm 104_1-9
02 Psalm 104_10-15, 19-23
03 Psalm 104_24-31
When I am spiritually thirsty–not just from one day of dryness, but from a period of chronic dryness–I literally feel in my body the sensations of thirst. Tightness in my throat and stomach. Irritation. Lack of ability to concentrate. Constant fatigue. For me, spiritual thirst feels almost exactly like physical thirst.
Whether you’re as psychosomatic as me or not, I’m sure you’ve said at one time or another in your life, “I feel spiritually dry.” If you haven’t felt that way before, you probably will at some point. Symptoms of spiritual thirst may include the following: Read More…
Branches have secrets. They are capable of a kind of faithfulness that is truly remarkable–a faithfulness God desires and requires of his people. Branches–woody, tasteless, and hard–are capable of squeezing out sweet, juicy, yummy fruit, but the secrets by which they do this may surprise you.
One of the biggest detours Christians take when they read John 15 happens when they mistakenly fixate on Read More…
This is the trunk end of an olive tree. See the spriggy pieces in the foreground in front of the moss? They look like miniature trees–which is essentially what they are. They’re “shoots,” branches that grow up from the root of the original tree. We have them on all our trees, too, and when they show up you just have to cut them off and haul them away because chances are, they aren’t going to produce any fruit. Sometimes they’re even called suckers, because normally all they do is steal resources from the plant without giving anything back. In Hebrew, the word for these unwanted branches is “netzer.” And yes, there is a point to all this.
But first, a short story…
Last winter our avocado tree froze. Eventually, it died. When John, my husband, went out to do something about it he noticed that a netzer had shot up from the tree roots and was passing up the actual tree. The netzer was green and healthy; the original tree was brown and shriveled. Read More…
1 Corinthians 15_16-26_54b-58
In 1 Corinthians 15:19, Paul gets in your face with this statement:
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
In other words, if you think your walk with Christ is useful only to improve or even simply to validate this life you’re living now, you are living the most pathetic kind of life any person could live.
Why? Because “this life” for the believer is all about sacrifice, self-denial, and suffering. If there’s nothing beyond it, no reward, no blessing, no final victory, then what’s the point? What has Christ even really accomplished? If “this life” is all that exists, then, Paul says, you’d be better off–even wiser, really–to invest your time, energy, and resources in something that will make you happy NOW. Read More…
Psalm 113 (ESV)
The point of Psalm 113 is clear: God loves the poor and needy, and he has the power and the love to help them. But in order to really find the gospel in this Psalm we need to dig a bit into what it means to be “poor,” biblically. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as poor. We ate breakfast this morning. We’re wearing decent shoes. The car is full of gas. So we make the mistake of thinking we have no right to come to God empty-handed. We don’t want to be whiners. Yet self-sufficiency is a deadly lie.
How can we hope to be among the blessed ones (Matthew 5:3-12) when we are so very prosperous? “With God all things are possible,” Jesus said (Matthew 19:23-26). God can and graciously does bring us to our knees in a variety of ways so that we will cry out to him and be blessed. There are many kinds of poor… Read More…