Scripture for Today: Hosea 6:4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.”
Is there anything prettier than dew kissing the fragile petals of an iris? That moisture on the leaves and petals not only looks pretty but is important to counteracting the heat later in the day. I love cutting them and bringing them into the house! But of course, I do not bring them inside if they are still wet with dew. Handling any plant when wet is never a good idea as this is when they are most fragile. Better to leave them undisturbed while they soak up that moisture.
Today’s verse is addressed to two tribes of Israel. They knew to make sacrifices and burnt offerings but they did not show mercy to others nor did they acknowledge God. It was just routine and tradition. Their love for the Lord was as transient as morning dew or morning mist which quickly disappears. This verse describes the Israelite’s unfaithfulness to God just as the entire book does using the example of a wayward wife.
I can identify with a love that disappears like morning dew. In the morning when I read His Word and talk with Him, I can be satisfied with His unfailing love (Psalm 90:14). But as I go throughout my day, that closeness can seem to evaporate in the distractions of a busy day. And sometimes it is easy to look at my time with the Lord as an obligation to be crossed off a list. But He is not interested in empty ritual but in meaningful relationship. Thankfully, despite how fickle I am, He continues to tap my shoulder with His love. He reminds me He is there.
Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your love all day.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 85:10 “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
Something like the chocolate kiss was first produced by Henry Oscar Wilbur in 1894 and called the “Wilbur Bud.” But it was Milton Hershey who made this chocolate drop into a sweet kiss thirteen years later. Hershey was a master at marketing and packaging the kiss. But perhaps its amazing success and longevity is due in part to its name, trademarked in 2000. There is debate on how it became known as a “kiss.” Perhaps it came from the kissing sound made from the nozzle dispensing the chocolate on to the conveyor belt.
Today’s verse brings righteousness and peace together in a kiss. Righteousness and peace are often mentioned together in Scripture. Peace is in fact the result or fruit of righteousness (Isaiah 32:17). The Kingdom of God is characterized by righteousness and peace (Romans 14:17). And peace, as well as faith and love, belong to those who pursue righteousness (II Tim. 2:22). Righteousness or right standing with God is essential to having peace with God and in turn with others. He is the Source and our only hope of true lasting peace.
There is no peace in my heart when I am ignoring the Source or actively rebelling against what He wants. But when I do pay attention to His commands, I feel His peace flood my heart like a river (Isaiah 48:18). Yes, righteousness and peace are not only kissing but locked together in a firm embrace. I cannot have one without the other, try as I might. But His peace is worth pursuing by staying in right relationship with Him. And one day, sin and ugliness will no longer interrupt this peace!
Scripture for Today: Song of Songs 8:6 “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”
This national flower of Zimbabwe looks just like a tongue of fire and is widespread in tropical and southern Africa. It thrives in sparse woodlands, sand dunes and grasslands. It rambles and climbs all over neighboring plants using those tendrils at the end of its leaves. The Flame Lily is also called the Fire Lily and it can climb to a height of three meters. It can be fatal if eaten and to even touch it can result in skin irritation.
Today’s verse is part of a poetic and image-laden passage describing love. It is as strong as death and can evoke a jealousy as fierce as the grave. Being sealed with this kind of love over the heart and arm sets one apart as beloved with a strong flame of emotion. This is an image of the love of the Lord, poured in our hearts by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5). This is the same Spirit who appeared as tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3). And we are sealed with His Spirit when we place our faith in Jesus (Eph. 1:13). In love, He set His seal of ownership on us (II Cor. 1:22)!
How incredible to be sealed and marked as His with such an ardent love! That flame of love is so strong that many waters cannot quench it (verse 7). His love for me is so fierce that nothing in all creation can separate me from it (Rom. 8:38-39)! Our little puny human loves cannot even compare. “What wondrous love is this?”
Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:11 “…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
My welcome mat is looking a bit sad. The welcome seems worn out with time although it is not that old. There is an old truism written by Benjamin Franklin and found in his Poor Richard’s Almanack. It says that fish and visitors stink after three days! If that is true I have stunk plenty of times. The idea is that after three days, a fish left out will smell and the welcome of a visitor may wear out.
Today’s verse is about crossing over the threshold from an earthly life into the eternal kingdom of God. I am not so sure there is a mat needed to mark that entrance! However, there will be a “rich welcome” for those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus. And there is no other entrance except through Him (John 14:6). A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed. Each arrival will be a celebrated home-coming and marked with a warm welcome. Perhaps the believer will experience the same kind of welcome as the Prodigal Son. When he returned to his Father’s house, his Father ran out to greet him. He welcomes him with the best robe, a ring and sandals. And there is a feast and celebration all done to welcome him!
I wonder what is done to welcome believers into that eternal kingdom. No way do we slip in unnoticed. I imagine one’s “rich welcome” means being greeted by family and friends who arrived before us. But the richest welcome of all would be to be greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior! And this welcome will never wear out!
Thank you Lord, for the rich welcome in my future!
Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
This is the only kind of cow I would want to see on the street! But recently, the residents of Pico Rivera, California were surprised to see 41 escaped cows running wild in their neighborhoods! A gate at the local slaughterhouse was left open and the cows made a run for it! There was understandably some property damage and injuries in the chaos, but eventually most were corralled and returned to captivity and their unhappy fate.
Today’s verse talks about a different kind of captivity. It is one that captivates our thinking. Paul warns that we can be deceived by fine-sounding arguments (verse 4). As believers, we have freedom in Christ. His cross has disarmed every legalistic power and authority coming from human rules (verse 15). Because we no longer belong to the world we are no longer captive to rules such as, “Do not handle. Do not touch. Do not taste” (verse 21). The god of this world uses the pride in following such rules to keep us from true holiness.
How thankful I am not to be captive to a set of rules or a list of do’s and dont’s! Because of the cross, Christ has broken the power of sin in my life! Following His way is not a matter of rules, but of a changed heart that seeks to please Him. He is not impressed with my outward superficial show of religiosity. Instead, He wants all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am free to follow Him and experience a fulness to my life, found only in Christ (verse 10)!