Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”
Picnicking with my French friend in the rolling hills of Alsace, I was surprised to see her completely finish her apple, core and all! I had always heard that apple seeds were poisonous. I have since learned that they do indeed contain “amygdalin” which releases cyanide into the blood stream. But it would take eating 40 cores to reach a fatal dose. Perhaps, the health benefits of eating just one entire apple outweigh any risk.
Today’s verse speaks of the “core” or the inner being of a person. Physical training exercises that strengthen the core are important to good health. Spiritually, we need strength as well. But our source of strength does not have much to do with what we eat or how we exercise. We are strengthened in our spiritual core by the Spirit indwelling the believer. It is out of the inexhaustible riches of His power that He makes us strong. All the spiritual disciplines are important to grow in faith. But in the end, it is His power that gives us the strength to keep on keeping on.
I need to know this for the times I am feeling especially weak in my faith. In a period of apathy or of doubt, I need His Spirit to strengthen and reassure me, there in the secret parts of me that no one sees. When I cry out for His help, He hears and He answers. After experiencing His renewed strength, it would be ludicrous to boast about MY efforts or MY spirituality! I am a clay jar, fragile and weak so that His power is obvious to others!
Thank you Lord, for the daily strength available in You.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:3 “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
This is my kind of matching game! And I can assure you that it would not stay in a game cupboard to be played again another day! I would be most motivated to play it if I could immediately eat the pairs I found. Judging from the time recorded for this player, perhaps that is what happened! But taking that short amount of time to actually eat the chocolate pairs seems about right!
Today’s verse talks about the importance of matching something else: our behavior with our words. Jesus acknowledges that the teachers of the Law sometimes got it right. But what they consistently did not was their day-to-day practice of what they knew was true. Those listening were to be discerning. They were not told to dismiss a message that was true to God’s Word. But they were not to follow their example of legalistic and prideful self-righteousness.
The standard of practicing what is preached is a very high one. And I can relate to Paul who shares his struggle in Romans 7:18. “…I have the desire to do what is good but cannot carry it out.” I will never be able to consistently practice what I preach, hard as I may try. How gracious God is to convict and forgive me! But when I pretend that my behavior always matches my words, then I am also guilty of hypocrisy. I need to humbly see the “mismatch” and be honest with God and authentic with others! People will see my failures but hopefully they will see humility and His forgiveness as well!
Scripture for Today:Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.”
A dusting of this cocoa on a tiramisu is wonderful and tasty. But eating spoonfuls of it directly from the box is not so much. I am not proud of it but growing up, a friend and I decided we would play a trick on her two younger sisters. The package looked like it would deliver what they were expecting, especially with the picture. But you can guess their reaction when trying to swallow the stuff!
There is an invitation in today’s verse to taste and see how good the Lord is. Unlike unsweetened cocoa, He does not disappoint! His words are true and sweet, sweeter even than honey (Psalm 19:10). He is so good to His own, providing refuge and meeting every need! Making the Lord our hiding place gives us shelter from whatever storm surrounds us. When His children fear and obey Him, He pours out blessing. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing! (Ps. 34:10)
I do not need to “taste test” what the world has to offer. Nothing is as sweet and satisfying as His Words, especially the promises and declarations of His love. The empty philosophies of this world promise to be sweet but leave one with a very bitter aftertaste. His Words are faithful and true, never changing and the source of life! When I make His truth my refuge, I am in a good place. He satisfies so completely that I am never in want of anything that is truly good for me. I have tasted and He is good!
Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
It was during our visit to our son’s “Classe de Mer” in France that we and all the students were served freshly caught oysters as part of their dinner. My husband was thrilled but I and most of the children were not! To me it tasted pretty much like ocean water. The oyster is called a “filter feeder” and will filter up to twenty gallons of water a day in the wild. By filtering that water of algae, dirt and nitrogen pollution, they transform its clarity and quality.
In today’s verse we are to filter out what is evil and only allow in what is good. In that way our love for others is sincere. Calling something “love” that is tainted with self-interest is an insincere love, allowing evil to cloud it. Recognizing sincere love can only happen when I filter out what the world defines as love. The love portrayed in novels and films can parade as real but when evil and disobedience to God’s standard are mixed in, it falls short and often leads to hurt and disappointment.
My love for someone is sincere only when it filters out what is evil and impure. This picture of sincere love has little resemblance to what is around me. I need to filter out impatience, selfishness, pride, envy and an unforgiving spirit. For my love to be sincere, I need to cling to faithfulness, speaking truth and showing honor. God’s Word tells me how to view love. God’s Word tells me when love is sincere. Without His Word, I would not be able to discern what is truly good and what sincere love looks like!
Scripture for Today: James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
There is nothing worse than biting into that beautiful red tomato and tasting nothing! A tomato picked too soon will eventually please the eye but not the taste buds. I understand why a tomato is picked too soon. When green they are hardier for transport. But picked prematurely changes their taste to be less than flavorful. A sun ripened tomato picked at just the right moment is so sweet and juicy I can understand how it is categorized as a fruit!
Today’s verse tells us what it takes to be mature in our faith. It is the tests and trials that grow our faith, producing that staying power so important to our maturity. It is often a long process that cannot be rushed. Trying to avoid trouble would only keep us green and hard longer. It is through the hard times that we learn new dependance on the Lord. It is because of responding in faith to those tests that we burst with flavor. The times of crisis work in the believer a maturity and completeness not gained any other way.
I want to be mature. I want to be complete, lacking nothing in my faith. But I sure do not like the method of getting there. Yet I know by experience that it is in the hard times, when I come to the end of my own resources and ingenuity, that I learn trust. I see God come through in the most unexpected ways and my faith is strengthened. That dependance on Him comes from staying put, connected to the vine that is Him. That finished work in me makes me “Son-ripened!