On Wings Of Eagles

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Monday, April 20, 2020

God is gracious

Luke 1:63b (ESV)
“His name is John.” And they all wondered.

For many years in the homes of the Dutch (and in some other nationalities), it wasn't necessary to buy a book of names when a baby was on the way. The name of your child was simply plucked from the family tree. The first son was named after his father's father. The first daughter was named after her mother's mother. Names were handed out according to set patterns that honored those who had gone before. Of course, all those recurring names led to some confusion at times too!

There was a similar tradition in Zechariah's day. Everyone thought a son born in old age should be named after the father. But that would merely reaffirm the past. With this child, something radically new had come, and his name came from the Father in heaven. His name would be John, which means, "God is gracious."

God is gracious! Today, in our own lives, this is the message we need to hear. Perhaps you're trying to put your life back together. You know you've disappointed God. You want to move back into a relationship with him. First, though, you want to solve your problems and polish up your reputation. But that's a mistake. God sent out an ambassador whose very name makes clear that God's good will-not your good deeds-is the basis of a relationship with him. Trust God's grace. Discover God's welcome of mercy and love today.

Dear Lord, we can't clean up our lives by ourselves. Thank You that we don't have to. Help us claim the meaning of John's name and discover the power of Your love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The seed of God's Word

Mark 4:26 (ESV)
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.

Jesus often used pictures about farming to describe the kingdom of God. Here the mystery and excitement of farming helps us see something important about the kingdom. Once seeds go into the ground, the farmer has no control over them. It may help to provide water and sunlight, but the farmer must simply wait for the seeds to sprout and grow.

It’s a relief and a thrill to see the first tiny shoots appear. Sure, the farmer expects it—seeds usually grow when the conditions are good. Yet the farmer doesn’t control all the conditions. So when growth happens just as it should, it’s amazing every time. And when the time for harvesting finally comes—when all the conditions have been met regardless of the farmer’s lack of control—that’s another thrill and another relief.

When we sow seeds of the good news of God’s kingdom, we can trust they will grow if the conditions are right. Yet we don’t have control over the conditions. So we have to wait. And what a thrill it is to see the first sprout of faith begin in a child, a friend, or even someone we have just met! Even if we didn’t plant the seed, it’s a thrill to watch it grow.

It’s also another, deeper thrill when we see that a person’s faith in God has grown to the point where they are ready to join in feeding others and spreading the seed of God’s Word too.

Dear Lord, please grow your kingdom. Grow faith and new life in us so that we may bear fruit. And please spread the growth of Your Word where we have ­planted seeds. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Tax or Tithe

Deuteronomy 14:22 (ESV)
 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.

Few people eagerly pay their tax bills. Some fight the government's right to collect them. After all, the reasoning goes, it's our money, so we should decide what to do with it.

Moses had a different point of view. Tithing-giving a tenth of what Israel received from the land-was not a matter of giving the Lord a part of what Israel owned so they could do with the rest as they pleased. All of Israel's income belonged to the Lord, the land's owner. Whatever Israel received was God's gift to them.

The yearly tithe acknowledged this gift and the responsibility of helping people who could not give: non-citizens, the fatherless, widows, and the Levites. This way everyone could share in the Lord's bounty.

Tithing, or giving money to the church for its ministry, is not a tax to be paid to keep your membership. In the Old Testament, gifts for the tabernacle were voluntary (Exodus 35:20-21; 36:6-7), and the same was true for the church in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Yes, you can go to church for free, because God's forgiveness cannot be bought. But the question is, What is God's grace worth to you? If you believe God has provided you with nothing, live accordingly. But if you know that everything you have comes from God's hand, then give as you have received.

Dear Lord, we have received so much from You, help us to give cheerfully in return. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Lesson from a farmer

Isaiah 28:26 (ESV)
For he is rightly instructed;
    his God teaches him.

If you live near or travel through farmland in warm weather, you’ll see farmers in their fields. Depending on the season, they’ll be plowing, planting, fertilizing, harvesting, or possibly haying. Their experience in farming helps them know how and when to do their tasks to raise a good crop.

In Isaiah’s day, God was angry with his people because they did not want to follow his revealed will. They staggered from wine and mocked the Word of the Lord. If trouble came, they thought they could save themselves by making alliances with other nations (Isaiah 28:1-22). God directed them to look to the way of farmers, who knew there was a right way and a wrong way to do their work. There was a right time to plough and a certain way to harvest. Farmers paid attention to the instructions of God, who teaches the right way. By following God’s way, they would enjoy a rich harvest.

Is the world we live in today much different? Many people do not take God into consideration in their personal and business affairs. Books applauding atheism become bestsellers, and people mock God’s Word by insisting that the world would be a better place without the Bible.

Following the truth, integrity, love, and faithfulness of Jesus Christ, however, is the way to full, abundant life. All this comes from the Lord, whose wisdom is supreme.

Dear Lord, open our lives to the work of your Spirit leading us in the way everlasting. Help us to understand Your teaching. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 6, 2020

In the midst of a storm

Mark 6:51 (ESV)
And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded.

Storm winds were raging as Jesus’ disciples fought to keep their boat afloat. Jesus saw their struggle from afar and walked out to them on the wild waves. When they saw him, they were terrified, thinking he was a ghost on the stormy sea.

Jesus could have remained on the shore and commanded the winds to tame down. At the very least, quieting the sea first might have made his walking out there easier. But instead Jesus joined his disciples in the turbulence, took the most difficult route, and then climbed into the rocking boat to be with them. “Don’t be afraid,” he said before calming the storm.

We read in this story, Jesus demonstrates the heart of God that still comforts us today as we battle life’s storms. Jesus sees our struggles, comes near to us, and goes through the storm with us—whether or not he decides to calm or stop it.

Have you felt the presence of Jesus in your storm? Listen closely as he whispers to you, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Dear Lord, thank You that You don’t stand at a distance when we are struggling against the storms of life. Instead, You come before we even call. Please calm our fears as we cling to You. IN the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Are you ready to be washed?

John 13:8 (ESV)
Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

It’s a humbling, maybe even humiliating, thing to have someone wash you. Nurses know the awkwardness as well as the importance of bathing patients who cannot bathe themselves. Sometimes a broken body prevents patients from getting themselves cleaned up.

This is also true in the life of faith. Most of us cherish our independence. We are doers. We are achievers. We resent needing to rely on others for things we think we can do ourselves. Yet the truth is that we are broken because of sin. The Bible teaches that in order to enter into the fullness of life that God intends for us, we need to be washed clean. But we are unable to do that for ourselves.

Peter’s refusal to be washed by Jesus was vehement. It could be translated this way: “You will never ever wash my feet—ever!” Peter thought he was saying the proper thing. It didn’t feel right for Jesus to be acting as a servant to him. How could it be fitting for his Master to descend to such lowliness?

Jesus’ reply to Peter was also vehement. In essence, Jesus said, “If I can’t wash you, you can’t have me.” Peter needed to humble himself. He needed to receive the forgiveness of sin that Jesus was offering.

So do we.

So, give in. Be washed. And receive fullness of life!

Dear Lord, wash us clean of all our sins. Help us receive the fullness of life that you offer. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.