Morning Devotional

 

Spiritual Fruit Trees

[Read Galatians 5:1–6:18]

4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 6 Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. 7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

[Galatians 6:4-10]

Some people are just destined to leave things better off than they found them. Take, for instance, John Chapman—the real-life orchardist who inspired the Johnny Appleseed legend. Chapman spent forty years of his life traveling across western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana sowing apple seeds. Undoubtedly, many people benefited from the fruits of his labor.

Paul, too, spent much of his adult life sowing seeds. In this reading, he teaches the Galatians about sowing and reaping. He also teaches them how to distinguish between fruit produced by evil and fruit produced by the Holy Spirit. The difference, not surprisingly, is tremendous. As you read, note that all believers are seed-planters, tree-growers, and fruit-pickers. How’s your spiritual fruit?

Most people know the eternal consequences of living a life of sin. But we may not be aware of the immediate consequences of our sins. For instance, when we lie or bend the truth, we do not consider how our credibility will be damaged when the truth eventually gets out. A credibility problem is only the beginning of other problems that may result, such as losing others’ trust and friendship, losing a job, or damaging family relationships. All of these consequences could be one kind of immoral “crop.” Just think about the negative results of other sinful behaviors. They are overwhelming. By contrast, “those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8). When we do this, we will not only reap the benefits of eternal life, but we will also give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to produce good fruit in us (5:22-23).

What kind of seeds are you sowing in your life? Are you sowing to please your own desires? Or are you sowing to please God? If you are planting a selfish crop, try planting one that pleases God. Then have the patience to see how much more bountiful that crop will be in comparison to your own.

Evening Prayer

GOD’S GIFTS TO YOU

[2 Timothy 1:6-7, 13-14]

In Jesus’ Name, I Pray God’s Will for You Tonight

I pray that you will appreciate the many gifts God has given you, and that you may claim, own and nurture these gifts. May you use these gifts mightily, remembering that God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. May you allow God’s glory to shine through your gifts and talents. I pray that you will always remember to guard the good deposit God has entrusted to you – may you nurture it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Streams in The Desert

Ordering the Stops

[Ps 40:1] I relied completely on the Lord, and he turned toward me and heard my cry for help.

Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people—when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment—hard for him to “brighten the corner” where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops also.” It is a sad mistake for men to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves.

~ Sunday School Times ~

When we learn to wait for our Lord’s lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead—this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.

~ S. D. Gordon ~

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away. It is the grandest life “having done all, to stand.”

~ J. R. Miller ~

Evening Devotional

Isn’t that the way it always is? One minute you’re UP and the next minute you’re DOWN. Why was Jesus so immediately thrown into something scary and confusing, so difficult and tricky, after his baptism?

Perhaps what this biblical snapshot tells us is that being UP is critical to helping us navigate the places we must go when we “come back down.” When we are in the UP places we are refueling, gaining some big perspective, being encouraged — all critical tools for dealing with the less than good things of life.

Jesus was able to go into the wilderness because of his time “in the good place,” being baptized, gathering strength, being blessed. He was getting the good stuff so that he was strong enough to deal with the bad stuff – the wilderness: emptiness, loneliness, temptation, extreme hunger and thirst.

Where is the wilderness you must go this week? And where is your UP? Consider the people, places, and activities that give you strength and encourage you, and those that lead you into the wilderness.

~ Gina Yeager-Buckley ~

Live Loved

But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.
[Psalm 102:27]

Loved by an Eternal God

Life … is a cache of moments: measurable and countable increments, like change in a pocket or buttons in a can. Your pocket may be full of decades, my pocket may be down to a few years, but everyone has a certain number of moments.

Everyone, that is, except God. As we list the mind-stretching claims of Christ, let’s include this one near the top. “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58 nasb).

Scripture broadcasts this attribute in surround sound. God is “from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2) and the “everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10)… You’ll more quickly measure the salt of the ocean than measure the existence of God because “the number of His years is unsearchable” (Job 36:26).

Trace the tree back to a seed. Trace the dress back to a factory. Trace the baby back to a mommy. Trace God back to … to … to …

No one. Not even God made God. “From eternity I am He” (Isaiah 43:13 nasb).

He is eternal. He does not live sequential moments, laid out on a time line, one following the other. His world is one moment, or better stated, momentless. He doesn’t view history as a progression of centuries but as a single photo. He captures your life, your entire life, in one glance. He sees your birth and burial in one frame. He knows your beginning and your end because he has neither.

[It’s Not About Me]

Dear God,

You are our eternal Father. You have always been and will always be. When unexpected events occur, may we remember that nothing surprises you. You know the beginning of all things to the end. And our lives are in your care,

Amen.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

[1 Timothy 1:17]

The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints for is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

[Isaiah 40:28]

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

[Psalm 100:5]

~ Max Lucado ~