Can you tell the difference between Good and evil? are you sure?

 

“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.”

-Hebrews 5:14

We walked through the tall, dry grass with a forester friend as we checked out the progress of the fledgling evergreens on our property overlooking the Clearwater River valley. The men sauntered down the hill, intently inspecting the little trees. The friend’s wife followed. I brought up the rear, watching my feet.

In this part of the country, you never know what might be lying in your path.

Toward the bottom of the hill, I heard the buzz and saw the grass part beside me. The rattler had lain quietly while the others passed, and only alerted at my approach.

I shrieked. The snake crawled away. My husband carried me back up the hill.

In northcentral Idaho live two species of snakes that look remarkably alike to the casual observer. The bullsnake, a subspecies of the harmless gopher snake, has a pattern much like its venomous neighbor, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake.

When threatened, it coils and shakes its tail in warning. A longer inspection reveals this species to have a longer, thinner body and rounder head. The above photo is one of a bullsnake.

The rattlesnake is fatter, shorter, and more docile. Its head has the characteristic viper triangular shape with the hooded eyes. Its tail has the namesake rattles to warn an intruder. Sometimes, the first alert to its presence is its distinctive, loud buzz. Occasionally, it gives no warning, and you must be able to recognize it before it strikes.

Both snakes are beneficial hunters.

One can kill you.

Satan is compared to a snake in the Bible because of several common qualities:

  • His predatory nature. Snakes hunt and feed on the vulnerable.
  • The ability to camouflage his presence. Like a snake, he blends into his surroundings to get close to his prey.
  • His deadly bite. In John 10:10, we read that Satan comes “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10 NASB)

In our part of the country, it’s imperative to know the difference between a harmless snake and a venomous one.  It’s a solemn reminder that it’s a deadly error to either denounce the innocent as evil or fail to recognize danger ahead. It takes trial and error, success and failure, to discern good from evil.

We live in challenging times. The temptation is strong to either ignore the warning signs or to lash out blindly at those around us. Our charge is to be as wise as the serpent. Know what is good and what is evil. Watch your path and be smarter than your adversary. And always, be as gentle as the Spirit of God.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. 

Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

-Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)

 

When God Invades Our Despair

 

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week….

-Matthew 28:1

So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst….

-John 20:19

 

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1854.

My Southern-born mom put it less eloquently but more graphically on her bad days: “I’m so low I have to look up to see a snake’s belly.”

It’s hard to get much lower than the dirt. And that’s where the serpent wants us, groveling in the dust as he slithers over us.

Christians are under attack like no other time in history. There is more persecution of believers in this age than ever before. Satan roams the earth, storming homes, churches and families. He feeds on shattered lives, hearts, and relationships while he grows in insolence against heaven.

We are shaken as everything we believe is trampled under the brutality. Our trust in God’s Word faces its most severe challenge. What happened to all His promises? Where is the life of victory?

Alone, trapped in hopelessness, our people suffer in quiet despair. We can’t even understand the heartbreak happening to us, much less confess our struggles to someone else. So we hide in the darkness, convinced of the permanence of the death of our hopes and dreams.

Just like Jesus’ first disciples.

When the disciples met the Christ, the majesty and power of the carpenter ignited their imagination. They believed He was their Messiah, the King of the Jews. They followed Him, watched His miracles, listened to His word, and rejoiced. The Kingdom of God had arrived with this Deliverer.

They eagerly waited for the Anointed One to take His throne. Instead, he shocked them by dying at the hands of the executioners. All they hoped and believed died with Him

In their panic, they forgot everything He taught them. Imagining they were next to be killed and in complete despair, they trembled behind locked doors and waited to die.

Then, it began to dawn.

True to His word, Jesus rose again, conquering death in a single moment. Nothing but the graveclothes of their misconceptions remained in the tomb. The miracle of miracles shattered the desperation, killed every lie of the serpent, and raised them up out of the dirt.

Now they understood. God had planned it all. At no moment were they ever out of His hand. Even in their deepest night, He carried them toward the greater dawn of a new forever, better than anything they could have imagined. And nothing was lost except their fears.

This Easter morning, the tomb still lies empty. The risen Savior still reigns over this earth and every single moment of our lives. He will give us strength for today as He crushes the enemy under His feet through our acts of faith.

The serpent is defeated. Arise from the dirt.

Dawn is coming.

 

The Lord has risen indeed…! 

-Luke 24:34

 

 

What is left when a pandemic takes down our world?

 

     In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

       ‘Glory to God in the highest,
        And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

      When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 

-Luke 2:8-19 (NASB)

God choses well the people whom He calls. Mary and Joseph were not perfect people. Nor were they successful by worldly standards. Their decision to follow the calling of God gained them nothing of material value in this life. They endured humiliation, poverty, and gossip. Christ’s birth came in a time of isolation and rejection. Joseph evidently died an early death. Mary watched her beloved son – the one born so full of promise; upon whom she had lavished her reputation, her trust, and her sacred honor – executed as a common criminal.

His life challenged her expectations. His death crushed her.

His resurrection made it all worthwhile.

This year is not like any our generation has known. We who have grown up in middle American Christendom have attached certain expectations to our faith, to our lives, to our dreams. We do not expect pain, isolation, or sickness. Suffering is not compatible with our interpretations of the Scriptural promise of abundant life.

This Christmas, the usual traditions we observe have been disrupted. In the place of a full table, we may be suffering financial distress. In the place of a full house, we may be existing in a place of extreme loneliness. But like Mary and Joseph, the strength of our calling is not dependent upon circumstance.  As the trials around us pare down our expectations and traditions, what is left is the pure sound of angels singing glory to God in the highest.

Mary wisely treasured everything she experienced with the Christ and pondered Christ His life in her heart. Instead of questioning the veracity of God’s Word and the faithfulness of our Creator, let’s take this time of hardship to contemplate all He has told us and what our part in His great work of deliverance should be. Even more in a pandemic, people need a Savior. His promises shine all the brighter in the darkness.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come! What else matters?

 

Be all the more diligent to make certain

about His calling and choosing you;

for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

2 Peter 1:10

 

Is the Last Trumpet About to Sound?

 

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

-1 Corinthians 15:51-52

The Hebrew term Rosh HaShanah means “the head of the year,” and Jewish tradition teaches that God created the heavens and the earth on this day. In Judaism there are two calendars that the Jewish people recognize: the religious new year that occurs in the spring in the month of Nisan, and a civil new year that begins in the fall in the month of Tishrei. Rosh Hashanah begins the civil new year in Israel.

God instituted seven feasts for Israel in the Old Testament that have their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. The spring feasts are:

Passover (Pesach) -God instituted the shedding of the blood of the lamb which kept the angel of death from their homes. This feast found its ultimate fulfillment in the Lamb that was slain that those who believe in Him might pass out of death into life. (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:5; 1 Corinthians 5:7)

Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMotzi) -The feast in which the striped and pierced matzo bread was broken. This feast was fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ for the sins of the world. (Leviticus 23:6; Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24; Zechariah 12:10)

First Fruits (Reshit Katzir) -The presentation of the first fruits of the harvest. This feast symbolizes the resurrection of Christ, who is called the firstfruits.

Pentecost (Shavu’ot) -The commemoration of the giving of the law. On this day, the Holy Spirit came with power upon believers.

 

The three fall feasts are:

Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah or Rosh HaShanah) -At the Feast of Trumpets, a trumpet, or shofar, was blown to call God’s people out of the harvest fields to come worship at the Temple. This feast has a future fulfillment in the Rapture of the Church.

Atonement (Yom Kippur) -This feast follows ten days of reflection called the Days of Awe. Jewish tradition says that it will be a day when the destiny of the righteous and the wicked are written in the Book of Life and the Book of Death. For the Christian, Jesus Christ has already become the atonement for our sins, granting us eternal life. (Leviticus 23:27; Hebrews 5:6; 6:20; 9:15)

Tabernacles (Sukkot) -This feast represents God and man together again in Jerusalem.

(Leviticus 23:34; Ezekiel 37:26; Zechariah 14:16-17

Jesus literally fulfilled the spring feasts with His first coming. The fall feasts have yet to be fulfilled. The next feast is Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets. Like all the feasts, the Feast of Trumpets is filled with parallels to prophetic events unveiled in the New Testament.

The first blast is a call to those laboring in the harvest to drop everything and return to Jerusalem. During this feast 100 trumpets are blown. These trumpet blasts are named and categorized:

Tekiah– a single blast (as at a king’s coronation)

Shevarim– a series of wail-like blasts (signifying the mourning of repentance)

Teru’ah– staccato blasts (sent as an alarm or warning to awaken the soul)

Tekiah ha’Gadol– one long blast

These first three are blown back and forth over the course of the feast until there have been 99 blasts. Then on the last day the Tekiah ha’Gadol, literally the “great tekiah,” or last blast, is sounded. The trumpeter blows the shofar once and holds it for as long as possible. The time of this last trump is never known.

Many theologians and Bible scholars believe that Christ’s appearing for His Church, called harpazo (to snatch or take to oneself) in Scripture and known as the Rapture, is the next prophetic event to occur. And some believe that it will be fulfilled on Rosh Hashanah, as was the prophetic events linked to the spring feasts.  

 Whether or not the Rapture happens to coincide exactly with the Jewish feast, we have been given a prophetic itinerary of the events of the last days in God’s Word. The Feast of Trumpets is our promise that one day that final blast of the trumpet will announce Christ’s return for His Church and our resurrection to meet Him in the air.

Today we await the call. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Jesus said,

“Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.” Mark 13:29-33

 

 

There’s a reason for the daily battles

 

“The Philistine also said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.’ Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.’”

-1 Samuel 17:44-45

 

They come in waves, day after day, night after night: constant attacks on our jobs, relationships, finances, health, and souls. The battles against the people of God are constant, wearying, discouraging. Behind each one a mocking voice assails us, declaring our certain destruction. This year has been a hard one for many of us, and it’s easy to be discouraged right now. But the trials that threaten to be take us down can teach us vital lessons in spiritual warfare. The constant smaller battles are the training for the larger one, the fight for our people and our faith.

A shepherd in Israel once learned war by caring for sheep. The lessons he learned in the lesser daily struggles taught him how to fight to win the important battles and what weapons were effective against those who prey on the innocent.

David was a young Israeli man who watched over his father’s flocks. Goliath was a Philistine giant who hated Israel. The first book of Samuel relates the account of the aggression of the Philistines who came up against Israel. The Israeli army assembled to resist them, but their fear kept them from engaging their enemy. They stayed encamped day by day between their enemies and their families but could neither advance nor retreat, existing instead in the no-man’s land between victory and defeat.

Every day, the Philistines sent out their champion Goliath, who taunted the army of Israel with his threats as they cowered in their tents. One day David took provisions to his brothers in the camp and was astounded by their inaction. Battle-hardened by his years of single-handedly fighting off the vicious predators of his father’s sheep, David was irked by Goliath’s insults against God. He accepted Goliath’s challenge to fight him.

David rejected any weapons except the one that was battle-tested: his slingshot. From the river he chose five smooth stones. They needed to be smooth to cut down on friction, thereby sailing faster through the air when released from the slingshot.

Much has been written about the number of stones David chose from the river. Some tie it to grace, since the number five represents grace in the Bible. But David did not give grace to the giant. He killed him. Others say the number five represents the five-fold ministry given to the saints. But David only used one stone. Since it appears that Goliath had four brothers, a more reasonable explanation might be that he armed himself with a stone for each of them, in case he wound up facing all five of them.

Although other applications and symbolism may be attached to the account, the most likely reason David chose five stones was that he was an experienced shepherd. He knew that when he faced an enemy of any sort, whether it was a lion, bear, or giant, he needed to be well-prepared. David ensured that he had enough ammunition to finish the job of dispatching the enemy of his people.

But David only needed one good shot, and he took it.

The Hebrew word for “stone” is אבן, transliterated into the English word Eben. The Hebrew word is a contraction of two words, “Father” and “Son.” All David needed was to exercise the authority of the Father and the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit to gain victory over his enemy.

If you awaken each day to a Goliath that stalks your valley to torment and threaten you, take charge. You may or may not be able to change the situation, but you can silence the voice of intimidation and fear, live in peace, and see deliverance. God rescues His people.

 

The Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s….”

-1 Samuel 17:47

 

 

It’s Okay to Cry

 

Oh that my head were waters
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!

-Jeremiah 9:1 (NASB)

 

He is known as the weeping prophet.

Jeremiah was born in Anathoth, the son of a Hebrew priest. He lived approximately 650 to 570 B.C., and his ministry spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah: Josiah, JehoahazJehoiakimJehoiachin, and Zedekiah.

He was called from his youth to warn Israel of God’s anger at their idolatry and the impending judgment upon them if they didn’t repent. He suffered much for his obedience to God’s Word, persecuted by his own people. For decades his preaching fell on deaf ears.

Then, as Jeremiah had prophesied, Jerusalem fell captive to a foreign king.

Some are born to see and understand things beyond the natural realm of humanity’s senses. They feel pain deeper, sorrow harder over injustice, and hear the groaning of creation in a way most don’t.

Those who don’t know what to do with the pain live in depression. Those who understand the source, hear the Word of God, and receive the work of the Comforter live in great power. These are the intercessors, the advocates, the men and women who follow after the heart of God. They see His tears. They hear His grief over a dying world.

They weep with Him.

They have the courage to see what the Father sees, to feel what He feels, to be His hands and feet and voice to a world spinning out of control. When others run from danger, they run toward it to warn and rescue the perishing.

Their pain inspires them to positive action. Their suffering inspires them to love deeper, to speak the truth in gentleness.

If you look out over your world today and feel like crying, it’s okay. In fact, it’s good. Some people, like Jeremiah, were born to weep. Let your tears wash away the self-centeredness that is common to us all and inspire you to prayer more, love deeper, and speak the Word in truth.

Our planet is dying. Billions of people will die with it without ever knowing the Savior.

It’s okay to cry.

Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

-Ecclesiates 1:18 (NASB)

 

 

When Integrity Made a Nation Great

“Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

-Francis Scott Key

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

-Hebrews 11:13 (NASB)

One day recently, I awakened to discover that my father’s America had died.

Thankfully, he had already left this earth behind and was not here to mourn her passing. Thankfully, he left when she was alive, if not well. Thankfully, he would never know that the color of his skin marked him as inherently evil and a man of privilege in the brave new world that creates reality out of perception. In his America, it was possible for a man to overcome the circumstances of his birth.

As my dad grew up in the Midwest in the 1930’s, he had been repeatedly and systematically abused by a sadistic father. But instead of using the violence perpetrated against him as an excuse to victimize others, Dad understood the injustice of hurting the innocent because he had suffered. He knew that no matter how he had been treated, it was never right to be cruel to others. His own father’s failures challenged him to grow up to be a better man, a kinder human being, the antithesis of his dad. He taught us to treat all men as we would want to be treated. 

My dad came to manhood in the shadow of a name smothered in the shame of his father. He always believed that it was hard work and the grace of God that delivered him from a childhood of poverty and abuse. He worked hard to give us a name we would be proud to wear. In my father’s America, hard work and the grace of God were honored concepts, and it was integrity that made a nation great.

In my father’s America, it was possible to transcend injustice. Reaching heavenward was encouraged and godly values were treasured. Age and experience were respected, and the flag was never allowed to touch the ground.

My father proudly served in the United States Navy. When he married and had a family, he worked hard to give us the life he never had. He loved this country and all it stood for. If he were here today to witness the burning of our history, our culture, and our future as a nation, he would weep.

Then he would remind me that this place is not our home, that we are just passing through to a greater land. He would tell me that this life is the preparation for the one to come. He would assure me that this, too, shall pass.

Whether or not America survives her current challenges is anyone’s guess. I am grateful to have lived in such a wonderful country.

But today I grieve for this nation, and I am glad that I am just passing through.

 

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
-Hebrews 11:16 (NASB)

 

 

When a Father Grieves

And Jesus said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.”

-Luke 15:11-13

 

Father’s Day is set aside each year to celebrate the dads in our lives. But for many, this is a hard day. Some men are not able to have children. For others, this is the day they grieve the loss of a child. And for many, this day will pass with the knowledge that they will not hear from their son. In this context, the story of the prodigal son is an ancient one that still pulls on the souls of fathers everywhere.

The prodigal was a young man who became restless and decided to leave home for the big city. He took his inheritance, spent it all on loose living, and was reduced to feeding pigs in order to survive. As he starved in the pig pen, he came to his senses and realized that his father’s servants ate better than he did. He swallowed his pride and returned home.

In the Bible account, the first thing the prodigal son saw when he arrived home in humiliation was the sight of his father running down the road to meet him with joy. There they embraced, both the fears of the son and the heartache of the father dispelled in a moment of sweet reconciliation.

The son suffered much for his choice to walk away and squander his inheritance, and it was his desperation that drove him home. It must have been a long walk home that day. But the things that he never saw would have helped him to understand what it meant to be loved without condition. Had he known, he would have run all the way home.

He never saw the agony of an old man broken. He never saw the lines in his father’s face from the many nights without sleep. He never saw how his father struggled to hold on to his integrity when the questions drowned him in the night.

He never saw the tears or the drooped shoulders from carrying a sorrow too great. He never saw the way his father fought to hold up his head around others, as if to dare the shame to approach him.

If he could have seen his father’s heart, he would have known how many times he was remembered, prayed over, grieved, forgiven, remembered, prayed over, and grieved again. If he could have only seen the pain he inflicted by disrespecting and discarding his family’s love so easily, he would have never left.

If only he could have seen how much precious time he had lost, how much happiness he had squandered on sin. 

A godly father’s heart is larger than our failures. If we realized how much the story of the prodigal reveals of our Father in heaven, who grieves silently and intensely, how much more we would understand God. It is this Father who weeps for us, who watches the road for our return, and who runs to meet us with great joy when we make that long walk home.

 

“’This son of mine was dead and has come to life again;

he was lost and has been found.’”

-Luke 15:24

 

 

when the world seems out of control

        “This I recall to my mind,

        Therefore I have hope.

        The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

        For His compassions never fail.

        They are new every morning;

        Great is Your faithfulness.

        ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’”

        -Lamentations 3:21-24 (NASB)

The year of 2020 is only half over, and it’s already been one for the books. Nationally, internationally, and personally, it’s been a year of unprecedented challenges.

I broke my back just three days after the new year dawned, the same month that news of a virulent new coronavirus was hitting China. Soon, that news became more real as a pandemic rapidly swept across the nations. For our household, COVID-19 meant drastic measures to protect our high-risk family members and a constant search for the necessary medical supplies.

Since May, protests, riots, and looting have shaken the core of our country. Our daughter and her family faced the threat of imminent danger and saw devastating property damage in their neighborhood in Minneapolis. They had to evacuate during the worst of it and returned to the sobering sight of a burned-out city. For them, this was more than a national debate. This is their home and their friends. The emotional toil has been enormous.

No one knows what the rest of the year will bring. But one thing is certain: God is in control.

He is bringing together the harvest of the ages, both the good and the evil. In the furnace of trial, many people have experienced spiritual regeneration and renewal. Many have reconsidered their priorities and made important changes in their lives. Both bad and good fruit of many hearts have been revealed. And some beautiful stories of compassion and faith have emerged from the ashes of the last months.

It is when we lift our eyes above the storms buffeting us that we see the One who conquers the waves. It is when we fix our eyes on Him and Him alone that we walk upon the waters. And when we sink, it is He who will reach down every time and lift us up to safety.

God is working out a plan for this earth that He formed before its very creation. We must only endure and trust in His power to bring that plan to fruition. Jesus gave us two great commandments:

Love our God with everything in us; love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. God has everything else. We can arise each day in hope.

 

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14

 

 

Have You been living on the faith of others?

 

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”                                                                                                      -2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB)

Recently the front man for a well-known Christian band confessed publicly that he doesn’t believe in God anymore. By his own admission, he was raised in a Christian home and did all the things that would be attached to following Jesus. But now he’s announced to the world that he’s not a believer.

His declaration follows a string of such renunciations to hit the news. Among the questions we ask ourselves in the wake are these: Did he lose his salvation? Was he ever saved? Or is he simply going through a time of questioning?

Clearly, only God knows the answer to that.

It does highlight an urgent clarion call to everyone who claims to be a Christian:

Be sure you know what you believe.

In the Gospels of the New Testament, the Lord Jesus described the types of people upon whom the seed of the Good News would fall. One was the person upon whose heart the seed fell as upon a roadside. This heart was hard and beaten down, and the seed could not take root. The second person was the one who had little depth of soil, and the plant sprung up but couldn’t take root. The third was the person whose life was so full of the weeds of sin and worry that the seed was choked out and died. One person, however, had the depth and receptive heart in which the seed of life could take hold and flourish.  

“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”                                                                                                                          -Matthew 13:20-21 (NASB)

A couple of months ago, I read about how to grow new celery from the base of an old bunch. I followed the directions, placing the stump in a shallow dish of water. Sure enough, I soon saw a new bunch of tender green growth. I planted the base in soil and watched with satisfaction as the new growth continued. I couldn’t wait for the harvest.

Then one day, the new growth began to wilt. I checked the soil, and it wasn’t dry. It continued to wilt until it completely died. I pulled it up out of the soil and discovered that it had no roots. It had only lived as long as the original stump was there. But as the stump died, the new plant had no way to survive.

A plant with no roots looks just like a rooted plant for a while. It takes the elements of time and testing to reveal whether it will wither or grow to produce fruit. The Lord uses these elements to test and reveal the validity of our beliefs.

As we negotiate a strange and uncertain world, it is crucial that we make sure the confession of our faith. We are gifted with this day, and this day only, to make things right with God. Tomorrow we may be victims of a pandemic or other earth-shaking event. Tomorrow, any of us could be standing before God. 

Today is the day to check out your root system. Do you know what you believe? Is your faith one that is rooted in Jesus Christ, or have you been living on the faith of others? If the world should fall, will you stand?

 

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

-Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV)