““Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”
Luke 12:27–28, NIV
Jesus gave this series of teachings in Luke Chapter 12 on his way to Jerusalem. We can imagine that he passed meadows of wildflowers on his way. He may have referred to the scene as he elaborated on his admonition not to worry but to trust in God’s provision.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)
The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.
John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.
In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.
Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:
1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus
Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.
Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.
Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.
In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.
Be not overcome with evil but repay evil with good. Romans 12:21
This is a hard saying. Usually, with every fiber of our being, we want to fight evil with evil. We get wronged, we want to wrong in return. The problem is, we WILL find ourselves overcome by evil by retaliating in this way.
The Bible promises that we will have enemies. Enemies hurt us or try to. How do we overcome those with evil intentions?
Learn the truths of the Bible, found in both the Old and New Testament. Fight evil with good. Allow God to lead you in how to act against an adversary. A practical way to overcome evil with good- Pray for your enemies, as Jesus reminds says. In this way, evil will be overcome.
Enemies may be personal or political. You may have members of your family you view as enemies. Whole groups of people may seem like your enemy. There are enemies you’ve been dealing with for years and ones who have entered your life recently.
How should a follower of Jesus Christ deal with enemies? Stay tuned to find out. Come with me as I explore what the Bible says on this ancient topic.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
God frequently reminds his children not to fear. But fear is a common enemy, a part of every day life for many people even today. Is there a way to get through fear? Yes, there is and the answer is a theological one. Understanding who God is and what he does is the key.
If God is who he says he is and does what he says he does for his people, you have the power to gain victory over fear. God’s people can’t do God’s work if they are paralyzed by fear. Isaiah 41:10 reminds you not to fear. It gives two reasons not to fear and three ways God helps you in times of trouble.
You will overcome, in Jesus’ name. Isaiah 41:10 is packed with reasons for courageous hope. Meditate on it in times of fear.
God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, gives two reasons not to fear.
God is with you. God’s mighty presence is always with you to comfort you. Often, the scariest thing about going through a trial is feeling that you are going through it alone. As a child of God, you are never alone. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Have faith in the presence of God in your life no matter what you are going through. God sees and he cares.(Exodus 3:7) And he works everything out for your good. (Romans 8:28)
God is your Creator and the guide and guard of your life. He is your protective Father. He guides you as the Lord and master of your life. “I am your God”- these soothing words are rich with the love of a father for his children. How marvelous to have the courage of a child of God! Your God implies a personal, close relationship. Love the Lord your God
Next, Isaiah 41:10 states three ways God helps you overcome anything you fear. He will:
Strengthen you. When you are weak, he is strong. God strengthens you physically and spiritually. He gives a supernatural strength at times when you feel you can’t go on. Calling on God will make you run and not get weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
Help you. This Hebrew word, ezer, is the same one used to refer to Eve as Adam’s help meet or helper. In all but one other use in the Bible, is refers either to God or to military allies. Ezer comes from two root words- one means to rescue or save and the other means to be strong. From this word, used 16 times to describe God’s dealings with his people, we learn important characteristics of God. In the New Testament, Jesus promises a helper, parakletos, will come after he is gone. God has the power to help you in every way and he will!
Hold you up- When you feel like falling and the storms of life threaten to knock you down, God’s powerful hand will hold you up. When you feel weak, he is strong.
Call on God, remembering his strength and promises, so fear doesn’t overwhelm you.
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12
You may remember the words of the first song from the Broadway musical Godspell. They proclaimed, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” echoing the words of John the Baptist in Mark 1:3 (“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”)
John was quoting from Isaiah the Prophet who said ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’.
Today’s reading, the first one for the Spring Challenge, is designed to encourage you to prepare your heart to filled by God with goodness and understanding over the course of this challenge.
Fallow ground was the term given to ground that had been prepared for use but then left unattended. As a result, the ground became hard and unsuitable for use. Your heart can become like fallow ground, unfruitful and unsuitable for growth in righteousness.
It can become hardened toward others and God when it is not regularly watered with the Living Water of Jesus and his word. If your spiritual life in Christ is not properly attended to, you may notice you are more irritated and less forgiving of friends and family. You are not diligent to read God’s Word regularly or seek out fellowship with God’s people. You don’t regularly speak of Jesus and all that he means to you.
Your heart is getting hard. It is as fallow ground that needs to be softened and broken up. But how? How do you sow righteousness? Through Jesus, our righteousness. The solution lies in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. If you believe in Jesus Christ, who he is and what he did for you on the cross, you have his righteousness.
Acknowledge and submit to the righteousness you have in Christ. Go to God and ask forgiveness of your sins. Commit to walking in a new direction with the help of the Holy Spirit. Humble yourself and admit before God that you need help. Seek the Lord and he will “come and rain righteousness upon you”.
Verses to read on your own:
Copy both verses either on paper or type them into your phone or computer. Read and re-read them at least 3 times. Choose one to memorize:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, (Romans 3:22)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Mothers were not a focus of special attention in Bible times. Women in general, including mothers, worked hard behind the scenes with little to no recognition. Yet, Mothers are written about in the grand arc of the Bible story, from beginning to end. God chose to use mothers, a marginalized group, to build his Kingdom. This reveals God’s amazing and surprising love for his people.
It is important to note that by choosing to recognize mothers in his Word, God was going against the prevailing culture. In both the Old and New Testament, there was no celebration of “Mother’s Day”. Mothers, and women in general, were thought of as lesser people and had few rights and many responsibilities. But the God of the universe, the creator of all life, chose to highlight the importance of this group no one else thought much about, women who were mothers. Here are some thoughts on three mothers in the Bible:
God chose for people to populate the world he created through a mother. In the very beginning of the Bible we learn that “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” (Genesis 3:20). Of course, God could have chosen any other way to populate the earth but he did so through a mother and ordained the family as the unit of the continuation of life. These events of creation foreshadow the time of Jesus, when we no longer rely on biological families alone but are called to bring all nations into the eternal family of God. We are part of a new covenant when we are born-again spiritually.
In the new covenant, God chose to use a mother to bring salvation to the world through Jesus. Mary was called to give birth to Jesus, our Savior. Jesus could have come down directly from Heaven, risen up from the ground or emerged from a whirlwind. But no. God chose to send his precious Son here to earth through a mother to be born into a family. Though Jesus was with his earthly mother for only a short time before his ascension, he is coming back.
Revelation, the final book in the Bible, gives signs of the world to come when Jesus returns. In Revelation chapter 12, John describes the signs God showed him of a mother. A woman gives birth and fights for her life and the life of her child against a powerful adversary. This imagery in John’s revelation echoes that of Israel often portrayed by the Prophets. Isaiah, for example, wrote of righteous Israel as a mother giving birth to the faithful remnant. (Isaiah 66:7-10) We know the mother, her child and all her descendants were faithful to Jesus and his Word. This mother will be the source of the faithful remnant.
From beginning to end, the Bible shows us God’s knowledge of and respect for a little-considered group in ancient times, mothers. He chose to preserve in his word, the Bible, examples of these women for future generations to read. The Creator, the God of the Universe, had very different views from the prevailing society. He gave honor and attention when others refused to. So for mothers and other women who feel forgotten or ignored by society on a daily basis, remember there is One who knows you and cares for you. He is Jesus and he is all that matters.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1
Jesus is the only true source from which good fruit can come.
Jesus knew the religious Jews of his time looked to many sources to give them the fruits of a godly life. From Moses to Solomon, from Abraham to the Scriptures themselves, Jesus emphasized that he was more important than all of these. Jesus told them that he is the fulfillment of all that came before him. He is the only true source of an abundant, fruitful, godly life.
So whether you are reading a Proverb or studying the story of Abraham, remember the supremacy of Jesus and his place as your true source. Stay connected to the true vine, Jesus, and you will bear fruit. That’s a promise.
This week, read about how Jesus is greater than any other: Hebrews 3:3, Matthew 12:42, John 8:58, Luke 24:27, John 5:39
Are you making connection with Jesus a priority in your life? If you do, you will be richly rewarded.
Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. Hebrews 3:3
The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:27
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me. John 5:39
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
Jesus says that he is the vine and you, as a believer in him, are a branch coming off the vine. Just as life-giving sap continuously flows from the vine to the branches, so eternal, abundant life flows from Jesus to you.
You will bear fruit if you do only one thing. That one thing is to stay with Jesus. The Greek word for remain, meno, (μένω), means “to stay in the same state or place”.
Jesus doesn’t want you to leave him or to go back to your former life without him. He wants you to dwell with him forever. (Psalm 23:6)
Jesus is alive and wants to be your source of everlasting life. Why? So you will be fruitful in building his Kingdom and reaching others for him. He will keep you supplied with wisdom, joy and peace.
Pray, meditate on his word and speak of Jesus often. Acknowledge that he is the source of true life. Then enjoy the security of knowing that you will always continue to grow and be fruitful.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:8
This verse starts by telling us to keep God’s Word in our mouths. The way to do that is to “meditate” on it day and night. What does keeping God’s Word in your mouth have to do with meditating?
First, remember that God reveals to us how we are to worship him and live our lives before him. Law (“torah” in Hebrew) refers to these teachings or instructions of God.
The Hebrew root word for meditate here literally means a low groan or utterance. It is sometimes translated “meditate”.
Meditation as taught in the Bible is not merely thinking about God’s teaching. In other verses in the Bible, the same Hebrew word for meditate is translated proclaim, utter or speak. God’s Word should be so thoroughly in your heart that it freely and continually comes out of your mouth. As you speak God’s Word, it instructs you and others around you. In this way, you will be careful to obey God’s commands and find success.
This is what we learn about the cherished and successful virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. She speaks with wisdom and the teaching (torah) of God’s faithfulness and kindness is on her lips.
Deuteronomy 6:7 presents this idea. God tells the Israelites to speak of the commandments God gave them at all times.
The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16 that we are to “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…”
Speaking God’s Word to one another should be part of who we are as ambassadors of Christ and as we build up the body of Christ.
Act- As you meditate on God’s Word, allow the fruit of your mind to come out of your mouth. Try memorizing God’s Word by speaking it. Freely and generously share with others who God is and what he has done for you. Start at home by sharing with those closest to you.