A Flourishing Tree

Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
Today’s Scripture & Insight: Proverbs 11:24–30
 
I’ve always had a collector’s heart. As a kid, I collected stamps. Baseball cards. Comics. Now, as a parent, I see the same impulse in my kids. Sometimes I wonder, Do you really need another teddy bear?
 
Of course, it’s not about need. It’s about the allure of something new. Or sometimes the tantalizing draw of something old, something rare. Whatever captivates our imagination, we’re tempted to believe that if we only had “X,” our lives would be better. We’d be happy. Content.
Except those things never deliver the goods. Why? Because God created us to be filled by Him, not by the things that the world around us often insists will satisfy our longing hearts.
 
This tension is hardly new. Proverbs contrasts two ways of life: a life spent pursuing riches versus a life grounded in loving God and giving generously. In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases Proverbs 11:28 like this: “A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”
What a picture! Two ways of life: one flourishing and fruitful, one hollow and barren. The world insists that material abundance equals “the good life.” In contrast, God invites us to be rooted in Him, to experience His goodness, and to flourish fruitfully. And as we’re shaped by our relationship with Him, God reshapes our hearts and desires, transforming us from the inside out.
 
By: Adam R. Holz
 
Reflect & Pray
When has an undue focus on material things become a major spiritual struggle for you? What helps you keep your desires in proper perspective?
Father, thank You for the good gifts You give. Help me to keep putting my trust in You rather than the stuff of this world.

Read more

A Good Man

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Romans 3:10-18
 

“Jerry was a good man,” the pastor said at Jerald Stevens’ memorial service. “He loved his family. He was faithful to his wife. He served his country in the armed services. He was an excellent dad and grandfather. He was a great friend.”

But then the pastor went on to tell the friends and family gathered that Jerry’s good life and good deeds were not enough to assure him a place in heaven. And that Jerry himself would have been the first to tell them that!

Jerry believed these words from the Bible: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (6:23). Jerry’s final and eternal destination in life’s journey was not determined by whether he lived a really good life but entirely by Jesus—the perfect Son of God—dying in his place to pay sin’s penalty. He believed that each of us must personally accept the free gift of God, which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 23).

Jerry was a good man, but he could never be “good enough.” See the link below to view Rasool Berry’s “In Pursuit of Jesus” story. He, like us, had to learn that salvation and righteousness aren’t the results of human effort. They’re gifts by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8).

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).


Read more

Blessed Bread

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Matthew 26:26-29
 

When our oldest child became a teenager, my wife and I gave her a journal that we’d been writing in since her birth. We’d recorded her likes and dislikes, quirks and memorable one-liners. At some point the entries became more like letters, describing what we see in her and how we see God at work in her. When we gave it to her on her thirteenth birthday, she was mesmerized. She’d been given the gift of knowing a crucial part of the origins of her identity.

In blessing something as common as bread, Jesus was revealing its identity. What it—along with all creation—was made to reflect: God’s glory. I believe Jesus was also pointing to the future of the material world. All creation will one day be filled with the glory of God. So in blessing bread (Matthew 26:26), Jesus was pointing to the originand the destiny of creation (Romans 8:21–22).

Maybe the “beginning” of your story feels messed up. Maybe you don’t think there’s much of a future. But there’s a bigger story. It’s a story of a God who made you on purpose and for a purpose, who took pleasure in you. It’s a story of God who came to rescue you (Matthew 26:28); a God who put His Spirit in you to renew you and recover your identity. It’s a story of a God who wants to bless you.

Reflect & Pray

How does seeing your true origin story as being made on purpose and for a purpose change the way you see yourself? What’s the bigger story than simply your situation right now?

Dear Jesus, I place my life like bread in Your hands. Only You can return me to my origin. Only You can carry me to my destiny. Jesus, You are the author and the finisher of my faith


Read more