Daily Archives: July 8, 2021

In Jesus Christ There Is Life

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The Spark of Life

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“In Him was life, …” John 1:4 (NKJV)

Sitting in our backyard having breakfast, I peacefully watched my palm trees as they were stirred by mountain breezes.

The diversity of life was amazing: our hummingbirds tried to scare their competition away from the feeding jars; a huge tropical blackbird took his morning spa in the bird bath.

Suddenly, I had an insight when honey bees appeared and began to take morning sips from the cascading fountain next to our breakfast table. The pattern that had overwhelmed me was that both the birds and the bees had the spark of life.

Hardly able to continue eating my pancakes and bacon, I paused, trying to understand this discovery.

As uniquely different as the creatures were, they were all the same — they were alive. When one of the honey bees suddenly began to drown, I became sad and tried unsuccessfully to save him. I felt more loss than I expected. I felt as if the world had become a bit less without his being in it. This was a new feeling for me.

Every living creature, I suddenly realized, has a treasure: they are alive, and then they are dead. They have the spark of life, and then it disappears.

My hummingbirds weigh half of an ounce and live a year or two. My blackbirds weigh more and live longer. My bees live a season. My hibiscus, bougainvillea, and roses have seasons then they lose their bloom. They all lose their spark of life.

A human is one breath away from death. Their physical spark of life will immediately disappear as they take the last breath. All of what is physically living is here … then it is not.

Thankfully, John 3:16 reveals that Almighty God’s never-ending love for life gives eternal spiritual life to those who believe in what Jesus did on the cross. Confession of our sins and turning away from them as we open the door of our heart allows Jesus to step in with His Word and Spirit. His coming in to live within then gives guaranteed eternal life to our immaterial spirit. What a joy it is to have been given life and life more abundantly at our second birth birthday party.

What is the spark of life? Where does it come from? What happens to it? My heart craved to know the answers to these questions.

The inspiration of the Holy Spirit then answered my heart’s question. The Bible’s clarity tells mankind that Jesus has provided and maintains the spark of life.

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, …” John 1:3-4 (NKJV)

It also told me that Jesus sustains life.

“… who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, …” Hebrews 1:3 (NKJV)

Perhaps the answer to my questions is summarized by this verse:

“… The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (NKJV)

Nothing happens without the Lord either causing it or giving permission for it to happen; Job learned this abiding truth through experience.

Almighty God is the Sovereign source of every spark of life.

Our hearts are a bonfire where the living sparks of the Spirit lie dormant, waiting for the Father’s breath. Let us ask Him daily to please blow on our spark of life that we may experience and share the Holy Spirit’s Fire. Amen and Amen.

 

Today’s Devotions

July 8

2 Kings 6:15-17 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

When the king of Aram warred against Israel, Elisha sent word to the king of Israel informing him of the places Aram’s army would camp. The king of Aram thought one of his generals was a spy. When he learned it was the prophet Elisha that knew by Divine power what his plans were, he surrounded the city where Elisha was to capture him.

The servant of Elisha got up that morning and saw the army surrounding the city in wait for them. He was frightened, but Elisha wasn’t. Elisha could see in the spirit. That is why he knew where the enemy camped. That is why he knew he did not need to fear. Then Elisha asked God to let his servant see what he could see. There in the hills around them was a much greater army, a spiritual army. The hills were full of horses with chariots of fire.

If we look in the carnal realm, we see only what looks to be too great for us. Enemies seem to have the upper hand. Situations look impossible. Odds appear to be too great. But if we will let God open our eyes of faith so that we can see in the spirit, we will see resources that our enemy has no idea we have.

Elisha single handedly (through the power of God) captured this army. That is because one person and God are a majority. It doesn’t matter how great the numbers are against you, as long as God is on your side and you are listening to and obeying Him.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes, so that I can see the reality of the spiritual realm.

 

Are You Bearing Fruit?

by Ryan Duncan

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” – Luke 8:16

One of the traditions my family had while I was growing up was that every fall we would go apple picking at a place called Edwards Orchard. It was a great place. There were barn animals for kids to feed, a maze that my siblings and I would always cheat to win, and a small kitchen that made the best apple doughnuts on this continent. Once we had exhausted ourselves on all the activities and eaten enough doughnuts to last us for days, our parents would load us up on the orchard’s wagons, and we would go into the trees to pick apples.

Afterwards, we’d enjoy a long stretch of apple-related meals at home, and I was particularly fond of my mother’s upside-down apple pie. Then one year, as we clambered out of our van like usual, we were met by an employee who informed us the orchard had closed that season. I don’t remember exactly why — I think a storm had damaged most of the trees — but the absence of our usual Macintosh apples was pretty noticeable the following week. This was the memory that jumped to my mind a few days ago, as I was reading the book of Luke. Take a look at the following verses,

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” –Luke 13:6-9

The simple truth is that there is not much use in a fruit tree that doesn’t grow fruit, just like there isn’t much use in a Christian that isn’t living out Christ’s teachings. God made us, the Church, to be people of growth and action. It is his desire that we constantly seek to mature in our faith, and the way we do that is by getting involved in the world around us. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Become a greeter at your Church, make a small donation, or bring a meal to the couple that just had a baby. All that matters is if your heart is providing a harvest for God because you never know what he’ll do with the spiritual fruit you create.

 

Streams in the Desert – July 7

He hath made me a polished shaft (Isa. 49:2).

There is a very famous “Pebble Beach” at Pescadero, on the California coast. The long line of white surf comes up with its everlasting roar, and rattles and thunders among the stones on the shore. They are caught in the arms of the pitiless waves, and tossed and rolled, and rubbed together, and ground against the sharp-grained cliffs. Day and night forever the ceaseless attrition goes on–never any rest. And the result?

Tourists from all the world flock thither to gather the round and beautiful stones. They are laid up in cabinets; they ornament the parlor mantels. But go yonder, around the point of the cliff that breaks off the force of the sea; and up in that quiet cove, sheltered from the storms, and lying ever in the sun, you shall find abundance of pebbles that have never been chosen by the traveler.

Why are these left all the years through unsought? For the simple reason that they have escaped all the turmoil and attrition of the waves, and the quiet and peace have left them as they found them, rough and angular and devoid of beauty. Polish comes through trouble.

Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him to shape us to it. Since He knows what work we are to do, let us trust Him to drill us to the proper preparation.

O blows that smite! O hurts that pierce
This shrinking heart of mine!
What are ye but the Master’s tools
Forming a work Divine?

Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears.