It just wouldn't be summer without the song of the Cicada, often mistakenly called a locust.I remember the first time I learned about this creature while growing up in Texas.My brother scared the pants off everyone when he came into the house wearing the shed skin (exoskeleton) of a dozen Cicadas in various places on his face!Mama screamed the way she did when something really bad happened, realized what he had done, and chased him out the back door with a broom.I howled and ran outside to get a closer look at the critters.
The adult Cicada comes out of the ground, climbs a post or tree, and sheds its skin on the way to the top.In a short time the singing begins in an attempt to attract a mate.If successful, the female lays up to 600 eggs, and lives only a couple of weeks (if not killed by a wasp called the Cicada Killer, or eaten by a very hungry bird).
Now get this!Those eggs hatch into larva, burrow into the ground 5 – 18 inches deep, looking for tree roots to feed on.They stay in the ground for 13 years (some species stay 17 years), and when the alarm goes off on the biological clock, they all come out of the ground at the same time and the cycle begins again.
What an awesome God we serve, Who is ever protecting, nurturing and teaching us through the natural/divine order of His creation.Suppose, for a minute, that you had lived as a Native American on this continent before the first immigrant came over the ocean.How would you have learned about God?There was no Bible to read, no Christian preacher to proclaim the message.But our righteous God is fair and has provided opportunities for everyone to learn about Him; if not from the Bible itself, then how?
Our great God Almighty has proclaimed the good news of salvation in His creation!And it was just enough information so that the Apostle Paul in Romans said that even those who lived without the written word are "without excuse!" (Romans 1:20)
Look quickly at the parable of the Cicada once more:
•Life is short.So there must be something after this, regeneration.
•Sometimes it takes awhile to mature.
•After emerging, there is a rebirth…a new skin!
•Beware of the enemy…the Cicada Killer.
•Use your spiritual imagination… what else does He teach you in this parable?Share your ideas with me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Think on these things.There is so much to be learned from God in nature, and I don't want to miss a thing.Listen to the songs of His creatures; observe His Word in creation, and the written Word of God will come alive with new and exciting truth.He speaks to us primarily through the Bible but often confirms those biblical truths in our daily experiences and in simple things like the song of the Cicada.
GospeLines Prayer:Teach me, O God, of Your wondrous ways!Master of the Universe, Architect of Creation, make me sensitive to ALL that there is to know about Your world; help me to unleash the power of imagination You gave me, and let me find new ways to praise Your powerful Name as did the prophets and the psalmists.Amen and amen.
12-14 I'm so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn't know what I was doing - didn't know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.
15-19 Here's a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I'm proof - Public Sinner Number One - of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off - evidence of his endless patience - to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.
Deep honor and bright glory
to the King of All Time -
One God, Immortal, Invisible,
ever and always. Oh, yes!
I'm passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we're in. (1st Timothy 1:14-19 - The Message)
I grew up in the Midwest and we'd sometimes have mild winters, but most of the time, there was plenty of snow and ice.In those days we walked to school and there weren't many days off due to the weather!We learned to endure, wrapped up in layers of clothing, boots, gloves, hats, heavy winter coats, whatever necessary to keep warm and dry.And, while it was a hassle getting out of those items once we arrived at school, we learned to endure.When it was time for recess, we had to re-dress in order to go outside to play.We learned to endure.
The best memories of those times were when the weekends arrived.Several of the neighborhood children, my friends, and I would get our sleds out and we'd decide to use the alley behind their houses as our road.Now you have to understand, the alley had a lot of bumps, grooves and things we couldn't always see in those conditions.Mounds of snow, layered with ice, were covering our path as we started our descent from the top of the hill to the bottom.
Sometimes, it was smooth sailing and we'd scream and shout at the exhilarating rush as we went flying down the alley.Other times, we'd run adrift… off our path, running into some tree limb, bush or maybe one of the few parked cars in someone's driveway that adjoined the alley.We'd pick ourselves and our sleds up and start the trek back up the hill.We'd patiently start the ride all over again.We learned to endure.
Several of us would somehow hook our sleds together and have a train, of sorts, coming down the alley.That was really fun.But, again, we may get off course, no matter who was guiding the lead sled.And, no matter how we set our sites and thought we followed the right tracks, we couldn't always see beneath the snow and ice.We learned to endure.
Our lives are just like those sleds going down that alley.We think we're going in the right direction, along the right path and instead, we're going off the path He has set for us.We can't always see ahead or what lies beneath.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I've been trying not to slip and fall on the ice; trying to avoid the pitfalls; trying to stay on track.But, oh, have I failed!
My ride has been bumpy, but I am thankful for You who believes in me and illumines my path.I thank You for giving me an opportunity to witness Your word.I'm trusting that my road may be bumpy from time-to-time, but is much smoother with You in my life.
I've learned to endure…
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday: August 1, 2007
A tribe of ferocious fighting men would often fight to the death with neighboring villages.When they were victorious, they would cut off the ear of their opponent, hang it in their straw huts in full view to remind them of their anger and hatred.This symbol would give them added adrenaline to renew their battle another day.
That's a far cry from what Paul said in 1st Thessalonians 5:15, "Be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to do what is good for each other and for all people."
There would be fewer battles and kinder workplaces if we could only practice that.Sometimes our competitive marketplace encourages us to take an eye for an eye rather than turn the other cheek.
May God forbid that the career ladders we climb be strewn with the bodies and souls of our victims, lain waste by a shrewd tongue and unforgiving heart.
GospeLines Prayer:My Lord and my God, teach me to play fair in the jungle.Give me a trusting heart to find my way to success through your Holiness.Lead me away from the daily battles of pettiness and uncaring comments and place my feet firmly on the foundation of goodness and kindness.Amen and amen.
Some say there is only one path to God… others say there are many.
Some say we must belong to a particular church or organization if we're to be saved… others say many denominations or religious groups teach the Biblical means of salvation.
When we hear or read another (religious) point of view that is different from our own; rather than become upset, we should take that as an opportunity to reexamine our faith and ask ourselves, "What do I really believe?"
Please allow me to tell you what the Bible speaks to my heart concerning the true "means of salvation."
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)This seems pretty clear until someone asks, "Believe what?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:50)Also, pretty clear unless someone asks, "Faith in what?"
Jesus Himself answers these questions when He said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved… I am the way and the truth and the life.No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6; John 10:9)
Acts tells us that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (2:21) and that "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (4:12-13)
Again in Acts we are told that it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved (15:11) and that if we believe in the Lord Jesus, we will be saved (16:30-32)
Paul tells us in Romans 10:8-10 that if we confess with our mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved.I believe the Bible tells us that our "means of salvation" is Jesus the Messiah, the Risen Son of God - that if we believe that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and on the third day arose from the dead - that if we love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind; and, if we love our neighbor as ourselves - we will be saved by His amazing grace.
I love my church and I'm sure you do as well.However, I also agree with Paul when he told Timothy "there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"… not my church.
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
When President George W. Bush began pontificating while on the campaign trail, wife Laura told him, "Rein it in, Bubba!"(People's Magazine)The admonition of a good friend or spouse has saved many of us from more embarrassing moments.
I thought about that this morning as I looked at the task ahead of me.It's the time of year for the annual pruning to begin.There's the hibiscus, with brown winter leaves, begging for me to give it a little correction for the coming spring.And the leafless crepe myrtles, which stood tall and green a few weeks ago, will soon be cut back by a third.But the mystery is the oleander.It hasn't lost a leaf with the onset of winter, so it's tempting just to let it grow, except that it is large and unruly from having let it grow on its own for two years!"Rein it in, Bubba."
Pruning is the work of the Holy Spirit.However, God often uses spiritual mentors to assist with the work of discipline and admonition."Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom... " (Col. 3:16.)
Give an ear to your trusted Christian friends who are courageous and wise enough to share a word of correction with you.And open your heart to the ministry of admonition, but do so with humility and prayer.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, give me listening ears to hear You through my pride, and wisdom to admonish others only when I am sure You have first spoken to me.With two ears and one mouth, I am sure You meant for me to listen twice as much as I speak."Amen and amen.