Thursday, May 28, 2015

Garden You Didn't Grow

Last year I added green onions to my garden for the first time. While it wasn’t exactly a bumper crop, I did get a few decent onions. This year, however, I didn’t plant any onions. That’s why I was quite surprised to find the onion, pictured above, growing in my yard this year. The onion is easily three feet high and puts off a great onion aroma.

I couldn’t help but think about how God blesses us by sending the rain and giving food from the ground. More often than not we have to do our share of work, toiling by the sweat of the brow. But at the end of the day it is the Lord who gives the increase.

In Deuteronomy 6 Yahweh told Moses that eventually Israel would enter the Promised Land, and when they did, they would live in cities they did not build and houses filled with goods that they didn’t put in them. They would also drink water from wells they didn’t dig, and eat from vineyards they didn’t plant. Those markers would be the sign of God keeping His covenant obligations.

But there was a warning: don’t forget the God who blesses you. We are prone to do the same thing today. Most of us enjoy freedom that we didn’t fight for, benefit from infrastructure that we didn’t build, and eat food that we didn’t sweat for. God is the progenitor of those blessings, and we need to be thankful for all He gives us.

Let a three-foot onion serve as a reminder that God sends blessings that we do not deserve.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Getting Older

I recently turned 30 years old, and while that thought never bothered me, it seems that I noticed an immediate difference.

A week after my birthday I left for a mission trip to Haiti. While there I got to play football with some American Division I athletes, and basketball with Haiti’s Olympic Junior National (U19) Team. Whether getting burned for deep touchdown passes or being the last person down the court on a “fast” break, it was occurring to me that I am not in college any more. It didn’t help that I found myself about 65 lbs. over my college weight.

(me playing in Haiti)

Getting older doesn’t bother me, but some of the aches and pains associated with it does (for the record, I’m now 15 lbs. under my Haiti weight). I realize that 30 is still young, and eventually the aches and pains will be more frequent and won’t be associated with pretending I can still keep up with college kids.  

Paul encouraged the Philippian believers by letting them know that their physical bodies would soon be replaced with something far better. He said Jesus, “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (3:21).”

There is only so much I can do to help myself. And let’s face it, ice cream still holds more appeal than getting in shape does. But when my time on earth is finished, Jesus Christ will transform my body into one like His post-resurrection body. That is something all believers can look forward to.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Unsung Hero--Jason

Last week’s devotion was about Hur, the man who helped Moses and Aaron, but was ultimately lost in history. Today we will think about Jason, a likewise forgotten man who helped Paul and Silas in the city of Thessalonica.

As was common for the missionary team, they preached the message of Jesus Christ and received a less than warm response. Acts 17:5 describes the scene this way:

“But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.”

It is assumed that Jason must have housed the missionaries while they were in town. When the mob tried to track down Paul and Silas, they came after Jason. When they couldn’t find the men they were looking for, they dragged Jason before the city authorities. Jason was forced to give them money as a sort of security deposit for his missionary friends.

While this was happening to Jason, Paul and Silas were able to escape and flee to Berea, where they continued to preach the gospel. Jason, like Hur, should be heralded as a Christian hero, but instead, most Christian don’t know who Jason is.

The attack against him and the money he paid came as a result of Jason doing the right thing. Had he not done his part, the team might not have made it to preach in Berea, where Scripture tells us “many of them believed (Acts 17:12).”

Helping a friend and doing what is right may come with a price, but it will always be worth it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Unsung Hero--Hur

Sometimes in life we all could use a hand.

Moses needed help during the forty years he spent leading Israel through the wilderness. He took advice from Jethro, leaned on Aaron, and was comforted by Joshua. Those three men were famous in their own right: Jethro was a priest, Aaron was the High Priest, and Joshua was the general who later replaced Moses.

But there is another man who helped Moses too. His name was Hur.

Shortly after Israel crossed the Red Sea, and before they reached Sinai, the Amalekites launched a surprise attack on the caravan. General Joshua led his men in battle, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up on a hill to watch and pray. As Moses lifted his arms towards heaven (which was the traditional posture of prayer), he saw Joshua and Israel succeed; but when he lowered his heavy arms the Amalekites prevailed.

Moses tried to keep his arms up, but eventually his strength was gone. Aaron and Hur sat Moses on a large rock, and with one man on each side, held up Moses’ hands until Israel won the battle.

Who was Hur? Most scholars believe this is the only mention of him in Scripture. Josephus says he was married to Miriam, making him the brother-in-law of Moses and Aaron. The Talmud says he was Miriam’s son, making him Moses’ and Aaron’s nephew. They can’t both be right, so the truth is, we don’t know.

Unlike Jethro, Aaron, and Joshua, Hur is otherwise lost in history. But one thing is for sure: Moses was glad to have him by his side when the Amalekites attacked.

You might not ever be the general or priest, but that doesn’t mean God can’t use you to make a big difference. Look to be a Hur for someone today.

But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Exodus 17:12