Monday, May 27, 2024

A Father's Love


This passage from Psalm 103 is incredibly comforting.  It is bookended by two statements of God’s love for His children, and packed in the middle with a tender understanding of how frail we humans really are.


Psalm 103:17 - But from everlasting to everlasting

    the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him


Things to think about:

·       Psalm 103:13 - As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;

o   14 for he knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

o   15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;

o   16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

o   17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children—

o   18 with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

·       This psalm does such a beautiful job of illustrating God’s gentleness for those who do their best to follow Him

o   As fathers we can relate to how much we love our children just because they are our children.

§  Even when we mess up, He has compassion.  Why?  It’s in His nature as a father

·       Even in the most challenging parent/child relationships, we never stop loving our kids.  How much more our Heavenly Father?

·       How do you find comfort in this?

o   But also because He knows well that it’s in our nature to stumble and fall.

§  We are formed from mere dust. Our Creator knows we are not made of the best stuff…yet.  But when we are with Him in Heaven we will have a new body designed to last.

§  How does it make you feel knowing that God always keeps in mind our inherent weakness?

o   This life is so short in the scheme of eternity.  We flourish for a season and then poof – we’re gone from this Earth! While what we do here does matter for eternity, it’s also just a very small season in the context of eternity.

§  All of our successes and failures are real but they are also quite temporary

§  How does it make you feel knowing that in the relative scheme of things our time here is so brief?

·       Yet God’s love is anything but temporary

o   But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him

§  He will never leave you or forsake you

§  And for all of you grandparents, His righteousness is with our children’s children (Amen!)

·       But please note, these promises aren’t for everyone. 

o   Three times the psalmist reminds us that we are active participants in this relationship

§  For those who fear Him (vv. 13, 17) and those who keep His covenant and obey His precepts (v 18)

§  He doesn’t expect perfection, but He does want our genuine commitment

Gentleness, compassion, understanding, faithfulness – these are some of the qualities we see in God’s nature and attitude towards you and me today.

·       How does focusing on these truths encourage and comfort you?

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Gardener


The passage from John 15 will be familiar to most where Jesus uses the word picture of Himself as the vine, the father as the gardener, and His followers as branches.   Let’s explore how the gardener trims and nurtures the vine.


John 15:1 – I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener


Things to think about:

·       John 15:2 - “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

o   Did you notice that no branch is untouched by the Gardener’s hand?

§  Everyone is accountable to God

o   What is pruned on the fruitful branches may not be sinful in and of itself, just not the best

§  Little branches that take away from the larger branch are called suckers. They deprive the branch of all the nutrients they can use to be their healthiest.

·       Busyness, hobbies, idleness, fear

o   Of course, what needs to be pruned may be detrimental to the health of the branch like pride, bad habits, indulgences

·       I suspect some branches are going to be surprised they were lopped off

o   Matthew 7:21-23 - “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

·       What is the point of the vine and its branches? 

o   That they bear fruit. 

§  John 15:5 - If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.

o   What fruit are they to bear?

§  To love one another.

§  John 15:10-12 -  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

§  How can you recognize His fruit?

·       Selflessness, humility, grace

·       John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

·       What is the point of this garden?

o   John 15:8 – This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be My disciples.

o   God wants us to bear MUCH fruit – and all for HIS glory

§  Ask God what needs to be pruned so you can bear as much fruit as possible