Category: Devotions

You’ll get a beautiful bride if you capture that city!

In the book of Joshua, Caleb promised to give his daughter Achsah in marriage to whomever captured Kiriath-sepher. Othniel led Israel to that victory and married Achsah.

Pressed by Achsah, her new husband requested and gained a field from her father. Achsah then went even further when she saw her father and asked “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:19) And that’s the inspiration for today’s song.

The prosperity gospel says you can speak something good into existence by naming it and claiming it, thereby cashing in on guaranteed material prosperity. That’s bogus and I avoid it. But because of my steering clear of that, I risk going to the other extreme and not asking for what God really does have for me. Sometimes it is OK to ask for, and receive, more material blessing!

“Springs of Water” includes material blessings for us but then it goes far beyond that:

O Lord, together let us overflow,
We see the harvest field shining in the sun.
Lord, let the river overflow,

We see how the blessing of God’s grace has spread beyond the original promised land in the Middle East to a worldwide outpouring!

Postscripts

This song’s content leads to a couple of observations on what makes a good worship song. First, it’s hard to go wrong when you put Scripture to song. You are singing timeless truths!

A good worship song has biblical imagery even when the lyrics are not quoting bible verses. Take “overflow” from today’s song. The song is not quoting a verse here, but you can indeed find the idea of overflow quite often in Scripture. For example, anyone who is growing in Jesus is
“rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7. 

The content of todays’ song contrasts nicely with the bizarre imagery often found in contemporary worship songs. It’s often so different from what’s in the Bible that it makes you scratch your head. Here’s a parody of this kind of imagery, where the worship song even includes avocados! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cst1YYQZwsM

We first sang today’s “Springs of Water” song decades ago and it still brings tears of joy. Today’s video was sung in the United Kingdom in 1985 and the song was popular in the charismatic renewal on this side of the Atlantic, too. The link to view it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NCNlJorNME

Finally, as a bonus, you can find a good devotion with another slant on Achsah on the website my wife and her friend keep, Dig Deeper Devotions.

https://www.digdeeperdevotions.com/2021/04/22/acsah/

Why refuse mercy?

We love singing about God’s mercy and love. But not everybody dwells in God’s mercy. Is God depriving them of something? Does he have a mean streak?

To answer that, first consider this question:  If someone sincerely cries out “Lord, have mercy” would God ever say no?

Never, because “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b)

But what if someone says, “God, I don’t need your mercy”? And they repeatedly say “No.” Will they receive mercy? No, God lets them stay where they are.

Here’s a friendly warning:

Don’t have a hard heart! To see this at work consider the book of Exodus. Pharoah was warned to let the Israelite people to go. But Pharoah said no and God sent a plague each time Pharoah disregarded the warning. Each plague was worse than the one before it, but Pharoah still did not listen. With each plague he got more stubborn and hardened.

The same thing happens today when people say no. The more they say no the more they become hardened.

King David wrote the following after plotting the death of the husband of a woman he had slept with. David deserved the death penalty for that. Yet, forgiveness was available! Mercy is what we receive instead of the wrath that we deserve.

 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalm 51:1-2)

King David’s plea gave a sneak preview of what was fulfilled later in the arrival of King Jesus.

 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:4-6)

Here is my cordial plea: Please don’t be like the Pharoah. He did not ask for mercy and it did not work out very well for him. Do you want mercy? Just ask for it in the name of Jesus Christ.

Peace Far Beyond Logic

‘Jacob will again have peace and security,
    and no one will make him afraid.
 I am with you and will save you,’
    declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:10b-11a)

I had read this text plenty of times over the years but, more than I realized, I was using reasoning to try and understand it. This past summer though, this passage drew me far beyond logic until there were tears in my eyes.

Why?

I rarely feel anxiety but twice in one week I woke up in the night with my heart pounding. Unexpected obstacles had suddenly arisen in planning a road running series for our running club [that my wife and I were directing.] There was last-minute miscommunication and misunderstanding with the township whose field we were using. They might suddenly nix our plan to hold the races there.

Lying wide awake with my heart pounding, I was not able to just logically and rationally say “Heart, slow down.” With this burst of anxiety, God disciplined and challenged me, daring me to cut down my trust in my own logic.

This kind of divine logic overrule can happen even when we are not doing anything disobedient towards God. Yet, as a friend in my Battleground men’s group reminded me, God sometimes lovingly corrects us with a view to growing us. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10b-11)

So we were going through the trial and were not sure of exactly how it would end…. would our whole race series have to be cancelled? Could we have a sense of security and lack of fear even in the middle of uncertainty?

We knew that God does not say “yes” to every request for the removal of obstacles. He often does, but it is not guaranteed. But there is a guarantee of being comforted, even having joy, right in the middle of everything hitting the fan.

So we did pray that God would clear up the obstacle. We are thankful he did, and our series went on as planned. But what was amazing was how we began to experience God’s provision of peace even before that prayer was answered. We got a taste of what true peace and security mean. That was a nice step on the way to being able to resist when unpredictable circumstances start to drive us nuts!

Should we seek the spotlight?

We live in an attention-seeking age. That’s true not only in the wider culture, but even inside the Christian church, as we’re told that as Christians, we should make a giant visible impact for the Kingdom of God.

But what about someone who leads a quiet life, serving the Lord behind the scenes with actions that don’t get widely known or garner much attention and are quite outside the spotlight?

Today, I applaud out-of-the-spotlight people. I’m reminded of a memorial service at my old church. The honoree was a quiet and unassuming man who did not stand out in the public worship service. But at the memorial, person after person came up to testify about the loving deeds he had done in the name of Jesus that no one knew about.

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12a)

Could it be that loving God’s family more and more is more important than flashiness? How far this is from a “whatever works” mentality —- the philosophy that given the right techniques and programs, your church will look successful and your attendance will skyrocket?

One more thought about this quiet life: so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.

Suppose as a Christian I am known for loud, angry outrage at all that’s wrong in society and show myself to be a nasty troll on social media. Instead of loving, I become a spewing volcano of invective. Someone says, ‘If that’s what Christians are, I want no part of it.”

That may be giving someone an excuse to reject the truth of the gospel.

On the contrary, I’d like to live in a way such that someone might say “I don’t believe what that guy is saying about Jesus, but at least the way he lives is consistent with what he is preaching.”

Why be an unnecessary obstacle? I’d rather have them wrestle with the real reasons they don’t want to believe…….than be able to use me as an excuse for not believing!