Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“God is our Refuge and Strength, mighty and impenetrable, a very present help in trouble…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge, our High Tower and Stronghold.”
Psalm 46: 1, 11
God, Who Touchest Earth With Beauty
“God, who touchest earth with beauty,
Make my heart anew;
With Thy Spirit re-create me,
Pure, and strong, and true.
Like Thy springs and running waters,
Make me crystal pure;
Like Thy rocks of towering grandeur,
Make me strong and sure.
Like Thy dancing waves in sunlight,
Make me glad and free;
Like the straightness of the pine trees
Let me upright be.
Like the arching of the heavens
Lift my thoughts above,
Turn my dreams to noble action
Ministries of love.
Like the birds that soar while singing,
Give my heart a song.
May the music of thanksgiving
Echo clear and strong.
God, who touchest earth with beauty,
Make my heart anew;
Keep me ever by Thy Spirit,
Pure, and strong, and true.”
Mary S. Edgar
Today’s Study Texts:
“You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month. Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.”
Psalm 1: 3
The Message Bible
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. One each side of the river stood the tree of life; bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.”
Revelations 22: 1-3
“Fed By the Water of Life”
Psalm 1 Part 10
“See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love,
Well supply Thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove.
Who can faint when such a river,
Ever flows their thirst to assuage,
Grace, which, like the Lord the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.”
What does it mean to me when I read Jesus’ words, ‘(The one) who believes in and cleaves to Me will never thirst anymore’ (John 6: 35, Amplified)?”
“As water to the thirsty,
As beauty to the eyes
So is my Lord, my living Lord,
So is my Lord to me.”
“If we consult the Scriptures about the stock into which we have to be grafted, and the kind of tree it is, we find this text concerning wisdom: she is a tree of life to those who hope in her and put their trust in her, as in their Lord. This tree of life into which we have to be grafted is Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God – Christ who by His death, that unprecedented gift of divine love, became for us a tree of life.”
It’s a place that in my mind’s eye I have imagined on more than one occasion. A garden of ultimate beauty. In Genesis 1: 31 we read that our perfect God made this perfect garden and then He spoke this pronouncement: “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and pleasant, and He approved it completely.”
I find it difficult in a world filled with so much death and destruction to get my tiny head around what a garden planted by God would even have looked like. Genesis 2: 8 gives us a slight hint: “And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden, meaning delight, and there He put man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and suitable for food: the tree of life also in the center of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.” However, there’s even more!
Just as a reminder, the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 1: 3 that, “He (she) is like a tree planted by streams of water.” Indeed, if we go back to the beginning of creation, to God’s gift of a garden home called Eden, we find that there were not just stately, robust trees, but also the feeding source of all those trees is identified: “now a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four river heads” (Genesis 2: 10, Amplified Bible). As Tertullian penned in the late 150’s: “The world was made up of all kinds of good things, and gives sufficient indication of the great good in store for the one for whom all this was provided.”
God’s original intention was for His children to live in a garden, surrounded by well-planted trees gaining vitality from rivers of life that kept the fertile soil moist along with the dew from heaven. And yet, we find that what was intended to bring peace and glorious harmony to the “Creatures” on earth, became a forbidden environment because of the toxic poison of sin. Once man and woman gave up their birthright and chose to believe the serpent’s lie, their garden home was banned territory. As we read in Genesis 3: 22-24, “The Lord God said, ‘Behold the man has become like one of us, to know how to distinguish between good and evil, now, lest he put forth his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever – therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.” What a tragic loss of our tranquil garden home. Unsullied by the blight of sin. Lost because we wanted to know what evil was like. We just didn’t want to believe God’s Word down to this very day! We can’t trust Him enough to stay away from sin even though we know it will kill us.
Thankfully, our gracious Father didn’t throw up His hands in despair and say, “Let them get what they deserve!” Instead, He came to earth and in the words of theologian Irenseus, “Just as through a tree we became God’s debtors, so through a tree we receive the cancellation of our debts.” Praise God! We are raised up forever through the tree of Life – a tree planted firmly and watered by the life-giving blood that flowed from Calvary’s tree.
As penned so eloquently by Venantius Fortunatus:
“Fulfilled is now what David told
In true prophetic song of old,
How God the King should be
For God is reigning from the Tree.”
Thank God the story of a tree giving life doesn’t end at Calvary. The fact is that the story of a living, giving tree takes root again. As described in such profound detail by Hugh of St. Victor in the 1100”s:
“The tree of life indeed, the word of the Father, the wisdom of God in the highest, which in the hearts of (His children), as in an unseen paradise, is sown in fear, watered by grace, dies through grief, takes root by faith, buds by devotion…grows by longing, is strengthened by charity, grows green by hope, puts out its leaves and spreads its branches.”
When you and I accept Jesus and become grafted into His life, as the Psalmist tells us, we choose to become a tree, firmly planted and tended by the streams of heavenly water. A tree filled with life, flowing from the throne of God. As the Apostle John penned so long ago – “And he showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and the Lamb…on either side of the river was the Tree of Life” (Revelation 22: 1, 2).
New Songs of Celebration Render
“New songs of celebration render
To Him who has great wonders done.
Love sits enthroned in ageless splendor;
Come, and adore the mighty One.
He has made known His great salvation
Which all His friends with joy confess;
He has revealed to every nation
His everlasting righteousness.
Rivers and seas and torrents roaring,
Honor the Lord with wild acclaim;
Mountains and stones look up adoring,
And find a voice to praise His name.
Righteous, commanding ever glorious,
Praises be His that never cease;
Just is our God, whose truth victorious
Establishes the world in peace.”
(Based on psalm 98)
“Let the sea roar, and all that fills it, the world, and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands together let the hills sing for joy.”
Psalm 98: 7, 8
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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