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Take a leaf out of the Bible

Title: Take A Leaf Out Of The Bible
Artwork by: Bonny (@lovetheark)
Description: Have you ever noticed how often plants are mentioned in the Bible? This project takes a deeper look into the significance of some of the plants recorded in the Bible. The next time you come across one of these plants, may it serve as a reminder of the truths we can learn from different scenes in the Bible.

 

Fig Leaf

Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and disobeyed God’s instructions in the Garden of Eden. Their eyes were opened to sin and in their shame, they used fig leaves to cover their nakedness. The perfect love relationship between God and man was broken.

‘But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”’ (Genesis 3:9). Despite their disobedience and the alienation they experienced with God after that, He sought them out and clothed them with garments of skin (Genesis 3:21).

In the same fashion, God has provided us with a covering through Jesus Christ. When we put our faith in Him, we stand justified and will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11).

 

Palm Branch

During the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, a massive crowd had spread palm branches on the road as they praised God and welcomed “King Jesus”. They thought that He would be the one to overthrow the Roman rule and deliver them from their oppression.

But today, we know that Jesus came to fulfill the Scripture—to deliver us from our sin through His death and give us eternal life by His resurrection. And He will come again to restore everything and declare His Kingship over all the earth.

As believers today with full knowledge of the true identity of Christ, do we anticipate His second coming with the same longing and joy?

 

Mustard Seed

Many of us worry that our faith seems too small, doubting that God acknowledges it. So we try means and ways to grow our faith, hoping that God would recognize it somehow.

However, our faith does not thrive when we focus on how much faith we have; it thrives when we focus on the object of our faith—Our Almighty God.

Even with faith as small as a mustard seed, He can accomplish His great purposes through us. Our faith is crucial not because it is great, but because He is. No matter how insufficient we think our faith is, let’s keep on praying, knowing that He hears our prayers.

 

Wheat

“Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:23-24).

Using an allegory that foreshadowed His death, resurrection and salvation plan, Jesus likened His body to a kernel of wheat that dies and produces a great harvest. In His grace and mercy displayed through His death, His sacrifice gives eternal life to all who believes in Him.

We can embrace the new and abundant life we now have in Christ. But this includes denying ourselves as we choose to follow Him. Self-denial is no easy task. No matter how hard it may be, may we always choose to live a life that bears fruit and honors Him.

 

 

Olive Branch

On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The word “Gethsemane” means “place of the olive press”—and that perfectly encapsulates the suffering that Christ had to endure for our sake.

May we always remember that our salvation came at the cost of Christ’s suffering, and respond with worship that is rooted in gratitude.

 

 

Wildflower

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)

God provides for the wildflowers and grass of the field much more than Solomon, Israel’s wealthiest king, could provide for himself. Likewise, He provides for His people—and much more!

Because of His complete knowledge of us and His faithful provision, we do not have to worry about our needs or what lies ahead of us. In seeking God’s Kingdom first, let us give of our time, possessions and talents generously and joyfully because in Him, we lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).

 

I’m Saved. . . Now What?

Written By Breonna Rostic, USA

I dedicated my life to Christ at the age of 17. I was in the garage then, and the (what I now know to be) Holy Spirit caused unexplainable gratefulness to consume me.

Out of the blue, I began thanking God for everything He’d given me—all the blessings, set-backs and experiences in life. I fell to the cement floor weeping, in my garage full of lawn equipment, dust, and the smell of motor oil.

It was one of my best, but also most awkward, moments. Eventually, I collected my thoughts and got my emotions under control. While I was overjoyed with my decision to give God my life, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Now what?”

Throughout our lives, we often have the chance to ask ourselves, “Now what?” We graduate high school. Now what? Go to university and get a degree. Now what? Start a career, get engaged, build a family. Now what?

I have found that we ask the same thing about our faith. Being saved is a significant milestone for every born-again believer. We have been saved through our faith in Jesus Christ and by His grace alone. But once we are saved, what should we do? Are we required to do anything? Is salvation the beginning? Or the end of our faith journey?

Below are three things I’ve found incredibly beneficial in my faith journey since that day in the garage, and I hope they can help you as well.

 

1. Drawing near to God

God desires a relationship with us. And giving our lives to Him opens the best relationship we’ll ever have. Like any other friendship, an intimate and meaningful bond requires work. It takes time to get to know a person, and the same is true of God. We must invest time to see the relationship develop and mature. The Bible says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

We can draw near to God in a number of ways—through daily devotional time, studying and meditating on His word, prayer, and fasting. These are great everyday disciplines for increasing in the knowledge of God.

However, we shouldn’t get so caught up in legalities that we turn the relationship into a set of religious practices. Spiritual disciplines are about creating consistent communication in the intimate spaces of God, without becoming ritualistic and unavailable for spontaneity.

God can meet us in the most unexpected places if we make time and listen for Him. Sometimes I’d jump in my car without a destination, asking God where He wants to go—we’ve ended up in some very unique places. I’ve also found that praying in nature, or cooking and singing worship songs, are good ways for me to freely connect with Him. Invite God into your daily life, and He will show up.

 

2. Understanding the Kingdom of God

As we draw near to God, specifically as we read the Bible, we start to encounter teaching about the Kingdom of God. God is the King of kings, and the Bible is a story about the King, His kingdom, and His creation. It is important that we seek to understand the Kingdom message.

The Kingdom of God isn’t just our destination in heaven, but our current reality and function on earth (Luke 17:21). In simple terms, the kingdom of God is about God’s reign over all things, not just in heaven (Psalms 103:19). When we repent and submit to the lordship of Christ, we are already part of the kingdom of God. In Matthew 3:2, Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come near.”

The Kingdom message has helped me grow in my journey. No longer do I think of my salvation as just my ticket to heaven. Now I see that I am restored as a co-heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17), and so I have the responsibility to live under Jesus’ reign here and now.

In John 14:12, Jesus says that all who believe in Him will go on to do greater work than He. Understanding that God is working in our world and in our lives right now means that I do not merely look forward to life after death. Instead, by God’s grace I can serve as salt and light in the world, trusting that He will use even the likes of me to build His Kingdom.

 

3. Making Disciples

And finally, once we’ve learned to continually draw near to God, and once we understand the message of the Kingdom, we can make disciples. Jesus told His disciples to go out and teach all nations, making disciples in His name (Matthew 28:18-20). This is known as the Great Commission.

The word “disciple” means to become a follower or student. In other words, Jesus is instructing us to teach what He’s taught. It’s our responsibility to foster relationships that show people Jesus’ great work, our identity in Christ, and the good news of the Kingdom. By doing this, we serve as a living example of what it looks like to follow Christ. And because of our transformation through our salvation, as well as time spent drawing near to God, we can inspire others to be transformed as well.

I’ve found that making disciples doesn’t have to be as frightening or as challenging as I used to believe. Instead, making disciples is about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to save people. I would feel responsible for forcing others to learn the gospel. I used to focus on getting people into the church building, instead of showing them the love of Christ first.

In reality, we can’t save people; we simply live a life that points to the Savior. When we make disciples, we show them how great God is and what He’s done for us. It’s about a relationship, one that ultimately creates a desire for a relationship with God.

I strive to live my life that shows my unsaved family what Jesus means to me. But now I’m careful not to push my faith on them. Instead, I love them and share the good things happening in my life. Amazingly, this encourages them to ask me about the God I serve. Making disciples can happen in many settings: church, work, school, and especially in our own homes.

Earlier in this article, I asked the question, is giving our lives to Jesus the beginning or the ending of our faith journey? Based on what I’ve learned, I would say that it’s just the beginning. Salvation is the gateway to drawing near to God, understanding His Kingdom message, and making disciples.

Poem: Salvation

Salvation-Poem

Written By Michelle Lai

Close your eyes and see
The hour you first believed
Jesus knocked on your heart
You answered and that’s a start
Salvation is a free gift for all
If only you answer His call
It is a precious gift
So don’t give it a miss
The moment might be now
You were lost but now found
Wherever you might be
Jesus has set you free
I want to worship now

There is nothing sweeter than this

Click on the image or click here to download.

Salvation(1)

ODJ: The Narrow Door

June 14, 2016 

READ: Luke 13:22-30 

[Jesus] replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom” (vv.23-24).

Croissants, dumplings, Thai pork curry, and all sorts of scrumptious cuisine. These delicious fares and more await those who find the Narrow Door Café and venture in.

The Narrow Door Café in Tainan, Taiwan, is every bit a hole-in-the-wall; the entrance is barely 15 inches wide! One blogger describes: “Once into the opening, you’ll have to skinny your way about 50 feet to the stairs. From there, you’ll climb the graciously wide 24-inch stairway to the second floor. That is, unless you encounter someone coming the other way, in which case someone needs to retreat and start over.”

We read of another “narrow door” in Luke’s gospel. It’s used as a figure of speech and not a literal opening. A person had asked Jesus in essence, “Will the saved be few?” but Jesus turned it around to ask, “Will the saved be you?” He challenged the individual to “work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom” (Luke 13:24) because the door will one day be closed; and once closed, it will remain so for eternity.

The Scriptures reveal that salvation in Jesus is a gift, received by the free and unmerited favor of God through faith—not based on our own effort. So what does it mean to “work hard”? Like the Narrow Door Café, where one needs to strive to enter, similarly we don’t drift into faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit draws us to Him and reveals our need for salvation, but we must actively receive Him as our Savior.

Have you entered the narrow door to God’s love and forgiveness? Do you have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus, or is it simply superficial? (Luke 13:26-27). The door is narrow, but it’s wide open right now. Don’t delay. Call out to Jesus and confess your need for Him. He’s opened the door for you!

MORE
Read Ephesians 2:5-10 and consider how God has reached out to you by His grace. 
NEXT
How can we know that we’ve entered through the narrow door? How can salvation be a free gift simply received, and yet still require our response? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)