The Grass Withers

1 Peter 1:22-25 – Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

yyyy-mm-dd - The Grass Withers (IMG_7185)Setting sun behind withered grasses on the shores of Lake EriePresque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania.

Today’s passage from 1 Peter tells us to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart,” and also provides a means by which we can actually achieve this; it is because we “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”  In our sinful hearts our motives are selfish, but with Christ this earnest love is possible.

Peter goes on to remind us that our time in this world is limited by quoting from Isaiah 40:6-8 which reads:

6 A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Life is short.  We need to focus on the important things, drawing near to God through prayer and diligent study of his eternal word, and loving and caring for those around us.  And, the best way we can do that is by sharing the good news of Jesus.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

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Tossed To and Fro By the Waves

Ephesians 4:11-14 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

2014-01-24 - Tossed To and Fro By the Waves (IMG_2450)Wave tossed shoreline of Lake Erie on a stormy morning.  Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

The Sky Above Proclaims His Handiwork

Psalm 19:1-6 – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

2014-01-12 - The Sky Above Proclaims His Handiwork (IMG_7179)The setting sun over the shores of Lake Erie proclaims God’s handiwork. Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania.

Psalm 19 is one of those great passages of the Bible that stirs me deeply every time I read it.  From the smallest grain of sand on a beach to the most distant star in the heavens God created it all.  Through the beauty and power of his amazing creation he makes himself known throughout the earth.  The magnificence of his world should leave no doubt in our minds that there is something greater than us, someone greater than us, our God and our Creator.

I weep for those who do not understand the glory of God, for those who actually believe this is all just random chance acting over time.  If this is true, if we all are here just because of some great cosmic roll of the dice, then there is no real purpose or greater meaning to life than the here and now.  If this is true, then how we live our lives makes no difference at all.  If this is true, then there is no reason for us to value the lives of those around us, or really to care at all.  After all, it is just survival of the fittest, right?

The Bible presents us with a much different view of human life, Genesis 1:27 tells us that, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  We are all image bearers of God, and because of this every human life is of value.  Psalm 139:13 reads, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”  God knew us before we were born; in fact he created us, and because of this every human life is of value, yes, even those not yet born.

Not only does God’s creation proclaim his glory, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).  We too, in our deepest being, know him and proclaim his glory, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).  And yet, we live in a fallen world, a world that rejects God and the truth of his word written in the Bible.  In order to find our way back to him, in order to know his glory, we have but one path, and that is Christ, our Lord, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Not Neglecting to Meet Together

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

2013-12-05 - Not Neglecting to Meet Together (IMG_2484)A quartet of ring-billed gulls gathered together along the shores of Lake Erie. Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania.

I suspect my introverted nature and desire for solitude are traits I share with many who enjoy hiking and the outdoors.  Time alone for prayer, reflection, or simply to get away and recharge our batteries is a good thing.  As I wrote about in a previous blog post, there are plenty of examples in Christ’s own earthly ministry where he and his disciples took time to get away.

But, as much as we may enjoy our time alone, today’s passage from Hebrews reminds us that we should not neglect gathering together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  From the first pages of the Bible we discover that God himself is relational, and, that we are relational beings, created in his image.  In Genesis 1: 26-27 we read,

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

There is much more to these verses, but I have two points that I want to highlight here.  First, God says “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  Here God refers to himself using the plural pronouns us and our, not the singular, me and my. 1 God is clearly relational.  Second, he created us male and female in his image.  We, too, are relational beings.  From the beginning, we were created with a deep need for a relationship with God, as well as relationships with other people.  Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where all of our relationships are complicated by sin and selfishness.

But, there is good news!  As Christians we have hope through Christ.  As Christians we have the opportunity, as today’s passage tells us, to encourage and “stir up one another to love and good works.”  Of course, we can only do these things as long as we are “not neglecting to meet together.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

1 While an explanation and defense of the central Christian doctrine of the Trinity is beyond the scope of a short devotional, this verse does clearly point to the relational nature of God.  If you want to explore the doctrine of the Trinity further, I recommend this link to the Monergism.com website where you will find numerous links to many excellent writings on the doctrine of the Trinity.