Will We Learn From History?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

This Saturday night, Jewish people around the world will mourn Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar year. Some of you may know that a lot of bad things have happened to the Jewish people on this date, the first of which was when the spies returned with an evil report of Canaan, the Promised Land, recounted in Numbers 13 and 14. Both the first and the second Temple were destroyed on this exact date, hundreds of years apart. The Crusades began on this day in 1095. The Jews were expelled out of England on this day in 1290, and again were expelled from Spain and Portugal on Tisha B'Av in 1492. And there are many more examples of this infamous day in Jewish history!

The number "nine" is sometimes associated with "judgment" or "fruit" in scripture. Not taking this too far, yet we may still see repeated expressions of the Lord's judgment through this recurring historical pattern. Moses warned, especially in Deuteronomy, of the terrible things which would happen to the Jewish people throughout history were they to abandon the Lord, worship false gods, and forsake His covenants. And He often used idolatrous nations who hated or were jealous of Israel, to bring judgment upon their disobedience, though they often went way too far and angered the Lord bringing His judgment against them as well.

But God's judgments are almost always tempered with His mercy and grace, for one constant purpose — and that is to bring people back to Himself! We see this in our own lives and in the history of nations throughout the world. But as the saying goes, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And we have a powerful example of this in Tisha B'Av. Israel's idolatry brought God's judgment upon her. And as the Jewish people around the world are fasting in preparation for the observance of this "day of judgment", we may remind ourselves of our own past failures which we don't want to repeat!

Will we remember and learn from these past failures? We are not doomed to a fate of failure. If repentance is sincere and deep, we can avoid the judgments and consequences of past sins, and learn from history. If we seek the Lord to expose the roots of failure in our lives, and pray with faith for healing and deep repentance, trusting Him for the power to overcome the sinful nature…we really can avoid a pattern of judgment. Let's spend the time with Him now… so we don't need to return to Him through the terrible shame and sorrow of "Tisha B'Av."

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

Yes, Integrity Matters!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.

Please forgive us for the length of this particular devotion, but it was sent in from some friends of the ministry in Nigeria — please take the time to read this powerful message.

An aging king woke up one day to the realization that should he drop dead, there would be no male in the royal family to take his place. He was the last male in the royal family in a culture where only a male could succeed to the throne – and he was aging. He decided that if he could not give birth to a male, he would adopt a son who then could take his place but he insisted that such an adopted son must be extraordinary in every sense of the word. So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background. Ten boys made it to the very top.

There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities. The king said to them, 'I have one last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne.'

Then he said, 'This kingdom depends solely on agriculture. So the king must know how to cultivate plants. So here is a seed of corn for each of you.Take it home and plant and nurture it for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the seed. That person will be my heir-apparent.' The boys took their seeds and hurried home. They each got a flower pot and planted the seed as soon as they got home. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited with bated breath to see who was destined to be their next king.

In one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when after days of intense care, the seed failed to sprout. He did not know what had gone wrong with his. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seed had turned out to be unproductive.

Some of his friends advised him to go and buy a seed from the market and plant that. 'After all,' they said, 'how can anyone tell one seed of corn from another?' But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that if the king wanted them to plant any corn, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. 'If you take anything different from what the king gave you that would be dishonesty.'

'Maybe we are not destined for the throne. If so, let it be, but don't be found to have deceived the king,' they told him. The d-day came and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a very fine corn seedling. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them, 'Is this what came out of the seed I gave you?'

And each boy responded, 'Yes, your majesty.' And the king would nod and move down the line.

The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking with fear. He knew that the king was going to have him thrown into prison for wasting his seed. 'What did you do with the seed I gave you?' the king asked. 'I planted it and cared for it diligently, your majesty, but alas it failed to sprout.' the boy said tearfully as the crowd booed him.

But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, 'My people behold your next king.' The people were confused. 'Why that one?' many asked. 'How can he be the right choice?' The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, 'I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating corn. It was the test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test.'

If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout.' Never!!

We live in a society that has become obsessed with success and many show success at any cost. We say the end justifies the means. It is the tragedy of life. You see, failure often is an invitation to God to show that he is all powerful and does not need help to make us great or to bless us.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

Sow into the Lives of People!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Mark 9:34-35 But they kept silent: for by the way they had disputed with one another, which one of them was the greatest. And He sat down, and called the twelve, and said to them, "If any man desires to be first, he shall be the last of all and servant of all."

Once there was a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, a large gathering took place in the palace courtyard and our finalists were brought forward.

The first person was a wealthy philanthropist. This man was deserving of the king's honor because of his great humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor, building orphanages, schools and hospitals throughout the land. The second was a celebrated physician. This outstanding doctor was deserving of honor for rendering his faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years and discovering medicines that saved many lives. The third was a distinguished judge. He was noted for his wisdom, his fairness and his many a brilliant decision.

The last person presented before the king was an elderly woman. Her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so very much?

The king was intrigued, to say the least and was somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. Then the answer came: "Well, my king, do you see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge over here? She was their teacher!"

This woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but countless lives were helped, healed and changed through her giving.

We never know whose lives we're touching. I'm sure someone prayed — someone gave — someone shared the Gospel with some of the greatest evangelists, preachers and givers we know.

Let's serve the Lord by sowing unselfishly into the lives of the people he's put in our path — so that they may become great in God's Kingdom!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

Start living on the Edge!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

Psalm 1:2-3 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The first thirty years of my life were spent in Baltimore Maryland and I have many fond memories there. One of these is a trail in the woods by the Patapsco River. I used to go fishing there with my dad and spent many a weekend hanging out with my friends, wading in the water.

Jogging down that same trail yesterday, I noticed for the first time an enormous oak tree growing right along the riverbank and the Lord reminded me of this passage. Each of us is a tree and the river is the Word of God. How big and fruitful we become depends on our proximity to the river.

It's encouraging to know that despite the spiritual drought around us — we don't have to wither! Everything we do can prosper but we must sink our roots deep down at the very edge — as close as we can get — to the living river of God's Word.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

Hello? Can you hear me now?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Matthew 14:23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Here in Israel, cell phones are all the rage. You wouldn't believe it but parents even buy cell phones for their kids and send them to school with them in their schoolbags. I'm talking about six and seven year old kids! While it is true that part of the reason for this cell phone craze stems from the fact that violence goes on here daily and people want to be able to contact one another in the event of an emergency, I would still say that it's somewhat excessive.

Mark Twain was once asked to record a Christmas message on an early gramophone. This is what he said, "It is my heart-warm and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, and admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage–every man and woman of us all throughout the whole earth–may eventually be gathered in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone."

Not that technology is a bad thing, but I think we have become entirely too dependent on it! Telephones, cell phones, televisions, computers, X-Boxes, MP3's. what's next?!

Sometimes I feel like we just need to go back to the basics. Put all those things away in a closet somewhere and just sit down with the Word and with our Father. He wants to whisper in our ears sweet words of encouragement and wisdom. He wants to tell us of His wonderful plans for our lives and reveal to us the extraordinary mysteries of His Kingdom. But we're too busy taking calls!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Wisdom