Archive for February, 2020

Giving and receiving –taking another look

February 26, 2020

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well in illustrating the principle of giving and receiving.

It has been a while since I posted a blog entry inspired by the Verse of the Day, so I thought I would share comments based on a recent experience while waiting for my appointment with my oncologist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Washington, DC. My wife and I have relocated from North Carolina to Northern Virginia, and this was my first appointment with the VA Hospital in DC where I formerly worked as a pharmacist more than 45 years ago. Oh, the Providence of God. . . As I sat in the waiting room, a chaplain came in spreading “some good news for the day.” He handed strips of paper with Bible verses to those who wanted to receive them. I smiled and accepted the “Verse of the Day” he gave me, a verse that you could apply that day and every day for that matter:

Luke 6:38 (New King James)

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

This verse relates an immutable principle expressed in Scripture in a number of ways. In Genesis, after the flood, we find a reference to “seed-time and harvest.” Malachi mentions the principle of “tithing,” a specific form of giving. In Philippians, Paul speaks of “giving and receiving” while he mentions “sowing and reaping” in Corinthians and Galatians.

In a previous blog post on the subject of “giving and receiving,” I offered an illustration of the principle by discussing “Spiritual Implications and Applications of Pomegranates” in this excerpt :

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. Since the fruit abounds with seeds, the pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seed-time and harvest.” Here we note that God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, not 1:100, but just for purposes of rounding off, let’s say, 1:500 as an example of the ratio of return. From planting one seed, if you get one tree which eventually produced 100 pomegranates that would be a ratio of 1/50,000 in one year. What if you planted an orchard from just one pomegranate and eventually had 100 trees with hundreds of pomegranates with hundreds of seeds produced every year, you could not calculate the total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of the magnitude of this spiritual principle is expressed poetically in this way:

A Hundredfold

But others fell on good ground, sprang up,
and yielded a crop a hundredfold. . . .
Luke 8:8a

Orchards of pomegranate trees
stem from fruit of a single seed
whose life is found within itself,
sown in fertile soil of the heart.

While reflecting on the “Verse of the Day” the chaplain gave me, I also thought of a song by Ron Kenoly who captures the essence of the promise given by the Lord Jesus Christ, as we will close with “Give and it will come back to you” [ Luke 6:38 ]

Reflecting on God’s goodness: If it had not been for the Lord

February 1, 2020

This morning I wake up and begin my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for as I reflect upon the goodness of God. I think of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, my book where I share the challenges I faced and the victories I’ve won in my battle against prostate cancer. Chapter 4 closes with a reference to Psalm 124 which I would read aloud in the New Living Translation over and over. Here the Psalmist stimulates my thinking with one of those “What if?” questions.

Psalm 124
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

1 What if the LORD had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
2 What if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
3 They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
4 The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.
6 Praise the LORD,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
8 Our help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
6 Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!

Verse 1 in the King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
Psalm 124:1

If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,
But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand-new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

We close this time of reflection with “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord,” Christian worship and scripture song by Esther Mui: