Creeping Clover teaches us about the Truth of the Gospel

CREEPING BUSH CLOVER Lespedeza repens

CREEPING BUSH CLOVER
Lespedeza repens

By Orrin Morris

“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The Apostle John quoted this statement when Jesus was confronted with a moral issue, a woman caught in adultery. The Hebrew Law dictated that she was to be stoned to death.

Jesus used the occasion to position Himself as the “light of the world,” that is, the exclusive and faithful source of knowledge about the will of His Heavenly Father. In essence, Jesus said the moral judgments that He made accurately reflect the way God relates to mankind, that is, in redemptive love. (John 8:32ff)

We can be confident that God deeply desires our eternal redemption. That truth was stated by Jesus many times. Furthermore, we are given assurance that God will provide guidance through the presence of his Spirit (John 16:13).

For the Christian, this is comforting, but in the secular arena it is difficult to know the truth. Who is telling the truth? How can we know that we are being told the truth? When we cannot personally experience or view the facts, we simply choose to trust the opinion of a person upon whom we have come to rely.

One year in late September, as the weeds along the road were dying, I spotted a tiny pinkish-purple bloom amid the tans and browns at ground level. I knelt in the ditch and carefully separated the dead materials from the tiny vine. I had discovered another wildflower that was not in my collection.

After taking field notes about color, size (1/4 inch) and shape of the flower (pea-like); length of the vines (6 to 24 inches); shape, markings and size of the three-part leaves (1/2 inch), I searched my library for an accurate identification.

The three-leaf structure suggested it was a clover, but my University of Georgia source did not include it. My Alabama and Carolina sources provided no help either.

Finally, in the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers I found the creeping bush clover. Rather than being in the genus trifolium, it was in the lespedeza. Is it a clover? I think so and will include it in my list of wildflowers as a clover. Several well respected authorities do not include it in their books.

This brings us back to the question of truth. We live in a very strained time in national and world affairs. We choose whom we will believe. History teaches us that this is dangerous when taken to the extreme, dividing families and friends, nations and alliances.

The truth for the moment, as I see it, is that we need a healing of friendships, political parties, religious leaders and participants in international relationships, to name a few.

Pray with me that as Jesus, the Light of the World, said “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

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Prayers of the Hopeful

child-praying

By Joe LaGuardia

I enjoy listening to my children pray.  My seven-year old son started praying regularly just this last season of Lent (it was his commitment for Lent in preparation for his baptism come Easter day).

His prayers are unlike any I’ve ever heard.  Usually, people start their prayers with, “Lord, we ask…” or “Lord, please…”.

Not my son.  He begins every sentence with, “I hope….”

“I hope my mother gets home safely this evening.  I hope that tomorrow is a good day.  I hope that we get to play outside this weekend and there’s no rain.”

I think we need to learn something from him.  We too should approach God full of hope.  We have hope in our hearts, but we can also express hope in our prayers too.  It would make for more honest prayer, that’s for sure.

Hope is appropriate for prayer because it is the substance of faith.  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  When we express our hopes to God, we bear witness to our faith that God is in control of our life and our purpose in the future.

Whether my son knows it or not, when he tells God of all the things for which he hopes, he is declaring his faith in God’s providential wisdom.  I realize he is not that theological, but there is a reason why Jesus let the little children come unto him.

It is because children are honest in their prayers, and we need to learn from them.

Even those who grieve or face hardship may express hope in a prayer to God.  “We do not want you to be uninformed,” Paul wrote to the churches in Thessalonica, “so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Yes, we grieve; but, we do so with hope that God will make all things right in the end (and the new beginning!) of time.  We hope even in our longing and desperation for God’s creation to be made new and whole.

Psalm 4 encourages prayer warriors to trust and hope in God in all situations: “When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds and be silent.  Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord” (verses 4-5).

To me, this verse balances quiet contemplation (we must think about our hopes and dreams and express them to God), with holy action (we respond to God by offering our very lives as living sacrifices, putting all our eggs in God’s basket).

Like my son, we are to pray often with the phrase, “I hope!”, and we can take all things to God in prayer:

“I hope You will give me strength and heal me of this cancer.”
“I hope that I will feel your presence during this time of uncertainty.”
“I hope that my children will be safe today.”
“I hope that I can be courageous in my compassion towards those in need or those who are on the margins.”
“I hope You give me a spirit of forgiveness to reconcile with my enemies today.”

I know it is a leap to go from hoping to seeing the requests of our prayers come true, but we have to start somewhere — and honesty is the best way to go.

In another letter to a group of churches, Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

May our prayers this week be filled with hope, that trust may replace anxiety, assurance replace uncertainty, and holiness replace paralysis.