Devotionals

Heather Whitehouse portrait

Heather Whitehouse

Food for the spirit.

Dear KDS presidents, Southwest Ontario District Members, Ontario members-at-large, members in the USA and other dear friends in Christ,

In Canada we are eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving,which will soon be with us. While in America Thanksgiving will be here in November. Since I write for writing to friends in both countries I am attaching two devotionals: One is more suited to celebration and Thanksgiving is around the corner. The other devotion addresses the important topic, “Just how urgently you are seeking God?”

I hope you will find each interesting and pause for reflexion. I am always interested in your feedback and appreciate encouragement. Especially as various Bible study groups in both Canada and America use these, please use them in the order most appropriate to your country.

Speaking of thanksgiving, I want to thank each circle presidents for circulating these to your members. My other dear friends are also free to pass these on to your friends.

Since I am writing from Canada, it is timely that I wish everyone a lovely and blessed coming Thanksgiving.

Heather

Nicolae and the Villagers

Posted by on Apr 8, 2018 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Nicolae and the Villagers

“Hear the words of the Lord, O house of Jacob and the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, ‘What wrong did your ancestors find in Me that they went far from Me?…The priests did not say ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those that handle the Law did not know Me.’” (Jeremiah 2: 4-5, 8)

As we look towards Passion Week I want to share with you a very old tale*, but one that is just as relevant, if not more so, as re-cast (and arguably re-molded) by me, as a World War II story. Here is the tale: As the Nazis rolled eastwards through the Carpathian Mountains of the Ukraine they came to a village. In this village lived a young man, who was a fugitive, hunted by the Nazis. The villagers liked him well enough. In fact, they had often listened to him speaking to them. Some wanted to protect him. But as they knew (and we the readers know) protecting such a fugitive might mean death to his individual protectors, or even the destruction of the whole village. So the people went to their village leader, Nicolae, the old priest, and asked him what to do. Nicolae considered this. After some time he advised the people to give up the fugitive and save the community. Then in the village there was much relief, rejoicing and feasting, because they believed that the priest had saved the village. Unfortunately, as another consequence of this advice – which the villagers had eagerly accepted- the fugitive was led away first to be whipped and then gruesomely killed. That night an angel came to the priest and asked him, “What have you done?” Nicolae replied, “I handed him over to save the village.” Then the angel said, “Didn’t you know that you handed over the Messiah?” Nicolae, the priest, anxiously replied, “How could I have known that?” The angel said, “If you had looked in His sad eyes you would have known, but you would not go to Him.”

*This basic tale is also cited by Henri Nouwen in The Wounded Healer, chapter 2.

Questions for Group Discussion or Individual Reflection:

  • Were the villagers really saved by betraying the young fugitive?
  • The philosopher/theologian Martin Buber argues that false prophets/priests develop their message out of the wishes and desires common to themselves and their people. Do you agree? If so, then are the people as guilty as their prophets/priests?
  • Do you think this message of wish fulfilment (i.e. if you get rid of him, you will be saved) in Jesus’ day led Israel astray? What wishful messages to-day are people buying into?
  • You may recognise that this tale is a very loose re-casting of Caiaphas’ decision and the death of Jesus; as well, in my telling the Nazi occupiers are a stand-in for the Roman occupiers. Do you think Caiaphas/Nicolae was just caught up in wanting to fulfil the wishes of the crowd and in the face of a “practical reality?”(The Romans/Nazis were vicious occupiers) OR do you think Caiaphas/Nicolae was inherently evil or aligned with evil and willingly led the people astray to protect his position as high priest?
  • If Jesus came back to-day as a young hippie, if they thought He was a threat to their security, do you think the people would be willing to give Him up? Might contemporary world leaders (of, for example, The United States, Russia, China, etc.) find Jesus a national security and a personal threat and seek a way to kill Him?

Other important scripture to Consider:

Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it. For what does it profit a person, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”(Mark 8:35-36)

Caiaphas said, “Do you not realize that it is better that one man die for the people than that that whole nation be lost?” (John 11:50)

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Psalm 53: 6)     

 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write…this is to your credit… You hate the work of the Nicolai-tans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2: 1, 6)       

I, Heather Whitehouse, Ontario Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, re-cast (and it may be argued re-formed or re-molded) this mediaeval traditional story into a modern setting. I did this because I believe this new setting adds drama, let me develop the story and I believe, added relevancy for modern people. Working initially with an argument made by Martin Buber, I developed the questions. I also selected all scripture cited.

Written for Passion Week, 2018.

The Christmas Gift

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

The Christmas Gift

On entering the dwelling, they [the 3 wise men] saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  (Matthew 2: 11)

It was the week before Christmas, and everyone in the house was busy getting Christmas gifts together and placing them under the tree. The Smalls were a poor family, so this year they had chosen names and each person was to receive only one gift from a family member. They had gone to the market and bought the best tree that they could afford. It was only 5 feet tall. That was shorter than anyone in the family except Mary, who was a six-year old. But at least it was a perfect tree; that is, one without a bad side. Some of the boxes were large and some were small; some stout and some were elegant; and some were better wrapped than others. On Christmas morning when the family received their gifts they found that there was one extra gift. But who was it for? Who was it from? No one had any idea. They were not expecting anyone else to be present. When they looked closely they saw it was a gift from Mary, the youngest child. The tiny card read “To Jesus from Mary.” When they opened it there was NOTHING inside the gift box. Mother gently asked Mary why she had given Jesus an empty box. And she answered “it’s full of love and kisses from my heart.” Everyone else stopped opening their gifts and stared at Mary.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. What had Mary done that the others had not?
  2. Do you think Mary had a good idea? Speculate as to where she may have gotten this idea?
  3. Mary expected Jesus to in some sense “show up” for His birthday gift. How real for you is the idea that Jesus may truly “show up” anytime in your life-time?
  4. Mary was a little child. What does Jesus tell us about how we are to receive Him?
  5. How much value do you think Jesus would find in Mary’s gift to Him?
  6. Amid all of the gift-giving, how much time and thought have you given to the meaning of Jesus’ birth?
  7. If you were asked to give Jesus a gift, what gift would you give Him?

Additional Scripture to Consider:   

 “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ (Mark 10:15)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, . December, 2017

Truth

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Truth

Whenever in scripture –both the Hebrew and the New Testament –the word we translate as “truth” relies foundationally upon the Hebrew word “emeth” The Greek equivalent word is “alaytheia.”  “Emeth” is a very difficult word to translate into English, because it comes from a very different culture than ours. Most often when we translate this word from either Hebrew or Greek we mean veracity; but sometimes we mean fidelity i.e. faithfulness. “Amen” another Hebrew word is closely related to emeth; it affirms as a statement of truth in the phrase “so it is!” Here is an example of how emeth can be legitimately translated differently in English. The Psalmist wrote,

“I have spoken of your faithfulness [or your truth] and your salvation from the great congregation” (Ps. 40:10)

Interestingly, the symbol that best expresses the meaning of emeth is the rock. You can build on rock. You can rely on rock as a secure foundation for your existence. “Emeth” in scripture signifies the ultimate in reliability. It means fundamental truth upon which you can build your life reliably. The important thing to realise here is that “emeth” comes as close as any concept can come to embracing the reality of the unconditional love of God for us. This, God’s free gift to us, is everlasting!

In the New Testament “alaytheia” is simply substituted for “emeth” Consider these interesting translations of major NT verses:

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth [or your word epitomises faithfulness].” (John 17:17); Pilate said to Jesus: “What is Truth?” (John 18:38)

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the fundamental truths that you rely upon?
  2. To whom or to what are you faithful?
  3. In this modern society is the old virtue of fidelity still in your top 10?
  4. Have you tried reading more than one English version of a Bible passage in order to better get the real meaning of the passage? If you have tried this, has it made a difference to your understanding?
  5. Do you read the Bible with others and share your understanding of what the passages mean? If so, do you find the group-consensus improves your understanding?
  6. In Hamlet Polonius said “To thy own self be true.” What do you think he meant?
  7. The word “emeth” is symbolized by the rock. Perhaps you have heard Christy Nockles’ song “Jesus, rock of ages?” Who is the rock in your life? Is Jesus, that Rock?
  8. How do you understand Jesus’ saying, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life?” (John 14:6)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario Chaplain, The Kings Daughters and Sons, Fall, 2017

The Thanksgiving Visitation

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

The Thanksgiving Visitation

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:3)

In my opinion our faith is enhanced by faith-related legends. According to the Webster Dictionary a legend is “a story coming down from the past, especially one popularly regarded as historical, although not verifiable.” (bold italics added) Legends may or may not be always strictly biblical, but they are important, as they teach our children virtues we want to them to learn. Saint Nicholas and Robin Hood are other famous examples of virtuous people in legends.  Hassidic Jewish rabbis have given us legends, too. To understand this story you need to understand two new concepts. First:  What is a “shabbos goy”?   Because Orthodox Jews are not permitted to work after dusk on a Sabbath, shabbos goys are employed to help prepare food and serve dinner, etc. during the Sabbath.  Second:  What is a “tzadik”? The rabbis teach that God has appointed 36 “tzadiks” to serve Him in the world. Tzadiks   behave like angels, but they are mortal. Acting for God they a) help hold evil at bay; b) report directly to God about what is happening on earth; c) have supernatural powers, so that with the approval of God they may intervene to help others; d) and finally, they are willing to suffer (and in extreme cases they are even willing to die to save others.)  Tzadiks are found in the Talmud, in the Kabbalah, and the rabbis say in Genesis, chapter 18 in which three unusual “men” appeared to Abraham and Sarah. Christians usually have assumed that these three “men” were angels.

Our devotion tells an ancient legend and then asks you to ponder questions about the story. Because Thanksgiving is a more relevant holiday for Christians,  I have changed  the setting from its traditional Passover setting  to Thanksgiving and I have also made sure that the Thanksgiving dinner is celebrated after dusk on  a Friday Sabbath evening.

Matthew and Anna were a Jewish couple; Anna was in her mid-40s and had experienced a very disappointing prolonged period; for years she had been trying to get pregnant but remained barren.  Her mother had also died of breast cancer that year.  Now it was getting close to Thanksgiving. As they planned for Thanksgiving they decided to invite not only their large extended family, but also  a newly arrived Muslim family that had not only just immigrated from Jordan, but who had experienced  having their  new  mosque fire-bombed.

Anna realized that she would need the help of a sabbos goy on this important holiday and she thought,    “Why not hire Noor (Arabic for Light), one of the elderly Islamic women in the family to help?”   During the meal Noor served; when she was not needed serving, Noor organized the food. Matt and Anna’s family and the invited Islamic family were having a wonderful time sitting around the festive table. Then near the end of the meal Anna’s cousin, Rachael, who walked with the use of a cane, decided to help bring some used dishes to the kitchen. There came a horrible crashing sound; Rachael had accidentally bumped against a pile of china, sending the dishes to the floor. Rushing into the kitchen Anna, the hostess, saw pieces of her china (a wedding gift from her mother) shattered all over the floor. Not wanting to accept blame herself, Anna’s cousin blamed the elderly shabbos goy for the accident and Noor covered for her by accepting the blame.   Then Anna comforted Noor and forgave her. Noor swept up the mess she hadn’t made.  At the end of the dinner Noor put away the uneaten food and washed the dishes. Anna, as a gesture of kindness, paid Noor and did not withhold any funds because of the broken wedding china.  Nine months later, Anna bore Matthew a beautiful child. It was a miracle!     

Study Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Matthew and Anna respond at Thanksgiving to a very disappointing year? Would you have felt thankful to God in this situation? What do you think they still might be thankful for?
  2. What acts of kindness, generosity or forgiveness did Anna perform?
  3. Who do you think the tzadik was? Why? Were you surprised?
  4. If you thought the woman in the kitchen was the tzadik, why might I have described the woman who served as the shabbos goy as elderly? Islamic? Why from an immigrant community?
  5. What does this description tell you about my own conception of whom God might call to serve Him?
  6. Instead, if I had chosen to set this legend tradition in a Christian home and made the family the Troyers, a North American Christian family, besides some minor recasting (as Christians don’t use shabbos goys), do you think I have the moral authority to re-tell this legend in this way? Why or why not?  Might not God choose to use someone else in the kitchen as His tzadik? Perhaps, the answer depends upon whether you believe that all the promises God made to Israel also apply to Christians. (Read Col.3:12-14)

Relevant Scripture to Consider:

  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
  • “Your generosity  will result in thanksgiving to God” ( 2 Cor. 9:11)
  • “Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37)

 

This ancient Hassidic Jewish legend has been told by rabbis and others for hundreds of years. Every telling of this legend is unique, as the legend is re-shaped by the story-teller. I, Heather Whitehouse, am the author of this version of the legend.

I also serve as the Ontario Branch Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, Autumn, 2017.

When Confession is Delusion

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

When Confession is Delusion

“Confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16)

In this month’s devotion I want to deal with the question, “Why is it so much easier to confess our sins to God than to one another?” Since God is righteous, just and without sin and hates sin -while on the other hand fellow man knows himself intimately and, therefore, knows she/he is a sinner- why do we chose to only confess our sins to God? I also ask myself, if I have confessed to God, then why do I keep relapsing into the very sins that I think I have confessed? When I ask myself these questions, the disturbing answer I get is that in such instances we may not be truly interacting with God, but are actually be confessing only to ourselves and then granting ourselves self-absolution! When that is what we are doing, what a travesty that is! Our Christian obedience is then failing precisely because self-forgiveness is not real forgiveness and can never lead to breaking with the sin “confessed.” For this very reason the Bible offers us another model to follow: “Confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16) As we know sin loves the darkness, but we are called to the light and to become light. When we never confess our sins our sins remain in the dark. Confessing to another person brings our human frailties out into the light, where they can be cleansed and forgiven.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. When you confess, not to another person but completely alone, are you satisfied that you are really confessing to God, or do you think sometimes you are only speaking to yourself? Can you tell the difference?
  2. What do you experience when you feel you have received forgiveness?
  3. If a person sins and the one sinned against is still alive, can only that person forgive you? What if she/he will not? Who then can forgive you?
  4. Why are you afraid to confess to another human being? Is it because you want your fellow human to see you as more perfect than you really are? Is it because you do not want to be vulnerable? Is that vulnerability shame?
  5. Can you see that the person who usually confesses only to themselves, instead confesses in the presence of another person is able to break the cycle of self-delusion and can experience the presence of God in presence of another member of his/her community?
  6. Who is a disciple of Christ? I personally believe that every Christian is a disciple and can forgive sins. What do you believe? Besides, God, can [only] a priest or pastor offer forgiveness/absolution?

Other Scriptural Passages to Consider:

  • Jesus said to His disciples, “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained” (John 20: 23)
  • Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among them”               (Matthew 18:20-21)
  • “He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario Chaplain, The Kings Daughters and Sons, June, 2017

Begging for Bread

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Begging for Bread

“He [the LORD] raises the beggar from the dust; He lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour” (1 Samuel 2:8)

Who wants to be a beggar? Not many people. And that’s for sure! The modern man or woman with 2 cars and a home and a mortgage considers him/herself middle class and doing OK. Thank you very much. On the other hand the man who lives in a completely paid off $ 5 million dollar home with 3 cars and a yacht thinks the person with only 2 cars and a mortgage is socially/economically far below him. And the person who lives by dumpster–diving looks up at the person with 2 cars and knows that he/she is amongst the beggar class in North American Society. What is more, and in clear contrast to the myth of upward mobility, more and more poor and middle class people are economically trapped in place or are on a downward spiral. To-day, as in Jesus’ day, many rich people tend to despise the beggar class. Read the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Consider also the story of Bartimaeus, in which many people who likely needed help did not cry out to Jesus for help, but Bartimaeus did (Mark 10:46-52). Now consider the story of the Prodigal Son, where the prodigal chose to return to his father who (like our Heavenly Father) loves and welcomes him home, while the elder brother remains wretched, jealous, in emotional pain and spiritually poverty-stricken. (Luke 15: 11-32). Lastly consider that Jesus, Himself, said, “We will always have the poor with us” (Matthew 26:11)

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  • Who was needier? Lazarus or the Rich Man? the prodigal son or the elder brother? Bartimaeus or the people on the street who did not cry out to Jesus? For each of these pairs of people, how did the needs of each person differ?
  • What duty did the Rich Man owe to Lazarus?
  • How do you feel about Jesus’ statement “We will always have the poor with us”? Why do you think Jesus said that?If you are uncomfortable with that statement, might your discomfort really lie with the broken world that we humans have brought into being beginning with our ancestors Adam and Eve?
  • Whether we are wealthy, middle class or poor, what is our responsibility to help spiritually bring in the Kingdom of God? What is our responsibility to proclaim Christ to all?
  • What did Jesus mean when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”? (Matthew 5:1)
  • How do we all in the end come to Christ, as princes or as beggars?

Another Quote to Consider:

“Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”

(D.T. Niles)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, ON Chaplain, The Kings Daughters and Sons, June, 2017

Project of Heart – Residential School Interactive Project

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Project of Heart – Residential School Interactive Project

A few years ago, our government apologized to our First Nations people for the injustice that had been done for generations.
For over 100 years, Aboriginal children were removed from their families and sent to institutions called residential schools. The government-funded, church-run schools were located across Canada and established with the purpose to eliminate parental involvement in the spiritual, cultural and intellectual development of Aboriginal children. The last residential schools closed in the mid-1990s.
During this chapter in Canadian history, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were forced to attend these schools some of which were hundreds of miles from their home. The cumulative impact of residential schools is a legacy of unresolved trauma passed from generation to generation and has had a profound effect on the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.
Collective efforts from all peoples are necessary to revitalize the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and Canadian society –
-reconciliation is the goal
It is a goal that will take the commitment of multiple generations but when it is achieved, when we have reconciliation – it will make for a better, stronger Canada.

Heads I Win

Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Heads I Win

“The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed of; but anything exposed to the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated will turn into light(Eph. 5:12-14 italics added)

“Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously, for our falling does not hinder Him in loving us(Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love)

My friends, Satan has set a “head’s I win, tails you lose” type of trap for us and we keep falling into it! On the one hand, because we don’t want people to really see who we feel we are, publicly, we present a false self in which we pretend to be honest, hard-working, and happy people; but as a result of this deception- if we still know right from wrong- we often despise ourselves. On the other hand, internally, we often feel we are unacceptable and un-loveable to others and to God. Satan’s greatest psychological weapon is our own gut-level feelings of inferiority, less-than- others; sense of inadequacy; and low self-esteem. We are called to a life of transformation and spiritual journeying and growth. However, self-rejection is itself a sin against godly development because it stops these life-giving processes. As I affirm the truth that we have all sinned and turned astray, I think of my own life and I smile to myself, for I identify with Mae West (an early 20th c. actress) who said, “I used to be Snow White — but I drifted.” It is important to remember that as we name and recall our mis-deeds and name our lowly self-perceptions God forgives our shameful deeds and turns them and us into light and raises up our self- perceptions giving us new life.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. As God was walking in the Garden He called to the man asking, “Where are you?” and Adam answered, “I heard You in the Garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen. 3:9-10) Notice that the serpent is associated with that tree; the serpent is not associated with the Tree of Life. Do you think that eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil led Adam and Eve away from the Tree of Life?
  2. Do you think that our tendency towards having low self-esteem is in some sense connected to this act of Adam and Eve? Have there been times when we have passively allowed evil to take root in us? When and why did we allow this?
  3. Do you truly believe that God wants to rescue us from the traps that Satan sets? And do you know that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:23; Romans 10:13), provided that they repent and turn away from sin?

Making All New

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Making All New

“Behold, I will make all things new” (Rev. 21:5)

“Behold, I will make something new spring forth” (Isaiah 43:19)

Easter is a season of re-birth and of second chances. Illustrating this gift is the story of Chuck Colson. The 1960’s-70’s was a time when I was politically interested in American politics, and in my college days I became acquainted with H.R. (Bob) Haldeman, who later became President Nixon’s Chief of Staff. I actively read the papers and was following events at the White House at the time of the Watergate Break-in. But, for me, more interesting than the story of Bob Haldeman was that of his associate, Chuck Colson. Let me remind you – or if you are younger, paint you a picture- of Chuck Colson in the White House. Chuck was quoted as publicly saying: “I’d walk over my own grandmother to re-elect Richard Nixon” and he also had a sign on his wall reading “Once you have them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.” Eventually both men ended up in prison. But Chuck Colson’s story took an unexpected turn: In prison, Chuck became a Christian and experienced a re-birth in character; he went on to found a Prison Ministry. Reflecting on Colson’s experience, I think of this scripture: “We, therefore, were buried with Him into death, in order that through baptism, just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father we, too, may walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4)

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. We often do not know the interior experiences a person has that result in the person’s character undergoing such a life-giving change. How important do you think faith may be in this transformation? What do you think is the role of the Holy Spirit?
  2. “For You [God] all things are possible” (Mark 14:36), but what about you? Have you experienced a newness of life? If not, are you seeking it? How are you seeking it?
  3. When people that you know mess up, after a time has passed, how open are you personally to believing that they may have actually changed? Why is it difficult for you?
  4. When church people have, in their past history, “fallen,” how do you find they are treated at your church? We are all sinners, but is church really an emotionally safe place for sinners?
  5. What is the role of experiencing forgiveness in the motivation to be open to God and personal transformation? How important is repentance in seeking forgiveness?

Another scripture to consider:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, all things have been made new” (2 Cor. 5:17)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, ON 1stVP/Chaplain, The King’s Daughters & Sons, March, 2017

Lenten Fruit

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Lenten Fruit

“Either make the tree good , and its fruit good; or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33) and “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure”(Luke 6:45)

Recently our family decided that each of us would spend some time looking at all the boxes of junk we have stored up in our basement with a mind to getting rid of all this tired old stuff we have collected over the years. In other words it’s time for a good Spring cleaning and why not on March 1st Lent begins this year. But friends it’s not just time to clean out the dirty old boxes of junk, it’s also time to clean out our hearts of all the grievances, the anger, and mistrust we each have accumulated over time. We need to listen to our hearts to know where we stand. What sorts of things do we say to each other? What sorts of things do we think about ourselves and about other people? Jesus said, “I Tell you on the Day of Judgement you will have to give an account of every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

We own a fruit farm and we are hoping to see beautiful new growth on our apple, pear and cherry trees. But we won’t see these developing without first pruning all the dead and disfigured parts of the trees. Of course, the same is true for ourselves; we want to see our lives in Christ open and grow putting out beautiful petals and bearing only good fruit.

Personal or Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. We all constantly hear rumours, tales, backstories and innuendo. Do we really need to acquire, (or do we need to divert ourselves of) these? Is all this junk cluttering up our hearts and poisoning us?
  2. The reading above of Luke 6:45 speak of treasures. Where might we pick up some of these good treasures? Consider Philippians 4:8. Which people in our life can we turn to for love, encouragement and personal growth?
  3. Hey, it’s a fact: It is hard work growing, pushing forth new and good fruit. Who does God say will “mount up like eagles, and run and not get weary?” Read Isaiah 40:41.
  4. With Lent beginning on March 1st, do you think it is a good idea to wash our get out the cleaner and wash our hearts white?

Other Relevant Scriptures:

  • “ Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be whiter than snow” (Isaiah 1:18)
  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a right spirit in me. Cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10-11)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario1stVP/Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, February, 2018