Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Old Song - Genesis 8:22

Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

            One of the first songs that I ever learned in Sunday School was an old spiritual called “Who Built the Ark.” It tells the story of the animals going into the Ark in different numbers and the fun part of the song came in the motions our class would make to imitate the different animals. It was a great way to learn the story and, later on, my own kids were taught about Noah the same way, using a different song called “Arky, Arky.”

            Noah and the Ark is a great Biblical story to tell children because it allows them to use their wonderful imagination and learn about God’s love for all creatures. As adults, however, the story has different implications about good and evil, punishment and wrath, promises and hope.

            Today’s highlighted verse from the story reminds us that as long as the Earth endures, then the seasonal cycles will continue. However, it places the responsibility of good stewardship of the Earth on human beings. If we destroy, pollute, or contaminate it, then the promise will be broken and the Earth, as we know it, will not endure. After the Flood, God handed back the world to human beings like Noah – it’s now up to us to preserve the planet.

Point to ponder

What am I doing to keep the environment clean? How does it relate to my faith?

Prayer:            Creator God, You gave us this beautiful planet because You wanted us to take care of it. Help us to do whatever we can to keep the Earth, its creatures, and its environment healthy and safe. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

You can watch and listen to a great kids’ animation of the song “Who Built the Ark?” at this Youtube link:

Today’s image is one of John’s Psalm drawings of a verse from Psalm 24. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Psalm 24.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can view the church’s website at

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Seeking Peace - Genesis 8:11

Genesis 8:11    When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 

            It has become a universal symbol of peace throughout the world. Images of a dove with an olive branch in its mouth are still used by the United Nations and other international peace organizations. Most people know that it represents a human yearning for peace throughout the world, but some folks forget that it was first described in the Noah story from Genesis. In other words, it’s not just a universal symbol for peace, it’s a God-given sign of restoration.

            As the waters from the Great Flood receded, Noah needed to know that dry land was emerging, so that he could safely take his family ashore. The immense rains had fallen for forty days and it would take 110 more days before the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. This means that Noah, his family, and most of the animals spent almost half a year on the Ark before they could return to the land. The storms were over, but the long wait for the flood to recede must have seemed like an eternity to each living being on board.

            When the dove came back to Noah with an olive branch, he knew in his heart that God’s wrath was over and that peace between God and man was now possible. From that biblical moment in time, the dove has represented God’s presence and the olive branch is a peace offering. Today, on the United Nations flag, our planetary globe is cupped in a half circle of olive leaves, symbolizing the future hope that one day we will live in peace.

Points to ponder

Where do we currently need peace in the world? How often am I willing to pray for peace?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, You are the Prince of Peace, so we earnestly ask You to send forth Your Holy Spirit to those parts of our world where war and violence are sadly taking place. Allow Your Church to act as peacemaker throughout the nations and give us the ability to embrace peace in our homes, communities, and nation. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s Celtic Cross drawing called Siochain – the Gaelic word for peace. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Cross.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The church website can be viewed here:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Conflict Management - Matthew 12:25

Matthew 12:25           Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”

            Division and conflict ruin families, businesses, churches, and nations. Whenever two groups are pitted against each other, those who get caught in the middle end up being the real victims. For instance, in a hostile divorce, the children end up emotionally scarred for life. In a church conflict, things are never the same and old wounds get re-opened every time there is a difference of opinion. And among nations, where hostility arises, war usually follows and millions of people are displaced, ruined, and decimated.

            When Christ was challenged by the religious leaders of His day about His healing powers, He knew that they spoke out of envy and were trying to shut down His ministry. He confronted their lies, which negatively impacted the people, in order to set the record straight. He also reminded His critics that in causing a conflict they would end up destroying themselves, especially if they promoted false messages and expressed incorrect assumptions.

            In a divided community, Jesus came to restore God’s Kingdom among them and reunite the people under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to embrace a new understanding of God, which would heal their divisions and stop their conflicts. Sadly, however, His words went unheeded because those in control were afraid to give up their power over the people. It was left to His real followers to carry on His message, long after He was gone, and take the Gospel to other nations around the world.

            Perhaps you are in the midst of a conflict. Maybe it’s a family issue, a business concern, or even a global worry for you. Whatever is causing it, seek Christ’s peace first in your heart and then reach across the barrier or the gap that the conflict has created. It may be just the solution both of you are looking for, but you won’t know or realize it until you try.

Points to ponder

What conflicts are currently going on in my life? What is Jesus asking me to do about it?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, we call You the Prince of Peace and the Healer of the nations. Let Your Holy Spirit come into our present circumstances and help us to remedy any current conflict in our lives. Be with us and bless this day. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Today’s image is John’s latest Martin Luther King drawing called ‘Tasking the Dream.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: MLK2017.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The church website can be viewed at