Friday, January 20, 2017

Remembering the Rainbow - Genesis 9:13

Genesis 9:13 God said: “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

            We live on a beautiful and exceptional planet. As far as we can tell, it’s the only one that can sustain life as we know it. There may be other Earth-like planets in the universe, but this is the only one that we can presently call ‘Home.’ We are dwelling on a precious global jewel filled with an amazing variety of life-forms. We are blessed with an abundance of species that make the Earth a remarkable place. All around us, we find the hallmarks of God who loves to create all sorts of living beings. It is good to feel connected to our Creator who wants us to enjoy His works.

            At the end of the Noah story in the Bible, God reconnects with His beloved Earth and promises never to destroy it. This covenant is something that God maintains as sacred, so we are called and invited to do the same. As human beings, we can be the most destructive life force on this planet, but as children of God we can embrace this holy promise and do whatever we are able to make the world a better place – environmentally and socially, as well as spiritually.

            Perhaps if we were also to remind ourselves of God’s promise to the Earth each time we see a rainbow, we would be constantly inspired to make the changes necessary to bless the Earth with our care and keep it healthy, so that we can pass on a beautiful planet to our children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. As with all of God’s promises, it’s left to us to freely uphold our side of the commitment. Let us hope and pray that we will truly begin to embrace God’s covenant with the Earth.

Point to ponder

What do I love most about the Earth? What am I willing to do to protect it?

Prayer:            Almighty Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, thank You for allowing us the joy of living in Your Creation. Encourage us to sustain this beautiful blessing by taking care of this wonderful planet. In Your Holy Name, we gratefully pray. Amen.

 Today’s image is one of John’s rainbow colored drawings called ‘Tree of Life.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Tree.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can view the church’s web-page at Come and join us at anytime J

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: