In Need of Rescue

June 7 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 28-29; John 17

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A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
Luke 10:33
READ LUKE 10:30–37
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A teenager named Aldi was working alone on a fishing hut anchored about 125 kilometers (about 78 miles) off Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island when heavy winds knocked the hut off its mooring and sent it out to sea. For forty-nine days, Aldi drifted in the ocean. Every time he spotted a ship, he turned on his lamp to try and get the sailors’ attention, only to be disappointed. About ten ships passed the malnourished teen before he was rescued.
Jesus told a parable to an “expert in the law” (Luke 10:25) about someone who needed to be rescued. Two men—a priest and a Levite—saw an injured man as they were traveling. But rather than help him, both “passed by on the other side” (vv. 31-32). We aren’t told why. Both were religious men and would have been familiar with God’s law to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:17-18). They may have thought it was too dangerous. Or perhaps they didn’t want to break Jewish laws about touching dead bodies, making them ceremonially unclean and unable to serve in the temple. In contrast, a Samaritan—who was despised by the Jews—acted nobly. He saw the man in need and selflessly took care of him.
Jesus wrapped up His teaching with the command that His followers should “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). May God give us the willingness to risk reaching out in love to help others.
By Poh Fang Chia
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God, open my eyes to the needs around me and give me Your heart of compassion for others.
Who has Jesus put in your path that needs your help? How can you put your love into action today?
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SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
The question-and-answer session in Luke 10:25-37 was initiated by an “expert in the law” (vv. 25, 37). In some translations this term is rendered lawyer and comes from the Greek word nomikos (“pertaining to legal matters”). The focus was the law of Moses. The law experts were also known as “scribes” or “teachers of the law”; they occupied positions of authority (Matthew 23:2) and were thereby respected. These religious scholars, the theologians of that day, were the preservers, interpreters, and judges in matters of the law. Early in Luke’s gospel, when Jesus was twelve years old, He became separated from His parents for three days. They found Him in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, interacting with them and confounding these experts (Luke 2:46). Later in Jesus’ life those of this guild were ripe for His rebuke (11:45-54). Arthur Jackson

All We Have Is Christ

Article by

Staff writer, desiringGod.org

Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7–8)

For us to sing “all I have is Christ,” with full hearts, we have to believe Christ is better than all we have ever had or known besides him. “All I have” means everything else has fallen away, at least by comparison. Nothing else can stand in the light of the joy he brings. Even the very best gifts God has given us are but suggestions of all that he is for us — beautiful, merciful, enjoyable suggestions, but suggestions nonetheless.

In the secret of your heart, how does Jesus stand up to your other loves? Does every other good, every other talent, every other relationship bow before him? Or does he often get lost in the weeds of other pleasures? Would you be happy to have Christ if you could have nothing but him? Can you say with the psalm,

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25–26)

Surpassing Worth of Knowing Him

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to have everything here on earth — success, power, wealth, esteem. And he knew what it was like to have everything ripped away — cast out of cities, estranged from those he loved, thrown into prison, beaten and stoned almost to death — and yet gain everything. He would have loved to sing,

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Despite all he used to have, and all he now had lost while following Jesus, Paul could say, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7–8). Knowing Christ could not be measured or eclipsed. Many of the things he enjoyed before Jesus were still good, but the joy of knowing Jesus could not be measured of eclipsed (Philippians 3:8).

And yet there was a day, for each and every one of us, when knowing him did not seem supremely valuable, or even necessary. We lived in the dark, and we loved the darkness (John 3:19).

All We Thought We Had

Why were the poor and despised in Jesus’s day the most likely to receive him? Jesus himself explained why: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

How many of us, deep down, thought ourselves well — secure, loved, happy, good — and therefore had no need for Jesus? We may have gone through the motions of Christianity, but the cross was really just our insurance policy against hell, not the new anchor and fountain of our life. Christ was our forgiveness, but not our life, because we still loved the darkness.

We were lost in darkest night. When it came to the most essential dimensions of life, we couldn’t see the hand we held in front of our face. And yet we thought we knew the way. Even while we were blind and deaf to reality — to how sinful we really were, to how satisfying Jesus really is, to how desperately we needed grace and mercy — we trusted our senses anyway. We kept running, in every direction but God’s.

And we thought ourselves rich. We probably never thought in these terms, but sin promised us joy and life. And we believed. The devil “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), twisting iniquity into beauty, slavery into freedom, the smoke of hell into a harmless fog. Satan preys on the dullness of our hearts and the vibrancy of our imaginations to make life in the dark seem lovely.

All We Found in Him

If God had left us to ourselves, we would still and always refuse him. But God reached into death, and ripped away all our refusals of him. We looked at all we thought we had, and knew we needed so much more.

Jesus tells the story, our story: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). We had run and run from the only field that could satisfy us, and then the field ran to find us. Now all we know is grace.

Now, because Jesus is our life, our life is for Jesus. We want this ransomed life to be a fruitful life, bringing others into all we have in Christ. We want someone else to finally leave the darkness because they saw the light in us. Again, Jesus says, “Whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:21). We want others to see that the strength, and wisdom, and joy that we need to obey God could never come from inside of us.

We all must be carried by God to God, day by day, until death finally brings us to Life.

10 Largest Deserts in the World

Deserts are fascinating, barren and dramatic landscapes that receive very little rainfall. They stretch for thousands of miles, some covering several countries and others even crossing continents. In fact, all of the world’s deserts account for around one fifth of our planet’s land. While sand dunes, red rocks and oases are the most common images of deserts, there’s four different types: Polar deserts, subtropical deserts, cold winter deserts and cool coastal deserts. With the help of our knowledgeable friends at Largest.org, here we have a list of the 10 largest deserts in the world, which can all be visited.

Great Basin Desert (190,000 Square Miles)

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Framed by the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada range, the Great Basin Desert runs from eastern California through Nevada and parts of Idaho and Utah. This is the largest desert in the U.S. and, being the recipient of snowfall, the country’s only cold winter desert. There’s some fantastic places to visit, namely Great Basin National ParkDeath Valley National Park and Lehman Caves.

Syrian Desert (200,000 Square Miles)

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This subtropical desert is found in areas of Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. In Syria it occupies over half of the country’s landmass. The flat desert has natural borders with the Arabian Peninsula, the Euphrates and Orontes Valley and is predominately inhospitable. Nevertheless, UNESCO-protected Palmyra, one of the world’s great ancient cities, thrives at its heart.

Chihuahuan Desert (250,000 Square Miles)

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Found in a large area of northern Mexico and parts of the U.S. states New Mexico and Texas, the Chihuahuan Desert is the biggest in North America. Surprisingly, around 9,000 years ago it was a wet region with densely forested mountain slopes. Today more than 3,500 plant species thrive in the arid landscapes, as do over 170 amphibians and reptiles.

Patagonian Desert (260,000 Square Miles)

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The Patagonian Desert is a cold winter desert located in southern Argentina and parts of Chile. It’s a haven for indigenous culture, trekking, mountaineering and wildlife spotting. Tourists flock here to visit the breathtaking Los Glaciares National Park and Torre del Paine National Park. There are opportunities to scale Andean peaks and the chance to see ancient cave art at the Cueva de las Manos.

Kalahari Desert (360,000 Square Miles)

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Africa’s Kalahari Desert is home to some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife and it’s easy to see them at Namibia’s Etosha National Park and on Botswana’s Okavango Delta. A visit to this desert is made better when spotting antelopes, elephants, hippos and lions. The San people also reside in this desert and have done so for approximately 20,000 years, making them one of the world’s oldest cultures.

Gobi Desert (500,000 Square Miles)

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Shared by China and Mongolia, the Gobi Desert is famous for playing an important role in Mongolian history and being the site of Silk Road cities. The name Gobi comes from the Mongolian word meaning “waterless place.” Much of this cold winter desert’s landscape is rocky rather than sandy and its possible to traverse large parts of it by car. Check out the Flaming Cliffs and Yolyn Am valley if you ever make it here.

Arabian Desert (900,000 Square Miles)

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Sprawling across the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Desert is actually a collection of three deserts. One of these, Rub’al Khali, boasts the planet’s biggest uninterrupted body of sand. In spite of harsh weather conditions (temperatures up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit), humankind has flourished here since the prehistoric era. The Uruq Bani Ma’arid wildlife sanctuary and ancient Petra are situated here.

Sahara (3.5 Million Square Miles)

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The world-famous Sahara is the largest hot desert and surpassed only by the planet’s polar deserts in terms of size. It spreads over northern Africa, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and is instantly recognizable for its iconic sand dunes and the Nile River. From camel tours and treks in Algeria’s Hoggar Mountains to Egypt’s Siwa Oasis and El Bagawat cemetery, there’s a whole host of things to see and do.

Arctic Desert (5.4 Million Square Miles)

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Three continents and eight countries share the Arctic Desert. It can be found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. This polar desert is cold, stark, windy and unforgiving yet about 1,700 different plant species thrive. It’s easy to visit and a great place to see the aurora borealis. Visit Norway’s Lofoten archipelago and Canada’s Ellesmere Island.

Antarctic Desert (5.5 Million Square Miles)

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Beating its counterpart to the number one spot is this polar desert and entire continent. The Antarctic Desert is one of the world’s coldest, driest and windiest places. Don’t be confused by the ice, because it doesn’t rain or snow here. Adventurous travelers can set foot on the peninsula after a grueling cruise across the Drake Passage from Ushuaia, Argentina.