Sunday, August 25, 2013

Water for the Thirsty

Water for the Thirsty
August 26, 2013
John 4:10  "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'"

The famous story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well can evoke many different thoughts and ideas.  The biggest that comes to mind is when Jesus was omniscient regarding her life; Jesus knew every detail of every marriage and divorce the woman had, even the status of her current live-in boyfriend.  Jesus wasn't discussing her relationships to condemn her at that point, but to make her aware that He wasn't an average person.  He was revealing His identity to her.  The conversation actually started by Jesus asking her for something to drink.  When she talked back to Him, He replied that He had the ability to give her living water so she would never be thirsty again.  Jesus was saying that He was water enough for her thirsty life.

The revelation of water to satisfy thirst is part of a prophecy found in Isaiah 55.  Isaiah foretold of food and drink that would satiate the innermost parts of man, a satisfaction that could be had at the deepest level of soul and spirit, which would only come from the Word of the Lord.  This was referring to Jesus.  He came to earth in order that we might have complete satisfaction for our thirsty spirit.  Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy, the one thing that could satisfy all the emptiness inside of our lives.  The woman at the well understood emptiness that could never be satisfied.

This woman, who needed the Living Water of Jesus, had tried to fill the emptiness in her life with relationships.  When the first relationship didn't satisfy her desires, she would leave it for another.  She did this multiple times, demonstrating her search for something that could be enough.  This is also why Jesus discussed her relationships; He knew she was searching for something to fill the empty feeling insider her world.  Her life was unfulfilled and she looked for things to fill it, to quench the thirst inside of her soul, only she never found it.

While the woman at the well used relationships to try and satisfy the emptiness inside, people can and do use many different things.  Some use drugs, some use overeating, some use shopping, some even use work to satisfy the hungry desires inside.  But there is only one thing that will bring satisfaction to a man or woman.  It is not the  successful feeling found in his or her physical life.  It is not the attainment of status or the collection of luxurious toys.  The only thing that can and will fulfill the empty feeling inside of you is a deep relationship with Jesus.  If you are reading this, you probably already know Jesus and possibly have a decent relationship with Him.  But is He the satisfaction of everything in your life?

If you already know Jesus yet still have hunger pangs every once in a while for something more, something different, then you aren't letting Jesus fulfill everything for you.  You have to LET Him quench the thirst for every area of your life, allowing Him to be the satisfaction in each particular corner of your thirst.  You are a multi-faceted being with many different levels of needs.  You have a need for ego satisfaction and it is time to let Jesus quench that thirst.  You have a need for emotional comfort and relational support; it is time to let Jesus quench that thirst.  You have a need to feel like you belong, to feel loved, cherished, and important.  It is time to let Jesus quench all that makes you thirsty.  He would say to you today that He is living water enough for your thirst.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Is 55, John 4

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Innocent Bystanders

Innocent Bystanders
August 19, 2013
2 Samuel 11:24  "Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king's men died.  Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead."

Everyone knows of King David's story of adultery with Bathsheba.  It really isn't a story about just adultery, though; it is a complete tale of how one man's sins affect the lives of so many others.  If you recall the drama found in 2 Samuel 11, you'll see that the prophet Nathan called out David's sin through a parable.  He likened David's actions to a rich man with many flocks stealing the lone family pet-lamb of a peasant.  Nathan invoked feeling in David by telling him the pet-lamb had emotional attachments to the peasant and his children; it wasn't just property.  Nathan was telling David that his sin reached far beyond just stealing something; it affected the hearts and lives of others.

You can further see this point when re-reading the full account.  Bathsheba was called someone's daughter and someone's wife.  In fact, the Bible refers to Bathsheba as the wife of Uriah even after his death, even after she married David, and even after she bore David's son.  When David had Uriah killed, there were innocent soldiers killed along with him, innocent bystanders to David's sin.  Those soldiers had mothers, fathers, wives, and children.  They mourned for their loved ones along with Bathsheba when Uriah and the other soldiers died.  Later in life, as a result of David's actions, his own sons committed rape, murder, and adultery all as a direct result's David's same sins.  Innocent lives were affected many years after the fact.

No man is an island and his sins do not JUST affect himself or his relationship with the Lord.  If you ask any therapist, he or she might tell you that the greatest impact of alcoholism is on the close loved ones of the addicted, similarly with any drug abuse.  How you respond to life, its temptations and stresses, has a direct impact on those around you, the innocent bystanders.  They become collateral damage, secondary to your own actions---even if you did not intend it.  When you commit sin, seldom are you thinking of others, only yourself.  And even if you aren't directly sinning, how you respond to situations in life will still affect those closest around you.  There are many consequences to your actions, lives that are being touched and impacted as a direct result of the choices you make every day.

This creates an opportunity to think of others before you think of yourself.  While you cannot foresee the direct impact your choices will have on others, you can surely bet that if it is sin, it will spill over in a negative fashion into the lives closest to you no matter how hard you try to conceal it.  The Bible says you should consider others more highly than yourself and consider their feelings and regard above your own.  This means realizing that what you are doing today should impact them positively, propelling them forward in life instead of leading them on a harmful path.  Your road rage or anger problem is directly impacting them.  Your closet drinking or hidden gambling is changing the course of their lives forever.  Your selfishness is possibly leading others on a slow road of destruction; you are just too consumed with yourself to see it.

You may be a deacon in the church, volunteer at the homeless shelter, give to missions work, but still have a struggling sin present in your life.  That one sin is still having a negative impact on the world of those around you, even if you are not willing to admit it.  There are innocent bystanders affected by your actions and it is time to take responsibility for it, altering the course of their life and yours forever.  Do not be fooled into thinking you are not harming anyone.  The reaches of sin go far beyond what is inside your own head.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  2 Sam 11, Matthew 7:12, Gal 6:7-10, Phil 2:3

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Re Rock

Re Rock
August 12, 2013
Matthew 16:18  "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

The Apostle Peter is referred to as a rock.  This isn't because he was thick headed, it was due to his steadfastness in the Lord, as his life was built on a strong foundation.  The Lord intended to capitalize on this, using Peter as the basis for growing His church here on earth.  Peter is credited for being the first official leader of the church (the Catholics consider him the first Pope).  But despite Peter being a founding father of the Christian church, he still had a rocky start.  Jesus declared that Peter was a rock for the Lord BEFORE Peter had the opportunity to deny Him three times.  Jesus even knew Peter would falter and deny Him, but He still called him a Rock.  Just a few days later, Peter did just as predicted.  He denied Jesus and cursed the Lord.  What a rough start to a fantastic ministry.

More than a thousand years before Peter, there was another founding father of the Lord's church.  Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first priest anointed by the Lord to be the spiritual leader of the Jewish nation.  But like Peter, Aaron had a huge failure before he started leading the Lord's sheep.  Remember it was right before Aaron was anointed priest when he fashioned a golden calf for the Children of Israel to worship.  Yet despite this moral failure, the Lord still installed Him as leader of the church.  This gives tremendous argument for the Lord's ability to use the imperfect, even those who have failed spiritually, to lead His church.

Aaron very publicly broke the first and second commandment and Peter very publicly broke the third commandment, yet the Lord still used them as the foundation for His church.  Everyone was aware of their spiritual failures, but the Lord was able to use them for the basis of His leading His people.  It wasn't about being perfect, coming from a flawless past.  It wasn't about being free from scandal or public humiliation.  It wasn't about living an amazing life and building up to the ministry.  It was about the Lord's ability to use those whom He chose.  The Lord chose Aaron and the Lord chose Peter and the Lord chose you!

You may have some past failures in your life but the Lord is still able to use you.  Your spiritual failures do not disqualify you for the Lord's service.  Do not be insecure about your past or what sins the public has seen in your life.  If the Lord wants to use you as a rock then He will.  You do need to be able to move forward, however.  The Lord is not hindered by your mistakes but you may think it is blocking your success.  The Lord would say that He no longer sees your past mistakes; He only sees the person you have become today.  Start seeing what the Lord sees in you, a rock for His church.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ex 32, Lev 8, Matt 16

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Other Side

Other Side
August 5, 2013
John 21:6  "He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.'  When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish."

How many times have you worked hard and diligently, yet to no avail?  You may have spent countless hours and pressed forward with all your might, but there are times when you have seen little or no fruit to your labor.  Your intentions might be well and good, from a heart of gold, but there are moments, even years, when it seems you have made little ground.  I've seen pastors start ministries, with the most valiant of hearts, fail at their efforts.  It makes me cry to see them have to close the doors on their efforts, their hearts' work.  It happens all the time in business, ministry, even school.  No matter how hard and diligent the effort, sometimes there is no success.

A few disciples of Jesus understood this.  They were out fishing all night, throwing their nets into the water, reeling it back in, only to see an empty net.  There was no fruit to their labor; their hard work had not paid off.  Countless hours were spent, their backs were aching, and their nets exempt of fish.  The sun began to rise after the all-nighter and they were about to throw in the towel.  A voice from the shore shouted out, "Friends."  Again, the voice shouted to the men in the boat, "Friends."  "Have any luck catching fish this past evening," the voice asked?  "Try throwing the net over the other side of the boat, just one more time!"  Reluctantly, the men obliged the friendly voice.  They cast the net on the other side, just one more time, and pulled in so many fish that their boat almost capsized.  The voice obvoiously came from Jesus, but the recommendation was not logical.  If the net came up empty the previous 100 times they cast it, whey would there be any fish this time?

And what was different about the other side of the boat?  Nothing.  The boat had not moved into different waters; it was in the same place.  One side of the boat or the other, if there is a school of fish near you, you are bound to pull something out of the water.  It wasn't about the net, or the boat, or the position, or the water, or the side the net was cast.  It was about trusting in the voice of the Lord and His provision for success, His timing for the blessing.  The moment the fishermen submitted to the full voice of the Lord, laying down their ideas of business acumen, and trusting beyond human wisdom or understanding, the Lord granted the blessing.  The Lord did not do this to frustrate them, but to teach them to listen to His voice and trust that all provisions for success are granted from Him alone, no matter how skilled they were at their craft.  It wasn't that He was stalling their success, but that He was teaching them to trust in Him before arrogance could settle in place, thinking they had done it on their own accord.  It wasn't about them, it was about the Lord.

You may have tried with all of your might at something you believed to be a good work, but have had little success.  You might have tried to go back to school but it didn't work out.  You might be a small business owner, struggling to survive.  You might have started a ministry but it doesn't seem to ever get off the ground.  If you firmly believe you are working with a heart for the Lord, then try it again, against human wisdom, trusting in the voice of the Lord, leaning upon Him for the success.  If you quit, you are only solidifying your failure.  If you try again because you believe it is what you are supposed to be doing, then trust in the Lord for His timing for the fruit to your labor.  Go beyond conventional business acumen and submit to the Lord, waiting on His timing for the success.  I believe the Lord's voice is calling out to you, "Friend, try it again just one more time; try it my way!"  So go ahead and cast your net on the other side.  What have you got to lose?

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Pr 16:1&9, Pr 19:21, John 21:5-7, James 4:13-17