Called to be a Cultural Bellwether

“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,  but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:7-9

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:2-6

Bellwether: leader; one that takes the lead or initiative; pacesetter, front runner, trailblazer; someone or something that shows how a situation will develop or change

When God lays out in the Scriptures the characteristics that describe a godly leader, they are all undergirded and marked with humility. The origin of bellwether is from a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell. Sheep are rather humble, senseless animals, yet the one donning the bell would attract and lead the flock- even if aimlessly . We are sheep who have gone astray, yet by God’s grace returned to the Shepherd of our souls. As His children, we are to lead out and upward in our current day. Following our Good Shepherd is vital if we are to be a worthy bellwether for others. (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Peter 2:25)

Jesus led the way in His example, and beckons us to follow. When He had every right to dominate and be honored, He humbled Himself to the lowest place. He was not driven by reactive emotion or present comfort, but by the joy that awaited in accomplishing His Father’s will. He returned temper, cruelty, accusation, and violence with silent self-discipline and serene peace, giving clear testimony to His holiness and the control of the Spirit. He was a divine bellwether for all who would follow by faith, and we can emulate Him as heavenly trail blazer. (Isaiah 53:2-3,7-11; Matthew 27:14,54; John 4:34; 13:15; Philippians 2:3-8; Hebrews 12:2)

In a culture rife with dissension, hot with passion, and drunk with greedy self-indulgence, the Lord’s bellwethers are to stand apart and lead out as He did. It is subversive to love and cherish what is good when those around us are concerned only with what is good for me. When others clamor to castigate, gossip, be noticed, or get ahead, God’s leaders speak truth in love, take the low place, and serve willingly as examples. (Ephesians 4:15)

Is our view of God high enough that we are daily humbled before Him? In present surroundings, how do we ring a bell for uprightness and so lift sights, and elevate thought and speech? What kind of example do we set in discipline and service?

Lord, make me a bellwether for all that is good and holy so I lead others to You.

Have Salt in Yourselves

“You shall present them before the Lord, and the priests shall sprinkle salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the Lord.” Ezekiel 43:24

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:50

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:34-35

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6

Jesus says salt is what we are; there is no choice in this identity when we are His children. But we have a lot to do with how effective that salt is, how well it does its work in and through and around us, and whether its properties remain robust. Just as it is true that we are in fact saved from and dead to sin, and yet are to reckon ourselves as so, we both are salt, and commanded to be salty, so the human will is involved. (Romans 6:6,11-14)

And the human will can be a restless, fickle enigma, at once wanting all that is good, yet turning inside out and upside down by a pesky flesh that says No Way or Not Now. We are warned again and again to watch and pray, to fly to Jesus the Overcomer when in need. Our very holy desire and diligence trigger saltiness in a world that is given to heinous violence and degradation at worst, and flabby commitment at best. If salt retards decay, preserves the good, heals, cleanses, and enriches flavor, then every time we persist against the world we scatter salt where others would not have that strength. (Matthew 26:41; Romans 7:15-25; Hebrews 4:16)

In our homes, workplaces, churches, and communities, how salty are we in speech, conduct, and attitude? Are we willing to speak truth, sting, or walk away, or are we a benign, tasteless, impotent add-in? Do our ideas and responses put a stop to the corruption of gossip, falsehood, and cattiness, and instead enhance lofty thinking? Where and how might we interrupt degradation and add heavenly taste and consideration to the atmosphere of our gatherings?

While salt has an indefinite shelf life, it must not stay on the shelf. The Lord calls us up and out to make a difference and season our world with His peace and truth. Where are we intentionally going, what flavor are we adding and what good are we doing, with all the Lord has entrusted to us?

Father, keep my spirit stable and at peak quality to season the places You plant me. May I never lose my taste and thirst for You, and so sprinkle salt that others long for You too.

Mercy’s Magnificent Outflow

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

Peter, writing to exiles, turns their attention to bless God for the small word of mercy and the magnificent effects of its greatness. The God and Father of their Lord Jesus, according to His great mercy, has let flow and abound its glorious effluence in measureless goodness toward His own. We cannot help but be drenched in and transformed by its thunderous swells.

By His mercy, we have been born again and welcomed into a living, breathing, certain hope, our salvation. Here we reside and adventure, here our hearts pulse with effervescent, expectant life in the present, undergirded by sure hope of our eternal inheritance. Heaven’s perfection and glorious inevitability prods and protects us in the day to day to live by God’s power and within His good will. It sheds light on this little while as a beacon to forever. His mercies flow upon our grievous trials to swell our faith and result in praise as we trace His guiding, loving hand. Their blessing is increased love for the One who loves us, and inexpressible joy.

When was the last time I meditated on God’s mercy? It is His hallmark, the source of His work on our behalf and His involvement in our lives. It is the lens through which He looks upon us, and the filter through which He orders every difficulty. (Psalm 86:14-15; 145:8-9)

And by His grace, it will identify the way we strike out, move forward, look ahead, and interact with others every day. Where is mercy’s evidence in my speech and behavior? How has it affected my perspective toward trials and judgment of those who wrong me? How does it shape my responses to and prayers for the lost? How will I become a conduit for Christ’s great mercy to those who need it most? (Lamentations 3:22-23; Matthew 5:7; Luke 6:36; Ephesians 4:32; James 2:13)

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
mount of God’s redeeming love.” ~Robert Robinson (1758)

Lord, as one who, by Your mercy, is chosen, royal, and holy, Your possession, may I ever proclaim Your excellencies to the praise of Your infinite, indescribable worth. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Wise From Above

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:13-18

“Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.” Proverbs 4:5-7

Most would not say that jealousy or conceit in itself describes wisdom, yet much of what is promoted or passed as worldly wisdom today finds its roots there. Inflated view of self begets rants, opinions, and pronouncements that are a far cry from godly wisdom. Thinking from this dark earth has little resemblance to wisdom from heaven.

For the Christian, wisdom from above is just that: it has its foundation on a different and higher plane than what is puffed and strutted out by the world. As God’s thoughts and ways are far above ours, so His wisdom both comes from, and resides in, the heavenlies where He reigns in righteous splendor. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

How do we attain it? We must train ourselves to seek God’s wisdom in the recesses of His word through regular, focused reading. In earnest, adoring, surrendered prayer, ask for it, with genuine desire and willingness to procure. Then cultivate it by guarding purity of thought and practice. Exercise gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit, and be open to reason, approaching discussions with civility and Bible study with a teachable mind. Practice mercy, generosity, and compassion, looking upon and loving others as Christ does. Implementing what we know forges truth, understanding, and wise ways deep into our habits. (Psalm 119:9; Luke 6:38; Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:5; 1 John 3:2-3)

The Lord makes available His word and Spirit, but we must search as for treasure and yield wholly to their fill. We have not because we ask not, and apply not. Godly wisdom stands out in our day, and may not be popular, but its benefits are innumerable and protections broad. (Proverbs 2:1-15; Ephesians 5:18b; James 4:2b)

What steps will we take to put away vile practices forever, and replace earthly and unspiritual influences with those from above? How will we cultivate a scriptural mindset? Do we value godly wisdom enough to make necessary changes to attain it?

“Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness…
Cause our faith to rise
Cause our eyes to see,
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of power that can never fail;
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.” ~Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (2018)

Good Father, may I daily seek and practice Your wisdom from above, and so make a heavenly difference here below.

Lift, Bless, Lift, Repeat

“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

‘Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.'” Luke 6:20-23

Jesus spent his days with individuals and crowds, teaching and healing and taking advantage of every moment of public ministry to display the works of God. But His special attention was to His chosen twelve, and removing Himself from the crowds, He lifted his eyes on them and blessed them. It started with a knowing look, seeing them inside and knowing their thoughts and needs, then looking to heaven from where all blessings flow. The beatitudes He then pronounced in turn lifted His beloved disciples from pressing concerns to heavenly joys in a buoyancy of benevolent care and favor.

We have opportunity everyday to see those God has put around us, or to turn a blind eye. God in His providence has particularly assigned individuals to our sphere in the world, and enlists us to make a difference as His servants. Their burdens of heart and reality are heavy, and not so unlike ours. If they know not Christ, the cloud of present ills may be suffocating, and the despair of a dark or uncertain future unbearable. They are ripe for a look of love, and a look above. The compassion we offer and the words we speak may be the only refreshment they receive. We never know how God will use His truth to plant seeds of hope, or to penetrating fears and doubts with light, but we can trust it will not return void. (Isaiah 49:1-3; 55:10-11)

What do we actually know about the people with whom we work, or among whom we live? Do we take the time and attention to stop, look them in the eye, ask questions in love and interest? Have we let assumptions build walls between us? Do we retreat from differing views to our safe comfy places, or are we prepared and willing to connect with their experience and relate to their souls? How could we, this day, look into, then up, to give out a blessing to people we know? (Romans 12:9-16)

“Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.

Tell the sweet story of Christ and his love,
Tell of his pow’r to forgive;
Others will trust him if only you prove
True, ev’ry moment you live.

Give as ’twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true.

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray.
Make me a blessing to someone today.” ~Ira B. Wilson (1909)

Lord, keep my eyes and hands lifted to bless others in Your name.

Put Your Name Upon Me!

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27

“There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!’” Psalm 4:6

“Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your steadfast love
and teach me your statutes!” Psalm 31:16; 119:135

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us.” Psalm 67:1

There’s a washing, a unique beauty, and a holy power in being adorned with the Lord’s name. There is both privilege and responsibility in bearing and wearing it. His name identifies us as those smiled upon by heaven, those marked with His favor and grace, those who are His people. It wields comfort and security, confidence and bravery. Indeed, it is a blessing in every way, marking us forever and equipping us for every day.

But there are times we do not wear it well, doing great dishonor to the Name by our language, lack of self-control, foolish antics or choices. There are times we are ashamed, and would rather hide behind a prescribed mask of fancy or famous, or a chameleon form of chosen identity to fit in with a crowd. There are times we want to shake it off and be unencumbered by the Family name, its weight of notice and accountability, and sometimes criticism and persecution. Being known as royalty brings vulnerability, and piercing scrutiny.

But when we take regular time to soak in the Lord’s Name, we behold and understand more and more of His character; it shines on and into us. We grow in our love for this gracious One, and of His favor. We learn to relish the warmth, and savor the smile of God’s guarding our hearts and crowning our days with His bounty so much we want more, and want it always. (Psalm 65:11)

Would we begin each day by bowing before the King, asking that He crown us with His countenance? Would we take up His statutes along our way, and employ His grace and steadfast love in industry and interactions? What is seen and learned through us of His demeanor? How does our behavior display and attract others to His light?

“O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free;
a heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
so freely shed for me:

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer’s throne;
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone

A heart in every thought renewed,
and full of love divine;
perfect and right and pure and good —
a copy, Lord, of thine.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart,
come quickly from above;
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new best name of Love.” ~Charles Wesley (1742)

Father God, may Your name be seen on me and praised on high.

Beware the Enticement of Earthly Honor

“Balak, king of Moab, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor… Balak said: ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.’

“When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said… But God said to Balaam, ‘Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.’

“The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s officials, ‘Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you…’ Then Balak sent other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first,.. to Balaam and said:

“’This is what Balak says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.’

“But Balaam answered, ‘Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me…’

“God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him.” Numbers 22:4b-6,7b,12-13,15-19,22a

Balaam was a foot-dragger, seemingly intent on obedience, but waffling to keep his options open for worldly esteem. His no was never NO, his maybe caught between present pomp and invisible blessing. God finally tested his mettle by permitting him to go to Balak. Half-heartedness morphed into foolishness before finally being humbled into allegiance. After wobbling the option scales weighing both sides of words, he pronounced seven oracles just as God directed. (Numbers 22:20-38; 23-24)

How often and easily we settle for the seen over the unseen, for temporal pleasure over eternal joy, for tangible and sight over faith. When we are transfixed on gaining from the world— attention, applause, or material reward— we fall into all sorts of foolishness. We puff with pride, crave and quarrel, and upend all sorts of passions that are meant to beat skyward. Only God can transform us, and set aright our craving and compass. (2 Corinthians 5:7; James 4:1-4,6-8,10)

Where does our obedience flag, and why? Is the honor of man, who is fleeting, really better than everlasting favor in God’s presence? Do we value earthly accolades over God’s ‘well done’? When God gives us opportunity to choose His ways over the world’s, do we waffle or wait? When we fail, would we confess our perverse affections and transplant them into God’s heart for us? The Lord, by His grace, sanctifies and reorients our desires. He alone is our lasting glory. (Psalm 16:11; 62:7; Matthew 25:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6,18; Hebrews 11:1, 24-27)

Good Father, turn my heart from vanity and fleeting pleasure to whole obedience and desire for Your honor alone. May my every impulse, decision, and action be to that end, for You are worthy. (Psalm 60:11-12)

Love’s Divine Expungement

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

“‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’
    says the Lord.
‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.'” Isaiah 1:18

“You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19

Expunge: To destroy; blot out; obliterate; erase; strike out wholly; to cancel out or destroy completely; to eliminate from one’s consciousness. In law, an expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s record.

In perfect, kind, selfless love, one keeps no record of wrongs. The other’s deserved penalty has been paid in full with mercy, so it is put away forever. No owing, no recounting, no record. Jesus loves this way to this end, and so are we are to love one another. As He has graciously done away with our sin against Him, we are in turn to expunge all infractions against us. Not repeat them, resurface them, or return them to the ring for a fight. Ever. (John 13:34; 1 Peter 2:24)

Keeping no record of wrongs closes the door on resentment with love upon love. It seals off forever every offense, with a freedom and joy that says, ‘no more. You will not have a hold or effect on me.’ It turns greed into generosity, the tendency to nurse a wound to healing it, and bitterness and competition into protecting, trusting, and persevering.

As for accounts, records may vary. For our good, we must keep them short, daily bringing the tally to zero. Some wrongs may be confessed, to which we kindly extend forgiveness and repair. Others, perhaps never acknowledged or confessed, are expunged when we pray, with humility and genuine compassion, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It’s not up to us to convict or correct- the Holy Spirit is better at those anyway. But it is our responsibility, and is doable by God’s grace, to forgive, and release. (Luke 23:34; Ephesians 4:26-27)

What sins are we holding against others? Would we, with an act of will, forgive, and put them to rest, forever? We may not forget, and still and forever bear scars, but the record keeping- the pulling out the list to recount and recite- must not be. In holding onto wrongs done us, we’re the ones shackled. What and whom the Lord has set free is free indeed, and the chains He broke at Calvary fall from us as we relinquish our list. (John 8:36; Ephesians 4:32)

Gracious Lord, in gratitude for the Cross and Your divine forgiveness, help me expunge every record of wrongs done me. May I love others as You love, so You are exalted and known.

The Assembly of the Righteous

“There was no water for the congregation. They assembled themselves together against Moses and Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses, ‘Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die..? Why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.’ Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly… and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared..” Numbers 20:2-6

“Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night…

The wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” Psalm 1:1-2,5

“If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

“They went up to the upper room,.. Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:13-14

“They devoted themselves to… teaching,.. fellowship,.. and prayers… Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” Acts 2:42,46-47

“He went to the house of Mary,.. where many were gathered together and were praying.” Acts 12:12

In cultures where individualism reigns supreme, and societies where distance and isolation has been the norm, people still have an innate need to belong. The mantra of ‘community’ may have been disrupted of late, but it thrums on in incessant rhythm in the hearts of man. Groups assemble magnetically in common fandom, protests, fellowship, and movements. Some prowl and howl their rancor, some cheer a team or cause, and others worship in holy unison. (Psalm 34:3; 59:6-7)

What motivates us to assemble together? Are we driven by compulsion to talk, gather scurulous information, and gossip, or to build others up, share what God has done, sing His praises together, and pray in mutual support and supplication? How can Christ be central? Pray ahead of meeting to have open ears, eyes, and hearts, to specifically bless and give grace those in need, for God to superintend every interaction and season our conversations with salt. (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:11,14-19)

Maybe we are those who prefer to be alone and quiet, and are drained by groups with too much frenetic input and discussion. In this case, we are still called to gather together, and can prepare with similar prayer. The Lord blesses our obedience by using us to build up others and building us up at the same time. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Father, guide me to do my part in assembling with the righteous, contributing to the growth of Your Body and the praise of Your glory. (Colossians 3:12-16)

Refuse Shiloah? Suffer the Raging River

“The Lord spoke to me again: ‘Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land…’

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary…'” Isaiah 8:5-8,11-14a

“My people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

“Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…’ [Jesus] said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.’ So he went and washed and came back seeing.” John 7:37; 9:7

“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.” Hebrews 12:25

Prophets and apostles speak a consistent message with Jesus: refuse Him, or suffer the consequences. Throughout the Scriptures and for millennia through history, God’s people have rebelled, inviting and incurring His promised wrath. His holiness requires that we meet Him at mercy, yet time and again, we refuse His appointed healing, living waters in order to make our own way. And that way will never succeed. We cannot clean ourselves nor earn God’s favor. Every effort at ‘rejoicing over Rezin’ with desperation or alien affection, and hewing our own cisterns, will lead us only to the blast and pound of Justice’s raging river.

The glorious truth is that Jesus endured our deserved and horrid judgment, and His nail-scarred hands hold out Shiloah’s gentle cleansing waters today. He is merciful and mighty to save. Although we suffer the effects of God’s present wrath in the world, we can choose by His grace to submerse ourselves in the flow of His grace that both cleanses and renews. (Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 1:18-21; 8:18-24; Titus 3:4-7)

The Lord will make His way and have His way no matter what. Wouldn’t we rather the mode of Shiloh’s gentle waters by yielding to God’s early and gracious discipline, than harsher methods to get our attention? What’s causing stubbornness to insist on our own devices, strategies, and escapes? Any bent of the flesh can be washed and regenerated by His life-giving waters! Would we genuinely repent and fully receive His cleansing, and return regularly for times of refreshing? (Psalm 32:1-7; Acts 3:19-20; Romans 2:3-5)

Lord, may I fear and honor You as holy, and daily come under Your measureless flow of mercy and grace. So cleanse and fill me that I never thirst for any water but You.