He Thirsted, I Drink

Early in His ministry, recorded in John 4, Jesus came weary to Jacob’s well in Samaria, and asked the woman there for a drink. It was noon, “the sixth hour.” They proceeded to talk, and He offered her living water. “Whoever drinks of the water I give him will never be thirsty forever. The water I will give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

McKinney Falls gushing in crevice

Less than three years later, also at “the sixth hour,” nailed to a cross, bearing the weight of my sin and the sin of all His own through the ages, “the Roman soldiers offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but…he would not drink it.” (Matthew 27:34,45) Jesus refused to numb his agony or his mind so He could fully accomplish what He had come to earth to do.

It was not until ”the ninth hour,” after three hours of darkness where He bore God’s full wrath, after He split open the way to God, seen in the temple curtain being torn in two, that He would drink. “Knowing that all was now finished, [Jesus] said, ‘I thirst.’” He was given a sponge full of sour wine on a hyssop branch, enough so He could call out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” and breathe His last. (John 19:28-30; Luke 23:44-46)

Jesus, who refused to drink until He had satisfied justice for our sin and sake, offers living water to satisfy us forever. What a Savior!

Whatever my hour, Lord, may I remember Your refusal, remember “It is finished,” and drink deep draughts of Your living water, sated with full satisfaction in You.

 

Freed To Be Slaves

We are freed to be bondservants, to be “slaves of the Master who bought us.” (2 Peter 2:1) The only way to serve Christ is no longer to serve the devil and the world. The two servitudes could not be more vastly different. One is imposed by a greedy, deceptive, relentless task master, is oppressive and causes despair; the other is offered by a benevolent, generous Lord, is freeing and brings satisfaction, delight, and joy.

“Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.  The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (2 Peter 2:19; Romans 8:2,6; 1 Peter 2:16)

We have many gods from which to choose: ambition, education, fitness, reputation, our families, comfort and safety, self-gratification in appearance, recreation or pleasure, wealth and perceived security, even control. The world’s offerings are limitless. But there is one God Who is worthy to be served, and whose rule is love.

At the end of his life, Joshua stated his convictions and challenged Israel to do the same. He knew the Matthew 6 truth that “no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” The decision he presents is ours to consider today. “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

South Africa, child saluting

“I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. You are my servant whom I have chosen. I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator, your King.” Isaiah 43

Adonai, Master, You have freed me that I might live for You. Thank You that I am Yours. Overcome me, that I might serve You with joy and abandon all my days.

An Ongoing Story

Albert Gallatin Edwards, after working as a merchant, an army general, and Assistant Treasury Secretary under five U.S. presidents, in 1887, at age 75, founded an investment firm that has served generations for well over a century. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Moses set out at 80 and spent the last one third of his life leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. What an inspiration! We always have value in God’s economy, and use in His kingdom purposes. Every day and breath is a gift from Him to be spent for Him. When one chapter closes, a new one begins, penned by the Author of Life who is writing the whole story.

“For you, O LORD, are my hope, my trust from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. From my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your powers to all those to come.” Psalm 71:5-6,9,17-18

Cape Coast, Ghana, stairway to sky 10-16

“One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14.

What new chapter might God have for us? What latent skill might He desire to hone at this stage in life to use in new service, work, ministry?

Lord, You entrust each day, each year, to us Your people. And You have numbered these days. May I spend them purposefully, constructively, unselfishly, in a way that shows forth Your goodness and worth, Your wondrous works to the next generation.

Partaking of the Divine

We are the richest of royalty, yet often live as paupers. 2 Peter 1 tells us we have been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” have been called to “God’s glory and excellence,” have been “granted precious and very great promises,” that we may be “partakers of the divine nature.” But often, the fleshly nature wins out in our attitude, outlook, preferences, decisions, words, tone of voice, impulses. God’s equipping is perfect and sufficient, but we are not automatons. Peter reminds us that we have a part in this mysterious thing called sanctification. “Make every effort…add….increase…be diligent…practice these qualities.”

The gift is, “we have been established in the truth.” And the gift is also, we must exercise our confidence in that truth by applying it, by “supplementing faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.” Truth and sufficiency come from Jesus; effectiveness and fruitfulness require our effort. Appropriating what is true confirms our ownership of it.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” John 15:5,16

Lord, You have granted all that is needed to live out Your gracious calling and partake of Your divine nature. I renounce sloth and complacency. In every endeavor, may I eagerly, with steadfastness and zeal, practice what You supply, for Your glory.

Be All There

Famed, martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” God has planted each of us in specific places, circumstances, relationships, vocations, and He has appointed for us purposes and assignments. How easy it is to get distracted by self-driven plans, or lesser things, and not to be in the moment where we are, in tune with HIs will. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Am I ‘all there,’ all in, for Him?

Jump in, Get going, Cape Coast, Ghana

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded…Above all, keep on loving one another earnestly. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:7-11

May I never be slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit, all here to serve You, my Lord. (Romans 12:11)

Undone, Unclean, Unfettered

Isaiah 6:1-8, one of my favorite passages, draws me to the throne of God and undoes me every time I read it.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim… And one called to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the temple shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’                                                       

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your mouth; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me!’”

Nairobi Church door w crosses

The regal King, seated on His throne, surrounded by living creatures who constantly praise Him, captivates me. I am ushered into God’s presence and fall undone like Isaiah; seeing His resplendent holiness shows up my sin like early light through a window shows up the spots on the glass. And what does He do? He cleanses and forgives, unfettering me from nagging habits and entangling sin. He frees me to desire and to say, “Here am I!” What a Savior!

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Holy God, thank You for opening the way for me to approach Your throne, and for the burning coal, for taking me from ‘Woe!’ to ‘go.’ Because of You, and what You’ve done, here am I.

 

Fear or Faith?

The story in Numbers 13-14 is sad, instructive, and a beautiful display of God’s character. Representatives from the twelve tribes of Israel have just returned from spying out Canaan at God’s command, and reported they had found a rich, fruitful land. “‘However, the people are strong, the cities fortified and very large. The land devours its inhabitants, the people are of great height and we seem to ourselves like grasshoppers.’ But Caleb quieted the people and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.'” What a contrast!

S Africa, fields with mountains, one gold

Then the people cry out, weep, grumble, and complain, full of fear for their safety and a victim-mentality–oh, that they had stayed in Egypt (where they also whined and complained, in slavery)! But Caleb and Joshua, motivated by faith, countered,“The LORD is with us; do not fear them,” and plead with the people to believe He would bring them into the promised land. When God’s righteous anger burns, Moses intercedes for mercy for the sake of God’s reputation, character, and word. God promises both grace, and judgment on the rebellious.

Driven by fear, we are self-consumed, worriers, complainers, victims. We think we know best, but we miss much. Driven by faith, we are God-focused, hopeful, courageous, confident in the One whose “power and steadfast love are great.” We trust His promises and paths, and get to enjoy the fullness of conquering with Him. Which attitude, which living, do I choose?

“[They] have stumbled and fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.” Isaiah 3:8

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” Lord, may I, in faith, “go up at once” wherever You bid me, convinced of the call, Your  promises, and Your glorious presence. (Hebrews 11:1).