Archive for November, 2014|Monthly archive page

Living water

We take water for granted in Canada – we have so much of it.

But water is vital for life in many parts of the world.  Without it, people die.

In John 7, Jesus said “living water” flows out of him to those who are ready to drink it.  He was talking about more than physical life – he was offering spiritual life to his listeners.

Many people live in a spiritual desert today, not even aware of where to look for the living water.

I was speaking to a woman last weekend whose daughter is living with a young man who does not even know the Christmas story – the birth of Christ.  It is hard for me to comprehend because I grew up when Bible stories were taught in school and were widely known in this country.

A minister who spoke at a funeral I attended this afternoon said that Christianity is about love, especially God’s love for us.  Who doesn’t want love – especially God’s love?

Yet many people in our society seem to believe that such claims are fraudulent or untrue.  It is almost as if they are crawling, parched, in the desert and see what seems to be an oasis – but they write it off as a mirage.

Of course, that is what the evil one wants us to believe.

If you aren’t sure whether something is true, it is worth checking to see if it is.  The person in the desert may find that the oasis is a mirage – or, he may find it is an oasis with water.  He won’t know unless he checks it out.

In John 7, Jesus invites us to come to him.  If we do, he promises that we will receive the Holy Spirit, a fountain of everlasting life.

Years ago, I was walking in a spiritual wasteland, not knowing why I was alive.

I came to Jesus and found the living water I was looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the moment

I was raking worries along with leaves this lovely fall day until I remembered the wonderful words from scripture: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I have never been like the goofy-looking kid from Mad Magazine whose theme song was: “What? Me worry?” So, sometimes I need a poke in my spirit from God, like the one I got this morning.

I am obsessed with planning. I believe planning is good, but sometimes I let it get control of me.

I am a bit like my great-uncle who once said, before giving a speech: “I am practicing my spontaneous asides.”

I believe fear is part of the problem. I worry that things may go wrong.

But God tells us that we can’t live that way. We need to look to him and put our hands in his and let him lead us.

Jesus says in Matthew 6 that we are not to worry about whether we will eat or drink or be clothed tomorrow. He tells his followers that God cares for us even more than he does for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field which he created.

He concludes this little speech with these timeless words in verses 33 and 34:

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own worries. Today’s troubles are enough for today.”

In other words, I am to live in the moment, trusting God to take me through whatever lies ahead. My job is keep my eyes on him.

Years ago, we put up a little plaque in a guest bathroom which contains these words from the poem “God Knows” by Minnie Louise Haskins, a young British woman writing at the end of the 1800s:

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
Give me a light
That I may tread safely into the Unknown.
And he replied
Go out into the Darkness
And put your hand into the Hand of God
That shall be to you
Better than light
And safer than the known way.”

England’s King George VI quoted these words in a radio broadcast during the darkest days of the Second World War.

Words to live by.

A cure for regrets

I’m convinced God doesn’t want us to wallow in regrets.

Several of my elderly neighbours and friends feel the weight of past mistakes – and, sometimes, sins. They review these events in their minds constantly.

One man I know still whips himself mentally for something mean he said to a girl in his teens. It sounds silly, but it is very real to him.

Another person I spoke with this week feels God warned him not to do something but he went ahead with it. It wasn’t a sin, but he feels the medical procedure was behind his current illness.

Still another man says he can’t believe God would forgive him for all the sinful things he has done.

I am as susceptible to regrets as they are.

How can we deal with regrets?

I think I need – and my friends need – to latch onto God’s grace and forgiveness. I have said as much to my friends and I must apply this truth to myself.

If I have hurt someone, I should admit my wrongdoing to that person and apologize. If I have sinned in other ways, I should confess my sins to God.

Allowing these regrets to hang over us is close to saying we don’t believe God can love us because of what we have done.

I often turn to Psalm 103 which is a poem exalting God’s all-encompassing love and mercy.

In verse 8, David writes: “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” And in verse 12, he says: “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Once we put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us, we are promised that we will always be in God’s loving hands, no matter what sins or mistakes we have committed.

The apostle Paul tells us that “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1)

And he also has good advice for daily living in Christ. In Philippians 3:13-14, he writes: “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

In other words, Paul wants us to put behind us our past triumphs and failures and to focus our minds on Christ Jesus and what he is calling us to do.

That’s a cure for regrets.

Out of control

I have all the symptoms of a control freak.

I plan things to the nth degree. I worry when things don’t go as I anticipated. I’m surprised by the unexpected.

As a believer, I realize that I need to hand things over to God and trust him when I have done all I can.

This week I have been reflecting on the truth that nothing surprises God. He is working out his plan and everything is under his control.

So, I may feel everything is out of control. But it isn’t in God’s eyes.

I was reading an article about the prophet Habakkuk a couple of days. Habakkuk begins his prophecy by complaining to God that the Lord isn’t paying attention to the suffering of the Israelites.

Habakkuk is appalled as God replies that the Babylonians will sweep over other countries and destroy everything in their path.

“Surely you do not plan to wipe us out?” Habakkuk cries out.

God replies that he will bring judgement on Babylon, a bloodthirsty and arrogant nation.

And Habakkuk responds by saying that even if everything goes wrong in the world around him, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour” (Habakkuk 3:18). “The Sovereign Lord is my strength,” he declares.

I am reminded, too, of Elisha’ servant who was terrified at the sight of a vast army of Arameans surrounding the city of Dothan in Israel (2 Kings 6).

He tells Elisha who replies: “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And he asks God to open the eyes of his servant. The servant sees a vast angelic army ranged against the enemy – unseen to the Arameans. Elisha asks that the Arameans be struck blind and they are led right into the hands of the Israelites.

The lesson for me is that God knows better than I do what is going on in the world around me. He is in control.

As God says in Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I need to remember that.