Living Waters or Stagnant Pools

asia-199909_960_720If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his intermost being will flow Rivers of Living Water’. (John 7:37-38)

Whether our lives are rivers of fresh living water or polluted stagnant pools depends on what we drink.

We are thirsty people. From the moment the choice was made in the garden to depend on ourselves rather than God, the tabernacle of God in our hearts was ripped out leaving us thirsty for God’s presence.

In the summer of 2002, I was always thirsty. I’d stand at the water fountain and fill my cup to the brim, then gulp it all down. But when the last drop rolled down my throat, I felt just as thirsty as before. As it turned out, I have diabetes and there was so much sugar in my blood that my system was crying out to be diluted.

Just as I couldn’t quench my thirst that summer, we can’t quench the thirst of our hearts unless we drink Jesus. We can drink in all the success, money, pleasure and comfort the world has to offer, but we will end up thirsting for more. Ask Solomon.

Jesus tells us to come to Him. The word “come” in the Greek also means to accompany Him. He tells us to drink of Him, our Pearl of Great Value, our Exceeding Great Reward. When we drink of His Rivers of Living Water, which He later explains is the Holy Spirit, our lives are refreshing streams of joy. His love flows in, and with His love, we love others. Without the flow of His loving presence, our lives become putrid, stagnant pools.

Lord, I’m sorry for all the times I’ve thirsted after the things of this world in vain attempts for satisfaction and purpose. I know now that you designed me to long for you. Only in you will I have the joy and deep fulfillment you desire me to have.

Amazingly, you long for me too. It brings you great pleasure when I find my joy in you. You are closer than breath. My heart jumps for joy at the mention of your name. I love you, Lord.

“but whoever drinks of the water that i shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  Jesus

Sorrowful yet always Rejoicing

Mom
Mom

Sorrowful yet always Rejoicing

sorrowful yet always rejoicing, II Corinthians 6:10

I was teaching a two week interim class at the Governor’s School of Science and Mathematics. My mom had been complaining of abdominal pain for a few weeks. We hoped it was her diverticulitis, but when antibiotics didn’t clear it up, the doctors talked about something more serious. They scheduled exploratory surgery the day I was finishing up my class.

I hadn’t heard anything when the class ended, so I headed home along a dark rural road.  Suddenly my car lost all power. Navigating to the narrow shoulder of the road, a massive eighteen wheeler whizzed by shaking the car.

My cell phone rang. It was my wife. Mom had a form of stage 3 ovarian cancer. Hanging up the phone, I felt numb. But then a strange peace welled up deep in my soul. A sense of God’s presence filled me with unusual joy. Not the kind of joy which would cause glad shouting. But it was a firm realization that because God was with me everything was okay.

I learned from this experience that being okay is not a matter of circumstances always working out. Being okay is about us being with God and Him being with us.

A few months later my mother would die. However, the Lord used Isaiah 43 to speak to her heart about being redeemed. She trusted in the Lord Jesus for her salvation before she died.

This brings me unspeakable joy.

No matter what you are going through right this moment, joy is available.

Don’t look for it in your circumstances. This world has troubles.

Joy is found in the presence of God. Behold Him and He will BE your strength and joy.

Lord, thank you that in spite of very difficult circumstance you made me aware of your joyful presence. It is so easy for me to try and find joy in my circumstances and feelings. Thank you that you give me a deep rock solid joy which is unaffected by ANYTHING I face. Please keep me aware that You are my Delight, my Joy, my life. AMEN.

God Shaped Hole in our Hearts

“Delight yourselves in God and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NASB)

164202_10201560062862030_865156004_nThe God Shaped Hole in our Hearts

Bliase Pascal wrote the following in the 1600s:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” [1] 

Pascal is giving more description to Solomon’s conclusion that God has set eternity in the hearts of men. From this quote men began to describe our inner abyss as a “God shaped void”.

It was God’s great pleasure to create us. [2]  He made us with glory and honor [3] and he values our fellowship.[4] In short, God created us because it delights him to give us the pleasure of his presence.

In the garden, we had what our hearts desire, intimate communion with our Creator. But we weren’t satisfied. We wanted to be like God and were cut off from the tree of life. The place of God was ripped out of our hearts leaving a great eternal chasm.

The roads of history are flanked with hopeless souls who have lost their way trying to fill the God shaped hole in their hearts. They have made idols out of and become addicted to what God created, instead of God himself.

“Folly is joy to him who lacks sense,” Proverbs 15:21a

But God has made a way back to Him, though it cost Him His very life.

Lord, you are who I’ve been looking for all my life, though often my actions say otherwise. In self-effort and self-gratification, I have placed myself ahead of you in my heart. But you want my whole heart.   Amazingly, you actually want fellowship with me. Thank you for providing a way to rescue me from being lost and separated from you through the death of your Son. Teach me to pursue you above all else. I love you, Lord.

[1] Pensées, Blaise Pascal (Published in 1670 after his death)

[2] Genesis 1:31

[3] Psalm 8:5

[4] John 15:14-15

 

 

Under Construction: A Dwelling Place for Christ

10407876_10205268823978740_56971566099135395_n (1)I read  I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (NKJV)

I sense the Lord has much to say about this verse, so I slow down and dig deeper.

I ask: what is the therefore there for? In other words, what should I bring forward from what has just been written to help understand this verse?

Conclusion:  In the verses before, Paul  sets our sights on the returning of Jesus, the ending of what is old and the beginning  of all things new. This brings a  sense of urgency  to the verse at hand.


Digging Deeper

Using the Strongs App on my phone  ( I highly recommend it if you enjoy digging for hidden treasure), I dig into the words comfort and edify.

Comfort – translated from the Greek word par-ak-al-eh’-o.

Jesus used the same word when he called the Holy Spirit the Comforter. The word literally means to call near or call beside.

The thought comes to me:  If I’m going to call someone beside me, I better have something to offer.

For me to be a comforter, I must be being comforted. I must be being aware of and depending upon the true Comforter,  who is calling me beside Him,  joining in what He is doing.  How dare I ever try and comfort someone else without yielding to the Indwelling  Holy Spirit. Without Christ, I can do nothing. [1]

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Conclusion: I can’t comfort others unless I’m allowing myself to be comforted by the Holy Spirit.


Edify – translated from the Greek word oy-kod-om-eh’-o, it  literally means to build a  house or a dwelling.

As Christians, we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit and have become dwelling places of Christ by His Spirit. [2]

We are all under construction

What remains is for Christ to be formed in us [3], for us to be made complete in Christ. [4]

For Christ to be formed in us, for us to be made complete in Christ,  we are to: (Summarized from Galatians 2:20)

  • fully embrace our spiritual death
  • always recognize our Indwelling Comforter
  • fully depend on Christ to love others through us

Paul calls Christ in us, the hope of glory. He states his aim to be to present every man complete in Christ, striving according to Christ’s power working mightily in him. [5]

Conclusion: Edifying another is aiming at  building a dwelling for Christ in that person’s life, regardless of the condition of their spiritual journey. Edifying another is yielding to the Indwelling Christ in you to join God in the construction process of another person’s life.


In Summary

Concluding all conclusions: In light of the certainty of a sudden change from this world to the next, keep in mind that comforting and edifying another must start with us.  If we are to call someone near to us; to labor with Christ in the construction process of a another person’s life, we need to be being comforted by the Holy Spirit and be depending upon the indwelling Holy Spirit for our every word and deed, yielding to Christ to love through us.

 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  I Peter 4:11

[1] John 15:5

[2] Ephesians 1:13, I Corinthians 6:19

[3] Galatians 4:19

[4]  Colossians 1:28

[5]  Colossians 1:27-29

 

Joy is not an Option

10407876_10205268823978740_56971566099135395_n (1)

Lately, I’ve heard a great deal about joy. And why not? We all need it. Scripture is packed full of verses on joy and its many derivatives. We were designed to have joy, our hearts pine for it. Without it we walk around with a deep chasm, searching aimlessly for purpose and fulfillment.

King Solomon tried all manner of worldly delights to satisfy his emptiness.[1] Denying himself nothing he saw around him, he concluded that it was all “vanity and striving after the wind.”  Ecclesiastes 2:11b (NASB)

Trying everything, but failing to find joy, Solomon was left hopeless and despondent. “I hated life, for the work which has been done under the sun was grievous to me, because everything is futility and striving after wind.”  Ecclesiastes 2:17 (NASB)

He would later conclude, that God has set eternity in the hearts of men.[2] Solomon had the means to try all the world has to offer to try and satisfy his deep need for joy. None of it worked. In fact, at the end of his search, he hated life because he recognized the utter futility of trying to fill the eternal hole in our hearts with anything around us.

Lord, help us not to fall into Solomon’s trap. The glitter of riches, fame, success and pleasure can keep us in a boundless pursuit of fool’s gold. If we could carry this quest to the ends that Solomon did, we too would find it a vain pursuit, a chasing after the wind. Lord, may we seek you, the pearl of great value, worthy of our all.[3] 

 

[1] Ecclesiastes 2:1-10

[2] Ecclesiastes 3:11

[3] Matthew 13:46

Experiencing God in the moments of our lives