Messy Shepherds at a Messy Manger

Each day we are 24 hours closer to celebrating the birth of Christ. Although things are still a little messy around our house with Christmas preparations, I still need to take time to prepare my heart for the holidays. Once again, I stop to examine the figures of our nativity scene. Today my attention is drawn to the wooden shepherd. According to the scriptures, the shepherds were in a nearby field taking care of their sheep that starry night when Jesus was born. Suddenly, an angel personally delivered to them the birth announcement of the Savior of the world! They immediately decided to go see this baby. What a glorious birthing party they attended when they arrived at the stable in Bethlehem where they found Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus! (See Luke 2:8-20)

The shepherds did not bother to change clothes before they searched for this baby boy. They were dirty sheep tenders who lived in the open fields with their sheep. Currently, however, they were more concerned about finding the infant than they were about their appearance. It was probably natural for them to begin their quest for this little one in a stable since they were shepherds. Well, I guess they did have help from an angel. The messy manger was a location where the shepherds were comfortable.

I notice that when the shepherds went to Bethlehem, they left their sheep in the fields. Did they realize they were going to welcome the Lamb of God to this earth? (see John 1:29) Was this newborn babe worthy of a higher priority than taking care of their flock of sheep? Why would the Lamb of God be in a messy stable?

Although the shepherds had little knowledge about the infant who was introduced to them as the Savior Christ the Lord, I wonder if they felt a prophetic kinship with him. When they saw him, did they comprehend who he would become? Let us fast forward about 30 years when Jesus compares his life to that of a shepherd in John 10. In verses 1-6, Jesus shares about how sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd while they do not respond to the call of a hired hand. In verses 7-10, Jesus describes himself as the gate for sheep and in verses 11-18, he reveals himself as the good shepherd. Wow! When the shepherds visited Jesus, he was a baby in a manger. As a man, he became the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. What a future for the infant born in a manger!

The messy shepherds were comfortable around the Christ child because they found him in a messy manger. Today, Jesus is comfortable with our messy lives because He experienced a messy manger. According to John 1:29, He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, the messiness of our lives. Jesus is also the Good Shepherd who wants to take care of us and guide us so we will not get into more messes. Psalm 23 portrays an excellent example of a shepherd’s job physically and spiritually.

In conclusion, messy shepherds came just as they were, and that is how Jesus wants us to come to Him. I am reminded of the hymn Just As I Am with lyrics by Charlotte Elliott. Please join me in singing or reciting the first two verses of this hymn. It is a good way for us to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

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Mary and the Messy Manger

As I survey my surroundings, I am aware of Christmas stuff scattered around our home.  While listening to the news reports, I hear of turmoil throughout the world.  Wherever I turn, there is another mess.  I pick up the hand-carved figure of Mary in our nativity scene and realize there were some messy situations in her life as well.  

I wonder what thoughts went through Mary’s mind that night when Christ was born. Most likely, she expected the birth of her first child to take place in a warm, cozy room. She may have imagined herself being surrounded by family and relatives in her hometown of Nazareth. I am quite sure she did not expect her newborn’s cradle to be a feeding trough shared with a cow! After all, who would choose a messy manger in the little town of Bethlehem for the birth of a baby? The answer – God. As Heavenly Father, God chose a messy manger for the birth of His Son! Mary’s perception was interrupted by the Lord’s plans and purposes. God did not do things predictably over 2000 years ago, and He still often does not do things as we expect.

Our Heavenly Father has plans and purposes for each of us as His kids. However, His plans for Jesus, His only begotten Son, were special. (see Jeremiah 29:11 and John 3:16) Being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary, Jesus came to earth not only to live but to die. He died so that we can be born again. (See John 3:3) Jesus relinquished His position beside His Heavenly Father to be born into the world’s messy manger and 33 years later to die for us. Although our lives may look like messy mangers, we are given the opportunity to die to ourselves and be born again. Then we receive the gift of eternal life. The sacred cycle of life and death occurs both physically and spiritually.

While holding the figure of Mary in my hands, I meditate upon the fact that Mary was privileged to hold God in her hands. She was the mom of Jesus. She was the first person to give God in the flesh a hug. Mary experienced a miracle firsthand!

The night of Jesus’ birth, Mary held him in her arms. In a few weeks, Jesus grasped Mary’s finger in response to her holding his little hand. I am reminded of how a person can wrap someone around their little finger. It is possible for a person to gain control over another individual and make that person do whatever one wishes. Although Christ desires to have preeminence in our lives, He allows us to make that choice. (See Colossians 3:18) I must admit that I would rather be held in the arms of Christ than for me to wrap Him around my little finger! Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Although the inanimate figure of Mary does not allow my hands to feel her heartbeat, another image of the closeness of Mary and the infant Jesus comes to my mind. I see Mary Mom holding Jesus close to her heart allowing him to hear her heartbeat while she is feeling the rhythm of his heart. Today Jesus wants us to hold Him close to our hearts so that He can hear our heartbeat and we can feel His. He gives each of us a new heart – a heart that is in love with Him. (See Ezekiel 36:26-27) God is love. Jesus is God. So, Jesus is love. Mary had the privilege of holding love in her arms. Now we have the privilege of holding Jesus, the love of God, in our hearts when we personally invite Him into our lives. (See I John 4:7-17)  Jesus in our hearts can help us handle the messiness of our lives.

My Reader, may you experience the love of Jesus in your heart.  Please join me in either singing or repeating the words of the first verse of the Christmas song Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina Rossetti.

Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.

Joseph Knocks and Gets a Messy Manger

 

 

Christmas is coming and I am beginning to decorate our home for this sacred season. One of my favorite focal points is our nativity set of olive wood figurines depicting the scene of Jesus’ birth. I meticulously place Mary and Joseph in the center of our crèche with baby Jesus in a little manger between them. There is a kneeling shepherd along with a few animals. I stand one sheep on a small bale of hay and scatter a few pieces of straw on the stable’s floor. I place the wise men to one side of the barn since they have not yet arrived upon the scene. Hmmm. Is this how Jesus’ birthplace really looked that night so many years ago? I don’t think so. Sharon Garlough Brown, in her book Barefoot, describes the birthing scene as a messy manger. This may be more accurate.

As a potentially more authentic picture, I imagine dirty cattle huddled in a corner stall swishing their tails to keep away flies and insects while their feeding trough now holds a tiny baby rather than grain and hay. This dilapidated barn shelters a donkey and a few sheep while pigeons flutter in the roof rafters. Jesus most likely was born in a messy manger – He was born into a messy world.

From now until Christmas, we are going to look closely at one figure of the Nativity scene each week. Today we begin with Joseph.

Joseph was betrothed to Mary and they had marriage plans. That is until Mary told him that she was going to have a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph did not fully understand all Mary was saying, but he did know he was not the father. What a mess! Joseph considered divorcing Mary quietly but then God told him in a dream to go ahead and take her as his wife. (see Matthew 1:18-25) As the time drew closer for the baby to be born, Caesar Augustus decided to take a census that required Joseph to register in Bethlehem. Mary went along. (see Luke 2:1-5) Then things get even messier because Mary went into labor. Joseph had to be wondering where this uniquely conceived baby would soon be born. Surely God would provide a special place for His Son to be born! Well, yes, God did provide a special place, but it was not where Joseph expected.

Upon arriving in Bethlehem, Joseph began persistently knocking on the doors of inns and homes seeking a place to stay. No room! Ugh! Because all these doors were slammed shut in his face, Joseph was only able to provide Mary with an unsanitary stable for the birthing place of her baby. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, was born in a messy manger.

I wonder if Joseph’s continuous knocking prophetically portrayed how in years to come Jesus would stand at the door of each person’s heart repeatedly knocking and seeking entrance. Jesus lets us know in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Joseph pounded on many doors that were never opened, or if they were opened, there was no available occupancy because of the crowd of travelers in Bethlehem for the census. Today as Jesus knocks on the door of each of our hearts, are we open to letting Him come in and take up residence within us, or are we allowing other things to crowd out His place in our lives? Listen to the words of the Lord in Proverbs 23:26, “Give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.”

Jesus was born in a messy manger into a chaotic world. When He was born in a messy manger, Jesus revealed that He was not picky about His surroundings. Jesus came as Emmanuel; He came to be God with us. (see Matthew 1:23) Today, Jesus is willing to come into the mess of our lives and cleanse of all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Knock! Knock! Is that Jesus knocking at the door of your heart? He wants to come in and celebrate His birth with you. He doesn’t care if your life is a little discombobulated. It will remind Him of the night over 2000 years ago when His bed was a messy manger. Answer His knock by joining me in singing or repeating the lyrics of Into My Heart found below.

Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
Come in today, come in to stay,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.

Preparing the Table

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

Today is the day before Thanksgiving in the United States of America. Many of us are busy preparing food for our dinner and all of us should be preparing our hearts for the holiday. Thanksgiving provides us the opportunity to set aside a particular day to focus upon those things for which we are especially thankful. While food will fill our stomachs, gratitude to the Lord will fill our souls for His ample provision and protection. Today, I want to combine thoughts of preparing food and preparing our hearts.  Let’s focus upon the table the Lord prepares for us. While I may be busy preparing physical food for a special day, the Lord prepares spiritual food for us every day.

You (the Lord) prepare a table before me . . . .
Psalm 23:5

What does the table the Lord prepares look like? I think of the table as being the communion table. When Jesus shared the Passover meal with His disciples, He instituted the Last Supper known today as the sacrament of communion. Matthew 26:26-28 says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’” The table and elements of communion portray Jesus’ broken body and spilled blood (the bread and wine/grape juice) upon the cross (the table). 

In comparison to the dinner table, the communion table has greater significance.  While gathering with His disciples for the Passover meal, Jesus showed us an example of gratitude. He gave thanks for the bread and the wine before He shared it with His disciples. We must make it a priority to give thanks to God for our blessings before we eat the food on our Thanksgiving table tomorrow.

Does the Lord offer additional “food” at His table? The bread and the wine/grape juice of the communion table are the best “food” because they symbolize Jesus.  However, I want to consider some additional spiritual food. First, there is milk and meat. Hebrews 5:12-13 says, “by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the nature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Some Bible translations say “solid food” but the King James Version says “meat.”  Meat is the word I want to consider. Milk and meat can refer to physical food, but  what does the writer of Hebrews mean? According to translations of the Greek language, “milk” is gala meaning the basic teachings of true Christianity and “meat” is broma describing the deeper spiritual doctrine of the Gospel. Fruit is also available. Galatians 5:22-23 describes this fruit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 Now I want to compare the  food I am preparing for Thanksgiving dinner to spiritual food. The Lord’s milk is not the same as the milk in the refrigerator.  Neither is spiritual meat like the turkey I am preparing to put in the oven. God’s milk and meat fill a spiritual hunger while my milk and turkey only curb physical hunger for a few hours. Although my cranberries and apples are tasty fruits, they are not nearly as life-giving as the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, is more satisfying than the yeast rolls I am baking.

What does the Lord ask of us regarding the table He has prepared?  Psalm 34:8 invites us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”  We can be refreshed and satisfied when we are in His presence. Also, the foods placed upon His holy table allow us to savor spiritual food.  Psalm 119:103 says, How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!What a delightful table the Lord prepares for us! His bountiful table is available 365 days a year while my Thanksgiving table is prepared only one day of the year.

Today is the day of preparing food and hearts for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tomorrow our family will gather around the table to eat the food I have prepared. Before we eat, we will take time to bow our heads and offer a prayer of thanksgiving. We will continue to express gratitude throughout our conversation during the meal. We willGive thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” according to Psalm 107:1. We will also be thankful for the spiritual table where we can gather throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everything!

“Everything” is all-inclusive! When I was a little girl, my mother helped me learn me how to pray by giving me a simple prayer outline. She suggested that I pray, “God, thank You for ______ and ______.” I was to fill in the blanks with two things for which I was thankful that day. Sometimes it would be easy for me to fill in the blanks. Other times, I might just pray, “Thank You, God for everything!” This could have been my prayer because my heart was so full of gratitude that I could not choose two specific things. Or, it might have been an easy way out because I was too tired to think. Today, when I think about thanking God for everything, it involves a greater risk than I perceived as a child. Can someone be thankful for a diagnosis of cancer? Can another person be thankful for losing their job? At this point in my life, I do not always find it easy to thank God for everything. However, I do still pray about everything. I have discovered some all-inclusive scriptures I want us to think about today.

Jesus looked at them intently and said,
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God.
Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:27 NLT

Nothing” can be replaced with “everything” when we allow God to work on our behalf! This verse from the gospel of Mark is Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Humanly speaking, neither this man nor any of us can do anything to inherit the kingdom of God. Admitting that we can do nothing opens the door for Jesus to do everything for us. Jesus did it all! He died on the cross to pay the price we cannot pay.

The other factor we need to remember is that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and His power, we become capable of doing the impossible even though we are human. I recently heard Bill Johnson  encourage us to not run from the impossible. We are told in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” The power of the Holy Spirit is the power of God for whom nothing is impossible and we can receive that same power. Bill Johnson pointed out that this power of the Holy Spirit in us is enough for us to do the impossible. We can do the impossible not because we are human, but because Christ through the Holy Spirit lives and works through us. This leads us to the next scripture.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NLT

Everything” is “every thing.” From this verse, I gain the confidence that I can do everything that I encounter in life because Christ promises to give me the strength to do what I need to do through the power of the Holy Spirit. I should never say, “I can’t.” When faced with a regimen of chemo treatments for a cancer diagnosis, one may feel overwhelmed and be tempted to cry out, “I can’t do this!” However, Paul assures us that we can do the “everything” facing us because Christ will be with us and working for us during the duration of the treatment. Years ago, my uncle underwent numerous treatments for cancer and I remember my mother commenting that she did not know how he was able to keep going in spite of the side affects etc. However, less than a year later, she faced similar cancer treatments and I witnessed the grace of God sustain her during her time of trial. I need to have the mindset of “I can” rather than “I can’t.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7

Everything: can be “whatever.” This verse can be dangerous if we do not focus upon the complete verse. We must not skip over the “if” qualification for receiving what we wish or ask for “ if you remain in Jesus and His word”. In I John 5:14-15 the “if”qualification phrase relates to God’s will, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” God is able to do everything we ask when we become so attuned to Him that whatever we ask is always in accordance with His will. Although God may not answer in the way we expect, He is able to give us everything as He promises when we surrender everything to Him allowing all our thoughts and desires to be His thoughts and desires. Psalm 37:4 NASB says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desire of your heart.” When we delight in Him, our desires are transformed into His desires.

Now there is another “if” scripture for us to consider.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.
“Anything is possible if a person believes.
Mark 9:23 NLT

Anything” is “everything!” In this scripture, Mark tells of a man who came to Jesus asking if He was willing and capable of releasing his son from the influence of an evil spirit. Because this man was thinking of Jesus’ capability from a human perspective, he was questioning Jesus’ ability to set his son free. Jesus responded by reassuring the man that through faith and trust anything and everything is possible. Like this man, we must be careful that we do not prevent the Lord from doing what He promises to do because of our lack of faith. We also need to remember that although anything is possible, God will only answer our prayers in His way according to His time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together
for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to
His purpose. . . . predestined to
become
conformed to the image of His Son,
Romans 8:28-29

All things” is “everything!” The point to remember from this scripture is that while God is capable of causing everything to be used for His good, He does not cause everything that happens to us. Referring back to my simple prayer outline, I can pray “Thank You, God, for how You are going to use my current experience, whether it be positive or negative, for Your glory.” That is quite different from asking a recently unemployed person to pray, “Thank You, God, for my losing my job.” I like the thought that God gives us all kinds of situations so He can give us all things.

When we encounter all kinds of situations, God has the opportunity to reveal His faithfulness to us by showing us how He actually uses all the things we experience for good. God will use everything we encounter to make us more like Him. We may not like everything we experience but we still need to embrace everything and allow God to turn negative situations into positive life lessons. 

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17

Everything” can meannothing.” Nothing is too hard for our Lord who created everything with His hands. Today, everything we experience passes through the hands of Him who created us and our surroundings. He continues to hold everything in His hands, so we do not need to fear anything we experience. If He could create this world we live in, then He can take care of it. There is no reason for us to doubt His ability. Truly, there is nothing too hard for God to do!

In Genesis 18:114, the Lord asked Abraham, “Is anything too Hard for the Lord?” My Reader, how do you answer this question? How does your response to this question affect how you feel about everything that happens in your life and how you handle every situation you encounter? May you remember the words of Colossians 2:10 in the Living Letters, “So you have everything when you have Christ.”

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

 

Unplugged

The image posted above is a calligraphy drawing done by our granddaughter Grace. It was appropriate that she showed it to me on a day when we did not have electrical power at home. The previous afternoon we had experienced a wind and rain storm that caused us to lose power. We had become unplugged from our source of electricity!

After the storm, we went out to get something to eat (without electricity I was not able to prepare dinner) and we saw a broken electrical pole and downed wires. The culprit of our power outage was a big tree that had been uprooted and entangled with surrounding electrical cables. As a result, there were pockets of darkness throughout our neighborhood: 6 homes on our street, almost 30 on another street along with an additional 15-18 homes on the third street. It seemed strange that only certain homes in our tract lost power while others remained unaffected. The homes appeared to have diverse connections to the source of electricity, and that influenced whether or not power was lost.

Why different power connections exist within one neighborhood still does not make sense to us in the natural, but I see a supernatural picture of a similar circumstance that is understandable. How securely we are wired to the Lord affects our response when spiritual disturbances blow our way. If we are deeply grounded in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our faith will not likely to be uprooted when doubts rain down upon us. James 1:6 says, “… you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” The Amplified Version of John 16:33 says, “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration, but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!] I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” As a result of our wind and rain storm caused by nature, we were frustrated by our loss of electrical power. However, because of our faith in Christ we were assured that this inconvenience did not have any power to harm us. We were still connected to the greater power of God. Matthew 22:37-39 tells us how to stay connected, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Romans 8:39 tells us, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us, or disconnect us, from the power of God’s love!

There is power in God’s Word and God’s Word reveals the power of God. We serve an omnipotent God and our primary source of His spiritual power is His Word. Let me share a few scriptures that will help us recharge our spiritual batteries.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,
for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

For nothing is impossible with God.
Luke 1:37

(He) is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
Ephesians 3:20

As I stated earlier, storms can cause us to become disconnected from our source of power both physically and spiritually. Let me conclude by sharing a couple of songs that also speak of additional sources of God’s power, namely the blood of the Lamb and the name of Jesus. There Is Power in the Blood of the Lamb was written by Lewis E. Jones in 1899 and still has a vital message for today. The specific words I want to emphasize are as follows, “There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” The second song is Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs. Again, there are a few specific lines for us to focus upon. “There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

Mu Reader, I hope you physically have the luxury of electrical power in your home and may you spiritually stay connected to our omnipotent God who is the source of our sacred power. Do not become unplugged!

Are You Thirsty?

In a Sunday morning message, Pastor Bob Reeves made the following statement, “Jesus died thirsty so we will not go thirsty.” I have been thinking about this comment and want to share with you some of the understanding I have gained.

First of all, I validate the fact that Jesus died thirsty by noting the scripture of John 19:28, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’” The soldiers who were near the cross offered Him wine vinegar on a soaked sponge. He took their drink but then spoke His last words, “It is finished.” This little bit of liquid could not have satisfied His thirst. He was still thirsty when He died.

The fact that Jesus died thirsty is rather ironic because He promises us living water. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 7:37-39, “‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Notice that Jesus does not say that He is the living water, but that He will give living water, the Holy Spirit. Such a beautiful satisfying promise for us!

There are two kinds of thirst – physical and spiritual. We all crave to have our cup filled at various times throughout our lives. At one point, we may desire a drink to satisfy our physical thirst while at another time we will experience spiritual dryness. There is reference to both thirsts in Isaiah 44:3. The Lord says, “For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants.Isaiah 12:3 refers to spiritual water, “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.

In the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, we have the story of Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of well water. John 4:9-15 says, “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 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.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’” In the beginning, Jesus and the woman were talking about physical water but their conversation concluded with reference to spiritual water. While our physical thirst needs to be repeatedly satisfied, Jesus told the Samaritan that when she received the living water of the Spirit, she would not thirst again. He still offers us this same message today. The Holy Spirit will continually give us a fresh drink of living water. However, we must heed the words of Paul in I Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” We may be able to quench our physical thirst but we must never allow our thirst for the Holy Spirit to be quenched to the point of not desiring His ongoing supply. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The Lord promises in Jeremiah 31:25, “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”

In his sermon, Pastor Bob emphasized that it does not cost us anything to satisfy our thirst but it cost Jesus everything. It cost Jesus His life. The offer of free water is noted in Isaiah 55:1, “Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.” In Revelation 21:6, Jesus says, “to the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” John describes the source of this water in Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

I identify with the Psalmist in Psalm 42:1-2 who says, “As the deer pants for steams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Jesus still hears our pleas for Living Water. While being thirsty upon the cross where He died, Jesus paid the price and provided the source for water through the Holy Spirit. I like the wording of John 7:38 NASB, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” Not only do we receive this spiritual drink from the Lord, but we also have the privilege of offering it to other parched people around us.

My Reader, are you thirsty? Drink deeply of the Living Water!