Friday, February 28, 2020

Drinking Water

We live on the shores of the greatest source of fresh, drinkable or potable water in the world. That is an amazing fact that the Great Lakes represent 95% of the U.S. water supply and are 84% of the surface water in North American. That is six quadrillion gallons of water or one-fifth of the fresh water in the world. What a blessing to live here, even if from time to time we get bacteria like cryptosporidium that can sicken and even kill. But the aquifers around the lakes are full of pollutants like radium and ecolli. There is a battle brewing and even “water wars” for access to this natural resource. Some say it should be available to the whole world, but only the Governors of the Lake’s contiguous states can decide who gets it. Why? Because it is still a limited resource and we need it to live.

If you were without water for a week you would die. We can go without food for up to a month depending on the health of a person. We are 70% water and need it to live. But yet much of the world is “water poor.” Much of Africa and Asia are without drinkable water and need to travel miles to find water that might be contaminated with cholera or typhoid or other poisons. There are 2.4 billion people without access to clean drinking water and an estimated 840,000 people die each year from contaminated water including some 360,000 children. Some say this is a justice issue and that there should be some way to bring equity. God know all about this and there are many ministries bringing water through digging wells. Living Waters is the largest Christian water ministry digging wells and providing water technology around the water. I am glad that Milwaukee, where I live, is becoming the water technology center of the world. My prayer partner works for a company that is designing water systems for the world.

God through the Bible also has given us a source of water. He calls it “living water.”  In the story of the “Samaritan Woman” we read of a woman in need of more than H20. When Jesus asked her for a drink He said, “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” (John 4:10). In John 4:14 we read, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  This is a story about the source of true thirst quenching water.  This water in that of the Holy Spirit that is God. Jesus is telling her that if she drinks it or believes in Him that she will never thirst again. Many laugh at this thought as a great exaggeration or aggrandizement. But it is a statement about life and life eternal in the creator of the universe and each one of us humans. When the Israelites were in the desert and thirsty they quarreled with Moses and said, ’Give us water to drink’ (Exodus 17:2).  So Moses struck the rock and water came out of it as God had told him. God provided water from Mara to Meribah even though the people grumbled. He is faithful, we are not.

Have you ever been thirsty? Of course you have. And for the most part you just pumped the well or turned on the spigot. I recall in the military having to use halazone, a chlorine-like chemical tablet to purify the water before we could drink it. There are many systems available today. But the best is the Lord’s.

I have written about thirst and heat in Montana as we climbed out of deep canyon in the 100+ degree sun after trout fishing. The water in the hose next to a ranch house was cold and pure and crystal clear. It refreshed and revitalized us to our souls. It is a great memory of God’s provision. Near that ranch is the Missouri River, the longest river in the United States, is “Giant Springs.” It is an amazing artesian aquifer, welling up from between the rock thousands of feet down and from the Little Belt Mountains, 60 miles away. Lewis and Clark stopped there as they portaged the four huge waterfalls on the Missouri.

In Revelation, the last and prophetic book of the Bible we read, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). Yes God in Christ Jesus is the “Living Water” and will bring life and joy back to us who believe in His heaven. The book ends with these wonderful words of life; “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son” (Revelation 21:6-7). Drink deeply from the living waters of life.



Thursday, February 27, 2020

Green Pastures

Green Pastures
Psalm 23 is known by most as a restful Psalm. Yet in this life, we humans seem anything but restful. We are driven to produce, to strive for perfection, to beat the other and compete for an earthly prize that will rust or rot. Perhaps that’s why God causes David, the shepherd boy, to write such an important Psalm, hymn or song of life.

He makes us to lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).  Yes, God makes, forces us to lie down, often kicking and screaming. That is such a sad image of selfish, misdirected humanity. Rest is something we just don’t understand. Oh, we may watch some violent or sex dripping TV serial, or read a book of the same ilk. But do we seek the only place where we can find rest? That place is in God’s presence. It is seeking after the face of God. “All who are weary and heavy laden” Jesus says to us, “Come!”  and find rest. But we keep on going.  Sheep do that. In fact, sheep don’t sleep because they are too worried about predators and insects and food.  Sound familiar? Yes, we are like sheep who have gone astray, our own way. 

Psalm42 says, “As a deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2). Where is your God? This Psalm asks. Where do you find rest? Psalm 62 says, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” We find rest in God alone; He is our “Green Pasture.” He causes or makes us to lie down in the green, verdant places. Here is nourishment and life. Here there is safety and along still waters of life-giving streams. Here we need to rest and drink in His strength for the journey. “Green Pastures” of grass often surrounded by green leafed trees. Leaves produce O2 our life-giving air. Without oxygen we die. Without God we die spiritually. We are body, mind and spirit and must find God to live. Those who doubt or are searching, give Him a try. You will not be sorry. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Delight

Do you “delight” in anything very often? You might be a tough-guy man who would never use this word. Perhaps you are a woman who finds delightful things to be parties or beautiful experiences. You are a little closer to the truth about God’s view.

In Psalm 37 we can read, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like noonday sun”  (Psalm 37:4-6). Here is the warrior King David telling us of God’s perspective on “delight.”  God wants us to delight and trust in Him. But note that if you thought about what would delight your heart before verse 6 you might have said something different. Perhaps you would have said that your delight would be a $1,000,000 or a better job or wife or life. But that is not what comes next. God wants our delight to be in Him so that He can make our righteousness shine brightly. Righteousness and holiness is His desire: For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy(Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16). This is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. You can read in The Pursuit of Holiness, a book by Jerry Bridges that the will of God for us is, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness(Ephesians 4:22-24). God wants us more like Him and one of His key attributes is holiness.

This study of Scripture may cause a new twist to your faith journey. We always knew that it was not about us and our desires or delights on this plane. We are to make our desires the same as the Lord’s. Psalm 37:23 goes on to tell us, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  I love that God will take delight in anything I do or am. The Psalmist also tells us about the blessed man, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted in streams of water”  (Psalm 1:2-3).  In Deuteronomy we read, “You will again obey the Lord and follow all His commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands…The Lord delights in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 29:8-9).  God clearly wants us in step with His way as I write about in my book, This is the Way; Walk in it.

It is wonderful and delightful that the Lord delights in us, as we trust in Him.  But He also disciplines those in whom He delights Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6 tell us. This is our journey as Christians. Paul even said in 2 Corinthians 12, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  God’s power is being made perfect in our weakness. And we can be sure that all these tough times will be increasing as we come closer to the return of Christ.  So stand firm because we have a God who delights in us.
‘”The Lord your God is with you,
    The Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”’  (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)



Friday, February 14, 2020

Delight

Do you “delight” in anything very often? You might be a tough-guy man who would never use this word. Perhaps you are a woman who finds delightful things to be parties or beautiful experiences. You are a little closer to the truth about God’s view.

In Psalm 37 we can read, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like noonday sun”  (Psalm 37:4-6). Here is the warrior King David telling us of God’s perspective on “delight.”  God wants us to delight and trust in Him. But note that if you thought about what would delight your heart before verse 6 you might have said something different. Perhaps you would have said that your delight would be a $1,000,000 or a better job or wife or life. But that is not what comes next. God wants our delight to be in Him so that He can make our righteousness shine brightly. Righteousness and holiness is His desire: For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy(Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16). This is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. You can read in The Pursuit of Holiness, a book by Jerry Bridges that the will of God for us is, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness(Ephesians 4:22-24). God wants us more like Him and one of His key attributes is holiness.

This study of Scripture may cause a new twist to your faith journey. We always knew that it was not about us and our desires or delights on this plane. We are to make our desires the same as the Lord’s. Psalm 37:23 goes on to tell us, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  I love that God will take delight in anything I do or am. The Psalmist also tells us about the blessed man, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted in streams of water”  (Psalm 1:2-3).  In Deuteronomy we read, “You will again obey the Lord and follow all His commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands…The Lord delights in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 29:8-9).  God clearly wants us in step with His way as I write about in my book, This is the Way; Walk in it.

It is wonderful and delightful that the Lord delights in us, as we trust in Him.  But He also disciplines those in whom He delights Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6 tell us. This is our journey as Christians. Paul even said in 2 Corinthians 12, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  God’s power is being made perfect in our weakness. And we can be sure that all these tough times will be increasing as we come closer to the return of Christ.  So stand firm because we have a God who delights in us.
‘”The Lord your God is with you,
    The Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”’  (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)



Complaining

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you as you hold out the word of life- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing” (Philippians 2:14-16).

What a sentence and proclamation to each of us. So how are you doing?  I personally struggle with complaining and arguing or grumbling, another favorite warning word in Scripture.  So how bad is it? Well, in Exodus, God exterminated all of a generation for grumbling. The next generation had to carry on through the desert to the Promised Land.  Sounds a lot like the Genesis story of Noah as God’s wrath poured out on all except one family and the animals on the ark. You see back then and in Moses time and now it seems no one takes God seriously about our propensity to complain about everything. Being discontent with God’s will is an expression of unbelief that prevents one from doing what pleases God. 

I don’t know about you, but I had forgotten how seriously God takes this attitude of grumbling and complaining. In James 5:9, Jesus’s brother reminds us again that if we grumble about each other God will judge us. He says to be patient and persevere, standing firm in the faith. I should not need any more warnings even though I might have reason to complain. Just look at the rest of the Philippians verse. God wants us to be blameless in a “crooked” generation. I just can’t help but laugh at how relevant Scripture is as we look at this vapid election cycle.  Presidential candidates are referring to “crooked” politicians constantly, even as they lie about themselves and others. It is a very sad commentary on our times, a condition that has existed since time immemorial.  So what does God want us to do?

God wants us to “shine like stars in the universe” as we proclaim the truth in God’s word of life from the Bible. What a personification of contrast. As I road my bike this morning in the predawn darkness I gazed at the stars shining above me. They extend for billions of miles across God’s creation and are held together by Jesus Christ Himself as Colossians 1 tells us. They stand out. That’s what God wants us to do. Be different, a contrast to the generation around us. That’s simple but difficult because it takes courage. People will complain and grumble about you being “holier than thou.” It has been said that St. Augustine once proclaimed, “preach the gospel at all times and if you must use words.”  However, if we review Paul’s admonition above, we are reminded to use God’s word of life so that we may become blameless and faultless in this depraved world. We are commanded by Jesus Christ’s last words before leaving earth to “Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”  (Matthew 28:20). This is the “Great Commission.”  Get it, we must use words from Scripture for they “will not return void but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).  We must be prepared to speak or “preach” the word in and out of season as 2 Timothy 4:2 teaches. We are to teach and encourage and correct with careful and great patience because people just don’t want to hear the truth. You see for a generation our society has said, “there is no truth.” But as Christians, we know better. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

So, how do we keep from complaining?
·      Proclaim the truth
·      Don’t dwell on negative or dark things, but stay in the light
·      Practice being at peace with everyone as much as it depends upon you.
·      Don’t argue
·      Encourage one another
·      Read and memorize Scripture
·      Stay away from negative or complaining people
·      Pray continually, praise God and give thanks in all things
·      Confess your complaining and grumbling to God
·      Love one another

OK, there are 1000s of Scriptures that tell us how to live. So, keep reading and speaking the Word of God.