Living Water

  Man, there are few things more difficult than being thirsty for a prolonged period of time. Probably many of us have never really had to face true thirst. Especially dangerous life threatening thirst. 

When I think I’m thirsty my first craving is for a Dr. Pepper or good old southern sweet tea. When I was a kid working in the hay field or watermelon patch with my dad there was nothing more satisfying than a tall cold glass of water.

Have you ever found yourself thirsty inside? That’s thirst on an entirely different level. It’s life threatening all the same. At the core of our soul. 

Maybe you didn’t articulate it that way—but the acknowledgement for something more was present like an inexplicable craving or yearning. 

Do you believe in Jesus? He told us he was that kind of satisfaction. 

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” ‭‭(John‬ ‭7:37-38‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

He made it really simple too. If you’re thirsty go to him. How? Believe.

He is living water. (Check out the fourth chapter in John’s Gospel for some more on that). 

He also said, that when we believe in him that same kind of living giving spirit would flow through us. We’re not just receptacles. We’re channels. 

Jesus himself saves, quenches, and supplies us with life inside—and desires that we might share it with all. 

That should impact is in the day to day stuff. Make us love bigger and better. Help us to speak with a kindness that is uplifting, work hard, and give selflessly. Basically, we should be refreshing to anyone and everyone we’re around. 

How’s that working out for you?

Thanks for reading! We’re always interested in hearing from you in the comments. ~ Nate

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The Apologetic Muslim

  

Something both wonderful and sad took place earlier this week. I was hanging out with a large crowd of students in the minutes before a midweek worship gathering at our church when I began a conversation with a wonderful young man that I will call Tahm.

We engaged in several minutes of very interesting conversation about travelling and our common interest in helping others. As the conversation continued and the service drew near this delightful guy shifted gears. It was then, with apologetic tones, he felt the need to inform me that he was a practicing Muslim—and the look he gave me that followed was one I will never forget. It said, “how will you treat me now?”

In September 2001 I was wrapping up my first collegiate tour of duty, finishing up a degree in communications, journalism, & public relations. I was surrounded on a daily basis by international students at a time in my life when, overnight, our nation turned hostile toward almost anyone of middle eastern ancestry. I remember how ugly it was. How afraid everyone was. I remember my Pakistani friend Zishon was whisked away to a safe place off campus in a storm of confusion. Zishon was a Muslim too. He didn’t identify with the hateful acts of violence perpetrated by those who claimed to share his faith.

That’s what I remembered this week when Tahm shared his faith with me. He was afraid of my response. It broke my heart. He wanted to know if he was in a safe place. 

Do I have strong opinions about Islam? Absolutely. Should I allow that to influence my treatment of Muslims? Absolutely not.

Many, many, many, times in life I completely blow it. I let Jesus down. I fail to respond as he may have in a given situation. But I think I got it right with Tahm. I invited him to lunch. I expressed my genuine desire to get to know him. And then I walked him to the sanctuary myself as the service started.

Jesus said that he came to “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) That my friends includes anyone and everyone. But how often, I wonder, do our responses to people’s lives get in the way? How we respond to the vulnerability of those who walk into our lives says more about us than any sermon we can preach, book we can write, or song we can sing.

Thanks for reading. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

November 9 – Truly

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54 ESV)

For everyone who comes to belief in Christ, there is a defining moment, there is the moment that each recognizes Jesus as the unique Son of God. For many it is a change in posture. Where once they were anyagonistic toward faith, they now embrace it openly. For some it is just a moment of clarity where they see it as something they always knew they were looking for and just weren’t sure where to find it.

Truly, Jesus was the Son of God. It is the same revelation that changed the face of the Middle Eastern world nearly 2000 years ago. He lived and died a poor traveling teacher and preacher. But he was, and is, the Son of God.

He died at the hands of jealous men. He was murdered unjustly to satisfy justice for all. Truly, he was the Son of God.

November 8 – The Dead Rising

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52, 53 ESV)

What happens after you die? That is the question of upmost importance to so many thinkers. There are a multitude of varying opinions and ideas. Some think nothing waits after the last breath is drawn. And for everyone else there many belief systems.

Christianity, like Old Testament Judaism, presents the notion of an afterlife in which you retain your identity. An eternal existence spent in either Heaven or Hell. The remarkable event of the mass revivifaction witnessed after the crucifixion points out the truth of the afterlife. All of those people, called saints, came back for a period. People saw them and knew them.

Jesus died, but what happens when the Immortal One wraps Himself in mortality and allows it to be extinguished? Well, death has no hold on the One who conceived of life itself. Jesus would rise from the dead.

November 7 – Rocky

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Matthew 27:51 ESV)

Jesus died and a small yet strong earthquake took place. Why? What about the death of Jesus was so powerful that it caused creation to tremble? I don’t know.

Was it a physical manifestation of a spiritual shift that took place? As the work of Christ on the cross was finished, did the the Earth itself react? Or was it something else?

Personally, it is enough for me to read the account and realize that there were physical geological manifestations of Christ’s spiritual work. Jesus is the Rock. Upon him lay the hopes, prayers, and foundation for our eternal well-being.

November 6 – Beyond the Veil

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38 ESV)

Sometimes when reading the Old Testament it can come across as extremely old and a bit weird. There are over 600 rules mentioned in just the first five books. And a lot of those rules sound very silly to us today. But there was a reason for them. Many of them God put in place as a type of protection for the Jews, but some of them fall into a category theologians call typology—meaning they reference Christ in some way as a symbolic figure.

The giant curtain that hung in the Temple was important to God’s people. During the Temple days it was all that separated sinful man from the holy presence of almighty God. One man passed over to the other side once a year. Once. His job was to make a sacrifice that covered the sins of the people for the next year.

The curtain ripping at the moment of Christ’s death was no accident. Jesus was God-made-flesh, sacrifice, and great High Priest. Only God could do the work to restore the relationship between himself and man. God did it. Jesus died, and where only one man was allowed annually, now all can go. Jesus brought down the curtain so that all can experience the presence of God in their lives. All can go beyond the veil.

November 5 – Prophecy: Unbroken

It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. (Exodus 12:46 ESV)

He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. (Psalm 34:20 ESV)

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37 ESV)

Moses and David each prophesied that the Messiah would die without having any bones broken. Both were correct, as John’s Gospel points out. Jesus died before the soldiers began breaking the accused’s legs.

Not only were his bones unbroken, but his power was unbroken as well. His sovereignty went unbroken. Even as they pierced his side Jesus held all authority.

They killed Jesus. They bloodied him. But they never broke him. And no one ever will.