Bread – Next

January 31, 2014


Readings for Friday, January 31, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 17:15-27; Heb. 10:11-25; John 6:1-15; Psalms 40,51,54

—————————————-

We are always being bombarded with the question of what happens next. We have run out of gas. What happens next? We have received a blessing. What happens next? We meet someone we like. What happens next?

The truth is that what happens next does not necessarily follow from what has happened. What happens next is often a combination of circumstances, other people, our own inclinations and abilities, our upbringing, the situation itself, what other things have to happen that day, etc. For example, when we run out of gas, what may happen next is that we sit in the car waiting for help to arrive. This “next” might be the result of circumstances (we ran out of gas in the middle lane of the busiest highway at rush hour), other people (we called our spouse on our cell phone and he or she is coming to rescue), or our own inclinations (I am not inclined to take rash action, but want to think things through). On the other hand, when we run out of gas, what may happen next is that we jump out of the car to go find a gas station. This “next” might be result of circumstances (we are going to be late to the most important meeting we will have this year), other people (all of the other people in the other cars are yelling at us), or our own inclinations and abilities (we are the “action” type who will “take the bull by the horns”).

In our reading today from Genesis, God has told Abraham that Sarah is going to bear him a son. Abraham has enough sense to fall on his face before God, but he starts laughing because he thinks what God says is funny – he is 100 years old and Sarah is 90. Once God talks to him some more is that Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, circumcises himself at 99 years old.

Now think about this for a minute. God speaks and Abraham is so skeptical that he starts laughing at God. What happens next? Abraham, in obedience, cuts himself where it hurts when he is 99 years old.

What happened to cause the “next” to happen? Was it a change in circumstances? No, Abraham had just as much reason to laugh at God’s promise to have Sarah conceive as he did to laugh at God’s command to circumcise himself. Was it caused by other people? No, no other people were involved. Was the “next” caused by Abraham’s own inclinations or abilities? I would say not because Abraham at this stage in his life was more oriented toward laughter at God than obedience, more able to doubt than to believe.

What caused the “next” here? I think the only answer can be God. What changes our doubt to belief? Not facts, not logic, not education, not argument, nothing except the sovereign exercise of God’s power in our life by God Himself to convert our rebellious heart into a heart of gratitude, our desire for darkness into the welcoming embrace of light, our sinful self into a redeemed self.

Abraham’s “next” in obedience unto circumcision is but evidence of the power of God to put into us a new heart, one not inclined to laugh at God but inclined instead to worship of Him.

You may find yourself today broken down in the highway of life, forgotten, lost, disturbed, lonely, abused, torn down. In your power, your “next” is bleak indeed. Indeed, you may be in such straits that there is no “next” in your mind, much less your ability. However, there is another “next” which is brought about by someone whose power is the greatest and whose love is the “mostest” This is the “next” in life which cannot be earned, cannot be commanded, cannot be conjured, but it can be received. It is the gift of God to those whom He chooses.

What is next for you today? To follow your own ways and your own understandings or to take the gift which God gives you today and respond in joy and obedience.

__________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Equal

January 29, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, January 29, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 16:1-14; Heb. 9:15-28; John 5:19-29; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

—————————————-

In our current political debates, there is an underlying theme of whether we as a people, as citizens of the United States, should be equal in results or equal in opportunity. Both of these questions are probably rooted in our history, where we say “…all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with ….”

What does “equal” mean?

Perhaps it is instructive to read our lesson today from John, where Jesus describes Himself in relationship to God the Father: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show Him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life.” John 5:19-24

Clearly Jesus has the full authority of the Father and is God. Clearly Jesus is subject to the Father, because He does nothing on His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. So, tell me then, is Jesus equal to the Father?

The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Jesus is equal in substance; both He and the Father are God. However, they are not equal in role. Jesus and the Father are equal in essence; both He and the Father are God. But Jesus is subject to the Father; He limits Himself in obedience to what He sees the Father. But the Father is also subject to the Son, because the Father loves the Son.

What does it mean to be equal? It means equal (the same) in essence. It means equal (the same) in being created by God, with our soul activated by the breath of God. It means equal (the same) in sin, fallen by Adam’s disobedience. It means equal in free will and in dignity. It means equal before God.

That’s basically it. It does not mean equal in opportunity, role, position, power, education, citizenship, money, assets, houses, income, or results. These are fabrications of our society to harness human interaction so as to arguably improve the presumed “greater whole.”

But enough thinking. As I was writing this, I began to think through my comment that, before God and each other, we are “equal in dignity.” We all were worth so much that God sent His Son to die for us, than we might have eternal life with Him by repentance and true trust and belief in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

We are equal in dignity.

I wonder what would happen to us if we started treating each other that way? How would I behave differently if I looked at each person, friend and foe, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, citizen or foreigner, as someone “equal in dignity” to me? Deserving of my love, deserving of my respect, deserving of my honor, deserving of my deference?

Come to think of it, our Lord has a lot to say about this, beginning with “Love … your neighbor as yourself…”

__________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Destinations

January 24, 2014


Readings for Friday, January 24, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 11:27-12:8; Heb. 7:1-17; John 4:16-26; Psalms 31,35

—————————————-

When we set out to go, we typically have a place to go. If you are in your office and say, “I am going home,” then home is probably your destination. If you have just purchased airline tickets, there is an airport at the end of the trip. That airport is one of your destinations on the way to another destination.

When God tells us to “go,” does He give us a destination? A lot of times in Scripture, the answer is “no.” God commands, we go, and the destination is revealed very slowly, if at all. For example, in our reading from Genesis today, God tells Abraham “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Gen. 12:1. God said “Get up and go, leaving behind your home and people,” and I am sure that Abraham (then Abram) replied, “Go where?” to which the Lord replied “I’ll tell you later.”

For those who put their trust in Christ, our ultimate destination is fellowship with God “forever and ever.” Knowing that, do any of our other destinations really matter?

God calls us to do something. Our natural response is to ask God where He wants us to do it. But God says in return, “trust Me” with your destination; in the meantime, just be obedient.

In a sense, God is giving us the opportunity here to be truly free. If I am in an elevator on my way to a meeting, and the destination does not have a hold on my life, don’t I have time to talk to my neighbor, to be a good Samaritan to him? Have you ever noticed that, when you are in your car and driving with a destination in mind, you don’t see that new multi-story building being constructed in front of you, but you do notice it when you are just driving for the fun of it. When our destination blinders are not on, we have time and energy to enjoy the world around us. To see the world around us. To hear the world around us.

When we don’t have a destination, we get to revel in the moment of time that God has given to us, right then.

Was Abraham scared to leave the place and people he knew to go, literally, God knows where? I am sure he was, but he had faith and trust in God and did it anyway.

Today, rather than set your destinations yourself, maybe pray to God that He let you know the destination He wants for you today. Or maybe He’ll say “go” and we’ll say “where” and He’ll say “where I tell you.” Wherever He tells us to go, or wherever He leads us, will be a better destination than we could come up with on our own.

___________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread — Waiting

January 22, 2014


Readings for Monday, January 20, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 8:6-22; Heb. 4:14-5:6; John 2:23-3:15; Psalms 9,15,25

—————————————-

“At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven… in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out from the ark, …” Gen. 8:6,13-15

Something happens and we put our life on hold. In Noah’s case, it was the flood. He sat in the ark he had made according to God’s command for a long time and when, he saw some mountaintops, he began to send out birds until, one day, it didn’t come back.

Imagine the celebration. The waters were receding and we can get out of this cramped, smelly, box of wood.

And Noah saw that the waters “were dried from off the earth” and removed the cover of the ark (It was sitting on the ground), probably so that he could see better and the sun could come pouring in. And he looked around and “the face of the ground was dry.”

What did he do next? He waited.

Is that what we would have done? Maybe we go through a time of “fasting,” keeping ourselves from some delectable like ice cream. At the end of the fast, what do we do? We go out, of course, and eat us some ice cream! After all, the fast is over! Let the celebration begin!

But what did Noah do? He saw that the time of wandering was over, that the “ground was dry,” and he waited. He did not whine. He did not step out to test the ground. He did not send out one of his animals to get them off the boat so he could have some more room. He just looked and waited.

Do you think he was tempted? I do. The top was off the ark, the waters were gone from the ground, the ground appeared dry, he is probably sick of being in close quarters with his family and every living thing from the earth, and the food in his storage was probably getting a little on the worn side. The promised land was but a few steps away. I can imagine him dreaming about lowering the side of the boat and stepping off. I can imagine him dreaming about being free again.

But he waited until what? Until God told him to leave. He was content to wait where he was until he was told by God what to do next.

What gave Noah the strength to do that? What gave him the ability to just wait on the Lord? We see no evidence of spiritual whining (urgent prayer asking the Lord for permission to leave), we see no evidence of Noah saying that “God helps those who help themselves,” we see no urgency on Noah’s part to get back to what he was doing before the flood. We see absolutely nothing from Noah except patience and obedience to God’s commands, once those commands are known.

So what gave Noah this strength? The Holy Spirit, to be sure. But I also think it was because of something else, something more personal to Noah. Think about what Noah has seen. Noah has seen judgment fall on everyone except him and his family. Noah has seen mercy and grace fall in him and his family. Noah has seen himself chosen by God in His sovereign will and not because of anything that Noah did. Noah has seen God’s provision bring him through tough times. Noah has received salvation from death. Noah has, by the grace and power of God, been given a new beginning.

It may be that Noah has learned to wait because Noah has come to the realization that he has received nothing, ever, except that which God has chosen to give him.

In our busy lives, we have no time to wait upon the Lord, to not move until we hear His voice, His instructions for the day. We get up in the morning with our agendas, rather than spend time with God in rest until He releases us into the world. We do not want to wait, we do not know how to wait, and we will not wait.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from Noah today. There is simple obedience and love in waiting. There is the power of knowledge that all things, including time, come from God and He will redeem for us what we need. There is the opportunity to see the miracle which God has in store for us if we would be wait upon Him for our marching orders. There is gratitude in turning our eyes toward our Savior instead of toward our objectives for the day.

What would have happened if Noah had not waited? We don’t know, but maybe, just maybe, the ground only appeared dry and was not dry. How often have we ourselves stepped out in our own power upon what appeared to us to be solid ground, only to sink to our ankles and knees into a muddy mess, a quagmire?

We don’t know what would have happened had Noah proceeded before God told him to, but we do know what happened when Noah waited until God said “go.” What happened was restoration of the earth and a future for man.

In obedience there is life. In waiting there is rest.

Let us then, today, wait until we hear God and see what happens. I’ll bet we will like the outcome.

___________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Yield

January 22, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, January 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 9:18-29; Heb. 6:1-12; John 3:22-36; Psalms 38,119:25-48

—————————————-

In my senior year of high school, I was selected as the first seat, first trombone player for both the All State Band and All State Orchestra. By this selection, I was labeled “best” in the state. I had honed my ability to play the trombone through many, many, many hours of intense practice, playing the same thing over and over again until I got it absolutely “right.”

Then, at the state orchestra practice, there was a part which we were struggling with and the conductor brought in a 13 year old trombone player from the North Carolina School of the Arts, who sat down and played the part like he was an angel. In an instant, I saw my better by light years (in fact, I marveled at his ability), and I yielded my position to him.

This is not to pat me on the back, because the difference in quality was too much to ignore. I was an excellent amateur and he was a professional, even at 13. I had received my reward for my hard work, and it was time to move on to the next stage of my life. I was excellent, but there was an excellence higher than me who had just appeared.

Our reading today from John has both John the Baptist baptizing and Jesus also baptizing (through His disciples). When John’s disciples point this out to John, he says some things we need to all remember – “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven…He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:27,30

When the superior comes, we must yield.

Why do we not? Is it our pride in our accomplishments? “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven.” Our accomplishments are but the diligent application of our talents (given to us by God) to our work (given to us by God). Is it pride in our position? Our position is but the world’s acknowledgment of our accomplishment, and that acknowledgement is fleeting as the wind. The gold medal given to the racer at the Olympics is repeated every four years, and not to the same person. The position that matters is our place at the end of God’s banquet table, which we did not earn anyway but is a gift from God, so that no one can boast.

Maybe we don’t willingly yield because we find our merit in our accomplishments or our position or our wealth. Why is that? Because we “earned” it? Because it gives us self-satisfaction? Because we are “god” over our little universe? “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven.” What part of “even one thing” do we not understand?

Christ has shown up, so “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I must yield to the superior. And what happens when I do? Freedom.

Yes, freedom. When we are ready, at an instant, to yield our “rights,” our “power,” our “position,” and our “pride,” what hold then does anyone have on us? What hold does the world have on us when we are ready to both receive the gold medal and, at the same time, refuse it? What hold does the world have on us when we are willing to receive the gold it has to offer and then we turn around and pass it on, give it away. Have we rejected the world? No, but we have rejected any hold it has on us.

By yielding we receive. By letting the superior replace us, we are made free of bondage to ourselves, our position, our abilities, our world.

Try this experiment. Today, yield to everyone. Yield your right to complain by not complaining. Yield your right to be first on the elevator or through the door by holding it open for someone else. Yield your right to speak by being silent. Yield your right to get where you are going faster by just staying in your lane in traffic behind the slow person in front of you. Yield your right to set your own agenda by asking God what His agenda for you today is. Yield your right to worry about yourself and, instead, look into other’s eyes and worry about them.

After all, God yielded to us when we needed a Savior and sent His Son to die for us so that we might, in His power, have eternal life. If God yielded for us, surely we can yield to Him and each other. Can’t we?

___________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Took

January 17, 2014


Readings for Friday, January 17, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 6:1-8; Heb. 3:12-19; John 2:13-22; Psalms 16,17,22

—————————————-

I saw what was good and I took it. How often do we do that only to find out that what we thought we saw was not what we got, or what we thought was good for us is really not good at all?

What got me thinking about this today are two things. The first thing is cupcakes. Today on the radio, the speaker was talking about a new vending machine which contains cupcakes, each cupcake being in a box (I am assuming that there is a picture of it somewhere) and costs $4.00. Now we could look at the picture, look at the box, pull out our $4, and purchase (take) the cupcake. Now what if is squished in the box? From whom we will get our refund? What if it does not match the picture? Where will we obtain justice? We saw what was good, we took it, and we did not get what we thought we saw. Or, even better, we bite into this cupcake full of expectation and find out that, instead of sugar, they used salt and it now tastes like a bad bagel. Not so good. In fact, it is bad. It was bad for us before we bought it, it was bad for us after we bought it, but we bought it anyway because it looked good and we took it because “I have a right to a cupcake when I want one.” Right?

The second thing that got me to thinking about this today is our reading from God in His revelation through the book of Genesis: “…the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” Gen. 6:2

They saw, it looked good, and they took “as they chose.” And later in the same reading today, the Lord saw this (and other things) as “wickedness … great in the earth..” Gen. 6:5

Now in and of itself, this passage would not have focused my attention on the sequence: look, look’s great, grab (take). However, in my ESV translation of the Bible there is a study note which says “The sequence here … parallels the sequence of the fall in 3:6.” And sure enough, it does. Genesis 3:6 says “So when the woman saw that the tree was good…she took of its fruit and ate…”

The pattern is clear – we see something which looks good to us, we take it, and we find out that we have screwed up big time.

There are many lessons in this, all the way from things being not as they appear to we can be tricked very easily into disobeying God to we should just leave well enough alone.

But I want to focus on the “took” part. We see because we have eyes and they are open. What we see may have, and often does have, the appearance of good. The end is a logical outcome of both the seeing and … what else? The taking.

We may not have control over what we see (although we probably have more control than we think) but we certainly have control over what we do based upon what we see. We don’t have to take. Eve did not have to take the fruit. The men in our reading today did not have to take women.

What is the taking? It is our exercise of our free will.

Which really brings us to the point. Who controls the outcome? Will we stand tall and take according to our free will? Or will we stand under the cross of Christ, bowing in obedience to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, grateful that we are a slave to Christ and, therefore, free to live?

That is the choice each of us face every minute of every day. Will we see what we think is good, exercise our free will and take what we want, and suffer the consequences? Or will we surrender to Christ, let Him dictate what we should take, let the Holy Spirit give us discernment to see what is really good under the shell of appearances, and suffer the consequences?

We will suffer (put up with) the consequences in either case. We will either suffer defeat as we exercise our free will to our dominion as our god in our little universe, or we will suffer victory in life and in death because we both see, take, and eat from the author of truth, the creator, the Savior, Jesus Christ.

What will we suffer today, loss or gain, defeat or victory, death or life? The choice is ours, but the truth is God’s.

___________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Calling

January 15, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, January 15, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 4:1-16; Heb. 2:11-18; John 1:35-42; Psalms 12,13,14,119:1-24

—————————————-

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We ask this question because it is, to the scientific mind, a conundrum, a puzzlement, because one must exist before the other if the other is to exist at all.

Unless, of course, God created the chicken and the egg, in which case the only point of beginning is God. A simple but profound answer.

So, do we choose to follow Christ or does Christ choose us to follow Him?

Lest you think this is a stupid question, the answer to this question divides modern Christians because, if we choose to follow Christ, we have a say in the outcome. If, however, Christ chooses us to follow Him, then the only person who has a say is Christ.

This question is on full display in today’s readings from John. The set-up is this, Jesus walks past John the Baptist, John the Baptist says (of Jesus) “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Two disciples of John the Baptist get up and start following Jesus. Jesus turns and asks them what (not who) they are seeking. They don’t respond, but instead ask Him where He is staying. Jesus says “Come and you will see,” and they then follow Him to where He is living at the time. Andrew, one of the two disciples, then leaves Jesus’ side and goes to his brother (later named Peter/Cephas by Jesus), tells his brother that he has found the Messiah, and then brought his brother (Peter) to Jesus. Jn. 1:35-42

Did the disciples follow Jesus because they chose to after hearing John the Baptist speak well of Him, or did the disciples follow Jesus because Jesus deliberately walked past them so that they could see who He is, and their following Jesus was a natural outgrowth of Jesus calling them to be His disciples?

The next question is even more interesting. Did Peter come to follow Jesus because he chose to do so, after hearing Andrew preach the gospel, or was Peter already chosen by Christ? This second option is strongly implied by the end of the passage – “Jesus looked at him, and said ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter)’” Jn. 1:42. There was no introduction; Peter appeared before Jesus and Jesus knew exactly who He was and who He would become.

From many, many Bible verses, I conclude that the answer to this question is that I am saved because Jesus chose me to be saved and not because of anything that I ever did or ever will do to earn it. I am saved because God is sovereign and not me. I did not choose Jesus; He chose me, and I finally admitted it one day so that it became obvious to the world. However, I know many, many people who think differently.

It is not my objective here to solve this, but to merely point out all the different ways we hear the calling. The two disciples saw Jesus. The two disciples heard John the Baptist, clearly a holy man, call Jesus the equivalent of the Messiah (the Lamb of God). Peter heard the gospel from a family member and spoke to Jesus directly.

One thing is in common with all of these people. They saw what they saw and heard what they heard, and immediately they responded by following Jesus, by coming into His presence.

How often have we heard the gospel and ignored it for another day? How often have we seen Jesus in other people, and walked away? How often have we been woken up in the middle of the night with the knowledge that God is speaking to us about our future, about our sin, about our impending death, about His love for us, about His death on the cross for us, about His forgiveness and mercy, and about His gifts of everlasting life in the future and victorious life in the present – only to go back to sleep?

You have heard a calling upon your life, to follow Him.

What do you do next?

___________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Hammers

January 10, 2014


Readings for Friday, January 10, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 23:1-8; Col. 2:8-23; John 10:7-17; Psalms 138,139,147

—————————————-

I was listening to a comedian last night who was talking about hammers, and then started quoting the Peter, Paul and Mary song – “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, all over this world …” And, as the comedian said, “…and we sing the song and get excited about it, and then one day we actually get a hammer, … and then we don’t use it.” And everyone laughed, because they all knew that it was true. I laughed too, but in reflection upon Scripture this morning, I realize that this is no laughing matter.

We have three powerful Scriptures today, readings from the prophet Jeremiah, from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, and from the sayings of Christ Himself as reported by the Apostle John. They are the hammers given to us by God to hammer our sins to the wall, to hammer ourselves into gold worthy of the King we serve, to hammer in the morning, to hammer in the evening, to hammer all over this world. The hammers given to us by God are the hammers of truth, of love, of servant leadership, of victorious living, of freedom, of eternal life.

And what do we do with these hammers? What do I do with these hammers? Well, the comedian said it…I actually get one and I don’t use it very much, if at all.

Listen to these hammers God has given us today:

From God through Jeremiah, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! … Behold, the day is coming…when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as king as deal wisely…” Jer. 23:1,5

From Jesus through John, “I am the door of the sheep…I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture…I am the good shepherd…I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know me…So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:7-16

From Colossians: “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head [Jesus], from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” Col. 2:18-19

These are some of the great hammers of the faith. There is a good shepherd who does not steal and lie but leads us to good pasture, who feeds us with living water, who has sacrificed Himself to save His sheep. His name is Jesus, the Christ. He died, was raised, and lives. For all those who believe in Him, there is eternal life, victory over death, true freedom available today. The joy from this great gift can be harmed by human requirements, burdens, regulations, and requirements. But we can avoid harm by holding fast to Jesus.

Great hammers.

And what do we do with them?

Today, what will we do with them?

___________________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Strike

January 8, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, January 8, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Exod. 17:1-7; Col. 1:15-23; John 7:37-52; Psalms 112,113,117,118

—————————————-

In our reading from Exodus today, the people are complaining about being thirsty and asking Moses why he just didn’t leave them imprisoned in Egypt, where at least they had food and water. Moses goes to God and God says: “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” Exod. 17:6. Moses obeyed God, water flowed, the people drank, and, as they say, the rest is history.

In John, Jesus says “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.

Both passages involve striking, although in the second passage it is implied. It is implied because we know what happens. We know that Jesus died a most horrible death on the cross, prior to which and during which he was stricken with blows, with the whip, with the nails, and with the spear. He was stricken so that those who believe in Him might drink and, having drunk living water, might themselves be the source of living water for others.

Our greatest problem is sin, our rebellion against God, our disbelief in God’s truth and His promises, our desires for ourselves first, our belief that, even if there is a God, so are we, somehow, more or less equal. Our sin makes us thirsty for truth, although we may not often realize that is what we are thirsty for. Because we are thirsty, we complain about our condition. We complain to whoever is available to hear us. We complain to the government, to each other, to our family and friends, to our co-workers, and we complain to God.

So how are we to find water in the parched desert of our existence? How are we to drink.

God’s answer to Moses and to us is to “strike Him.” “No,” you might say, God said strike the rock, not Him. Read the passage more carefully. God was standing before Moses on the rock. To get to the rock, Moses had to strike through God. Moses had to strike God. For all intents and purposes, God was the rock in Exodus. For all intents and purposes, Jesus was the rock in Exodus. To obtain living water, the water necessary for life, God told Moses to strike Him, God. And Moses did so, and water flowed and the people were saved.

To obtain this living water, the water of life, the lesson here is that we must strike God, we must strike Jesus. “How,” you might ask. Well, a simple answer might be to say simply that every time we are disobedient, every time we lie, cheat, steal, swear, eat too much, spend wastefully, curse (you get the point) that we are “striking” Jesus.

But the truth is that we already struck Jesus back 2,000 years ago when we stood with the soldiers who hit Him, and nailed His feet and hands, and stabbed Him. He took those blows, our sins, upon Himself so that, through belief in Him, we might not die for eternity but have everlasting life. We struck Him then and we strike Him now – and what is His response? To gush forth living water for you and me.

When are we going to lay down our arms, drop the lies with which we strike Jesus, and just drink at the well of life? When?

Well, it is a new year. What about right now?

___________________

© 2014 GBF

%d bloggers like this: