Water for the thirsty

Isaiah 35

I read Isaiah 35 this morning. It has a prophecy in it that Jesus fulfilled.

“And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.

The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.”

Isaiah 35:5 – 8 – NLT

Jesus healed the blind, the deaf, the lame, he also healed the mute, healed lepers, healed internal bleeding, and he raised the dead. This he did literally.

The second half of the prophecy seems to be more metaphorical.

It may have seemed that the entire prophecy was metaphorical to the original readers, even up to the time Jesus began his ministry. It was impossible for a human to heal the maladies listed here. Even today it is difficult, I have friend who has a birth defect in his right eye and even with modern science his eye cannot be restored. Most people with spinal chord injuries are doomed to a wheel chair because there is no cure. But with Jesus, blind men were given sight, lame men were healed and walked for the first time, deaf could hear, mute people were given speech.

Jesus did not bring water to the desert, nor did he build a Hiway,…or did he? Certainly not literally but metaphorically Jesus brought (and continues to bring) water to thirsty souls. In John 4, while talking to a woman with a dubious past He described himself as a spring of water.

“Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”

John 4:7-26 – NLT

Jesus brings to every dry desert place, a well that bubbles up giving eternal life.

In John 14 Jesus declared himself the way. He is the hiway to Heaven.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 – NLT

In Jesus this prophecy is fulfilled.

I believe that Jesus is the promised messiah. He is the one who gives us the righteousness, the holiness, required to travel on the Hiway of holiness and to join our Father in heaven and our spiritual family.

The Gospel according to Winter…Winter Warlock

On the way home I had two strong ideas that seemed linked.

The gospel according to Winter, Winter Warlock.

(Winter Warlock is a character in the Rankin/Bass animated show, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.)

And these verses, especially the first 1/2 of verse 5.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

2 Peter 1:5-9

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith.

Now how do theses verses and Winter Warlock come together? What if I add some words from James?

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

James 2:14-17

Well here is how they connected in my brain.

Peter tells us to add to our faith. When we believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection and that his gift of love for us pays for our sin, we are saved, it is a done deal. Like when in “Santa Claus is coming to town” animated feature Winter Warlocks frozen heart is melted by Santa’s gift. But Peter said to add to our faith. If our salvation is secure in Jesus what is there to add?

When a baby is born it is a complete baby. But is that baby a finished product? No, it must be fed and nurtured and cleaned and guided and protected. The baby is added to, even though it is a complete human at birth. So it is with us we are born anew or born again. We need to add to our faith, grow our faith, nurture the new life that Jesus has birthed in us.

The verse in James says that we show that our new birth has made us new by our change of heart which is shown in our change in behavior. Winters heart was changed which changed the way he acted, and what he was able to do. He couldn’t curse, he could only bless.

Winter Warlock doesn’t mention Jesus, but he is changed by love. It isn’t a perfect fit but I hope it brings a new dimension to our Christmas season viewing.

Merry Christmas. Thank you Jesus for coming as a child, then finishing the grueling work of redeeming the world. Thank you to for continuing your work in me until I’m finished in your eyes.

(Originally posted 12/06/17)

Taladh Chriosda

The original title of this song is The lullaby of our Savior. It was written by a priest around 1855. The priest lived in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (pictured). The song has 29 verses and was first written for midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Mary sings the first verse in Scots Gaelic. She learned how to pronounce the words of the verse, but She is now studying the language to learn how to speak it. Mary selected her favorites of the 29 verses to record.

The song talks about a miracle. God came to earth. He didn’t come as mighty warrior, or regal king, or a staunch iron fisted ruler. He came like all the rest of us come, as a baby. His parents followed an angels instructions and named him Jesus. He experienced life as we experience life. He then experienced death as we deserve to experience death, except he was innocent. Our sin has earned us a horrible painful death. An innocent man, Jesus, died in our place. God raised him up on the third day so now Jesus is alive forever.

Please take a moment and click on the link and listen to Mary’s version of Taladh Chriosda. If you like it, please share it with your friends and family. You are our only way of getting this beautiful song out to the ears that need to hear it during this special season of the the year. Thank you for taking the time to read this and now please click and listen.

Radio man

Eph 6:18 “And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…continually keep on praying for all the saints”.

When I was a kid I used to play with green army men. My least favorite man was the guy with the radio. He wasn’t fighting anyone, he was to my mind useless. As I’ve have grown up watching documentaries on war, I have learned how important the radio guy is. He is the one to call for air strikes, to call in more troops, and to call in for medical help. Paul here in this passage is telling all of us that we all need to be radio men. We need to stay in contact with the God who controls the spiritual air strikes, supplies and troops and the medics. I need to pray more because God is my help.

(Originally posted 12/05/12)

Estranged

Relational estrangement. Two parties separated by some force. It’s kind of like when I try to push two magnets together using the same polarity. They will not adhere, there are invisible lines of opposing force separating them, pushing them apart. No amount of force will connect them, they actually repel each other.

Image result for opposing magnets

That is kind of like where we are at with God. When we are born we have a nature of rebellion, of selfishness, of isolation. We are opposed to God. That nature in us repels us away from God. But God would not let that opposition stand. He wants to be with us, to be near us, to love on us, to live in us, to be our Father.

Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, God had been working up to his plan to redeem our relationship with him. Then God visited us. He came as a baby so he would experience life as one of us. He lived a life as workman, a carpenter and then when it was time, he died a sacrificial death, as a payment for our rebellion. Death could not hold him in the grave and on the third day he rose from the dead. God is with us. He has reversed the polarity of our magnet and now we can be together again. We just need to believe in what he did, and receive him as our payment, our polarity reversal.

Mary recorded this song about God coming to earth, God with us. It starts with our grandchildren singing away in a manger and then Mary sings and then she is joined by our son Aaron. Please click on the link and listen for free. If you like the song, please share it with your friends and family. May this song and this season end all of our estrangements, between us and God, and between each other.

 

It’s today, now what?

Hebrews 3

Are you a fan? A fan of a team or a movie star or an athlete or anything? I am a Chevrolet fan. I own 2. When I talk about one of the two, my 57, my eyes glass over, my lips curl into a smile, my speech speeds up and even my voice gets a little louder. I am a fan of Chevrolet s but especially a fan of my 57 Chevy pickup, (I call him Rusty) and I love to talk about him.

The writer of Hebrews is a fan of Jesus. One of the biggest fans. Rightly so. Who else is worthy of our attention and affection? Who else has saved us and who else intercedes for us? There have been great men, great servant leaders, Moses was one. But as great as Moses was as a leader, Jesus is better.

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

We have only one day to do what we have to do. That day is today. All we can do is work in the moment that we are in. If we knew we were dying what would do? Put our affairs in order. What day do we put our affairs in order? Today.

““Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion.””

We get right now. What will we do with it?

Jesus loves us and died to

Prove it. He lives now to intercede for us. Have you accepted his gift yet?

I think I slipped into rabid used car salesman mode. “What’s it going to take to get you into this…?.” Im not selling anything. Jesus is giving us freedom, forgiveness, family and salvation.

““Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion.””

It’s today. Now what?

(Originally posted 12/04/15)

When stuff done as a kid comes back

I grew up a Lutheran

I grew up a Lutheran, in our house we were not C&E Lutherans, where we occasionally attended, like on Christmas and Easter. No, my mom had some kind of built in radar and if the church doors opened, our family would be in attendance. Yes we would be late, but we would be there.

Lutherans have a liturgical service, and as part of that liturgy, we sang a lot. There were so many words and little songs. I was not an avid bible reader in those days. I didn’t realize that most of the words and the little songs were excerpts from the Bible. All the words drove me crazy as a kid but now I realize what we were doing, actually singing and reciting the Bible, as I have aged I now appreciate the hymnal writing and the writers and kind of miss the liturgical nature of the service.

My own personal bible reading recently took me to 1 John. As I read it I recognized it as part of the liturgy that I recited as a kid. Parts of Chapter 1&2 are part of the order of service.

“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

1 John 1:5-2:2 -NLT

In Jesus, there is forgiveness for sin, but we need to confess our sins.

When we were raising our kids and they did something wrong we would make them say that they were Sorry. In addition to saying sorry we would often have them tell us what they did that was wrong. They had to confess. They to verbalize what they had done wrong, what rule they had broken, or how they violated boundaries or hurt someone else. In this way they had to think about what they had done.

We recently had an opportunity to visit a Presbyterian Church and participated in their Sunday worship service. Part of their order of service was a printed confession that we read together as a congregation. I thought it was good. I will quote it here and hope that whoever wrote it gets the credit due them.

“Father, you have revealed your will to us. It is clear. No other gods. No idols. No misuses of your name. We are to worship weekly and honor our parents. There is to be no killing and what we do with our bodies must come under your intentions for sexuality. We are forbidden to steal and speak falsely about our neighbors. And internally our hearts are not to covet what others possess. Such commandments reveal our absolute need of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for ignoring your word and our failure to take your commandments seriously. We humbly repent and ask you to forgive us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hear us in your mercy as we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us.”

Then we corporately prayed the Lord’s Prayer.

I thought this was a very good way to remind us of what Gods standard is and then how we have failed to measure up. The confession is walk through the 10 commandments. We can forget where we fall short if we don’t use the measuring stick that God said is the standard. Jesus is our ruler both in that he is our King and he is the standard we measure ourselves against. The Ten Commandments are not a whacking stick to punish us when we fail, but a guide to live by and beacon to bring us back to Jesus for forgiveness when we fail.

“If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us… but if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”

I can be prideful at times when I consider my avoidance of sin, not stealing, or lying or killing or cheating on my spouse, but Jesus took it even deeper when he said that if we hate someone we have killed them in our hearts, or if we look lustfully at another person, that we have already thought about act and are guilty. God looks at and know our hearts so even if we have clean hands, our hearts can be dirty.

In Psalm 51 we get to read a confession from a man who had an adulterous relationship, got the woman pregnant, then had her husband killed so he could cover it up. He thought he had gotten away with it but was confronted by a friend.

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:4-7,10-12 NIV

I remembered this verse in part because it was a part of the liturgy that recited every Sunday for most of my childhood and adolescence.

We all sin. We all break the rules in one thing or another. The rules are not there to shame us but to guide us and bring us back, through confession and repentance, to a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father who sent his son Jesus to die to pay for all of our mistakes and failures, our sin.

So I say to myself, as well as to you who are reading this, repent and confess and be restored. Our God loves us and wants us to come home to him.