Free Water

water (7)The One on the throne said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. Those who win the victory will receive this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. Revelation 21:6-7

God is.

That’s it. Pure and simple. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. There has never been and will never be life without him. There is nothing that escapes his awareness. There is nothing outside of his reach. That includes you.

Perhaps you acknowledge him as Creator. You accept him as Savior. But what now? We can easily think of our relationship with God as a one-time decision when, in reality, it’s a relationship that is alive and growing. God desires to engage with us. He doesn’t abandon us. He fulfills every promise and hears every concern. He attends to our needs and often entertains our wants. Most of all, he longs to be the desire of our hearts.

When we have a thriving relationship with Jesus, we live out the truth that he is our Lord and Savior. He fulfilled a promise to us to give us eternal life, to sacrifice himself in place of our sins. He showed us unmerited grace and mercy out of his love for us. He endured pain so he could spare us an eternity of torment. He is our Savior.

But he’s also our Lord. That means he is in charge of our lives – not just the areas of life we don’t want anymore, not just the areas we’re uncertain about or struggling with, not just the areas we think we’ve cleaned up enough on our own to present as acceptable to him. When we accept him as Lord, we yield our lives to him. We let him guide us through the big things and the tiny ones. He cares about it all, and he doesn’t require we be at a certain place before he helps. He doesn’t wait until we’re in our Sunday best before he reveals himself. He doesn’t ever withhold his guidance and provision.

We thirst. God quenches.

Aren’t you thankful?

Live It. At some point throughout the day, preferably right in the middle of a busy time, stop. Quiet yourself to take a deep sip of God’s will. Let him nourish you to do his will. Let him fill you with his will, guiding and convicting you to be on his path. Where he leads, he will equip.

God’s Children

imagesEveryone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is God’s child, and whoever loves the Father also loves the Father’s children. This is how we know we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. Loving God means obeying his commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us, because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith. So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the One who came by water and blood. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  1 John 5:1-6

No excuses. That’s what God wants us to understand. His commands are not too difficult for us. If we believe, we love. If we love, we obey. We access God’s power because of our belief. We aren’t concerned with having God’s power because we want to be powerful. We want God’s power because it reveals him to others. When God shows up in our lives, he shows up to others. We glorify him by becoming transparent, allowing him to show himself and work through us.

We obey not because we can get something in return, but because our obedience honors God. Our obedience acknowledges God as Creator and Redeemer. We place our trust in him, knowing he is sovereign.

We struggle with obedience at times, not just because we want to do something our own way but because God’s way seems more difficult than we want to pursue at times. We often don’t understand, which further diminishes our energy level. When we’re not invested and don’t see the purpose, we can easily disengage and make excuses. In the process, we’re turning the focus back on ourselves. God says his commands aren’t too hard for us. Since he created us, he should know!

He doesn’t say his commands are easy. He simply says they’re not too hard. Let’s not confuse the two.

Sending Jesus to earth to die wasn’t easy. Jesus didn’t have an easy life – or death. However, sending Jesus to earth to die wasn’t too hard. Jesus’ life – and death – wasn’t too hard. Both were accomplished regardless of the pain and suffering. God chose the hard over the easy, because it was best. God knows the difference between hard and too hard. In order to give us living water, Jesus had to shed blood. His water and blood are inseparable.

Live It. What is in your life right now that seems too hard? Let God give you fresh perspective, showing you the difference between hard and too hard. Respond obediently.

False Teachings

G.B.Y.Logos.1Those false teachers are like springs without water and clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them. They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin—people who are just beginning to escape from others who live in error. 2 Peter 2:17-18

We seek springs with fresh, flowing water, but not every spring is nourishing to us. We must learn to discern who to follow and who not to follow.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we didn’t have access to vast information the way we do today. Information can be truthful, but information isn’t inherently truthful. When you ask a search engine a question, are you looking for information or truth?

A problem arises when we argue that truth is relative, depending on who is seeking and why. When truth is assumed relative, nothing is reliable. There’s no difference between fact and opinion, good and evil, real and imaginary. Questions of purpose, personhood, and faith appear to be unessential. Purpose, faith, and life seem to float in air – with no firm foundation.

When we become information-driven instead of truth-driven, we don’t change reality as much as we might think we do. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re much more powerful than we are. We don’t define ourselves, our world, or the reality of either. We don’t – and can’t – change truth. There is foundational truth in life, and there’s a search engine you can use to seek it.

It’s God. You can access some accurate information using search engines such as Google and Bing, but when you search God, you’ll always find truth. It’s a different sort of search. It’s not instantaneous. It’s often a journey of one question leading to another and another. You’ll often reveal pieces of truth and continue to fit new pieces as you search more.

Searching God isn’t as easy as using a search engine, because it’s based in a relationship. Relationships are ongoing, challenging, developing.

Would you rather have a relationship filled with effort but also filled with truth or an impersonal, brief, uncertain interaction? Do you want to search passively or actively?

Live It. Notice opposites or things that don’t match throughout your day: salt and pepper, green and red traffic lights, loud and soft sounds. Practice noticing the details and differences. As you become more aware of what’s around you, you can become more in tune with what details God is pointing out to you to determine the differences between his true teachings and all false teachings.

A Single Source

double mindedPraises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen. Do good and bad water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree make olives, or can a grapevine make figs? No! And a well full of salty water cannot give good water. James 3:10-12

We can’t have it both ways.

We believe one thing, but our behavior doesn’t match our belief.

We give advice to someone but don’t apply it into our own life.

We hand something over to God and then play tug-of-war.

We claim to trust God yet try to take control.

We live by God’s standards by excusing our fuzzy lines when we prefer.

We rationalize not only our own behavior but also support our friends by rationalizing those things we know will help momentarily even if they aren’t best in the long run.

We look for shortcuts of faith, certain God would prefer we not meander through what seems to be an arduous journey.

We define beauty, peace, love and so much more by our own experiences instead of seeking the truth of God’s definitions and examples.

Which of the above statements ring true to you?

The right hand can do what the left hand cannot. The left hand can do what the right hand cannot. It’s about the positioning to your body. If you pick up a cup with your right hand, you cannot pick up the cup with your left hand using the exact same hand positioning. You have to adjust. You cannot replace the right hand with the left hand and achieve the exact same results. The right hand does what the right hand is intended to do. The left hand does what the left hand is intended to do. There is no other hand.

When you’re double-minded or double-hearted, you’re trying to accomplish two things that cannot be accomplished at once. You’re trying to occupy a space – in your heart or your mind – with more than one thing. One or the other will be sacrificed. There’s only so much space, and duplicity doesn’t fit.

Live It. Invite God to examine your life today and reveal at least one area in which you are double-minded or double-hearted. Trust him to guide you to give up duplicity and focus only on him.

Let Us Trust

Index-Card-StackLet us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold firmly to the hope that we have confessed, because we can trust God to do what he promised. Hebrews 10:22-23

We can be resolute in our faith. We can determine to live it out daily, allowing God to make a difference in every aspect of our lives: actions, thoughts, attitudes, words. It’s all God’s when we yield to him.

Closely consider how God is challenging you as he pours his Word into you.

Come near to God. Come indicates God as the reference point. You don’t need to go; you need to come. Let God be the center. He’s the reference point of your life, but you need to intentionally move toward him.

Sincere heart. Faith isn’t about going through the motions. Your faith will deepen as you give every corner of your heart and life to God.

Sure faith. There are a lot of uncertainties in life, and we can become overwhelmed by them. We don’t have to be unsure of our faith. God is reliable, and we can stand firm on his promises no matter what is going on around us.

Made free…with pure water. We’re not going to feel completely free while on this earth. We’re limited by our bodies as well as the tension of living godly lives while in the world. Just because we don’t feel free doesn’t make us not free. Our freedom is eternal. We need to extend our vision to the horizon to get the true perspective of where we are and where we’re headed.

Hold firmly to the hope. God wants you to loosen your grip on many things in life, but hope in him is certainly not one of them. Godly hope is not the wishy-washy stuff of childhood dreams. Hope in God is based in the truth of who he is.

We can trust God to do what he promised. There’s no question or debate. This statement is as clear as it can be. Are you claiming it?

Live It. Sometimes it helps to divide verses into pieces in order to claim the power of each phrase. Write each of the phrases on individual index cards, and read them each time you are paused: at the bus stop, in the elevator, at the laundry mat or grocery line. Let each phrase soak into you.

Only God

sanding-baby-triangleWe are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do. I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow. So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important. The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work. 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

God created us for community. Sometimes it makes sense to us. We help each other in ways we’re gifted and enjoy. We see how one situation prepared someone to walk alongside someone else later. We notice the connection between one person’s sacrifice and another’s need. We feel as if we fit with some people, especially as we serve alongside them on teams to accomplish God’s work. We bask in his provision.

We don’t always bask. We experience conflict. We get frustrated. We question where we fit or the timing of God’s provision. We feel alone and wonder where everyone is. We rush through our days and fail to notice God’s promptings to pause to serve or be served. We feel unequally yoked in relationships.

Living in community is difficult at times even when we’re in a community of believers. Personalities, schedules, and priorities seem to conflict more than complement each other. Sometimes we just want to scream, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

God brings us together in ways we can’t fathom. Even those situations which we think we understand might not be exactly what we perceive. God knows the details. He knows who we need to come in contact with for what purpose and in what timing. Our role is not to understand or manage everything he’s trying to do. Our role is to be sensitive to his leading and step out in obedience.

God wants us to help each other grow. He wants us to encourage each other on our faith journeys, which means bumping up against each other at times. When we’re willing, we usually grow more through the rough patches of life and relationships than the smooth ones. Sandpaper has little impact when used on the smooth side. Are you willing and available to be shaped?

Live It. Place a small piece of sandpaper or emery board in your wallet or phone case as a reminder throughout the day of the importance of living life intentionally alongside others.

Wash Their Feet

howbeautifularethefeet2So during the meal Jesus stood up and took off his outer clothing. Taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:4-5

Jesus used water to cleanse others. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone who believed he was the Messiah. After all, he came as the living water, giving eternal life to all who believed. People could take all their sins to him, and he would redeem them. If there was anything he knew, it was other people’s dirt. Washing feet didn’t come close to the dirt he encountered spiritually.

But washing the followers’ feet was different than washing their spiritual feats. This was real dirt on real feet. It was tangible filth and ugliness, and here was the Son of God stooping to wash the feet of those who served him with his very own hands. He proceeded to dry them with the towel he was wearing around himself. He wore their filth.

Jesus washes your filth. He wears it no more. All the filth of the world hung with him on the cross and died with him. When he rose from the dead, there was no more filth. Death was defeated, and as a result, you have the promise of eternal life. Yes, there is still sin in the world. Yes, we’re still messy people, but Jesus already took care of the sinful mess. All we have to do is recognize and accept who he is and what he’s done, and we are clean. We won’t always feel clean, and we need to stay in relationship with him to work through the many issues we have with our uncleanliness, but we are forgiven. We now get to move on and deal with our baggage.

Just as Jesus washes our feet, we have the opportunity to share his love and mercy by washing others’ feet. We might not wash literal feet – although it is a very moving experience to be able to serve people in such a way – but we need to stoop to serve others. We need to place ourselves in a sacrificial position in order to give someone else our time, efforts, compassion, gifts, and resources.

When has someone’s sacrifice impacted your life?

When has your own sacrifice impacted someone else’s life?

Live It. Wash someone’s feet today. It may or may not be literal foot-washing, but look for an opportunity to help someone. God will not withhold the opportunity to serve him by serving others.