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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Springs of Living Water

Before I met Jesus I was thirsty. I drank from many wells but came away more thirsty. I was a pre-teen pariah so I checked out the well of the cool. I thought I'd found my circle but it turned out I was a square and the water was polluted. I drank the party life and woke the next morning with a hangover thinking never again. Several days later I'd wake with another hangover. One day I said enough I'll try the well of human affection but that well ran dry quickly.
I knew where the best water was. The coolest, freshest, living water. I didn't want to go there, it meant abandoning the other wells I'd dug. I didn't care that the water of one was polluted, another brackish and one completely dry they were my wells and I wanted them.
I didn't know the joy of drinking cool, fresh water. I didn't know the comfort of having a source of living water.
One day Jesus met me at one of my wells and he said, "so how's the water?"
I said "not the best but its all I have so I guess it will have to do." 
He said to me "why settle? My water really is the best and it never runs out."
"Jesus, I'm afraid. I don't want to be dissappointed, left sick with dysentery, in pain and thirsty again.
Jesus said "Trust me." 
On a day when I was sick with dysentery, in pain and thirsty Jesus words came back. I was sobbing hot tears and I heard him say, "trust me." At that moment I decided to abandon my wells and let him lead me. 
There have been tears in my life. I have walked throught the valley of Baca (lamentation). Jesus is the spring in those thirsty lands. Jesus causes the deserts to bloom. He is my strength, comfort, peace and joy.  
Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah
 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!
 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Here in the grace of God

Today my bible reading was the story of Jesus calming the storm.

"Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." (Matthew 8:23-26)

  In the past when I read this passage I heard Jesus speaking angrily, gruffly as though saying "oh man not again, when are these people ever going to learn!" For the first time I heard a different tone in Jesus voice. I heard him speak gently to his disciples, without annoyance, anger or harshness but gently as though teaching children a lesson.

Reading this story reminded me of I Corinthians 13 so I read it too. These passages stood out to me, 1 Cor 13:4-7 "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Reading 1 Cor 13 reminded me of Matthew 7:1-5. In this passage Jesus tells us not to judge others and says "In the same way you judge others you will be judged...first take the plank out of your own eye."

I realized that I don't love the way Jesus loves. I get irritable with others, am often easily angered, I don't bear all things, I am arrogant and rude at times, I don't always let go of wrongs but hang onto them. In short, I fall short and am in need of God's love, grace and forgiveness daily. But I don't always grant grace to others.

It amazes me how patient Jesus is with me. He didn't simply forgive me, he went to the cross for me. He made the ultimate sacrifice for me.

Who am I to withhold forgiveness, grace? Who am I to recount my neighbours wrongs against me?

"Here in the grace of God I stand."(Dave Bilbrough)

When I see my grievances in the light of Jesus cross, I see the pettiness and the grubbiness of my own heart and I repent.  Once again  I stand amazed at his love and his patience. It is his goodness that inspires me to let go of my paltry complaints and ask him to create a clean heart within me.

Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
'Til in heaven we take our place,
'Til we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise. (Charles Wesley)

I love this hymn but the last verse always gets to me. When we stand before this LORD who is love what will we do. We will realize our own "crowns" are nothing and will cast them down before Him who has the right to be called the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.