One of my fondest childhood memories was an underground spring that is located in the woods of western Pennsylvania. We (and everyone from miles around) would go there from time to time and fill containers with the cool, clear water. Even on the hottest day, the water was always cold and I have never known this spring to ever run dry.
I went back this week to revisit “my” spring and it was still flowing, still cold and still refreshing.(See attached picture.) I feel sorry for those who grew up in the city and never experienced drinking from “God’s Spring!
The only water that tastes better is from the spring that produces eternal life. It is always flowing and always refreshing and gives eternal life. You may never go to Pennsylvania and drink from that spring but make sure you drink from the well of salvation.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
I am always on the lookout for a good writing pen. (Though most of my writing is done on a keyboard.) And when I say a “good” pen, I am not necessarily speaking of an expensive one. When I am with my peers, I always look to see what pen they are using. You never know when a better pen comes along and I might need to change.
Several years my son bought a nice pen/pencil set as a Christmas gift. I really liked it but I put away in my desk, fearing to use it “every day”. I was afraid that I might lose them; which is a good possibility for me. Though it is safe while in my desk, I never get the enjoyment of using it. Often when a family member dies, the family will go through the belongings that were left behind. Many times they will find a gift that has never been opened or an heirloom that was handed down but the rest of the family was totally unaware of it.
1 Peter 4:10 is an interesting verse: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another; as good stewards of God’s varied grace..” Two obvious observations: Every Christ-follower has been given at least one gift and secondly the gift was given to us to use; not hide.
In the parable of the talents, the servant that was judged, was the one who hid his talent. He was not judged for doing bad things but for doing nothing. Fear is not an adequate excuse for an unopened gift. There is no tragedy like the tragedy of the unopened gift. Some will go to their grave and never unwrap their gift.
Years ago, my wife and I stayed in a Howard Johnson Inn while vacationing in Florida. As I was walking down the hallway, I past their lounge. I wasn’t particularly surprised that they had a lounge but what did surprise me was the lounge’s name: Saints/Sinners. Being a Christ-follower, I was taken back that “Saints” would be used in reference to a bar. I have pondered that name often but as I was reading the Gospels, that name came back to me.
I guess the name first caught my attention because of the vast contrast between the two names; they are total opposites of each other. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than the attitude of the “saints” and the sinners” of Jesus’ day. No “saint” would ever associate with “sinners” and that was one of the reasons that Jesus was hated by the religious establishment. Jesus not only associated with THEM but He went into THEIR homes and even shared a meal with THEM.
Before we start throwing stones, have you ever been at a party and felt uncomfortable around certain people? We tend to associate with people like US, don’t we? You can almost see the separation in the room between THEM and US. I can visit a church and almost point out to you one of THEM. THEM will often sit by THEM-selves and you can often see they are uncomfortable being in the presence of so many of US.
What are we to do? The “US” must take the first step in tearing down the walls that separate US and THEM. Ask if they would mind if you sat with them during the worship service. Purposely start a conversation with that person that is being overlooked at the party. Invite one of THEM to go with you to a ballgame with you. (You paying for their ticket of course!)
Let’s US do everything possible to make THEM one of US!
This past Sunday, the Christian Church celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to Easter Sunday. The story is so familiar to most of us, I am afraid that we have lost sight of the important due to the familiar.
The disciples had walked this familiar road many, many times. Jesus was familiar with this road as well. His parents took Him every year to the Passover Feast. But this year, this trip, everything was going to be different. All the travelers knew the road but only Jesus knew the journey.
Jesus had been trying to explain to His disciples what awaited them at the end of this journey but they never did grasp what Jesus was saying. They did not know this familiar trip was going to be anything but “familiar.”
Our lives are composed of many familiar “roads.” The student has a road that they are familiar with: meet bus 7:30 am, this class, that class, lunch, recess, etc. The worker has his familiar road: rush hour traffic, punch-in at 8:00, work eight hours, punch out, drive home, supper, etc.
But are you prepared for the journey? Jesus may detour your road by a coworker sharing they are facing a divorce and need your support. Jesus may have a student cross your familiar road with the news they are pregnant and want your advice. At any time, that “familiar” road may become a journey.
You may know the road but only Jesus knows the journey!
“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work…” Isaiah 55:8 (MSG)
As a Christ-follower, I have found many of my thoughts and actions are totally opposite of God’s. I am not talking about sin but just different. For example, when someone hurts you or does something to you, the ‘natural’ man will usually respond in a way that is totally opposite of the way God would have us respond. MT. 5:43-45 The world says if you want to be rich; be stingy. God on the other says giving is the way of receiving. Luke 6:38
Recently I have had a change in my thinking concerning how I view the church. For years, I have viewed the “small” church as inferior to larger churches. Small churches, in my thinking, just hadn’t arrived yet. They weren’t as successful as the large church. Many people look at the small church as an “unwanted, red-headed step-child.”
But does God categorize churches by size? No. How does not see churches as large or small. He just sees THE church. Jesus is the head of the church, so wherever He is worshiped that is church. Mt. 18:20 Churches are not called to be successful (at least as others think) but they are called to be faithful. Mt. 5:21
God must love the small church, He made so many of them.
Have you ever spoken with a computer tech, doctor, mechanic, or someone who uses words that you have no idea what they are talking about but they take it for granted that you understand? I often drive by churches that have signs in front of the church that use jargon that only those on the “inside” understand. But I wonder if people on the “outside” understand.
But if we are trying to reach people who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, we must use terms they understand. To do that we have to ask ourselves, the word I am using, “Does it make sense to a non-believer?” We use words like: born again, salvation, saved, sinner, new birth, Savior, Holy Spirit, testimony, saved, repentance, witness, confess, found the Lord, lost, and my favorite – inviting Jesus into your heart. Confusing?
We must assume that those we contact know nothing about Christianity. John 3:16 in the end zone means nothing to the average person. One of the reasons Jesus’ message was accepted by the common people was He used everyday words people knew. The test for every word, idea, concept should be: “Will they understand this? This is for them, not for us.” Otherwise, non-Christians will quickly come to their own conclusion: “This is for them, not for us.” Think about everything you say from the perspective of the person to whom you’re saying it.
Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. [Psalm 142:4]
Personally, I think this maybe one of saddest verses in Scripture. I guess to some degree we have all felt like that at some point in our lives. But let’s look at this verse from a different perspective. How much do WE care about others? If you are a Christ-follower, you know of someone that does not possess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This means that they have not experienced eternal life. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life. 1 John 5:12
The church in America has lost its passion for the “lost.” I am not trying to put you on a guilt trip but rather to help us regain a compassion for people without Christ. Throughout the Gospels, we read the Jesus had compassion for people and we are to have the same attitude as Christ. “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” 2 Phil.2:4-5
The Apostle Paul had this kind of burden for the nation of Israel. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race.” [Romans 9:2-3]
My prayer for the church is that God would rekindle our love and compassion for the lost.