Word of Need #5

It’s been a big weekend!
We now return to our regularly scheduled Lenten devotional series.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:1-2

   Pastor John Piper calls this passage “The Great Invitation”. Through the prophet Isaiah, God calls out, “Hey! Hey, you! Come! No really! Come on! You’re invited!” How kind of God to beg His own creations to come to Him.

   Two types of people are invited to God’s party. The first are those who have nothing to contribute. They have no money, no means to pay for what they need, but they are thirsty. God says, “Even though you have no resources, no power, no prestige, no pull, you are just the kind of person I want. Come and enjoy the banquet!”

  The second group of people who are issued invitations are those who have plenty of money to spend and plenty of strength to work, yet are unfulfilled and empty. They are just as thirsty as the others, but think they can pay or work their way to satisfaction. God urges them to come as well.

   What does God offer at His banquet? Water for refreshment, milk for nourishment and wine for good spirit and cheer. Piper writes, “God is willing to revive us from the heat of Death Valley with the miracle of his water; and make us strong and healthy and stable with the miracle of his milk; and then give us endless and ever-fresh exhilaration with the miracle of his wine.”

   How will you respond to this invitation? It doesn’t matter if you are short on cash or rolling in riches, your soul thirsts for truth and life. Come to God’s banquet and see what it’s like for your soul to delight in the richest of fare.

Lord, this is an invitation I can’t refuse. Here is my RSVP: count me in. I bring only myself and my thirst. Thanks for Your generous hospitality.

Word of Need #4

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

   Reading the gospels is kind of like listening in on Jesus’ conversations with people. Have you noticed that Jesus didn’t talk the same way to everyone? He figured out where people were coming from first, and then geared the discussion around their frame of reference. For instance, when Jesus faced the teachers of the law, he chose legal jargon: valid testimony, execute judgement, witness, evidence, investigate, proof. But when he talked to the woman at the well he used words like water, thirst, drink, spring. The Master didn’t talk about living water to the lawyers; He didn’t use legal vocabulary with the woman at the well.

  In John 4, an interesting conversation takes place between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. She comes to draw water and Jesus asks her for a drink. She is surprised a Jewish man would even talk to her. Jesus mentions “living water” and she asks, “Where can I get some of that?” She thinks Jesus is talking about H2O, but He’s really talking about eternal life. As a result of their conversation by the well, a two day revival takes place in Samaria.

    True satisfaction will never come from external sources. It’s like trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in the bottom. We keep straining and striving to find contentment from things that can’t promise fulfillment. We try shopping, partying, jumping from relationship to relationship, counting “likes” on social media and binge-watching Netflix. Jesus offers an internal source that is like a spring of water — pure, refreshing, deep and unlimited. His life in us wells up and overflows.

Lord, I want what You have. This world just doesn’t deliver what I most desire. Pour Your living water into my soul and I will be satisfied. I choose to let You fill me on the inside so Your love, joy and peace show on the outside.

Word of Need #3

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

   A young man asked a wise elderly teacher how he could find God. The gentleman asked the young man to come with him to the river. The young man expected to receive some wise words along the riverbank.  But when they arrived, the old man walked out into the water, so the young man followed. Suddenly, the teacher grabbed the young man and forced him under. The seconds ticked by and the young man began to fight against the firm grip holding him down. Right before everything went black, the hand released him and he blasted out of the water, gasping for air. As he gagged and choked, he shouted, “What were you doing? Trying to kill me?” The teacher said, “When you want God as much as you wanted that breath of air, you will find Him.” How much do you want God?

   There are two possible reasons why a deer pants and searches for water. One, it has been on the run. Perhaps a predator or hunter has given chase and the animal is faltering under the pressure. Two, it has been living in drought conditions and the heat is taking a toll.

  These same reasons should drive us to seek out the living God. First, we can spend all our lives running — chasing after security, significance, wealth, fame, or affirmation. The pace and pressure of constant striving wears us out. We need rest for our souls that only God can give. Second, we may experience times of dryness — periods of emptiness that come with disappointment or failure. We need living water to bring life back into our desert and refreshment to our spirits.

   A panting deer, desperate for water, seeks until it finds relief.
 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Dear Lord, I want more of You in my life — more of Your guidance, more of Your assurance, more of Your grace. Slow me down when I am running ahead of You. Lift me up when I am faltering. Help me to seek You with all my heart.

Word of Need #2

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

   Western diamondback rattlesnakes can survive on one meal a year. Can you imagine how much time and money you could save if you only needed to eat once a year? Camels can get by on dinner once a month and wolves do just fine feasting every seven days or so.

   God created people, however, with a need for regular consumption of food and water. Even after eating a huge Thanksgiving meal, everyone is poking around in the kitchen for leftovers by evening. Hunger just keeps coming back.

   Pastor Matt Chandler asks the question, “What stirs your affection for Jesus?” In other words, what makes you hunger and thirst for more of Him? Once we are aware of what spurs us on in our relationship with Jesus, we can arrange our lives to make room for those things. It may be a daily quiet time, regular Bible reading, or study of God’s Word with fellow believers.

  On the flip side, Chandler asks, “What robs your affection for Jesus?” What are the things that pull you away from Him? These things aren’t necessarily sinful activities; they can be neutral or even good things that just become too important or consuming. Does too much social media or exposure to secular worldviews distract you away from Jesus? Do you get so wrapped up in sports or hobbies that they dictate your schedule?

   God provides us with daily bread because He desires daily interaction with us. We cannot survive on one meal a year. God promises a great blessing in craving righteousness, including the fullness that only God can give. He satisfies!

Lord, I am bombarded daily with worldly temptations that pull my attention away from You. Help me to be more aware of the things that draw me nearer to You. Grant to me a thirst for the things that stir my affection for You.

Word of Need #1

Today we enter into the fifth week of Lent
and we consider Jesus’ fifth statement from the cross.

Week 5
Word of Need:
Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
John 19:28

Need: a requirement, an urgent want
a lack of something deemed necessary

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. John 19:28-29

   It’s amazing how thirsty kids get at bedtime. I remember nighttime routines with our children that became long and drawn out, including multiple drinks of water. It was less a genuine need for water than it was an effective stall tactic.

 This word from the cross may seem insignificant. Why would Jesus use His last precious breath to call for a drink of water? We may be tempted to look for some deep symbolism in Jesus’ words. Was He thirsting for God? Was He longing for some kind of “spiritual water”? Surely there must be some hidden message in those simple words.

   Or maybe he was just thirsty. This statement is so precious because it shows us Jesus in all His humanity. Yes, He could walk on water and turn water into wine and command the waters to be still. But on the cross, He set aside His divinity to experience death as a man. When His physical body approached its final moments, His organs began to fail, causing dehydration. Jesus was dying for a drink of water because He was dying.

   Vinegar on a sponge seemed like a cruel offering but Jesus received the sour acid, knowing this would fulfill a prophecy: “I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:20-21)

  Despite His weakened state, He was aware that the suffering was almost over and that one last prophecy needed to be completed. He left nothing undone.   

Lord Jesus, I shudder when I think of what You went through on the cross. You emptied Yourself of divinity and took on the very nature of a human. You felt the nails, the thorns and the thirst so I wouldn’t have to. Thank You for humbling Yourself and being obedient to death, even death on a cross.



Word of Lament #6

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:19-23

  Jeremiah was so good at lamenting that he was nicknamed “The Weeping Prophet”. He wrote a whole book of the Bible entitled “Lamentations”, which expressed his deep sorrow over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians, just as Habakkuk predicted. No one had listened to his warnings of coming judgment so God’s people were carried off to exile in Babylon – a very sad time in Israel’s history.

  Like Jeremiah, our thoughts tend to focus on our misery. We go over and over our troubles in our minds. We rehearse our painful pasts and remember them well, until at last, we have depressed our very souls. Although it’s hard to stop the spiral downward, it can be done and Jeremiah shows us how. He interrupted the flow of negative thoughts and changed direction. It’s like he said to himself, “Hey, wait a minute. Come over here, thought. Give me something better to contemplate. I call on you to help me turn this around.”

   What has the power to put our pessimism in its place? First, think about His love, His great love. Second, consider His unfailing compassion, His deep feelings for us and intense desire to come to our aid. Third, ponder His faithfulness that shows up every single morning with a fresh batch of mercies. Here is where our hope lies, even in the most trying of circumstances.

   God is not driven away by our questions of “Why?” and “How long?” He courteously waits for our “Yet…” and helps us summon the thoughts that keep our minds rehearsing His love, compassion and faithfulness.

Lord, thank You for the example of godly people who showed us how to lament. As we bring to You our honest feelings, remind us of Your faithful love.    

Word of Lament #5

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Habakkuk 1:2-3

   Psalmists weren’t the only ones who could lament. Old Testament prophets did a fair amount of crying out to God as well. Habakkuk asked God question after question. The prophet was allowed to complain, to vent, and to press God on His seeming lack of action.

   Habakkuk had a reason to lament. Everywhere he looked, he saw injustice, evil and tragedy. His own people were in rebellion against God, ignoring the warnings of coming judgment. The prophet foresaw the terrors of being exiled in the intensely evil nation of Babylon.

   Still, Habakkuk held to the literary form of lament. He made the turn.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
 Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
 Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
 YET I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

   What complaint would you make to the Lord? What difficult situation or frustrating circumstance would you bring before God? Perhaps some practice in the art of lamenting is in order. Bring those questions and those complaints to God in prayer. But complete your lament by pushing through and making a statement of faith like Habakkuk did.

Dear Lord,
YET ______________________________________________________