Tag Archives: water

Living Water

water circle

Today is the second in a series on the 7 Last Words of Christ.

I thirst.

Jesus was thirsty, which reminds us that he is human with very human needs right up to the very end. The need for water reminds us of our need for the waters of Holy Baptism. We need the reminders of water and the Spirit. We are washed clean of our sins every day through water and the Word. We are reminded that Jesus told the woman at the well that he is the Living Water that will never run dry. Jesus is taking on our thirst for everlasting water so that we do not need to be thirsty spiritually again. Jesus’ human thirst for water was not satisfied well—vinegar on a sponge—but his death would satisfy the spiritual thirst of us all forever. To make that clear, the Bible records that after Jesus died, a soldier cut Jesus’ side with a spear, and blood and water poured out.

Walking on Water

walking on water

The time when Jesus walked on water points us to our view of our Savior. When the disciples were in a boat during a storm, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They said it was a ghost as first. But Jesus let them know, “It Is I!” We have times in our lives when we don’t recognize Jesus and we think he is something other than he is. We often think of Jesus as some sort of spiritual body floating around in the air, but as Jesus himself would reveal, he has flesh and blood like any other human on earth. He is fully human and fully divine.

When Peter asked to come out onto the water to Jesus, Jesus said, “Come,” and for a time Peter was walking out on the water toward Jesus. This shows that it is the power of Christ within the human body that can make miracles happen. It also shows that this activity is not happening to ghosts. It is happening to real flesh-and-blood people.

But then Peter is distracted by the waves and the wind and the water and starts to sink. This shows that it is focusing on the power of Christ in our lives that keeps us moving forward. Once we look away from Christ, things start to go downhill. Yet even as Peter is sinking, Jesus reaches out his hand to pull Peter out of the water. This shows that even when things are going downhill and we are pulling away from Christ, Christ is still there to pull us toward him and bring us back in union with and in faith in him.

Jesus says to Peter at this moment, “O ye of little faith.” Jesus makes it clear that it is our lack of faith that pulls us away from him. We plead to keep ourselves strong in faith given to us through the Holy Spirit to keep us close and connected to Jesus. After Jesus has rescued Peter, he and Peter board the boat and Jesus stills the storm.

It is a time to recognize that Jesus has come to earth and not just for the individual in danger but for all who are enveloped in the storms of life. Jesus’ stilling of the storm saved thousands.

Water into Wine

water into wine

Jesus tuned water into wine at the wedding of Cana. The Bible says this was the first miracle Jesus performed in his ministry. We may wonder why that is. There are many possible reasons. One is that this miracle enabled the wedding guests to continue celebrating. Another is that it is a foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper at the end of this ministry. A third reason is that the miracle reveals the transformation of his people through his presence.

Jesus’ mother Mary plays a large role in the events surrounding this miracle. She tells her son, “They have no more wine.” She makes the problem known to Jesus. She recognizes that help is needed and she realizes that it is Jesus who can help to solve the situation. She later tells the servants standing by, “Do whatever he tells you.” She lets these lowly workers know that Jesus is the one they should listen to.

A wedding is a celebration and the wine is a symbol of the celebration. So when the wine is gone, the celebration comes to an end. Mary and Jesus both recognize that this is not a good place to be. Jesus desires that the people there celebrate some more. The marriage feast is a symbol of the feast of heaven, where the Groom, Christ, weds the Bride, the Church. There the feast’s celebration will last forever. In Cana, the celebration continues when Christ provides more wine. In our lives Christ wants us to live in celebration of him and with him. Let us remember this truth as we read this passage.

The wine poured out at the table of the wedding party from the jugs of water was called “the best.” But this best of wine would be overtaken by even better wine at the Lord’s table the night before his death. This wine which the disciples drank was the very blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of all their sins. Like the wine of Cana, the wine at the Lord’s Supper brought celebration, but a deeper celebration that would bring everlasting joy through the removal of sins. The first wine poured at Cana flowed through Christ’s ministry to the Lord’s Supper’s wine. And it is this wine that flows to each one of us when we partake of the bread and wine of Holy Communion in our gathering as God’s people. This very best of wine enters into each one of us through Christ as it did at Cana, but in a richer, more abundant way.

The water that became wine came from 12 jugs. It is these jugs that represent the 12 tribes of Israel, which symbolize the people of God. The change from water into wine, therefore, represents the transformation of God’s people into richer, fuller, more vibrant followers of the Almighty, because of Christ’s presence flowing through us. We are no longer ordinary, normal, average people like plain old water. We are special, chosen, extraordinary people invigorated by the life of Christ within us. We no longer have nothing to do. We have purpose and meaning and a goal—to be with Christ and live for him.

Water and the Word

baptismMy parents recently reminded me that I was baptized using water my grandparents brought from the Jordan River on their trip to the Holy Land. I was touched and moved by this news that I had forgotten, but it got me to thinking that when it comes to baptism, it does not really matter where the water comes from.

What matters most is its connection to the Word. The Word spoken over the baptized person as water is poured: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is the Word that reminds us: “This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

Through baptism, we are made brothers and sisters of Jesus, the Word made flesh. It is in this Word that we find our hope with the sprinkling of water from wherever it may come from, through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Step in the Water

step in the waterNov. 23, 2018’s Minute in the Word on Joy 99.1 FM in St. Louis highlighted Joshua 3:8, in which the Lord says, “When you reach the edge of the waters, go and stand in the river.”

The Children of Israel were steps away from entering the Promised Land the Lord had promised, but they still had to cross the Jordan River to get there. Joshua must have wondered how they were going to do that. But God simply said to step foot in the river, which Joshua and all the nation of Israel did:

The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. Joshua 3:17

God parted the waters as he had done at the Red Sea forty years before when they had escaped Egypt. The two crossings of water bookend the incredible story of God saving his people.

But the people had to trust that God would do it. They could not cross the Jordan without God’s help, yet they had to take the first step into the water and let God do his work.

That is what we need to do in our lives today. When challenges stand in our way of God’s goal for our lives, we need to take the step forward and come to God and let God do the rest.

As Joshua told the Israelites in Joshua 3:5: “The Lord will do amazing things among you.” And he will do amazing things among us as well. Step right up and see what God has planned.

 

 

 

 

An Anchor

anchorWe have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. —Hebrews 6:19

Recently I went boating with some friends on a nearby lake. At one point our boat driver took us to a secluded clove, where he heaved a very heavy anchor over the bow until it hit bottom many feet below. This would keep the boat steady while we swam and floated on noodles and rafts behind the boat.

What struck me was that even though the boat was anchored, it still did a lot of moving around because of the prevailing winds, the waves from other boats and currents from the lake. There were times when I had to swim quite a ways to stay close to the back of the boat to stay safe. I had always imagined that once a boat was anchored, it stayed put. That is not the case, I discovered.

Which made me think about this verse from Hebrews about our hope in Christ being an anchor for the soul. Though the anchor is firm and secure, we who are tethered to it are not always still. We are pushed around by doubts, fears, the advice and messages of others who say that God does not matter or that Christianity has become passé. It is not always easy up here on the surface. The waters of life can be rough.

But we who have our hope and faith in Christ have the confidence that though we may be tossed about for a little while, our God will never let us go too far adrift. He keeps us firmly planted in the depths of his love and care and compassion for us to keep us on course in our faith. He will always keep us safe in his forgiveness and grace. That is our hope. That is our anchor. That is our salvation.

 

Root rot

root rotMindy Belz, in an article in the September 1, 2018, World Magazine, shared her experience with root rot in her garden this past summer. Apparently her area had received so much rain that the soil became so saturated that no air could enter in, causing the roots to dissolve and her plants to die.

Belz came to realize, “In the garden and in life, we can be lulled by why seems a buoyant ride into ignoring underlying perils.”

The only way to remedy root rot is to lift the plant from the saturated soil while at least some of the roots are still intact and move the plant to completely fresh soil. There the plant can thrive once again.

This story about root rot reminds me of Colossians 2:6-7:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

When we find ourselves swimming along and trying to root our lives in material things or our own accomplishments, the roots can quickly dissolve when things break or are lost or when our accomplishments don’t get us anywhere.

It is then that we need to be transplanted, if you will, into the rich soil of faith in Christ. Only there can our lives develop deep roots, nourished and fed by him. Only there can we thrive and bear fruit for him. And only there will we continue to grow for all eternity into the plantings he wants us to be.

Be routed and grounded in Christ today and always … and overflow with thankfulness!

Spiritual Prepping

emergency kitBefore Hurricane Harvey and Irma hit, we witnessed all the preparations people were making to protect their homes and keep themselves safe. This is just one example of a burgeoning business called “prepping.” providing people with supplies to prepare for disasters of many kinds, both natural and man-made.

Janie B. Cheaney in “Ready for the Worst?” in the June 10, 2017 issue of World magazine, ponders this question: “What spiritual resources should you add to your emergency supply list?” (World Magazine, June 10, 2017, p. 14).

Surprisingly, the answer involves similar elements to our earthly emergency kits. Take a look:

Food: Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of God in times of trouble and every day.

Water: Drown the old Adam in the waters of your baptism in hard times and be refreshed by the living water that only Christ can give.

Protective clothing: I think here about the armor of God from Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace fitted around your feet.

Back-up power: Be regenerated through prayer and gain new strength through your conversations with your Lord and Savior. i think of this prayer from St. Paul: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16).

Back-up heat: When you are feeling left out in the cold, draw on the warmth of God’s love from family, friends and your faith community. Listen to the warmth of Paul’s love for his fellow believers in these words: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” (Philippians 4:1). That same warmth of love is available to you through your brothers and sisters in faith.

Be sure to pull out this prep kit the next time a spiritual emergency of any kind hits. You will be glad you did.

House of Bread

breadAs Christmas approaches, it is good for us to remember that the name Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Why is that significant? Because bread plays a important role in the life of Christ and in the Bible in general.

An article in the September 2017 Living Lutheran magazine points out that “bread is perhaps the easiest metaphor in the Bible. Almost all possible ingredients have a scriptural spotlight” (Kari Alice Olsen, Living Lutheran, September 2017, p. 20). Let’s take a look:

Water: Water symbolizes baptism that now saves you. —1 Peter 3:21

Yeast: What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. —Luke 13:20-21

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The Joy of the Creator

potterOn June 16, 2017, the Friday before Father’s Day on the Moment in the Word on 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis, the DJ talked about the joy he sees in the eyes of his children when they bring him gifts they have made themselves for him for Father’s Day. His children are overflowing with pride in their creations.

That must be how God felt after creating each of us, the DJ said. The Bible reminds us: “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). God is the one who has formed us and shaped us and molded us into exactly what he wanted us to be. And he could not be more excited about his creation of us. He wants to show us off to the world. Each creation is precious to him.

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