I’ve been enjoying our Sunday series on word-pictures in the Bible – “What’s God Saying ?” This week we will consider what God is saying in the Bible with water. Water is a substance and a word-picture we find throughout the pages of the Bible, isn’t it ? As you have some personal Bible time the rest of this week, look for instances where reference is made to water — either actual bodies of water (like the Sea of Galilee, or the Jordan River) or figurative uses of water.
I’ve found a couple more word-pictures in my Bible reading that I hadn’t included on my sermon list for this summer (but may now). One is “eyes.” As you read – particularly books of prophecy, and the book of Revelation – look for references to eyes. What’s God saying with His use of this picture ? Another one is “measuring line” or “measuring stick.” Again, this is a picture that may occur more frequently in the Old Testament than in the New, but consider how many times a prophet or other messenger for God is described as having a measuring stick, or is measuring something. Funny image, isn’t it ? I’m becoming more and more convinced that a measuring stick represents ownership. When we see God measuring things in the Bible, it’s often, I think, because He is claiming ownership – getting ready to move in ! I wonder – how is His ownership of your life and mine today ? Is He taking some measurements in your life and looking for ways to do an expanding work in and through you ?
What’s Today’s Lesson ?
Last Sunday, in our discussion of trees (Psalm 1), we noticed that the one positive quality mentioned of the man or woman who is like a tree is that he/she meditates regularly (“day and night”) on God’s Word. We discussed what meditation is, and I encouraged you to ask yourself, as a form of meditation, “What is the one lesson God is teaching me today through His Word ?” I mentioned that each day – in the Word, and in the events of the day – there may be one most-important lesson God is trying to communicate to you and me. Each day we should learn at least one thing, it seems to me. What lesson is God communicating to you today ? Have you taken the time to meditate on that lesson ?
Here are a couple of lessons for me from this week – lessons God seems to be communicating through people and events, and reinforcing through His Word :
I was reminded by someone this week that taking “baby steps” is just fine for someone coming through a loss such as the one I’m experiencing. I need to be OK with baby steps. I must admit I don’t like the idea, but I’m coming to understand that it’s the reality of where I’m at in life right now.
Baby steps remind me that God’s work really is a slow, grinding work. Sometimes we wonder why it seems to be so slow. I’m reading right now in the Old Testament books of Isaiah and Zechariah, and it’s hard sometimes to fathom that God spent 700 years (actually, many more) preparing the coming of the Messiah ! Why does He work so slowly ? I might make two or three suggestions :
- We underestimate how wicked and deceitful our own hearts are, and how long it really takes God to penetrate them with spiritual truth and bring about real change in us !
- God was laying the groundwork for the coming of Christ in such a way that there would be no mistaking Him when He came. Many of the word-pictures of the Old Testament help us to say, when we come to Jesus in the New Testament, “Aha ! He’s the one !”
- God loves people – keeps making them, and keeps allowing time for them to come to Him to be redeemed (2 Peter 3:9).
- By making us wait (and pray), God forces us to understand, when answers come, that He is the source of the answer, not us or anything we did.
Baby steps remind me of a group of middle school kids from our JAM group at church I had the opportunity to meet with this past Monday. We’re meeting four times this summer — and if you or your young person missed last Monday’s group, please come this coming Monday. Our purpose is to talk about, and answer questions about, what it really means to be a Christian and to journey through the Christian life. We’re calling the group “Journey,” and it is an amazing group of kids so far. These kids have the right questions … and a lot of the answers too, even if they may not realize it. It warmed my heart to meet with them, to realize that we have such special kids at Emmanuel, and to see that God has an amazing work to do through them for many years to come as they grow, marry, and eventually raise families. People often say “young people are the future of the church.” Personally, I’ve never made that statement : my conviction has always been that young people are the church (at least, they’re part of it) right now. In some respects, they are wiser and more willing to believe God than we adults are. I do hope some of you will consider accepting Pastor Jeff’s invitation to work with young people this coming fall in the expanding youth and young family ministry. I will say this as a way of encouragement to you : In my 20+ years of ministry, I have never been disappointed that I spent time serving young people in the church. You will be blessed, and you will have an impact that will ricochet through to other lives for many years to come.
“Life is really getting weird.”
Lesson #2 this week has been, in the words of one of my kids, that life is really getting weird. I couldn’t have said it better. Do you ever feel that way ? Lots of followers of the Lord in the Bible had what we might call “weird” experiences. Life gets weird sometimes, … and life with Jesus takes many unexpected turns, if we are following Him closely.
The observation that “life is getting weird” came yesterday, as Samuel was going to the barn to get the lawn mower to help cut some grass. We don’t use the barn for much except to store the lawn mowers and bicycles. Lo and behold, as he walked into the barn to get the mower, there was a baby fawn lying in some straw behind the bikes. What a beautiful little creature, … but how unusual is that ?! What a surprise ! A good surprise ? I don’t know. How long will it stay ? What are we to do with it ? If we don’t want to scare the fawn, will we ever get the grass cut ??? We can add the baby deer to the baby groundhog living under the shed behind the house. What’s God doing ? On top of all the other changes in our lives, we finally cracked up laughing — all that could be said was : “Life is really getting weird.”
Life in a fallen world is weird. God helps us along, keeps us rooted, … like trees, we hope.
Personally, as a family, we are mentally, emotionally, and (often) physically drained. Someone said at Diana’s funeral that she could run General Motors. And she really could have ! Guess who’s left with GM now ? Pray for us !!
We miss her, too. Recently, as we were driving, James Taylor’s song, “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” came on the radio. You know the words —
How sweet it is to be loved by you.I needed the shelter of someone’s arms – there you were.I needed someone to understand my ups and downs – there you were.With sweet love and devotion, deeply touching my emotion,I want to stop, and thank you, baby ! How sweet it is to be loved by you.I close my eyes at night, wonderin’ where would I be without you in my life.Everything I did was just a bore, everywhere I went it seems I’d been there before.But you brighten up for me all of my days with a love so sweet in so many ways.I want to stop, and thank you, baby ! How sweet it is to be loved by you.You were better to me than I was to myself.For me, there’s you and there ain’t nobody else.I want to stop, thank you, baby ! How sweet it is to be loved by you.
That was a special song that, whenever it played, whatever disagreement there may have been between us, everything was OK. We remembered what we had in each other and why we joined our lives together.
I could almost feel her hand in mine this week. Now, at least I have Esther to sing along with me. And can she ever belt out the melody !
Later that night, I did think : “How sweet it is to be loved by Jesus.” I hope you’re experiencing that lesson this week, … along with others.
See you Sunday !
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