Water For Thought

glass_of_water.jpg I’ve been nursing a dull headache all morning. I don’t get many headaches, so when I do, I can usually pretty quickly figure out what’s causing it. My first thought is always, have I had my coffee? If not, then problem solved. Lately though, I’ve been getting headaches because I’m not drinking enough water. Nursing mothers require a pretty crazy amount of water, and I just always forget that. Every night I go to bed just a little bit parched, and I think, I really must remember to drink my water tomorrow. But come morning, I drink my orange juice and then my coffee, and I feel pretty okay, and I forget again. Every so often it catches up with me, and I have to have a two- or three-day water-thon to get feeling normal again. Today was one of those days.

So this morning I dragged my dull headache to Bible study with me, where, wouldn’t you know it?  We were studying, among others, this passage in Isaiah 41. “17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. ”

Of course the fulfillment of this prophecy has and will come on several levels, but looking at its partial fulfillment in Christ lead us to this well-known story in John 4, and these verses in particular: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Now I don’t have a lot of experience with thirst. I’ve been told it is a painful and debilitating thing to be truly in need of water. But I do know that if I can have a headache after just a few days of not drinking as much water as my body would like me to drink, then my body must really need water. Yet, as I start to feel the symptoms of this thirst, I often look to other things first. I crave coffee when I feel a headache coming. I reach for a snack when my mouth starts to feel dry.

And isn’t that *just* how I am with the Lord sometimes?  ‘Hmm… I’m feeling lonely/worried/overwhelmed today.   Maybe I should… pick up my Bible? Call out to God in prayer?’ Those are almost never my first thoughts, if I’m honest.  ‘I know!’ I think.  ‘I’ll call my mom/ask a friend for advice/play on the computer for a while!’  And sometimes, those things help a little.  I feel better.  I can go on.  But I haven’t addressed the real need, and sooner or later, I’ll have to realize, once again, that God has been waiting for me all along with a lovely, tall glass of water that is exactly what my soul needs.

I am so thankful for the picture and reminder God has given us of our own spiritual needs in our daily, urgent physical needs. The Bible is so full of imagery comparing God to water, to bread, to air!  There’s also a beautiful picture here of God comforting His people the way that a nursing mother can comfort her child. If you’ve ever nursed a baby after leaving her with grandmom and a couple of bottles overnight, you know what that kind of blissful comfort and satisfaction looks like!  What if with each drink, each meal, each breath, I remembered the God who gave me those things, and that my need for Him is greater than my need for any of those things?  It might just whet my appetite for the only One who really satisfies.

The Real Deal: Part 2

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I mentioned a few weeks ago how my ladies’ Bible study of Isaiah has really impressed on me how well God’s Word holds up to close scrutiny and how it authenticates itself.  This morning, we finally reached the chapter of Isaiah that we’d all been waiting for.  Chapter 53 (and the couple of verses before it) is one of the “Servant Songs” written to foretell Christ’s life and death.  Go ahead.  You go read it.  I’ll wait here.

Just wow, huh?

A tiny bit of background for anyone reading this who is not very familiar with the Bible.  Isaiah was an Old testament prophet who spoke and wrote down his prophecies hundreds of years before Christ was born.  I mentioned in my last post how he called king Cyrus by name before he was even born, but this chapter about Christ is where the real meat is, for me at least.

What must have been going through Isaiah’s mind, I wonder, as he was speaking and writing down these words from the mouth of God?  The people of Israel believed that their Messiah would come in great majesty and take up the throne of David.  What would Isaiah have made of these words (53:2): “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” ?

They believed their Messiah would be for *them* only.  What must he have thought about these words, then? “so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. ” (52:15, emphasis mine).  (This great mystery is referred to quite a bit in the New Testament, particularly in Ephesians 3.)

And what about His purpose?  The Israelites thought he would bring political success to Israel.  Yet these words describe His excruciating mission on earth: “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (53:11)

Not a king who would come in power and strength, but a servant who would willingly give his own life to bear the sins of mankind away.  What a beautiful, bittersweet picture Isaiah painted of our Lord.  I just wonder how much he understood.

Another verse appealed to the more analytical part of my brain, as another ‘proof’, if you will, of how perfectly Christ fulfilled the many prophecies about himself written in the Old Testament. Isaiah 53:9 says this: “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”  The New Testament tells us in Matthew 27:37 that Jesus was crucified between two robbers, fulfilling the first part of the prophecy.  Then a few verses later, starting in 27:57, we are told that Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man.  Some Bible scholars believe there are over a hundred such specific prophecies of Christ in Isaiah alone, and each one has found its fulfillment in what we know of Christ from New Testament eye-witness accounts.

This verse that Pippa memorized for her AWANA Cubbies club this week, sums it up very nicely:
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(PS  I don’t think all the red marker is supposed to look so gruesome.  She just loves red.  And purple.)

The Real Deal

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This is a genuine Gucci bag, and this will probably be the closest I ever get to having a genuine Gucci bag.  Look, this is my hand touching a genuine Gucci bag! (Can you see the serial number?!?):
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Selling things for my mom’s thrift store on eBay has brought me into contact with some very ‘valuable’ things. Over the past 9 months or so, my home has been decorated (temporarily) with Roseville and Baccarat vases, Northwood carnival glass, a fascinating assortment of random collectable things, and recently, several designer handbags . Along the way, I have also had short visits with things pretending to be designer handbags, and I have had a crash course in learning to spot “the real thing”.   Each time I have a new piece to research and authenticate, I scour the internet for useful tips on spotting counterfeits, and they all point to the same truth:  If you know what the real thing looks like, it’s easy to spot a fake.  (Great!  I’ll just go grab *my* Gucci/Chanel/Louis Vuitton bag and compare!)

If only finding *real* truth were so easy… or is it?  I was struck this morning at my wonderful Ladies’ Bible study by the lengths that God has gone to to authenticate Himself to us in the Bible.  We are told in Deuteronomy 18 that we will know whether a prophet is true or false by whether his words come true or not.  Simple enough.  This morning, our study in the book of Isaiah (so chock full of amazing prophecies about Christ that I won’t even touch in this post!) brought us to chapter 45, which talks about a king named Cyrus.  Isaiah (a prophet of God) says this in verse 1:” Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings,to open doors before him that gates may not be closed”.  History knows about Cyrus.  He was a real king who really did these things, so why the fuss about Isaiah giving him a mention?   It is worth noting here that Isaiah spoke these words about 160 years before Cyrus would do these things.  In fact, Isaiah’s words were written down for all Israel to read before Cyrus was even born.  Amazing!

Time and time again the Bible confounds its secular critics, who bend over backwards changing dates and rewriting history in order to claim that these prophecies were written *after* they came true, but it’s all there for the reading. God proves Himself over and over in the truth of His Word (not to mention in the hearts and lives of those who believe in Him!)  It withstands the closest of scrutiny because it has nothing to hide.

Personally, I don’t really get what all the fuss is about with designer bags, but it sure is nice, as I look through photo after photo of real bags and read about the ‘tells’ of fake ones, to discover that I’ve got the real deal (as I write this, the above bag is selling for $135.52 with a whole day to go!)  What an incredible blessing it is, as I go through life getting to know my Creator and His Word, to find that the more I know about Him, the truer He is.

Big Thoughts for a Little Girl

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It started with an observation. “Mommy, you have holes in your ears.” I wondered where this conversation would go, as I am completely not ready for Pippa to get her ears pierced or really even to become to aware of the whole concept, but that wasn’t what was going through her sweet little mind tonight. Next she said, “God had holes in His hands” while thoughtfully signing Jesus with her own hands. All I could think to say was, “That’s right…” The wheels turned some more. “That helps Him hold the whole Earth.” Hmm… I imagine that in her three-year-old mind, she was picturing the world suspended from a hole in God’s hand in the same way the holes in my ear support my little silver hoops. We chatted for a few minutes to try to untangle these enormous theological concepts she was wrestling with, and I think she came away understanding more than she did when we started, but it left me thinking. There was an awful lot of truth to her initial conclusion. It *is* because of Christ’s nail-pierced hands and His shed blood that He was able to carry the sins of the world. My sins. I can only think that God gave her that insight tonight to remind her Daddy and I at what cost our salvation comes.