Tag Archives: Life

Becoming A Well Of Living Water

I’ve been thinking about wells the last few days.  And no wonder, I suppose.  When a friend said the other day, “It’s been so dry,” his comment could easily have been a reference to the weather.  But I knew he was speaking of the spiritual drought many of us are enduring.  We know firsthand what the psalmist means by “a dry and thirsty land where no water is.”

So did the ancients our Bible tells us of.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob… they were desert people.  They hadn’t yet entered the land of flowing streams and brooks of waters, and since water was a matter of life and death to them (as it is to all peoples) this meant searching for wells in the desert for themselves and their flocks.

Abraham digged wells.  Later Isaac had to redig them, for the Philistines had plugged them with earth in an effort to force him out what they considered their own territory. Isaac dug other wells also, which became a source of contention when the inhabitants of the land he sojourned in sought to expropriate the wells for their own use.

In the days of Jacob flock-watering had become tightly controlled.  No one was allowed to water their flock till all the flocks were gathered together, at which time “the shepherds” took the stone off the well’s mouth.  Jacob, however– though he was not a member of this organization of shepherds and had no pastor’s official credentials– rolled away the stone and watered the flock that the shepherdess Rachel had led to the well (Gen. 29.1-10).

Moses did much the same thing.  When the daughters of the Reuel came to water their father’s flock at a certain well the shepherds tried to drive them away.  Moses rose up and helped Reuel’s daughters, and watered their flock.  This eventually led to Moses becoming a shepherd himself—first of sheep, and then of the flock of God.  It was when he was shepherding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law that he met God at the burning bush and was commissioned to shepherd His people out of Israel and through a wilderness, where, time and again, the need for water was a serious issue.

On one occasion when they were faced with no water the LORD spoke to Moses:

Gather the people together, and I will give them water (Num. 21.16).

How did He give them water?  He commanded the people to start singing to an unseen well in the sand as the elders began digging with their staves.

Then Israel sang this song, Spring up O well: sing ye unto it:
The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves.

In other words, right there in the sand below their feet there was a secret well.  The people didn’t know it was there, but God did.  Right in the bleakest most desolate of places there was a well.

Is not this a promise for you and me?  I see in my mind’s eye another flock of bleating sheep in a waste and howling wilderness… and a Shepherd leading them.  Leading them where? To a Well.  For, we too are a people of eternal purpose, just as those of old were.  I know it’s very dry these days, but God will not let the sheep of His pasture perish in this present wilderness for lack of water.  The Shepherd of Israel… we are the sheep of His hand.  It is His responsibility to lead us to water.  And He will do so.  We have His promise that He will do so—to “fountains of living waters” (Rev. 7.17).

It is for Him to do the leading.  And for us?  What is our part?  Our part is to cry out to Him for this precious Life Source, and follow His leading.  At times it may mean getting the earth out of a well the Philistines have contaminated.  It may mean moving to another locale.  I don’t necessarily mean geographically, although that might be the Shepherd’s leading at times.  I mean spiritually.  We the flock of His pasture must be nomadic, ready to move on, ready to follow our Shepherd, ready to move out into the desert as He searches out for us another Well.

And when instead of water we find nothing but sand even though we know we are there in the leading of the Lord, it may mean singing to the sand around us—and digging.  It is the Spirit of Christ Himself who is that Well of living water… but at times we might have to engage in some serious digging to find Him… all the while singing as we dig.

And blessed is the person who does so.  Blessed is the person who, through all the wildernesses of life, continues to seek out and find that Well of living water. For, an even greater promise awaits such a one.  God says:

I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water (Isa. 41.18).

And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water (Isa. 35.7).

Note this.  The dry land becomes a spring of water.  The thirsty one—the one who needs water—ultimately becomes a spring of water himself.

Just as Jesus promised that thirsty woman at the well of Samaria:

Whoseover drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be (that is, become) in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (Jn. 4.14).

That is to say, we come to Him thirsting for water, and we go away having become a fountain of living water that satisfies the souls all around us thirsty for Life.

The Gospel Of Eternal Life

Three times in his letters the apostle Paul refers to something he calls “my gospel” (Rom. 2.16, 16.25 and 2 Tim. 2.8).  There is of course only one Gospel—the Good News of our salvation.  But Paul was able to call this Gospel his own.  How so?  It’s because the gospel of God was not just hearsay to him; it was operative in his own life.

And what is the Gospel?  I realize many of us are very familiar with this, but I think we do well to look into the nature of the Gospel of Paul, lest the Gospel we’re so familiar with turn out to be a Gospel other than—or maybe less than—the one that lived and burned like fire in Paul.  So let’s look at this.

Paul, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God
Which He had promised afore by His prophets in holy scriptures… (Rom. 1.1,2).

This gospel is laid out in great detail in Paul’s letter to the Romans, but we will go to his second letter to Timothy, where it is encapsuled.  It is a very powerful gospel—very great glad tidings.

Paul is writing to Timothy from a Roman prison where Nero has cast him, intending shortly to execute him.  As we read later in the letter, Paul himself anticipates his end is at hand.  But he doesn’t call it an execution.  He calls it an offering unto God.  He is “ready to be offered,” he tells Timothy.  He has “fought a good fight,” he has “finished his course,” he has “kept the faith.”  He looks forward to the crown of righteousness which is laid up for him, “which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day, and not to me only but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4.6-8).

Paul begins his last letter with these words:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus…

These words remind us of his letter to Titus.

Paul, a bondslave of Jesus Christ according to (in accordance with) the faith of God’s elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is after (accords with) godliness;
In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the ages of time…

Paul told the Romans that God promised the Gospel “by His prophets in holy scriptures.”  Here he says God promised it “before the ages of time.”  So this Gospel is a very great thing in the eternal purposes of God.  We highlight the words, “in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised…”  They echo the introductory words to Timothy we quoted above: Paul says he is an apostle of Jesus Christ “according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”  And so what has God promised?  Life.  And what life has God promised?  Eternal life.  Before the ages of time God promised that out from a whole race bound under the law sin and death He would bring a new man into a new dimension of life—eternal life.

But what does this eternal life involve?  Dying and going to Heaven and living forever?  Let’s read Paul’s letter to Timothy a little further.  We’ll discover the astonishing gospel unto which Paul had been separated.

First, he calls Timothy to boldness.  He is not to be ashamed of what he is involved in.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but suffer evil along with the gospel according to the power of God…

The testimony of our Lord is the witness to the truth to which Christ was faithful in His own life and walk, and which we too are equipped to give by His Spirit.  We note in passing that Paul gives no credit whatsoever to the reprobate Roman ruler Nero for his imprisonment; he is a prisoner not of Nero but of Jesus Christ.  For, Nero may purpose to shut the Gospel down, but Paul knows it is actually for the furtherance of the Gospel that he has been jailed.  His sufferings and imprisonment will result in the Gospel not being shut down but actually growing.  And so he seeks to encourage Timothy with the same realization.  This Gospel is attended with much shame and suffering as far as this world is concerned; many there are who will not bear the shame and afflictions of the Gospel.  But Paul assures Timothy that God has all the power necessary to equip him to bear up under it all, and suffer the evils the gospel suffers in its way of triumph.

Now Paul lays out for Timothy (and for all of us) the staggering dimensions of this awesome gospel of God.  Let’s read it carefully.

…Suffer evil along with the gospel according to the power of God,
Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, nor according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the ages of time,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of Jesus Christ, who hath abolished (annulled) death, and hath brought life and immortality (incorruption) to light through the gospel;
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (2 Tim. 1.8-11).

This is such a powerful passage of Scripture.  Paul says that Jesus Christ has “abolished death.”  That is, He has made death impotent, he has made it “of no effect.”  He has made death so that it “doesn’t work” anymore, as the word literally means.  It has no power.  This is what God accomplished in the cross of Jesus Christ.

But that is not all.  In what Paul is saying here he has his opening words in mind, “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”  He returns to them now, saying that the God who has made death of no effect has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  We too easily miss the import of these powerful words.  Paul is not talking about a gospel that merely informs us that God has brought life and incorruption to light; he is talking about the gospel that is an actual demonstration of the truth that Christ has annulled death.

This is what the Gospel is all about—and nothing less.  The Gospel is a bringing to light, a manifestation, a shining forth… of a life that is dominion over death.

And what is death?  Paul is not talking solely about the death that terminates our mortal existence.  Yes, in due time that too is vanquished.  But primarily Paul is talking about the death that reigns over the whole family of Adam all their days.  Death is not merely an event that ends our life here on earth.  It is a domain in which all men have been bound since the day Adam sinned in the Garden.  All, that is, except those who have been liberated from that bondage by the Gospel.  The Gospel of God is a gospel that brings men into the kind of Life over which sin and death has no dominion.

Paul wrote to the Romans, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8.2).  He wrote, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5.17).

Christian, is this the gospel—the glad tidings—unto which you and I too are separated?  Are we walking in a Life that reigns over all—over sin, over the domain of death?  Over the flesh, over the world, over the Devil?  And this not only in our own lives but in the lives of those around us?

This is why He saved us.

But it doesn’t end with our own salvation:  “He saved us, and called us with a holy calling…”  What is the calling?  It is the calling to walk in eternal life and make eternal life manifest in a world bound under the law of sin and death.  What does Paul urge us to, then?

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life whereunto thou art called and hast confessed a good confession before many witnesses (1 Tim. 6.12).

Let us lay hold on this eternal life, Christian.  This is our calling.  It is unto this that we, like Timothy, have been called on behalf of all men.  It’s the Gospel of God, the Gospel of eternal life.  Let us never settle for a gospel less than this!  It is good news—very good news indeed!

A Burden of Light

I have been feeling very heavy hearted and pained the last couple of days as a result of the multiple murder that took place over our way.  I’m sure many of you have heard about this—it’s been headline news all across Canada—the two young baseball players from Prince Edward Island playing for a team in Lethbridge, Alberta.  I don’t want to go into the details, but apparently they were celebrating a birthday out in a bar with their friends… having a wonderful time, enjoying life to the max the way young people just love to do.  A jealous ex-boyfriend of one of the girls comes along.  There is an ugly incident in the bar… and then later on the horror story on the highway at three in the morning as these young people leave their fun and rush to Calgary to catch a plane to Prince Edward Island for the Christmas break.  The ex-boyfriend has tailed them.  And he has a gun.

And now four young people are dead, this young man included.  He turned his gun on himself after he wreaked his vengeance.  The whole country is horrified.  How could this happen?

…Four young people in their early twenties, in the flower of life, and living life to the max.  Their whole lives were before them.  So much to live for.  Now they are dead.  Their friends are in tears:  they were such fun-loving people…  why could this happen to such wonderful people?

And so… my burden.  How long, Lord, how long?  How long till there shines a Light in the darkness that reveals to a whole generation of lost young people that this is not what life is for!  Sitting down to eat and to drink, and rising up to play… this is not what life is for!  This is not why God gave us a life—to consume upon ourselves!

The darkness “out there” is very thick in this hour.  The only reason people don’t flee from it as from atomic radiation is that… they don’t see how dark it is!  It’s only when you have a measure of light that you become aware of the darkness around you.

And so… the darkness that envelops this whole generation of young people like a burial shroud… who is responsible for that?

Fellow Christian, it is you and I who are to be the Light of the world.  And so, if the world is in darkness, where is the Light?

At times I feel a resentment toward the churches of our day.  I wonder if it isn’t a divine resentment.  For, in spite of the fact that there is so very little light in the churches of our day, we carry on, carry on, carry on… with our many programs and our nice activities… when, out of love for a lost generation we should be calling a halt to it all and crying out to God for mercy!

…But, never mind the churches.  What about me, Lord?  One of the things being carried by the priests through the wilderness was the lampstand.  It was veiled in blue with a covering of badger skins over top.  Lord, I cannot rest till you bring me to the place where this lampstand under the badger skin is set up in Your Tabernacle, and the Light shines in the darkness again… the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ!

Christian, is Jesus the light of your life, and mine?  Is Jesus the light we have in our heart?  Is Jesus Christ our righteousness in our hearts, and our salvation?  Then let this be our cry:

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62.1).

Welcome to A Mending Feast

Welcome to A Mending Feast! No, this is not an online sewing bee; it’s my contribution to the Table of the Lord. Please come in and sit down and make yourself at home. It’s my hope that all who partake here will taste and see that the Lord is good, and gracious, and will leave with appetites whetted to know Him more and more.

This has been my own experience at His table, which He invited me to sit down at some forty years ago: me, at the time a beggar sitting in a dunghill. He picked me up, and caused me to sit down among princes at His table. And oh, what a Table it is! It fills me, yet leaves me hungering for more of Him; it grows; it gets better all the time.

And that’s the meaning of the title of this blog, which was inspired from a line in an old poem by George Herbert (1593-1633).

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

Come my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes His guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.

Isn’t this a wondrous poem? I love poetry that leads me in worship, and this is certainly one of them. Herbert saw that it is Christ Himself who is all things to the Christian — our Way, our Truth, our Life… the Way of the Spirit, of the Wind, that, to walk in is moment-by-moment breath to us; the Truth in Whom mercy and truth are met together, in Whom righteousness and peace have kissed; the Life who, dying in the will of God, vanquished him that had the power of death with his own weapon. He is our Light, our Feast, our Joy… the Light that shows a feast spread for us in the very presence of our enemies…

…A feast that “mends in length.” In the old King’s English Dictionary my friend Reg gave me years ago, one of the definitions for “mend” is, “verb, intransitive: to grow better, to improve.” The perfect word to describe the Feast of the Lord! All the feasts of earth sooner or later come to an end, with the guests departed, the table depleted, the once full dishes now empty and forlorn.

Not so this Table. This feast never ends – and it mends in length: the longer it goes the greater it grows, and just gets better, and better, and better, and fuller, and greater, and richer, and leaves the soul, oh, so satisfied… yet hungering for more, and more, and more.

There’s so much in this beautiful old poem, for there is so much in our wondrous Lord Jesus Christ. His feast is a feast that makes us, imparts strength to us: we sit down famished, weak and feeble, but rise up strengthened for whatever is before us. His joy is a joy that none can move, that no man taketh from us; His love is a love that rejoiceth in the truth, is a love that nothing can separate us from.

…And, whatever it was that our hearts rejoiced in when our hearts were in darkness, now we have a heart like His own – a heart that joys in love.

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