Until Forever

“Live Until You Die!”

That’s the message of this incredibly inspiring true love story called Until Forever (2016 version), which is based on the lives of Michael and Michelle Boyum and their enduring love as teenagers and young adults dealing with Michael’s diagnosis of leukemia.

If I didn’t know someone with a similarly buoyant spirit, it would be hard to imagine anybody as sweet, faith-filled, and steady as this young man, but in reality, I know Tom F., who has also been through the wringer with leukemia and is every bit as kind and outreaching, so I know a few of these treasures exist!

Like my friend Tom, Michael always had the needs of others at the forefront of his thinking, and even during his hospital stays, he was busy reaching out to others with encouragement and the love of Jesus!

Jamie Anderson as Matt Boyum

Until Forever doesn’t shy away from the painful realities of how a cancer diagnosis effects everyone who loves the patient. In Michael’s case, his younger brother was severely effected,

Joel Jacobsen as Ben

as were many friends from his church family. (I loved the inclusion of this sweet young man!)

Madison Lawlor as Michelle Larson

Equally miraculous to Michael’s radiant spirit was the response of Michael’s girlfriend, Michelle, who refused to give up and stood by his side despite all the pain, insecurities, and sufferings that Michael endured. (Tom’s wife, Lynnie, is actually just as beautiful and wonderful as Michelle is, as depicted in the movie, so I have no trouble believing such devotion and faith exist!)

Here is a photo of the “real” Michael and Michelle (shown in the final credits of the movie). I truly believe only God can produce a love like theirs!

Well, I don’t want to ruin the story by telling you everything, but it’s one of the most moving movies I’ve seen in a long time, full of faith in the midst of fear

and triumph in the midst of tragedy.

If you are struggling with fear and tragedy, please take the time to watch this movie! It is possible to experience hope and peace in the midst of any illness.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5, ESV).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (48): The Quiet Do-Gooder

Do you get overwhelmed by all the appeals for help you receive from organizations? How about the folks at the markets with placards asking for spare change? Fall is “the season” for fundraisers in Grand Rapids, and this past week, one of my friends experienced one company’s latest bright idea for pressuring people into donating: “Just text in your donation right now while you’re sitting at the table, and we’ll flash your name and amount up on the big screen!” Woah! Is this meant to create competition, extra glory for the donor, or shame for those who won’t or can’t give more (beyond the extremely expensive ticket price for the dinner)?

I would like to say, “Wait! We’re getting this all wrong!” I’ve been to fundraisers that are almost like auctions: “Who will give us $100? Just raise your hands! Now, who will give us $1,000? Who will give us $5,000?” I think the last bid was for $25,000 that night. We didn’t participate in the bidding war, but I did go home feeling a little shell-shocked.

Jesus taught us the “right” way to give: “When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-4).

Giving to the poor is commendable, but let’s give out of hearts that overflow with compassion, not to avoid the social stigma of feeling uncharitable! Giving can fill us with joy when done out of a pure heart for the right reasons, but otherwise, it just makes us resentful or proud. Dear Lord, don’t let our acts of charity go to the loudest, highest bidders or be governed by our desire for the praise of men, but rather let us give prayerfully, in response to the quiet promptings of your Holy Spirit. So simple. So obvious from scripture. So contrary to the way our world works!

Text for this meditation: Matthew 6:1-4 “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (42): Love Your Enemies??

“You never know God is all you need until God is all you have” (Rick Warren, but possibly from Mother Teresa first). Here is where the rubber meets the road. It’s hard enough to love well even those we do love, but where in the world are we to get the grace to love those who are our enemies . . . those who hate and hurt us, or even those who are opposed to our values and obstruct our freedom to pursue what we believe to be right and good?

Who are our enemies, anyway? In many countries around the world, Christians are miserably persecuted, and so it’s obvious who your enemies are. I pray for you, and I read often about the terrible ways in which believers are tortured and killed. If you are reading this and among those who are suffering persecution for your faith, my heart goes out to you. Psalm 56 provides comfort for those who are pursued by deadly enemies. The title says, “Upon Jonath-elem-rechokin,” which has been translated, “the silent dove in distant places.” Is that you? In this psalm, we learn from David that it’s only through placing the whole weight of our burdens on God that we can overcome fear with faith and overcome evil with good. Jesus was able to go beyond faith to actually love his enemies. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). I read these words, and I know the “theory,” but I would have to be tried by fire to be able to say that I could ever love people so well that I could be put to death and respond the way Jesus did, although I’ve read testaments to martyrs who’ve come close.

In America and many parts of the Western World (and Australia), it’s often not obvious who our enemies are. We’re so well protected by our government that many of us do not have known enemies. For example, can you name your enemies? When I stop to think about it, I can’t! I’m oblivious. Probably if someone doesn’t like me, s/he simply quietly disappears from my life. Is that being an “enemy?” I don’t think of it that way; it seems more like not choosing to be a friend, and in a world of lovely people, of course we all have differences in personal taste and choose to spend time with people who see life most similarly. That’s not being an enemy; that’s just being free to use our limited time to be in community with those we enjoy the most.

So, where are our enemies? Do I need to go out and find some so that I can love them? That brings to mind the admonition about stirring up trouble (Proverbs 26:17). I don’t think God wants us to go there! We have myriad spiritual enemies who are out to destroy our souls, but God doesn’t tell us to love the minions of Satan! Rather we are to resist the devil (James 4:7), flee lusts, and keep company with those who are seeking God (2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart“).

So, we shouldn’t be looking for enemies, but maybe we (or at least I) should be more on the lookout for understanding whom my enemies are. Studying through the Bible passages that speak of enemies, I found three verses that stood out as speaking about God’s enemies:
*Psalm 68:21 Those who continue in their sins
*Romans 5:10 Those who have not yet been reconciled to God
*Psalm 66:3 Those who have yet to submit their wills to his

I’m listening to Running with the Giants (by a New York Times’ best-selling author, John C. Maxwell), and he makes the point that “Submission is laying down the terrible burden of always wanting to have your own way.” I love that! Have you submitted your will to God the Father and Jesus Christ his son yet? If so, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only friends but family! If you have not, then technically, we are “enemies” in the sense that we have opposing views on the reality of the God of Love and Light and his worthiness to be our Lord and Master.

God calls us to love our enemies, whether they are abusive people who actively try to hurt us, or dearly loved people with whom we disagree on spiritual matters. Either way. From the most wicked to the most kind—however others respond to us—we are called to love them! Love God; love others—both friends and foes. If we have to, let’s learn to bleed love. How is this possible? Only through experiencing the love of God in our lives and allowing His love to flow out through us. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Texts for this study: Matthew 5:43-45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies.” Luke 6:27, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies.” Luke 6:35, “But love ye your enemies.”

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (41): Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You

I don’t know if you’re like me, but this directive seems a lot easier to me than some of them. For instance, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (from Matthew 22:39) seems impossibly hard unless I put it in the context of Luke 6:31, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

Do you feel a difference? Here’s what happens in me. I am most aware of my own needs and spend most of my life providing for the needs and comfort of myself and my own family and friends. On the other hand, I try to treat all people with whom I interact with respect and fairness, and that is what I hope for from others toward me. I don’t expect others to meet my needs; I do expect that others will not thwart my honest efforts to meet my own needs. That is the essence of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” isn’t it?

So, I think of this command as the “Golden Rule,” sort of “Human Decency 101.” In the book of James we get another look at this command, where it is called the “royal law:” “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9). In this passage, we get another clue about what “loving your neighbor as yourself” looks like: No prejudice! No picking favorites when it comes to being kind and doing good. Be fair with everyone!

Being fair is the first step toward love, but probably not the last step. As we learn of Jesus, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This goes way beyond being fair and giving everyone an equal chance to work for their own “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I don’t know about you, but I am willing (and on occasions eager) to sacrifice myself to ease the burdens of those I love, but I don’t have a lot of natural compassion for strangers, at least for those who have no visible signs of disability or neediness. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that if I saw someone dying by the side of the road, I would go to a lot of trouble to try to rescue them (although I stand in awe of the good Samaritan, who provided so fully for the wounded man’s care). Wouldn’t you?

I bet most people would go to the aid of someone in dire need unless they were afraid for their own life. This might be considered “Human Kindness 101,” which makes me think of the passage in 2 Peter, where we are told to grow one step deeper, from “brotherly kindness” to “charity.” This gets tougher! Many mature people have a heart for compassion and “brotherly kindness,” but few attain true “charity,” or the ability to love others (particularly “neighbors” when you define them as anybody in need) sacrificially. And, what about the beggars by the wayside? In America, we never used to see people begging anywhere, but now it’s not uncommon to see someone with a sign up and a hand out. When Alan and I visited Singapore, we learned that begging was an offense that could land you in jail, so there are very few beggars there. (There are those who peddle goods, however.)

To give, or not to give? That’s a complex question. Most of the research I’ve read suggests that beggars need to be steered toward agencies that can access their true needs and assist them in getting the care they need (which might be emotional as well as physical) before helping them learn how to help themselves. In Grand Rapids, we have several ministries, such as Mel Trotter, that will provide food, shelter, and support (including vocational training) for those who are destitute. Pine Rest Christian Ministries reaches out to those with true mental illness. Exalta Health is another ministry downtown that provides for medical, emotional, and spiritual needs at greatly reduced prices. If you have a heart to give, you might consider giving to a local ministry you personally trust to provide for the true needs of the poor. Internationally, there is a “Comcare Hotline” that can help people. Many communities have some type of church-related or government-based help for the poor. It would be worth our while to know what’s out there so we can at least make sure panhandlers know about these options. Beyond that, we have the resource of the Holy Spirit to guide us individually as we seek to love others in a way that is actually “loving” them rather than supporting possibly lazy or dysfunctional lifestyles.

Whatever we do, it’s good to keep in the forefront of our thinking the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This may not be the ultimate act of sacrificial love, but it sure is a good beginning! May we love others as we love ourselves, using the same standards of expectation and mercy. May we expect from others what we expect from ourselves. May we have compassion on those in genuine need, as we would want others to have compassion on us in our times of need. May we be fair. May we be merciful. May we pray without ceasing, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us into Love as we interact with all those around us.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:2-9).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (28): What Does It Mean to Have Mercy and Not Sacrifice?

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13).

Last Sunday, on Easter morning, a friend who had been dear to my heart for almost 50 years died. Two of his daughters were at his bedside, holding his hands when he breathed his last. This was not an easy death. After 30 years of marriage, my friend walked out on his wife and family in order to pursue a homosexual lifestyle. You can imagine how shattered his married daughters were to discover that their father preferred seeking his own pleasure (over a thousand miles away) to being an active husband, father, and grandfather. I think their act of honoring love is the perfect example of what Jesus was trying to teach in today’s study.

Jesus had invited Matthew to become his disciple, and Matthew immediately accepted. One of the first things Matthew did in response was invite all his friends over for a big dinner party so they could meet Jesus. What a perfect way for Matthew to share what he was experiencing with those he loved best! When you love someone, don’t you want them to meet your friends?

Well, the Pharisees objected to this and criticized Jesus for eating with “publicans and sinners,” but—as is the usual case—they didn’t confront Jesus directly. Rather, they complained to Jesus’ disciples. Nevertheless—as is also usual—the complaints eventually made their way to Christ, who had no qualms about explaining his actions: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:12-13).

This is not idle conversation. Jesus really wanted the Pharisees to understand this saying, which came from Hosea 6:6, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” We see the end of the Pharisees failure to understand just a few chapters later, where they are criticizing Jesus and his disciples for picking ears of corn from a field to eat on the Sabbath. There Jesus rebukes them for not learning what he’d tried to teach them: “If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7-8).

What is it that Jesus wants us to learn? Showing mercy means even more to God than offering a sacrifice. Loving others who need help is more pleasing to God than bringing him an offering. In fact, caring for those in need is an offering to God. It is a sacrifice of love! Which would make you happier: Having your little girl bring you a bunch of flowers, or watching your little girl helping a smaller child who had fallen down and was crying?

Life is not about external conformity; it’s about internal transformation. We are created as image-bearers of God, and He wants us to grow more and more like He is, not in the ways we can’t (such as in his omnipotence and omniscience) but in his attributes. Specifically, in this context, God is not only just, he is also deeply merciful. The Jewish leaders in the days of Christ had added an insurmountable heap of regulations onto the laws that God had given them. For instance, there is no law in the Bible against inviting people to your home to hear the message of Christ, but the Pharisees thought it was scandalous to associate with anyone who didn’t agree with them politically or religiously. Wrong.

Concerning their allegation that Jesus was “breaking the sabbath,” the principle God gave us was to set aside a day for rest and worship each week, which was not meticulously defined in Exodus 20:8. It says simply, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Jesus and his disciples were probably much better able to rest and worship with a light meal of fresh corn than they would have been on empty stomachs!

In the Bible, we are given all sorts of principles to guide our lives. I like to think of them as the Path of Life. In Psalm 25:10 we learn, “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” I think of mercy and truth as being the boundary markers along the Path of Life. What we do must be “truth” (must be right) based on keeping God’s laws, but what we do must also be bounded by mercy. If we fail to do what’s right, or if we fail to do what’s merciful, then we have gotten off the true Path of Life. One regrettable memory I have is turning down an opportunity to see a sick sister because I thought it would be wrong to miss church. The scripture tells us not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Hebrews 10:25), but that does not mean it is always wrong to miss any service of our churches. There are times when it’s more important to be showing mercy, which is exactly what my friend’s two daughters were doing on Easter. Instead of being in church with their children, they flew across the country to bring the light of God’s presence into a very sad, dark corner of this world.

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck;
write them upon the table of thine heart” (Proverbs 3:3).

Texts for this study:

And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13).

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1-8).

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me” (Hosea 6:4-7).

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20: 8-11).

Free Dental Day Coming Up Tomorrow (February 8, 2019): Need Help? Want to Volunteer?

Tooth pain hurts!  That’s why our son, Daniel
(who’s the dental director at Exalta Health here in Grand Rapids),  has been facilitating free dental days several times a year for the past few years. Each Free Dental Day, there’s been a wonderful group of very capable volunteers
who donate their time and expertise, which is good, because there’s also a long line of patients waiting outside
well before it’s light in order to get dental care that day.

(Many patients are uncomfortable having their pictures taken, so I couldn’t take any photos of the line, and fewer than half the patients in the overflowing waiting room agreed to let me take their picture, so the majority of them were actually behind me in the hallway when I took this photo.)

           Exalta at its heart is motivated by the love of Christ.  It’s a charitable outreach to those who are uninsured
and find it nigh unto impossible to pay for health care. This includes many young adults who no longer have parental support, as well as people of all ages who are out of work, homeless, or have low-paying jobs. Exalta also reaches out to refugees and has a large Hispanic-speaking population. They’ve been blessed by many Hispanic Christians who’ve taken an interest in the work, including this couple, who met at Exalta and are now newly married! This year our volunteer coordinator had the bright idea to do a press release, so a camera man  and a news reporter from Fox News visited  to interview patients and let Grand Rapids know what’s happening here. Not long afterward, Channel 13 News came to interview Daniel,and do a story on Exalta! Of course, the publicity was exciting, but that’s not why anybody helped. We helped because it’s good to help! We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to love others wherever we go. Still, I hope the exposure in the news media will make the public aware of the opportunity both for service and to serve. In addition to care that can be provided by dentists and hygienists, an oral surgeon was available for some of the more challenging work. Exalta has a panoramic X-ray machine to help with diagnostics, and patients can receive free eye screenings or counseling services if wanted.Caring for many patients in a timely manner takes tight coordination, including people who can translate, triage, and guide the patients. Just keeping packets of instruments sterile is a HUGE job
(which I know from trying to do it sometimes). It’s tricky trying to find just what you need when you need it, and faithfully restocking the drawers is a challenging labor of love! As photographer, I got to appreciate first-hand the beehive of activity . . . and the sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. So, if you need some dental care, or if you have time to volunteer, call Exalta Health in Grand Rapids and get plugged in
for their next free dental day, which is tomorrow, February 8th, 2019. If you can’t help tomorrow but are interested, they need volunteers with or without medical training every week day, so please call!
https://www.exaltahealth.org/

(All photos taken during Exalta’s last free dental day, November 2, 2017.)

The Commands of Christ (14): Give Me to Drink

Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus only expressed a need for something to drink twice in recorded history, and on neither occasion did he get any water? In the Book of John, we learn that Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, but there’s no record of her giving him any! On the cross, Jesus cried out, “I thirst” but received only a taste of vinegar. Furthermore, Jesus requested permission not to drink once, and that was denied as well: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).Jesus had physical needs just like the rest of us, and on this particular occasion, he was traveling with his disciples from Judea through Samaria up to Galilee, about a 125-mile trip. There were no cars in those days, and they weren’t rich enough for Jerusalem Ferraris (aka donkeys). The distance from Jerusalem to Samaria is about 64 miles, or 22 hours of walking (according to a GPS, probably due to the rugged terrain), so they may have been traveling for two or three days already on a trip to Galilee that would likely take them most of a week. It was noon, and the sun was probably broiling hot. Apparently the disciples stationed Jesus at the well to rest and headed into the nearby village looking for the local McDonald’s. As Jesus waited, a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Now, this lady was pretty much the antithesis of Rebekah, the beautiful young virgin described in Genesis 24 who, in response to the weary Eliezer’s request for a drink, proceeded to give him a drink and water his camels also!Instead of giving the poor man a drink, she responded contentiously, asking who he thought he was to be asking anything from her, since he was obviously a Jew and she was a Samaritan, and Jews were notorious for thinking they were so superior to Samaritans that it would be beneath their dignity to speak to one.Jesus, ever more interested in meeting the needs of others than in getting his own needs met, pointed out to her that if she understood God’s gift and who he was, she could have asked him for living water, and he could have given her some. Now, that piqued her curiosity. I think she skipped the part about what God’s gift might be, or who Jesus was, but she definitely liked the idea of his giving her some water, although she couldn’t figure out how he was planning to do it, since the well was deep and he didn’t have anything with which to draw out the water. Unless . . . unless he was a magician or something . . . Jesus wasn’t a magician, but he did have miraculous powers. However, he didn’t use them to produce cold water for them to drink. Rather, he told her about spiritual water that he could give her to quench the thirst of her soul—water that could well up within her like a spring of everlasting life, so that she’d never be thirsty again. She was game: Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:15, ESV).Let’s stop the story here until next Sunday, because Jesus’ response is another command. But, as we end, I’d like to share five questions I’ve been pondering:

1. On earth, there were times when even Jesus’ basic physical needs didn’t get met, but he was okay with that because he was so focused on drawing people into a spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of God:  “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:7). How well do I handle not having my basic needs met?

2. Nevertheless, Jesus cared for both the physical and spiritual needs of many suffering people, and he wants us to do the same: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:34-40). What am I doing to help care for the basic physical needs of other believers who are suffering?

3. How do I respond to Jesus’ requests? Am I contentious and self-centered like the Samaritan woman, or am I eager to please and go above and beyond, like Rebekah?

4. Jesus was declaring the truth to this woman that he proclaimed to everyone later: He is the water of life. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). Am I sharing the spiritual water that I’ve received with those who are nearest and dearest to me?

5. Perhaps the most obvious from Jesus’ example is that there is no person “beneath” the dignity of any other person. Jesus was pure and holy, but that didn’t stop him from reaching out to someone entrenched in an impure lifestyle. Everyone needs the Lord. Am I shying away from sharing the gospel with anyone in my life space because they seem unsavory to me?

Text for this study: John 4:5-15. “Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”