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River of Living Water

In this encounter with the woman at the well, it takes some time for the woman to catch on that Jesus is not talking about natural things.

When He starts talking about living water she says this.

“Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? (John 4:11 NASB)

I started to ponder this question. What did Jesus have with which to draw. He was talking about a well, or better, a spring of living water. How was He able to draw from this well of living water?

photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc
photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc

To take water from a fountain you would need a bucket of some sort. (For you who like old lingo substitute the word vessel where I use a bucket.) And in the case of a well, you would need a rope to lower and raise your bucket.

Jesus tells us this 'living water' is the Spirit, but how to find a bucket that can hold this living water? The fact is you actually have to become the bucket, be the bucket, man! [Tweet This]

Jesus laid out a detailed plan for this in Matthew 5:3-11. Religious folks call this the Beatitudes, today we will call it the ‘How to be a bucket list.’

  • Poor in spirit - see you need before God
  • Mourn - confess and forsake your own sin
  • Meek - submitted to the heart of the Father
  • Hungry and thirsty for righteousness - walk in a way than shuns sin in your own life.
  • Merciful - tempered by an unwavering mercy, fed by the mercy you have received.
  • Pure in heart - keeping yourself free from guile, seeking His face daily, hourly,  moment by moment
  • Leading men to peace with their Heavenly Father.

This is the path Jesus laid out to truly blessed life - one flowing with living water.

If you want an abundance of this living water, start with step one and get your bucket on.

BenThanks for coming by today.

See. You tomorrow.

Ben

For lots of detail on this ‘How to be a bucket list’ check out my series on the Beatitudes.

This post was originally posted on February 15, 2013

Matthew 5:3
Blessed... 

I want to share with you something off the charts about the word “Blessed.” We toss this word around pretty carelessly. If someone sneezes we say “Bless you!” or if we are real spiritual we might say “Ga bless you!” But this Greek word “Blessed” is pregnant with meaning. If you read the beatitudes in the Amplified Bible you will see the word “Blessed” rendered 14 different ways in these 8 statements. 

  • Happy
  • Blessed
  • To be envied
  • Spiritually prosperous
  • With life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions
  • Enviably happy
  • With a happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace
  • Blithesome (who knows what that means in this day and age – but you get the idea.)
  • Joyous 
  • Fortunate
  • In that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation   
  • Enviably fortunate
  • Possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions.  
  • Enjoying enviable happiness.
  • In the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions.
 Blessing holds Assignment, Ability, and Authority [Tweet ThisFar from being a wish for good luck, a blessing has in it vision, authority and power. We treat our words very lightly these days, and can blow off the power of our words. God spoke the worlds into being and we make off handed comments that hurt others, or destroy our own confidence. Consider the power of blessing:
Creation:  
And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. ~ Gen 1:28-31 
Notice that after He created, He blessed man. This blessing holds in it His expectation for man. “Be fruitfuland multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it.” It is both blessing and commission or command! But God never expects from us that which is too much for us. He never puts on us burdens we cannot bear.
God’s blessing acts as an assignment or commission. When God gives an assignment is it much more than an errand to run. Think about Nehemiah. When the king sent him to rebuild the walls of the city, the king gave him his blessing and assigned to him the resources, and authority to complete the mission.
God’s blessings grant authority. When God told Adam to subdue the earth, God was telling Adam that he had the authority to rule the earth, all creations was in subjection to Adam at that point. God had given him the authority to rule.
God’s blessing reveals ability. It would be unreasonable for God to expect us to subdue the earth if we did not have the capacity. This blessing not only tells us we are called to do this thing, but that He stands behind us and will back us up with power. Adam could fulfill all that God blessed him to do.
As we read the Beatitudes, we will see God’s plan for us – we will receive assignment, authority and ability to be what He calls us to be. What follows is a path leading from man on the street to son or daughter of the King, exercising authority and ability carrying out His assignment.
Ben NelsonThanks for reading.
Come back soon!
Ben

River of Living Water

In this encounter with the woman at the well, it takes some time for the woman to catch on that Jesus is not talking about natural things.

When He starts talking about living water she says this.

“Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? (John 4:11 NASB)

I started to ponder this question. What did Jesus have with which to draw. He was talking about a well, or better, a spring of living water. How was He able to draw from this well of living water?

photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc
photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc

To take water from a fountain you would need a bucket of some sort. (For you who like old lingo substitute the word vessel where I use a bucket.) And in the case of a well, you would need a rope to lower and raise your bucket.

Jesus tells us this 'living water' is the Spirit, but how to find a bucket that can hold this living water? The fact is you actually have to become the bucket, be the bucket, man! [Tweet This]

Jesus laid out a detailed plan for this in Matthew 5:3-11. Religious folks call this the Beatitudes, today we will call it the ‘How to be a bucket list.’

  • Poor in spirit - see you need before God
  • Mourn - confess and forsake your own sin
  • Meek - submitted to the heart of the Father
  • Hungry and thirsty for righteousness - walk in a way than shuns sin in your own life.
  • Merciful - tempered by an unwavering mercy, fed by the mercy you have received.
  • Pure in heart - keeping yourself free from guile, seeking His face daily, hourly,  moment by moment
  • Leading men to peace with their Heavenly Father.

This is the path Jesus laid out to truly blessed life - one flowing with living water.

If you want an abundance of this living water, start with step one and get your bucket on.

BenThanks for coming by today.

See. You tomorrow.

Ben

For lots of detail on this ‘How to be a bucket list’ check out my series on the Beatitudes.

The Sower - Van Gogh

Today I want to walk through the 2nd soil in the parable. I think you'll find a surprise in the Word today. For the rocky soil, we are going to read both the parable portion and the explanation. Again I have interwoven the scriptures (see notes below.) The differences are minimal but interesting.

Rocky Soil

And others (seed) fell upon the rocky places (ground, soil), where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But (as soon as it grew up) when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root (it had no moisture), they withered away.

And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; (they believe for a while) yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, (and in time of temptation)  immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:5-6,20-22, Mark 4:5-6,16-17, Luke 8:6,13

You get this, I am sure, from the natural perspective. There is nowhere for the roots to go, so though the plant springs up quickly, it withers and dies when the sun comes daily, and it has no where to go for moisture.

Most of us love a sunny day. When the sun is bright and beating down on me, especially this time of year, when you step outside and feel the warmth of the sun, even in the dead of winter, it is a wonderful sensation.

Jesus seems to have another idea about sunshine.

What constitutes the sunshine in Jesus' story? Affliction, persecution, and temptation! (Kind of put a twist on those old songs, “You Are My Sunshine” and “You Are the Sunshine Of My Life”)

Sunset in the Poconos
Sunset in the Poconos

So let’s just think about this for a couple minutes.

Sunshine is completely necessary for growth. It is in fact a very good thing. Therefore affliction, persecution, and temptation are also good things, necessary for our growth. Without them you will never flourish as a believer.

But if you do not have a root system that can supply water to bring the nourishment to meet the sunlight, you might just burst into flames. [Tweet This]

Jesus said it this way

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10 NASB)

But if I am going to burst into flames, it does not sound like a blessing.

It is only a blessing when you are in a Beatitude state of mind with:

  • A poor spirit
  • Mourning over your sin
  • Meek, and submitted to the will of God
  • Hungry to see righteousness prevail
  • Quick to show mercy
  • Pure in heart
  • Helping others to find peace with God

These are the ones who will find joy, maybe not giddy happiness, but unshakable joy, in the face of affliction, persecution, and temptation.

BenThanks for coming by today.

Tomorrow we will look at a thorny subject.

See you then

Ben

For more on the Beatitudes check out my series walking through them here.

* The 3 passages have been interwoven using colors to show which passage each word originates from. I have not added anything, just pulled from the NASB in each case. Red text is from Matthew, green from Mark and blue from Luke.

My new friend Graeme from down under wrote a great post about how to be blessed today.

Q241 "how do I get blessings?".

It pairs nicely with my very first post for "Another Red Letter Day"

"The 3 "A"s of Blessing"

While you are at it you might want to check out more of his blog. For 2012 he is answering 365 questions. I am been blessed many days by his posts.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ben

In Luke 6 Jesus preaches a sermon very similar to the sermon on the mount. It may be the same sermon from a different man’s point of view, or it may be that Jesus preached this content a number of times.
In any case there is something very interesting about Luke’s account. As with much of Luke’s gospel there is an edge to Jesus' words that is not always present in some of the other accounts.
When Jesus gives the Beatitudes in Luke, He first pronounces blessing, and then the turns them around. Here he says “Woe to you…”
So today, I am going to take the liberty of turning Matthew’s beatitudes around. I know this is not scripture, but it makes an impact on me when I think about these things.
Woe unto those who are the rich in spirit, for they have no part in the kingdom of heaven.
Woe unto those who do not mourn over sin, for they shall receive torment.
Woe unto those who will not submit to the will of God, for they shall inherit eternal destruction.
Woe unto those who hunger and thirst for wickedness, for they shall never be satisfied.
Woe unto those who are unmerciful, for they shall receive no mercy.
Woe unto those with impure in hearts, for they shall never see God.
Woe unto those who are troublemakers, for they shall be called sons of the devil.
Woe unto those who have persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for they will never see the kingdom of heaven.
And as Jesus himself gave this last one “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
BenI hope this impacts you as much as it impacts me. Do you think this goes too far? I don't, but let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading.
Ben

Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:12)

As we come to the end of this beginning (the Beatitudes) we see clearly the upside-down nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us that the proper reaction to persecution, insults, and harm done to us in His name is rejoicing!
I feel like – OK Lord, it is one thing for me to expect it, and be prepared for it, but rejoice? WOW – HOW!
As I mull this, I think how did Jesus demonstrate this? Hebrews 12:2 (I know, I know, I have used this one in my blog before – your thinking this guy only knows like 8 verses – probably so)

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2 NASB)

It says He endured the cross with His eye on the prize, and that is what He tells us to do. Rejoice because of the “Great Reward.” Let’s think about this a bit.
Somehow Christians have in their collective heads (ok – that may be a broad brush stroke - forgive me please) that spiritual pursuits cannot be reward driven. Like somehow if we are doing something with a reward in view, it is unspiritual at best, or at worst sin and selfishness. Not so!
Think about this for a minute. Why were the disciples always arguing about who would be the greatest? Was it just testosterone driven machismo? Or could it be that Jesus often taught about how to be great. He would says stuff like “He who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” or “…your reward in heaven is great.” It may seem paradoxical, but Jesus actually encourages us to strive for greatness, as He defines greatness. That definition is for another post.
Have you read what David said, before he decided to go after that Philistine Champion Goliath. He asked, “What do I get if take this bozo down? No more taxes and a beautiful wife! I’m in!” (my paraphrase)
So why is it OK – wait – let me fix that – why is it imperative for a Christian to pursue reward? Think of the snapshots we get of heaven. What is going on? People, saints, God’s children, assemble before His throne, and those who have received rewards have the privilege of presenting those rewards to the Lord. The more you have received from Him, the more you can give back.
So what will you have to present to the Lord? If you sit back and fall through your life, you will have nothing to present to your King. We pursue spiritual reward so that we have a tangible way to honor our King when we stand before Him. This is the stuff that will make it through the fire. This is the stuff that you can take with you!
Excellence in your walk before the Lord will net you persecution, but with that is great reward.
Thank you for visiting today. I appreciate you taking your time to read my ponderings.
Ben

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (Matt 5:11)

When I read this I think, didn’t we just talk about persecution, why is Jesus repeating Himself? Since Jesus is doing it again, I am drawn to the difference or as they say in France “vive la différence” (though they are probably thinking of something else entirely.)
So what is different? Actually there are a number of things that set this apart. Lets look at a few.
  • ·      Blessed are YOU… This is so personal. Jesus has been addressing the group and talking more or less 3rd person. Blessed is this guy and blessed is the one who is like this or does that. Now He says YOU are blessed! One thing I love about Jesus is how personal He was with those He touched. Obviously, as we have been reading, He preaches to crowds, but much of the time He deals with individuals. I think of Peter and his tax question – Jesus was like, take some money out of my ATM (Automatic Tilapia Mouth) and pay the taxes for YOU and me. I love that!!!! Or how about when He looks on the rich young man with compassion, and tells him exactly what he needs to hear in order to break the power of the enemy in his life.
  • ·      …when men… This is not about your character, but actions taken against you. Every other one of these items are issues of character and your reaction to life. This, on the other hand, is about men attacking you.
  • ·      …on account of Me. This is not even your fault. These things are happening to you completely because Jesus has changed your life.

 

Jesus does not seem to have a clue about self-help systems. Doesn’t he understand that nobody wants a system of steps that take you from a vaguely guilty conscience to life on the receiving end of insults, accusations, and if you are really good at it, maybe even stones. Or does He?
What I hear is this “I am with you in this. I know what YOU are going through, and you are not alone.” We have left off principles and promises, and now we see Christ in You – specifically – no generalities, no group think here. I hear Jesus speak directly to me – I, Jesus, your master, your friend, your husband, I will personally bless you, Benjamin, when people mock you, or bad mouth you, or lie about you, or think you’re an idiot because you are walking in these things.
Jesus is saying, the abuse you are receiving is because of the stand you are taking for me, and I am taking personal responsibility for your blessing as well. Such great assurance!
Know this, whatever the cost to follow Jesus, He is in it with you personally every step of the way. Remember He says, “As much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” (For more on this check my blog on the subject.)
Have you known this personal touch of the Lord in your life? Perhaps you have heard His voice of comfort or direction at a key time in your life. Share it with us please <smile>.

Thanks for stopping in today.

Ben

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:10)

Welcome to following Jesus, now die! What a crazy way to climax this amazing set of character builders.
Just for fun, did you notice that we have had 7 Beatitudes before this? 7 is God’s perfect number, the number of completion. God rested on the 7thday because He was done, not because He was tired.

So why do the beatitudes keep going?

Well, I think the first 7 of these steps on God’s stairway to heaven are pretty complete. (See my comments in What Peace?)
I feel like Jesus is saying “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life! I died for you, now you get to die to yourself, every day!”
It is important to know that Jesus promises persecution to Christians. There are a number of references, but my favorite is probably “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2 NASB) Did you hear that – Jesus said they would throw you out of church, and the guy who kills you will think he is doing God a favor. (kind of reminds me of a guy named Saul of Tarsus)
OK, so I have a question for you. What does it mean if you never feel any persecution? [Tweet This] Is this a cultural thing that no longer is in effect? Is this statement just idle words? Is Jesus just prepping the few who will get in big trouble for His name’s sake, and we don’t take the heat because we live in “Christian” America?
Nope, that’s not it. If you don’t ever feel any persecution, you might want to go back over the steps. Make sure you have not jumped to the conclusion that you are a Christian, because of some outside factor. You can only become a Christian, by being changed from the inside out. Jesus said the He and His Father would come and take up residence in you. 
Today, the point I am making is that persecution is not a something unlucky Christians face, but rather it is evidence that Christ is living in you. And let me be clear, No Christ inside – No kingdom of heaven!
These words might seem a little harsh today, but don’t be offended by me being obnoxious. If it is God word that offends you, I beg you, go back to step one – humble yourselves before the hand of Almighty God! Do it today. Ask Him if you are His. Don’t wait – do it now.
Thanks for reading this my friends.
I remain, Ben
Hey – if you are curious about the Kingdom of God check out my post from a couple weeks ago on the topic called "Kingdom".

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.(Matt 5:9 – NASB)

The word “Peacemaker” interests me in that it only appears one time in all of the Greek New Testament. It is made up of (you guessed it) 2 root words. There are those who say it means to be a peace lover, or pacific or peaceful person, but the majority fall to the side of a more active idea. This peacemaker is not an appeaser, not one who avoids conflict. Rather one who makes peace is one who actively does what is necessary to end conflict. I really like the definition for the “maker” part of the word. Check out this excerpt from the BlueLetterBible.org:
I love this because it is such a call to action. We cannot sit passively by and hope for peace. Peace is produced – it is made –it is the product of peacemaking activity! Let me say that one more time: Peace is the product of peacemaking activity! [Tweet This]
Again, as we covered in Friday's post, “What Peace?” we are talking about the peace that passes understanding from reconciliation with the Father. When you enter into this peace you immediately have an active roll in helping others find the way to this peace. If you are a Christian, if you call Jesus Lord, and live with the expectation of a place prepared for you beyond the grave, you are called to be a peacemaker.
Peacemaking starts with praying for those with whom we have some influence. God will make clear paths for you to step into, in order to help others find peace in their life, and more importantly peace with the Father.
Start today – Ask the Lord for the who and the how, and you will be amazed at the opportunities you see. Tell me about them! I can’t wait to hear what God has done with your submitted life!
Thanks for reading.
Ben

photo credit: Swami Stream via photopin cc

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