Recently, while watching a video of a church service held in South America, I noticed something I had never seen before in church. As the pastor passionately called his flock to yield their lives to Jesus, one of the parishioners took a white hankie out of his pocket and started waving it in the air. Then another, and another. With tears running down their cheeks, they were expressing full surrender to Christ.
But I wonder if there was more to the moment than the flags of surrender. I think they were waving flags of love to God. When God told His people to “love the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:5), it was in the context of His urging them to surrender their lives to Him.
From God’s point of view, life with Him is far more than just trying to be good. It is always about relationship—relationship in which surrender is the way we express our grateful love to Him. Jesus, in amazing love for us, surrendered Himself on the cross to rescue us from our helpless bondage to sin and set us on a journey to all that is good and glorious.
We don’t have enough words to tell God how much we love Him! So, let’s show Him our love by surrendering our hearts and lives to follow Him.
Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride; I now surrender, Lord—in me abide. —Orr
Surrender is God’s love language.
Deuteronomy 6:4 contains the Shema (or Shema Yisrael). This affirmation of the oneness of God (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”) is the centerpiece of the morning and evening prayers of observant Jews. The title Shema comes from the Hebrew term for the first word in the verse, hear.
While I was talking with a gifted pianist, she asked me if I played any musical instruments. When I responded, “I play the radio,” she laughed and asked if I had ever wanted to play any instrument. My embarrassed answer was, “I took piano lessons as a boy but gave it up.” Now, in my adult years, I regret not continuing with the piano. I love music and wish I could play today. That conversation was a fresh reminder to me that life is often constituted by the choices we make—and some of them produce regret.
Some choices produce much more serious and painful regrets. King David discovered this when he chose to sleep with another man’s wife and then killed that man. He described the guilt that filled him as devastating, saying, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). But David acknowledged and confessed his sin to God and found forgiveness (v.5).
It is only from God that we can receive the grace of forgiveness when our choices have produced painful regrets. And only in Him do we find the wisdom to make better choices.
Father of mercies, forgive me for the foolish choices I have made. Please enable me to be wiser in my choices. Teach me the value of resting in Your grace.
God’s forgiveness frees us from the chains of regret.
For about a year after his adultery with Bathsheba, David refused to repent of his sins (covetousness, adultery, deceit, and murder) until the prophet Nathan confronted him (2 Sam. 11–12). David penned Psalms 32 and 51 thereafter. In today’s psalm, David speaks of the heavy burden of guilt in his year-long denial of sin (vv.3-4). He also tells of the joy of receiving God’s gift of forgiveness when, with a contrite heart, he confesses and repents (vv.1-2,5) and becomes receptive to God’s rule in his life (vv.7-11). Warning of God’s disciplining hand (v.4), David urges all who have sinned to repent without delay (v.6).
Although 70 percent of the world is covered by water, less than 1 percent of it is drinkable by humans. Water conservation and sanitation are crucial matters in many parts of the world, as all life depends on having sanitary water.
Jesus went out of His way to introduce a lost woman to another kind of life-giving water. He deliberately chose to go to a town in Samaria, a place where no respectable rabbi would set foot. There, He told this woman about “living water.” Those who drink of it, He said, “will never thirst.” It will “become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
The living water is Jesus Himself. Those who receive Him have eternal life (v.14). But the living water He provides also serves another function. Jesus said of those who receive it: “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (7:38). The living water that refreshes us is to refresh others also.
As fresh-water distribution is uneven in the world, so too is the distribution of living water. Many people do not know followers of Jesus who really care about them. It is our privilege to share Him. Christ is, after all, the living water for whom people are thirsting.
Lord Jesus, I want to live for You. May Your life and love flow through me as I go about my duties today so that others may see You through me and be drawn to the living water.
Jesus is a never-ending supply of living water for a parched world.
The stories of Nicodemus (John 3) and the woman at the well (John 4) are found side by side in Scripture, yet there is great contrast between them. Contrary to Nicodemus, the woman at the well recognized that Jesus was offering something that she could not do without. Nicodemus’ last words to Jesus were, “How can these things be?” (3:9). The woman simply responded, “Sir, give me this water” (4:15).