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Mary Loudermilk

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On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37, NKJV).

Have you ever been thirsty? Really, really thirsty? I have. I recently took a long hike on a very hot day. I carried water, but I misjudged the heat, the distance, and my thirst. I ran out of water long before I got back to my starting point. I felt thirsty down to my toenails. I also realized I was in trouble, probably dehydrated. There was no way to keep walking in the heat without more water. Fortunately, a friend saw my need and gave me a bottle of water. I made it back, still feeling dry, but I made it.

The Symptoms of Dehydration

Just about anywhere I go these days, I see people carrying water bottles. Some are quite large. Eight glasses per day seems to be a common goal. Although some question this amount, we do know we need to replenish the water we lose to keep our bodies functioning well. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in difficulty before we recognize what’s happening. When we lose fluid through illness or hot weather, as in my case, we may become dehydrated before we realize it. The feeling of thirst doesn’t always kick in until later, so we may already feel dizzy, fatigued, or even confused.

John 4 tells of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. She came to fill her water pot with natural water, not realizing her greatest need was the spiritual water Jesus offered for her soul. When He told her of living water to take away her thirst forever, at first she didn’t understand. It sounded good to her that she could skip those daily walks to the well, but that wasn’t what Jesus meant. What He offered would change her life forever.

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’” (John 4:13-14, NKJV).

The Necessity of Living Water

The physical body can survive only a few days without water. If we do not replace the fluid we lose each day, our body will soon stop functioning. Toxins will build in our system and death will follow. We understand the importance of staying physically hydrated. Yet it is easy to forget the importance of daily partaking of the living water which keeps our soul healthy.

If we are feeling sluggish and confused in our spiritual life, perhaps it’s time to check our living water intake. We may have become spiritually dehydrated without realizing it. The world can take so much out of us each day, but spending time with the Lord refreshes us in the Spirit. The sluggish fatigue and confusion disappear as we drink deeply of the water Jesus offers.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1, English Standard Version).

Prayer: Lord, I want to drink deeply of that spiritual water which keeps my soul refreshed and healthy. Make me aware of any warning signs of dehydration and spiritual apathy. Let me thirst for You and seek You each day.

 

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18, New King James Version).

The crowd gathered on Mount Carmel and listened as the challenge was made. One man stood alone, facing 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the groves. The question: which god was the God? It was time to make a choice, Elijah declared.

“Then Elijah approached all the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him.’ But the people didn’t answer him a word” (I Kings 18:21, Christian Standard Bible).

The next several hours proved interesting, even entertaining, at least from our vantage point looking back. Elijah and the false prophets faced off while the Israelites watched. Elijah allowed the prophets to choose which bullock to sacrifice and to summon their gods first. His only restriction was they could not provide the fire for the sacrifice. Their god had to provide the fire to burn the sacrifice. As the hours passed with no response from Baal, their frenzy increased. They cried out; they jumped on the altar. They even cut themselves until the blood ran, but to no avail. Baal did not answer.

“At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, ‘Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!’” (I Kings 18:27, CSB).

The God with No Power

It should have been obvious to these false prophets. A powerless god is not god at all. They were deceiving themselves. Their efforts to get his attention were useless and hopeless.

Finally, well into the afternoon, Elijah stepped forward and prepared his sacrifice to God. He repaired the altar of the Lord, laid out the sacrifice, and then had twelve barrels of water poured over it all. As soon as he prayed, the fire fell and consumed everything—the bullock, the wood, the stones of the altar, the water, and even the dust. There could be no doubt as to which God had the power to answer prayer.

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 58:1, NKJV).

The God Who Hears Us

Elijah’s God—our God—hears us when we pray. Unlike the impotent gods of Baal and the groves who did not—could not—respond, our all-powerful, ever-present God is available at any hour of the day or night. He’s not asleep, gone on vacation, or just indifferent to our requests. He is there whenever “all who call upon Him in truth” have a need.

“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14, NKJV).

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the promise that You will hear me when I call out in my time of need. You are all-powerful and always near. I am never left to face life’s problems alone. You are as close as the whisper of Your name.

“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45, English Standard Version).

My morning reading of the Bible has been somewhat different this week. I have read the same chapter every day. It’s fairly short, only twenty-nine verses, but I haven’t made it to the end of the chapter yet. Perhaps I will get there in a few more days. Why has it taken me so long to read a few verses? It is so rich with so much to absorb, and it’s easier to do it in small bites.

We each probably have our own way of reading the Word. You may follow a Bible reading chart, have a goal of so many chapters per day, or randomly select a passage. I like to do all of the above. I follow a chart, but I also enjoy reading random portions of Scripture. A chart gives me structure and insures I read the entire Bible through. When I’m “off the chart,” I discover interesting stories, passages that make me seek deeper meaning, or a verse that speaks to where I am at that exact moment.

How I study the Word isn’t anything profound but let me tell you a few of the things I do (or don’t do). You will no doubt develop your own study style.

  • I do not speed read. My goal is to understand more, not zip through so I can check off a box on a chart. If a verse seems unclear to me, I stop and read it again. And perhaps again. Sometimes reading a cross reference (printed in a center column or sometimes underneath the verse) will help.
  • I keep pen and paper nearby. I jot down insights, questions, or other verses related to what is being said. If I don’t have time to dig deeper right then, I can come back to my notes later and search it out.
  • I use a Bible app for quick research. When a passage is unclear, I often find it helpful to look at one or two other translations. A Bible app allows me to do this quickly. I can also look up the meaning of key words in the passage. Or I can do a word search to find other verses on this topic (such as: faith, patience, love, grace).

Yes, some Bible passages are difficult or (dare I say it) boring. Chapter after chapter of “begats” does not make for exciting reading, but I plunge on. Often, even in these passages I find sweet nuggets of inspiration. If nothing else, I remind myself if God knows all those names, He knows mine too. I matter to Him.

I was in a Bible class when a fellow student asked the teacher, “What translation of the Bible do you recommend?” The quick response was, “The one you will read.” We may own a stack of Bibles, but it is only when we open it and start reading that the Word goes deep into our hearts. It’s our source of instruction, hope, and encouragement.

“For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures” (Romans 15:4, Christian Standard Bible).

Prayer: Lord, give me a deep, abiding love for Your Word. When I hide it in my heart, it keeps me on the right path so I do not sin. Increase my understanding and open my eyes to the wisdom it offers for my daily life.