“The Well is Deep”

old water well

I once went hiking near the massive rock formation of Sugarloaf Mountain, with its great, striking view, toward the low forest area of the lower footpath. After a while, it brought me close to a beautiful meadow. I could have taken a longer way around which would have led me to the main road. But it was one of those sweltering summer days. So, when I spied an opening in the weathered split-rail fence surrounding the vast open field, I took the well-worn footpath cutting through the middle of the open meadow instead.

Taking the footpath shortened my walking distance during the intense midday sun of this picture-perfect summer day. After I had hiked almost the full length of the path, it directed me down, going from side to side, to a wide, picturesque sight of numerous wildflowers growing throughout the meadow. It finally led to an old, dusty crossroad where I saw an insignificant, weathered, wooden structure nearby, originally a farmhouse. I discovered a long-standing, isolated, stone well there, sharing the same spot with an ancient oak tree, whose canopy of branches and leaves extended out far and wide providing welcome shade. Tiny, tightly-closed blooms peeked out from scattered morning glory vines nearby, while beautiful wildflowers in full bloom grew near where I stood. Then a small breeze stirred the very dry dust of the road, and the summer sun finally succeeded in penetrating the canopy that had been sheltering me from the midday heat.

I moved closer to the old well, hoping its water would quickly satisfy my thirst. Then I discovered that it was very deep. A tattered rope once held a bucket, but now swung freely back and forth around an old, rusty, cranking mechanism. And there I was, sitting under the shade from the massive oak tree at the well, with no means to draw water!

“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?” (John 4:11)  

“The well is deep….” The well here was a lot deeper than expected. And this woman of Samaria could see that Jesus had nothing to lower into the well to get a drink of water. There are troubles and issues inside our human nature that can be very deep too. And we know we have nothing to draw them out with ourselves. But do we believe that Jesus has nothing to work with also?

He may come to us as we worry about issues in our heart that we cannot penetrate or come to understand and say to us, “Let not your heart be troubled.” But we shrug and argue, “Lord, this well is deep. I have tried and tried, and I can’t get any calm or comfort out of it. I don’t really see how You can do anything either.”

Why do we think Jesus is poor and powerless in dealing with our situation? He does not draw our help from deep wells of trouble anyway. He reaches up and brings our answer and comfort down from above.

We recall something we let Him do for us in the past, thinking: “Yes, He helped me that time, it’s true, but this time I can’t expect Him to solve this situation.” Why do we limit Him? Is He God Almighty or isn’t He? We want Him to comfort us, and to sympathize with us, but we don’t welcome Him as Almighty God in relation to our problem.

We have attributes and experiences that are Christian, but we don’t abandon ourselves to Jesus. What poor examples we are of Christianity, because we don’t draw on an Almighty Christ. We get into hard situations, and, instead of turning to Him, we say He cannot help us—that He is not able to do what we need. Then we try to go down into the deep well and get the water out ourselves. But the answer isn’t there anyway. We should know that if we look to Jesus, He can give us what we need. The Samaritan woman came for water at the well. But Jesus addressed her deepest unspoken problems and situations instead, and she left with her life totally turned around!

Yes, the well is deep and you are very thirsty. Don’t try to get the water yourself, though. Draw on the One who is the “Water of Life,” and you will never thirst again!

Much Effort; No Results

sprial tablet new ysr's resolutions

At the beginning of each year, we always seem determined to make ourselves better than we were the year before. What great endeavors we make to fulfill whatever resolutions we think will improve our life; yet, for so many, these efforts yield little or no results. Why can’t we accomplish all we set out to do? Or why do we sometimes succeed at something, then later see our success dwindle away? Why does it seem that for every two or three steps forward, we end up moving one or two steps back? How is that we work so hard to achieve so little—or even nothing at all?

For some, the answer lies in laziness, or just lack of initiative. Now if our success resulted solely from the monumental plans we have conceived in our minds, there would be prosperity and happiness in every corner! But, when it comes to walking with God, the real answer is that we are trying to accomplish all of these plans by our own strength and effort. We want to please God. We know we need to be healthy. We try to be abundantly prosperous. But we continue to do it all in our self. Without even realizing it, we leave God out of the picture. Or we do ‘include’ Him, but it ends up being conditional—on our terms. It’s like trying to drive a vehicle with an engine whose output is severely restricted. We make all of these great efforts on our own to get the vehicle moving and keep it going, but in the end, we’ve hardly traveled anywhere. Or, even worse, we boast of our great strides to go nowhere as if we actually accomplished something!

woman exercising in athletic field

God never intended for us to live our lives without Him. He wants us to look to Him for our strength and guidance. When we go forward on our own, we exhibit pride and self-righteousness. We are, in essence, displaying to God that we don’t need Him to solve the problem at hand. Or we are actually telling God that we know more than He does. Children and teenagers exhibit such an attitude at times when they are struggling to assemble an object, or have a difficult school assignment to complete. Rather than allowing (or even going to and asking!) one of their parents to assist them with it, they often angrily and hastily whisk the item away and move to another location. They may even order the parent to leave the room. Such actions naturally make the parent feel hurt. Then the child often does poorly or fails on the project, because he took it all on himself, even though he didn’t fully understand what he was to do.

Obviously, God does not view this or any form of pride and self-righteousness favorably. How could He, when His own creation has just declared themselves to be superior over Him! Our Heavenly Father loves us in a way greater than we, as a physical being, could ever understand. He knows that, due to sin, we are incapable of making ourselves totally right and complete before Him. In fact, it is impossible to make our sinful, mortal self perfect enough to stand before Him. That is one reason why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly came to this earth to be our perfect substitute. Since He was without any sin, He was the only one qualified for this position. Jesus fulfilled everything that the heavenly Father required in order for us to be able to freely and boldly come before Him—all the way to the point where He sacrificed Himself on a cross. All of this He did on our behalf. We could never reach the position, by our own efforts, where God could declare us to be pure, righteous, not guilty, and without blame.

We therefore need to stop trying by our own efforts to make ourselves acceptable and perfect to God (or anyone else, for that matter). Success will only come when we yield to Jesus and accept His sacrifice on the cross for our sins as our own. All of our resolutions and efforts, whenever they are made and attempted, will not make us any better before God—unless they are done through Christ. We need to commit ourself to Him and then let Him work through us by His Spirit. Even though we are children of God, we cannot just come boldly before Him as we are, due to our inherent sin nature (or sinful self). We must go before Him through His Son, who covers us and cleanses us of all our sins or unrighteousness with His blood that was shed on the cross. While exercise, prayer, budgeting, Bible reading, eating better, etc., are all good in themselves, if our true motive is to improve our self to gain the favor of God, then we will make much effort with no results.

Two Trees — One Choice

The first man saw that the trees in the Garden of Eden were pleasant to look at and good for food. God told him, “…Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat…” Let’s take a look here at two particular trees in that garden: “…the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9, emphasis mine). God had warned the first man in advance that “…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2: 16-17). This referred to spiritual death at once (cutting man’s direct connection with God), and physical death in due time.

Adam knew that God had given him that one restriction—to not eat the fruit of one particular tree in the midst of the garden. But the first woman was deceived and she ate one piece of fruit from that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then she gave some to Adam. He ate it too—knowing it was wrong to do so. They both yielded to their own desires instead of obeying and pleasing God. The first man and woman instantly became transgressors, guilty of disobedience to their Creator. God had made it clear that they then would experience the process of death, which began the very day Adam and Eve ate that fruit. How quickly wickedness began to grow after man sowed those first seeds of disobedience. Then he began to reap the sad result. The sin of man brought shame into the world. And the end result of sin is death. God was therefore forced to place restrictions on all human beings who were yet to come in the world.

Why did God plant that tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place, knowing it would be the source of disobedience in man?

As a sovereign or supreme entity God is not under the authority of anything or anyone therefore He has the freedom to say or do as He chooses. And He created man in His own image—so man, like God, also has a free will. This means God gave man the power of choice. Man can choose to obey God or disobey Him, to love God or hate Him. He can choose to serve God or his own physical nature. God is all-seeing and all-knowing. So He already knew what man’s reaction was going to be before Adam and Eve ever ate the forbidden fruit. Yet man had to be tested, to prove whether or not he would be obedient to God.

Man was created capable of reason (unlike the animals). God also gave all of us the capability of deciding for ourselves. And He made us capable of being immortal—by eating the fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. This special tree was an indication that Adam and Eve would never have died if they had not disobeyed God.

This means that there would have been no physical death in the garden, because the fruit of this special tree would have been available to them for healing if needed. Therefore, man did not originally need to die, but could have lived forever with God instead.

And that same original life God gave man furnished him with a nature fully capable of knowing, loving, and serving God. However, having this kind of relationship with God does not guarantee man’s salvation—meaning deliverance from the power and effects of sin. Only those who have been quickened into new life through spiritual rebirth (being ‘born again’ by His Holy Spirit) are really His children.

Jesus Christ created the whole universe. He declared Himself to be not only the Creator, but also the object of creation. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3) by Jesus’ divine, eternal, living Word. And all the true children of God have been born again by means of the word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden symbolized Jesus coming down from Heaven into this world as a man, in order to be the eternal living ‘Tree of Life’ for man. His ‘fruit’ from this tree for the nourishment of life is within man’s reach.

All need to eat of this fruit, not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus, as that ‘eternal Tree of life,’ has been made available to us so that we can live—with God—forevermore!

For more information on how to obtain this ‘fruit’ for yourself please click here.

 

In the Heart or Just Floating on Water?

paper boat floating on stream

For centuries, the Bible has been the best-selling book out of all literature. It can be found in print, electronic, spoken, and visual formats. It can be pocket-sized, or so large that it requires both hands to pick it up. Both Old and New Testaments combined have been translated into over five hundred and fifty languages, while individual books have been translated into almost three thousand languages. The Bible can be viewed graphically in comic book format, or seen dramatized in film and video. Both devout believers and adamant unbelievers often quote (and misquote) from it. Passages can be found displayed in many places, from very obscure locations to prominent public monuments, and even on blimps and hot-air balloons. It has also been, and continues to be, banned, censored, rewritten to please a particular group of readers, mistranslated, abused, maligned, and burned or otherwise destroyed.

Yet even though God’s Word has been available in so many places around the world throughout history, the message it contains remains little known, especially (and unfortunately) among those who are most capable of understanding it.

For many in this present day, the plot of a novel or the script of a movie or television show is more easily and frequently known or quoted than even a handful of verses from the Bible.

Why is this so? Since the Bible is available among highly-developed nations more than it ever has been since it was first mass-printed, why are we more likely to hear it quoted today by under-privileged people in third-world countries and repressed nations?

The answer lies in how we view the Word of God. The Bible must be the foundation of our belief in, and understanding of, Him. It must be the means upon which we build our relationship with Him. It should be regarded with great value. When we consider His Word as dry and somewhat meaningless, or just a collection of stories, morals, and advice, then we have no core or structure to follow as a believer in Christ. It becomes a shell with no real substance inside to us.

If the Bible is read as just an obligation or requirement, rather than as a desire, then we evidently have no real love for God. He will have become more of a religion to us rather than a relationship.

Our spiritual strength comes from having God’s Word inside of us. If it is only in our head, then we become unbalanced spiritually. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11, emphasis mine). Too many people boast of their knowledge of the Scriptures instead of their relationship with God. Some have memorized many portions of the Bible. Others can quote it with great eloquence. But is it really in their heart? Do they really know deep down what they are talking about? Even the devil can quote scripture. Does that make him holy, righteous, or a better being? The Word of Almighty God isn’t simply like a little, colorful leaf floating on water—beautiful, but insecure and easily sunk or removed from view.

leaf floating on water

The answer to dealing with the temptations of this life and the wiles of the devil is to have God’s Word rooted deep within our heart. If reading each passage seems to be drudgery, we need to ask the Lord to open up the deeper meaning to us. Almost anybody can just read the Bible, but godly wisdom and knowledge come from studying and meditating on it. God is delighted when we want to know more about Him, and He will then reveal more of Himself to us proportionately though His Word. “Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:68). But we must be willing to make that first step. “Draw [near] to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8a). When we are not just reading His Word, but devouring it, we will discover that we will want to read it more and more.

“I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:14-16).

“And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Psalm 119:47).

The Bible will be more to us than just a reference book, or a manual on how to live correctly, when we begin see it as a glimpse into the very heart of God. As we open our mind to His Word, and bury it in our hearts, it will no longer be like nothing more than a leaf floating on the water, but a stable fortification instead. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God(Ephesians 6:14-17 emphasis mine).

Have you let God’s Word become lost in a pile of books on a table? Have you carelessly left it someplace where it may become damaged or even ruined? Make an effort to locate it and read it. Study what it says, and put it in your heart where it will do the most good—for yourself, and anyone you may meet.