The Well From Which You Drink

In John 4, Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. I’d encourage you to read through John 4 and meditate upon it. Jesus has a great discussion with her about living water. It started with a discussion about physical water, but led to living water. The woman begged for this living water! And then for some reason, Jesus brings up her marital situation.

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
(John 4:10-19)

From what well had the Samaritan woman been drinking? I’m not talking about Jacob’s well. I’m talking about the relationship well. She had drawn from that well over and over (maybe for no fault of her own), but it had left her dehydrated. Those relationships hadn’t quenched any thirst at all, they had only left her empty and begging to be filled.

We drink things today that make us dehydrated. Pop. Coffee. Alcohol. Our well here at our house is really salty, we can’t drink from it; we had to buy a reverse osmosis system to deal with it. I’m sure you understand that you can drink things that leave you worse than before. Nothing really replaces good water, and nothing really replaces the living water Jesus offers.

Are you thirsty? Dehydrated? Have you become empty because you are drinking from the wrong well? Then Jesus is offering you living water!

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
(Isaiah 55:1-2)

Encouragement for the Graduates

2020 was not the graduation year our graduates were expecting. They have had to deal with a year that was far different that they were anticipating. The class of 2020 will have a story to tell that is unlike any previous class.

We are proud of you seniors, whether you are graduating from high school or from college. Well done! And great job on being flexible and making the best of your senior year in the midst of the Covid-19 chaos. Although you have not had the year you wished for, we know that you will take these challenges and trials and use them to develop you even further in your growth as a man or woman.

The encouragement for you today is to look at the various men and women of the Bible who went through big changes in their lives, many of them away from their homes, and most of them in some great life-transforming events. Look at these men and women and live to imitate them.

  • Be a Solomon who asked for wisdom (1 Kings 3)! We all need help and advice sometimes.
  • Be a Daniel and a Moses who were educated in the world but did not become worldly (Daniel 1:4,8,17-20; Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:24-26)! Daniel was a Dean’s list type student, but he did it without caving in to the culture.
  • Be an Esther who stood up for others even when it could have cost Esther her life. She saw her purpose (Esther 4:12-16). Use your talents and positions in life to look out for the helpless and hopeless.
  • Be a Joseph and stand for sexual purity in mind and in body (Genesis 39)! Joseph showed us that being sexual pure is not only possible, but God will richly bless you for keeping yourself pure!
  • Be a Jacob and see that God is with you wherever you go, and He will keep His promises to you. Commit like Jacob to making the Lord your God (Genesis 28:10-22)! Jacob was on the run for his life, but was shown by God that God will always be with him.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27)

Lessons from Leah

My daughter, Lindsay, went to a young ladies camp this past summer, DOV Camp (Daughters of Virtue). She heard a lesson by a sister named Emma about the life of Leah. The points Lindsay brought up from that class really helped me a lot, and I had never thought about Leah like that. So, thanks to sister Emma and the Lord for this lesson!

A Woman Who Didn’t Measure Up

Leah was not as pretty as her younger sister, Rachel (Gen. 29:17). Even though she was the older sister, Jacob came into town and swooned over Rachel. Jacob worked seven hard years in order to be married to Rachel. On Jacob and Rachel’s wedding night, Leah’s father (Laban) used Leah like a pawn to trick Jacob (Gen. 29:20-27). Think of the position she was put in! From the very moment she woke up with Jacob, she was a disappointment to her. She was bound to a man who did not love her, cherish her or accept her (Gen. 29:31).  Her father used her, her sister was always better, and her husband didn’t want her.

Yet Leah’s heart and faith shines even through this!

When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing. (Gen 29:31-35)

Leah’s faith is seen in several ways.

  • In her desire for her husband (like Gen. 3:16 – “your desire shall be for your husband”). Look at the first three sons and what she says about Jacob. She desperately wants him to love her, accept her and be attached to her. Even in a horrible situation like this, she wanted to have a loving relationship with her husband. That’s an incredible heart!
  • In the naming of her children. See the focus on God and on her heart for her husband. By the time Judah came, the 4th son, she seems to stop asking for Jacob to love her, and she completely focuses on praising God. Several children have been born to her, several years go by, and still Jacob’s heart toward her has not really changed. So, her focus is on praising and drawing near to God, even when what should be hers (love, acceptance and affection) is not there. What do you do when your situation does not change, even after years of praying for it to change?
  • In her focus on, trust in and praise of God. It’s already been stated, but her heart was first on God. That’s what got her through this mess of a family relationship.

And God saw (see Exodus 2:25):

“When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren” (Gen. 29:31).

Just like the Israelites when they were being killed and enslaved in Egypt, God saw (Exodus 2:25). God knows what Leah is going through, and He is going to bless her richly even though Jacob will not accept her or love her.

  • God gave her at least 7 children (6 sons and 1 daughter) before Rachel had one herself.
  • God gave her Levi – The priestly line would come through Levi (Moses, Aaron).
  • God gave her Judah – The kingly, royal line would come through Judah (David).
  • God gave her the Messiah – Jesus would come through Judah, son of Leah (Matthew 1). God often chooses to exalt what men have rejected (1 Sam. 16:6–13; Acts 4:11; James 4:10). Jesus came through the rejected and unloved wife, not the favored and accepted wife!
  • Leah, not Rachel, was buried next to Jacob (Genesis 49:31). Maybe, just maybe, by the end of his life, Jacob realized the awesome blessing he had in Leah.
  • Together, she and Rachel, built the house of Israel (Ruth 4:11).

Think about the kind of woman that lived bound to a man who did not accept her or love her. His eyes were always on another woman. Yet her heart was to please him, be loyal to him, do good for him. And this woman’s mindset was squarely focused on her trust of God and her faith in Him. Even when she did not get what she should have out of a marriage, she still praised God. This is a powerful and piercing lesson in so many ways for us.

Jacob and Esau

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
(Genesis 25:29-34)

Esau – Esau traded something very valuable for something of very little value. A simple bowl of lentils…he traded his birthright for one meal. All Esau could think about was how hungry he was at the moment. There was no regard for the high cost and consequences of his choices. Hebrews calls Esau a profane and immoral man (Heb. 12:16-17); Genesis says he “despised his birthright,” meaning he treated this amazing blessing as firstborn as if it had no value to him.

Jacob – He was called Jacob because of the circumstances of his birth. He was grabbing the heel of his twin brother Esau as Esau was being born. Jacob was called the supplanter, which means to take the place of another by force or treachery (Merriam-Webster’s dictionary). Jacob took advantage of his brother at a weak moment. Instead of showing kindness and brotherly love by offering a meal to his hungry brother, he seized his opportunity to get what he wanted. He was an opportunist. Through the next couple of decades, Jacob will see others treat him the same way. His future father-in-law, Laban, will seize his opportunities to take advantage of Jacob. Jacob’s own sons will also by treachery take advantage of their younger brother Joseph and will sell him into slavery.

This kinds of character traits that we see in Jacob and Esau are displayed in all kinds of relationships. We see them all around if we think about it. In business, politics, sports, family, etc. we see men and women like Esau who give up some incredibly valuable things for a cheap meal. On the flip side we see opportunists like Jacob everywhere, waiting for the right moment to gain the advantage over someone, even if it means exploiting the weaknesses of others.

What does this kind of relationship look like in a marriage? What happens when men and women have mindsets like Jacob and Esau? One spouse displays qualities like Esau in that he or she is so focused on the bowl of stew that the marriage and family suffers. A lot of families have been torpedoed because of a cheap bowl of stew. Another spouse is like Jacob and seizes the opportunity of the other’s weakness to gain an advantage. Is it possible in our marriages that we seize the opportunities of our spouse’s weakness to gain the moral high ground? Aren’t we really doing the same thing Jacob did?

Something to think about. Let’s not be Esau’s and trade the most precious things God gave us for what doesn’t even make a cheap substitute. Don’t get mesmerized by the bowl of stew. And let’s not be Jacob’s either, waiting for others to show weakness so we can show our superiority.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
(Philippians 2:1-5)

According to the Pace of the Children

Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.” But he (Jacob) said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. Please let my lord pass on before his servant, and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir” (Genesis 33:12-14).

According to the pace of the children. There is a great principle of leadership that we see exhibited in Jacob here. He knew the capabilities and limitations of both his livestock and his children. Because of this he was concerned that if he drove too hard, both his livestock and his kids would suffer. If he went at his own pace, he would take off and leave some, while others would be pushed to exhaustion trying to keep up with him.

Jacob understood that he had to lead at a pace that those following him could endure. That got me to thinking…as fathers, are we leading in a way that considers the limitations and capabilities of our children?

According to the pace of the children

Dads, we don’t want to be too easy on our kids, having such low expectations that they are never challenged. On the other hand, we don’t want to drive them so hard, that they are crushed and spiritually drained under the weight of our unrealistic expectations. I believe that is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote about not provoking our children to wrath because they will lose heart (Colossians 3:21).

Like Jacob, we have to know who we are leading. We can take off and go, go, go; we can aggressively pursue our goals, convinced we are driving our family to eternity. What happens, though, when we look back? What do we see? If Jacob drove too hard, what would he have seen when he looked back? Dead animals and distant kids.

We dads have to remember that we can’t go at our own personal pace. Our kids are not going to grasp these concepts and truths in the same way and at the same time frame we did. Also remember that what took us decades to learn is not going to be instilled within our kids in a 15 minute lecture. It may take them decades, too!

Our children have different learning styles and personalities, and that requires us to use varying approaches. Even as they age, we have to remember this. The approach I used for a 5-year old just won’t work on an 18-year old.

It is important for us to take an assessment of how we are leading and if our expectations are too high. My wife, Anna, helps me with this. Sometimes we may need to talk to a wise, older Christian and have them give an honest assessment.

Take some time today to pray about this. Are you leading at a pace the kids can follow?

I waited patiently for the Lord

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth–praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD (Psalms 40:1-3).

How long am I willing to “wait”? It seems that with the speed of technology and life we are not willing to wait very long for anything.

God promised the Israelites they would receive the Promised Land, but it would take 400 years (Genesis 15). Abraham was promised at 75 years old that he would have a son through whom God would extend His blessings and promises. He had to wait 25 years for the promised son, Isaac, to be born.

Jacob thought he lost his son Joseph to wild animals when Joseph was only 17 years old. It was 22 years later, when Joseph was 39, that Jacob finally learned that his son was safe and sound.

I waited patiently for the Lord

Again, how long am I willing to wait? When I pray for an answer from God, do I demand immediate results? What if you have to wait decades for the real answer? Or, what if you never receive that specific answer you wanted from God? Will you still wait patiently for Him?

I will leave you with two more passages for today.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:29-31).

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).