Serving As Christ Served

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Philippians 1:27-30

A beggar at a street corner, with bony hands and pallid lips, asked for alms.
The passerby searched his pockets and found that he was without money. Then he took the beggar’s hand in his and said: “I’m sorry, my brother, but I have nothing with me.” The worn face lighted up, and the beggar said: “But you called me brother – that is a great gift.” That is what humankind needs most of all, a love that extends the heart to another and calls him brother or sister.

Without love, almsgiving is no more important an action than brushing our hair or washing our hands. The Pharisees had an elaborate ritual for those things because all these things were prescribed by law. But love does not give money, it gives itself. If it gives itself first and a lot of money too, that is all the better. But first it must sacrifice itself.

God has three sorts of servants in the world: Some are slaves, and serve Him from fear; Others are hirelings, and serve for wages; And the last are sons, who serve because they love.”

My roommate from college worked a number of years with the Wycliffe Bible Translators. He shared with me a time some translators were endeavoring to translate the New Testament in the Cakchiquel language in Guatemala.
They were spending seven and eight hours a day on translation. “We feel like hurrying,” he wrote home, “but then we realize that the work must be done well, and so we plod on.” The Cakchiquel preacher Trinidad Bac was Cam’s most helpful critic. If a meaning wasn’t clear to Bac, he didn’t hesitate to say so or to suggest an alternative. He knew the colorful Cakchiquel idioms better than anyone and would explain them in vivid detail. For example, he told Cam that the expression for “neighbor,” when broken down, meant, “your companion in cootie cracking.” A good neighbor, Bac explained, is one “who will pick your cooties without pulling your hair.”

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) A man was watching his 80-year-old neighbor planting a small peach tree. He inquired of him as follows: “You don’t expect to eat peaches from that tree, do you?” The old man rested on his spade. He said, “No, at my age I know I won’t. But all my life I’ve enjoyed peaches — never from a tree I planted myself. I’m just trying to payback the other fellows who planted the trees for me.”

True servanthood is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever the cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost. It is a pleasant thought that when you help a fellow wayfarer up a mountain side, you get nearer the top yourself.

During hard times in the darkness of winter in an Alaskan Eskimo village a young man of unequaled courage would go out into the bitter cold in search of food for his people. Armed only with a pointed stick and his compassion for his starving village, he would wander, anticipating the attack of a polar bear. Having no natural fear of humans, a polar bear will stalk and eat a man. In the event of an attack the Eskimo hunter waves his hands and spear to anger the bear and make him rise up on his hind legs to over ten feet in height; and then, with the spear braced to his foot, the hunter aims for the heart as the weight of the bear comes down upon his spear. With heart pierced, the bear lives long enough to maim or kill this noble hunter. But loving family and friends follow his tracks out of the village to find food for their survival and evidence of profound courage. Early missionaries proclaimed to attentive ears that Jesus Christ is the “Good Hunter” who lays down his life for the world.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. We must all use the gifts that we have. The woods would be silent if only the best birds sing.

Our Christian faith is giving God what He wants. Peter Lord’s definition of religion invokes a sobering question – “Am I giving God what He wants?” If not, my religion is worthless. Elders and Diaconate are to be servant leaders, not rulers or dictators. God doesn’t want His people to be used by petty, self-serving tyrants. Servant leaders have chosen a life of service on behalf of others. In the Book of Acts, the Diaconate was the “wait the tables” to care for the widowed and the orphaned. Like the servant Christ, they sacrifice their time and energy for the good of others. Only leaders who are loving, humble servants can genuinely manifest the incomparable life of Jesus Christ to their congregations and a watching world.

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

Moses initially had some big reservations about serving God. He ran an entire list of excuses by God. In response, God simply told Moses His name. Moses said, “I am not able to speak very well.” God replied, “I know, but I AM.” Moses worried, “I am not believable.” God remarked, “I understand, but I AM.” Moses suggested, “I am not capable.” God declared, “You’re right, but I AM.”

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Servanthood comes at a cost. If we continue to buy what we want, drive what we want, eat what we want and live where we want, then we have not submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ and God can’t do with us and through us what he wants to do.” I must personally confess that too often I want convenience and commitment to be synonymous.

Suffering For The Truth

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Jeremiah 31:27-34

There was a legendary preacher named Brother Jackson who was called to minister in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri some years ago. The church had been terrorized by a local thug who would get drunk and disturb services, harassed the former preachers, and threatened the people and had beaten up a few. In his first sermon, Brother Jackson denounced this bully by name. The two met on a road the next day and the bully said he was going to beat up on this preacher, too, like he’d done to the others. Brother Jackson said he would likely accommodate him but first, would he allow him a few moments to pray in preparation. The preacher began his prayer, “O Lord, thou knowest that when I was forced to kill Bill Hewett, and John Brown and Jerry Smith and Levi Battles, I did it in pure self-defense. Thou knowest that when I cut the heart out of that young upstart, Younger and strewed the ground with the brains of mean old Philip Yandy, it was forced upon me, and I did it only with great agony of soul. And now, O Lord, I am forced to put in his coffin this poor, miserable wretch of a bully Sam Johnson. Have mercy on his soul and take care of his widow and his orphans. AMEN.” Brother Jackson rose, took his knife from his pocket and began to whet it on a stone and started singing in a loud voice, “Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee! And when he looked around, the bully had disappeared!

David Barrett is a mission researcher who collects information on Christian martyrs. His thorough investigations have led him to estimate that an average of 160,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year. Since 1995, 150 foreign missionaries have been murdered each year. Barrett says, “For every killing of a Western missionary or a high-profile Christian leader that captures international attention, there are a thousand anonymous Christians who die virtually unnoticed, except by God.”

“Worldwide, an average of 400 Christians are killed each day simply because of their faith in Christ. Just a few years ago, Christians were sold as slaves for as little as $15 in Southern Sudan. Khartoum regime has not stopped trying to bomb, massacre, starve, rape, torture and kidnap Christians, animists and even other Muslims into submission. The American Anti-Slavery Group says that they still trade one human being for three cows, or the other way around.”
An estimated 100 million Christians have been martyred in the 20th century.
That’s more than the previous nineteen centuries combined.

And the frightening part is, it just isn’t overseas, but here at home as well.
Two teen-aged gunmen at Columbine High School shot students they knew were Christians. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold also went after athletes and minority students, and some of their victims appeared to be chosen randomly, news reports said. Cassie Bernall, known for carrying her Bible to school every day and wearing a “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet, was in the library at the Littleton, Colorado school April 20, when a gunman burst in. He went up to Bernall and stood face-to-face with her, witnesses said. “Do you believe in God?” the gunman asked. Bernall said she believed in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and was shot in the temple, witnesses said. Rachael Scott, 17, who also was killed in the library, was known as a strong Christian.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. For real? We might die because we are a Christian? “We walk by faith and not by sight” Paul writes, Christianity does not require a “leap in the dark” or a sacrifice of the intellect. Biblical faith is a fundamental commitment to a God who has intervened in the history of humanity in a way that exposes his activity to historical study.

John writes in Revelation, When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

Have you ever noticed how often that word “true” appears in reference to God? “…holy and true….” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” If we as Christians are dying for the truth, then we need to understand truth. If we are willing to die for the truth, then we need to know that truth.
Jesus answered Pilate, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked.

When people are determined to believe in something, there’s no stopping them. Today, for example, 1600 people belong to the International Flat Earth Research Society of America. Their president, Charles K. Johnson, says, “I’ve been a flat-earther all my life. When I saw the globe in grade school, I didn’t accept it. To me, it was illogical.” Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. Albert Einstein

Fred Craddock tells of conducting a tour of the Holy Land. At one of the stops in Bethlehem, his group listened as a learned professor explained what they were seeing. “This is purported to be the birthplace of Jesus,” said the professor, “but the archaeology clearly shows that this is an 18th century rebuilding of a 3rd century Roman reconstruction.” He explained carefully how doubtful it was that this was Jesus’ real birthplace. At that moment another tour group wandered in, led by a much more believing or gullible guide. Kneeling there, he said to his group, “On this very spot, our Lord came into this world, with angels singing and shepherd’s kneeling and cattle lowing. Right at this exact spot.” Dr. Craddock reported that one member of his tour looked wistfully at the other group and said, “I wish I were with them!”

What is TRUTH: Conformity to fact or actuality; faithfulness to an original or to a standard. In the Bible, truth is a fundamental moral and personal quality of God. Not only is truth a personal characteristic of God, but everything that God has created is a part of that truth. His Law is truth. Jesus is a part of that truth. Truth is absolute and no one can come to the Father apart from the truth.

If Easter means anything to modern man it means that eternal truth is eternal. You may nail it to the tree, wrap it up in grave clothes, and seal it in a tomb; but “truth crushed to earth, shall rise again.” Truth does not perish; it cannot be destroyed. It may be distorted; it has been silenced temporarily; it has been compelled to carry its cross to Calvary’s brow or to drink the cup of poisoned hemlock in a Grecian jail, but with an inevitable certainty after every Black Friday dawns truth’s Easter Morn.

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. A Chinese boy who wanted to learn about jade went to study with a talented old teacher. This gentleman put a piece of the stone into the youth’s hand and told him to hold it tight. Then he began to talk of philosophy, men, women, the sun and almost everything under it. After an hour he took back the stone and sent the boy home. The procedure was repeated for weeks. The boy became frustrated — when would he be told about jade? But he was too polite to interrupt his venerable teacher. Then one day when the old man put a stone into his hands, the boy cried out instantly, “That’s not jade!”

YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!

Overcoming Doubt

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John 20:26-29

A young skeptic in the congregation once interrupted Billy Sunday with the question: “Who was Cain’s wife?” The Evangelist answered in all seriousness: “I honor every seeker after knowledge of the truth. But I have a word of warning for this questioner. Don’t risk losing salvation by too much inquiring after other men’s wives.”

2,300 federal employees in 12 Washington agencies who were shown a quotation from the Declaration of Independence, without being told what it was, were asked to sign the document, 68% refused to sign. Some claimed the quotation was from, among other sources, the Christian Science Monitor and the Communist Manifesto. The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. — Bertrand Russell

There is no such thing as a good hand-me-down religion. To be vital, to be the best of which we are capable, our religion must be a wholly personal one, forged entirely through the fire of our questioning and doubting in the crucible of our own experience of reality. M. Scott Peck said, “Knowledge is gained by learning; trust by doubt; skill by practice; and love by love.” During his long career as pastor of New York’s Riverside Church, the late Harry Emerson Fosdick spent many hours counseling students from nearby Columbia University. One evening a distraught young man burst into his study and announced, “I have decided that I cannot and do not believe in God!” “All right,” Dr. Fosdick replied. “But describe for me the God you don’t believe in.” The student proceeded to sketch his idea of God. When he finished, Dr. Fosdick said, “Well, we’re in the same boat. I don’t believe in THAT God either.”

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1) Were there no room for doubt, there would be no room for faith, either.

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” Jesus met Thomas’ demands even before He heard them from Thomas’ lips: Thomas’ Demand and Jesus’ Command Unless I see His hands . . .See My hands. And put my fingers where the nails. . .Put your finger here. And put my hand into His side . . .Reach out your hand My side. I will not believe . . . Stop doubting and believe.

We are born questioners. Look at the wonderment of a little child eyes before it can speak. The child’s great word when it begins to speak is “why”.
Every child is full of every kind of question, about every kind of thing that moves, and shines, and changes, in the little world in which it lives. That is the incipient doubt in the nature of humanity. It is an inevitable thing. It is not a thing to be crushed. Doubt is the prelude of knowledge. If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

We all have a little doubt in us. But there are two kinds of doubt. There’s the doubt that undermines our faith and the doubt that leads to and builds up the faith. The deviation of a ship’s compass from the true magnetic meridian is caused by the near presence of iron. This disturbing influence must be neutralized or the compass becomes worthless. The deviation of the soul from its God-ward course is caused by the presence of sin, and as long as we remain unbelieving concerning our crucifixion with Christ, we shall be alive to its power and therefore not truly alive for God.

That is the trouble with keyholes. You don’t always see enough to come to a conclusion, but once you’ve seen a little it’s difficult to resist trying. This mistake is the essence of keyhole theology. There are times when we see glimpses of God’s ways but not enough to allow us to make conclusions about what he is doing and why. Yet we cannot resist jumping to conclusions. Being insistent as well as inquisitive, we refuse to suspend judgment and our wrong conclusions so misrepresent God that we end by doubting him.

Whenever I am tempted to be impatient with someone I try to observe the “one fact rule”: I have learned to look for at least one hidden fact that might offer a logical explanation for his obnoxious behavior. This always seems to help me give other people the benefit of the doubt and maintain my commitment to always “believe the best” about them. Doubt sees the obstacles; Faith sees the way! Doubt sees the darkest night; Faith sees the day! Doubt dreads to take a step; Faith soars on high! Doubt questions, “Who believes?”

It seems this particular woman was always volunteering to help with the chores on her daughter and son-in-law’s farm. On one such occasion she found herself face to face with a bull. Unknown to her, the bull was nothing but a big pet, lovable in every way. However, when he came trotting toward her, this woman ran screaming and managed to clear the six-foot gate just in time. As she stood there breathless and shaking, she spotted her husband and yelled: “Why didn’t you warn me about that bull?” And he replied, “Okay, I will. Look out behind you!” Sure enough, there stood the bull waiting to be petted and no doubt comforted. The woman had startled the bull with her performance and he apparently thought he had better run from whatever she was running from, too. So the bull had jumped the fence just as she was climbing over the gate. How often have we tried to run from the consequences of our actions or the things we fear the most, hurdling some great fence only to look back and see that we were followed?

I see that I am inwardly fashioned for faith and not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear and doubt and anxiety. God made us that way. Therefore, the need of faith is not something imposed on us dogmatically, but it is written in us intrinsically. We cannot live without it.

The Commitment of Ruth

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Ruth 1:11-17

Mother’s Day is the third most celebrated holiday in the world. Only Christmas and Easter are more popular. This big day started in the heart of Anna M. Jarvis, one of 12 children and one of only four who lived to adulthood. After her mother’s death in 1905, Miss Jarvis dedicated the rest of her life to carrying out her mother’s wishes for a special day to honor all mothers. Anna Jarvis made speeches, wrote thousands of letters, traveled countless miles, and spent a fortune on the Mother’s Day idea. On May 10, 1908 she organized the first Mother’s Day celebration at the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. The service ran from 8AM until noon and included the fourfold purpose of Mother’s Day:
1) To honor our mothers
2) To bring families together
3) To make us better children
4) To brighten the lives of good mothers

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May, (the Sunday closest to Miss Jarvis’ mother’s death) should be celebrated as Mother’s Day. I finally found a Mother’s Day card that expressed my feelings for my mother in real terms. It said, “Now that we have a mature, adult relationship, there’s something I’d like to tell you. You’re still the first person I think of when I fall down and go boom!”

A girl’s parents were appalled by her new boyfriend. The young man was dirty and had tattoos; various body parts were pierced. The mother took the daughter aside and whispered, “We’re concerned about your date, dear, he doesn’t seem very nice.” The daughter replied, “If he wasn’t nice, would he be doing 5,000 hours of community service?”

A man came home to find the house in shambles. The beds weren’t made, the sink was full of dishes, clean clothes covered the couch and dirty clothes lined the bathroom floor. Toys were scattered throughout the entire house and no dinner was waiting on the table. In amazement, he asked his wife, “What happened?” She simply replied, “Nothing. You’re always wondering what I do all day so take a look. Today I didn’t do it!”

A house is a house is a house — until love comes through the door, that is.
And love intuitively goes around sprinkling that special brand of angel dust that transforms a house into a very special home for very special people: your family. Money, of course, can build a charming house, but only love can furnish it with a feeling of home. Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch, but love may decide to tuck a little love note inside. Money can provide a television set, but love controls it and cares enough to say “No” and take the guff that comes with it. Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but love tucks the covers in around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs (even to teen-agers!). Obligation can cook a meal, but love embellishes the table with a potted ivy trailing around slender candles. Duty writes many letters, but love tucks a joke or a picture or a fresh stick of gum inside. Compulsion keeps a sparkling house, but love and prayer stand a better chance of producing a happy family. Duty gets offended quickly if it isn’t appreciated, but love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it. Obligation can pour a glass of milk, but quite often love will add a little chocolate.

John Wesley wrote, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.” Train up a child in the way he should go…and go there yourself once in a while. Here are some numbers that cannot be ignored. If your parents worshipped with you regularly while you were growing up, you have an 80% chance of worshipping regularly as an adult. If only your mother worshipped regularly with you, your chances of regular worship as an adult are only 30%. If only your dad worshipped regularly with you, there’s a 70% chance that you will worship God on a regular basis as an adult. Regular family worship is a priority that cannot be compromised.

Percentage of households in 1995 with children that are headed by one parent: 30.8. The pollsters at Gallup learned that 51% of the 13 to 17 year olds they surveyed in 1993 do not have an adult role model they want to be like. The other 49% were more likely to cite their parents rather than sports stars or entertainers as the adult role model(s) they hope to emulate. The void of heroes can and should be filled by parents.

Ruth was a Moabitess, first the wife of Mahlon and then of Boaz, and an ancestress of David and of Christ. After the death of her two sons, Naomi resolved to return to her own country and kindred, and Ruth determined to accompany her, notwithstanding her mother-in-law’s entreaty that she should follow her sister-in-law and return to her own people. Ruth answered her in beautiful and earnest words: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. In Bethlehem Ruth went out to gather information for the purpose of procuring support for herself and her mother-in-law, and in doing so came by chance upon Boaz, a relative of Naomi. We think it odd how Ruth gets Boaz as a husband. Boaz to act as her redeemer (chap. 3) appears, according to our customs, to be objectionable from a moral point of view; judged, however, by the customs of that time it was not. Boaz, who was an honorable man, praised Ruth for having taken refuge with him instead of looking for a husband among younger men and took no offense at the manner in which she had approached him and proposed to become his wife.

Not until I became a parent did I understand how much my mother had sacrificed for me; Not until I became a parent did I feel how hurt my mother was when I disobeyed; Not until I became a parent did I know how proud my mother was when I achieved; Not until I became a parent did I realize how much my mother loved me.

If someone were asked to sum up your life in three words, what would they say: “She dressed well”? “He worked hard”? or maybe “He loved life”? Those things aren’t bad, but the Bible speaks of one man whose life could be summed up in three amazing words, “He pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). That was the banner statement of Enoch’s life. “Once upon a time there was a guy, who walked with God every day. And one day he kept walking and walking. He went very far from his home. Finally it got to be so dark that God said, ‘You’re already so far from home and it’s so dark, why turn back? Just come home with me.’ And he’s been with God ever since.”

The secret to pleasing God is to keep in step with Him; to walk in harmony with Him as Enoch did. It comes down to being committed to God. We live God. We breath God. Somehow, we become better parents! Even with all the odds against us, we are better parents.

Measuring A River

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Ezekiel 47:3-6

Two men are driving through Texas when they get pulled over by a state trooper. The trooper walks up and taps on the window with his nightstick.
The driver rolls down the window and “WHACK,” the trooper smacks him in the head with the stick. The driver says, “What did you do that for?” The trooper says, “You’re in Texas, son. When we pull you over, you better have your license ready when we get to your car.” The driver says, “I’m sorry, officer, I’m not from around here.” The trooper runs a check on the guy’s license, and he’s clean.

He gives the guy his license back and walks around to the passenger side and taps on the window. The passenger rolls his window down, and “WHACK,” the trooper smacks him with the nightstick, too. The passenger says, “What did you do that for?” The trooper says, “Just making your wish come true.”
The passenger says, “Huh?” The trooper says, “I know that two miles down the road you’re gonna say, ‘I wish that tough cop would have tried that routine with me.'”

WATER is frequently mentioned in Scripture as an element of life, blessing and cleansing. The Middle East is a dry area and because of that water becomes even more important. Therefore, we are not surprised that water is used symbolically in Scripture. We understand this because of our own need for water and its importance. The long rainy season in Palestine means a considerable rainfall, and while it lasts the land gets a thorough soaking. The heavy rains are quickly drained away, the wadis are left dry, the lakes become marshes or dwindle to dirty ponds. The water of running streams and fountains, as opposed to that of stagnant cisterns, pools, or marshes, is called living water, figuratively. Water occasionally is used for tears. Water is used for children or posterity. Divine support. The wrath of God. Deep water is used in the counsel of the heart. Water “spilled on the ground” is a figure of death. Among the optical illusions that the deserts of the East have is the mirage.

Given this background, we better understand our own Christian baptism. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:36)

Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?
They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:47)

All of this helps us to understand the image that Ezekiel has of the River.
As far as the Jewish people where concerned, the Temple was the center of the universe. Because in the Temple, the Holy of Holies, God resided.
The Temple gate facing the east was the main gate and according to scripture will be the very gate that Christ walks into in the last days. Today, we know that a cemetery is directly in front of this blocked up gate. In Ezekiel’s vision, a river is flowing from the Temple out of this Eastern Gate. A man is trying to measure it. A “cubit” is one forearm from a closed fist to the end of the elbow. 1000 cubits is measured at a time. As he takes the measurements the water gets deeper and deeper.

As we read this vision of Ezekiel’s we are mindful of a similar vision in Revelation. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Rev. 22)

I believe that both the story in Ezekiel and in Revelation convey the same truths to the readers. Life comes from God. Life is not complete without God. I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1)

John 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:6)