zaccheusJesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus….He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him…. Luke 19:1-4


One of our young grandsons has an obsession with “photo bombing.” He always finds a way to sneak into a photo opportunity without being detected. In lots of my pictures, somewhere in the background, a little face is visible grinning from ear to ear. It’s like a game to this child, to see if he can get away with “stealing the limelight” without getting caught.


Zacchaeus was trying not to be noticed as Jesus passed through Jericho. The small man was a chief tax collector, hated and feared by the people. He was not a follower of Jesus because that was not appropriate for a Jewish man who worked for the occupying Roman forces. Jesus had already stirred up enough trouble with the Romans. Perhaps Zacchaeus heard about a man claiming to be the Son of God healing the sick and changing people’s lives, about His mission of peace and a new way to fulfill the will of God. Yes, little Zacchaeus wanted to see this Jesus—but he didn’t want to be seen by anyone else!


As usual, Jesus had a surprise up the sleeve of His robe. He already knew exactly where the little man was hiding, and He spoke right to him in that sycamore tree. “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today,” He said (Luke 19:5). Zacchaeus must have been stunned that a Man of peace like Jesus wanted to come to his house. But I imagine the Christ looked at him the same way He looked at all those He met, with compassion and love in His gentle eyes. And suddenly, Zacchaeus was convinced he wanted to be in that group with Jesus, not lurking around “photo bombing” this sacred setting. How would you feel if Jesus asked you to allow Him into your home? He does, each day.


Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be in the shadows when You come looking for me! Amen


confuciusMy son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,  turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-2, 5


The philosophy of Confucius, an ancient Chinese teacher and truth-seeker, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. He was noted for his short, succinct sayings in which much wisdom was conveyed. Examples like, ”As the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, so a wise man adapts himself to circumstances,” or “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance” have been quoted often over the years. Legend has it that this quiet man would get people’s attention by raising one finger and beginning with “Confucius say….”


One of my favorite Confucius quotes is “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” This theme is also prevalent in the Bible, particularly in the book of Proverbs. Today’s Scripture passage goes on to say that the Lord is the giver of wisdom (v. 6) which will cause us “to walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous” (v. 20). If we find ourselves confused about an issue in our lives, perhaps action is not our first or best choice. God’s way is not a policy of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” God wants us to think and plan before we take action. But first and most important is for us to spend enough time with God to develop a knowledge of His will.


The Apostle James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3). Similarly, our Chinese philosopher said, “The gem cannot be polished without friction nor man without trials.” Both Jesus and Confucius knew there would be trials in this life. But both wanted people to live a simple life employing what the Greeks called “agape” love—love for our fellow man (see 1 John 3:10). There is no confusion about these wise words!


Father of All Nations, arouse in us agape love for our fellow earth dwellers. As Your disciple John said, help us to know what is right and good (1 John 3:10). Amen


dumpster-divingThe King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40


Years ago, my husband attended an orthopedic surgeons’ symposium in San Francisco, and I went along. One night, we stopped for a quick bite at a fast food restaurant. I casually watched a customer leave the restaurant, carrying a half-eaten sandwich. He took one last bite as he exited, and threw the rest in a trash barrel outside. Instantly, another man in disheveled clothing reached deep into the barrel and retrieved the partially eaten sandwich, devouring it hungrily in one gulp. A strange thought came to my mind: I own that garbage can. It was the first time I had ever seen anyone “dumpster diving,” and it had a profound effect on me.


According to the Huffington Post, Americans throw away nearly half their food ever year, roughly $165 billion annually. We toss every other piece of food we have in our hands. The average American family of four throws away the equivalent of up to $2,275 annually. Just a 15 per cent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. It would also substantially lighten the burden on landfills, according to the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental organization. But it’s not as simple as just taking the food we waste and handing it to someone who really needs it. Grocery stores toss unsold fruits and vegetables. Both consumers and restaurants habitually create portions way too large for sensible consumption, resulting in uneaten portions ending up in the trash. Getting the surplus food to the hungry is often impeded by our country’s own safety laws and the sheer task of moving the food safely from potential waste to meals for the hungry.


Jesus said whenever we feed, clothe, house, or care for the needy person among us, we are serving Christ Himself (Matthew 25:3541). And this begins with you and me. Can we commit to waste less and use existing channels to help serve others? People have served each other’s needs for generations. We just have to remember to do it.


God of Abundance, stir in us who have so much to make sure we share with those who have nothing. Amen


horse-in-streamJesus 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.” John 4:10


When I was a girl, my friends and I rode our horses in the Colorado mountains near our homes. Many times, we would encounter a stream on the trail. As we crossed to the middle of the water, my horse would invariably lie down right in the middle of the creek. It didn’t matter if she had on a saddle and blanket, or if I were riding her bareback. The day could be sweltering hot or threatening snow. Down she would go, like clockwork, settling her legs beneath her and breathing a deep sigh. I was forced to dismount (not far to go when she was already down) and step into the water, filling my boots and soaking my jeans. I would then pull on the reins until she decided it was time to get up, at which point I would lead her to the other side of the stream and get back on. My friends and I both thought this was hysterically funny. We were just kids and horseback riding always presented an adventure of some sort.


My family were not church goers; I had never been baptized. I hit bottom emotionally as a young adult and made a decision to take in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. As I began to read and study the Bible and attend a mainline Protestant church, my pastor suggested I might want to be baptized, a visible sign of the invisible grace bestowed upon me by God when I accepted His Son into my life. I was buried in the waters of Christ, Who forgave all my sins. The promise of new life in Him was clear: the old me was gone, I was indeed  “a new creature.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into your life. There, without effort, you are impelled to truth and perfect contentment.” This is the “Living Water” of which Christ spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:4-26). Lie down in this “stream of power” and rest.


Living Water, flow through me and bring me eternal peace. Amen