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27 February 2024

Broken Cisterns

God is always good and merciful, but we don’t often realise our need for Him until we are in difficult times. The people of Antakya, through the brokenness of their city and lives have seen God’s love shown through Antakya Christian Church, which has given literally blood, sweat and tears. Following the earthquake last year, people have seen God’s goodness, and the numbers attending church has grown. Praise God with us that people are repenting and turning to the Living Water!

A Lent devotional on Jeremiah 2:13

"My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."

While living in Peru, I frequently encountered smaller businesses trying to copy bigger, more famous brands. Whether through their business name, logo, product, or a combination of these elements, they did not try to be subtle. One recent example that comes to mind is the famous 'Estarbarts Cajue' coffee shop. It doesn’t take much effort for the mind to figure out who they are trying to copy, especially when you see their logo.

When trying to imitate another brand, although there’s usually something missing, it’s not too difficult to come close. Advancements in technology have seen the human body be copied with artificial limbs and beyond, often with great results. Where they are making positive steps, this is great, but they are never an improvement on the original design that God made.

Spiritually also, when we try to replace what God has given to us naturally, we fall short. The people of Israel exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols, made by man, just from wood or metal. Jeremiah likens it to cisterns, man-made reservoirs dug into the earth or rock for collecting and storing water. With relatively few natural springs and a long-dry season, it was vital to collect and store as much rainwater as possible during winter. A working cistern, however effective, is a lesser substitute for a natural spring, and worse when it’s broken and fails to do its job.

The people of Israel had chosen idols and religious systems which were not even a poor alternative - they were completely worthless. Just like the people of Israel, we too can cling to false promises of our broken ‘cisterns’, whether that is money, power, relationships, religious systems or other idols we place in front of God. Just like John the Baptist beforehand, the disciples made a call to repent in Acts 3:19-20, so our sins can be wiped out and refreshment can come our way again.

Your Lent 2024 Prayer Challenge:

Have you been using or trying to dig your own cisterns, that has been leaving you parched, instead of drinking from the spring of living water? As you reflect on that, think also of the words of Jesus, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
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