Summary: Shepherds live(d) a harsh life in the Negev. Water was key to the survival of the flock. Living water was key.

1. Superman Vs. Batman

There was an interesting article in Time magazine some time ago. It was about Superman -- and it seems this superhero has fallen on hard times lately. Even though, as a cartoon character he is the icon of DC comics he trails behind Batman in popularity.

At DC Comics, Jim Lee, who was a popular illustrator of the Batman comic series was tapped to take over the art on Superman. He said he looks on this as a serious challenge.

"Batman is a more modern-era type character," Lee says. "(Batman is) fueled by vengeance; he's the boogeyman. Superman is the altruistic alien hero (kind of like God) that protects us all. It's difficult to make that believable in this day and age."

Now... at the end of the article there are these final words: "Superman... is a metaphor for America, but an outdated, obsolete America: invulnerable to attack, always on the side of right, always ready to save the rest of the world from its villainy whether or not it wants to be saved. In the past, every decade has got the Superman it deserves, and don't worry, we'll get ours, but he will probably be flawed, more man than super."

Now catch these last few words... "Americans don't want to be told what to aspire to anymore, who we should be." (Lev Grossman, 5/17/04)

a. We have become our own standards and gods

b. We want to dig our own wells and drink our own water

c. We stopped wanting the God of the bible with his standards and expectations and prefer to be our own gods

d. Not New -- Jeremiah 2.4-13

2. Shepherds in the wilderness have a hard life -- even today [Bedouin slides

3. Focus on free-flowing water (i.e., Living Water

4. Comes from God with no human effort

I. The High Standard -- Living Water

[Coke and the Real Thing

A. Living Water Comes Freely with No Effort

1. Rain and Wadis -- display the gift of God

2. Rivers -- John the Baptist baptized in the Jordan; Naaman -- 2 Kings 5; Paul at Philippi -- Acts 16.13-15

3. Ocean -- Philip and Eunuch on Via Maris -- Acts 8

4. Mikveh -- ceremonial and conversion baptisms -- Acts 2 [Slides of Qumran and temple steps and mikvehot complex in Jerusalem

B. Living Water is Symbolic

1. Grace of God -- Deuteronomy 8.6-7; John 4

6 So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills,

a. Requires cooperation -- Jeremiah 2.13; 7.13

b. Accompanied by actions -- Titus 2.11-14

2. Spirit of God -- John 7

3. To get God's water there is a price:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." Isaiah 55:1-2

a. ... you have to come to God

b. ... you have to listen to what Jesus has to say

c. ... and you have to accept His standards and live according to His desires.

II. The Harsh Substitute -- Stagnant Waters

Substituting Generic for Real

Many of us buy generic. We'll go to the pharmacy and we'll ask for the "generic" version of the medicine the Doctor has prescribed. Or, we'll go the grocery store and purchase the store version of a product that may have on the shelves -- cereals, soft drinks, etc.

And we don't feel bad because there are times when accepting "substitutes"... SEEMS to make sense. Sometimes there's ALMOST NO DIFFERENCE between the name brand and a substitute. But, of course, that's not always true

Centuries ago, when food production moved from the home to the factory, the pressures of large-scale manufacturing and marketing prompted merchants to resort to... shortcuts.

* Cash-hungry bakers got more dough for their dough by adding alum and sulfur of copper.

* Dairymen sold cream thickened with flour, watered down milk and often added chalk or plaster of Paris to perk up the color of milk that came from diseased cows.

* To stretch sugar, grocers routinely added sand.

Buying butter could be an exercise in futility. Merchants would sometimes put together a collection of calcium, gypsum, gelatin fat and mashed potatoes that they passed off as butter.

* But oleomargarine - which was known as "bogus butter" - could be even worse. It was distilled from hog fat, bleach and other unsavory substances.

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