Sunday, March 15, 2009

We Need Living Water!

Have you ever had a drink of water from a deep well on a hot summer day? The water is usually cold and refreshing. It seems like you just can’t get enough! You want to pour it down your parched throat...dump it on your head… and keep on doing it until you are thoroughly satisfied. I grew up on a small farmette that had a well. I remember that water. I also remember other wells along the way. Some had fallen into disuse. When the water was to be used for drinking, it had to be tested. Sometimes it had to be shocked with chlorine to kill bacteria. Some wells produced insufficient water for the demand and had to be re-drilled at greater depth and with a larger pipe.

Living Water and the Feasts
In Jesus day, the Jewish people celebrated their final festival of the Jewish year, Succoth or Tabernacles, for seven days. A very important part of the celebration included water. It could not be just any water. It had to be ‘living’ water. Living water was not water that was standing in contaminated puddles. It was not salty or brackish. It was pure and clean water, springing from underground streams and rivers, flowing into lakes and ‘cisterns’ for safe use. Israel is an arid land. Rainfall for the year is very low. But when it rained, the people learned to gather that rainwater and make use of it throughout the year. They would store it in huge underground ‘cisterns’ often as large as a house. One of those large cisterns is located in the Garden of Gethsemane. Another is near the top of Masada. From those cisterns they would draw water for their needs. On Succoth, each day, a pitcher of water would be mixed with wine and poured out as a thanksgiving offering to the Lord who had provided His people with a bountiful harvest. That water used in this special festival had to be drawn from a well of living water. The high priest would make it a parade as he went to the pool of Siloam through the south gate also call the ‘Water gate’ of the city...filling his golden vessel brimming with clean, clear, cold water for use in the special offering. The procession would wave a bouquet of palm, willow, and myrtle branches, while they sang Psalms 113-118. While they sang, musicians would play their reed flutes and blast their rams horn trumpets. Upon their return to the altar, they would circle the altar seven times and then pour out the water into a double channel on the south side of the altar… water into the western half and wine into the eastern half.
It was a time of jubilation and happiness. This water spoke of several things. It reminded them that God was their source of rain and provision. It also spoke to them of the Holy Spirit. ``For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:  I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.'' Isaiah 44:3 and also in Joel 2:28-29 “"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 also describes a healing river that will flow out from beneath the prophesied future temple where the Messiah would reign.
This water speaks to us spiritually as well. It speaks to us of life and health, of provision in drought, of the ever presence of the Lord in our midst...always there when we need Him. His holiness is reflected in the purity of the water. Are you spiritually thirsty today? Draw from His ever-flowing well of living water! It is cool and refreshing. It satisfies the soul. Remember the promise Jesus made to the Samaritan woman at the well…? He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

Restoring Priorities...
Many of our wells are stagnant… and in a sad condition. Instead of relying on the living water provided by God, we have all too often learned to rely on what we can do, our own human resources, our effort to try and fix the problem. When we are emotionally drained, we call the pastor or the psychologist...and when we are ill, our first call is to the doctor or pharmacist. When the church suffers loss, we go to the church growth seminars and read books by famous authors who shine with success. In all our seeking, we often neglect the true source of living water….the Lord Jesus Christ. Our first call should be here! We end up like Israel in Jeremiah’s day….“ For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) When we do things our own way, pushing our own agenda, we are digging broken cisterns...wells that can hold no water. Has America forsaken God and been so busy digging wells to satisfy it’s greed that it has forgotten who it is that sends the rain that fills those cisterns? Are we caught up in our pleasures and our worldly affairs, forgetting to honor the One who provides for us in times of drought? Where has the servant heart gone? Where is the one willing to go the extra mile, ready to give away the extra coat and the last cup of meal. As times get tougher and tougher, the children of God need to learn more and more to do things God’s in their time of need, generous with all He provides, trusting that He will provide even more. Certainly it takes faith—-but isn’t that what our God wants of us? The just shall live by faith—-not by what we hoard! Faith keeps the barrel of meal full during the famine. Faith leads the righteous to provision and safety. Faith moves us to obediently dipping in the river seven times to receive our healing. Faith means believing God! “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
I have stood by rivers of all kinds. Some were muddy and polluted. Some you could see clearly to the bottom. What kind of river would flow out of you? What is in your heart is what will flow out of you. Sometimes I wish I could record and play back, what I hear coming out of the mouths of believers. They say they are Christians, but what comes out of their mouth is muddy and polluted. I would not want to drink of the water that flows from within them. They spew out anger and hatred and prejudice and abuse. Many have come from homes that flowed with rivers of dysfunctional pollution. But when a person surrenders his polluted heart to the Lord, He makes it a new creation...a river of life. For some it takes time for the flow to change completely...but it must change!

Spiritual Health
Another beautiful benefit of living water is it’s healing quality. Do you need healing today? Be filled to over-flowing with the living water of the Holy Spirit. Many springs of water around the country are known for their healing qualities, filled with nutrients that benefit the physical. But the living water of God is far superior to any earthly spring. It is filled with the life-giving vitality that never dies. It is a continual flowing of vivacious exuberance of the very Spirit of God. That is why when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about it, he described it as.. “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.” (John 4:14) So often we cling to this carnal life as if it were going to last forever. We want to forget that one day, we will all die. If we fail to prepare for our eternity, we are like the woman at the well, expecting ordinary water to satisfy, when in reality, we need His living water to cleanse us, and heal us on the inside and prepare us for our eternal home in heaven. We need the kind of thirst Jesus was talking about here...a spiritual thirst. When you are spiritually thirsty, you long for a spiritually satisfying drink of Him...the One who is the Living Water! Nothing else will end the thirst. And once you taste of Him, you will want nothing else.
While the churches crumble into dust from the dryness within, the answer to their problem is waiting for them to come to Him and ask for a draft of ‘living water’ of a well that never runs dry. While many search for happiness and fulfillment in keeping busy doing ‘Christian’ things, they fail to spend time drinking at the ‘Well’. They are too busy drawing water from wells that do not satisfy…! I thought it was interesting in John’s story of the Samaritan woman at the well, that when she discovered the living water...she left her water pot behind and ran to tell others about the man with the Living Water. Are we ready to turn our backs on doing things our way? Are we ready to come face to face with Christ, with sin in our lives? Are we thirsty for something that will satisfy? Are our vessels empty? If Jesus came to your ‘well’ where you try to fill your life with temporary happiness, would you acknowledge Him, talk to Him, and do as He advises? Would you drink for a moment...or a lifetime? Would you go and tell others? He is already there...waiting for you!
Remember this...It is not only important what you drink, but what flows out of you. Jesus promised that living water would flow out of the person who drank from the living water. What comes out of your ‘vessel?’ What are you giving to your family, your church, your co-workers, your neighbors? Is it Living Water? Are you having an impact on them? Living water changes everything around it! You should be like a tree planted by the Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. We are speaking of spiritual prosperity and vitality that comes from living water!
Are you thirsty today? Longing for a drink? Come to the well that never runs dry! He is waiting there for you with Living Water!
J. Johnson