John 7:37-39 (HCSB) On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
The longer I live the more aware I become of just intricate the Plan of God is for every person ever created. As the past grows larger, I am aware of divine appointments, godly setups, and faith-building exercises woven throughout my life. Steps that led to a divine destination although I was distracted, delayed and discouraged many times, yet the Lord somehow in His Perfect Wisdom led me the place that I needed to be at just the right moment to be blessed. The existence of God is without question when the summary of life’s steps lead to heavenly coordination. In the midst of our travels, there is a river within us pressing its borders, defying all odds, and running freely through us looking for a way out. I want that river to run through me. I want the love and grace that I have found in my relationship with Jesus Christ to show others that He is the most worthwhile pursuit.
My girlfriend and I were at a warehouse store shopping for a weekend celebration of our church’s grand opening. Purchasing and renovating a new building culminating into inviting the community to come and see what the Lord has done. There would be a church fellowship, neighborhood blitz, giveback events throughout the community blessing others with free lunches, free snacks, free water, and more free stuff. We chose organizations like first responders and our local pregnancy help center to bless and encourage. On the final day of celebration, we will have a worship service like no other. It is Pentecost Sunday. The day that marks the release of the Holy Spirit on the Christian calendar. While making our way through the store with overloaded carts too heavy to push, people began to ask what we were doing with all this stuff. Smiling, we would share with them what we were doing and celebrating. Asking, “What church?” created the opportunity to invite them to join us for service and lunch.
Two hours later at the checkout counter, content each item was marked off the list. I realized just how much “stuff” we had amassed. Loading it until the conveyor for our sweet cashier to go through, I was a bit overwhelmed. Finally, like all the others, she asked what we were doing with all these items. I was excited to tell her that we were giving it all away to bless our community. To share the Love of Jesus and Goodness of God with others. It was obvious she was a believer by her reaction. She got excited too speaking blessing over us on our way out the door. I believe this is what life in Christ is all about sharing those things with others that Jesus does for us. He does not condemn us but covers us with compassion and grace. He does not judge us but chooses love us completely. He gives us better than we deserve and much more than we could ever earn. Generosity is the kind of character that comes from a life of receivership in the Lord. As the river runs through us, it is far reaching. It is demonstrated in the smallest act of love.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 tells of a river running through the temple into the surrounding world. It is a life-giving river. As I read this chapter today, I feel the river inside of me bubbling. It is pressing the borders of my life to love more, give more, and be more as a result of my relationship to Jesus Christ. I can do nothing apart from the Lord so it must be the very essence of His Spirit that creates the churning and gurgling need to share with others what I have been given that is so undeserved. This passage somewhat defines the river’s flow through our life which begins with our salvation and continual repentance. (Verses 1-2)The river comes under the temple door flowing past the altar. We are to flourish and prosper in the Lord. Goodness and godliness are two different things. There are many good people who enter the church and decide to do better. But without a daily passage by the altar for cleansing and renewal – the river in us becomes stagnant. We need to repent before God each morning, and tell him again each night if we desire to give from a heart that can move mountains and participate in life-changing miracles.
The river in us requires radical obedience. (Verses 3-7) The organization of a body of water to create a flowing river requires a perimeter. As it swells the river widens but continues its mainstream flow. As the man kept moving deeper in the river, less of his person was evident. At some point, he lost control. This is how we build our faith in God. It is step by step. Though we may take a plunge every now and then the truth is it is through radical daily obedience that our river runs smoothly and consistently through us to others. It is a pattern. It requires a discipline flow.
When my life allow living water to flow in me and through me, those who surround my life will be blessed by the overflow. (Verses 8-12) Our witness is of powerful renewal and restoration that as it reaches more and more builds into a revival. People want the refreshment the Lord gives us. They desire to stop merely surviving but long to thrive. Our river must be productive to do its job effectively. When my river runs through me, it will refresh the lives of others and produce purity in discipleship. My river has the potential to prosper the lives of others. The completion and wholeness that I have in Jesus Christ comes from many rivers flowing into one that are a Kingdom. We are the sons and daughters of God, the river that runs through us comes from the Father and flows right back to Him.
Mark 1:9-15 (HCSB) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You! Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him. After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”
Baptism by water is symbolic of the transforming power of God in our life. Buried in the likeness of His Death, we are raised in glorious expectation of full transformation. The Lord imparts His Spirit to those who love Him and desire to become Children of God through salvation and repentance. There are many powerful attributes of God’s Spirit and the Word of God definitely confirms that He is alive and well today. When Jesus came up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended on Him and God said, “This is My Beloved Son, I take delight in You! Thank you Jesus for the Holy Spirit…but wait there is more. The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. No way, it had to be the enemy. No the enemy met Jesus there and tempted the Lord. Why would God’s Spirit do such a thing? Faith is not built in comfort it is refined by chaos. When our life is challenged, threatened and uncomfortable – we desire change. If you look at this short synopsis that is much more elaborate in other chapters, you will see that our new life in Christ is not all sweet, smelling roses. There still will be thorns that make us cry out for more grace which increases the capacity of our river so it will threaten to overflow its borders and reach the surrounding land.
Today our church will celebrate our grand opening by giving back to the community. All those drinks and food will be given away asking nothing in return. Our people are pumped. I am excited as well just to give to others. Greet them with a smile. Invite them to join us as we celebrate. While we invite them come join the party, what we are really inviting them to do is step into the river of God’s Love. It is an invitation to be saved and healed hidden in a water bottle or fresh grilled hotdog. I wonder what would happen if this was how we lived our everyday life. Looking to give away God’s Love without worrying about what we have to do, where we want to go, or the things we need to do but just started scanning the outer banks of our life looking for a way to access others.
Exodus 2:2-8 (HCSB) The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it. When she opened it, she saw the child—a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?” “Go,” Pharaoh’s daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy’s mother.
The mother of Moses was desperate. By royal order, her son was destined to die. To save his life, she had to trust God and put him in the river. The current would carry the basket holding her promise down to pharaoh’s daughter. She would be his saving grace. She still had to bundle him up, place him in the basket, and release him into the flow. I cannot imagine how terrified she must have been or how long those moments lasted until he was safe again. As the mother of three adult children, I remember the first time they drove off in a vehicle alone. Would they make it home safely? Would everything be alright? Would they make good choices? The only peace found in each moment was to ask the Holy Spirit to go with them and God’s Angels to surround them.
The river of life in us is meant to flow through us and then right back out of us. If we are not overflowing with God’s Love and Grace generously sharing our life with others, what is the point? Jesus said that living water would flow deep within us. We must check our overflow for freshness and purity. We must examine the contents and remove the pollution. If our flow does not press the borders of our life to reach others, we need to increase the intensity of our pursuit of Jesus Christ and request His Spirit to flow in us stronger, deeper and wider than ever before. The River of Life must run through us to make it back to the Kingdom of God. The Lord makes each step deeper so our faith and hope grow stronger so that when the storm comes it only makes the current in us stronger, and when the wind is gusting our anchor remains secure. We will not be carried away but God would love for us to get carried away by the flow of His Great Love.
Revelation 22:1-7 (HCSB) Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place.” “Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.”
When we ask Jesus to be our Savior and make Him our Lord, the contents of our life will change. Daily repentance and radical obedience creates a flow of God’s Spirit in us whose current is the river of life that we were promised long ago. If our life does not overflow into the lives of others and generate some kind of refreshing and renewal, then we are not truly connect to the Source of Life. We must check each area and border removing anything that might stop the overflow of God from pouring through us into the lives of other people.
Reading this passage in Revelation, it all makes sense. The river that washes us and cleans us making us right with our God continues to move us deeper in faith into abiding trust that creates a rushing in our life that creates a desire to flow through the lives of others sharing the gifts of love, grace, kindness and compassion just like we have been given. As we continue through life and the river runs through us, it culminates to the day we reach Jesus. Will the contents and overflow of my life be consistent with the river that flows through the Kingdom? If the Holy Spirit is the river of life running through me, it will one day run into the River of God flowing through His Kingdom? I am asking the Lord today to make the river in me stronger and more fulfilling. To increase the generosity of my life so I always see the needs of others as greater than my own. Make me like You, Jesus so when our rivers connect it will be seamless. To You, King Jesus, be all the power, glory and honor. May it flow from my life into the nations and bring the healing you desire to them all. Does my river make glad the City of God? It is up to me to find out. “There is a river—its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. (Psalm 46:4 )
Psalm 1:1-3 (HCSB) How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.