The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dirty Words


“And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.”- John 8:8

 

“Don’t judge me! You’re judging me and Jesus said not to judge people.” If you’ve ever been used by God to point out sin in someone’s life those are words you’ve probably heard. To those whose sin is being exposed and identified God’s words are dirty words. There’s a lot of sin in life today to be pointed out. And those who are living in disobedience to God’s word are quick to shout the words, “Don’t judge me!” They will shout those words along with others such as: “Hater!” “Intolerant!” “Bigot!” and a myriad other really dirty words and profane phrases. Truth is often met with pretentious indignation. When you’re caught in a falsehood, shout louder! When you’re sin is exposed by the light of God, throw a punch; verbal or physical. These are the defense mechanisms meant to protect the sinner in their sin. The guilty deflects attention from their own culpability to those exposing their sin. So what about judging? Is “Don’t judge me!” a valid defense and protection against identifying sin in life? Is judging a dirty word? Well, honestly, “yes and no.” There is wrong judging and there is right judging and if we are to reach a wayward generation of self-indulgent sinners we need to know the difference. But to know the difference we are going to have to consider some dirty words of Jesus. That’s what we will consider in this study.

There’s an interesting account of a woman caught dead to rights in sin who was then brought before Jesus for judgment. The account begins, “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. (John 8:3-4). The day after the Feast the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman “caught in adultery, in the very act” and set her before Jesus. She was guilty. Caught in the very act of adultery she may have been brought naked before Jesus.  She was likely shamed and embarrassed. She had no argument of defense. She remained silent before Jesus and her accusers.

Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.” (John 8:5a). The Old Testament declares adultery a capital offense for those convicted (Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 22). This woman was “caught in the act” and therefore there was ample evidence against her. “But what do You say?”(John 8:5b). The scribes and Pharisees wanted to see what Jesus would say about this women caught in adultery. Would He adhere strictly to the Law? What would He say? If you were this woman, caught in the very act of sin, with no doubt of your guilt, what would you want Jesus to say? It’s interesting that we are inclined to think Jesus would be understanding and easily forgiving in our situations of sin, but when it comes to others, we often want offenders prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law. What’s dirty in others is just as dirty if it is found in us. But though we put on the white dirt exposing gloves for others, we take them off when looking at our own dirt.

The motivation of these accusers is revealed in what follows. “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.” (John 8:6). Sometimes it’s best to ignore the words of the vengeful. Just close your ears to hateful words. That’s what Jesus did here because the accusers of this woman didn’t really care for her. She was a pawn they were using to trip up Jesus. Paul wrote the Ephesian church, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). Using others for our purposes is anything but clean holy living. We need to pay close attention to how Jesus responds to this situation because this is the way we should respond to those caught in sin or who wrong us. When you bring accusations against people what is your motive? Is it justice? Is it mercy? Is it grace? Is it restoration? Is it proud vengeance? Are you looking to tear down or build up? Are you looking to destroy or save?

What do you think Jesus wrote in the dirt? This is the only place where we see Jesus physically write in scripture. In Revelation we see seven letters from Jesus but they are already written. And here in John’s account, Jesus wrote in the dirt, a very temporal format that could be blown away in the wind. But it was legible nonetheless to the accusers. Perhaps Jesus wrote a verse from the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah it states, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13). That would have made a clear point to the accusers don’t you think?  Maybe it’s a word we should consider.

The Bible doesn’t say what Jesus wrote. People have speculated about what Jesus might have written. Some say Jesus wrote out the rest of the Commandments and as the onlookers saw what He wrote they were convicted of their own sins and then walked away. That’s possible. Jesus may have written particular sins of the accusers. He may have written something else.

But notice, Jesus was NOT quick to condemn the woman. Jesus addressed the situation with calm compassion. The patience with which Jesus handled the situation was likely meant to allow the guilty to think about their own sin. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23; cf. Romans 3:1-20). The accusers were proud in the accusatory position. The guilty woman had been humbled. She was in the right position before Jesus. The accusers were not. Bottom line; we all have dirty hands. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rages” (Isaiah 64:6a).

Jesus has written dirty words to the accusers. Now He is going to talk dirty to them. “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7). Jesus paused to give the accusers time to extricate themselves from their proud position. But they insisted. They evidently didn’t get the point Jesus was making as he wrote in the dirt. Jesus always provides the sinner a way out (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:13). He desires to deal with our dirty sin in as gracious a way as possible. He takes this position because He has bore our sin and shame. His promise is that those who believe in Him will not be put to shame (Rom. 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6). Therefore, Jesus gives the sinner time to turn from sin and to Him in faith to be cleaned; to remove the sin, guilt and shame.

 

But as the accusers persist, Jesus drives home a very humbling unmistakable point. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus is completely efficient in all He does. He was not only interested in dealing with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus was also interested in the condition of her accusers. Jesus seeks to deal with people, sinful people, on both sides of this situation. Jesus wants to completely clean house. When you point the finger at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you. Jesus doesn’t deny the woman’s sin, but He does want to draw additional attention to the attitude of the accusers. There was enough sin to go around and Jesus was going to clean it all.

 

“And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.” (John 8:8). Again Jesus wrote in the dirt. Again we don’t know what He wrote. In Revelation Jesus writes to the lukewarm Laodiceans, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Rev. 3:18). Maybe Jesus wrote something like this in the dirt before this guilty woman and her guilty accusers.

 

These were dirty words to the accusers. These words in the dirt squashed their mean intent. These dirty words of Jesus written in the dirt took effect. “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:9). If you know the Lord and are open to the Holy Spirit, the older you get, the more aware you are of your sinfulness. The longer we live the more we should see our sinfulness and our need for God’s grace. That is why as the accusers left the line of departing accusers started with the oldest.

 

There’s a message here for  the relatively young. It is usually the young who fail to grasp the depth of their sin. It took longer for the young to grasp the point Jesus was making. As the older and likely esteemed scribes and Pharisees began to leave one by one, the younger ones probably looked at each other thinking, What are they doing? They thought these older men were to be looked up to. Now they saw that they were sinners; and they saw that these older men knew they were sinners. With their heroes retreating with tails between their legs, it didn’t take long for the younger ones  to also be “convicted by their conscience” and walk away.

 

Then it was just Jesus and the adulterous woman. Jesus is a one on one Savior. Jesus meets personally with us. He isn’t just interested in the crowds. Jesus is interested in the individual. Jesus is interested in “me,” in “you.” Jesus is a personal Savior. And He wants to clean us up. “ When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, . . .” (John 8:10a). Jesus must have been looking at the ground all this time, not at the accusers. He then rose up “and saw no one but the woman.” What would He say to her? Would He point a finger? Would He badger her with the truth of scripture? Would He throw more dirt on her? No.

 

“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10b-11). Jesus removed the proud accusers. Jesus points out that her accusers were in no position to condemn her. “Condemned” (Greek katakrino) means sentenced, to render a condemning decision against, to judge worthy of punishment. Jesus put her accusers in their place. They were right in identifying her sin. They were wrong in standing over her as God to condemn and judge her.  Jesus shamed the woman’s accusers by putting the spotlight on their own sin. Jesus humbled the accusers away.

 

Jesus communicated with this woman. He entered into a redemptive conversation with her. Jesus spoke truth and reality to this woman. Her accusers had walked away acknowledging their sin. They were in no position to proudly judge or condemn this sinful woman. Jesus is showing that the accusers were hypocrites because they were guilty of sin just like this woman was. Jesus leveled the playing field. He demonstrated an impartial truth based reality to the woman. Jesus didn’t take sides. Jesus listened to the woman’s response. Jesus listens when we talk to Him. Talk to Jesus. If you are caught in sin, trapped in sin, cast down by sin, bring your situation to Jesus and talk to Him. And the woman responded by calling Jesus “Lord.” The accusers of Jesus didn’t see Him as Lord. They saw Jesus as ministry competition. They were jealous of Him. They were out to kill Jesus. They wanted to eliminate Him. This woman caught in sin had been humbled and shown compassion by Jesus. Jesus presence and compassion had won her heart.

 

 Jesus didn’t condemn this woman. There is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus (Romans 8:1). This woman believed in Jesus and called Him Lord. He forgave her. He was her Protector. Jesus welcomes those who turn to Him in faith. And Jesus gives the repentant sinner a second chance. We are who we are by God’s grace and mercy (1 Cor. 15:10: Titus 3:5; Heb. 2:17; 4:16). But Jesus did point the woman toward serious holiness. Jesus didn’t forgive this woman in a way that condoned her sin. No, Jesus said, “go and sin no more.” In other words, this was not easy believism. This was not belief and forgiveness without repentance. No, this was forgiveness and life change. Jesus forgive this woman so she could continue in her sins. Jesus forgave this woman and exhorted her to “sin no more.” Be serious about what Jesus does for you and turn the page to a new chapter in life that frees you from having to sin.

 

Does this interaction mean we are never to address sin in others? As stated in the introduction, a common reaction to pointing out sin in other’s lives is for them to say, “Don’t judge me! You’re judging me!” Real holy truth is a dirty word to sinners. They will even quote Jesus’ words, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). How are we to deal with the “unclean”? If God calls us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” then how can we be an instrument to see that happen in people’s lives? (cf. 2 Cor. 7:1).

 

Context is so important the cleansing away sinful dirt. The context of Jesus’ words about judging was The Sermon on the Mount. Context is critically to proper interpretation. This Sermon is found in Matthew 5-7. This was a hallmark and foundational sermon of Jesus. It was addressed primarily to “His disciples” (Matthew 5:1). He introduced the Sermon with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). He says His disciples are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Then He says he didn’t come to destroy God’s Law and the writings of the prophets, He came to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17-18). He emphasized that the Law of God should be honored (Matthew 5:19). Then He says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Wait a minute, the scribes and the Pharisees were dedicated to keeping the Law. In fact, they created an entire set of human traditions and interpretations aimed at helping people keep the Law of God. And doesn’t saying our righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees require judging? Isn’t Jesus instructing His disciples in a way that would require them to judge others?

 

Let’s continue. Jesus goes on to speak of a higher standard than mere outward adherence to the Law. He says murder is not just something done outwardly, but it takes place when we have hateful thoughts in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). He says adultery isn’t just something done physically, but takes place when we have lustful thoughts toward someone “in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-30). Jesus goes on to speak of the sacredness of marriage (Matthew 5:31-32), oaths (Matthew 5:33-37), not being coldly just to demand and eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth (Matthew 5:38-42), and He speaks of loving your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). All of these involve the heart.

 

In Matthew 6 Jesus speaks of prayer and good works. He instructs His disciples to not do their good works “before men” to get their attention. Instead our good works are to be done for God. When we pray we shouldn’t go to a street corner and take a prayerful pose to let everyone know we are praying. No, we are to get alone with God and when he sees us pray privately He will reward us openly (Matthew 6:1-18). We shouldn’t be focused on earthly wealth but making deposits in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). He warns us to take care about what we look at or focus on and to not let the allure of earthly riches steer us away from service to God (Matthew 6:22-24). Then Jesus offers words of encouragement. He says we shouldn’t worry but instead we should seek God and trust Him to care for us and our needs (Matthew 6:25-34).

 

It is only after all of this that Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” A main theme that runs through Jesus’ Sermon is the heart; our attitudes in what we do. Are we doing what we are doing for ourselves or for God? Is our focus earthly recognition and riches, or honoring God and relying on Him for our needs?

 

Jesus did say, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But let’s look further at the context of that passage in order to understand what Jesus was saying. In Matthew 7 the context of Jesus’ words are as follows: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  (Matthew 7:1-5).

 

The word “judge” (Greek krino) means to try and condemn, punish, avenge, damn, sentence, or judge. Jesus points out that we will be judged based on the judgment we use with others. This is a sobering thought. Then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter. He asks, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?” In other words, before we look to point out sin in others, we need to do our own honest self-assessment. Before we look to clean others’ houses, we need to humbly clean our own. It’s easy to complain about other’s dirt piles when we ignore our own. Before you look to clean your neighbor’s porch, get the broom and dust pan out and clean your own.

 

When we turn a blind eye to our own dirtiness, we are inclined to become judgmental; we become obsessed with the dirt in other’s lives. Why is that? Because when we lift the carpet to expose the dirt others are hiding, we don’t have to look at our own. Jesus has a convicting word for such people. Jesus sticks the shovel in the fertilizer. If we judge others before we have done our own self-assessment, we are hypocrites! “Hypocrite!” (Greek hypocrites) refers to an actor under an assumed character; a stage player, a pretender. A hypocrite is someone who is pretentious; they present themselves as something they are not. A hypocrite is not genuine. A hypocrite is not real. A hypocrite is false. People who go around pointing out sin in others usually do so to deflect attention from their own sins. Hypocrites dress up in white clothes and play in the dirt thinking they won’t get dirty. The reality is, if you play in the dirt you get dirty. You can only live the lie of a hypocrite for so long. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Heb. 4:13). Remember that the next time you are eager to take someone to the cleaners.

 

But what about judging?  Are we never to identify and seek to help others to deal with their dirty sin? When we return to the context we see evidence of Jesus making statements that require us to discern, to make assessments and act accordingly. Isn’t that judgment?  Jesus speaks of a narrow way as opposed to a broad way involved in life; two ways one leading to eternal life, one to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus speaks of identifying false prophets and that we will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). He says some people will call Him by name but they aren’t genuine disciples or followers of Him because they don’t’ obey Him (Matthew 7:21-23).  And he concludes His Sermon with a call to build a solid life foundation by obeying His words as opposed to building on sand by not adhering to his words (Matthew 7:24-27). At the end of His Sermon the people were astonished at the authority with which he taught (Matthew 7:28-29). These weren’t words that could be set aside and ignored. Jesus meant for people to apply His teaching. Later in Matthew Jesus is recorded to have said we need to discern the times in which we live (Matthew 16:3; cf. Luke too Luke 12:56). Isn’t this making judgments? How are we then to interpret, “Judge not, that you be not judged”? We’ve seen the judgment we are to say “no” to. Now let’s look in closing at four criteria for right judgment we can say “yes” to.

 

First, we aren’t to judge others to pronounce condemnation on them as though we were God. This is why Jesus said we would be judged with the same judgment we judge others with. We aren’t to be proud and exalt ourselves into a position that only God justly deserves to hold. He alone can judge to condemn. We can make judgments in terms of warning others about sin in their lives. But condemnation belongs to the Lord. When we condemn others we step into an area which is way above our pay grade. When we do that or have a judgmental attitude it is an indication our heart isn’t right with God. It’s dirty. Look at the plank in your own eye before you look for specks in the eyes of others. Sweep your own porch before you go to sweep your neighbor’s.

 

Second, Jesus warns against a certain kind of judgmental attitude of the heart; hypocritical heart judgment. It’s wrong to judge others when we are guilty of the same kinds of sin. We need to follow the inspired words of Paul: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). People will be overtaken by sin. We will see it. What are we to do? We shouldn’t do anything in the flesh (self-seekingly; proudly) but instead we need to proceed in the Spirit (“you who are spiritual”). Our objective is to “restore” people. “Restore” (Greek katartidzo) means to repair, adjust, put back together. And as we seek to follow the Spirit in this restoration we need to “consider” ourselves and our attitudes so that we aren’t tempted. Such temptation might involve our feeling superior or proud over the fallen person. We might be tempted to use this information against this fallen person to manipulate them or extort them in some way. Or we might be tempted to get them to look at us in an elevated position; as a replacement for Jesus. A person is restored when they look to Jesus and live for Him, not for us.

 

Third, we are to pray for direction in situations where people are caught in sin. The context of Jesus’ word on judging show that directly after His statement He instructs us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7-12). While this may be a general exhortation of Jesus to pray, we can’t ignore the context in which it comes. If we judge others or make assessments about sin in their lives that hasn’t involved prayer, we are hypocrites. Any and all correction of ourselves or others is to be done in prayer. Only then can we see our dirt and others dirt in the proper perspective; in the proper holy light of the Spirit.

 

Fourth, Judgment that is right and proper is judgment made through the lens of God’s word. Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets; God’s word (Matthew 5:17-18). God’s word is the Ultra Violet light that exposes the dirty bloody stains at the crime scene of sin.  Jesus said a false prophet is distinguished “by their fruit” (Matthew 7:15-20). How do we determine good from bad fruit? The answer is, by God’s word. For instance, God’s word says anyone who does anything, even miracles, and then tries to get you to follow them rather than God, that person is a false prophet (Deut. 13:1-5). God’s word says if a prophet makes a prediction that doesn’t come to pass, that prophet is false (Deut. 18:20-22). These are both scriptural criteria for determining a false prophet.

 

God’s word is our standard for proper judging. God’s word sets the parameters of what is cleanly righteous and what is the dirt of sin. In the New Testament it states:

 

  • 2 Timothy 3:16–17 - 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

“All Scripture” refers to the 66 books of the Bible. These writings came “by inspiration of God.” “Inspiration” (Greek theopneustos) is literally God-breathed. God’s word is our source of right and wrong because it alone is breathed out from God’s pure and holy heart to ours. God’s word is “profitable” (Greek ophelimos) or helpful, advantageous, profitable. God’s word is the shovel and broom used to take away the dirt. God’s word instructs us on how to apply the cleansing blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7, 9). God’s word is what is needed to, “sanctify and cleanse . . . with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26).

 

God’s word gives us the advantage in cleaning away the dirt of sin in a number of stated areas:

 

  1. For doctrine” (Greek didaskalia) teaching, learning, doctrine; the information needed for life. God’s word gives us the baseline of truth and righteousness from which to judge and assess all things. God’s word teaches about the dirt of sin and how to cleanse it.
  2. For reproof” (Greek eleghos) reproof, to prove something, evidence, conviction about something, God’s word helps us prove right from wrong; life from death; holiness from sin. God’s word proves the dirt of sin is dirty. It proves what is clean.
  3. For correction” (Greek epanorthosis) for straightening up, rectification, reformation, correction. God’s word helps us straighten out what has been bent by disobedience to God’s word. God’s word gives us a clear path out of muddy waters.
  4. For instruction in righteousness” – “Instruction” (Greek paideia) educational training, disciplinary correction, chastening, nurture, discipline. God’s word helps us stay within the defined parameters of what God calls righteous. God’s word keeps us from playing in the dirt.

 

The verses end with the purpose of God’s word in our lives as “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” “Complete(Greek artios) means fresh, perfect, and complete. “Thoroughly equipped” (Greek exartidzo) means equipped to finish well, enabled to accomplish, thoroughly furnished for the task. God’s word keeps us fresh not dirty and rotten. God’s word gives us all we need for what God calls us to do; including cleaning the dirt. Go to the word in every circumstance of life, especially those where people have strayed into dirty sin. God’s word is a road map to restoration when we fall in the mud. God’s word will help us maneuver the dangerous dirty journey of life until we arrive at clear cooling fresh waters of eternal life with Him. Clean your own dirt before you seek to clean the dirt of others. But by all means, clean the dirt – “go and sin no more.”

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Opinions


So there was a division among the people because of Him.”John 7:43

 

Have you ever tried discussing something with someone only to have them say, “Well, that’s your opinion not mine”? You may present them with a very reasoned factual argument only to have it dismissed behind the shroud of “opinion.” In this case “opinion” becomes a defense mechanism to deflect truth that a person fears. People fear truth that would show them to be wrong in some way and that would require a life change they don’t want to make. Our world is filled with opinions. There are as many opinions as there are people. Opinion is the tool of the day to deflect unwanted truth.

An “opinion” is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. . . . a belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge.” [1] There are as many opinions as there are people. But opinions are only worth what they are based on. An opinion  based on fantasy or unfounded wishful thinking is a straw house. That house will inevitably be blown down when the winds of facts storm in on it. Our world lives in a straw house.

The world relies on opinions of hollow hope. The world formulates opinion based on consensus. Politicians aren’t as much concerned about truth as they are on the demographic of opinions of their constituency. They want to be reelected so they pander to the opinions of their constituency no matter how false. It takes a person of courage and character to stand for truth against faulty opinions. That is what Christians are called to do.

We live in a world of opinions that neglect and reject history. “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to relive it.” [2] that is just as true as those who willfully reject historical truth. Our world and its educational system is systematically rewriting history so that successive generations are raised on faulty facts. This is especially true in our nation. Education has ceased being about learning and has become more about indoctrination. All the more reason to question the basis of worldly opinion.

When we look at the decline of empires, kingdoms and nations in history we see their fall is directly related to their rise in immorality. This is indisputable. It is true in both scriptural and secular history. Today caution is thrown to the wind. Today sin is proliferating at an unprecedented rate. Government, designed by God to protect and uphold peace, is stifling freedoms. Our world isn’t standing tall in truth and justice; it is falling short in falsehood and immorality. The governments of this world licentiously legislate immorality and ignore genocidal injustices. Examples are myriad. The breakdown and sinful redefinition of marriage, categorizing aberrant sexual preferences as civil rights issues, ignoring or being slow to act on the persecution and genocide of Christians worldwide – these are only a very few of the consequences of worldly opinion based dead end decisions in our world today. Jesus said of the last days, “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be” (Mark 13:19). These are “nor ever shall be” days. The grease on the skids that this world tracks to hell on are greased with opinions that reject and neglect the truth.

Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus creates points of decision with His presence. When you read the Gospels you see that the encounters with Jesus always called for decision. He brought people face to face with eternal realities that demanded they leave shallow opinions. By the Holy Spirit Jesus does the same today. But one of the worst and most disastrous consequences of opinion mongers today is being of the opinion that God and His word are irrelevant. At least the people of Jesus day were interested in Messiah. They too had various opinions on Messiah. And they too were guilty of something that is characteristic of the opinionated historically. Let me show you what that is.

At the end of John 7 Jesus proclaimed He would provide torrents of living water that would fill people’s souls if they would only believe in Him. The response of the people to this proclamation shows they had divided opinions. This response points us to the reason why people with faulty opinions are still culpable for their wrong decisions.

40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. (John 7:40-44)

Some acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ or Messiah. Others were confused with details. They were divided and argued. Tragic. Instead of answering Jesus call to receive the living water of the Spirit, they were distracted in a divisive argument. Opinionated people frequently miss the forest truth for the trees of their own personal prejudices.

“The Prophet” is a reference to the Messianic prophecy where the LORD stated He would raise up “a prophet like you” or like Moses (Deut. 18:15-18).  “This is the Christ” is a direct reference to the Messiah, the One promised in the Old Testament who God would send to redeem Israel. The predominant belief at the time was that the messiah would be anointed by God as a political military leader to resurrect the nation in victory over their oppressors. So the light was beginning to turn on for some of the people.

The Messiah was to be “the seed of David,” or a descendant of King David and from Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:1; Micah 5:2; 2 Samuel 7). Jesus was known as coming from Nazareth in the region of Galilee. But that is not where He was born! The gospels tell us that while Jesus’ parents lived in Nazareth, that in response to a decree of Caesar Augustus requiring all people to be registered according to “their own city,” Joseph took Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) to Bethlehem of Judea “because he was of the house and lineage of David” who was from Bethlehem (cf. Luke 2:1-7). Jesus was born in Bethlehem just as God said Messiah would be.


The people were divided over who Jesus was. Some even wanted to take Jesus by force but evidently the Spirit restrained them. Their lack of understanding led to chaos and division. Everyone had an opinion. The problem was they weren’t interested in spending the time to prove the scriptures and who Jesus was according to those scriptures.  

Personal opinions aren’t worth very much. Look what it says in proverbs about them:

 

  • Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) - 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.
  • Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV) - 2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.
  • Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV) - 13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
  • Proverbs 26:16 (NKJV) - 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.

 

Then there is what the prophet Jeremiah was inspired to say:

 

  • Jeremiah 9:23–24 (NKJV)  - 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

The book of Job is an account to a great extent of how Job and his friends could spend the vast proportion of the book going back and forth arguing and sharing their opinions (Job 3-37) and in the end be completely wrong about what the truth of the matter was. They thought they were speaking for God. They thought they had all the facts. They focused on what they saw. But that was their mistake. They didn’t consider what they hadn’t seen. They didn’t consider God’s perspective; His spiritual dimension of reality. It takes God entering the picture to set things straight (Job 38-42). The world of the sinful is hell bent with shortsighted opinions that fail and even refuse to consider there is a spiritual reality to be factored into life’s equation.

Paul was inspired to comment to the Romans, “Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom. 12:16c - NKJV).  The Biblical word “opinion” (Greek heautoui) actually means conceits, or wise in yourself – as opposed to relying on God to form belief. We are often our own worst enemy. Relying on self for guidance can be a huge mistake since our heart is desperately wicked and deceived (Jer. 17:9-10). We need to go to God for direction!

The only opinion that matters is God’s opinion. It doesn’t matter what you or I think or what our personal opinion is. What matters is what God has stated. God created us and this world and He knows how it works and how to fix it when it breaks. His owner’s manual is the Bible. We need to be constantly referencing His word for truth and direction. Our world is confused because it has turned away from God and looks to personal opinions for guidance. People are quick to offer their opinions, but unless those opinions are based on God’s word, they are worthless and more often than not, flat out wrong. The people of Jesus day had a lot of opinions on who Jesus was but because they didn’t search God’s word and apply it to life they missed the mark on Jesus Messiah.

The critics questioned, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” And of course they were right. Here is evidence that they did know the scriptural criteria for Messiah. The only thing was they were ignorant of the facts of Jesus’ fulfillment of the scriptural criteria. There will always be critics and naysayers who oppose God’s plans even though they don’t have all the facts. That’s a dangerous place to be. Those who didn’t have the facts (either because they were too lazy to seek them out or deceived) missed out on the greatest provision and prophetic fulfillment of God, Jesus.

Just think of it, if before you were born to earth you had an audience with God and He offered to let you pick the time in history to be born, what would you choose? Certainly to be born during the time of Jesus’ incarnation would head the list! God had blessed these people to be born “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). But these opinionated people were squandering the opportunity for lack of attentiveness to the information God had provided. What a loss!

When Jesus entered Jerusalem he wept over the ignorance of the people: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Luke 13:34-35). The exact day of Jesus Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem had been predicted by the Prophet Daniel. He was inspired to predict Messiah’s triumphal entry would occur 483 years, 173, 880 days from the time that Artexerxes in 445 BC gave permission for Jerusalem to be rebuilt by the exiles. This incredible prophetic flag made it possible to unmistakably identify the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). God goes to incredible lengths to clarify and clearly show His prophetic and redemptive plan. The people missed it.

Why did they miss the Messiah? It wasn’t because God hadn’t provided ample signs. Jesus said, “But you were unwilling!” The issue with accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord is not one of a lack of information. The issue is one of repentance from sin and entrusting one’s life to Jesus. When God’s truth and reality collides with our personal opinions, we must yield. If we deny God to stick to our opinions, we are doomed. Are you hiding behind a baseless opinion? Are you relying on the world’s opinions even if they deny and contradict God’s truth? Have you turned from your sins and trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord? If not, why not? What’s holding you back? It isn’t a lack of information or lack of God’s revelation. There is ample and abundant factual information about the reliability of scripture, the historicity of Jesus, and proof of the resurrection and a whole lot more. Archeologists have never unearthed any artifact that contradicts the content of scripture. In fact, archeology has only verified and proved the factual accuracy of God’s word. God’s word has been proven true individually and globally over and over again. So what is holding you back, sin, some pet sin or immoral lifestyle that you are unwilling to give up? Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mat. 16:26). He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25).

There’s a lesson here for us. Be diligent in your understanding of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). Be attentive to what is going on in our day that is evidence of God’s fulfilling His prophetic word in current events. When we look around us it appears a great deal of prophecy is coming to fulfillment right before our eyes. A look at Jesus teaching on what to expect in the latter days (Mat. 24:1-14) reveals exactly what we see around us today:

  • Deception
  • False followers of Jesus who come in His name but who know little about being a genuine disciple of Jesus
  • False christs who say they are Messiah
  • Wars and rumors of wars, e.g. insurrections, revolutions, religious wars, Russia versus Europe, Middle East, etc.
  • Nation versus nation, kingdom versus kingdom – “nation” (Greek ethnos) refers to  ethnic groups (e.g. Jew versus non-Jew), and religious wars
  • Famines
  • Pestilences, e.g. Ebola, etc.
  • Earthquakes in various place, e.g. like that in Iceland, Alaska, and Guam
  • Persecution
  • Many are offended or rampant scandals
  • Betrayals, e.g. government removal of freedoms; oppression of citizens of nations
  • Hatred
  • “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Mat. 24:12)
  • In spite of all of these events, the gospel will be preached throughout the world, e.g. radio, TV, missions.

Paul spoke of a great falling away and apostasy before the Rapture of the church (2 Thess. 2:3). Then he spoke of the rise of Antichrist and all hell breaking loose on the earth (2 Thess. 2:4-12). Paul was inspired to warn God’s people that in the latter days self-love would predominate, pride and blasphemy would be the prevailing attitude and “evil men and imposters would grow worse and worse” (2 timothy 3:1-5).  What’s your opinion, are things getting better or worse? What does God’s word say? Paul speaks of a day of self-love, pride, false religion, brutality and evil much like our day. He speaks of persecution and evil men getting worse and worse. But he also speaks of how Christians are to go to God’s word and rely on it to show them the times and how to respond to them (2 Timothy 3:12-17).

Don’t allow yourself to be ignorant or too lazy to care about world events. Prophecy and God’s signs of the times are unfolding before our eyes. Be like the sons of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32). Know what is going on around you and in the world so you can be ready for the return of our Lord (Luke 21:36; Romans 13:11-14). And above all, if you haven’t repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, do it now! Time is short. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). Form your opinions on the truth of God’s word. God’s opinion is what matters most. Will you turn from your sin to God through faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Or will you continue to hide behind willfully misguided opinions? Be honest; it really isn’t a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of willingness. Are you willing to come to God in Christ? What’s your opinion?    



[1] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Springfield, Mass: Merriam-Webster Inc., 2003
[2] George Santayana

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rivers from the Rock


“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”- John 7:38

Are you thirsting for something more? Are you dry spiritually? We take water for granted. We can simply turn on the faucet in our kitchens accessing a refreshing flow of water. Or we can go to the super market and purchase water in various bottle sizes. In Biblical times water was not as conveniently available. You had to draw water from a well. Sometimes wells ran dry. At other times a well couldn’t be found. Next to air, water is our greatest physical necessity.

But there is a human need that surpasses even our physical need for air and water. That need is the eternal life giving Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we wander aimlessly through a worldly wilderness searching and thirsting for spiritual water. There’s a spiritual application in the Bible’s depiction of our need for water.

Usually you don’t appreciate your need for water until it isn’t there.  When you’re parched and dried out for lack of water, when you do find some, it’s a big deal. When God’s people were travelling through the wilderness to the Promised Land they experienced times of thirst. God provided water for them. To remind them of His provision God instituted the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus used the ceremony of the Feast to communicate a greater truth that applies to our spiritual thirsts.

The Feast of Tabernacles was an eight day festival. This was one of three Feasts that men of Israel were required to attend in Jerusalem (Deut. 16:16). It’s estimated that there were millions of  people in Jerusalem during the Feast. This ritual Feast was a reminder of how God provided water from the rock in the wilderness (Numbers 20:8-11; Psalm 78:15-16). It also spoke to the coming days of Messiah’s reign (Zechariah 14:8, 16-19). This Feast was an expression of thanks to God and call for Him to provide rains for the crops in the coming year.

The high priest on every day of the Feast would lead a huge joyous procession of thousands of people to the Pool of Siloam located just below the City of David to the south where he would get water for the ceremony. Flutes and other instruments were played and Isaiah 12:2-3 would be sung while pitchers was being filled – “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” It was said of the Feast ceremony – “Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life.” This was a time of great continuous celebration to the Lord for the entire Feast.

Why the Pool of Siloam? Siloam means sent One. The Pool of Siloam had living water or a flow of water that was not stagnant but clean. Water taken from this Pool was a prophetic picture of the Messiah who would one day come to provide the refreshing waters of life they needed.

There were two pitchers used in this ceremony. The high priest had a gold pitcher which stands for royalty. He would draw the “living water” (Heb. mayim chayim) from the Pool with the gold pitcher. His assistant had a silver pitcher filled with wine. Silver is a symbol of redemption. Wine is a symbol for blood. So in this ceremony we have living water and blood represented.

The high priest would take the filled pitcher of water and lead the procession back to the Temple through the Water Gate to the Court of the Priests. As the priest entered through the gate there would be three trumpet blasts. He would approach the altar where there were two silver basins, one on either side of the altar. Then as a drink offering the priest would pour out the water from the gold pitcher into one silver basin. As he did so Isaiah 44:3 would be sung – “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” His assistant would pour out the wine into the other silver basin. So symbols of blood and water were poured out on the altar as part of this ceremony each day of the Feast. You can’t have the refreshing water of the Spirit without the blood of atoning sacrifice.

The Feast would climax on the eighth day referred to as “the Great Day” (Leviticus 23:36). During the eighth day of celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles there would be a solemn procession from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam. This Great Day was the day that Jesus made His proclamation: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39).  

On this last Great Day of the Feast at one point the priest would hold up the emptied pitchers as an expression of the prophetic hope that Messiah would one day come and fill them up. It was at this moment that Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Do you see the significance of Jesus’ words?  Jesus is announcing that He is the “Sent One.” Jesus is the One who would fulfill the thirst of the people. Out of His side would flow the “blood and water” needed to redeem the sinner and open the floodgates of the living water of the Spirit (John 19:34). Are you thirsty? Come to Jesus.

John clarifies very specifically the connection of the words of Isaiah – “I will pour My Spirit on your descendants” and Jesus’ words – “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John states, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  This was all about the Holy Spirit! How so? Let’s see.

Before we go any further we need to see something very important in the words of Jesus. Jesus is not speaking here about the born again indwelling of a believer with the Holy Spirit. Here Jesus is speaking of an outpouring of the Spirit until He overflows from the believer to others. He is talking about the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let me explain why this is so.

On the evening of the day Jesus rose from the dead, when His atoning sacrificial mission was fulfilled and he had been “glorified,” He met with the disciples. Jesus showed them His pierced hands and side verifying it was He, Jesus, the resurrected Lord. Then He commissioned them saying, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:19-21). Then it states, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22). It was at this point that the disciples were born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. But this is only the first aspect of the work of the Spirit in the heart of a believer.

John alone mentions this receiving of the Holy Spirit by the disciples at this point. Perhaps, writing a few decades after the two volume set of Luke’s Gospel and Acts John was seeking to clarify the work of the Spirit in the lives of disciples. What John refers to in His gospel (John 20:22) is not the baptism with the Holy Spirit that in Luke Jesus instructs the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem for (Luke 24:48-49). We don’t know why the Spirit inspired Matthew and Mark to write those gospels in a way that didn’t mention Jesus’ instruction to tarry in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father; the baptism with the Holy Spirit. What we do know is that Luke does refer to Jesus instruction to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for empowering by the Spirit. And we know that John made sure to indicate that the disciples had been born again prior to Pentecost.

When in John’s gospel Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” the verb “receive” is grammatically an Imperative Mood demanding an immediate responsive action to a command. It is in the Aorist Tense which conveys action (i.e. Punctiliar). And it is in the Active Voice which conveys the idea it was an action the disciples themselves had to take or receive. Couple this with Jesus breathing on them at the moment He said this to them and the best conclusion is that receiving the Holy Spirit was something the disciples did at the moment their risen Master commanded them to do it. This was the first time they received the Spirit. This was their born again experience. And it happened before Pentecost.

If the disciples received the Holy Spirit at the end of John’s gospel before Pentecost then we reasonably see what Luke mentions in his gospel and Acts as something additional and subsequent to this initial receiving of the Holy Spirit. In Acts Jesus references “the Promise of the Father” as being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). This is the baptism with the Holy Spirit that John the Baptist referred to as being provided by Jesus. It is distinguished from the baptism with water (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). Now we are learning the details of this baptism with the Spirit connected to Jesus.

Jesus further describes this “baptism” as, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This Promise of the Father for which 120 waited obediently in the upper room came upon them on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The events of Acts take place subsequent to the Gospel of John. What happens in Acts happens to believers. You may have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you may have been born again, have you been empowered by the Holy Spirit? The Book of Acts is the inspired historical account of the work of the Holy Spirit through the disciples He empowered. This second work of God’s grace is something provided by Jesus (Acts 2:32-33) and administered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) and received by faith (Acts 15:8-9).

We can’t reduce the working of the Spirit to a formula. At Pentecost we see the empowering baptism with the Spirit happening in the disciples as a subsequent work. A further pattern of the baptism with the Spirit as a subsequent work is seen in Samaria (Acts 8:14-17) and Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7). However at Cornelius’ house and what is often referred to as the Gentile Pentecost we see the empowering baptism with the Holy Spirit coming concurrently or at the same time as their born again experience (Acts 10). Some people receive the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit all at once. Some people are born again and it takes time for them to receive the Spirit’s empowering. The important thing is that whether concurrently or subsequently, you receive the empowering baptism with the Holy Spirit. We need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit if we are to serve our Lord Jesus optimally for His glory.

 

Much of the church and many believers are as dry and empty as the pitchers held up by the Jewish priests on the Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. What’s the problem? The problem is much of the church and many believers have forgotten or gotten away from a reliance on the Holy Spirit. We need to be refreshed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Only He can satisfy our spiritual thirst.

John connects what Jesus said at the climax of the Great Day of the feast with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So the question we need to ask is “Was there anything that happened in the wilderness setting this feast refers to that speaks to us about our relationship with the Holy Spirit?” And the answer is yes. There is an illustration of the process of Spirit filled life provided for us in the Old Testament connected with this Feast of Tabernacles. Remember, the Feast of Tabernacles was designed to help the people remember how God provided for them in the wilderness. Are you dry and parched spiritually? Jesus has the water you need. He can quench your spiritual thirst with the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The New Testament is our best commentary on the meaning of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we are told that God provided water for His people from a rock in the wilderness. In the New Testament we are told that the Rock in the wilderness represents Jesus. “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). “Water” in scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit as alluded to in John 7:39. The rock in the wilderness and how water was received from it speaks to us of Jesus provision of the Holy Spirit.

Come to the Rock Jesus for the regenerating living waters of new life in Him. In Exodus 17 the thirsty people received water from a rock that Moses struck. Moses struck the rock and water flowed out. Similarly, on the cross Jesus was struck. When He was struck on the cross, out of His side flowed blood and water (John 19:34). The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins. The water represents the indwelling Holy Spirit. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Blood and cleansing must precede the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:6).

The first step in experiencing the outpouring and overflowing of the Holy Spirit in our life is to come to the Rock Jesus and be saved from our sins. You can’t experience all Jesus has for you and the fullness of the Holy Spirit unless you have repented (turned from your sins) and placed your faith in Jesus. You must first be born again. His completed work of the cross is the just basis for God to forgive your sins. Come to Jesus!

Speak to the Rock Jesus and request by faith the empowering of the Holy Spirit. To get water from the rock the first time Moses was instructed by God to strike the rock. But after that when the people thirsted for water Moses was instructed by God to “speak to the rock” (Numbers 20:8). This is because Jesus was struck on the cross once and only once. Jesus died once for all for the sins of the world. He does not have to die over and over again (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10; cf. also Romans 6:10). Moses, however, in disobedient anger struck the rock again and again. He was punished for this not only because he obscured a typology of God about His Son Jesus, but also because he misrepresented God as angry with His people for thirsting. God wasn’t angry. God wants to pour water on him who is thirsty.

We don’t have to strike the rock again and again to receive the refreshing water of the Spirit. We only have to speak to the Rock Jesus in faith and the water of the Spirit will flow. We don’t have to do spiritual gymnastics or work ourselves up emotionally to receive the outpouring of the Spirit in our lives. We simply have to speak to Jesus in faith. Just ask Him to open the flood gates of heaven to release the Holy Spirit in our lives. Seek and ask Jesus in faith for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God knows what we need and is eager and willing to provide the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13). Speak to Jesus!

Worship and receive. There is one more point depicted in the Rock of the Old Testament. In Numbers 21 God’s people needed more water as they moved on through the wilderness. But as they moved they moved further and further from the rock. The question that then needed to be asked and answered was, “If our water comes from this rock, what happens when we move on from here away from the rock?” In 1 Corinthians we are told that “that spiritual Rock . . . followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). Jesus was following them to provide thirst quenching water. Jesus follows us; walks with us; is attentive to us; watches over us and provides for us. Jesus is here. Just come to Him and ask when you need to be refreshed in the Spirit.

But notice something here. As the people moved on through the wilderness it states, “From there they went to Beer, which is the well where the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together, and I will give them water” (Numbers 21:16). This was a different place. This was a different time. How would they get the water? “Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well! All of you sing to it . . . .” (Numbers 21:17). As they sang water sprang up from where they were. Their worship released the flow of water. The worshipped and received the refreshing waters.

Do you see the practical picture here for us? The New Testament speaks of being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). We are exhorted to being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. How can we experience this in our lives? It’s no accident that Paul goes on to say, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19-20). What is a means to be continually filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit? How do we open the faucet to let the Holy Spirit overflow us? Worship and receive. Are you dry spiritually? Feel weak spiritually? Enter into worship of the Lord. Take a step of faith and give a worship offering to the Lord.  Then receive the cleansing flow of the Spirit by that faith (Acts 15:8-9). Look up and over your life obstacles and WORSHIP JESUS! Worship and receive the refreshing overflowing torrents of living water of the Holy Spirit promised to you by the Father (Acts 1:4-5), provided by Jesus (Acts 2:32-33), and administered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; Rom. 5:5). Worship Jesus and receive the empowering of the Spirit!

Are you spiritually parched? Have you been born again of the Spirit? Do you lack the power of the Spirit? Are you filled but not overflowing in the Spirit? The Father has promised to provide the power we need to effectively minister in His Name. We need to come to Jesus in full surrender and by faith receive that empowerment. This is God’s promise. God is faithful. Come in Jesus’ name. Worship and receive.