John 7:38 He who believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
A local pastor recently invited me to visit his church. He had a visiting teacher, Guy Duininck. I greatly enjoyed his ministering, and received several nuggets. This is based on one of those nuggets.
Today, many Christians practice event-driven Christianity. What is this? It is when we keep relying on others to spiritually feed us. We keep looking for the next goosebump message, the next visiting preacher. We get bored at one church and hop to another. We are always going about doing for the Lord, finding our spiritual satisfaction in our works.
In other words, we go to drink from someone else’s well. External sources become our primary source of strength and spiritual knowledge. This produces a shallow faith with little or no real substance. Instead of knowing Jesus, we only know ABOUT Him. Instead of learning how to walk after the Spirit, we learn a few rules to follow, a few good works to do, and think that makes us spiritual.
And who can blame such a mindset? Today’s world constantly seeks the next thrill, the next laugh, the next entertainment. We leave work and crank up the radio, get home and turn on the idiot box (TV) or more music, or get ready to go to the next social event on our calendar. It surrounds us on every side, so that it becomes the norm to always be busy, always have noise, always be distracted.
We have the energy to do all these external things, but cannot sit still long enough to get to know God. “Be still, and know I am God.” But it takes more energy and concentration to sit still, to take time out of our schedule to get to know Him. So we keep going about doing our works, going to church to get another sermon which we promptly forget, drinking from someone else’s well and quickly thirsting again.
Jesus said if we thirst we should go to HIM. If we trust Him, then out of OUR OWN hearts will flow rivers of living water. We need never spiritually thirst again. We won’t need to go look for the next goosebump experience, or keep our minds constantly distracted from our daily troubles through constant entertainment.
The first way we go to Him is through His Word. The second is through the Holy Spirit. These are intertwined – we need both.
Going to Him through the Word is more than just reading and/or memorizing Scripture. Many of those in prison know many Scriptures and can out-quote many pastors and teachers. But the fact that they keep going back to prison demonstrates it is only a head knowledge. Scriptures are not life to them. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
So, as we read Scriptures we should constantly go to Him and ask Him to reveal it to us. John 1 teaches that Jesus IS the word of God. That means when He reveals something to us from Scripture, He is revealing Himself.
When you meet someone new, you don’t really know anything about them. You might make some guesses and judgments based on their appearance and manner – but at best it will be extremely superficial. Likewise, if your knowledge of Jesus and His Word comes only through what little you remember from what preachers tell you or from just a “daily Scripture reading,” then your knowledge of the God of the Bible will be superficial.
But if you take the time to carefully consider what you are reading, asking God to reveal it to you, then you can begin to know Christ.
But a deep relationship does not happen instantly. Unlike our world of instant entertainment distraction, building a lasting relationship takes time. When you meet someone new, you start by introducing yourselves. Then you typically talk about the weather or some other safe, innocuous topic. You don’t jump right in with telling the stranger all your problems and concerns, your deepest fears, etc.
Likewise, it takes time to develop a relationship with Jesus. Don’t think that an occasional quick prayer at mealtimes and a few minutes reading will produce it. Scripture says if we first draw near to God, then He will draw near to us.
We must continue over time. The more seriously we take our time with the Lord, the more seriously He will take us. If we trust in and rely upon the Lord and acknowledge Him in all our daily activities, then ever more and more He will speak to us and guide us in our path. When a man is pursuing a woman or vice versa, thoughts of the one they are drawn to keep coming up through the day. They find time in their schedule to talk to the other – I mean really talk, not just a quick “hello.” As their relationship develops, they desire to spend more and more time with each other.
This is how our relationship should be with the Lord. That is what the Song of Solomon is all about. One of the house virgins, the Shulamite, pursued the king. We are all virgins spiritually espoused to Christ. But if we pursue Him then we can really know Him and become what He wants.
We do this not by merely reading the Word. Nor is it by praying for external things. Nor by going to church, or listening to Christian music. It is by seeking HIM.
Those who seek and keep on seeking shall find Him. The Word is an avenue by which to pursue Christ; we read it, then go to Him with it and ask Him to reveal it to us. When we pray for ourselves or others it is another opportunity to meet with Christ – when we ask for His guidance in our prayers. Music will draw us into thinking on Christ and worshiping Him in Spirit and truth, not just lip service. When opportunity comes to do works for Christ, we will ask Him if it is what He wants us to do.
David said that on God’s Law he meditated day and night, that he might not sin against God. But we have something better than the Law. We have the person of Christ! We can do all things and endure all things which come our way through HIM.
David meditated day and night. That leaves no time out for other things. Likewise, as our relationship with Christ grows, more and more He will be in all things that we do. At work we will keep a spiritual ear open for guidance from Him. When planning a vacation, we will ask Him to guide us. Even when going shopping, we will let Him lead us.
Instead of being driven by events and works, our Christian faith will be filled by the Spirit of God with power. Instead of distracting ourselves with busy-ness and entertainment to keep our minds occupied all the time, we will find rest in Him. “Come to Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He will guard our hearts and minds and give us true peace of mind which surpasses all understanding.
Jesus told the disciples that He now calls them friends, because they know what He is doing. This was after several years of building a relationship with Him. We do not start out as friends of Jesus, but as servants and students. Only as we mature in faith and learn to sit at His feet to receive from Him does a relationship grow. Only then will rivers of living waters flow from us. Then we can break the cycle of event-driven Christianity and find true life in Him.