Streams of Life (10/9/16)

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Please prayerfully answer the following question: In my walk with Jesus, am I thriving – or merely surviving?

Are you growing closer to the Lord as you get older or are you struggling to hold onto and live out your faith? Perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle. Your faith is strong but, at times, your struggles seem overwhelming.

If you’re at a place where your faith is fading and God seems to be distant, I have good news. The Bible is full of passages which teach that God will give us the strength we need to flourish. One such scripture is Psalm 1. It says,

Psalm 1:1-6 – 1     Blessed is the man

who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

or stand in the way of sinners

or sit in the seat of mockers.

2     But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

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.

4     Not so the wicked!

They are like chaff

that the wind blows away.

5     Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6     For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked will perish.

Delighting in and meditating on the law of the LORD gives us life. We bear fruit when the season is right. Our leaves are bright and shiny. God gives us success in the things we do for him.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “I wish this was happening to me” but the truth is sometimes I feel like I’m planted in a desert and I’m all alone. I’m not producing much fruit – if any at all. My leaves aren’t bright and shiny. I feel withered and droopy.

In our physical world, when trees reach this point, they are so far gone they may never recover. They will continue to die and eventually fall down. It doesn’t have to come to this in the spiritual world. Psalm 1 says that anyone who delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on it can bear fruit and have healthy leaves -even if they’re spiritually dead right now. If you are feeling dry and that part of you is dead on the inside, there are things you can do to prepare the way for God to bring new life in you.

The first one is: Meditate on God’s word.

Meditating isn’t the same thing as doing a devotion or reading a couple of chapter’s in the Bible every day. It’s stopping to study it and really ponder what it means by placing yourself in the scene and imagining how it looks. This does take time but it allows scripture to come alive inside of you.

The second thing Psalm 1 tells us we need to do to have new life in God is to be planted by a stream of living water.

As we can see, there are two parts to this. The first one is we must be planted. Seeds have to be planted if they are going to grow. How many of you have ever grown corn by buying the seeds, taking them home and leaving them in the bag? God’s word doesn’t grow in us if the only time we open a Bible or stop to pray is when we’re at church. We must be planted in God. We have to step back from our busy schedules and spend some time in God’s presence.

The Bible tells us God is more than willing to give us peace and contentment but it happens on his terms – not ours. One of his terms is that we open ourselves to receive whatever it is that God has for us. After all, you can’t pour water into a bottle that still has the lid on it.

The second part of this point tells us where we need to be planted. It has to be by a stream of living water. Even good trees don’t produce much if they’re planted in dry, rocky soil. They will struggle to even survive much less reach their full potential.

As a former logger, I’ve walked over thousands of acres of forest land. Occasionally I saw the foundations of old homesteads where people once lived. Many times old fruit trees were found planted near-by. These trees were never planted on in dry, rocky soil. This is because trees don’t have the ability to sustain themselves.

They need to get their nourishment from outside sources. Their seeds have to be scattered by the wind or by animals. The C02 they need comes from the air. Water has to come from rain or near-by streams. Sunlight is needed for them to be healthy. Losing any one of these elements would mean death.

We humans are the same way. We can’t sustain ourselves. Trying to live the Christian lifestyle on our own usually sends our faith into a slow, steady death spiral. If we don’t allow God to nourish us, our faith will be weak and we will struggle to survive as a Christian.

When we allow God to nourish us, we can thrive even if everything around us is dry and barren. So, how does God do this? How does he water our souls and give us life?

Jesus says in John 7:37-39 – “37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” God does it through the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When they are in us, streams of living water not only flow into us, they also flow out of us in the form of love for God and for each other.

If you said earlier you’re merely surviving as a Christian, let me ask you one more question. Do you really want to thrive in your walk with Jesus? God won’t force himself upon you if you don’t want to thrive.

However, if you do want to thrive, then you need to meditate on God’s word and allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to flow into and then out of you.