Tuesday, August 31, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - River of Life

Last week, I read a passage in Ezekiel that brought to mind a song that I learned when I was in Junior High. The song is called "River of Life" and the words are:
I've got a river of life flowing out of me.
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors sets the captives free.
I've got a river of life flowing out of me.

Spring up O well (splish splash)
Within my soul.
Spring up O well (splish splash)
And make me whole.
Spring up O well (splish splash)
And give to me
That life abundantly.

If you were apart of a youth group in the late 70's, early 80's this would have been a top ten. Probably because of the splish splash part. There were hand motions that went with it. Something like a sprinkler. I hadn't thought of this song in years until I read Ezekiel 47. It is titled, The River from the Temple. It begins verse 1 and goes to 12.
1 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side. 3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?"

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. 11But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."

As I read this, it drew a picture of the life we have in Christ Jesus. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" We are now the temple where the Spirit of God now dwells.

Jesus said in John 7:38, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." As soon as we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, immediately the Holy Spirit takes residence and out of Him we receive the living water. The very same "living water" that Jesus spoke of to the woman at the well (John 4:10-12). Ezekiel 47:9 said that wherever the water flows, everything would live.

In this passage, the water that flows from the temple actually changes the salt water into fresh water and not only can all kinds of fish thrive in it, but the Word says that fruit trees will grow along the banks. I believe the swamps and marshes could represent the sin in our lives. Those places that we are not to go back to because of the "salt" it is a place of bitterness that we are to walk away from. In verse 12 it says that fruit trees of all kinds were growing on both sides. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. Another picture of a life in the Spirit. Galations 5:22-26 says,"22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." The fruit of the Spirit should continue to reproduce each day and should be producing more and more as we mature in our faith.

There are two verses in the Old Testament about the tree planted by the river. The first one is 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." The second is Jeremiah 17:8, "He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

What a picture of who we have become when we follow Jesus. When Ezekiel had this vision, he said he stepped in water ankle-deep. I believe this reflects the new believer. But as he went along, the water got deeper and deeper. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, we should eventually become like the river that was too deep to walk across, but swim across. The words we speak should bring life to many and be words that bring healing. Instead, there are many Believers who are still knee-deep. They've been there for years. They are deep enough so they can say they are in it, but not submerged.

I remember being at the Jordan River. (Pictured above) I couldn't wait to see it. It has had so much meaning for me. It is one of the reasons my daughter's name is Jordanne. When we arrived it was this beautiful tree covered river. The pictures I took looked like post cards. There were ducks and birds above the surface and catfish below the surface. When I called Jordanne to tell her I was there, at the place she was named after, I told her about the birds and fish. She replied, "Well mom, you know I love animals and God did make the animals on the fifth day and I was born on the fifth of May." That's a girl who knows the Word. After I hung up, I just couldn't wait to step in. Several people in our group wanted to be baptized. We didn't sign up earlier and now regret we didn't. But as I stepped into the water, ankle-deep, the catfish began nibbling at my toes! I just couldn't stand it! There were people waist-deep and it didn't seem to bother them. My brother-in-law Tim was one of those getting baptized and when he went under the water all I could think about was all those fish nibbling on his head. Yikes!

Isn't that an interesting picture of an average Christian's life? We step in and as soon as those fish begin, not even biting, just "kissing" our toes, we get spooked. It paralyzes us not to go any farther. What was interesting about the the line of people being baptized, was the pastor had to stand in the water the whole time as each person was being baptized.

The river that flowed from the Temple in Jerusalem was full of fish. Life was being given to the trees along the banks. The water was filtering out the salt and making it fresh enough to drink. What kind of "water" flows from your life? Is it salty water that is "bitter" to others? Does the living water not produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life like it should? Is the well of water inside of you shallow because it is not being nourished by the Word of God and purified through prayer? The kind of prayer where the Holy Spirit intercedes or filters out the unnecessary things. Is Jesus reigning enough in your life to fill you up?

Take sometime to do an acid level check of the living water that flows from your life. The water should produce the fruit of the Spirit continually and bring healing to those around you. Your leaves should not wither under the pressure of life. The Living Water (the Holy Spirit) that flows from the Temple (the Believer) should be life giving. So spring up O well, within my soul, and make me whole. And give to me, that life abundantly!