Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 166: John 7:32-52 & Psalm 24 - How Do Rivers of Living Water Flow out of the Hearts of Believers?

Today's Reading: John 7:32-52 & Psalm 24

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How Do Rivers of Living Water Flow out of the Hearts of Believers?

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive" - John 7:38-39, ESV

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4, He said, "“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14).” Now, He proclaims to all those gathered in the Temple that "whoever believes" in Him will have rivers of living water flow out of his heart.

In today's passage, John explains that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit when He spoke about "living water." But that doesn't perfectly clarify everything, does it? How is the Holy Spirit like living water? What does it mean for rivers of living water to flow out of our hearts? How does the Holy Spirit make this a reality for believers?

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is nothing less than the personal presence of God Himself in the heart of every believer. When Jesus speaks of the heart, He doesn't mean simply our emotions but the very core of who we are. Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in the core of the life and soul of every believer. This means that God Himself is with us, always, never leaving us nor forsaking us.

What does the abiding presence of God do in our lives? Well, Galatians 5 tells us that the Holy Spirit grows fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit of the Spirit imparts life and vitality to our souls and lives and the fruit overflows from our lives for the benefit of others around us. Notice that all of the fruit of the Spirit carry benefits for the believer and for those in relationship with the believer.

This is the picture Jesus is painting with the image of rivers of living water. When living waters out from our hearts, it first brings refreshment, healing and fruitfulness to our own lives and then it overflows to bless those around us. Without the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, we are dry and thirsty and barren. The Holy Spirit alone brings us life and love, joy peace, etc., which bless us and all those around us.

How can we experience the life-giving streams of the Holy Spirit? First, we need to believe in the Lord Jesus rest in Him. Secondly, we need to stay connected to the vine (to use another of Jesus' metaphors). How do we stay connected? By staying on our knees in prayer, in the Word, in private and corporate worship, sharing in the Lord's Supper, enjoying real life-giving fellowship with other believers. God has given us all of the means of grace to keep us connected to Him and to keep His grace empowering our lives. 

If you believe in Jesus, call out to Him for the rivers of living water, the powerful, life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, seek Him in His word, in prayer and in worship. He loves to meet with His own and to give more and more of His Holy Spirit to us.

Prayer Based on Psalm 24:

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Heavenly Father, this is Your world. You are the Maker, Upholder and Ruler of all. Everyone who draws breath breathes Your air and everyone walking on this earth walks on Your ground. Lord, I pray that everyone would see the truth and would acknowledge You. 

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Lord, I confess to You that I do not have clean hands or a pure heart. My hands have been guilty and my heart has been impure. I know that I have no right to ascend Your holy mountain or stand in Your holy place. I have lifted up my soul to falsehood again and again. I have sworn deceitfully and have no right to expect blessing from You. 

But I thank You for the glorious grace of the Gospel! How wonderful is the good news of Jesus Christ and His righteousness! He has earned the right to stand before You and He has earned access to Your holy place. You, by Your grace, have united me to Christ and You count me as righteous in Him, giving me access and security before You in Him! 

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. 

The generation of those who seek You, O Lord, is Your church, Your people. We seek Your face because You have drawn us by Your lovingkindness and have secured us for Yourself. And so we seek You and we cry out to You. Rise up, O Lord, and show Yourself mighty to save and awesome in saving power. Come in among Your people in our times of worship and prayer. Change our hearts and renew our minds in the truth. Go before us into battle and fight for us against our enemies, Your enemies. You are the King of Glory! Be glorified now and always! 

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! 

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