The Life Giving Water of Jesus

The searing midday heat beat down on the weary band of travelers that day. Journeying through Israel is not the easiest thing to be doing especially in the middle of the day. This band of travelers was going to Jerusalem. Today, they have taken the direct route straight out of Galilee to Jerusalem. Usually if they would be traveling they would head east out of Galilee cross over the Jordan River, turn south along the river until they were parallel with Jerusalem to the west, cross the river a second time and then go to the city. This was standard Jewish practice at the time. “Why?” you ask. No Jew would be caught dead in Samaria; this was a place for half-breeds and no-accounts. No, the Jews would rather take twice as long a trip as to go through Samaria, but for some reason the leader of the group wanted to take them through Samaria to Jerusalem. They arrived in the village of Sychar just about noontime. They stopped at a well named after one of the ancient Jewish fathers, Jacob. They were tired and needed a break. The leader of the group decided to stay at the well, while the rest of the group headed into the village to get some food at the local market. It sure is hot out here he thinks to himself. He imagines what a cool drink of water would feel like now. Instead though he plays with the sandy ground. It wasn’t long before he; the leader of the group noticed her. He saw her coming with a jug on her head. She was coming to well to draw some water. He watched at the hot breeze swirled her robe around her. She was a beautiful woman, or at least she had been; time and her lifestyle had hardened her features. Deep lines marked her forehead. She had dark eyes that were once alluring. The very fact that she was coming at midday told him that she was an outcast in the village. She came at midday to avoid the morning and evening crowds at the well and to avoid the stares and whispered accusations and awkward moments.

I’m sure the first few moments were awkward, for he was a Jew and a rabbi. She was a Samaritan and a woman. Rabbis never engage in conversation with women and a rabbi certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with a Samaritan. Still, he strikes up a conversation with her. “Can you give me a drink?” he asks. She looks around to see who this man is talking to for surely he can’t be talking to her. Yet, the only two people at the well are her and this man. There’s something about him she can’t put her finger on. Finally, she replies, “Why do you ask me for a drink, you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan.

Then the man surprises her. He says, “If you knew the gift God has for you, and who I am you would ask me for living water.”

Ok, maybe it’s the hot sun and this man is delusional. This man has nothing to draw up water from the well and he’s going to give me living water, she thinks. “Where will you get it? The well is deep,” she asks. “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” Little did she know he was greater. “How can you offer me better water than the water that is in this well?”

The stranger replies, “People soon become thirsty again when they drink from this well, but I can give you water that takes away thirst forever, it becomes a spring and gives them eternal life.” Now she knows she is talking to a crazy man, but she takes the bait anyway. She says, “Give me some of this water so that I don’t have to keep coming back to this well with this heavy jug everyday.”

The man says, “Go get your husband.”

“I don’t have a husband,” she replies.

“You are correct. The fact is you’ve be married five times and the man that you living with now isn’t even your husband.”

Ouch! How did he know that? Who does he think he is? This was some stranger. Was this man some kind of stalker? How long had he been following her and checking her out? She needs to find out more. She is intrigued that he knew this information about her. She tests him out. “I perceive that you are a prophet.” Now she is throwing out some of her own bait. “So, tell me why the Jews insist on worshiping in Jerusalem and we Samaritans claim Mount Gerizim?” She throws out the red herring to see if he’ll take it.

He says, “There is coming a time when neither of these places will be the true worship place.” Then he cuts to the quick, “You Samaritans know so little about the God you worship, but we know all about Him.” The man is really starting to irritate her now. “The time is coming when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way, because God is Spirit and those who will worship must worship in spirit and in truth.”

This man is really beginning to puzzle her. She wonders if this is the one written about in the Jewish writings. She hazards a proposition. “I know the Messiah will come, his name is Christ and when he comes, he will explain everything.”

Can you imagine her surprise when Jesus says, “I am the Messiah!” Oh, happy day! I imagine she stumbles back a little. Imagine, the promised one reveals himself to a Samaritan and a woman no less. She has got to tell somebody, and she has to tell someone quick. She leaves the water jar at the well and goes back to tell the people of the village. She tells them, “I met this man and he told me everything I had ever done. He is the Messiah.” The villagers had to see this. They left the village to come see the Messiah. Many of the Samaritans believed this man. They begged him to stay for a while and he did and many believed that he was the Savior of the world.

What can we learn from this story? It’s a great story about living water. We’ve been looking at this theme of water over the last month. Here is a woman who was in desperate straights. Jesus was able to help her out and give her the living water. Give her eternal life. Sometimes we look at people and say that they are hopeless. Someone here might think there hopeless. This morning I’ve brought a few of my coffee mugs from my office and some from home. If you take a look at the mugs, you’ll see that most of them are from churches we’ve serve in or from one of our Wesleyan colleges. They’re good church going mugs. But some of you may have noticed that I have another mug in my office and I’m sure some of you have been wondering about it. As you can see it’s a rather large mug and it has playing cards on it and dice and other things associated with gambling. You also note that it has some words on it. It says Las Vegas. This was given to me by my former RadioShack manager in New York when he went to Las Vegas. He always bought souvenirs the people he managed. So, I have my good church going mugs and my sin city Las Vegas mug. Some of you might feel that way this morning. You are a sin city mug sitting in a church with a bunch of church going mugs. The Las Vegas mug reminds me that each one of us was once a “sin city” mug. Let me let you in on a little secret. Those sitting around you were all once “sin city” mugs, but Jesus has given us the living water and cleansed us through his blood. All of us, including this preacher were dead in our sins. Just like this woman who met Jesus at the well. We may not have long sorted pasts like she had, but each one of us was a sinner. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” God sets the standard not us. Not one of us is good enough. But God in his wonderful mercy loves each one of us. John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes on him will not perish but have eternal life.” There’s not one thing anyone of us can do to clean up our act. It’s only through Jesus the living, thirst-quenching water, who shed his blood for our sins that we can be cleaned up. This blue pitcher represents Jesus’ cleansing power. All of these mugs are dirty, but Jesus, the living water can clean them up. Jesus cleans us up from the inside. Jesus and the cross is the great equalizer. Everyone is cleansed equally. It doesn’t matter if you look like you are a good church going mug. It’s what God is doing on the inside that counts. Jesus calls us to come as we are, not as we are going to be. He doesn’t require us to clean up our act to come to him. He wants us to come to him, just the way we are and he will take it from there.

Invitation Song: Come Just As You Are

If God is speaking to you through his Holy Spirit this morning, you need to do the following:

  1. Admit your need.
  2. Be willing to turn from your sins. (Repent)
  3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave
  4. Through prayer, invite Jesus to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit

If you feel God is calling you this morning, you simply need to pray this. This prayer is not a magic formula. The words are not important, but the attitude of your heart is.

Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How can you know? Romans 10:13 tells us that, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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Do You Want to Be Clean?

Text: 2 Kings 5:1-14; Titus 3:3-8

He was a commander of a large and mighty army. He was considered a great man in the sight of the king. The king held him in high regard. He had given a great victory to the king. He was not of Israel but the Lord had given the victory to this commander and the king. He was a valiant soldier, but he had a problem. He had been diagnosed with leprosy. In his day and age leprosy was not easily cured and was contagious. Those who had leprosy in Israel had to sit outside the town; they could not associate with the common folk. This great man was in a difficult position. He was well regarded by the king but was an outcast.

Israel and Aram were at peace technically, but there were border skirmishes. We see this even today in the Middle East. During one of these border skirmishes, a young girl became captive and was sent to the house of Naaman, the man with leprosy. When she found out about Namaan’s plight, she said, “You need to go see the prophet of Samaria!” Samaria was in Israel’s territory. So Namaan goes to the king of Aram and tells him what the girl has said. The king gives Namaan his blessing and says, “Go.” The king gives Namaan a letter stating Namaan’s case and what is to be done about it. Namaan takes ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold (I’m told that this was the equivalent of a million dollars and ten sets of clothing…the letter said, “Cure my servant of his leprosy, please.”

When the king of Israel read the letter he was outraged and tore his clothing in pieces. “What do I look like?” he asked. “Do I look like God to you? Can I kill and bring you back to life? Why did your master send you here? Is he trying to pick a fight with me? I can’t heal you of leprosy.”

Elisha, the prophet (or the man of God) heard about the king’s outrage and sent a message to him, “What seems to be the problem? (There was no love lost between Elisha and the King of Israel) Why did you tear your robes apart? The man who came to you, send him to me. I’ll let him know that there is a man of God in Israel.” Namaan was pleased to hear this news, so he and his entourage made his way to Elisha’s home. Elisha didn’t even come to the door to greet him. He sent his servant to the door and gave Namaan this message. Go wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times and your flesh will be restored. In other words, his leprosy would go away.

Namaan was furious… “Just who does this Elisha think he is? Go down to the Jordan and wash myself seven times. He didn’t even have the common decency to come out and greet me personally, and WHY the Jordan. The Jordan is a dirty, cruddy river. We have many rivers back home that are much nicer to wash myself in than the Jordan. Why can Elisha come out and just wave his hand over me? Namaan was not a happy camper and he left Elisha’s place.

Namaan’s servants came over to him and said, “You know, if Elisha had asked you to do a great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? Why can’t you do what he tells you when he told you to go wash in the river seven times? Is that so hard? Namaan thinks about it for a few moments and reconsiders. He goes to the Jordan and washes himself seven times in the muddy water, and when he comes out the seventh time the leprosy is gone.

Let me ask you a question, “Do you want to be clean?” That almost seems like a silly question. Here was a man who wanted to be healed but at first he was not willing to do it the way God wanted him to do it. It appears that we have a very perceptive young girl. She knew of God’s saving presence in Israel through the prophet Elisha. She knew it better than the king of Israel, who flew off the handle when Namaan came to visit him. What did Namaan bring with him? He brought all kinds of treasures with him. He figured his healing could be bought with a price. He figured he could buy some of God’s saving presence. At least Namaan knew God’s saving presence was in Israel unlike the king who simply thought that this was an excuse to begin warring with Israel again.

Elisha speaks up to the King and says why did you not consult with me? I could have told you and you would not have had to tear up your robes. Elisha knew God was planning something big. Namaan thought he could get God’s attention and healing by lot’s of money and he shows up at Elisha home commanding to be healed. Elisah had to teach Namaan that it wasn’t through any magic that he had but completely through the power of God. The healing was completed when Namaan was obedient to the prophet’s words. The scriptures tell us he became a new man.

Cleansing is possible for you this morning. You may be like Namaan and know that you are in need of cleansing. You go about it all the wrong ways. You come to church (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but just coming to church will not cleanse you of your sins. Perhaps you may not even be aware that you need a cleansing. All of us are in need or at one time in our life were in need of cleansing. The Bible tells that there is no one who is good except Jesus. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Let’s take a look at Titus 3:3-8.

3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Paul tells us just like in Romans that all of us were or are foolish and disobedient and enslaved and deceived. Not one of us has avoided that. Paul tells us that we were born that way. We lived in malice and envy and hating one another. Remember Namaan’s million-dollar gift? God was not impressed. No amount of riches can buy your cleansing. No amount of command God can order your cleansing. We can only be cleansed because of God’s saving presence. That’s what it means in verse 4. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Those of us who have been cleansed are only cleansed because of God’s mercy. We are only cleansed because of what God has done for us. So you can’t be cleansed because you do something or give something to God. It is only through his mercy. And we only have to ask. We must ask for forgiveness and confess that we have sinned against God. Then we must believe and received Christ into our hearts. When we do that we will be cleansed. John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” He will cleanse us. He save(s) us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. What does it mean to be justified? It simply means just as if I had never sinned. When Jesus’ blood cleanses us it brings us back to the relationship that we were originally designed for. What is the benefit? “That we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” How important is cleansing?

In 1818, Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis was born into a world of dying women. The finest hospitals lost one out of six young mothers to the scourge of “childbed fever.” A doctor’s daily routine began in the dissecting room where he performed autopsies. From there he made his way to the hospital to examine expectant mothers without ever pausing to wash his hands. Dr. Semmelweis was the first man in history to associate such examinations with the resultant infection and death. His own practice was to wash with a chlorine solution, and after eleven years and the delivery of 8,537 babies, he lost only 184 mothers–about one in fifty.

He spent the vigor of his life lecturing and debating with his colleagues. Once he argued, “Puerperal fever is caused by decomposed material, conveyed to a wound. . .I have shown how it can be prevented. I have proved all that I have said. But while we talk ,talk, talk, gentlemen, women are dying. I am not asking anything world shaking. I am asking you only to wash…For God’s sake, wash your hands.” But virtually no one believed him. Doctors and midwives had been delivering babies for thousands of years without washing, and no outspoken Hungarian was going to change them now!

Semmelweis died insane at the age of 47, his washbasins discarded, his colleagues laughing in his face, and the death rattle of a thousand women ringing in his ears. “Wash me!” was the anguished prayer of King David. “Wash!” was the message of John the Baptist. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” said the towel-draped Jesus to Peter. Without our being washed clean, we all die from the contamination of sin. For God’s sake, wash.

For you, what is the importance of being cleansed? Eternity hangs in the balance. If you’ve been cleansed through the blood of Jesus, and are living the life that he has called you to, “so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. If you have and are continuing to walk in the Way of Jesus, you can be assured the eternal life in heaven. If you have not been cleansed, there is no hope of eternal life in heaven. Maybe you were cleansed at one time, and are now not walking in the way that God has called you to walk, you are in a dangerous place as well your hope of eternal life in heaven is in jeopardy. This morning if you are in either of the latter to categories that you’ve not been cleansed or that you’ve been cleansed at one time and are not walking with God now, I want to give you an opportunity to change all of that.

Facing the Storms of Life

Water…it can be life giving…it can be thirst quenching…it can be cleansing…it can be relaxing if you enjoy looking at it or swimming in it…or if your in a hot tub.  Without water our grass would not exist.  Just look at the areas of the world where they receive little rain.  Each one of us can relate to a cool, clear glass of water on a hot day.  Most of us take a regular bath or shower to cleanse ourselves.  We use water to cleanse to clothes we wear and we use water to clean our dishes or even wash our cars.  But just as water can be life giving and thirst quenching and cleansing, water can also be destructive.  Most of us have very clear images of the destruction that water is capable of.  Within the last year we have all seen horrific images of destructive water.  I remember in the days following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the images of what was normally blue ocean water, destroying everything in its path.  It had an angry, foaming quality to it.  There was one in particular where the water was just surging through the streets of the village and nothing could stop it.  In the past few weeks we have all seen the destructive nature of water in our own country as hurricanes Katrina and Rita literally wiped out portions of the Gulf coast.

What happens to you when you encounter the storms of life? Even more so, what happens to you when you encounter the storms of life but were just expecting a gentle spring shower?  What happens to you when you were expecting to drink out of a gentle forest stream and you encounter a raging river swelled by torrential non-stop rains?  Do you encounter them head on?  Or do you fail like a hillside saturated by too much water and you fall apart and create a mudslide?

The Bible records such an incident in the life of David.  David was a shepherd boy who helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines (and the giant Goliath) with a slingshot and five smooth stones.  David was the smallest and youngest of Jesse’s boys and yet God picked him out to do great things in Israel.  So in addition to being a shepherd and one of Israel’s great kings, David was also a songwriter.  We have his songs collected for us in the book of Psalms.  David is not the writer of all the Psalms but his is a major contributor to the book.  David had some major storms in his life, to put it mildly.  Let’s take a look at Psalm 42.  David was looking for a gentle spring rain in his life and he got a gully washer.  What did he do? And what can we learn from him?

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. 5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Let’s take a deeper look at this passage.  David start with these words; 1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.   My prayer is that this is your desire.  What do you desire this morning?  Do you desire the things of God or are there other things that are more important to you?  Think with me a moment about a deer panting for water…better yet, think about the way a dog pants in the hot summer.  You just want to give them some water so they will few comforted.  David pants for God the way a deer pants for the water.  David thirsts for God.  He has a deep desire for God.  He doesn’t just want the appearance of religion, he want the real thing.  Is that your desire?  Do you want the living God or do you just want an appearance of God.  My prayer is that you desire the real thing.  David asks, “Where can I go and meet God?”  This is a strange question to be asking.  David was a well-revered worship leader in his day as well.  What does he mean, “Where can I go and meet God?”  Couldn’t he just go to the temple like he always did?  Remember that David was thirsting after the real thing, not just an appearance of the real thing.  How many times do we come to church just out of duty or to think that will get us in good with God?  David knew that just going to the temple would not solve the problem of this thirst.  How do we know this?  Let’s look further.  David has been shedding tears of some sort.  We don’t know what has him in the mode he is in.  It could have been anything.  David went through some real struggle in his life.  His life really looks like a soap opera and yet he was considered a man after God’s own heart.  3” My tears have been my food day and night”, he says.  He wonders as we read at the beginning of the service, “Will I ever make it into God’s presence?”  This really bothers David.  He is longing and desiring for God and yet all he gets is tears.  He’s not getting what he wants.  To make matters worse, he has these tormenters, his enemies who keep pestering him.  They keep coming to his door asking this question, “Where is your God?”  How would like to be in David’s shoes?  Maybe you have been in his shoes.  Maybe you are there right now.  You’re not having a good time in your life and people around you keep asking, why do you continue trusting in God?  What’s wrong with you?  You foolish person, you trust in God and where is he now?  These people that are pestering David aren’t making things any better; partially because David remembers what it’s like when things are going well.  These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.  Remember that David was one of Israel’s worship leaders.  He remembers what it was like to be up in front of the people leading worship; leading people into the presence of God.  He remembers what the emotions were.  Israel’s temple worship was a celebrative type of worship.  He remembers leading the shouts of joy in the large crowd.  He remembers giving thanks.  And yet remembering this does not help.  Can you relate to David?  Have you been there and done that?  Sometimes we come to church expecting to get a lift in our spirits and it just does not happen.  We feel like that was just a waste of time.  By this time, David asks himself a question, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” Another way to ask the question is this way, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?  What are you crying the blues?”  This is a great question.  The answer is even better. What is the answer to David’s depression? “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God.”  We are an emotional people and we put a lot of trust in our emotions.  David says put your trust and hope into God.  Fix your eyes on God.  Here is the key.  David goes on to say My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.  The key is not to remember what you have done, but what God has done.  David remembers how God has helped Israel over the generations…from the land of Jordan to Mount Hermon.   So many times we want to place our hope in what we have done.  It behooves to remember it’s not what we have done, but what God has done and what he is currently doing that we need to remember.  This is the secret for David and it’s really the secret for us.

For a moment, though let’s get back to David’s troubles, because he returns to the subject in the next verse.   Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.  In The Message it reads, “Chaos calls to chaos…” It appears that David is saying, “Look God, I asked for a gentle stream or a gentle spring shower and you are giving my the Colorado River in spring or a category 5 hurricane.  “Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me”  David is feeling a little overwhelmed by God at the moment.  He says, “enough is enough,” BUT then I remember You (God) again.  Your love is there all the time, during the day and during the night.  I’ve heard it phrased this way; God sings over us.  What does that mean?  When our children were younger, I would love to go into their bedrooms and sit on their beds while they were sleeping and sing to them.  That’s what God our Father does for us.  While we sleep he watches over us and sings over us.  David tells us that we are important to God.  And yet he is still trying to convince himself; because he returns to his depression…and he cries out to God.  Even in the midst of all this questioning though he proclaims God’s attributes.  He calls God a rock.  We know that rock is solid.  We sang about standing on the Solid Rock this morning.  He knows that God will be able to provide the answer to “Why have you forgotten me?”  Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”  Even his whole body joins the torment as his enemies torment him and shout their obscenities all day and they ask again, “Where is your God?”  Most of us would have just given up, but David returns to the first question, “11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?”

What is the answer to troubles?  What is the answer to the rushing, swamping, overcoming waters?  What is the answer when you are expecting a gentle rain shower and you get a hurricane?  What is the answer when you are expecting 2 to 3 foot waves and get a tsunami?  The answers is to put your hope in God…to fix your eyes upon him.  It’s important for you to praise him in the good times and bad.  He is you anchor.  He is your Savior.  He is your God.  Will you put your trust in Him and David did?  Are you in despair?  Are you in the dumps?  Are you singing the blues?  Fix your eyes on God and soon you will be praising Him again…No matter what storms of life you may face.

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Thirst Quenching Water

Let me give you a wonderful promise from God.  “Therefore, they are before the throne of God and service him day and night in his temple.  And he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.  Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This comes from Revelation 7:15-17.  What will heaven be like?  Who will go there?  Last week I asked the question if any of you had ever been thirsty?  Think about this for a moment…There will be a time for those who have received Jesus…to those who have been washed by him through his blood…that they will never thirst again…they will never hunger again…this is not just a physical thirst…or a physical hunger…but a time when spiritually when they will never be thirsty or hungry again.  Did you notice the description of heaven here?  There is no hunger, no thirst, no sun to beat upon them, or any scorching heat…the saints of God who are gathered there will be under the care of the Lamb (the great shepherd)…Who is this Lamb the writer of Revelation is talking about?  Let’s look at another passage in Revelation 5.  “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both side and sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.  I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.  Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’  Then I saw I Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.  And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.  Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’”

Wow!  What a description of heaven and what it will be like there.  By now some of you are going to ask, what does this have to do with thirst quenching water? Which is the theme of this morning.

Let me ask you this morning.  Who is the Lamb?  Who is this Lamb who was slain?  What about this blood that purchased men for God?  What is with all of this imagery?

Let’s go to the other side of the Bible to the book of Exodus.  It’s a story about a people who were enslaved.  The Hebrew children were living in Egypt at the time but they were under slavery to the Pharaoh.  If you know the story of Moses, you will know the story.  Moses was a man who should have died when Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew male babies to be thrown into the river to be eaten by the crocodiles.  Moses’ mother hid him in the bulrushes and he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who “adopted” him.  When he was older he went out to where “his” people were and watched them do their hard labor for the Pharaoh.  When he saw one of his own being beaten by an Egyptian soldier, Moses killed the soldier.  The next day Moses saw two Hebrew fighting and he tried to break them up.  The Hebrews asked him, “Who made you judge, are you going to kill us as well?”  Moses then became afraid and fled to Midian where he met his wife Zipporah and went to work for his father-in-law tending sheep in the desert.  While tending the sheep God came to visit Moses in the form of a burning bush.  God told Moses that he had seen the misery of the Hebrew in Egypt and was going to use Moses to deliver them into the land of Canaan, the land that was promised to Abraham.  God told Moses to bring God’s people out of Egypt.  Moses had some concerns regarding this and God told him, “I AM WHO I AM.”  God told Moses that he would be with him.  Moses went but not without reservations.  The Pharaoh was not pleased with Moses’ request.  Pharaoh knew that if this happened he would lose his cheap labor.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened toward the Hebrews.  God then sent nine plagues to the Egyptians.  Do you remember what they were?  They were blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.  If you were Pharaoh, you might have given in by this time, but he didn’t.  He did not relent and let the Hebrews go.  That’s when God unleashed the ultimate plague of killing all the firstborn males in Egypt. (Especially when you consider the worldview at the time that placed first born males at the top of the food-chain (as it were)).  In order for the Hebrews to escape this terrible plague, they would have to follow strict orders from God.  They were commanded to take a one-year old male lamb without defect for each household and slaughter them at twilight of the fourteenth day of the month.  They were to take the blood of the lamb and put it on the sides and tops of the doorposts of the house where they ate the lamb.  That same night they were to eat of the lamb roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs and bread without yeast.  They were to eat all of it.  They were also to eat it ready to flee Egypt; cloak tucked in belt, sandals on your feet and staff in your hand.  The Lord was about to pass through the land of Egypt.  All firstborn male, both human and animal were to be killed unless the Lord saw the sign on the doorposts.  God said, when I see the blood, I will Passover you and your family.  (This is where the festival of Passover comes from.)  At midnight, God came to Egypt and killed all the firstborn except those of the Hebrews…and there was great wailing in the land of Egypt.  Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, get out of here, NOW!  So the Hebrews made haste out of the land of Egypt.  Thus, the Lord delivered them out of slavery through the blood of a lamb.

Now let’s skip all the way to John chapter 1:19-34: 19Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.[a]” 21They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, Make straight the way for the Lord.’ “

24Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26″I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.     29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

John the Evangelist and John the Baptist declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God.  This is the only place that the Lamb of God is mentioned in the Bible.  How do we equate Jesus with the Lamb of God then?  In chapter 53 of Isaiah, we have the prophet’s vision of the suffering servant of Jesus and in verse 7 he writes, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”  If we take these scripture together along with others that we have not looked at this morning, we see the Lamb that is on the throne is Jesus.  Jesus is the one whose blood washes away our sins.  Jesus is the one whose blood purchased men for God.  Jesus is the Lamb on the throne…Jesus is the one who will lead us to the springs of living water.  Jesus said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow within him.

Jesus gives you the invitation this morning.  Let me give you four spiritual principles

1.  God loves you and created you to know Him.

God’s Love
God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

God’s Plan
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3, NIV).

What prevents us from knowing God?

2.  Man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him or experience His love.

Man is Sinful
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his own stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

Man is Separated
The wages of sin is death” [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).

…(Those) who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus…will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord…” (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9)

God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. Man is continually trying to reach God and establish the personal relationship with Him through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion – but he inevitably fails.

The third principle explains the only way to bridge this gulf…

3.  Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.

He Died in Our Place
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

He Rose From the Dead
Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

He is the Only Way to God
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me‘” (John 14:6).

God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

It is not enough just to know these truths…

4. We must receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God and experience His love.

We Must Receive Christ
As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)

We Receive Christ Through Faith
By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).

When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive us of our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of our will.

You Can Receive Christ Right Now by Faith Through Prayer

God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.

“Lord Jesus, I want to know You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart?

If it does, pray this prayer right now, and Christ will come into your life, as He promised.

The Bible Promises Eternal Life to All Who Receive Christ
The witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11-13).

Now What?  What happened?

1. Christ came into your life (Revelation 3:20 and Colossians 1:27).

2. Your sins were forgiven (Colossians 1:14).

3. You became a child of God (John 1:12).

4. You received eternal life (John 5:24). (You can now be a part of our heaven celebration)

5. You began the great adventure for which God created you (John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Can you think of anything more wonderful that could happen to you than entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Would you like to thank God in prayer right now for what He has done for you? By thanking God, you demonstrate your faith.

Y’all Come

I have a question for you this morning.  How do you get to heaven?  This month we are going to take a look at what it take for us to get to heaven.  Maybe you’ve thought about it and perhaps you haven’t.

Little Billy, caught in mischief, was asked by his mother, “How do you expect to get to heaven?”

He thought for a moment and then said, “Well, I’ll just run in and out and keep slamming the door until they say, ‘For heaven’s sake, either come in or stay out.’  Then I’ll go in.”

Perhaps you think that way when it comes to entering the kingdom of heaven.  Isaiah the prophet in chapter 55 gives some of the answers to that question.  To begin our service this morning, I shared with you a modern day paraphrase of that passage.  Let’s take a look at Isaiah’s words again.

Isaiah 55

1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.

5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

I’ve simply entitled this message Y’all Come.  This is a message of invitation.  It is a message of invitation to heaven.  The prophet says, “come, all of you who are thirsty.”  Thirsty!  Most of us can relate to being thirsty.  Just think of being outside in the hot sun, cutting the grass or doing any number of outside chores.  You know how your throat gets dry and you desire something to quench the thirst.  How does a cool glass of water or lemonade or sweet tea sound?  God is offering an invitation.  Come, you who are thirsty, come to the water.  This echo’s Jesus’ words in John 4:14 and John 7:37, (The one who drinks of the water I give him will never thirst again, and if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.)  How would you like water that will quench your thirst forever?  It is possible.  It’s available to everyone and best of all it’s free.  “You who have no money, come, buy and eat!”  How can we buy if we have no money?  The gift is free.  “Come buy wine and milk, without money and without cost.”  You’ve probably heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Here it is in the scriptures; expensive things (wine and milk) are being offered for free.  This is the invitation to salvation.  The invitation to heaven is free, because it’s already been paid.  Jesus Christ paid the price for us.

There’s a warning here as well, the writer asks, “Why do you spend your money on things that don’t matter.  Why do you spend your money on things that do not satisfy?”  The invitation is to eat what is good and delight in good food, spiritually speaking that is.  Think about your life this morning.  What is important to you?  The things that are important to you are those things that surround you.  God is saying that stuff is trivial compared to Him and the promise of heaven.  I’ve heard it said this way.  “If this earth took God six days to create it and we’ve been waiting two thousand years for Him to prepare heaven, this is like living in a garbage can compared to up there.”

God is saying in verse 3.  I want to make an everlasting covenant with you.  In our culture we don’t understand long-term contracts.  We want all our contracts to be short, so that if things don’t work we can get out of them.  God’s not asking for a one-night stand.  He is asking for you, forever.  God loves you.  God cares for you.  Jesus came to earth because God cares for you.  God and Jesus are one and they love you.  John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes on His name will not perish, but have eternal life.”  God loves you that much.

Some may try to argue the point that God loves you.  Let’s take a step back.  Genesis 1:27 tells us that, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”  This is Hebrew poetry and remember when something is repeated, it stands out as important.  God created man in His image.  That must mean we are important.  We must be loved by God.  But there was a problem.  Man, created in God’s image, decided to rebel against his creator.  Adam and Eve ate of the fruit that God commanded them not to eat.  Some will say, “Well, if I had the chance, I would have do it differently.”  Really???? It doesn’t matter if you would be the first, the 100th, the 1000th or the millionth Adam or Eve, you would have sinned.  Man, naturally follows his own way and not God’s.  That’s why Paul writes, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  We are all guilty.  So what happens when we disobey God?  Is there a penalty for disobedience?  Yes, there is! “For the wages of sin is death…”

If you do not know Christ today, there is a great gap between you and God.  Imagine the deepest, widest canyon, the gap between you and God is thousands and thousands of times greater.  Man has tried all kinds of remedies and solutions to bridge this gap.  We try to work our way to God.  All that does is make us feel better.  We go to church.  We do nice things for others.  These will not get you into the kingdom of heaven.  They’re as worthless as play money.  We will try all kinds of things to bridge the gap to God; religions (Jesus said that he was the only way to heaven) philosophies, good works and even morality.  There will be “good” people who will go to hell, because good works will not save you.  Going to church will not save you.  Doing nice things will not save you.  Being a good, moral person will not save you.  There will be “good” moral people in hell, because morality will not save you.  We use all these things to try and build a bridge to God, but none of them work.  There is a God-shaped hole in our hearts and we try to fill that with everything that we can think of.  All of this falls short of God’s plan for our lives.

But there is a bridge.  There is a hope and it’s called the cross.  Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave.  6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. 10 For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.[1]  The cross is the great equalizer.  The cross is the bridge that completely spans the deep and wide gap between God and man.  The scripture we just read tells us that because of what Christ did for us on the cross, we went from being enemies of God to friends of God and we will escape the eternal punishment of hell.  Isaiah tells us to seek the Lord while he may be found and call upon him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him and to our God for he will greatly pardon.

How do we turn the page?  The scriptures tell us to repent (this is more than saying, “I’m sorry” because I got caught.)  This is a genuine sorrow for how we have displeased God.  Repentance involves a 180-degree turn from where we are going.  It involves turning away from the life we want to live and turning toward life as God wants us to live.  When we repent we must ask God for forgiveness, for breaking his law and for displeasing him.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  John the Evangelist tells us that 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. [2]

So we must repent and live a life for God and we must believe in Jesus.  We must receive Him and when we do, we receive all the privileges and responsibilities of being children of God.  One of the privileges of being a child of God is going to heaven.  Do you want to go to heaven?  Repent and receive Christ as your savior this morning.  What will happen then?      12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

Is God calling you into his kingdom today?  I encourage you to “seek the Lord while he may be found.”