Spaciousness – Deuteronomy 11:8-32
Unfortunately, drought is not unfamiliar to those of us living on the prairie. We’ve seen dry ponds and browned-out trees. We know drought translates into massive economic loss. Yet, drought has its place. Drought accentuates the value of water and the promises of God …
For the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.
Men pray, but when and in what form moisture comes is beyond predicting. However, the Lord is saying to the chosen that he has a place which is well-watered; its available and we must choose to possess it. Jehovah explains how we must proceed.
And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that I will give the rain in its season, the early and the late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.
The Lord continues regarding the importance of these commands …
You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.
I sense an excitement among believers about the well watered lands of spiritual possibility. Yet, when this moisture is predicated by an “if” countenances often fall. They know they have not impressed God’s words upon their hearts. They feel their bible deficit cuts them off from any would-be promised land. If this happens to be you, be strong and take courage; nothing separate you from the love of God. Mastery of bible knowledge is fine but too often it becomes an end, in and of itself. Scriptural scholarship does not create abundant life. The Pharisees, both historic and modern, are the tragic living proof of this.
We were not all called to become bible scholars. However, we are all called to walk in the light we have. Let’s explore what this means. First of all, there is no value in shame. Shame does not lead to any kind of promised land. Shame leads to the ultimate drought – religion. If we are deficient in the scriptures, let’s dismiss shame and simply set a new course.
Abandon the notion that I will just never know the scriptures well enough. This is fatalistic and irresponsible. This attitude is incompatible with God’s Spirit within us. Let’s simply acknowledge that the scriptures are important and adopt a new attitude. Why not agree with them and say, “I am a new creation in Christ. I am well able to enter this land.” It is not reasonable that God would emphasize the importance of scripture then disable us in our ability to understand them. We simply need to take one obedient step after another. This is choosing life. Obeying what light we have will take us much further than the mastery of many texts.
The scriptures are a priceless treasure. Our new hearts are formatted to grasp the spirit of them. Find a translation that suits you and begin reading. All scripture is inspired, but for persons living under the new covenant, the gospels and the apostle’s letters are shining the most relevant light on our paths. The Old Testament reveals the nature and the heart of God as it was expressed to Israel. The Law was the center piece of this table. It was the essential segue and is the ongoing tutor in God’s self-revelation. The new covenant reveals our access point to the promised land which is the grace of God in Christ. Jesus Christ himself is the center piece of our table. Here he serves Living Water to the thirsty.
Living Water is a reference to the Holy Spirit – the One who personalizes God’s Word and reveals the Father to us. We are indeed favored to have scriptural revelation. At the same time, it is worth remembering that God turned the world upside down without the bible, as we know it. The Holy Spirit is too often thought of as the past tense – booster rocket of the church. Once the Spirit propelled it into orbit, the Chruch then had the Bible – the perfect had come …
the partial had been done away with. When the church was a mere child, it spoke like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child; when it had became mature, it did away with childish things.
Sadly, this is the tragic and drought producing vision held in high esteem by much of evangelical Christianity. The Church desperately needs to acknowledge its need for the ongoing power of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus is our Bread of Life, the Holy Spirit was, and is, our Living Water. Together they are our essential nourishment. The table is set – they are the feast set for us in the presence of our enemy.
Unfortunately, we have quite a division at the family dining table. Much of the Church looks to the scripture as their sole source of revelation. Another leans on the Holy Spirit as their primary source of direction. I believe this is slated to change …
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. (John 4:23)
We must personally come to Him and learn to drink from His Spirit and feed from his Word.
A related word about teaching. Just listening to the teachings of others each week is like trying to live on someone else’s nourishment. Pastor was not called to permanently chew, digest and regurgitate the meat for us. If we are mere listeners, we have become dependents in a spiritual welfare culture. Dependency upon another to feed and water us will produce it own kind of drought. The Father wants us to personally taste and see that He is good.
The best preaching creates hunger and thirst. The best teaching equips men to use the fork and cup. The Inspired words and lives of true elders demonstrate that God’s is accessible though his Word and his Spirit. Scriptural revelation is available to all, not just academics. Intimacy with Christ is available through the Spirit. True elders model how we can personally become those who worship him in spirit and truth.
A better yardstick for Church growth would be how many saints have taken responsibility for their own spirit’s nourishment as opposed to how many attend the service and what they gave.
Father, awaken our thirst and relieve our drought. May we see the latter rains overtaking our parched and thirsty hearts. May we see our hearts erupt and overflow with Living Water. May we eat and drink and see the desert bloom before us. Amen.