“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of the heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jesus Christ
I got back from a long bicycle ride on a hot day…dying of thirst! Okay…I wasn’t really dying but it felt like it. I really needed some water. As I was putting up my bicycle, I saw a sports bottle left over from a previous ride so I grabbed it to quench my thirst. Fortunately, I opened the bottle to see what was in it before I tried to take a drink. The bottle, that once had been filled with an energy drink, was now filled with mold and mildew growing something that looked like a science experiment! That wasn’t going to quench my thirst. I took the bottle upstairs and gave it a thorough cleaning before I put anything else in it.
That got me to thinking about this week’s message from 1 Kings 18 and the cause of my recent spiritual dryness. In my case, my spiritual dryness was the result of a “departure” from God…a cooling off of my “first love” in my relationship with God. I had allowed cares, worries, problems, busy-ness, dead works, and sin to get in the way. I was spiritually dry…I needed a drink…but my heart was unclean! My heart had become like that sports bottle—mildewed and molded. It needed a thorough cleansing!
In some cases…like mine, our spiritual dryness is a direct result of our departure from God—we move away from a love relationship with him. On Sunday I spoke about the cyclical pattern we see in Scripture and experience in our lives (see below for Sunday’s notes). In short, God is at work, on mission in the world to redeem a lost world calling people into a love relationship with him. God’s people tend to depart from him turning to substitutes, so God disciplines his people because of his love. When God’s people cry out to him for help, God calls his people to repent and return to him. God renews his repentant people by restoring them to a right relationship with him.
Before we can take a drink and be filled with the living water our hearts have to be cleansed by God’s forgiveness. And the Scripture is clear: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1: 9). Authentic confession leads to genuine repentance…a true turning away from selfish sinfulness toward a love relationship with God.
Repentance is not feeling sorry for your sin. Repentance is not stopping something to get away from God’s anger/punishment. It’s not doing some—like religious activity—in order to earn God’s favor! Religious activity is nothing but dead works. Sorrow is not enough; reforming our behavior doesn’t cut it. Authentic confession and genuine repentance is a matter of the heart. Repentance means that we humble our hearts and in absolute surrender throw ourselves upon the grace and mercy of God…with our whole heart. When we turn to God in repentance we experience the cleansing God offers us in Jesus Christ and we’re ready to be filled with refreshing living water!
Is your soul as dry as a desert? Has your heart shriveled to become a raisin? Have you departed from a fresh and vibrant love relationship with God? Have you erected an idol—anything that you worship or value more than God? Are you simply “going” through the motions of religious activity?
If your answer is “yes” then turn to God in sincere repentance. Let him cleanse your heart and then flood it with the living water of the Holy Spirit. Let him be the flowing, living water that courses through your heart!
Join me in praying: “Lord, I come dry and thirsty…in humility, confession, and repentance! I come to you to take a good long drink.”
Your thirsty pastor,
Sunday’s Sermon Notes: 1 Kings 18