Dying For a Drink, Part 2 by Larry W. Peebles June 30, 2017 17.24
The living water that Jesus describes in John 7:37-39 is real. It is supernatural, but none-the-less real. In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the scriptural evidence in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22, as we compared Ezekiel and John’s visions from God, both concerning this living water. In Part 1 (June 2, 2017), we learned that this living water is a form and manifestation of the Holy Spirit—one of several we see in Scripture. Other examples include a dove, wind, fire, supernatural strength in a man, and more.
When a believer gives his heart over to Jesus, and makes Jesus the Lord and Savior of his life, he is “born again”, and receives this living water of the Holy Spirit. This water brings life and refreshing everywhere it flows. Jesus said it would not only come to the believer, but it would flow like a stream out of the believer to a dry and thirsty world. (John 7:37-39). This water, unlike the water we drink from the faucet, is sufficient to quench our spiritual thirst forever. Jesus never intended the believer would receive and keep the living water for himself. He intended that the believer would share the living water with others, that they might come to know Jesus. The Bible calls that “bearing fruit” (see Galatians 5: 22-23). The believer is to bear fruit continually. We are not to merely observe, share and report on the condition of man and this world, we are to change it–for the better.
In order to go further with this study of living water, I want to share two stories. Both come from ministry trips to Kenya. On my first trip in 2007, my wife and I traveled with a team to a number of churches in the Mt. Kenya region, about two hours north of Nairobi. Each day we visited a different church, and ministered to the church pastor and leaders. We did a morning meeting and an afternoon meeting, with a break for lunch. God graced those meetings with His presence, and the meetings were powerful.
On one such day, we visited one of the leader’s homes for lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions. We found the Kenyans to be a very friendly, gracious and welcoming people. The hostess provided a very delicious home-cooked meal, offering no less than the best they had for their guests. Following the meal, and after a warm thank you and good bye, I stepped outside to board the van for the short drive back to the church for the afternoon session.
The leader’s home was in a very small village, with only two intersecting dirt roads. On one side of the intersection was a concrete tank, maybe 6 ft. or so square, 2-3 ft. deep. A man in a home-made wooden cart pulled by a small donkey had stopped alongside the tank, and began to empty 4 or 5 big barrels of water into the tank. I studied the scene for a moment, and realized the man was bringing water to the village. The tank was the community water supply. There was no water main to supply clean water to the houses. There was no sewer main. Most of the homes in this small village had out houses, or some type of in-ground pit.
The Kenyans knew the water in the tank was not for drinking. They would use it for bathing and washing clothes. Boiled water would be used for cooking, and bottled water would generally be provided for guests to drink. Still the man who delivered water to the community tank provided a major service, as it was not unusual to see people in the area walking for miles to bring a few containers of water back to their homes—perhaps enough for that day. This man in the cart made a positive difference in his village. He changed the circumstances of that village by delivering the precious life-giving water in large quantities.
It was some time after the trip, as I continued to study this living water and prepared to tell the story of the man in the cart, I felt the Lord issue a challenge. I sensed from the Lord that we are to be like that man, and make a difference in our circumstances. We are to bring water to our village. Our village might be our marriage, our family, our workplace, circle of friends, school, or church. We are to carry living water—the message of salvation, hope, healing and encouragement—to that village. The river of living water, the Holy Spirit of God, is to flow to us and through us to a dry and thirsty world.
The second story comes from my last trip to Kenya in 2013. (My wife and I are going again later in 2017.) On that trip my wife and I were part of a team that conducted revival meetings in a large tent we had set up in a mid- sized town in the Mt. Kenya region. The team met in the morning for teaching, inspiration, and assignments, then spread out over the town to greet people walking about, inquire if they knew Jesus, and extend an invitation to the tent revival meetings. If possible, we would get their name and contact information for a local pastor to follow up. People were receptive to the invitation. They would stop on the street and listen, and ask questions about what was happening at the big tent.
I was asked to teach at the morning team meeting on Saturday, the last day of street evangelism. We had scheduled meetings for Saturday afternoon and evening. The revival meetings would end with an afternoon meeting on Sunday after morning church services. I spoke to the team Saturday morning about living water, and told the story of the man hauling water to his village in the cart. I encouraged the team to carry water to this village by first believing the living water flowed through them individually, and second by looking for opportunities to pray with and for people on the street. I specifically encouraged the team to lay hands on the people as they prayed. Scriptures compare us to trees planted by streams of water, whose leaves (hands) are for healing (all discussed in Part 1 of this series). I simply asked them to apply in faith what Scriptures have already said.
My wife and I felt good about the street evangelism that morning, as we encountered and prayed for a man we found walking alone through a field. He kneeled down on the ground and received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He had not eaten in days, so we were able to direct him to our tent, where there was food and tea. But we felt even better when we returned to the tent. A woman pastor from another team was looking for us with a marvelous report.
Her team had encountered a man they described as “out of his mind”. He was babbling incoherently, unable to speak an intelligent word. He was filthy with hair matted in dirt and grass from sleeping on the ground. His eyes were rolling and looked glazed, and he was living like an animal. He was a literal wild man on the verge of death. The woman remembered the teaching from earlier in the morning, and laid hands on him and prayed for him along with the team. She said he immediately snapped back into his right mind, and his eyes were stable and clear. He was able to speak. He came back to life.
He said he had not eaten in days. The team took him to the church’s training center. He bathed and shaved his head, which was easier than trying to clean his hair. He was given a set of clean clothes and a meal. The pastor was hardly able to contain herself with what she then told me. The man had agreed to speak at the afternoon meeting under the tent to give a testimony of what had happened, and how God had immediately set him free from demonic control, cleared his mind, and returned his speech.
We all marveled that afternoon when he rose to speak. He spoke clearly and confidently. He knew he had received a miracle. He knew he was as good as dead, but now could testify to life. He confirmed Jesus as his Savior, and gave Him all the glory. All of this was because of the great power and compassion of God, and a team of believers who acted in faith and prayed as though living water flowed through their hands into the dry and thirsty people in that town.
Jesus is issuing a challenge to His followers to believe that living water flows to and through them, as He has said. He is calling His followers to act like thermostats instead of thermometers, where we by our actions and prayers are changing things instead of reporting the current conditions. He is challenging us to carry living water to our villages. The world is dying for a drink.