Pentecost Sunday, 5/19/02

Rivers of Living Water”
John 7: 37-39

t is not often that your Pastor encourages you to "take a drink," but in this week's newsletter some of you caught my last line: "So, come this Sunday and take a drink --- of water that leads to eternal hydration." It is Jesus' promise of spiritual sustenance that we are focusing on for Pentecost Sunday:

(37) On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, (38) and let the one that believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water." (39) Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

Pentecost celebrates the fulfillment of Jesus' promise that was first foretold by the Old Testament Prophets: "And you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." (Isaiah 58:11, NASV). Jesus had promised the sinful woman that he encountered at the well in Samaria this same, "well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4: 14).

This promised experience is ours today because we have become the "believers in him," that Jesus spoke of in today's text. Through mercy and grace we are recipients of the promise that was made to the Samaritan woman, and we never have to be spiritually thirsty ever again.

The Bible alludes to spiritual water so often because it is the nectar of life. Our physical bodies are primarily made up of water. Without water we cannot live. Without spiritual water we cannot live abundantly.

We read in the news last week that most Americans are physically dehydrated because we do not drink enough water. This seems strange since we are one of the few places on earth that has a drinkable public water supply. One of the first experiences many foreign tourists want to have is to go to our public drinking fountains and take a long swig of our famous free ice water. Freely available water is a wonderful part of our culture.

During the Great Depression at a small drugstore located next to the dusty highway in the tiny town of Wall, South Dakota, the druggist got a brilliant idea that would lure thirsty travelers into his place of business. He erected a series of small signs along the highway leading through town which read simply, "Free Ice Water at Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota!" Overnight his customers doubled, tripled, and by the time our family arrived in the 1980's the once tiny store had grown into a shopping center sized series of stores, restaurants, playgrounds and a huge drugstore--- all still offering all the free ice water you can drink. Of course, every drug store in America gave away free ice water, but Wall Drugs made it more freely known through advertising a commodity that is absolutely necessary for life.

Years ago at Buckingham Palace our daughters fainted from an unusual heat wave and I had to jog three blocks and pay $5.00 per bottle for warm drinking water: There were no water fountains and Londoners had never heard of ice water. Nowadays we buy small bottles of spring water that we carry with us, and keep gallons of fresh cold water in the fridge. Water is indeed the staple of life; we can't live without it. Likewise, we can not live to our fullness without an abundant supply of Jesus' spiritual water. Just as we have free ice water fountains in our airport terminals, offices, malls and churches, God's Holy Spirit is freely available to prevent spiritual dehydration.

During his incarnation Jesus was able to personally offer the gift of spiritual water to the small group of people who believed in him. However, in his physical body he was limited by space. He could only be in one place at a time. In today's world the Holy Spirit can be everywhere at once. Every person in every worship service in the whole wide world who opens their heart to the Holy Spirit can experience living water. The lonely soul waking up from surgery fearful of what his prognosis might be can cry out to God and he will come alive in his humble heart. The prodigal son waking up about this time of day from a stupor of drugs and alcohol can cry out for Jesus and he will extend forgiveness and a new life style of purity.

Perhaps some of us have confused our natural thirst for spiritual water for a hunger for more possessions, or vacations. It could be that what we need most in order to feel right within ourselves, and with God, is a regular diet of the Holy Spirit's Living Water. Just as we know that we need water, we also know that we need more of God.

So, we have come this Sunday expecting to take a drink of God's promised spiritual water that leads to eternal hydration! This "living water" will also sustain us in our next life in heaven. Just as we must drink plentifully of water every day to stay alive, we have to keep on drinking from Jesus' fountain in order to keep his promise of eternal live alive and fresh in our hearts.

The one catch is that we must personally drink Living Water in order to prevent spiritual dehydration. It is not enough just to know that the water is available, we must lift a glass to our lips and drink. As drinking water is a natural part of our daily lives, so drinking regularly, and abundantly, from the Spirit's sustenance can become a part of our daily routine.

The same God who flung the stars into space wants to come into our hearts with redemption and power to help us lead a righteous life. The Good News of Pentecost is that God is readily available to remold our lives and turn us into the person that he has planned for us to become. God's power is able to accomplish in us what we could have never dreamed of doing on our own. As long as there is life in our bodies it is never too late to begin a New Life in Christ!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

Pentecost Sunday, 5/19/02