“Then said He unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.” Ezekiel 47:8 KJV. In this vision which God showed Ezekiel of the Living Water flowing into a dry and barren land, we know that the water represents the Gospel of Christ going out to a sinful world. It flowed from under the Altar, which represents Christ in His sacrificial death. And we thank God that all along the banks of this ever increasing stream there is life! But let us also notice the destination. Verse 10 mentions 2 geographical locations which are along the Dead Sea, where this river is going. The Dead Sea represents this fallen world, dead in trespasses and sins. It is spiritually lifeless. But what a joy to know, that Jesus Christ, Who is our Life, was willing to empty Himself, to pour out His life unto death, so that we might live! Hallelujah! And there is so much life in Him, that when He encounters the lifeless and hopeless condition of man’s spiritual death, life and healing come!! His life overcomes death. He did in healing lifeless bodies. He did it in His glorious resurrection. And He is still doing it as He pours Himself out through His spiritual body, into the dead condition of man’s existence. Let us praise our Lord and Saviour, Who gave Himself so that we might live and experience healing for our souls.
“to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.” Acts 26:18 KJV. This was part of Paul’s testimony about his Damascus road experience. Jesus was speaking these words to him revealing His purpose in sending him to be a witness to the Gentiles. While it is amazing for us to read and think about what Jesus did through Paul, the reality is, He calls each of us for the same basic purpose. We are called to be His witnesses! The testimony of our lives and our lips should encourage lost souls to ‘open their eyes, and to turn from darkness to light’. In the Gospel of Jesus we have the greatest message this world has ever heard. It is the message every sinner needs to hear. And the life changing power of the Gospel is what they need to see in our lives. So often we forget in dealing with sinners, that they are spiritually blind. They are held in bondage under the power of satan. The things they do and the choices they make continually reflect that. So our prayers and efforts towards them are not simply to get them to be better people and start going to church. Rather, we are depending on the power of God in Christ to totally change and transform their hearts and lives! May God help us to pray and intercede for their souls so that they will turn to Jesus and receive forgiveness of sins.
“…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4 KJV. One of the things true friendship requires is loyalty. We cannot be the friend of God while also being the friend of this ungodly world system that is in rebellion against God. When Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:30, “…If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you”, He was speaking to those who were His friends. And He was warning them about becoming friends with this sinful world. In making efforts to be ‘a friend of sinners’ and reaching needy souls, we must be very careful that we do not condone or conform to their worldly ways. This has caused many believers to cease being God’s friend. In becoming a friend of this world, their sentiments become more attached to this sinful world than to Jesus Christ. They care more about pleasing sinful people than they do about pleasing their Faithful Friend. But let us understand, we cannot truly help needy souls unless we are a loyal friend to Jesus. It is only as we become a friend to Jesus that we will be able to help the souls bound by this ungodly world.
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”James 2:23 KJV. What an amazing tribute to a mortal man, to be called “the Friend of God”. And yet, this is the same privilege Jesus extends to each of us when He said in John 15:14, “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Abraham had 2 distinct qualities that caused him to become the friend of God; He believed God and he obeyed Him, even when he did not understand. For us, the same things are necessary if we would be the friend of God. No matter what comes our way, no matter how things appear or how we feel, we must believe God. We must believe what He has spoken to us in His Word. We must stand on His promises to us. That is what His true friends do. When we truly believe, it will produce obedience. Today, most of religion is promoting an easy-believism which does not produce obedience, but leaves people in their sins. They claim to be believers but do not obey the things God says. But let us be clear, that is not being a friend of God. By God’s grace, let us have genuine faith in our Friend which produces an obedient life.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:13-14 KJV. In this world, one of the most precious things we can ever have is a true friend. As children of God, we rejoice that Jesus was “the Friend of sinners”. But while we were sinners that was a one-sided relationship. We had no interest in being His friend. But when we finally realized that He proved His great love for us, by laying down His life for our sins, then our hearts were drawn to Him. And now, through this great change He makes in our hearts, we have the opportunity to enjoy true friendship. By His grace, we can love Him because He first loved us. And because of Who He is, one of the ways we can prove our friendship is by living a life of loving obedience. Many years ago, Mrs. H. A. Hendricks wrote a song about this blessed friendship. “There is not a friend like Jesus, In the trying scenes of life; He can hear the heart’s faint whisper, Calm the tempest’s raging strife. There is not a friend like Jesus, Patient, tender, kind, and true; If you’ll be a friend of Jesus, He will be a friend to you.” May we live a life of humble obedience that proves we are a friend of Jesus.
“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” Ezekiel 47:9 KJV. In this vision God gave to the prophet, we see a beautiful picture of the Gospel message flowing out to a needy world. Everything that men have tried to do on a human level has ended in desolation and spiritual death. But this stream that becomes a great river is from above, from God Himself! This is the River of God’s grace and mercy that flows through Jesus Christ and His atoning work. Before this River of Life touched us, we were dead in trespasses and sins. We were like that dry and barren wilderness with no spiritual life in us. But thank God, one day this Stream of Mercy found us! And when God’s mercy and grace found us, we became alive in Christ and healing came to our souls. Hallelujah!! And today, every person whose heart and life has been healed, can become a vessel through which this blessed River can flow. By God’s grace, let us drink deeply, so that ‘out of our bellies will flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:38). Let us become spiritual conduits through which the healing water flows to needy souls all around us.
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him…” Matthew 14:31 KJV. As Peter was walking on the water to go to Jesus, he got distracted by the wind and the waves around him. As he did, his fear temporarily overcame his faith and he began to sink. Peter cried out, “Lord save me!”. And how wonderful it was that Jesus reached down His hand for the struggling disciple! For God’s children, we all can look back at times in our own lives, when we have ‘begun to sink’ under the weight of failures or great troubles. And there, we discovered what Peter experienced that night on the water. We found that a mighty hand of love was reaching down to pick us up. And how glad we were that Jesus saved us from sinking! How true this was when Jesus found us down in that miry pit of our sin. There, as unworthy and defiled as we were, Jesus reached down in love and lifted us up! He washed us from our sins and set our feet on the Rock! Many years ago G.E. Wright wrote of this experience: “Once my soul was astray from the heavenly way, and was wretched and vile as could be; But my Savior in love gave me peace from above, when He reached down His hand for me.”
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 KJV. These words of Jesus remind us of the true worth of the human soul. To possess all of this physical world with all of its monetary value would not compare to the worth of one soul. We read and hear these words often, and most church people claim to believe them, but do we actually live like we value souls above all? The reality is, we seek first what we value most. For most people, that is material things. They value the things of this world above all and so they seek after them the most. For others, they pursue worldly pleasure and success because they place the greatest value on them. But how many truly place the greatest value on their eternal soul and the souls of others? How many prioritize their lives with this truth in mind? And when we interact with others, do we realize that their souls are of eternal worth? May God help us to understand, we are not bodies that have a soul, we are eternal souls who have a body for only a brief time. Let us be those who care for souls.
“There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” John 6:9 KJV. One of the important things we should notice in this passage is that this little boy came and freely offered his food to Jesus. This reminds us of how God chooses to work in our world. He uses that which is offered to Him. He works through hearts and lives that are given to Him. Jesus could have asked His Heavenly Father to send down manna from Heaven like He did for Israel in the wilderness. But He chose to use this little boy’s offering to work through. Today, we know God has the ability to write in the clouds His message to needy souls. But He chooses instead to use us, as the body of Christ, to be His witnesses. He could speak in an audible voice to tell of His love, but He chooses to use us to show His love. That means that each of us have a responsibility before God to offer all that we are and all that we have to Him, so that He can use us to bring help to others and glory to His Name. Let us not be among those who sit idly by waiting for God to do some great thing. Let us offer ourselves to become the consecrated vessels that He can use to do great things through.
“Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, alway.”Deuteronomy 11:1 KJV. One of the things that becomes clear in reading the Old Testament as well as the New is, that God has always wanted a people who would love Him. Part of what made the Law Holy was that it was given from God’s heart of love and it was to be fulfilled only by love. Jesus was able to perfectly fulfill the Law because He lived every moment with perfect love to God. And that love is what produced a life of perfect obedience. The fact that this is also true in the New Covenant, He made very clear in John 14:23, “If a man love Me, He will keep my words…” So many in religion today, who deny and argue against the need for obedience, seem to miss this important aspect of love. They profess to love God, but then they do not concern themselves with living in obedience. But true love to God will always produce a life which strives for obedience, because that is what love does. Love desires never to grieve the One Who is loved. Let us humbly ask God to once again fill our hearts with His love, so we can live obedient lives that please Him and bring glory to His Name. “But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.” 1 John 2:5 KJV.