Because we have running water in our homes, we forget how precious and critical it is for life. Sometimes we need a reminder. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a reminder of life in the desert and God’s constant presence, Jesus reminded them of God’s Promise to send Holy Spirit by telling them rivers of living water flow out of them.
Rivers…in a desert! What a lavish picture.
I was visually reminded of the need for water in the desert when we were in Sedona AZ for our first time.
I was looking for places to visit when I spotted the words Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. I had to see it. The next morning, we made our way through the doors of the visitor’s center and onto a winding path shaded by giant sycamore trees. I was anticipating a king’s castle.
I quickly realized that Montezuma’s Castle was not the royal castle of the cruel Aztec monarch Montezuma. It was incorrectly named by white settlers that thought the apartments were built by the Aztec Indians that escaped Mexico during the Spanish conquest. Montezuma never even came that far north. Although the name was incorrect, it remains unchanged except for the addition of national park.
But, what I saw was even better than a castle. I saw the homes of an ancient group of cliff-dwelling Indians. It had always been a dream of mine to see them and without even meaning to here I was. I gasp at the sight. I wanted to go inside, but they don’t let you go inside them anymore. Years ago you could climb wooden ladders from elevation to elevation to see them. I don’t think I would have done that!
These industrious people built their homes high in the crevices of the mountain, like a cliff swallow’s nest. They formed walls with rocks, dabbing crevices like a mud dauber, to construct private residences. “This twenty-roomed, high-rise apartment nestled into a towering limestone cliff tells a 1,000 year-old story of ingenuity and survival in an unforgiving desert landscape.”
Scientists named these people the Sinaqua Indians. Sinaqua means “no water.” When you have a faucet hooked up to public water facilities, you don’t worry about water. When you live in a desert where there is very little water, you worry about water. There is a law in the desert…a fatal law. “Where there’s no water, there’s no life.
I want to pause here to point out…the end of sin brings death, just as surely as being in the desert without water brings death. This fact is true, whether referring to a church, a family, or a person. If you don’t have Jesus, the living water, you are spiritually dead. But, Jesus is the life-giving water. He says, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink. We see signs in our culture that people are very thirsty…they just don’t know that money or things can’t satisfy their thirst! Only Jesus can satisfy their thirst.
The Sinaqua Indians found life giving water.
Maybe they found the river the same way most travelers do, they saw the tree line. A tree line can be seen from far away and when you see trees know there is water there. The Sinaqua Indians, like the trees, wanted to be near the water, so they built their homes in the cliffs above the water. The high places protected them from flash floods and attacks from their enemies. Building materials were readily available.
My adventure didn’t end there.
Eleven miles away was another Sinaquan apartment complex and this one was built around…
wouldn’t you know it– Montezuma’s Well.
This artesian well was “formed long ago by the collapse of the roof of a limestone cavern. Over one million gallons of water a day flows continuously into the well from beneath. This constant supply of fresh water provides an aquatic habitat like no other in the world and has served as an oasis for wildlife and humans for thousands of years.”
They built their lives around this life-sustaining well.
The birds and animals that gathered there provided food for the cliff dwellers, and fresh, clean water bubbled up every day for their drinking and cooking.
The walk past the ruins of a pueblo leads down to an overflow creek, shaded by more giant sycamore trees and huge boulders. The soothing orchestra of water tumbling over rocks and the songs of happy birds greeted us as we entered the lovely canopied sanctuary. It was at least 20 degrees cooler there.
They faced another problem;
their fields were dry. They needed water for their fields so they could feed their children. Without the aid of modern machinery, using crude hand made tools they carved a canal through solid rock. Slowly, laboriously, they chiseled an irrigation canal to the fields to water their crops. Hundreds of years later, the canal is still there, with fresh, crystal clear, life-giving water flowing through it. They paid the price to enjoy the benefits of water.
But what about the Rivers of Living Water in John 7:38
Jesus paid the price so you can enjoy the life-giving benefits of spiritual living water. Aren’t you thankful for that? But when we look at John 7, we see rivers of living water. What did He mean?
In John 7:37-39
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Let’s look closer.
“If you believe in me, come and drink! Look how Jesus expands that metaphor..”For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.” (John 7:38)
We know about rivers.
They twist and turn, changing the topography or landscape of mountains and fields. As the water courses through cities and forests, its movement tosses and tumbles rocks until their edges are smooth. We know about rivers. We swim in them, fish in them, hunt wildlife around them, picnic on their banks and name songs after them. Wildlife hides in the brush and trees along its edges and drinks its life-giving water. From the earliest times, cities and homes were built around rivers.
What do we know about rivers of living water?
We know about rivers, but Holy Spirit rivers of living water flowing from a believer needs some clarification.
God was giving readers a picture to help us understand what the Holy Spirit baptism would be like. Just as a river coursing through the land brings life, a believer brings the life of God to people.
A river changes a desert into an oasis.
A river brings abundant life to a desert and transforms it in almost every way. People are God’s representatives in the Earth. We are His agents of change. His love should flow through us and out to people, so they can experience His love, His power, and His grace.
I want to ask you, “are Holy Spirit rivers of living water flowing through you?”
Are people drinking from that river because you brought it to them?
Don’t let it become clogged by selfishness or prayerlessness!
Keep it flowing by praying in tongues. Stir up the gift that is in you!
Archaeologists have sifted through the ruins in this area for years.
It was the home of several different groups of Indian people including the Yavapai and Apache. Each tribe had distinct pottery and ways of doing thing that identified them. Their homes, shards of pottery, and primitive tools that have been uncovered distinguish the Sinaqua Indians from other tribes.
The Sinaqua Indians seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. Some scientists believe that the Sinaqua Indians must have joined other tribes of Indians, adapting and blending into their lifestyles until their distinctiveness was totally lost.
They lost their identity,
the uniqueness that made them a special group of people.
The baptism of Holy Spirit that occurred on Pentecost was a distinctive of the early church. Holy Spirit enabled believers to continue the work of Jesus through them. It was a distinctive that made them powerful and effective in life and ministry. And that distinctive continues to mark and identify God’s church. The love of Jesus should be our trademark and the rivers of living water that flow through our lives is the only thing that satisfied spiritual thirst.
Don’t be content just surviving…thrive!
God has things He wants to do through you. He wants to pour His gifts through you, His power through you. The Holy Spirit rivers flowing with living water brings life…believe God for His life giving power to flow through you! He wants to use you!!!
The early church was not Pentecostal in a denominational sense.
They were Pentecostal because the events of Pentecost, the infilling of Holy Spirit affected their lives in every way. It identified them. When we leave Holy Spirit out of our belief system, we can not experience the power that enables us to be all God intended for us. We can’t afford to lose our distinctive identity. Allow Holy Spirit to clean you, to flow through you and out to others.
God’s power in your life is not automatic!
We must access it, yet it’s not a step one…step two-three process! It’s a relationship. Listening, believing and obeying.
I want to challenge you…ask for more…believe God for more…expect more. Ask Jesus to fill you to overflowing with rivers of living water.
God bless you! I really appreciate you for reading my blog and listening to my podcast.
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This post was taken from my book “Precious Holy Spirit.” My book is designed to help you experience more of the benefits of Spirit filled living. 3 formats are available. Click below to purchase.