Monday, October 3, 2011

What flows out of your belly?

The thought that I have to share with you is something that we can’t really understand in the physical realm. It’s something that goes against human nature because it is the complete opposite of what your flesh wants to do. I believe it will challenge you, but if you take heed to what God is trying to convey to us, I believe it will also empower and change the way you live your life.

John 7:37+38“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

Background: The Feast of Tabernacles [The Feast of Great Rejoicing / The Feast of Tents].
John chapter 7 takes place at The Feast of Tabernacles. The main point of the Feast was to remember how the Israelites came out of Egypt and also to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest. 3 things that specially marked this particular Feast: The dwelling in ‘booths’, the Pool of Siloam, and the abundant rejoicing.

1.) The Dwelling in ‘Booths’:
During the 7 days of the feast, all of the Israelites were to build these types of tents, which they called ‘booths’, out of fresh/living branches, sticks and leaves. They were to eat, sleep, pray, study, and entirely live out of these booths for the whole duration of the feast.
The materials used for these booths were of the utmost importance. The fruit of the goodly trees had to be without blemish or flaw of any kind. Each branch used had to be fresh, entire, unpolluted and not taken from any dead grove. Needless to say, they had to be sure to follow exact orders when building and living in these tents.

2.) The Pool of Siloam:
The Jews believed that when the Messiah would come, streams of water would flow from the temple and fill the valley. It would run into the Jordan and fill the Dead Sea, which would become vibrant and fresh and New Life would come. So every year they had this Feast, in a visual prayer for rain, a priest would go to the Pool of Siloam and fill a golden pitcher with water. He’d then return to the Temple and pour the water on one side of the altar while another priest poured wine on the other side and it flowed down the altar. And it eventually would co-mingle on the sacrifice. As this happened the Jews rejoiced as they remembered the good harvest they had and looked toward the future of New Life.

3.) Abundant Rejoicing
The 7 days of the Feast were full of prayer, celebration and rejoicing for the new life and harvest that was to come in the future. Leviticus 23:40 says, “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days”.

For close to 1000 years before Jesus showed up on the scene, the Israelites prayed for rain to come and bring New Life so that they may never go hungry or thirsty again. But this particular year when Jesus was actually at the Festival, on the final day he made the dramatic declaration that HE was the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles…He was the fulfillment that they were praying and rejoicing for all these years.

No longer would the streams of water need to flow from the temple down an altar onto an animal sacrifice. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and HE was that temple. He was the one who would be on the altar of the cross and have blood and water flow from his side and run down a Hill called Mount Calvary to bring new life.
Jesus brought a whole new meaning to their understanding of the Feast. Those who believe in Jesus will be sustained by the power of God and his Holy Spirit. It was never really about the Dead Sea or physical streams of water or the valleys growing crops. This NEW harvest would come from the inside out…This harvest would be a harvest of people for God’s kingdom.

The River of Life -

“Out of his belly [or out of his inner-most part] shall flow rivers of living water…” Throughout the Bible God often uses the concept of the River or Fountain of life.

In Psalms 46:4 it says, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the Holy Place of the tabernacles of the most high.”
In Joel 3:18 it says, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD…”
In Zechariah 13:1 it says, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.”

What is this talking about? These rivers are going to come forth out of Jerusalem and out of the House of the Lord? What does this all mean?

In Revelation 22:1+17 it says, “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb…And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

There is a connection between this and what we read in John 7.
At the Feast of Tabernacles there was a tent that was housing this very life…this very river is on Earth. Jesus is saying, “do you want to see the real pool of Siloam?...It’s right here!” It was inside of Him. And then 7 months later, Jesus is hanging there on the Cross… “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water”. Out of where? Out of His belly…out of His inner-most. Isn’t that an extraordinary thing? This is the outflow that has changed you and has changed me - This is the source of our life.

Agalliao – To be exceeding glad; much leaping; gushing forth; exceeding joy.

Not just joy, but EXCEEDING joy. Remember what this particular festival/feast was…a day of GREAT rejoicing. How in the world could any of us find anything to rejoice in, in the cross?
How in the world could Jesus find anything to rejoice in when he was tortured and thrown in jail and hung on the cross…brutally beaten, bruised, and pierced…how could he have something come out of him that wasn’t of equal death in response?

When you are abused…when you are crucified…when you are being thrust through with a spear…what comes out of your belly?
But this word is also associated with water…that which gushes forth. Remember this river of life…it gushes from the throne of God…it’s where Jesus sits – the source of this is Jesus

1 Peter 4:12-14“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”

You have a HOST of difficulties right now, yet Peter says, “in that you have MUCH leaping”…EXCEEDING joy…a springing forth of some sort of water within you. This is the testimony of every true believer throughout the ages! There is much leaping…there is a gushing forth within us. Do you have it? Though we be hit with the most difficult of trials, we have the gushing forth…we have the exceeding joy…the leaping within.
This isn’t just “and maybe you’ll make it through with a smile…it’s possible.” This is MUCH leaping! This is a gushing forth of a fountain that breaks forth within the saints of God.

Matthew 5:10-12“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Did we hear this right?? He didn’t say when you win the lottery, or you get a promotion at work. He said when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be EXCEEDING glad! This is when you do it…this is when the waters come forth. It’s when you are TRIED, it’s when you are PIERCED, it’s when you are CRUCIFIED, it’s when you are FALSELY ACCUSED that we have the privilege of tapping in to the River of Life! That’s when we can have it!
See, we want Agalliao without the persecution, but the way to get the EXCEEDING JOY and GUSHING FORTH IS the persecution! God wants us to have the joy, but we have to be willing to have the end of the spear in our belly. And when it taps into you, out flows the fountain…the river.

Luke 6:22+23“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”

Do you know how outrageous this sounds? Yet these are the words of our Jesus…He knows what He is talking about. He knows where the fountain comes from and He knows how the fountain is released. When we suffer for His sake…when we share in His sufferings, we also share in the fountain. This is the New Life, but the way to access that Life is to make YOUR life vulnerable for the sake of Jesus Christ and His glory. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live…not I but Christ within me”

What brings forth the rivers of living water? The point of the spear. “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”

Who demonstrated the perfect picture of this? Jesus. When did the rivers come gushing out of Jesus? When He was on the Cross…the living Tent. Blood & water was comingled. For blood and water to come out of a man’s side it is a statement that his heart most likely burst. The very life of Jesus, the very Spirit of God, was poured out. This is how it came to us…it was through Christ’s sufferings.
How many of us want to have anything to do with the end of the spear? Especially our inner-most part?! “God, don’t touch my inner most part…please!” Shall flow out of his belly…shall flow out of our center…shall flow out of who we are. When you are touched with the end of the spear…the trials, difficulties in your life, what comes out!? It is what’s in you!

List of scriptures that we want after the natural:
We greatly rejoice, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Peter 1:6-8); Blessed are we, let us rejoice and be exceeding glad (Matthew 5:11-12); we may be glad with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-13); we are exceeding joyful (2 Corinthians 7:4); we count it all joy (James 1:2-4)

The other half of those scriptures:
We are grieved by many trials (1 Peter 1:6-8); we are reviled, persecuted, and falsely accused (Matthew 5:11-12); we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-13); we enduring tribulations (2 Corinthians 7:4); and face trials and divers temptations (James 1:2-4)

That’s the half we were missing…and that’s the half a lot of people wish we could ignore. But you throw out that and you don’t get the first list. When the point of the spear touches our center, “We greatly rejoice, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory … Blessed are we, let us rejoice and be exceeding glad … we may be glad with exceeding joy …we are exceeding joyful”

This is what Christianity is…it has always been this. I know we’ve become more and more duped in modern Christianity. To think that it’s all about US… it’s all about OUR SELF-PRESERVATION. It’s about us AVOIDING the end of the spear that brings us comfort and satisfaction….but I would like to dismiss that theory and say that it IS the spear’s end that brings it!! We don’t fear the end of the spear…WE WANT IT! We don’t just try and avoid it. We desire it….that we would share in God’s sufferings and therefore God’s glory and blessings…

Our sufferings prove what is inside of us and that is nothing to be ashamed of. A soldier pierced Jesus’ side…and what came out….blood and water……but it was the Life of God. What comes out of a Christian when we are touched? It should be the Life of God. Have we been made a living tent…housing the almighty Spirit of God. We are supposed to be a living tabernacle!
See, Paul made everyone’s head spin when he said, “do you not know that you are the temple [or tent or booth] of the living God?” do you know that His spirit is literally meant to dwell inside of you…so that when this world touches you, out flows that LIFE!

When is Christianity proven? It is in the trials, the difficulties, the temptations…this is when we are able to give Life unto this world, and this world stands back in awe and wonder – “what do they have?” It’s when men are thrown in a fiery furnace, yet they still worship God. It is when men still bend their knee to their God though they be thrown to the lions. They are being poked with the end of the spear yet out is gushing the Rivers of Living Water!

When the point of the spear touches our center, it should bring forth the life, love, forgiveness, exceeding joy, and waters of Jesus Christ. What is the spear drawing out of you? How we respond to the end of that spear, defines the entire course of our spiritual lives….instead of grumbling and complaining about the end of the spear….instead of holding grudges, bitterness and resentment, we need to allow Jesus Christ to fill us and to be that response.

Is irritation coming out? Frustration…revenge…fear…anxiety…fretting…anger …rage…murder….pride…un-forgiveness…resentment…..bitterness. What is coming out of your belly? Is it the life of Jesus or the life of a mere man? We get to see this all the time….there is nothing super-natural about that…..any of the people in the world, the spear can touch their side, and out comes everything vile. You poke them and out comes cursing. We’re used to that. But what the world longs for is the river of Life flowing out of those that are touched! And that is what Jesus wants to show in and through his children.

As Jesus was crucified and as the River of Life poured out of Him, those that witnessed it stood back in awe and wonder as what came out of this Man of God. Love, forgiveness, healing, restoration, gentleness…in the face of the harshest treatment…thrusting a crown of thorns on His head…brutally beaten and crucified to a cross, yet he opened not His mouth. But what did He notice? He considers everyone else around Him…He considers you and me…He fulfills God’s Will for His life.

“Then said Jesus, father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This is the River of Life…That is the fountain that is bursting forth out of Jesus.
The river of Living water had to be there before he was crucified. Let us allow Jesus to fill us today with all that He is. And we need to begin to change our entire perspective on what it means to live for Him and how to handle our difficulties and trials. Are we letting out abounding love…exceeding joy…a sweet peace? People can be healed because of it! The very people that are perpetrating the acts against us, can be set free from that which binds them and holds them! We can be Christians and rejoice when we’re being fed to the lions in our own families and friends.

We have every opportunity in this life to begin to live like this. That end of the spear can come tomorrow…whether it be at home, school, or work….but when you feel that prick, allow Jesus to come out of it as oppose to everything that is hostile and of the flesh.

We can only give that which we have. “silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee” What DO you have? When you meet the lame man at the gate beautiful and he holds out his hands for an alm…what DO you have? Because you can only give that which you have. And Jesus can only be given to this world if He is already IN you! And that giving will come forth almost primarily through our struggles, tests, trials, and challenges. And when we are touched may Jesus be seen.

Did you know that all over the world there are people that are dying and suffering for Jesus Christ’s sake?…we as Americans have no clue about this. We need to remember them and help however we can. We live in liberty and not everyone does. We have the liberty to be on our knees….so let us take every privilege we have to rejoice in Jesus Christ.

God Bless,


1 comment:

  1. Hi Nick,

    This was an awesome thought! I also wondered "Why blood AND water?" Such a great explanation. I also loved about the natural/spiritual was awesome seeing Jesus being the real-life fulfillment of all that was hoped for!