John 4:13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
This a story told by Peter Marshall, the former chaplain of the United States Senate. The story tells of a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night ,farm lands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description. Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strangeranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services. For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within one week,a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village .Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring . . . and within a few weeks the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.
I think all who know Jesus want a fresh, growing faith that is producing spiritual insights into the very essence of life itself. This fresh, growing faith will not happen without some different elements in our daily walk taking place. In other words we need to be allowing control of the Holy Spirit in our mind, our heart, and out spirt, or soul. You may think that it is a given, but the old self or "natural man" is still at work in our hearts and the old self causes that daily refreshing and replenishing to turn into something much different than God intends. I call it religion. You may ask "I thought Christianity IS a religion?" If you think that then you may be in a vein of thought that is part of hindering this deeper walk with God. In the John 4 verses above the Samaritan woman knew of the coming Messiah and all of the religious background the Samaritans had apparently passed down through generations, but what she knew about the Messiah was flawed because of racial politics, and yes, religion. The Samaritans believed that Jerusalem wasn't the only place to worship and their belief was that they didn't have to worship in Jerusalem, but they could worship on Mount Gerizim, where their ancestors worshiped. To which Jesus replied 21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Our Messiah was knocking down every barrier between us and God and the refreshing power of the Holy Spirit would not be a "service" of worship, but a daily "walk" of worship. Paul wrote it this way in Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
But what pollutes the water that should be refreshing and clean and pure? I am listing some things to watch out for much like the story above in the Keeper of the Spring.
1 Neglect. To neglect our daily walking with God will allow other things, that are not God-centered to take the place of what God is trying to do in your life. Rule #1 study God's Word and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of it to you and discuss it with other believers who are seeking God like you are doing. Don't hang around dead, religious people, or they may rub off on you and not you on them. Revelation 3 speaks about the church of Laodicea, which closely resembles our modern day fellowships that have neglected to refresh themselves in the power of the Holy Spirit. Revelation 3:15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
2. Self. When we are not allowing God's Word to moment by moment change our lives and draw us closer to the Lord, self gets more involved in the whole process. Self opinion becomes more prevalent than God truth and we begin to forget that we are to be spiritual people who follow the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
3. Distractions. We are so distracted at times. Which makes us poor finishers because we allow ourselves to get off point and then our focus gets messed up. Religion is the culprit of most of this because it causes us to look at lesser things like they are major things. Like the beauty of buildings, or the clothes we wear, the latest trends. As you can see, this is a problem that goes back to the self problem and religion is really good at feeding our self, and if we allow these distractions to dominate our thinking we lose sight of what we are supposed to be focusing on, and that is God's Word, Jesus. Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith
4. Worldly teaching. We have to admit it. If we don't learn from the source of our faith, Jesus, then we will accept just about any teaching. We will read a book someone writes about what to do in your faith, or listen to message after message that is infused by just one person's perspective about what scripture says, and that is the main killer of the freshness of our spring. It would be like someone else taking a drink from a spring and then holding it in their mouth and coming over to you and depositing that water into your mouth. Oh, it may quench your thirst for a short time, but you get all the impurities in their mouth in your mouth and it is tainted with all kinds of harmful diseases. 2 Timothy 4:3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.
Remember, religion is built around second hand faith and it is only a misrepresentation of what Christ intended for each of us. I will write part 2 of this series tomorrow and give some deep insights into how to freshen the spring again and cause that well of living water to come alive in your spirit. See you tomorrow and get ready!!!
The Pilgrimage Continues.....