Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sermon--Palestine, TX-- Invitation to Go Deeper -- Ezekiel 47

Invitation to Go Deeper
Ezekiel 47:3-5

Back in 1993, America witnessed one of the greatest floods in the last 150 years. The Mississippi River, swollen with rain throughout the Mid-west left its banks and caused extensive damage. I spoke to a church member last week who had to move his business office 3 times during that flood. I remember it because I crossed it several times that summer, even having to go hundreds of miles out of the way, just to find an open bridge. Did anyone else have to do that? I

Most people, when the river gets big and the current gets strong try to stay away from it. But others seek it out. The White Water Rafting Industry is booming in the Grand Canyon and other rivers around the country.
But I cannot imagine anyone crazy enough to tempt the waters of the Mississippi that year. It was too big, too wide, too destructive, too powerful. And that’s the way rivers here on earth operate. The bigger they get, the more dangerous.

But that’s not the way the rivers in the Kingdom of God operate. You and I have a River of Life that is supposed to be flowing in our lives.

Jesus said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Our hearts are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is from that Temple that the Water of Life seeks to fill every aspect of who we are with the Presence of God. The more water that flows through this stream, the better—because it is living water.

This stream of living water is not the first time God has provided a River of Life. In Genesis 2:8-10 God provided a river that gave life to the land in the Garden of Eden. All we needed was provided by the living water of God. However, something happened to change it. That life-giving river seems to have dried up with the fall; our sin dammed up the river of Life. But another river—the river of life is restored in Revelation 22. If flows from the Throne of God and heals the land.

I believe Ezekiel is given a vision of this river in Ezekiel 47 and through it, I believe we get an idea of what God desires this living water to do in our lives.

It’s an invitation for our lives to Go Deeper. The Temple, with the Ark of the Covenant inside is seen as the Throne of God, where His presence resides. And from Him comes life, life that is abundant, life that is eternal, life that can heal a dry and thirsty land.
Everything that the river does for the land, the water of life does for our hearts. And He often starts the same way.

1. God starts us Ankle-Deep—vs. 3
a. After each measurement, God’s guide led Ezekiel into the water.

b. After the first measurement, he was led through water that was ankle deep. This is a good beginning for all of us in Christ. God starts us Ankle Deep.

c. The waters of the Lord are never too deep for those who are just beginning to drink the living water. There is no danger of drowning, no danger of being swept away. God first leads you into the shallow waters so you can begin to trust Him, so you can enjoy His Presence and get used to His leadership.

d. He will not take you into a situation that you are not ready for. He will start you with the small things, with the shallow.

e. God is, in essence, giving the first swimming lesson to one of His children. He first has to get you comfortable in the water. So He’ll let you splash and kick and jump. Picture a 2 year old at the beach when the little waves come rushing in—they run away with delight. But You can’t learn to swim in the shallows or the kiddie pool. God will invite you to deeper water.

2. God takes us a little Deeper--Knee Deep—vs. 4a
a. God leads us to deeper water but thankfully, He takes it slow—where the water in Knee Deep. He doesn’t just drop us in the deep end. He allows us to be strengthened little by little.

b. When we have gained the experience with the small things, He will lead us on to greater things. In the Knee-deep water, we’re getting more and more comfortable.

c. We are beginning to experience more in our walk with Him. We’re beginning to feel the movement of the water and the growing strength & power of the current.

d. Just like you wouldn’t send a soldier to the battlefield after one day of basic training, God does not send us out without some training and growth.

e. He leads us through the water—God doesn’t abandon us or say—go do it by yourself. God is leading and holding our hand. He is there with us, allowing us to get used to the new, deeper water.

f. At each point, He looks to us and says, “I know you think this is fun and that you don’t think you’re ready for more, but I know you are ready for more. There are deeper places I can take you; there is more of Me I want to show you. ”Will you come with me or do you plan on staying here? Will you trust Me”

g. Is it be wise to stay there in the shallows? It feels safer. Can you imagine what you’d be missing out on by staying in the shallows? Probably not.

h. Because you’ve never experienced anything more than water up to your knees. But God is there, inviting you to deeper waters. He is hoping that you will trust Him for more, because there is always more.

3. Waist Deep Water Requires More Trust—vs. 4
a. Notice that God is the one leading Ezekiel into the deeper water. He knows that we are ready for more. Each time God takes us deeper, I believe we are surprised at how deep it really can be. So often, in our walk with Christ, we’re convinced we know all there is to know, we think we’re right, we believe there’s not a Bible passage that we don’t know the exact interpretation or application.

b. And yet God takes us deeper. There is more to God than we thought. When water is up to the mid-section, you are starting to feel a little lighter, you are beginning to feel more and more of the floating feeling. Our footing is less sure and the power of the current is getting a better hold of sweeping us away.

c. This becomes one of those moments when we are allowing God to reign more and more in us. More and more of our body is being brought to life by the Living water. More and more of our body is under the surface, under His control.

d. While we are beginning to be more and more accustomed to the water, at this point we’re not letting go more, we’re holding on to His hand even tighter.

e. That’s because the depth of God is showing us more and more of how small we are and how big He is.

f. You and I should not become less dependent the longer we are Christians, we should become more Dependant. That’s a good thing, because it can always get deeper. As long as you can touch the bottom and stand on your own two feet, God will still invite you to deeper and deeper faith. Look where God wants to take us in vs. 5.

4. Deep Enough to Swim—Over our heads—vs. 5
a. This is where God wants to take us. He wants us at the point in our lives when we realize We cannot cross this river w/o the Lord’s Help.

b. The deeper we go into God’s living waters, the more you and I give Him control, the more we realize how much we need Him. The farther we walk with God, the deeper He wants to take us. It is said that our God is shallow enough that a newborn baby could not drown in His waters, and deep enough that the world’s best swimmer could never touch bottom.

c. At this point we’re no longer standing on our own two feet, the water is up over our heads. The current is so strong that the river can take us anywhere.

d. The most important thing for us to do at this point is Hold On—we’re no longer under our own power, we’re not trusting in our own abilities, not standing on our own two feet.

e. The waters had risen and were continuing to rise and rather than being overwhelmed, rather than destruction or drowning, the waters bring life.

f. I can almost see a smile on Ezekiel’s face, a great sense of exhilaration and excitement because of the awesome wonder of God’s Presence, God’s Power and God’s love. This is the ultimate white water rafting—no life jacket, no paddle, no boat—just the guide—Holding on to God and letting Him take you anywhere.

g. 6b--Ezekiel didn’t notice how deep the water was, he didn’t notice how cold the water was or how long he was out in it. He stayed “in over his head” as long as God wanted him to stay.
h. After Ezekiel was brought back to shore he saw in vs. 7 a “great number of trees on each side of the river”. It’s almost like he doesn’t recognize the shoreline anymore, like he’d been floating in the river for so long that he didn’t care where he was, just as long as God was with Him.

i. This river of life that God has promised us gets deeper and deeper and has tremendous effects. Read 8-9.

j. This water flows into the dry, desert regions and brings them to life. Vs. 12 talks about Trees bearing fruit every month, just like the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:2.

k. It pours into the Dead Sea—the saltiest water on earth where very little of anything can live, and makes it fresh, a living, breathing, abundant place--the best fishing in the world.

l. I want you to realize that this is what God wants to do in your life. We call places with little to no water “deserts” and they are dangerous and deadly—very little life can live there. Left to ourselves our lives are dry and lifeless. Is there anything more dead than our hearts when they are apart from Christ.

m. Lack of water is not the only dangerous condition. We call water that is not moving but still for a long time “stagnant”. It becomes so poisonous that animals will not drink it. Is there anything more stagnant than the heart of a believer that has stayed in the shallows for the last 25 years?

n. Vs. 9—“so where the river flows everything will live”—the water of life must flow in and through every part of who we are. It cannot be stilled or dammed up. Every part of our lives can become alive when the water of life fills us and flows through us. Our life will be abundant and productive providing healing. So if you’re spirit is dry, stagnant, dead—God wants to bring it to life, to invite you to the deeper water

o. God doesn’t want us to stay in the shallow waters. He doesn’t want His churches to stay in the shallows. He wants to penetrate the whole of our lives with His Living Water. He wants to sweep us away to be carried along to His destination—where we are no longer demanding to control our own lives but giving Him control to take us wherever He would lead us.

p. God doesn’t want to lead us to the desert, where we will be dry and thirsty, where we will see very little fruit, very little water, very little healing. He wants to lead us to a place of abundance, a place of refreshment, a place of joy and excitement. A place where our faith is mature and trusting, relying on the Water of Life.

q. God is measuring out your life. He is measuring out your church. He’s not doing it in distance, feet or miles; He’s doing it with time. He’s measured you off 15 years, 35 years, 50 years, 75 years. Today Jesus is leading you out into the water. How deep is the water? When you look at your life and your walk with Christ and the maturity you have in Him, how deep is the water you are in? Is it ankle-deep, knee-deep, waist-deep, or in over your head? Are you being carried along by the current of God or are you still splashing in the kiddie pool?

r. Are you ready to accept His invitation to the deeper water.

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