Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Removing the stones from the well within us

Jesus made a stunning declaration concerning His mission of coming to the world in the form of flesh and blood, (that is impossible to be mimicked by any other person in this world - whether living or dead,) when He declared in John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Or we read another version of the Bible which gives us a clearer understanding of the meaning of abundant life, i.e. "that they may have it in full". Who can give life but the Source of LIFE Himself? And not just life - but in full, abundant measures - both in quality and quantity. It is a wonderful reminder for each one of us that we are recipients of this abundant life. This abundant life is Christ Himself and when we have Christ in us, this divine, abundant life is residing within us. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). Christ in us - the hope of glory! In another instance, Jesus declared that, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” which speaks of the source of life residing and flowing from the inside of us and through us.

We must ask ourselves today, "Are we living in the reality of this flow of abundant life within us?" We are not just talking about a certain lopsided aspects of Christianity that are missing within our Christian circles today. To some, they may say, where are the miracles, whilst the other group will claim, we have lost some teachings of the truth and yet still others will raise other missing aspects of the authentic Christian living and ministry. But, putting all these aside, what we should be asking ourselves is whether - do we live in the reality of the fullness of Christ in our lives. Such fullness that will flow out through us in many varying expressions. Are the rivers of living and abundant water flowing out of the well within our hearts daily glorifying Christ - in holiness, in love, in power and so much more? If the answer to the many questions we ask, is "No", it's time to take an inventory and ask, "Why?" Many Christians and many churches today cannot testify of possessing the reality of the abundant life that Jesus talked about. Church programmes and charismatic personalities made up for the reality of the fullness of Christ. The "abundant life" message is reduced to some hopeful statements made by evangelists when persuading the unsaved to come to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. But, the question we should ask is, shouldn't all children of God be enjoying this fullness of Christ's life that will not only nourish their lives but also impact the lives around them?

There is an interesting account in the Old Testament that illustrates literally the stop of the flow of "life" in the days of a patriach named Isaac. This is an interesting story that leaves us with many precious lessons but we are going to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us from the perspective of allowing the life of Christ to once again flow like a mighty river in our lives and through our lives to reach out to the people around us. This is the account of Isaac digging the wells in Genesis 26:18-22. Water from the well is a symbol of the life of Christ within us and we read from the Scriptures that "the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth." We are living in a time and age where the Philistines had stopped up the wells of many churches and Christians amongst us. Many churches and Christians are living on dry, empty rituals without realizing them. Before our Lord Jesus made the wonderful declaration of coming to give us life more abundantly, He also revealed the painful reality of the enemy or the adversary who was also present with an entirely opposite mission, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy!"

The enemy's attack is three-fold: to steal, kill and destroy. We are also going to look at the three aspects of the fullness of Christ that the adversary is targetting in our lives. (Incidentally, we also learn that Isaac actually digged 3 wells.) We are not going to explore the names given to the well in this post but rather the significance of Isaac who ventured out to dig 3 wells. We read in Romans 14:17, "...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The reality of the fullness of Christ is the reality of the expression of God's kingdom in our hearts as we read in Luke 17:21 which says that, "For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." . As recipients of the abundant life of Christ, the three-fold manifestations of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit are evidences of the presence of His Kingdom within us. These are also the enemy's main targets in its three-pronged attack of stealing, killing and destroying the "abundant life".

At this juncture, you may want to stop and ponder how do the "Philistines" actually stop up the wells within us? The Bible mentioned that "they filled the wells with earth." If we could set our minds on 'imagination mode' for a moment, we would be able to picture the Philisties throwing stones into the well until the well is covered and the flow of water is stopped. One stone at a time until the well is completely covered up. The Apostle Paul tells us about the enemy firing fiery darts at us. A thought at a time, when left unchecked - begins to choke the flow of the living waters within us. And soon enough, we find ourselves empty, dry and void of the abundant life that Christ promised. This is what the enemy does - an unassumingly innocent thought is dropped into our minds - one after another. One lie at a time is all it takes. As we continue to entertain these thoughts and give in to the lies and lusts thereof, this is when the wells within us are beginning to be filled with earth and stones.

Let's take a look at some of the stones that may still be clogging up the wells: -
* Unconfessed sins and cycles of habitual sins.
* Minds that do not submit to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit.
* Cares of the world. Worry and anxiety.
* Deception, half-truths and false teachings.
* Anger, bitterness, hurts and pain inflicted by others in the past.
* Unforgiveness and unbelief.
* Love of the world - lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.
* Unyielded hearts to the Holy Spirit.
* Disobedience and rebelliousness.

Among the resulting symptoms that can be detected in our lives include the following descriptions: -
* Loss of vision and purpose of life.
* Indifferent towards God.
* False sense of security about relationship with God.
* Mind that is dulled towards the things of God.
* No love for God.
* No love for people around us.
* Full of murmuring and complaining.
* Critical and defensive.
* Discouraged and depressed.

As the wells are filled with these stones and more, not only are the waters stopped from flowing out, light is also cut off. There is only darkness inside the well as the stones have blocked the sunlight from outside. It is pertinent to ask ourselves from time to time, "Are the fruit of righteousness, peace and joy vibrant in my life?" or "are we living in wells of darkness?"

What do we do then? How do we remove these stones? We begin our journey of removing these stones by seeking the help of the Holy Spirit and by yielding to His work in our hearts and minds. Ask for the pure light of the Spirit of God to shine into our hearts and reveal to us these stones. We should echo the cries of David, the psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me..." (Psalm 139:23-24) Only when the Holy Spirit shines His light upon our hearts, we are also endued with the strength and grace to cry out for mercy in repentance and be set free and delivered. We need Him to show us the true state of our hearts and lives. Do not be deceived for when He convicts, He also grants us the grace to repent and step into life anew. He is not out to condemn His children. Condemnation only leads to discouragement and hopelessness. However, the Lord in His mercies, desire to draw us to His loving arms and live in the place of His abundance.

We learn to pour out our hearts before Him by crying out to Him. In our personal times with the Lord, that is the place when we open our mouths and cry out to Him. As He begins to reveal these stones that have clogged our wells, we respond by confessing our sins and crying out for His mercy. There is a missing element in the modern Christian walk. We are taught to confess the Scriptures, promises, etc. but we are rarely shown the way of pouring our hearts before the Lord in sincerity. The Lord treasures the sincerity of our hearts. When we approach the Lord God Almighty, there is no need for us to hide behind the masks of religious appropriateness. It's ok to tell Him, "Lord, I do not love you... but please help me!" "Dear God, I love watching TVs than reading your Word, change my heart...!" "Oh, I am so proud, Lord!" The Lord listens to such humble pleas from a broken and contrite spirit. Yes, these stones are removed from our mouths! Begin to pour them out from our hearts. Confess them before the Presence of the Almighty God in truth and sincerity as the Holy Spirit begins to reveal the condition of the wells within us. And there will be instances when He will lead you to confess your faults among the people in the church or your family. As you obey His promptings, chains are broken and stones after stones are removed. Hallelujah!

In Isaac's account of digging the wells, he faced oppositions when he dug the first and second well. It is until he persisted, he found his breakthrough in the third well he dug. This is a picture of focus and persistence. Similarly, in our journey of returning to the fullness of Christ in our lives, it will be fraught with oppositions after oppositions. But even as we continue to obey and persevere, we shall soon experience abundant life in our lives. We will never be the same and as the people around us witness the transformation, Christ shall be exalted. As Christ is exalted and glorified in our midst, He will draw many to Himself. Hear the call of the Spirit of the Lord to His people in these perilous times, "Return to your First Love" Let the rivers of His love course through your heart and soul again. Allow Him to cleanse and wash you and baptize you with His strong torrents of love. And when the wells within you have been dugged, with all the stones removed, you will be His channel of blessing to the people around you. The rivers of living water shall flow out from you again and "...you shall be fruitful in the Land" in bringing the harvest unto the glory of the Most High God! Reach out to Him and call upon Him today.
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