River of God | Day 12

Scripture Verse &/OR citations

           We’ve talked in great detail about the river of God and its impact on the worldwide Church. More specifically, we have discussed the many reasons why the river appears to have run dry in the charismatic movement. Now we will look at this same idea on a personal level. We are going to explore what causes the river to dry up on an individual basis.


           Often we who have within us the well of salvation, the river of life, fail to drink from it. How can we prevent this? How do we stay fresh, sharp, and alive and ward off burnout? As contradictory as it might sound, success can be the problem. Success can be a breeding ground for pride, burnout, complacency, and many other deadly diseases.


           “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NASB). The word “dismayed” in this text is the Hebrew word chathath, meaning “to break”. According to Zodhiates, the meaning can range from a literal breaking, to abstract destruction, to demoralization, and finally to panic. It can be likened to the concept we use in our times of “cracking under the stress”.


           How do we keep from cracking under the stress? What maintains our freshness?


           We must place greater importance on spending time with the Lord than ministering for Him. We must prioritize relationship over service, worship over work. It sounds simple, but it is by far the most challenging aspect of our walk with the Lord. We are naturally driven to focus on “doing over being”, finding ourselves walking in a performance mindset. We have chosen to believe that God wants our service more than He wants us.  


           Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” In this verse, the word “ways” is the word derek. Derek is often used metaphorically, referring to “the actions and behavior of people.” It’s also used to describe the act of courting in Proverbs 30:19.


           In this same verse, the word “acknowledge” is the word yada, an Old Testament word for knowing someone in a very intimate (often physical) way. For example, Adam knew (yada) Eve and she conceived.


           When considering Proverbs 3:5-6 through the definitions of these words, it reads: “In all your ways, court God; seek intimacy with Him.” He wants us to pursue a personal relationship with Him. We must drink daily from the fountain.


           What happens when we pursue God? Courting Him in all our ways or work (derek) leads to intimacy (yada), which leads to conception. Just as Adam knew Eve and she conceived, as we seek and wait on God, He speaks to us.


           And it’s important to note that God is not interested in surrogate parenting - someone else carrying His seed of revelation for us. He wants to sow it into us personally. It’s good to receive insights from others, but if that is the only way we receive, we are living far below our privileges.


           We have fallen prey to a problematic way of receiving revelation. It isn’t wrong to receive through teaching from another, but we are in dangerous waters when it becomes the primary source of our information. We must hear from God ourselves. And even when He does speak to us through someone else, we still have a responsibility to pray and meditate on what has been spoken to us, until it becomes a personal word of revelation to us.


           We must allow the Holy Spirit to show us how to apply truth to our personal situation. We cannot clone revival, church growth, or any other form of ministry. Revival is not produced, it is born. The river is not just about God, it flows from Him.


           A perfect example of this intimacy with God is found in the story of Mary and Martha. “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)


            The word “distracted” in verse 40 is the word persipao, meaning “to drag around in circles”. The word “preparations” in this same verse is the word diakonia, the same word we would use for a person in the ministry. Martha was running herself in circles for the sake of ministering to Jesus. How often do we find ourselves in this same situation?


            Jesus tells her that she is worried and bothered about many things. The word “worried” here is the word merimnao, the concept of dividing or parting. The worry that Martha exhibited was that of a divided mind. Jesus also tells her that the good part that Mary chose won’t be taken away. This is the word agathos. Where the word kalos in this context would mean visibly or constitutionally good, agathos means that it is actually good, profitable, useful, and beneficial.


            What does this mean for us? We find ourselves running in circles for the sake of the ministry. We are the product of a divided mind. But there are good, profitable, useful, beneficial things waiting for us if we will sit with Him and listen.


           A.W. Tozer once said, “There are occasions when for hours I lay prostrate before God without saying a word of prayer or a word of praise - I just gaze on Him and worship.” This is how we solve the Martha problem: we have to place a higher priority on listening than on ministering.


           In verse 39 of the story of Mary and Martha, the phrase “listening to the Lord’s word” contains the word logos instead of rhema. If rhema had been used, it could mean she merely heard the words He was saying. Logos does include this but it also embodies the message the words are communicating. Our English word “logic” is derived from it.


           The Lord is saying, “If you spend time waiting upon Me, seated at My feet listening, it puts something of substance in you. You will not only look good, you’ll be good for something.”


           Make a decision today to be like Mary. Prioritize listening over ministering. Stop running in circles and tune into His Spirit. He’s ready to speak to you, and it’s time for you to listen. Rest in His truth, and let the river wash over you.

These teaching concepts are derived from chapter twelve of The River of God by Dutch Sheets.