Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Psalm 46 The River in the City of God

KEY TEXT: Psalms 46:4-7 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

KEY THOT: In its historical-literal sense, the expression “city of God” refers to Jerusalem that was threatened by her enemies, the Assyrian armies of Sennacherib. But like many places in Scripture, it also has a future-allegorical sense: it refers to the church--both the earthly and heavenly one. Jesus calls his disciples “the light of the world… a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14). In Revelation 3:12, Jesus used the expression as a reference to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ: “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” 

But what is distinctive about this new city (both earthly and heavenly) is the presence of the “river who streams make glad the city of God”. John in his vision saw this same river in the heavenly city of God: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-3). And we know that this “river of living water” is a reference to the Holy Spirit pouring into the hearts of believers and overflowing into the world around us: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit” (John 7:37-39). So we may conclude that what makes the church unique as the city of God is this river of life (Holy Spirit) that flows out of us to give life to everyone who is thirsty.

Sometime we have a poor view of the church as simply a gathering of “sinners”. We forget we are no longer just sinners but we are saints on the path to glory. What makes us different from the world is not that we are "just forgiven sinners" but we are saints who are filled and overflowing with the Spirit of life. We are like open taps, receiving the endless flow of God’s waters of life as we let the same rivers overflow to others. But it is only when we are placed in situations where we have to offer this water of life to those who don't have it (evangelism), that we become more self-aware of this spiritual reality. When we see how lives are being saved from sin and transformed by this same river of life, we understand that we are indeed the city of God. God has used us as his conduits to bring life to others as we share Christ with them, lay our hands and pray for them to receive the same river of life.

Occasionally, our taps are choked by our sins, but the blockage can be cleared instantly through confession of sins. The more conscious we are of our own sins, the faster the blockage is cleared. Much like the accumulation of cholesterol in our heart. If we are unaware of its accumulation we may die of a heart attack before we realize that our arteries are completely blocked. The Spirit flows into and out of our hearts. So keeping our hearts pure and cleansed through confession is a critical way to keep the rivers of life continuously flowing in and through us.

If we do not deal with sins, we will become like a choked pipe and the rivers of life cannot flow through us.

Father, thank You that You have called us to be a city where the river of life flow out of us. May You help us to channel this river to where it is needed most: people who are thirsty and seeking to drink of this river of life. Amen.

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