2 Kings 2:19-22 (NLT)
One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem, my lord,” they told him. “This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive.” Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.” So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, “This is what the LORD says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility.” And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said.
Yesterday in my Bible study, I came across these four verses. It is the account of Elisha and the leaders of Jericho. This is the first miracle that Elisha performed after Elijah went to be with the Lord. The leaders came to Elisha with a problem. It was not a supernatural problem but a simple one. “We live in a town with pleasant surroundings, as you can see.” Everything looked fine to the naked eye. But the water was bad leaving the land unproductive. Welcome to the Body of Christ today! We have cleaned up nicely shedding our filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) assumingly donning robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). From the outside looking in, everything is hunky dory having been delivered from deliberate and obvious sin walking in the Goodness of God. We are good people, but have we been transformed into God’s People. The church has a problem. It has pleasant surroundings for others to see, but the water is bad and it is unproductive. I am the church. There is no one else to blame but me. If I do not find a way to purify my water source it will be the death of my purpose and promise in the Lord.
John 4:10-15 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 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.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
We need a new bowl. Elisha told the leaders to bring him a new bowl. When Jesus asked the woman for water to quench his thirst, she has some reservations. She was a Samaritan and Jesus a Jew making this an impossible conversation from the onset as society deemed it unacceptable. Jesus told the woman “if you knew the Gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me and I would give you living water.” This statement is still valid today. If I knew the many gifts, blessings and promises that God had for me and knew Jesus Christ intimately and personally, I would keep asking the Lord for everything I need and become satisfied with “living water”. But rather than asking the Lord for anything up front, I try to do it myself as evident in the woman’s reply. “You don’t have a rope or a bucket and the well is deep.” Hence the problem with the Body of Christ today. We are so caught up in what we see that we cannot reach the wellspring of hope living inside us because our faith is too shallow. Jesus Christ promised satisfaction for a lifetime but the woman was only worried about today. That is until she got to know Jesus, and then she said, “Please sir, give me this water then I will never be thirsty again…and I won’t have to come here to get water.” I may have the strength and ability to meet my present need but what about tomorrow and the next day? The old covenant between God and His People required daily sacrifice. They had to keep going back over and over to the priest to atone for their sin. It was an exhausting and never ending effort considering the cost and preparation of a sacrifice and then traveling back and forth to the Temple. When Jesus died for my sins, He released His Spirit. The same Spirit released on that day lives in side of me right now and is producing “living water” within me to pour out and overflow satisfying me. Is it possible that rather than boldly coming before the Throne of God with a bowl ready for Him to meet my every need, that I am too busy hauling a bucket and rope to the world’s well to do it myself rather than fully relying on and trusting the Lord? Not probably, but absolutely probable. I am tired and weary carrying burdens and loads that I do not have to rather than emptying my life as a vessel for living water. I just need a new bowl.
John 7:37-39 (NLT)
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
“Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” What is the abundance of your heart today? I must inspect my own heart. My mouth will give it away as thoughts produce words of worry, stress and anxiety that I will not be able to meet the need in my life. “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:44-46) What you water with your words will bear fruit as its testimony! Faith is productive. Fear is prohibitive. As we draw from the living water being produced by faith and hope in the Lord, the production in our life will change but not if we base our words on what we see or only on what we can do – we will curse productivity in our life. When we come to Jesus, it must always be in a position of receivership and not from a giving perspective. Maybe you are thinking I am supposed to be a living sacrifice but now you are saying that I have nothing to give. You are to be a living sacrifice. But the truth is that we can only bring a bowl because a bucket and rope are useless. We can do nothing to change our sinful condition but to accept the living water that is offered by the Unconditional Love and Unfailing Grace of God! Got that bowl ready yet?
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The sacrifice of our life to God’s Service is possible only by the Mercy of God available to us in each new day. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Our reasonable service to the Lord is to live a sacrificial, holy and acceptable life. This means that we can no longer allow our mind to be conformed to what this world says service to God is and must solely rely on the transformation of our mind by the Holy Spirit to prove the good, acceptable and perfect Will of God concerning us. So I guess it is true that we should work smarter not harder. The world has infiltrated the church and tainted its well. We cannot draw the Word from the pulpits and preachers any more. You are a royal priest in the lineage of Jesus Christ. His Spirit allows you to know the Truth including secret things that He will entrust only to you. Maybe if we stopped telling God how we are going to serve Him and let Him show us how to serve, we would be more productive in the Body of Christ as a whole. We must evaluate our service to the Lord. “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21) It is time to stop trying to do “something” for God and allow the Lord to use you for every good work. There is nothing that you can give the Lord that He needs or wants – it all belongs to Him anyway. (Psalm 50:7-15) We must learn to offer our life as a vessel for His Use and stop bringing meaningless sacrifices to the Altar of God. We have nothing of worth to give to the Lord. We have nothing that He needs. He wants us. God loves us and desires us. Our sinfulness prevents us from giving God anything. It is only possible by accepting the righteousness offered through Jesus Christ. Nothing more or less so see a bowl is really all that we need.
Mark 9:50 (NLT)
“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.”
Most recipes call for at “least a pinch of salt”. It adds to the flavor of the dish. But too much salt makes the food bitter and not enough will render it tasteless. We are called to be the “salt of the earth” and add something to it while we are here. (Matthew 5:13) Salt has many references in the Bible and has been documented throughout history. There is huge supply of salt in the world cultivated from mines and the sea. The human body has a natural salt content. At my current body weight, I have approximately 44 teaspoons of salt in my body based on the average salinity of a human being. Hyponatremia occurs when the sodium level in our blood is too low. Jesus said, “You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves.” He didn’t say that it was for some people or not for others. It is a requirement of His People. Elisha asked for a new bowl with some salt. In the Old Testament, every sacrifice was required to be sprinkled with salt. (Leviticus 2:13-14; Ezekiel 43:24) In Ezra, King Artaxerxes ordered cups for the Lord’s Service and the elements for the altar including “an unlimited supply of salt” to keep the sacrifices to the Lord God continual. The salt was a reminder of our Eternal Covenant with God. What do you add to the mix? Are you a chronic complainer or one who offers continual thanksgiving to the Lord? Are you a “Debbie Downer” or “Patty Praiser”? You have been called the salt of the earth and should add to its flavor! You have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and now want to offer others what you have discovered! “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.” (Psalm 34:7-8) Living water is on the inside of you. It will pour out of you when you live by faith and trust in God. Your bowl will be forever poised and ready to receive. The salt is the sacrifice you make by believing God rather than putting your hope in you or anyone else for that matter. Everything you need is inside of you. The pressure you feel is the Holy Spirit trying to find a way to release it in your life. The river of living water ready to explode from your heart is filled with the Power and Potential of God. To be the salt of the earth means living in eternal covenant with God through Jesus Christ. This is the sacrifice that God is asking for. Give me the rope and bucket – you don’t need it anymore. Just trust me, I have everything you need and want. Be the salt of the earth making every attempt to respond to my promises and I will satisfy your life. This is what Jesus wants from you. Just add a little salt and call your life a sacrifice – there is nothing more that we can do!
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you want to “do something” for God, just walk into any church building and volunteer. They will gladly put you to work. But that is not what the Lord is asking of you today! He is asking you to “make every effort to respond to (His) promises.” Supplement your faith with salt. Provide a bowl by committing your life to moral excellence based on a growing knowledge of God. Use self-control not to budget your life but to remain positioned in right standing with the One who will meet all your needs and satisfy your soul. This patient endurance will produce a life of love and compassion as it flows from the Living Water inside of you showing you His Unfailing Love and Constant Compassion in the shadow of mercy and grace. Stop laboring over your life. It is not your job anymore. Stop worrying about the family, kids, work, bills and any other thing that stays fixed in your mind. If the Body of Christ would stop working so hard in their own strength becoming fully reliant on God’s Power and Provision trying to flow from the inside out – revival would come. It is time to let go and let God – again. Drop the bucket. Let go of the rope. Pick up a new bowl of worship and let your mouth sing His Praise no matter what the situation or circumstance of your life. He is faithful. He will provide all that you need when you live in this place of receivership called righteousness. Sprinkle your life with some salt. Bring a good flavor to the atmosphere around you drawing from the well that no one sees. Offer it to others because you know it is that good. But you will never know unless you taste and see first that God is good! “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.” (Hebrews 10:10) Finally, always remember that the only acceptable sacrifice is to give your whole life to Jesus Christ. You cannot give God anything that He needs or wants but to honor His Son who gave it all – and it was accepted. This is how to access living water and live in its overflow. Sacrifice is not an act of work but an attitude of worship. “And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.