English Evening Service on July 2
Messenger: Don Frank
Title - Life... on the Riverbank
Bible Passage - Psalm 1:3
Introduction - It's so good to have you here this evening as we enjoy worshipping God with song and the spoken Word. Please just sit back and let's explore what our Heavenly Father has for us tonight.
I feel like I've been really blessed in life because I've gotten a chance to live next to the water for more than 37 years! I started out in San Francisco, living in Marin County, really close to the San Francisco Bay. I went across the Golden Gate Bridge twice a week for 4 years. It was really so beautiful!
Then God opened the door for me to go and pastor a small church in Hawaii for 8 years. The picture is of Hanapepe Beach Park, about 2 minutes away from the house I used to live in. I had the joy of waking up every morning, looking out my bedroom window and seeing this park!
Then 4 years ago, my wife and I bought a condominium right beside the Makomanai River and it looks like this! I think it's gorgeous, any season of the year.
Now what got me started thinking about this message was the Bible passage that Eriko Tanioka shared with us at Bible study on Tuesday morning several weeks ago. And so, I dug into the Word and tonight I'd like to talk about Riverbank Living.
There are several great verses in the Bible that talk about the River of Living Water. And I'd like to walk through them this evening and see what this River is all about.
1. The River that Gives Joy - Psalm 1:1-3
Our first Scripture tonight is the one that Eriko shared with us in Bible Study, Psalm1:1-3. Let's call this, "The River that Gives Joy." The joy and delight of Riverbank Living comes from not following evil, but enjoying God's Word. And that's why we're here tonight. We're praising God with music and studying the law of the Lord. Living by the Riverbank means reading God's Word on a daily basis, meditating on it and letting it sink deep into our lives.
My father in the ministry, Pop Reed, a retired Baptist pastor, got me into Bible Study when I was about 19 years old. And many of his lessons are still with me. I love reading the Bible and a devotional every morning and then spending time in conversation with Jesus. It doesn't matter what time of the day you do it, as long as you're seeking Him each day.
And if we do that, then we will bear fruit each season, we won't wither and God will lead us to prosper in many areas of our lives! That's His promise to us as we live where God has planted us, right on the riverbank.
2. The River Gives Blessings - Jeremiah 17:7-8
But it doesn't stop there. Our next "River" passage is in Jeremiah chapter 17, verses 7-8. I'm calling this passage, "The River that Gives Blessings." Now, this promise is very similar to the one we just read, except for a few important differences. This time, the River gives blessings. The blessings mentioned here are trust, hope and confidence in the Lord. Those are indeed deep, sweet blessings! I think we'd all want this things abundantly in our lives.
This promise also mentions that the trees planted on the riverbank have roots that reach deep into the water. And what are these roots that Jeremiah tells us about? They are in fact those three blessings: trust, hope and confidence! As we grow more and more in our Christian lives, our trust, hope and confidence grow more too. Now, I know what you're thinking. How can I make these things stronger in my life? The answer is in the next part of this promise.
These trees are not bothered or worried; not bothered by the heat or worried about any drought. And so are we, planted by God along side His River. We have no need to be bothered or worried about any problem that come along. Because God always supports us, our leaves will always be green and God will keep producing fruit in our lives!
Now, think about this for a moment. Do trees worry about how much fruit they're putting out? No. Jesus taught us that, didn't He? Look at the birds of the air or the flowers of the field. Actually, look at anything else in nature. Not one of these creations worries about their lives. They just receive what the loving Heavenly Father provides! But we humans worry, don't we? But when God Himself plants us right alongside of His River, we don't need to worry one bit. His River gives us every blessing we need to live and grow and flourish!
3. The River Gives Life - John 7:37-39
For our next "River" passage this evening, we need now to move into the New Testament, to the book of John, chapter 7, verses 37-39. There we find "The River that Gives Life." Now we see the Son of God inviting anyone who was at the festival to come and drink a special kind of water. Anyone who was thirsty, anyone who would believed in Him could come and have his thirst quenched! And for those who believed, then Rivers of Living Water would flow from their hearts! Here's that River again, but this time it comes from every believer's heart! What is this River? Or should I say, Who is this River?
Like Jesus did with many of His parables, He shares with John, who then tells us, that the meaning of this River of Living Waters is in fact the Holy Spirit! Now we understand! Now we understand the significance of the promises from the Old Testament! All along, this River has been the Spirit of God Himself!
John goes on to say that this River of the Spirit wasn't given to us Christians until Jesus had entered His glory. Then Jesus said later in John chapter 14 that He would send us a Helper Who would always be with us and teach us and give us everything we need! And that's why we celebrate Pentecost because that's when God sent that River of the Spirit to live in the hearts of every believer!
Do you want Living Waters flowing from deep inside of you? Well then, look no further! You already have it in your heart! Do you catch what I'm saying? God's Spirit is already inside of you, just naturally producing the fruit of the Spirit. You don't have to work hard to produce or worry about if you can produce. All you have to do is relax and let your roots of trust, hope and confidence go deep into the Living Waters! Then God will just naturally produce those fruits in you!
4. The River Comes from Heaven - Revelation 22:1-2
But it doesn't stop there! Our next "River" passage is also from John at the end of his life when an angel came and gave him a revelation. Let's look at Revelation 11:1-2 and see "The River that Leads to Heaven." The angel opened up the horizons of heaven to him and gave him a vision that has inspired so many believers over the centuries. In fact, many an artist has tried to capture these verses as a picture. The one we have here is just an example. I'm sure that the real scene is going to be far more beautiful than any earthly artist could ever paint!
Now let's read what John wrote about this River. What a gorgeous view this is! A River of Living Water that is clear as crystal, 100% clean and clear as a diamond! And this River's headwaters flow from the throne of God and the throne of the Lamb. And of course, the Lamb is our Lord Jesus! Just as He promised, Jesus took the River of His Spirit and let it flow straight from heaven right into our hearts. And it's a Living River that is still flowing even this minute as we are gathered together here in this chapel, flowing into and through the heart of each believer!
And what power does this River have? It nourishes the Tree of Life - and by the way, when we believe in Jesus as our Savior, then we have eternal life guaranteed to us! The Tree of Life produces it's fruit constantly with a fresh crop of fruit, a different kind of fruit each month throughout the year. There are 12 kinds of fresh, living fruit, even more than the 9 kinds of the fruit of the Spirit that are mentioned in the book of Galatians, and these fruit meet all of our needs without end!
John goes on to say that It's not just the River of Living Waters or the fruit that never stops growing on the Tree of Life, but even the leaves of this Tree are harvested and used for healing all the sicknesses and diseases of all the peoples of the world! Now, do you agree with me that this is a truly amazing gift hat God gives to us?!
Conclusion - My time is almost finished for this evening, so let's take a look at one final "River" passage as we bring our study to a close. Are you ready for "Riverbank" Living?
Later in the book of Revelation, chapter 22 verse 17, John shares this with us... God's Spirit and the bride of Christ, which is all believers, say to us "Come!" All those who hear this invitation are asked to repeat the invitation "Come!" Anyone who is thirsty to get more out of life, to grown deeper in their relationship with God, to delve into God's Word more, to become all that God wants you to be is encouraged to come!
And when we come, since we are planted and living on the riverbank, we can constantly drink freely, drink deeply and drink forever from the River of God, His sweet Holy Spirit! Join me tonight as we give up our worries and troubles and just let the River of Living Waters flow through us and from us everyday.