Revive Our Hearts Radio

Where the River Flows, Day 3

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Hi, I'm Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and before we start today's Revive Our Hearts, I wanted to give you an update on the needs that I was sharing with you last month. We were praying that the Lord would provide for substantial needs at the end of our fiscal year in May. That's when we wrap up our budgets and make new plans for the year ahead.

Well, I want to let you know that the Lord worked in the hearts of our listeners to provide 92 percent of our overall goal, and I want to say, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for that generous support and for those who prayed that the Lord would meet our needs." You wouldn't be hearing this program today without that kind of generous support from listeners like you.

Now, if maybe you wanted to give but just never did, or you just want to help make up that remaining 8 percent gap, you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you so much for you prayers, your encouragement, and your support as together we help women not just survive, but to thrive in Christ.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you that God wants to give you life to the fullest.

Nancy: God wants you to be fruitful. He wants you to be useful. He wants you to bear much fruit for His glory. This growth that comes from the river of life isn't just for us.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

Nancy's continuing in the series, "Where the River Flows." It was recorded on the road in the Atlanta area.

Nancy: As I've been studying this passage in Ezekiel 47 about the river of life, there's a little chorus we used to sing, maybe back in the 90s. It's been running through my head, through my heart. You may be familiar with it.

(Child singing)

I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, and sets the captives free!
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!

Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me

That life, abundantly!

Nancy: Now, if you're familiar with that chorus, you won't be able to get it out of your head the rest of the day. Someone on our team said last night, "We ought to do that in this session and do it with the motions." I don't know what the motions are, and you really wouldn't want to hear me sing it, so I'll let you do that on your way home.

A river of life we're talking about here in Ezekiel 47, and it's a powerful, life-changing, transforming river that changes and impacts everything, everywhere it goes.

Remember, as we started looking at this passage a couple of days ago, Ezekiel is in captivity when he gets this vision in Babylon with the rest of the people of God, and he's given this vision of the millennial temple, the temple that the Jews had known had been ransacked, it had been destroyed. But here's a new temple that will be built when Jesus comes back to this earth, and there's water flowing out from this temple. It starts as a trickle, but it gets deeper and deeper until it finally becomes a flowing stream and finally a raging river that is too great to cross.

It flows across the desert, the first verses tell us here in Ezekiel 47, the dry places, the wilderness, the wasteland, and that it empties into the Dead Sea. It's a supernatural river of life. There's no human explanation for it except for God.

And we've been looking at the effects of this river, how it produces life and growth and abundance, and fullness and fruitfulness and flourishing. So let's pick up at verse 7, and we want to continue to make some observations about this river of life. Let me read verses 7 through 12, and then I'll make some comments.

When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees. [As I read this, just see the words that talk about fruitfulness and flourishing. There were very many trees] on one side and the other. Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters (what we know as) the Dead Sea.

When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.

It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim [towns on the shore of the Dead Sea where there had never been fishermen before because it was dead. There were no fish there. Nothing could live there. But now it would be a time of prosperity. There would be many fish and fishermen making a living there. Whole new industries will spring up because of this river]; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea [the Mediterranean Sea of the west of Jerusalem], exceedingly many. But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt.

Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.

As so we see here this abundance, these trees growing in places where trees could not have grown without this river of life.

And we're reminded, as we see this parable, this picture, that we are trees of righteousness according to Isaiah chapter 61, that God has planted us, put His life coursing through our veins and given us His river of life, made us, who were dead in our trespasses and sins, to become alive, and to become trees of righteousness.

We have been set, according to Psalm 1, verse 3, by rivers of water, planted by rivers of water.

Colossians 2, verse 7, tells us that we are rooted in Christ. And because we are rooted in Him, He is the source of our life. His Spirit flows through us and that's what gives us life and fruitfulness.

This river of life, it brings healing. We see that in this passage in verse 8. This water flows toward the eastern region, it goes down into the valley, the Arabah, the dry places, the barren wasteland, and it enters this dead sea, and when it reaches the Dead Sea, the waters of that sea are healed. It's a miracle! 

We said that the salt content of this sea is so great that nothing can live in it. Fish that come down from the Sea of Galilee, down the Jordan River, and empty out into the Dead Sea, they die immediately. It can't sustain life. But God heals those waters by means of this river of life that flows into the Dead Sea. It heals it, and the Dead Sea becomes a living sea.

Some of you, as you think about your testimony of how you came to faith in Christ, you can remember how dead and barren your life was, how fruitless, how joyless, how dysfunctional, how bitter, how depressed, and the river of life flowed into you, and Jesus gave you His life, and you've not been the same since.

Some of you have experienced healing, the healing of damaged emotions, the healing of a guilty, broken, shattered, messed-up, dysfunctional past. Now, it doesn't mean He healed everything about that past, because this is one of those already-but-not-yet passages in Scripture that we see partial fulfillment of. But we anticipate the day where there will be entire fulfillment and things that were dead will be fully alive, fully vibrant, no presence of sin, no besetting sin, no brokenness in this world. But we've experienced a taste of that as the river of life has flowed into our lives and brought healing.

Some of you have seen the river of God's life bring healing into your marriage, a marriage that was dead, for which there was no hope, but God brought His Spirit, His grace, His Word, His life into your marriage. And God has healed your marriage and given you a loving marriage.

Some of you have seen the river of life flow into the life of a prodigal son or daughter or into a church that was barren and dead, and there was no life there. But you've seen God bring healing where there was broken relationships.

A woman told me earlier this week that she listened to a series on Revive Our Hearts recently where we talked about the power of a clear conscience. And she told me that she went and confessed to a family member a sin that she had buried for forty-four years. It had kept her a prisoner, and she went and confessed it to that family member and sought forgiveness, was reconciled, and God brought restoration and healing to that woman's heart and to that relationship with her family member.

Where the river of life flows, dead things become alive. There is healing. And there is usefulness.

In verse 12 we read about all kinds of trees that grow along the bank of this river, and they're used for food. They're beautiful, but they're not just beautiful. They're useful. They're fruitful. "Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine." Things grow up around this river that are useful; they're nourishing; they're healing.

And as we think about being trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord with our roots going down into the love of Christ and the river of His love, we realize that God made us to be useful. He put us here on this earth for a reason. He's given us a purposeful existence. I'm so glad for that.

I think sometimes people go to a conference like this or they listen to radio programs, and they think, Oh, God has really made that preacher or that Bible teacher or that woman so fruitful. I love her ministry. And you've been so gracious to express some of that to me about the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

But can I tell you, God doesn't just want me to be fruitful. God doesn't just want me to be useful. God wants you to be fruitful. He wants you to be useful. He wants you to bear much fruit for His glory. He wants us to be used, spent, consumed by others, to have a serving heart. This growth that comes from the river of life isn't just for us, so we can be fat, happy Christians. This growth is for God's sake. It's for others' sakes. It's so we can be life-bearing, life-giving.

That's what the name Eve means—giver of life. God made us as women to be bearers and nurturers of life. It's true of our bodies. It's true of our physiology, but it's also true that He wants us as His children, His daughters to be fruitful, like-giving women.

And then we see that where this river of life flows, there is consistency. Verse 12 says, "Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary."

Listen, if you're just working up your usefulness, if you're just serving God in the energy of your own talents, your own flesh, you're going to get exhausted. You're going to run out of steam. You're going to run out of energy. You're going to run out of motivation.

When your kids don't respond to your schooling of them or your discipling of them or your investing in their life, you're going to get weary, and you're going to say, "Who wants these kids? Somebody else can have them."

But how can you keep serving with joy? How can you stay fruitful in the dry times? It's when that supernatural river of God's life is flowing through you. He will give you the energy.

This is the end of a long week for us. I'm tired. I'm also really enjoying these Georgia allergies. Aren't they wonderful? Not! And so this morning I just felt so spent, and I'm saying in my flesh, "I don't know how I can do this."

But as I step out by faith, the river of life of God's Spirit in me produces life. It produces growth. It's giving me blessing. It's giving you blessing as God opens up His Word to us. And God will give you that second wind and third wind, and however much wind you need to be fruitful as His river flows through you.

It says, "Their leaves will not wither. Their fruit will not fail. They're always in season." We're supposed to be evergreen.

Now, instead of that, we read in Luke chapter 8, by way of contrast, about some seed that was sown, and Jesus said it fell on a rock, and when it grew up, it withered up because it had no moisture. And He said, "The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, they receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away" (v. 13 ESV).

That's not the way it's supposed to be with believers, with those who have the river of life in them. It's a never-ending spring of grace, a continual supply of the Holy Spirit of God. But you can't do it on your own.

Trees can't grow on their own. They have to have that underground source of water. They have to be planted by and nourished by the water, the living water. Their roots draw life from the river, up from the ground where no one sees. It's a quiet, steady process that pictures how we are dependent on the Holy Spirit of God giving us nourishment and life and making us fruitful.

That's what Jesus talked about in John 15, where He says,

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing (vv. 4–6 ESV).

I've got a river of life flowing out of me. "Spring up, oh Well, and make me whole. Spring up, oh Well, within my soul. It's the life of Christ abiding in us."

I read a wonderful book many years ago, and I picked it up recently just to glance through it as I was thinking about this series. It's called, Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn. She was a missionary herself, but this book is the story of a couple named Arthur and Wilda Mathews, who were the last missionaries of the China Inland Mission to escape from Communist China in 1953.

They had been held for two years, most of the other missionaries were able to get out. These were the last two. They'd been held two years by the cruel, repressive Communist regime. They were in awful circumstances, but God kept them alive and spared them through excruciating trials, and this book is the story of what they went through during those years.

But in this book, Isobel Kuhn telling this story, says, "But most amazing of all was their spiritual vigor. [Where did it come from?] Not from themselves: no human being could go through such sufferings and come out so sweet and cheerful."

Wow! Think about the hard things of your life. Probably not two years in a Communist prison cell. But whatever—it may be hard, it may be really hard—have you come out sweet and cheerful?

Well, Isobel Kuhn realized the answer to that question was found in this passage in Jeremiah 17:

Blessed is the man whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green. It is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (vv. 7–8 ESV).

And then this biographer, Isobel Kuhn, says, "That was it! There was an unseen Source of secret nourishment, which the Communists could not find and from which they could not cut them off."

Then she says,

There is a secret Source by which a tree can put forth green leaves when all others around it are dried up and dying from the drought. Your drought may not be caused by Communism, but the cause of the drying up of life's joys is incidental. When they dry up [when the waters around you dry up; when your circumstances dry up], is there, can we find, a secret Source of nourishment that the deadly drought cannot reach?

The answer is: Yes! I've got a river of life flowing out from me! It's the river of His life. It's the living water, the river of God that flows out of the temple of God.

We're told in the New Testament that we are the temple of God—individually and corporately.

So we are not only intended to be recipients of this river of life, of this grace of God, of this Spirit of God, not just beneficiaries of His life-giving flow, but we are also intended to become a channel through whom God flows His life to others.

That's what Jesus talked about to the woman of Samaria. He said, "The water that I will give this person will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

And then in John chapter 7, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'" (v. 38 ESV). Rivers of living water. Jesus said, "I will give you that water. I am the river. I am the water. I am the door. I am the gate. I'm the temple. I'm the water. Come to Me. Drink. Be filled by faith. And then let My life flow through you to your mate, to your children, to your roommate, to your teachers, to your boss, to your fellow employees. Let it flow out."

The Scriptures says in Ezekiel 47, "Everything will live wherever the river goes."

Do you know what that means? Wherever we go, wherever you go—not just to church, but to Chick Fil-A, to your workplace, to your neighbor's house, to your PTA meeting, to the gym to work out—wherever you go, wherever I go, wherever we go, that river of life is supposed to flow out through us into the desert, into the Dead Sea.

Dead things will live. Things that were not flourishing will become fruitful and fertile when God's people go with the river of life.

So is there new life where you go? Is there a river of life flowing in your home? In your workplace? When you're on vacation? Do dry, desert places around you become full of lush growth and life wherever you go? Does your life bring healing to those around you? That's not your life, it's Jesus' life in you.

Does it make bitter places sweet? Is your life transforming your environment? Or are you merely conforming, adapting, fitting into your environment? Have you become hard, crusty and dry and barren, like that desert, like that Dead Sea, becoming like your environment instead of letting the river of life through you change that environment?

You may be in secular environment, in a workplace, in a school, filled with unbelievers, maybe committed unbelievers, people who are opposed to the things of God. The river of God in you can flow through you to transform the landscape around you.

One of the things my husband and I love doing is just praying with people wherever we go—taxi drivers, people at the airport, people on airplanes, people in our neighborhood—just wherever we go, people we don't know, total strangers.

My husband is really good at striking up conversations—he's better at that than I am. He'll say, "Tell me your name." And they just get into a conversation. And before we're done, more often than not, he's saying, "Would it be okay if I just prayed for you?" Someone who comes to do some work in the lawn, or whatever, "Can I just pray for you?" We've never had someone say, "No."

I think of that when I think of this river of life. What if all Christians, what if every woman in this room, wherever we go from here, what if we were grateful? What if we said, "Thank you"? What if we smiled? What if we showed interest in people?

I had a doctor's appointment not too long ago. I came out of the office, and there was a woman coming out who was visibly shaken. I mean, she was teary. She was waiting for a ride, and she sat down at a bench. Robert was picking me up, and I just looked at her, and I thought, Something's wrong.

So I just said to her, "Are you okay?" She's crying. I had to ask her a couple of questions. She wasn't going to volunteer. I just said, "Did you just get a bad report?" She goes, "Yes. Yes."

The river of life flowing through me, and I was able to just . . . I don't know her circumstances; I don't know her story, but I know that the life and the love and the grace of Jesus touched her heart that day. And who knows, maybe God will bring one of you along, somebody else along, to be an extension of that river of life, to pray, to encourage, to bless until her life becomes a place where the living water flows.

Christina Davis has written a terrific story, a book, called, Totally Surrendered. She talks about how, as an eighteen-year-old, she went into a remote jungle region in the Philippines to serve as a missionary. And she prayed as she went, "Lord, what is now darkness, please make light—lights shining for You. May I not leave here until there is praise being lifted from these people unto You."

Well, six years later, the villages in that formerly unreached area were ablaze with the light of God. There were hundreds of believers. There were churches. There were schools. And as she was getting ready to leave that area, she said,

We reached the top of the mountain that overlooked the valley. This had been my starting place. Here I had prayed with such zeal: "Lord, what is now darkness, please make light—lights shining for You. May I not leave here until there is praise being lifted up from these people unto You." Now I stood in silence and took a long, last look over the valley. This was my time to say good-bye. As tears rolled down my face, I began to hear that still, small voice again. "Can you hear the praise being lifted to Me?"

Then God opened my spiritual eyes to see a portion of what He could see. I could see lights, lights that were shining brightly in all of the villages. People, young and old alike, had been reconciled to God. "Yes, yes!" I cried. I could hear praise drifting toward the sky. I could see the heavens open and hear the praise of these people lifted to the throne of God.

There's a lot of darkness right here where we live, and everywhere the river goes, there is life.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth isn't done. She'll be back with another surprising detail about the Dead Sea.

Today's program is the last in a series called, "Where the River Flows." If you missed any of the programs, you can hear the series at ReviveOurHearts.com.

We're able to make this kind of teaching available to you thanks to listeners who provide funds to keep the program going. Without those kinds of gifts, you wouldn't hear Revive Our Hearts each weekday.

In the summer, we often see a downturn in donations because people are busy. But if you support the ministry today, we'll say "thanks" by sending you a helpful and practical book on prayer from Dave Butts. It will show you effective ways to pray for America to experience revival. And it includes a section on how to pray during a presidential election.

Ask for the book by Dave Butts, With One Cry, when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Father's Day is coming up this weekend. It's a time for joy, but it can also be a time for pain. Blair Linne knows what the pain is like, and she'll help us know how to find all we need in a heavenly Father that will never let us down. Hear more about that on the next Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Now, here's Nancy with the final thought.

Nancy: A friend texted me this morning. She knew I was teaching on this passage, and she said,

There's a beautiful resort/hotel that sits about a mile from the coast of the Dead Sea. It looks ridiculous. It was once on the shore, but the Dead Sea is receding, and so now it's way far from this lakeside resort. The receding of the Dead Sea makes the promises of God in a passage like this look ridiculous. How could this ever be a fruitful place, a place of life and health and constancy and growth and abundance?

Then she said, "But God . . . But God . . . But God."

Listen, there is no hope in that part of the world, visibly, of this promise ever coming true physically. And how similar that is to our day, and our prayers and our longing and our hope for revival in our churches, in our homes, in this country, and around the world. It looks impossible.

So many of our lives have what look to be impossibilities personally . . . but God. But God!

Genesis chapter 2, there was a river of God flowing through the Garden to water the garden.

Ezekiel 47, there's a river of God, a river of life that flows from the temple to the wilderness, to the Dead Sea.

And then when we come to the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22,

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 (vv. 1–2).

And isn't that the hope of the gospel, the promise of God, that as His Spirit flows in us and through us, there's a river of life flowing out from me. There's a river of life flowing out through you. And one day we have that promise that the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Aren't you eager for that day? Let that river of life flow through you now.

Oh Father, thank You for things we've talked about that are mysteries too great for us, but not too great for You. Thank You for that river of life, that water of Your Holy Spirit, and we pray that it would flow through us, to us, in us, bring healing, grace, hope, growth through our lives, into our homes, into our churches, into these communities in this area and throughout the nations of the world that Christ may be loved and known and worshiped, that all may know that You are God. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.

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