Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on June 30, 2019. Title: What Christians Need To Know For The Holy Spirit To Flow. Text: John 2:13-22, John 7:37-39. Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy] Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]
I’d like you to imagine with me an opportunity. See this red cup? I would like you to imagine with me that Jesus has come up to you and said, “Hey, you! If you drink what I give you, it will wash away all your sins. If you take what I give you, it will clean you and heal your broken heart. Come and drink. And if you take what I give you,” Jesus says, “I will lift you up and empower you to live the life you always wanted to live, not just for your own sake, but to help others.” What if you were given that opportunity? What if you had that choice to drink from the red cup and live a new life? What would you do? What would you choose?
Because you see, you do have a choice. Everyone has the choice of drinking from the blue cup, the blue cup where everything is the way it’s always been. You ever heard the phrase what they call the most common words said in any church? “We’ve never done it that way before, and we’re not going to.” That’s the blue cup. “I want to stick with what I know. I want to stick with what’s familiar. Oh, the last thing we would want in the church was a surprise. The last thing we would want in a church would be for people’s lives to change because what if my life changed in a way and I didn’t like it?” You see, we have this temptation to hold on to what is familiar. And so when Jesus came and offered them a different choice, they weren’t interested. “Let’s let everything stay the way it’s always been. We’ve got our temple. We’ve got our way of doing things. We don’t want anything that’s different.” You see, you have a choice.
Now, some of you who like going to movies, you’ve already caught on to this blue cup and red cup and the way it is portrayed in the movie, The Matrix. The young man Neo was offered a choice between the blue pill and the red pill. It’s possible you’ve never seen that movie or heard of that before. The blue pill lets him go back and live a life that’s not true. But, in that imaginary life, everything is just fine. But if he takes the red pill, he’ll discover the truth.
But even though the movie doesn’t say it that way it’s almost like when Jesus said, “You’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free.” And the man offering the pills to Neo says, “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” But friends, the truth that Jesus Christ offers you can change your mind and it can change the life of everyone you know. Would you have the red cup? Or would you refuse it?
In John 2:20 Jesus has just cleansed the temple. This is a very first time. This is very early in his ministry. Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers. He has driven out the animals for sale in the temple. He has said, “My Father’s house is meant to be a house of prayer.” And the Jewish leaders come and confront him, they say, “Who gave you the authority to do this?”
And Jesus says these words, “If you destroy this temple, I will raise it up in three days.” Now coming after Easter, we understand what that means but they did not. Verse 20 the Jews then said, “It’s taken 46 years to build this temple. The labor of thousands of people, the cost of thousands of pieces of gold, and you will raise it up in three days?” Verse 21, see that verse? Please read it with me, “But He spoke of the temple of His body.”
Jesus wanted to create a different kind of church. A church that would be referred to as the Body of Christ. A church that actually was a living thing. Not a building and services that would happen there. But the disciples did not understand what he meant. Verse 22, “But therefore when He was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that He had said this. And now they understood and they believed the Scripture and they believed the Word which Jesus had spoken.”
A year or so later, at the high point of the greatest feast of the nation of Israel, as the high priest was about to do the great thing, through the prayerful silence comes the loud voice of Jesus saying this to all the people, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. And he who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of His heart will flow rivers of living water.” What could that possibly mean? Let’s look at the next verse. “Now, this he said about the spirit.”
My own interpretation is that he said this about the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Now, this he said about the spirit on the day of Pentecost which those who believed in Him were to receive. Blue cup, not receiving. Red cup, it comes to change your life. Because you see, when you receive this, out of your heart will flow rivers of living water. That’s a promise. The Holy Spirit, you were meant to receive. “But as yet, the spirit had not been given because Jesus was not yet glorified,” so this promise refers to an event in their future, the day of Pentecost. And it refers to an event in our past, the day of Pentecost, which is supposed to still be going on today. The Holy Spirit comes down and flows out from the heart of people.
This desert could be your neighborhood. I hope not, it looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? Those of you who are farmers say, “Yeah. Lots of it right now, that would be just fine”. But take a look at that dry cracked earth where nothing can grow.
It means moisture is lacking, doesn’t it? But if you look at the flat surface of that mud that is cracked, you know what’s quite obvious? There is water that has flowed over it in the past. That cracked surface is shaped by water but the water flowing over it did it no good whatsoever. Came down too hard, flowed over it too quick, none of it got on the inside. What are we going to do about that? If you could bring some water to that earth, new life would grow. Now, you know the first thing the blue cup people say? “Sounds like a job for the pastor. That’s what we pay him to do, or her.”
Here’s the problem with the pastor providing the water. (GIF plays where a firefighter struggles with a firehose and falls down.) Wait for it, there it is. This is what happens when the Holy Spirit gets ahold of the pastor. It feels like there’s a fire hose coming at you. Sometimes the pastor can’t even maintain his or her balance. When the Holy Spirit falls, when the Holy Spirit flows to all people, here’s the problem. Sometimes it flows so fast and so great a quantity through the pastor, it doesn’t do you much good to try to drink out of a fire hose.
There’s a picture of my dad the day he joined the Navy, well, Great Lakes Basic Training. I don’t have any pictures of him teaching math. But I learned very, very early as a junior high kid, never to ask my dad, who was a math teacher, to help me with my math homework. Because he was always overjoyed, all the sudden, that I was interested in what he was interested in, that a little tiny question of “Dad, why can’t I get the right answer for this problem?” became an hour-long telling of one story after another after another going all the way back to the Greek and Egyptian mathematicians. That’s the problem with asking the pastor anything, maybe this pastor, too. (Me) And not only that, that quantity of water runs over the top of the ground and it seldom gets in.
You know what it means for people’s lives to really change? This is what’s really needed – a sprinkler. Just enough to soak in and make a difference. And so what God needs much more than one fire hose is 12 sprinklers. They get a lot more done, are a lot more friendly to the ground they sit on and provide a lot more good results. What’s actually needed is for the Holy Spirit to flow into desert rocks from the fingers of God’s people and into the lives of people around them.
Consider: if 12 of us chose the red cup, chose to be a channel for the Holy Spirit to flow in little drops of mercy and kindness upon the people in our neighborhoods … If 12 of us chose 12 people each, to pray for and to watch over, we would have a spiritual influence over 144 people. If everyone, who attended worship this Sunday in both of our little churches, would pray for 12 people and be the means by which the Holy Spirit could bless their lives in little drops, we would have a spiritual influence over 700 people. If we worked at it a little harder and God blessed us with more people, our little churches might have a spiritual influence over more people than live in our township, over 1,000 people.
And you know, the math’s kind of incredible … if 12 people pray for 12 people and then all of those people pray for 12 people, they would have a spiritual influence for the good over 1,728 people. I won’t even ask you to dream with me beyond that because the next level is over 20,000. But the question is, would you be willing to take the red cup and begin to let the Holy Spirit flow through you for perhaps up to 12 people? Why 12? Jesus chose 12. You might be 3-person person. You might be a 30-person person. But I have a feeling you might be getting close to a fire hose if you tried to do that. But Jesus chose 12.
Well, Pastor Dave, I’m not quite sure what you mean. What exactly are you asking me to do? Well, I’m asking you to get up in the morning, find a place to pray, and give your life to Christ. The words of the centering prayer that our worship began this morning will work just fine. And then read your bible and ask yourself, “What does it say to me that I need to obey?” And then the key question, “Who needs to hear this?” Because it may be that God would say that this particular neighbor this particular week is having this particular problem, and this verse will cheer them up. That’s how the Holy Spirit works. If you will read your bible, God will tell you who needs that idea. And the other thing for your 12 neighbors (or your one neighbor, or whoever) is to have a conversation with them, ask them how they are, and no matter what they say, pray for them.
You know what’s going to happen? Nine weeks out of ten they’re going to tell you everything is wonderful, and you can say, “Lord, thank you for blessing my neighbor.” But the next week, when something’s not perfect, you can pray every day and, “Lord, help them. Help them.” And again, it may be that God will give you a verse to help them. But this is the way the sprinkler does God’s work … with just a few rather than an entire nation of people.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t need to tell you. You know the huge problem that we have? God has chosen. There is no question. God has chosen to work through each of us. Not just through the pastor. God has chosen to work through each of us because if each one of us does this little thing, which blesses people in the name of Christ, it will total up to a very great lesson. Because this is what God has chosen to do.
Here’s a picture of Death Valley. This picture is from the spring of 2005. You could look up Death Valley on the internet, in the encyclopedia, or in Wikipedia and it will tell you. It is one of the most hostile places for life in the entire world. In 1913, the world record highest temperature of 134 degrees was measured in Death Valley. That’s why they call it Death Valley. Nothing can live or grow there.
Except, every now and then, in the fall, and in the winter, there’s some rainfall. And the rain drains off the mountains down into the flat area and then goes down deep. You can’t even see it. What happens five months later in the spring? All of a sudden, this place where nothing can live is filled with flowers. There’s a name for it. It’s called a super bloom. It doesn’t happen very often.
But if you’re a sprinkler and your neighborhood is a place that needs life, the super bloom won’t happen right away. But if you can get the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to flow through your fingers into the lives of people around you … if you drink deeply from the red cup, Jesus will flow through you to help others. Not perhaps in any sort of showy or dramatic way, but just the way that kindness and love and patience changes people’s hearts. A few months later, you may see life come to the people. This could happen to the people around you, people who are ill, people who are grieving, people who are sad, people who are angry, people who are troubled. You might be the means by which God could turn their lives around, if you’re willing to be the sprinklers of what they need to their thirsty souls. Please pray with me.
Lord, when it gets too dry, we find ourselves praying for rain. Sometimes the rain falls too hard and too fast, and just runs off that surface. What we need, Lord, is for the dry ground to receive the rain that comes in little drops so that it can soak in and really change eache of us. In the same way, Lord, You promised that rivers of loving water would flow out from each of us. Help us to see the potential of what You could do if You could work through us because we were willing to give ourselves to You. If we were willing to make a commitment to You. If we were willing to offer ourselves, to cooperate with God, to redeem our neighborhood, and to make a desert into a green and beautiful place. And so Lord, when You offer us that red cup, when you ask us if we’re willing to do Your will, when You ask us if we are willing to be the channels through whom the Holy Spirit flows to other people, Lord, help us to answer, “Yes.” I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I smile when I think about the firehose because I know sometimes, I’m just like that. But each one of us, in our own way, can be a means of God’s grace to flow into the lives of other people. So every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray. Let’s stand up and sing this hymn…
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.