We must remember that the heart of God never changes.
His grace is a great River of Life that can never be stopped on its journey from HIs throne to the depth of our human need. “Wherever the river, everything will live!” So said the Prophet Ezekiel. God’s love has never diminished in strength from the days when He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day until today, when He delights to walk with us. Just as His love has never grown or diminished, it has never shifted in its focus; God still loves what He has always loved and what has always displeased Him displeases Him still.
God made this world a realm of “cause and effect.”
Everyone son and daughter of Adam and Eve has been made for a purpose. We have each been designed to be the “cause” of certain “effects.” Gravity (the cause) makes water run down hill (the effect.) God made it so and the whole globe ebbs and flows with this dynamic. Through the constant pull of gravity, great rivers drain their continents yet never fill the sea. Jesus chose this image to represent the effect of the life of the believer—a cleansing, nourishing flow of life through a barren land.
The dictionary defines “effect” as:
- something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence
- power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; influence
- the state of being operative or functional; operation or execution; accomplishment or fulfillment
- a mental or emotional impression produced, as by a painting or a speech.
- meaning or sense; purpose or intention.
The River of the Spirit
The ministry of the Holy Spirit in us is the cause of certain effects God expects from us.
- We walk this earth in the power of the Spirit (cause) and carry the Lord’s presence with us wherever we go (effect.)
- The places we work (cause) are blessed with a living, breathing incarnation of the truth of God when we are there (effect.)
- The residence and work of the Spirit of God (cause) makes us holy and powerful (effect.)
- Just as Old Covenant Priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the obstructing river and into battle and into the tabernacle and temple, Christ-followers likewise carry the Lord’s presence and power with them into this world. Darkness rolls back like the River Jordan.
- Enemies of God are thrown into confusion like the Philistines and the presence of God rests upon His people in worship as He did in the Temple.
Is this fancy? Is this fiction? If this is so, why do we not see hindering rivers roll back, enemies of God breaking ranks, and why do we have services without the manifest presence of God?
The Lord’s brother tells us why.
It is because the greatest cause of any effect has been neglected—prayer! James says that the fervent prayer of the one who closely follows the Lord Jesus is effective! It “avails much,” to use the King James language. God’s heart never changes. He will still answer prayer and empower lives for His glory. We are the one who change.
Life deflects us from praying. The lazy flesh we all inhabit shrinks from the work of prayer. Time and convenience conspire against prayer. Could it be that we don’t want to pray? Might we be more interested in the effect than we are the cause? God forgive us!
The apostles are unanimous in their call to prayer. Jesus is detailed in His instructions on how we should pray. The Spirit is resident and ready to empower our praying. Our Covenant-keeping Father is poised to respond. When our prayers approach the level of fervency (measured by consistency, not by volume) and faith our praying can be most effective; His power will flow through us.
Through consistent prayer we can each be a blessing to those around us just like an unstoppable river flowing to the sea!
…till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high… The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
…so where the river flows everything will live.
Lord Jesus, You are the spring of Living Water bubbling in my deepest self. As I pray, let the gentle flow become a torrent. Use me to affect this world for good. As I live, flow through me to the healing of the nations—of the people You place in my path. May my words be filled with truth, my eyes see with Your perspective, my hands touch with Your compassion. With You as my cause, the effect of my life will count in this world and in the next. Amen.
O River of God
O River of God, flow down on me.
O River of God, flow out through me.
O River of God, so rich and free,
O River of God, I long for Thee.
I’ve Got a River
Words and Music: L. Casebolt
I’ve got a River of Life flowing out from me,
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to;
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free,’
I’ve got a River of Life flowing out from 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.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved