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Sermons from Vienna Presbyterian Church September 26, 2010 Thirsty for God lifting the boat out of the water e‟re inviting every- The Rev. Dr. Peter G. James W one in this church this fall to read John Ortberg‟s book, The Me I Want at a 45-degree angle. John lunges forward as though he has been shot from a cannon. John gestures wildly for the to Be. Our hope is that each of boat to slow down, but his kids John 7:37-39 us will discover the "me" God driving the boat interpret it as a wants us to be so we can be the signal to go faster. So, they rev church God wants us to the engine full throttle and now increasingly become. John is bouncing across the Sermons Series: John Ortberg writes about water like you might skip a In Christ Together for the World learning to water ski on vaca- rock across a lake. Somehow it tion one summer. John‟s wife, doesn‟t occur to John to let go Nancy, a veteran water skier, of the rope. Eventually, John has the honor of teaching John loses his balance and lands on how to ski. He masters, in short his face. For six months, John order, skiing on two skis, so he could not smile out of the right “Trying to graduates to a single ski. Unfor- side of his mouth. become the tunately, the motor boat they‟re John concludes, “Trying to person we using can‟t generate enough become the person we were power to pull John out of the meant to be by our own efforts were meant to water. John notices on the alone is like trying to ski be by our own boat‟s dashboard a button behind a rowboat. We need a efforts alone labeled power-tilt. John knows power tilt for the soul. Where is like trying nothing about motor boats but do we look?” he asks. thinks this button sounds prom- Ortberg turns to the passage to ski behind ising. This is the point in the read a few moments ago (John a rowboat." story where I become engaged. 7:37-39). The setting for this - John Ortberg Pushing a power tilt button passage, verse 37, is the last, sounds like something I would great day of a festival. If we try. trace back to verse 2, we learn John positions himself that Jesus and his disciples are behind the boat on a single ski attending the Festival of and yells to Nancy, “Hit it.” Booths, sometimes called the That‟s her signal to push the Feast of Tabernacles. Old power tilt button. The power Testament believers observed button has the effect of driving three major festivals each year: the propeller deeper into the the feast of Passover (Pesach) water for extra thrust, thereby in the spring, the feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) in early addresses the crowd: “Let any- summer and the feast of Booths one who is thirsty come to me (Sukkoth) in the fall. These and let the one who believes in festivals align closely with the me drink. As the Scripture has agricultural year: with seed said, „Out of the believer‟s …rivers of planting in spring (Passover), heart shall flow rivers of living with grain ripening in summer water‟” (7:37-38). living water (Pentecost) and with the fall Bold move, Jesus! It‟s a will flow out harvest (Booths). preposterous claim, the kind of of us so that My son, Andrew, asked me statement that led C.S. Lewis to those who live Friday about the subject of contend that either Jesus is who today‟s sermon. “I‟m preach- he says he is or he is a farther ing on the Feast of Booths," I lunatic—on the level with the downstream told him. He looked at me with man who says he is a poached can benefit a quizzical expression. He egg. thought I said the Feast of Jesus said, “Out of the also. Booze. It‟s called the Festival believer‟s heart will flow rivers of Booths because people of living water.” Living water moved out of their homes into represents flowing, running temporary shelters, lean-tos, if water. Rivers flow while pools you will, for the duration of this stagnate. seven-day feast. Living in Rivers play a vital role in booths commemorated Israel‟s Scripture. There are four rivers 40-year sojourn in the wilder- that water the Garden of Eden ness, when they lived in tem- in Genesis (2:10-14). Jesus is porary quarters. baptized in the river Jordan. The primary images utilized The book of Revelation depicts during this festival are water a new heaven and a new earth (chapter 7) and light (chapter that will be replenished by a 8). Each morning, priests would river that will give life to the process to the Pool of Siloam to tree of life (22:3). fill golden jars with water. The I might have expected Jesus jars were ceremoniously carried to say that into our hearts will to the temple and poured on the flow rivers of living water. altar as a drink offering. Water Instead, he says that rivers of in this desert region was a valu- living water will flow out of us able commodity for people‟s so that those who live farther crops and livelihood. This downstream can benefit also. water also recalls Moses‟ act of Jesus wants to flood the whole striking a rock in the wilderness world with his life and power. to quench people‟s thirst Jesus likens this river of (Exodus 17:1-7). living water to the Holy Spirit On the last day of the festi- in verse 39. This third member val, perhaps as the water is be- of the Trinity confuses people, ing poured upon the altar, Jesus Christians included. We understand something of God Some things in life are the Father and Jesus the Son, helped by trying harder. Yet, but who exactly is God the there are limits to what we can Holy Spirit? The term, Holy accomplish. Some things are Ghost, further confounds us. actually aggravated by trying Don’t push The Holy Spirit is none other harder. than the presence of God the Take sleeping. We‟re not the river. Father and Jesus the Son that successful at sleeping by trying Relax and takes up residence in every harder. Maybe you‟ve had the trust the river. believer. When Jesus ascended experience of saying to yourself to the right hand of God the as you lie in bed, “I‟ve got to Father, he sent his presence, the get to sleep. If I don‟t get a Holy Spirit, to live inside of us. good night‟s sleep, I‟ll be “Where is the power?” worthless tomorrow.” So, you Ortberg asks. The Holy Spirit lie in bed obsessing over not provides the power. falling asleep. So what difference does this For me, it‟s the worst sermon make in my life? Saturday night, knowing I have Maybe your spiritual life to preach three times in quick seems stagnant right now. Your succession the next morning. soul feels as dry as dust. There No amount of trying helps me are no rivers of living water fall asleep. flowing in or out of your life. No amount of trying helps Your enthusiasm for living the us fall asleep. In fact, sleep Christian life has slowed to a experts tell us that the harder trickle. we try to fall asleep, the harder Perhaps you‟re living in a it is to fall asleep. Trying harder desert right now. Reading the only increases our level of Bible holds no appeal. God anxiety and frustration. seems distant. Prayer seems The key to falling asleep is pointless. Christians annoy you. relaxation. We try softer, not Jesus invites us: “Let harder. I limit my TV viewing anyone who is thirsty come to at night, since television often me.” Let the rivers of Jesus‟ life acts as a stimulant. I try to flow into your parched souls. center my bedtime ritual in Let his presence flow through prayer. God, I give you my you. Come into my life, Jesus. worries, my failures, my Live in me. Flow through me. accomplishments. I‟m not go- Revive me again. ing to worry about things for Jesus is not asking you to try which I can trust you. Psalm harder. Quite the reverse. 4:8 has become my bedtime Ortberg urges us “to try softer.” mantra: “I will lie down and Trying softer means we focus sleep in peace, for you alone, O more on God‟s goodness than Lord, make me lie down in our own efforts. safety.” Don‟t push the river. Get in had said about talking animals the flow. Relax and trust the in the land of Narnia. river. “Are you not thirsty?” said I don‟t mean to imply there the Lion. is nothing we can do to help us “I‟m dying of thirst,” said Don’t look for grow in faith. We devoted this Jill. past spring and summer to “Would you mind going satisfaction in preaching the classic practices away while I drink?" she asked things that of the Christian life that help us the Lion. The delicious rippling will not grow in faith. There are things noise of the stream was driving satisfy. we can do, but there are also her nearly frantic. “Will you things we can‟t do. We can‟t promise not to do anything to make ourselves grow. So we me, if I do come?” she relax in God‟s love. We trust continued. God‟s goodness more than “I make no promise,” said relying on our efforts. the Lion. Jill was now so thirsty “Let anyone who is thirsty, that, without noticing it, she come to me.” You may think had come a step nearer. your thirst will be assuaged by “Do you eat girls?” She getting into the college of your asked. choice, a romantic relationship, “I have swallowed up girls a good job, more money, a and boys, women and men, bigger house. These things are kings and emperors, cities and only a mirage. They appear realms,” said the Lion. It didn‟t inviting. But on closer inspec- say this as if it were boasting tion, they fail to quench your nor as if it were sorry, nor as if spiritual thirst. Don‟t look for it were angry. It just said it. satisfaction in things that will “I dare not come and drink,” not satisfy. said Jill The Silver Chair is the “Then you will die of fourth book in the fabled The thirst,” said the Lion. Chronicles of Narnia series. In “Oh dear,” said Jill, coming our story, Jill is in search of a another step nearer. “I suppose land called Narnia. She had I must go and look for another heard of a noble Lion called stream then.” Aslan, who serves in C.S. “There is no other stream,” Lewis‟s novels as a Christ said the Lion. You‟ll have to figure. In her quest for Narnia, read the rest of the story to find she becomes thirsty and comes out what happens next! upon a mountain stream. She We are thirsty, all right. We would have rushed forward to are thirsty for God. Aslan is drink, had it not been for the right, “There is no other Lion on the other side of the stream.” Come to Jesus. “Let stream. “If you are thirsty, you anyone who is thirsty, come to may drink,” the Lion said. She me.” remembered what her friend
"Thirsty for God"