Jesus promised that if we believe in him, rivers of living water will flow out of our hearts into   this world.


Jesus promised that if we believe in him, signs of the kingdom will follow us wherever we go. Jesus promised that if we believe in him, we will do the works that he did ... and even greater works than his because he had gone to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit.


So why the discrepancy between those high promises of Jesus and the meager trickle of life which flows from us with hardly enough force to quench the thirst of a mouse?


   We’re surrounded on all sides by people with heart­breaking needs.


             -   People who are depressed.

             -   People who are almost insane with loneliness.

-   Families breaking apart.

-   The sick.

             -   The dying.

             -   Single mothers who are caught in the economic squeeze.

             -   Old folks with no one to take care of them.


And many of these people are reaching out directly to us. We feel like a farmer standing in the middle of 500 acres of crops which are wilting and shriveling under a scorching sun, praying for rain and no rain comes. If I don’t get water to these crops they’re going to die. So, what do I do? Either I bring down rain from heaven or I carry water from the river in buckets to my 500 acres.


The temptation is to get out our buckets and start hauling water with our bare hands. In fact, the mini­stries of most of us are pretty much a bucket brigade. But a bucket brigade for 500 acres is absurd. The only thing that will save the crops is a good soaking rain.


When Jesus promised that if we believe in him out of our hearts will come rivers of living water, he made clear that the source of that living water is

not earth, but heaven.


Ah, but we’re so accustomed to trying to make things happen by ourselves. This is what the movers and the shakers of this world have always done... they make things happen. They figure out a solution to the pro­blem and they work it.


But in the Kingdom of God we don’t make things happen. God makes things happen. All we do is put ourselves in the position before God where God’s kingdom is able to break into this withered world through us.

It might have looked on the surface as if Elijah had the power to make the rain stop.  And then when he was good and ready, had the power to turn around and make it rain. But all that Elijah was really doing was standing before God ... fitting into God’s purpose. When Elijah said,


"There shall be neither dew nor rain these years except by my word,"


he spoke as one who stood before God and spoke what he was given to speak.


And when after the third year of drought, Elijah said to Ahab,


"Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of the rushing of rain,"


he spoke not from himself but from God.


Our Lord worked miracles.  Every word that flowed from his mouth was prophetic. But Jesus didn’t make things happen... the Father made things happen through him. Jesus did nothing out of himself.


                      - He spoke not one word out of himself.

                      - He spoke what he was given.

                      - He did what he was given.


Jesus stood on this earth as the means by which the Kingdom of God was able to break through.


We need to learn to quit trying to be a bucket brigade and to stand before God so totally given up to his will that his kingdom can break into this world through us. Then,


                                   -  we will bring rain,

                                   -  living water will flow from heaven

                                      through us into this parched world.


It’s not as if the Kingdom of God comes to us wringing its hands and saying,


"Gee, things are really going hard these days. Nobody wants to believe in Jesus Christ. I’m looking for volunteers who would be willing to help put Christ back into Christmas. Would you mind getting your bucket and helping out?"


The kingdom comes to us and says,


"The hour has come for me to speak to this world through you. Let me have your body, soul, and spirit, and I’ll get the job done."


Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord."


Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."   Jeremiah 1:4 -10


Jeremiah did not carry buckets, Jeremiah made it rain!  Because when the Kingdom of God came to Jeremiah and claimed him, he responded. Jeremiah yielded himself and the word of the living God started flowing through him.


So how do we get beyond carrying buckets to the place where we are able to bring rain? How do we get to the place where the Kingdom of God really breaks into the world through us?


The first thing we have to do is put down our buckets and hold still before God.


1.    The first requirement for any one who is ever to be the means by

       which God touches this world redemptively, is a yielded life.


                     - a life that holds still,

                     - a life that is willing to let God call the shots.


In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, 0 favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."

And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy  Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word..."                                   Luke l:26-38a


"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word..."


It was as if Mary put down her bucket, gave up doing anything her own way, and bowed in stillness and submission to the will of God.


"I am your handmaid...do as you wish with me."


For all our surrendering and all our decisions and commit­ments and promises to God, have we ever really come to a complete stop before him, silenced our hearts and our mouths, and yielded our life to him like Mary did? Are we willing to say to him,  "Behold, I am your servant; let it be to me according to your word?"


2.    If we are going to bring the rain of the kingdom into this dry

        earth, we also have to be willing, every day, to leave the familiar

        and enter into the unknown with God.


Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.                   Genesis 12:1-4a


Abraham went out from

             his country,

             his kindred,

             his father’s house, to a land God promised to show him.


At Jesus’ command, Peter launched out into the deep (into the unknown), and let down his nets for a catch. Then he brought his boat to land, forsook everything and followed Jesus into the unknown.


To walk by faith is to constantly walk into the unknown with God.


        -   It means entering the realm of the Spirit of God every day...which

             is unknown territory for our flesh.


        -   It means venturing out among people in the name of the Lord,

        -   talking to people we’ve always been afraid to talk to,


        -   listening to people we've passed by for years and hardly given

             them a chance to say, "Good morning."


-   It means exposing our hearts to people,

-   -who might make ridiculous demands,

-   who might break our hearts,

-   who might hurt our feelings.

When you carry your own bucket, you can stay in a com­fortable rut all your life. But when you draw near enough to God so that he can make it rain through you, you will be following the Lord into the unknown every day.


3.  If we’re going to bring the rain of the kingdom into this dry earth,

     we also have to speak what God gives us to speak.


Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.


We’ve seen so much hypocrisy in our own lives and in the lives of those around us that we’re hesitant to open our mouths for fear our words will be so much more religious death.


But if we’ve yielded to God and if we’re following the Lamb into the unknown, the Lord puts forth his hand and touches our mouth and says,


"Behold, I have put words in your mouth. Speak them!"


The life of the kingdom flows out of us through the spoken word. 


"It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life."


And now, his words flow from our hearts across our mouths as rivers of living water, bringing life to the withered fields of this earth.  Granted, the same words that bring life will also bring persecution...as they brought persecution to Elijah and Jeremiah...put our Lord on a cross... caused Peter to die for his Lord. But we need to defy our fears and speak the word God puts in our mouth. For with the persecution there will also be streams flowing in the desert; those parched fields turning green.


Today the Lord is calling everyone who is frustrated by this meager trickle, where there should be a rushing river of life flowing from us, to give up our bucket brigade and draw near to him so that he can make it rain through us.


The source of living water is not earth, but heaven. Heaven will give rain to this desert earth through us,


-   when we give the God of heaven a totally yielded life,


  -   when we are willing to leave our familiar rut

      and follow Jesus into the unknown every day,


             -   when we open our mouths and speak

                  as the Spirit gives us utterance.