Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Drought

Last week, during the midst of a pretty decent rain storm, the Governor of our fair State declared a drought. As I was listening to the news report it was pouring down rain outside and I thought to myself has this guy even looked out the window?

Now, in a case for fairness, our State has been suffering from below average rainfall for a few years, and I am sure that the drought conditions do exist, but I was humored by the choice of timing for his press release. He at least could have waited until thing had stopped raining for the week. Oh well, I guess politics and weather are two things one never quite gets right no matter how hard you try.

So, what does this have to do with our sermon text for this week? It all comes down to water. Our text comes from John 7:25-44 where Jesus stands up on the great day of the Feast of the Tabernacles and cries out, "If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." (John 7:37-38) Of course, as we quickly discover, this water is the filling of the Holy Spirit that will come upon those who put their trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.

As I was studying this passage, I was also spending time in 2 Chronicles in preparation for our weekly prayer meeting and Bible study (we are walking through 2 Chronicles together). This week's passage contains the familiar passage of 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land." What is interesting is that this passage is found in the context of God withholding rain, and thus the need for the people to call out to Him.

Too often I believe 2 Chronicles 7:14 is taken out of context, and applied to the predicaments of our own nation, but if we look at it in the whole of the context (that is who it was written to and why) we can see that the promise goes much deeper than just the setting of our country right and of fixing the political and social woes of our nation. I believe it truly speaks of the very withholding of the Holy Spirit, or at least the plugging up of the flow of His power.

In Israel one of the greatest indicators of God's blessing was the giving of the fall and winter rains which would go to ensure a future harvest of blessing. So too, with those called by His name today, the Church, the greatest blessing that God gives to us in the here and now, is the gift of the Holy Spirit, His reign in us that is a guarantee a future blessing. (2 Corinthians 5:5)

So, is there a drought in California, well by looking at my rain gauge over the past couple of weeks, I would say "no." But then my backyard is only a very small part of the whole. Yes, there may very well be a drought in our State.

How about the Church, are we experiencing a drought of the reign of the Holy Spirit? To read some of the reports coming out from people like Cathy Lynn Grossman's article in USA Today, and a recent article by Michael Spencer in the Christian Science Monitor, both dealing with the seeming demise of evangelicalism. Now, I don't necessarily believe everything included in these reports, but they do give one cause to sit up and take notice. As I look around at the church of which I am blessed to be a part I can see that there is no drought here, but rather the gentle falling rain of God's blessing. The soil is soft, the grass in growing green, and there is a promise of future blessing. I can't say that there is not a drought in the land, but in some pockets the rain is falling and for this we are blessed.

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