‘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.’ John 7:37-39
Some years ago, we were visiting Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, NZ. Pushing our young son along in a stroller, I noticed a man-made waterfall. “Look, Stephen,” I enthused, “What a beautiful waterfall!” and we paused to watch it.
In the meantime, my husband Malcolm (aka The Hunk) was reading a notice behind us that said, “Insert a coin into the slot behind the wall to start the waterfall.” We found a coin and put it in the slot.
To our amazement, hidden floodgates opened and out came a massive downpour of water.
THAT WHICH I HAD THOUGHT WAS THE WATERFALL WAS IN REALITY ONLY A TRICKLE.
I came away thinking, “How like our experience of God. We become so accustomed to the measure we have known of His Presence and power, that we believe it is all that is available to us.”
Little do we know that beyond our experience is a vast supply that our Father is waiting for us to plug into.
The River of God
I long to have a lifestyle where people around me are being impacted by the Spirit’s power:
- Where my home life honours God
- Where my family, neighbours and workmates are being drawn to faith in Jesus
- Where regular answers to prayer for healing and freedom demonstrate the mercy of a loving Father
- Not just on a Sunday or at church meetings, but in the everyday.
Is such a life possible?
In Ezekiel 47, the prophet had a vision of a River that flowed from God’s temple into the surrounding land of Israel.
This River, sourced in God’s Presence and Rule, brought transformation, life and healing wherever it went.
Speaking of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jesus later said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)
This was a picture of the Holy Spirit moving through the life of a Christian—through you and me.
The Half-Lived Christian Life
God purposed that we be both receivers and releasers of His life, living not only for Him but also from Him.
Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Freely you have received, freely give.’ (Matt 10:8)
Our Christian life is supposed to be a continuous rhythm of receiving and releasing, receiving and releasing.
However, many times as Christians we have periods when we give without receiving, or receive without giving. In these times, the flow of the Spirit through our lives becomes restricted or blocked.
I find it helpful to stop regularly and check how I am going in this area.
Am I vitally connected to God? Am I excited about my life with Him and sharing about it with others?
Or is there a blockage somewhere?
Here are two checklists to help reflect on this. You may see a symptom you identify with, or you may be able to add your own.
Signs you are Receiving Without Releasing
- You attend church on Sundays, but people around your daily life are not moved towards God by the life you lead or demonstrate
- You may be bored with your Christian life and feel that you are caught in a rut
- You have received a lot of teaching but when you stop to think about it, you are not putting it into practice
- You long to see the power of God impacting others around you and wonder why it is not taking place
- You may have Christian friendships, but lack meaningful relationships with those who don’t know Jesus
- You may be involved in a ministry, but wonder why it is not as fruitful as it once was.
When we receive but do not give out, we eventually become stale in our Christian experience.
We may believe that receiving more teaching or personal experiences of God’s power will help, but ultimately, we remain dissatisfied.
Signs you are Releasing Without Receiving
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
The purpose of fruit is not for the vine or tree itself, but to be given away—to feed the hungry. However Jesus also taught us that we can only bear fruit when we are connected to and receiving from Him, our Source.
Here are some indicators that you are serving without being replenished:
- You are busy with Christian service, but are often short of time for your private devotional life with God
- You are feeling weary, spiritually and emotionally
- You find yourself going through the motions of living a Christian life or serving God, but it has become more of a duty than a passion
- You wonder where the power of God is
- You find it difficult to stop and receive from God—after all, other people are relying on you
- You do not have a current testimony of answered prayer or of God’s goodness towards you personally.
When we release without receiving, we are giving out of our own resources. Without being re-filled, we inevitably become dry and can ultimately burn out.
I confess this has been my personal downfall. It has always been easier for me to achieve than to receive.
Being replenished spiritually does not come naturally for many—it requires discipline.
Keys to Escaping the Half-Lived Christian Life
Receiving and releasing is the rhythm of the Christian life that God designed us to live.
If you have recognised signs that you need strengthening in one of these areas, here are some keys that may help:
1. Take time to meditate on what living a life of receiving and releasing means for you personally. The first step towards change is to realise that something is missing
2. Pray—talk to Your Father about it. Take time to encounter God and be filled with His Spirit
3. Become dissatisfied with your current lifestyle enough to do something about it. Decide on a specific course of action that will effect a change in your life
4. Find a Christian friend, leader or mentor who you can share with and who can help keep you accountable to lasting change.
If you can identify with the above thoughts, I have included a prayer in the comments at the bottom of the blog. To view the prayer or to share your thoughts on this topic, go to the comments box. If it is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.