Isaiah 41:17-20 (NLT) – “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of waters in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground. I will plant trees in the barren desert – cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir and pine. I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means – that it is the LORD who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.”
In the life of every believer there seems to be times that are high and others are low.
Sometimes, everything is going great – we are hearing from God and anointed in everything we say and do. Then there are the other times when it seems that God is far away; there is no anointing; we’re not hearing from God and we’re not getting anything out of the Bible; we’re dry and no matter what, we don’t seem to be satisfied. In those times, it is like we’re marching across a desert, no water, no shade, nothing green – just dust and heat. And this is what our Key Text calls – “the poor and needy” condition and “the wilderness” journey.
Isaiah 41 is about the anticipated return of the exiles from Babylon to Judea. The journey covered through a vast pathless desert. In that journey when the returning exiles were weary, faint and thirsty, Isaiah prophesied that God would meet and refresh them by opening fountains in their way and planting trees with far reaching boughs and thick foliage along the road so as to produce a grateful shade, thus making the whole journey a pleasant one. As God met their fathers in their journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan and had brought water from the flinty rock in the desert, so in their journey through the sand of Arabia Deserts, He would again meet and provide all their needs.
This morning, I would like to share a message entitled – THE IMPOSSIBLE PROVISIONS OF GOD.
When we are in a “poor and needy condition” and in the wilderness journey, it seems as if we are the only person that has ever been there. We bemoan, “Nobody else has ever experienced this. I’m the only one. Why does this have to happen to me?”
We need to understand this experience of being in the wilderness, because like all things in the life of a believer, GOD HAS A PURPOSE IN IT. This isn’t the time to bemoan our lack of blessings or to complain about our affliction and dryness, but rather IT IS A TIME OF BLESSING. Although it may not seem like it, GOD IS DOING GREAT THINGS IN OUR LIVES DURING THESE TIMES WHERE IT SEEMS LIKE HE’S NOT DOING ANYTHING.
Every ministry that ever existed went through a time of the “poor and needy” condition and the “wilderness” journey. Our church is no exception. Four years ago, we were thrown into the “poor and needy” condition [a condition where you are afflicted with hunger and thirst] and the “wilderness” journey [a journey where barrenness and testing rule the day]. This is a pattern that God has established throughout biblical history.
So, while we are going through the wilderness journey and being “poor and needy”, what exactly is God doing in that wilderness time?
GOD IS DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVIDE.
(I) HIS IMPOSSIBLE PROVISIONS INVOLVING WATERS
God will provide water in an impossible situation. He will provide in two different ways by taking two places where things don’t exist and makes something possible. Firstly He opens rivers where rivers don’t exist. Secondly, He opens springs in the middle of the plain where there are no natural springs. Water moves into place where there was no water before. We do this when we dam rivers to move them in the direction we want. God does them by the act of His will. God turns dry places into watered places. God turns dry lands into spring of water. In other words, HE CHANGES AND MANIPULATES CONDITIONS SO THAT THINGS HAPPEN HIS WAYS.
When we are in the wilderness journey, we will experience the “poor and needy” condition. Our “tongues fail for thirst.” Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6). That hunger and thirst is the CONDITION OF THE HEART THAT IS WANTING MORE FROM GOD. That is the posture of our heart that we need to maintain in our wilderness.
Notice that Jesus says: “They shall be filled.” This is one important thing we must keep in mind during the wilderness experience. Jesus Himself promises that we shall be satisfied.
V18-I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of waters in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
In verse 18, the Lord starts speaking about how those poor and needy ones will be satisfied. There are four waters here, indicating four different things that God is doing.
Notice these four things that God says He will do all involve WATER. In biblical symbolism, water always represents the WORD OF GOD. So, the first things that God will do all involved the Bible – THE WORD OF GOD.
We see four different waters mentioned here- rivers, fountains, pools and spring. I don’t think God would have mentioned four different things if they each meant the same thing. Therefore, these are four different things involving the Word that God is doing in us during this wilderness experience:
The most obvious thing about rivers is that they are MOVING. Just like the Word of God, THEY AREN’T STAGNANT; THEY ARE ACTIVE; GOING PLACES, DOING THINGS AND PROVIDING POWER. When we look at the Bible as only a stagnant, dry book full of commandments from God, it can’t do anything for our lives. But, when we see the Bible as an active Word, full of the power of God, then it can start to empower us to do His will.
So, the first thing we see God doing in us is TO GIVE US AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE POWER OF HIS WORD, NOT JUST FOR THE PAST, BUT FOR THE PRESENT AND FUTURE AS WELL.
As believers, we must learn HOW TO APPLY GOD’S WORD to any given situation. We must “present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY HANDLING THE WORD OF TRUTH” (2 Timothy 2:15). In a sense, the Bible is like a cabinet full of medicines. Each is powerful and effective for a specific situation or need, but they must be applied to the right problems.
Application: So, too is each verse of the Bible powerful and effective when used for the right situation. But if we just throw any verse at a situation, we don’t accomplish anything. We must know the right verses to use for the right situations at the right times.
God desires that we learn to APPLY HIS WORD TO THE WORLD AROUND US. Not just by preaching it to people, but BY DECLARING THE TRUTH AS LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS. We can move the mountains with the mustard seed of our faith, when empowered by God’s Spirit and His Word.
The other places we see RIVERS described in the Bible is the River of the Water of life (Rev 22:1) that flows out from under the throne of God. Notice that it refers to WATER again. We could also call this the River of the Word of God which brings life. The Word of God brings life to those who find it.
As we learn to apply God’s Word to a situation, we also learn how to bring life into the same situations. Every time we speak THE WORD, WE ARE SPEAKING LIFE; BRINGING LIFE TO THOSE WHO NEED IT.
Jesus said that the rivers of living water shall flow out of the belly of believers. How will this happen? It will happen when we are so full of the Word of God that the believers can no longer hold it in. We’ll be so full of God’s Word that when we walk into situations the Word will flow out of our mouths. Not just any word but the rhema (the quickened word) or the prophetic word to bring life into the situation.
E.g. Pastor Carlyn received a calling from God to minister to the drug addicts. For months the door was closed until last Thursday, Harvester Church gave a slot to Pastor Carlyn to minister to about 20-30 drug addicts. Their looks were intimidating but when the Lord anointed Pastor Carlyn with the message on second chance, many hard faces broke down in tears and God led Pastor Carlyn to go to each one of them, lay hands on them and just declared RELEASE. At the end of the session, they testified that day after day, pastors had been sent to speak to them but Pastor Carlyn was the only one pastor who touched their heart. They said first time they felt liberated. There is a river in your mouth which God wants your mouth to open in declaration to let His word flow out to give life and liberty to those in parched land of sin.
Prophecy: On 30 July 2016, God gave me a prophecy for this church – “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and RIVERS IN THE DESERT. The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:18-21-KJV). The Lord was telling me in my devotion that I must perceive Him as doing a new thing now in my church. It is so springing forth and I must perceive the moving of the dynamic Spirit (which is the river of God) upon my people. Our people have been in the wilderness for four years and this is the year when God will do the impossible –by giving waters in our wilderness and rivers in the desert – to let us as His chosen drink and be refreshed. But God adds that this river will also be affecting the wild beasts (brutish and savage people), the dragons (profane and carnal people) and the owls (hypocrites) by watering them too with His word of hope, goodness and salvation. Consequently they will all be TAMED by the word of God’s grace. So, when Pastor Carlyn and Pastor Rosalie approached me if they should reach out to these groups of people, I consented because I know God also wants to make this impossible provisions to these people living in the parched land of sin.
When we think of fountains, we think again of an active moving water. But, this time, the water isn’t flowing. It’s literally MOVED WITH SUCH FORCE THAT IT CAN GO STRAIGHT UP IN THE AIR!!! In the natural, to create a fountain requires a lot of PRESSURE. Putting the water under pressure to the point where it has to forcefully escape from a SMALL HOLE- the only place possible.
Application: So too the Word must be in our lives. Just now I talked about the rivers that the Word must come out of our lives as an active force, changing the world around us. But here we see an IMAGE OF OUR HEARTS SO FULL OF THE BIBLE THAT IT IS ALL WE CAN DO TO CONTAIN IT. At the slightest provocation, the Word of God flows out of us through the ONLY HOLE possible, OUR MOUTHS. Not coming out in a trickle either but in a FORCEFUL, DIRECT, POWERFUL WAY THAT SHOOTS DIRECTLY INT0 THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM AND BRINGS THE WORD DIRECTLY TO THE ROOT.
E.g. We used to have a church planter who had kidney failure and as a result he turned berserk in the hospital. Nobody could control him and the situation was getting out of hand. So both of us decided to go to the hospital to pray for him. When we arrived, I looked straight into the eyes of this patient and with authority I commanded him to be still. You know what – he sat there-tamed like a puppy and looked at me. There was no commotion as was reported.
This is almost spectacular in operation. Instead of dull, dry prayers for the weak, people who are this full of the Word of God rise up to pray a prayer not of tradition but of faith, full of Scripture quotation and dealing with the problem in a way that doesn’t give Satan any option. He must flee.
Fountains are beautiful to watch and so too is a believer ministering to people when they are so full of the Word of God that they can’t contain it. Their messages have life in them, not just theology. Their prayers bring changes, not just good feeling and their lives shines forth with the PRESENCE OF GOD.
E.g. Do you think it is coincidental that last year, God led us to activate our leaders into prophetic ministry? It was actually God who provided this fountain to our people –opening the eye gate, sense gate and ear gate to hear the word of the Lord. To give a public prophecy or to give a prophetic download is like opening that hole which is our mouth and letting the prophetic words gush out with force to the people who need it.
A pool is a place where WATER IS STORED. Unlike a river or fountain, which is water at work, a pool is STILL AND QUIET. Water in a pool is waiting for its opportunity to move out into a river. This isn’t the active part of the Bible in our lives but the STORING UP FOR FUTURE NEED.
For a pool to be effective, it has to be DEEP. A large shallow lake will lose a lot of water to evaporation, due to the large surface area. But, a small deep lake will hold its water, losing very little to evaporation.
Application: God desires to create a DEPTH IN HIS WORD within our hearts during the wilderness experience. Not a superficial, shallow understanding that anyone can get out of books but a DEEP UNDERSTANDING AND REVELATION OF SPECIFIC AREAS OF THE BIBLE.
These areas can and probably will be different for each and every believer, depending upon their individual calling and ministry. That’s why they are something that we can’t just get out of Christian books and commentaries. To have this type of depth requires that we receive the teaching directly from the greatest teaching of all time- THE HOLY SPIRIT. As individuals in the wilderness, we must DIG INTO GOD’S WORD, following the leading of the Holy Spirit – to seek those things that others overlook. We must ask questions, then seek out the answers. Don’t worry- the Holy Spirit has the answer to any question you might ask.
Another thing a pool needs is a CONSTANT REFILLING OF WATER. Pools that sit still, without anything new coming in, tend to become stagnant places of DEATH, instead of VIBRANT PLACES OF LIFE. A believer who counts on the Word stored up in their hearts and minds, without seeking for new revelation and understanding will become stagnant as well. Instead of being full of the life that comes from the Word, they’ll be full of tradition, legalism and hypocrisy.
E.g. In 2012, I was thrown into the greatest wilderness of my life. That was the year when I felt I lost everything. It seemed everything was stripped away from me. I was gripped with so much fear and uncertainty about my future. Then, God gave me a lot of His revelation about future to come. God spoke to me – “Don’t be afraid, and don’t worry. Haven’t I always kept you informed, told you what was going on?” (Isaiah 44:8 –message) I realize that the first two years of my wilderness was for me to dig deep into the pool so that I can store many prophecies and revelation. Many things that happened in the third and the fourth year (2015-2016) – many of them God has already shown to me in 2012-2014. Therefore that wilderness period was for me to store revelations in the pool so that at least my fears about the future are quelled as God has already shown me in advance what would unfold in the near future.
Springs are clean water bubbling up from underground. This water is usually PURER than the water from the lakes, rivers and fountains. If one is living in the wilderness, the springs are where they get the water to live on, because it is constantly renewed and purified.
E.g. This December 25, 2016, we will be celebrating our 31st Christmas Family Night. 31 long years! How did both of us come so far? It is by the sustaining word of God – the spring coming from the underground (our secret time with the Lord). “The Lord has given me the tongues of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain him with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward” (Isaiah 50:4-5).
This is the WORD THAT SUSTAINS YOU through the wilderness experience. Although at times it may seem like you are starving for lack of God’s presence and His Word, in truth, HE IS CONSTANTLY PROVIDING FOR YOUR EVERY NEED. It may not seem like a lot and to be sure, there isn’t enough to cultivate a garden, but there is ENOUGH TO GET THROUGH – Give me this day my daily bread!
Notice that it is God who is bringing these waters into our lives. It isn’t about us, like everything else. It is about Him. Yes, we have our part in the work, but we can’t do it by ourselves. Our part is to get into the Word of God, get into prayer and be willing to receive. His part is to do the impossible – to bring the life that comes from these four waters.
God has not failed our church. While undergoing the wilderness journey for the last four years, God hasn’t been passive to us or been deaf to our condition. All along, He has been making these impossible provisions for our church and for us. Despite our poor and needy condition, God still sends the river of His word to comfort us and even to cause it to flow out of our lives to touch the community around us. God has been using the flow of this river to move and change things around us. God has been teaching us how to use the rhema in DECLARATION to shake the demonic sphere and to release heavenly blessings like healing, deliverance, financial provisions and breakthrough to our church. God also gave this impossible provision to our church in 2015 by causing prophetic download to gush forth from inside us to those we meet and pray for. The fountain of this prophetic anointing was released upon many leaders of this church when God activated us prophetically in year 2015. God has also been moving among the younger generation to dig this deep pool where God deposits His revelations and prophecies into that pool. I believe God is birthing a hunger and thirst among the Joshua generation for deeper things of God and it is a joy to see people like Winston, standing at the Tuesday Bible Study pulpit, sharing with us all these deep revelations that God has helped him to dig. Then there is the provision of this sustaining word of God that God has been feeding to those who go underground – those who wait in the secret place for God. Those who tap from the daily grace of God released from the underground spring of their secret time with God.
God is doing a new thing in our Church. We must perceive this new river, this new fountain, this new pool and this new spring. They are all springing forth in the midst of us. May we maintain a posture of thirst and hunger for these 4 impossible provisions of God involving water so that we may be refreshed and be used as channels of rivers of blessings and healing to those around us and outside of this church.