Read Psalm 1 and John 4:10-15 here.
This Sunday’s word of the day is wellspring. What is a wellspring? A wellspring is a bountiful source of something. We have a wellspring in our house. It’s continually full of rich, brown, hot liquid that warms me up in the morning and makes me feel loved. It’s our coffee pot. And, by the way, at our house we practice biblical coffee-making. My husband Rob makes the coffee. He brews. (Hebrews) He takes it so seriously that we have two wellsprings – two coffee pots sitting side-by-side so that there is always coffee. Need a cup of coffee? Come on by.
We’re talking about wellsprings today because this morning is the debut of our new children’s area Wellspring Woods. If you didn’t get a chance to see it earlier this morning, head on up after worship and check it out. We named it Wellspring Woods because it is
- a place for growing and learning about God,
- a bountiful source of opportunity to find and grow closer to Jesus,
- a place to tap into the continual supply of love and grace through faith in Jesus that fills our hearts with the abundance of the Holy Spirit.
A wellspring can be a lot of different things – anything that is a bountiful source of something – but today we’re going to talk about our spiritual wellspring. In your bulletin there’s a page for sermon notes. Take that out so you can fill in the blanks as we go along. First things first.
What is our wellspring?
It’s actually not a what, it’s a who. So cross out the word “what” and write “who.”
Who What is our wellspring? ____________
What do you think? Who is our wellspring?
Who What is our wellspring? ___Jesus___
Jesus himself tells us that he is our wellspring in our scripture reading for today. In the gospel of John we read part of a conversation that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at a well. She has come to draw water, and Jesus asks her for a drink. And she says, “Water you asking me about that for?” No, actually, the woman asks a question that points out how unusual it is for Jesus to be talking to her:
“I am a Samaritan and you are a Jew. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9)
It’s a logical question. The feud between Jews and Samaritans went back centuries. The fact that he’s even talking to her shows us how God has no regard for the divisions we humans create between people. Rather than give credence to the division, Jesus redirects the conversation by telling her she’s asking the wrong question. He says, “If you knew who I am, you would ask ME for a drink.” Of course, she’s confused by that because a woman wasn’t supposed to ask a man for a drink, and a Samaritan was asking for trouble if they spoke with a Jew, but even more simply, she can see that Jesus has nothing with which to draw water. But then, Jesus isn’t really talking about water, and Jesus explains that by saying, “Those who drink this water will be thirsty again.”
“But those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” –John 4:14
The water Jesus gives means all that comes into us through believing in him – forgiveness, salvation, eternity, restoration, hope, joy, peace.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in the beautiful garden full of lush trees and flowing rivers. They enjoyed a close relationship with God, but because of their sin, they were cast out of the garden and lost that close fellowship with God. Through faith in Jesus, our sin is forgiven and we are reconciled with God. We regain the ability to enjoy God always and forever. We receive the Holy Spirit who renews us and refreshes us and guides us and comforts us and transforms us.
Jesus is the life-giving water that changes our lives. Jesus is our wellspring.
Water is such a beautiful analogy because of what water does. If the dirt in the ground is dry, it gets hard. The drier it is, the harder it is. The way to soften it is to add water. The more water there is, the softer it gets. That’s what happens in us, too. Jesus softens our hardened hearts. Want proof? Think about what happens when we are moved by a scripture or a prayer or a song or a statement or a situation. What happens to us physically when Jesus touches our hearts? We cry. Water comes out of our eyes, a sign of our softened hearts.
Even hearts of stone can be softened by Jesus’ living water. We see this in the physical world, too, in canyons that have been carved through rock by water.
Water, like Jesus, is persistent and consistent, and keeps on flowing, no matter how tough the obstacle, and over time the landscape is changed. Over time, we too are changed as Jesus transforms us and renews us. So lets look at some of the ways we are renewed by Jesus.
___Jesus___renews us through ___Worship___
Some of the most repeated phrases in the Bible are the commands to “praise God” and “give thanks to the Lord.” The Bible says this so much because we are supposed to worship God continually. Not just on Sunday mornings for an hour, but 24/7.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Hebrews 13:15
The command to praise God is repeated so much in the Bible because it’s so vital to our faith. God is “commanding us to look at him, through what he’s revealed to us about himself, until we see some aspect of his glory that transcends the [other] things clamoring for our attention … — glory that produces an awe-filled joy we can’t help but express in praise.”
And that joy renews us and recharges us for going out to live a life of worship.
Through worship we reach out to God and remember that the world doesn’t revolve around us, it revolves around the Son. We are not here to draw people to ourselves, or to show off how good we are, we are here to follow Jesus and point people to him. The more we worship by giving praise and thanks to God, the more we remember that we are followers, the better we see God and receive God’s guidance.
“The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.” –Isaiah 58:11
We come to Jesus carrying the things that weigh us down and trouble us and challenge us, and as we lift those up to God we see how much smaller those things are compared to his great goodness, and we see that we can trust God to help us with those things.
I have always loved the image of a tree. A tree stands tall with arms lifted high like it’s reaching up to heaven, reaching up to God. This image reminds me of a song that we sang last week: “We stand and lift up our hands, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.” As we stand tall and lift up our arms in praise, we dig our feet down into the soil to get that life-giving water.
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. –Colossians 2:7
Thankfulness is worship.
Jesus renews us through worship, and …
___Jesus___renews us through ___repentance___
Confession is good for the soul and a vital part of our life with God. It’s why our worship services include confession. We say a unison prayer, we have confession in our other prayers, and we sing songs of confession. The most personal, and in my opinion the most important, is the time of silence that follows our unison confession. We often want to hurry through that silence. It’s uncomfortable, but if we’re listening, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in that silence, helping us to see what we need to confess.
It’s a hard reality that we all need that time of confession. It’s so important that we do it.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” –Proverbs 4:23
Confession helps us keep our hearts. Our hearts are the keepers of our wellspring because Jesus lives in our hearts.
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” –John 14:23
We obey by trusting and praising and confessing, and thereby making our hearts a good home for Jesus. We talked about this last week when we looked at Ephesians:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” –Ephesians 4:31
What do you think of when someone says “guard your heart”? We sometimes pray, “God, guard our hearts” like Proverbs 4:23 says in some versions. When I first heard that prayer, I didn’t want to pray it because I had just learned how to open up my heart to God. I didn’t want to shut God back out. That’s why I like the word “keep” better. It’s like keeping house. Life happens and life gets messy. We just need to make sure we take time to clean up the messes so they don’t get worse. Sometimes we need to redecorate, and sometimes we need to do something more drastic so we renovate, maybe even tearing everything out down to the studs. That’s like what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts.
Keeping our hearts with all vigilance, then is making sure we are paying attention to our spiritual and emotional health, making sure we are well-watered!
Jesus renews us with living water through worship, and repentance, and…
___Jesus___renews us through ___His Word___
In Psalm 1, our other reading today, we are compared to a tree planted by streams of water. We are well-watered when we take the time to enjoy meditating on God’s word, referred to here as God’s law. God’s word is like water to our thirsty souls.
“But their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.” –Psalm 1:2-3
The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the words of the Bible. There are other ways, too, but this is a big one. The more we know God’s word, the more the Holy Spirit can use it to guide us. Jesus said,
“…the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” –John 14:26
For the Spirit to remind us of what Jesus said, we have to be reading and studying and re-reading his words in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will help us remember them, and will remind us of them when we need help with decisions and situations. If we never read the Bible, or just read it once in a great while, it’s much harder for that to happen.
So each week starting today, we’re going to be including a memory verse in the bulletin. You’ll find it at the bottom of the page with the service order. Take it home and post it on your refrigerator or somewhere where you’ll see it during the week. For most of us, it’ll take more than just looking at it, though, so take some time to . . .
- Pray over it. Ask God about it.
- Write in your journal about it.
- There are some coloring pages on the table just outside the door that you can use to help you ponder it. Or create your own art using the verse in some way.
- Write a song about it, or a story.
- Find it in your Bible and highlight it and read the verses around it.
There are lots more ways to interact with the verse that I haven’t mentioned. The point is to find what works for you so that you can do what Psalm 1 encourages us to do, to delight in God’s word and meditate on it day and night so that it becomes a part of us and a part of our lives, and so that it becomes a part of the wellspring hearts.
It is my hope and prayer for us all that as we worship God, and get rid of the things that keep us from God, and remember God’s word, that more and more we will find that Jesus is our wellspring. And as that living water fills our hearts, we will overflow, bringing his water of life to a thirsty world. Water that doesn’t flow becomes stagnant and polluted, but flowing water brings life.
I pray we are filled to overflow with the river of life through Jesus Christ.
River of Life sung and arranged by Rob Krabbe, along with the UPC worship team: Tess Cannon, Megan Giorgetti, Tristan Krabbe, and Mike Vogt.
 There’s good brief account of the history of the feud between the Jews and Samaritans here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/the-rift-between-jews-and-samaritans/ and a more detailed account here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritans#Roman_period
 Thomas, Gary L.. Thirsting for God (p. 16). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition. “Our potential and activity depend entirely on God’s work in our lives. If we set out to be achievers rather than receivers, we have not begun to follow God. Achievers call attention to themselves, whereas receivers lead others to appreciate the Giver.”
 Max Lucado uses this analogy of redecorating and remodeling in one of his books, but I can’t remember which one.