What’s Next To Do?

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them —John 13:17

Be determined to know more than others. If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes will be opened. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God, and begin to know things for yourself— begin to have spiritual discernment.

When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more. Examine where you have become sluggish, where you began losing interest spiritually, and you will find that it goes back to a point where you did not do something you knew you should do. You did not do it because there seemed to be no immediate call to do it. But now you have no insight or discernment, and at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-controlled. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more.

The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans 12:1-2. It is much better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice . . .” (1 Samuel 15:22). Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been. “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know . . .” (John 7:17).

by Oswald Chambers

Broken Cisterns

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

Nearly 27 centuries ago, the prophet Jeremiah delivered God’s message of pending judgment to the nation of Judah. Some 150 years prior to Jeremiah’s ministry, Judah’s northern neighbor, the nation of Israel, had been taken captive by Assyria. Both nations had capitulated broadly to idolatry. Although Judah had experienced earlier periods of revival, with the death of faithful King Josiah it became a pagan nation, falling into gross immorality, open political corruption, and a deplorable form of cultic Baal idolatry.

God’s Comparison

It is a bit difficult for us to understand the significance of the holy anger expressed by the Lord through Jeremiah toward the nation of Judah. Part of that difficultly lies in our unfamiliarity with the use of “cisterns”— particularly as God identifies Himself as a “fountain of living waters” and condemns the pathetic attempt of the nation to build “broken cisterns” to replace the “living waters” supplied by Jehovah.

Most of us will remember the Lord Jesus’ interchange with the Samaritan woman recorded in chapter four of John’s gospel. She had come to draw water out of a public well—Jacob’s well in this case—that was very similar in construction to the cisterns of antiquity, which were pits dug around a ground spring (living water) or an underground water table, then enlarged and plastered to hold a significant quantity of water. Most villages and nearly all cities had such a cistern that was maintained by the responsible government of the area and made available to the local citizens.

Some private homeowners built private cisterns, usually on the top of their houses, that were used to catch rainwater or to conveniently store enough for household needs. These private cisterns were rarely used for drinking water since they could easily be contaminated. But the “government cisterns” were constantly cleaned and routinely purged to provide fresh “living water” for the population.

The Samaritan woman came to the well to draw the water she needed to live. Jesus told her that He could give her “living water”—an internal spring of water—that would provide eternal life (John 4:11-14; compare John 7:38). That is the sense in which the Lord told Jeremiah that the people of Judah had forsaken the “fountain of living waters” and were attempting to construct “cisterns” that would not, and indeed, could not, hold any of the eternal water that came only from God. Any cistern we create for ourselves will be a broken cistern.

Rabshakeh’s Taunt

Earlier, during the reign of Hezekiah, Sennacherib of Assyria sent his army under General Rabshakeh to threaten the nation of Judah. Hezekiah—a rare faithful king like Josiah—had recently completed the construction of an underground water tunnel to carry a large stream of “living water” into Jerusalem. He “stopped the water outlet of Upper Gihon, and brought the water by tunnel to the west side of the City of David” (2 Chronicles 32:30) and “made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool” (Isaiah 22:11).

Thus, the city of Jerusalem was given a secure and sanitary source of fresh water for the needs of its population, and was prepared for an Assyrian siege should it come. And come it did as the huge army under Rabshakeh arrived on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The city quickly buttoned up to prepare for war, and Hezekiah sent out an envoy of his key counselors to meet with Rabshakeh and attempt to stave off a debilitating siege and a likely carnage.

Rabshakeh would have no parley. Brazenly, he strode to within shouting distance of the wall of Jerusalem (which was lined with the citizenry) and taunted them to forget the provisions of Hezekiah and Hezekiah’s God. That speech promised the population of Jerusalem that if they would give up control to Assyria, pay tribute to Sennacherib, and worship the much more powerful gods of Assyria, they (the citizens of Jerusalem) would enjoy the benefits of a peaceful relationship with the greatest nation on Earth.

“Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern.’” (2 Kings 18:31)

Revival Came with Judah’s Refusal

Fortunately, King Hezekiah and the nation of Judah listened to God’s prophet Isaiah and refused the bluster and false promises of Rabshakeh. They trusted in the direction and counsel of God and His personal promise of protection given through Isaiah. And God delivered.

“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not come into this city, Nor shoot an arrow there, Nor come before it with shield, Nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, By the same shall he return; And he shall not come into this city,’ Says the LORD. ‘For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’” And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. (2 Kings 19:32-35)

Broken Cisterns

Some things are fairly obvious. Anything that we do that forsakes the living waters provided by the God of creation will fail. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). All “other gospels,” no matter where or how they come, are to be totally rejected (Galatians 1:8-9). Most evangelicals enthusiastically embrace an exclusive gospel that is only provided by the grace of God given through the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary and gloriously demonstrated as effective by the physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth—the risen Christ is living proof of His victory!

But not all do so. There are “broken cisterns” being built in seminaries and departments of religion in universities across our land. These man-made cisterns appear to hold water but they leak because their foundations are not built on the Word of God. Some teach a universal salvation—the belief that ultimately all will be saved because God is good and would not eternally punish His creation with an eternal hell. Others promote a cooperative relationship whereby we maintain our salvation by good works and a careful adherence to certain systems and sacraments. Still others propose that salvation is ushered in as mankind becomes more “godlike”—that humanity will ultimately embrace the best of all religions and philosophies, becoming “one” with that which offends no one. These various kinds of theology have one thing in common: They each turn their back on the authority of God’s Word and the efficacy of His gospel. May God rebuke those who teach them.

Slow-Leaking Cisterns

There are, however, more subtle breaks than these in the cisterns that men construct to store the “living water” of our great God. As we mature in our relationship with the Lord, much of our faith is dependent on our trust in the accuracy and authority of His revealed Word. The very first sin was brought about through the manipulation of Eve by the Adversary, who deceived her into doubting what God had said. This then led her to entertain the thought that God either could not or would not do as He said He would, and finally to suspect the very character and nature of God, and even ascribe malicious and self-serving deception to the Creator in His instructions for His creation.

Many times in the New Testament we are warned not to fall into the same trap of the “broken cisterns” of man-made philosophy.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked. (2 Peter 3:17)

At the foundation of all false doctrine is the rejection of who God is. The classic overview that our Lord gave to the apostle Paul recorded in Romans 1:18-25 should be sufficient to focus our minds and hearts on the ultimate problem with “broken cisterns.” This passage makes clear that who and what God has done is observable to everyone by “the things that are made.” When anyone rejects that knowledge, there is no longer any excuse. Once the “living water” is rejected—whether by a nation, an organization, or by an individual—any man-made cistern is insufficient to hold the great truths of the Creator because that cistern exchanges “the truth of God for the lie” and sets up a man-made device that worships “the creature rather than the Creator.” The Scriptures are clear! “Living water” comes from God alone. Any cistern that we manufacture from our own knowledge or capabilities will always be broken.

Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Henry Morris III, D.Min. 2014. Broken Cisterns. Acts & Facts. 43 (5).

Wondrous Things

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

Wondrous indeed is the marvelous universe God has created. “Hearken unto this,” we are challenged, “stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14). And as we “consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained” (Psalm 8:3), we can only “stand still” in awe at God’s infinite power.

We are even more amazed as we study the intricate complexity of living creatures—especially human beings. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works” (Psalm 139:14). God’s omniscience is more wondrous than even His omnipotence.

Then there is His miraculous ordering of history for the accomplishment of His purposes. “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done” (Psalm 78:4).

But even greater than the wondrous world He created or His wondrous works in history are the wonders of God’s written Word, for “thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2).

Note the testimony of the familiar 19th Psalm: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” But then: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:1, 7). As far as God’s works in history are concerned, God’s Word was completed before history began, and will endure after the present world is gone. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

There are “wondrous things” without end in “thy law,” and we will continue discovering them forever. HMM

Put on therefore, a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another

Put on therefore, a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye.—Colossians 3:12, 13 (R. V.).

THE discord is within, which jars
So sadly in life’s song;
‘T is we, not they who are in fault,
When others seem so wrong.

SELF-PREOCCUPATION, self-broodings, self-interest, self-love,—these are the reasons why you go jarring against your fellows. Turn your eyes off yourself; look up, and out! There are men, your brothers, and women, your sisters; they have
needs that you can aid. Listen for their confidences; keep your heart wide open to their calls, and your hands alert for their service. Learn to give, and not to take, to drown your own hungry wants in the happiness of lending yourself to fulfill the interests of those nearest or dearest. Look up and out, from this narrow, cabined self of yours, and you will jar no longer; you will fret no more, you will provoke no more; but you will, to your own glad surprise, find the secret of “the meekness and the gentleness of Jesus”; and the fruits of the Spirit will all bud and blossom from out of your life. HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND.

Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Mark 2:8

Being not weak in faith, [Abraham] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred year’s old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.

Is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? —If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. — Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? —Behold the fowls of the air; … your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? — Why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not … remember the five loaves of the five thousand?

My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:19,20. Mark 2:9. Mark 9:23. Matthew 28:18. Mark 4:40. Matthew 6:26. Matthew 16:8,9. Philippians 4:19.

The Lord made all that He did to prosper in His hand

The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. Genesis 39:3

Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. — Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. — Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall he added unto you.

As long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. — Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.

Is not the LORD your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side?

Psalm 128:1,2. Psalm 37:3,4. Joshua 1:9. Matthew 6:33. 2 Chronicles 26:5. Deuteronomy 8:11,17. 1 Chronicles 22:18.