ďWISDOM OF LIVING (36) CISTERNSĒ†††††††††††††††††††††† By Pastor YAU
Text: John 4:9-14, Jeremiah †††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††
INTRODUCTION: †Time may have changed but man has not. There are things man will do the same way today as those in the ancient time. One of the things man tried, and still tries is to build ††cisterns: some kind of containers to hold water to meet the needs of man whenever he needs it.
1) You work very hard: Picture yourself swinging a pick, digging from dawn to dusk chiseling a cistern out of a hard and unyielding rock. You stay on the job, working through the biting cold of winter and the blazing heat of summer tirelessly looking forward for a success someday.
2) Not as you have expected: After years of strenuous effort you finally complete the project. Then you step back, connect the pipes and wait for it to fill and---it leaks. Then you try another one and try to build it better and higher, investing all your time, energy, resources and hope and you discover, too late, that all cisterns, no matter how well constructed, will leak, in time.
3) A picture of futility: From the ancient of time men have tried all they know attempting to find satisfaction on their own and they failed once and again miserably suffering heart-breaking pain. Itís an age-old dilemma.
WHY CISTERNS? †Through out history, man tries to build cisterns in all sizes and shapes for all kinds of reasons and purposes. Letís find our some of the more obvious reasons or purposes of doing this.
1) Men have needs:† Men need basic necessities to survive and one of them is water. Cisterns were hewn or built to store water for everyday needs. Before water pumps were invented and electricity was discovered to pressure water into pipes, cisterns were the only means to store water, one of the most important needs for human next to air. Some people in under-developed areas today still use them to store water everyday. This is a legitimate purpose.
2) Men have wants: Wants are not the same as needs. We all have needs to support our survival and safety. But men also have wants, things that are precious and important to their hearts, not bodies. Men will build their own cisterns to store up their wants, keep them safe and make them available whenever they want to enjoy them. Men have few needs but have so many wants.
3) Men also have pride: Needs and wants are mostly personal but pride is mostly inter-personal. There are people who built cisterns, large and small, to display their collections of success. The reason of this practice is to show off to others about themselves. There are many ways of doing this. One of the less than noble practices of building these cisterns for pride is: they are mostly superficial and incomplete. They only show the bright side while hiding the dark side or the truth. The practice of building presidential libraries for former presidents is just one of the more obvious acts of pride.
4) Never ending hunger for more:† The desires of man are deeper than the deepest abyss of the ocean or higher than the tallest mountain on earth. In order to accommodate all the things men could possess or accumulate, cisterns of all sizes were built to keep them safe. We see this in history and we see it today.
WHAT ARE IN THE CISTERNS?: Most people today donít know what a cistern is because we have running fresh water from the taps in our homes. We donít have to build cisterns to store water for today or tomorrow. But many of us are building modern day cisterns or storage houses to store things we consider needs, wants or pride. What are the most important things we like to store in those compartments in our lives? Here we name a few more common items most people want:
1) Material possessions:† This is an inherent issue from the day we came to this world. We need material things to survive, to be safe and secure. But when time goes on, we begin to accumulate things way beyond needs into wants and pride. We want them bigger, better and we want more. The desires of our hearts never stop in wanting and accumulating material possessions. We see people spent all their lives in making and storing more and more money, houses, jewelry, clothing, cars, bank accounts, investments, etc. far more than they need. Cheating, stealing and many other forms of illegal and unethical or even criminal practices were employed to achieve their shameful goals.
and status:† The next thing people want to have after
money and material things is power, fame and status. This is true in political,
business, academic or in religious circles. Name and power are sought after by
some to elevate themselves over others, or they think. Thatís why we see a
former first lady wants the senate seat from a state she never lived. Money
loaded businessmen wanted to run for presidency of
3) Happiness and satisfaction:† While the pursuit of happiness and satisfaction is not bad in themselves, it is the ways and means many people use in their pursuit that have trapped them into pain and suffering because of relentless life style and/or harmful ways. Some will turn to illicit and immoral sexual encounters, others turn to illegal and harmful drugs. Still others will seek happiness in man made religions or self reliant practices. All these people will never find the kind of happiness and satisfaction they search for. All they have is disillusion and empty dreams.
WHY DO CISTERNS LEAK?
1) All man made cisterns will leak sooner or later because nothing in this world is meant to be forever. Kingdoms rise and fall and people come and go. Everything that goes up must come down. It is only a matter of time.
2) All things and people will lose charm: What makes a person happy and content today will not and cannot maintain or protect its charm or power from fading or going down tomorrow. There is nothing and no one in this world who may satisfy someone else forever by his/her own effort. Everything and everyone get older everyday and lose charm along with the passing of time.
3) Man and his desires are ever changing: The undeniable reason fashion designers and toy makers keep making new fashions and toys is men, women and children are changing their desires and wants everyday. If the leak is not from the things in the cisterns, it must be from the hearts of man. Most people get bored from eating the same food or wearing the same outfit all the time. The importance of all things will leak in manís heart.
4) They are not in cisterns: True happiness and satisfaction do not come from things in cisterns. They come from God. It is God who created man with needs, wants and desires and it is God, only God, who can meet those needs, wants and desires. Most of us agree that true happiness and satisfaction come from the heart and not form things in this world. Many people look for true and lasting happiness and satisfaction in the wrong places from wrong things. God created that ďspiritual cisternĒ in manís heart that cistern will never leak.
LESSONS FROM THE BIBLE: (John 4:9-14)
1) The need is universal: (4:9) All men, modern or ancient, Jews or Samaritans, Christians or pagans, we all have a longing heart for happiness and satisfaction because God created us that way. There is a spiritual empty space in each person that demands filling up and keeping it full. To deny the need is to deny the truth.
2) Man does not know the right way: (v.10) Before a man knows God and His power to provide, he tries to make it on his own. Man has tried many different ways and means and has proven to be futile on his own efforts. Thatís why we see no one is truly happy with whatever he may have.
3) He tries it really hard: (v.11) It is reasonable that no man may get water from a deep well without human means: a rope and a bucket. Drawing water from a deep well everyday is strenuous and tiring. But man has to do that in order to keep the needs met. It is hard.
4) No man may help you: (v.12) Ancestor or tradition, culture or man made religions, no one and nothing may save you from the chore of drawing water everyday of your life just to keep you alive.
5) You will be thirsty again: (v.13) All satisfactions man may get from this world and everything in it are doomed to be short lived. Be it money, fame, relationship, power, achievement and anything else will fade and lose its charm. You will not be happy ever after.
6) There is a better place: (14b) The living spring is in manís heart if he has that gift from Jesus Christ. God can and will install a living fountain in all His children so they will never be thirsty again.
7) The choice is yours: (v.14a) If a man believes in the gift of Jesus, he will have that spring of living water in him and he will not be thirsty again. God never forces anyone to accept His gift. He only offers His gifts and it is our decision to accept or reject.
CONCLUSION:† Taking inventory on a business let you know where you really are. Taking inventory on your life will do the same thing.
1) What are you doing?† It is very important to take a look on the things you are doing: what, where, why and how? What are you building and what are in your little cisterns? Are they safe or leaking? Are you happy and satisfied in what you are building?
2) How to fix the leaks? If you find out that your cistern is leaking, how will you fix the leak? Will you turn to God and His provision for lasting satisfaction? Look into your heart instead of things in the world and you will find God there ready to give you true happiness and lasing satisfaction.
3) Enjoy the living water: Jesus is the living water who will satisfy all kinds of thirst. Millions have received that gift and today is your chance. Commit your life and future to His hands and He will lead you from your leaking cistern to a living fountain that will never run dry.