This post is a sermon I preached at my church concerning Hope Fellowship’s future. I pray it ministers to you too.
The Water That Brings A New Beginning!
I had a dream a few months ago. In the dream there were black gospel singers in a choir on a hillside. They were all over in various places on this hill (not in choir formation). The area was like a Pacific Northwest Camping spot. Someone asked me to direct the choir. I love black gospel music and said, “Sure!” But, I was extremely nervous because I didn’t know the song they were going to sing. As soon as I put my hands up to start the choir, they all turned and looked at me and began to sing with the music that was playing. I directed them with passion. They were powerful! The people that were watching from down below the hill gave a standing ovation, amazed at all the choir did at my direction. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I can’t believe I directed the choir so well and didn’t even know the song.” Everywhere I went people were praising the choir and their director. When it was time for me to leave, I walked through a building with many rooms. In one of the rooms a Woman of God hugged me and whispered in my ear: “Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.” Then I woke up. I remember feeling excited and yet apprehensive all at the same time. I knew the dream was from God encouraging me with a warning.
When I dreamt the dream, in the natural, Hope Fellowship (the church I founded) was going through very deep waters. Giving was low, people had left, and we were left with hardly any funds and hardly any people. Our expenses were high and we couldn’t make our lease payment. We were trying to find a new place to conduct our services. Everywhere I looked online for places to lease were either too expensive, or too small. I looked for months before this dream. We even tried to purchase a 100 year old run down church building thinking the payment would be smaller then our lease payment. But we couldn’t come up with the down payment. I felt like the church was drowning and anything I tried to do didn’t help. I felt like a failure.
I remembered the dream and the scripture verse the Woman of God whispered in my ear. I held onto what the promise was saying, “I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.” and brought it before God. He showed me all along He was there. He never left. He still is there holding me and guiding me.
Now, Hope Fellowship embraces a new place to hold our services in a Hotel conference room believing God had orchestrated everything to bring us to this place. It doesn’t make sense. We moved from a conference room three years prior into the building we were in. Now we are back at a conference room. Why? I believe God showed me and I want to share this with you today.
Do you believe water can bring or birth a new beginning? I never thought of it before until all that I shared with you that I had experienced .
Isaiah 43:1 – 3a Good News Bible
Israel, the LORD who created you says, “Do not be afraid — I will save you. I have called you by name — you are mine. When you pass through the deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burnt; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.For I am the LORD your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
These verses are very powerful and so appropriate for where Hope Fellowship is right now. God is telling us, no commanding us, to not be afraid. He is with us and will save us. He already has by getting us out from under that expensive building we were leasing and moving us to this beautiful hotel we are in now. But there is more.
“Pass through” Means: to cross over, transition, carry over, deliver, escape, beyond, and proclaim.
Water can mean various things in the Bible. I want to look at a few and apply it to our life today! Water:
- Troublesome times, calamities.
The word “water” is used in a variety of metaphorical ways in Scripture. It is used to symbolize the troublesome times in life that can and do come to human beings, especially God’s children.
Psalm 32:6 “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.”
Psalms 69:1 “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.”`
Psalms 69:2 “Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.”
Psalms 69:14 “Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.”
Lam 3:54 “the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish.”
When thou passest through the waters – This is a general promise, and means that whenever and wherever they should pass through water or fire, he would protect them. It had been true in their past history as a people; and the assurance is here given in order that they might be comforted in view of the calamities which they were then suffering in Babylon. Fire and water are often used in the Scriptures to denote calamity – the latter because it overwhelms; the former because it consumes;
Psa 66:12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
2. Enemy attacks.
In some contexts water stands for enemies who can attack and need to be overcome
2 Sam 22:17-18 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.” (Also found in Psalm 18:16-17)
Psalm 124:4-5 “the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.”
Psalm 144:7 “Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners.”
3. Salvation, eternal life, and living water.
In both the Old and New Testaments, the word “water” is used for salvation and eternal life, which God offers humankind through faith in his Son.
Isa 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
Isa 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
Rev 21:6 “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
Revelation 22:1 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
In John 4:10-15, part of Jesus’ discourse with the Samaritan woman at the well, he speaks metaphorically of his salvation as “living water” and as “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
4. Spiritual Cleansing.
Following along this same theme, water sometimes symbolizes the spiritual cleansing that comes with the acceptance of God’s offer of salvation
Ezek 36:25 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.”
Eph 5:26 “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,”
In fact, in Ephesians 5:26, the “water” that does the cleansing of the bride, the church, is directly tied in with God’s Word, of which it is a symbol.
Heb 10:22 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Let’s revisit Psalm 66:12 “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.”
Wealthy place: satisfaction, running over, satiate, satisfy, soak, water (abundantly).
With this definition of a wealthy place we can see that “going through” deep waters has soaked us and brought us to a wealthy place. Not only in the natural, but in the spiritual. We are at a new level in God. We are at a new beginning.
What we experienced in the past (hardship, turmoil, lack of funds, plowing, messy people) is over. God is doing a new thing.
Isaiah 43:16-21 Good News Translation (GNT)
Long ago the Lord made a road through the sea,
a path through the swirling waters.
He led a mighty army to destruction,
an army of chariots and horses.
Down they fell, never to rise,
snuffed out like the flame of a lamp!
But the Lord says,
“Do not cling to events of the past
or dwell on what happened long ago.
Watch for the new thing I am going to do.
It is happening already—you can see it now!
I will make a road through the wilderness
and give you streams of water there.
Even the wild animals will honor me;
jackals and ostriches will praise me
when I make rivers flow in the desert
to give water to my chosen people.
They are the people I made for myself,
and they will sing my praises!”
God has done so much for us in Hope Fellowship’s past. We have experienced good and bad times. Just like in this passage of scripture Isaiah tells of how the Lord made a road through the sea, a path through the swirling waters, and destroyed a mighty army of chariots and horses as they traveled over to possess their promised land, we too have experienced much. Every Sunday ministering to the homeless, which is always messy, to gaining people and letting them go. God even provided Zombies to come and help us pay our monthly lease payment last summer. We have experienced divisions in the church, and people talking badly about us. We have endured a water pipe busting and destroying many things, and God turning it around into a blessing with our insurance compensating for the damage.
But these verses don’t stop at what they went through; good or bad, no it says “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. We are to let the last 4 years of Hope Fellowship’s history go and leave it in God’s hands because He is doing a New Thing!
“Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.” This is what God is doing for Hope Fellowship as a whole, and as individuals. He is doing a new thing in your life.
Are you going through deep waters today? God is preparing you for good things. Know that God is always with you in deep waters. You will not be overcome.