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Sunday, 21 July 2013


Rev. Brent Russett
By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:   

PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, July 21st, 2013:

Living Water and Broken Cisterns’

Good morning. And welcome to good news in the morning. My name is Brent Russett. I am the Senior Pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church. It is my pleasure to look at some of life’s challenges, and then bring you some good news in the morning.

This program is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184 Rideau Ferry, ON K0G1W0. Or you can find us on the web at

Last week I talked about how Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full. We looked at all at how the Bible calls us to “Take Hold of the life that is really life.” We looked at what it means to really live. If you missed that you can listen to it on our website,

            This morning I want to remind you to accept no substitutes for the life that is really life.


            My Grandma and Grandpa house was located 4 kilometers down the road from the farm where I grew up. In the kitchen of my Grandparents house was a wood cook stove. By the time I came along my Grandma had an electric stove, but she still used the wood stove, to bake bread and keep water warm – because-- you never knew when you needed a cup of tea.

            That wood cook stove was more than just a stove. My grandfather would cut the wood for that stove. My mother’s three brothers would split and pile the wood for that stove.

            It was one of those old farm houses, and so in the winter time, when you were getting out of bed, the upstairs rooms were freezing, so you would rush down and gather around the stove. That stove was a focal point in the house of my grandparents. There was a lot of life lived around that stove. A lot of important things in terms of conversation and relationships went on around that stove.

            Of course now if I want to heat up the house, I go to a little nob on my all and turn it up. If I want to heat up water for a cup of tea, I just click on the kettle. Life is either But neither do our houses have the same kind of focal point where life is lived. It seems like as we gain technology in a world we lose meaning.

            When it comes to  taking hold of the life that is really life –the technological advances of the last hundred years, have made life easier, but we have made finding meaning and real life harder. It seems like we lost something very important.

            When my Grandparents wanted to hear music, it would either happen in their kitchen, or they would have to go out to the community hall. It was a community event.  Now I can dial up Yo Yo Ma on my ipod, - and I can bring the best music in the world into my living room, but at the same time we have lost a whole lot of what is important that surrounded the music of days gone by.

            Things like community, and interaction, and the satisfaction that those things bring in life.

            Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a Luddite. I love technology. I love gadgets. I just think that as we adopt gadgets, we may be missing out on life.

            You see nothing worthwhile comes easy. I don’t know if you have every tried to learn to play a musical instrument, or paint a picture. When you first set out – lets pick the violin. When you first set out to play the violin, it is painful. It is not satisfactory at all. But if you work on it , you can get to a level of competence, where there is real satisfaction in playing.

            Compare that satisfaction level to purchasing a C.D. You get the new music, you love it. – but for how long after a couple days, a week, a couple of weeks the satisfaction level starts to drop off. And if you want to get more satisfaction you are going to have to go buy another CD.

            We live in a world that is losing meaning, and we are trying to buy our satisfaction.

            Now all of what I have just said is true for both the Christian and the non Christian. But for the Christian this world is exceptionally perilous to our soul. For it is training us to try to buy satisfaction rather than finding it in Jesus.

            I would suggest to you that learning to follow Jesus, and having you needs met in Jesus – learning to be a disciple is kind of like learning the violin. When you first start out it is hard. You are just trying to get your bearings. Learning to pray, to find your way around the bible is hard. Learning to navigate the spiritual life is challenging – but as you learn to walk by faith there is a satisfaction that can only be found in Jesus – It can’t be found any other way.          

            There are ways of trying to live your spiritual life where you lose track of what is important, and you go for quick hits of spirituality that quickly lose their appeal. This morning I want to urge you to take hold of the life that is really life, and accept no substitutes.


Let me tell you a Jesus story that is found John 4.

            Jesus is in the southern part of Israel called Judea, and he wants to travel to Galilee, which is in the Northern part of Israel. Between Judea and Galilee was a place called Samaria. Often travelers would take the long way around to avoid Samaria. The Jews of Jesus day looked at Samaritans kind of the way we look at country hicks or hillbillies. The Jews thought they knew better. They thought they were better and they were just a little bit scared of the Samaritians. The reality was that Jews and Samaritians did not talk to one another.

            Jesus did not take the long way around. He traveled right through Samaria. His disciples had gone into town to purchase supplies and Jesus ended up by a well.

            By the well was a woman. Now this woman was aware of the political forces around her. She could debate from different perspectives. She was probably a good looking woman. She had no problem getting a man. She did however, have a problem hanging onto a man, or maybe the men had a hard time holding on to her.

            When we catch up with her in the story, she has already been married 5 times. And now she is living with a man that she is not married to.

            It was culturally inappropriate in Jesus day for a man to talk to a woman who was not part of his family - alone. It was culturally inappropriate to for a Jew to talk to a Samaritian. So after a long walk Jesus sat by a well around noon. In a short time a Samaritian woman came to draw water from the well – and what does Jesus do – He says hi there.

            Well actually what he said was please give me a drink.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.* She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

            Jesus, as was his practice moved the conversation towards a spiritual end. Lady, God has a gift for you. If you knew about it, you would be asking me – and I would give you living water.

            Just a couple things to note: God has a gift, not just for this woman, but for whoever would look to him. And you will note that Jesus gives this gift to whoever asks, you are no exception.

            Then Jesus says, if you were to ask, I would give you living water.

            The question is, why does Jesus use this metaphor? Living water. It goes quite nicely because he is sitting beside a well, and he had already asked for water.

            But Jesus could have went for the kingdom of God, or her need of life, or told her about how she could find rest for her soul. Instead he uses a metaphor that ties into quenching a thirsty soul. I think he did this, because he realized and quite possibly this woman realized that her soul was thirsty. Jesus comes along and says I can give you water for your soul that will really satisfy.

            Why is it that she went from man to man to man. There is something in her soul that is thirsty.

            But this woman still hadn’t caught on that Jesus was talking about a spiritual reality.

11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

            Jesus is saying, it is a different kind of water – if you drink it your soul will never be thirsty again. In fact it will become like an artesian well that keeps on bubbling up. It keeps on flowing. It gives you a constant supply of life and gives you eternal life.

            There is a deep satisfaction of soul that happens when you drink from the water that Jesus gives.

            Often when people begin with Christ, they are bubbling and overflowing with life. But sometimes to continue into that deep satisfaction of the soul, it is kind of like learning to play the violin. The journey is challenging but the satisfaction is deep.

            The bible says be being filled with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes allowing him to fill us and to deal with the stuff that blocks us is hard. Sometimes dealing with what this world hands us is hard, and instead of going to Jesus for the satisfaction of our soul we turn to other things.

            Have you ever found yourself doing that. It would be nothing new. A little earlier in the service we heard Jeremiah 2 read. This is written about 600 years before Jesus.

            Whenever we look for something to satisfy our souls other than Jesus it is called idolatry. We are putting our desire for a quick fix ahead of  God.

Jeremiah 2
11 Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God*
for worthless idols!
12 The heavens are shocked at such a thing
and shrink back in horror and dismay,”
says the Lord.
Catch this
13 “For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!

Jesus says that if we drink of the water that he is offering, living water, we will never thirst again. But sometimes what happens is we abandon that water and go looking for other water sources.

            Larry Crabb describes it this way,

“Digging leaky wells highlights our desire for immediate satisfaction on demand and on terms we can control. This is an immense problem. We experience soul-pain, a profoundly empty space that demands to be filled. We settle for lesser satisfactions than living water. We want pleasure that will fill us with joy. We dig wells when we are ruled by urges to feel good now. Whatever provides even a brief experience of ache-free happiness becomes irresistible. And we assume the responsibility to arrange for the pleasure we want. We dig our own wells. We don't like being at the mercy of an unpredictable God.”

            Here is the dynamic he is describing. We thirst so we dig a hole. Then we find that we are not satisfied and so we dig another hole. We try to dig our own wells. We abandon the spring of living water for cisterns that can’t hold water at all.

            Doesn’t that just sound like us sometimes?

            I have watched people make idols of work, or careers, of family, of food, or entertainment, of alcohol, of adrenaline rushes, of sex, of hobbies, and each time they dug a hole, they would get a little satisfaction, but those holes just won’t hold water – and you end up unsatisfied.

            It is kind of like buying the C.D. It is great for the first little while, and then it gets old real quick, and fails to satisfy, and so you have to buy another one.

            It is not that the things I mentioned are bad in their place, it is just that that is not where you are going to find life.

            But learning to pray is sometimes an unsatisfactory experience. Learning to hear God’s voice through scripture and through others and through his Spirit is sometimes an unsatisfactory experience. Learning to worship, or to have fellowship, or to serve, or to use your spiritual gifts are sometimes challenging.

            But as your soul learns to have communion with God, as you learn to uncover the spring of living water, there is a deep sustaining satisfaction that goes one in you.

            The bible instructs us to be filled with the Spirit. The way it is written, it is an ongoing process. Here is what I have found – it is a learned process. I have to make space for God in order for God to have the opportunity to fill me.

            But God doesn’t seem to work on my schedule. Sometimes the stress is overwhelming and a simple prayer does not fix it. Sometimes, the pain of betrayal, or grief, is deep, and God doesn’t seem to work bring peace right away. Sometimes the fear is consuming –and I look for courage – but it is challenging to find God.

            In those times it is really tempting to go out and dig our own wells. Depending on where you find immediate confort, you may be tempted to over eat, or get drunk, or high. There are thousands of ways to dig wells – but they are really a substitute for what God wants to do.

            Here is what I have found. God’s word is still true.
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

            God is faithful. He will come through.. It may not be on your time table but he will come through. Wait and accept no substitutes. For you will find as you wait, that he is your real source of strength and help. He will be with you.


Lord, I pray that you would give the people who are listening, the ability to take hold of you, because you have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. I pray Lord, that they would accept no substitutes for life: that they would find their real life in you. I pray Lord that you would speak into the core of who they are, with your blessing of life.
We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you, Listeners for your words of encouragement, and for keeping us in your  prayers.,   Keeping this program on the air continues to be a work of faith. As you probably know, the summer month are financial struggle. If you can help with that, please make out a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184 , Rideau Ferry , On. K0G  1W0. Or you can give online by going to

            If you go to that website, you can also follow us on twitter, or our blog.

Alan Churchill, the founding pastor of this ministry is writing a monthly devotional. Alan is well known for his spiritual insight and ability to communicate the truth of God. If you would like to receive this devotional, go to our website at and sign up to start receiving it right to you e-mail inbox. We know that God will bless you through this ministry.
            (It has been a pleasure to spend this morning with you. My name is Brent Russett. You can follow me on twitter. @brentrussett)

May you know   Jesus Christ personally and profoundly.  May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart .  And may the heavenly Father surround you with His constant and abiding and accompanying love

Music -

- Rev. Brent Russett
To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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