JOYS ARE FLOWING LIKE A RIVER, a devotion for 20 June 2017 Anno Domini
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:11-14 (KJV)
This is a hymn of twin powers – both in its lyrical meaning and in the powerful musical score. The music is so well matched to the lyrics that the one could scarcely be separated from the other without a loss of beauty and meaning. An alternate name of this hymn is Blessed Quietness. The words are the composition of Manie Ferguson in 1897, and the music is by W.S. Marshall (1897).
JOYS ARE FLOWING LIKE A RIVER
Joys are flowing like a river,
Since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever,
Makes the trusting heart His home.
Blessèd quietness, holy quietness,
What assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea, He speaks peace to me,
How the billows cease to roll!
Bringing life and health and gladness,
All around this heav’nly Guest,
Banished unbelief and sadness,
Changed our weariness to rest.
Like the rain that falls from Heaven,
Like the sunlight from the sky,
So the Holy Ghost is given,
Coming on us from on high.
See, a fruitful field is growing,
Blessèd fruit of righteousness;
And the streams of life are flowing
In the lonely wilderness.
What a wonderful salvation,
Where we always see His face!
What a perfect habitation,
What a quiet resting place!
“Joys are flowing like a river, Since the Comforter has come; He abides with us forever, Makes the trusting heart His home.” Joy has always flowed freely in the heart chambers of those who love the Lord and His impeachable Word. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had that joy; and so did David, Solomon, and Deborah, to mention only a few of the Old Testament witnesses. But the prevailing joy, as a River of Life, came to us as the flowing waters of the Holy Ghost and Comforter after the Ascension of our Lord. The joys of the Old Testament saints was based on an amazing faith in the fulfillment of the promise of God. In the New Testament age, we look, not only in faith, but in the accomplished fact of the coming of the Savior. The Comforter, being a Spirit, is capable of omnipresence that a physical body is incapable of being. The Holy Ghost abides (lives in our hearts) forever in the hearts of the faithful. Those hearts are His home, not a place of occasional repose.
“Bringing life and health and gladness, All around this heav’nly Guest, Banished unbelief and sadness, Changed our weariness to rest.” It is the Holy Ghost that banishes unbelief – not the believer himself. He is sovereign over the wills of mankind. First of all, life is transmitted through the agency of the Holy Ghost. He quickens (makes alive) the dead hearts and will so of men. This occurs through the power of God’s grace and by no means by any merit in good works on our part. (Eph 2:1-7) We have our rest (Sabbath) in Christ just as we have our Passover in Him. (see Matt 11:28) We are not simply recipients of life, but life and JOY!
“Like the rain that falls from Heaven, Like the sunlight from the sky, So the Holy Ghost is given,
Coming on us from on high.” In the midst of a rain shower, there are no dry grounds – all are covered by the drenching waters of life. Both the sunlight of righteousness and the rain showers of the water of life combine from on high to produce life and beauty for us. “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Ezek 34:26 (KJV) Both the Bread of Heaven and Water of Life came down to us from Heaven just as the rains and the sunshine.
“See, a fruitful field is growing, Blessèd fruit of righteousness; And the streams of life are flowing In the lonely wilderness.” There are so many fields of the wood, but only One fruitful field in the eyes of the Lord – His people and His Church. This is the only Field of Righteousness on earth. It wanes in size in our day for faith wanes, too, on earth. The Word faces greater animosity inside the mainline churches today than from the world. This is a shameless condition, but a reality that cannot be denied by Bible-believing Christians. Thankfully, the size of the Field of God is not important in His sight. Even one man of faith, plus God, or even God only, is the greatest power known to man. Not all who wander the wilderness have access to the streams of life that flow through the craggy swamps. They have no light to find their way to the streams, or they care little for pure water. But where the streams of life are flowing is forever a lonely wilderness where few men are found. In the end of this world, we know that faith shall be rare on earth. “Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev 20:7-10 (KJV) A camp in the last day will be a small parcel of ground compared to the whole earth from which the armies of Satan are drawn – yet, we know that Satan is defeated and cast into the fires of Hell.
“What a wonderful salvation, Where we always see His face! What a perfect habitation, What a quiet resting place!” David the King meditated on that glorious day when He would see the Lord face-to-face. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” Psalms 17:15 (KJV) David will no longer be plagued by a checkered past of sin and failure. He will view the face of the Lord with righteousness – not his own, but an IMPUTED righteousness that is a gift of the Lord’s grace. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27 (KJV) Job, too, had the sure promise of resurrected bliss in Christ – a sure promise that we all share as the Elect of God. We do not know what, precisely, Heaven shall be like; but we do know that any place with Christ will be the most wonderful place our hearts can imagine.
THE REFRAIN: “Blessèd quietness, holy quietness, What assurance in my soul! On the stormy sea, He speaks peace to me, How the billows cease to roll! The spring rains of the Blue Ridge Mountains come on with hurried force, but in their wake is the most wonderful peace and quiet. The only sound seems to be the residual rain drops falling from the leaves and the chirping of birds as if celebrating the coming quiet and blissful joy of breaking sunshine on the fields. But the peace that the Lord offers surpasses all other considerations of the term. As Paul counsels, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7 (KJV) He who calmed the stormy waters of Galilee is able to calm every storm of the heart. The billows of the sea are calmed at the sound of His voice; and the doubts and fears of the heart subside at His loving counsel.