Sermon Illustrations on water


Water: A Finite Resource

Water is an essential requirement for any form of life. The earth is blessed with huge volumes of water at the surface, which is one of the main reasons why it is habitable. Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered by sea, and the weather continually recycles fresh water from rain through rivers and soil. One of the remarkable features of our planet is that throughout the four-billion-year history of life, its surface temperature has stayed between the limits of 0° C (32°F), when everything would freeze, and 0-100°C (212°F), when all the water would boil off into space.

This is despite the intensity of the sun having increased by one-third over the same period. Had the temperature strayed outside the range 0-100°C (32-212°F), the earth would have ended up sterile with no life as we know it. The primary reason for this stability is feedback from myriad biological processes. From a Christian perspective, it can be seen as God’s providence in sustaining a world in which life can flourish.

But even so, the water supply is a finite resource. We are polluting the seas with rubbish and chemicals and allowing their acidity to change dramatically as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. So much water is extracted from rivers that already a quarter of the world’s river basins run dry before they reach the sea. The Aral Sea in the former Soviet Union, once the world’s fourth largest lake, is now reduced to a quarter of its former size and is desolated due to diversion of water from the major rivers flowing into it. Once the Aral Sea was a major fishery yielding 44,000 tons of fish per year; now it produces none.

Taken from Let Creation Rejoice: Biblical Hope and Ecological Crisis by Jonathan A. Moo and Robert S. White (c) 2014 by Jonathan A. Moo and Robert S. White. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Without an Outlet

Just as our bodies need exercise to be strong physically, our faith needs exercise if we are to be strong spiritually. It has often been noted that several rivers flow into the Dead Sea, but no river flows from it.

That’s why its water has become so saturated with minerals over the centuries that nothing is able to live in it. Without any outlet it indeed has become a “dead” sea. The same is true with us. If we keep faith to ourselves, if we never allow it to flow through us to enrich others, and if it has no outlet, then we will find ourselves like the Dead Sea—lifeless and spiritually dead.

Billy Graham, Peace for Each Day, Thomas Nelson, 2020.


Making it Rain

In my book Red Moon Rising, I described a time on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza when an Anglican priest asked a bunch of young missionaries sent out by our organization to pray for rain because the locals were suffering from serious drought. No one could possibly have been more surprised than me when, minutes after we prayed, the heavens opened and unseasonal storms began lashing the island.

When we learned that it hadn’t rained so heavily on Ibiza in July since 1976, the timing of our prayer meeting seemed even more remarkable. Somehow, a British journalist caught wind of the story and phoned for an interview. “So you’re the bloke,” he sneered down the line, “who’s claiming you made it rain in Ibiza?” “No,” I replied cautiously. “It would be ridiculous to think that we could make it rain. Wouldn’t it?” “Well, yeah,” he had to concur. “Look, we’re just saying that we prayed for it to rain, and then it did.

It’s you making a connection.” “I did?” “Yes, and I can tell you’re pretty dubious about the whole idea.” “Erm, well, it’s not exactly normal to—” “Look, maybe you’re right,” I said. “If you want to believe that there’s absolutely no connection between the fact that we prayed and then it rained, well, I can totally understand that. If you reckon there’s no power in prayer and human beings are merely a bunch of highly evolved animals trapped in a meaningless universe without recourse to any higher power, I respect your opinion and—”

“Nah, don’t get me wrong, mate.” The voice on the line sounded flustered. “I mean, there’s gotta be more to life. My mum’s a Catholic.” He paused as if this last statement explained everything, which in a way it did. “Yeah, fair play. You’re probably right. There’s power in prayer so why not? To be absolutely honest with you, I do it myself.” A number of people commented that the subsequent press coverage light-heartedly titled “God Squad Claims First Miracle on Ibiza” was surprisingly uncynical.

Pete Greig, God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer, Zondervan, 2020.


Peace Like a River

What do you suppose would happen if we paid attention to God’s commands? We don’t have to wonder, because He told us clearly: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, / your peace would have been like a river, / your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isa. 48:18). Consider the following applications as you imagine peace like a river.

1. A river is a moving stream of water. God’s Word does not say we’ll have peace like a pond. If we were honest, we might admit to thinking of peaceful people as boring. We might think, I’d rather forgo peace and have an exciting life! When was the last time you saw white-water rapids? Few bodies of water are more exciting than rivers! We can have active, exciting lives without suffering through a life of turmoil. To have peace like a river is to have security and tranquility while meeting many bumps and unexpected turns on life’s journey. Peace is submission to a trustworthy Authority, not resignation from activity.

2. A river is a body of fresh water fed by springs or tributary streams. To experience peace, we must be feeding our relationship with God. I’ve found that I can’t retain peace in the present by relying on a relationship from the past. As a river is continually renewed with the moving waters of springs and streams, so our peace comes from an active, ongoing, obedient relationship with the Prince of Peace. This and other Bible studies are examples of ways God desires to feed a peaceful river in your soul.

3. A river begins and ends with a body of water. Every river has an upland source and an ultimate outlet or mouth. Rivers depend on and are always connected to other bodies of water. Likewise, peace like a river flows from a continuous connection with the upland Source, Jesus Christ, which is a timely reminder that this life will ultimately spill out into a glorious eternal life. The present life is not our destination, hallelujah! We who know Christ move over rocks and sometimes cliffs, through narrow places and wide valleys to a heavenly destination. Until then, abiding in Christ (John 15:4, KJV) is the key to staying deliberately connected with our upland Source.

Take pleasure in knowing that God inspired His Word with great care and immaculate precision. He chose every word purposely. When He said we could have peace like a river in Isaiah 48:18, He wasn’t drawing a loose analogy. He meant it. What does it take to have this peace? Attention to God’s commands (by obedience) through the power of the Holy Spirit. Obedience to God’s authority not only brings peace like a river but righteousness like the waves of the sea. Not righteous perfection. Righteous consistency.

Beth Moore, Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender, B&H Books, 2007.

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