Thirsty?

My buddies and I loved to play basketball in the summer. We’d spend hours at each others’ houses playing in driveways or on backyard courts. We had no other agenda in 7th and 8th grade…before we got jobs…and loved hanging out.

After hours playing ball in the summer sun at my friend Rob’s house, we’d always do the same thing: We’d go in to his basement (it was nice and cool) and drink ice cold Mountain Dew (the ‘classic’ version). Nothing better…went down fast and smooth. The key was that it was cold, and we were THIRSTY!

Most of you have had that kind of thirst before. Perhaps your drink of choice was ice cold water (maybe even from a hose) or Gatorade, or something like that…but you know that refreshment.

I wonder: Do you have that kind of thirst, spiritually?

Are you ‘thirsty’ for more in your relationship with God?

Think of it this way: If you’re really hot and thirsty, and someone holds an ice cold drink up to you, what do you do? You grab it and chug it!

You would probably not sit down politely and look at it, talk about the condensation on the outside of the cup, discuss how nice it will be to drink it some day…that would be madness! Instead, you’d DRINK IT!

Many of us, when it comes to God, however, simply sit down and politely discuss it…reflect on it…and contemplate it. That’s part of the problem: We look at God as an ‘it’–a force or a concept.

God is an individual. God is a ‘person’. 

He wants us to ‘thirst’ for Him and to want to know Him!

In fact, this is what you and I are designed for! We’re literally created to know Him…if we don’t, life cannot work the way it was designed.

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.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

So…are you ‘thirsty’ for more of Him?

If not, you should be…I encourage you to spend some time asking ‘God, if I believe you’re real, WHY do I not desire you more?’

Spend some time praying about that.

If you are a Believer already, you might think, ‘I’m good; I’m in…already going to heaven.’

However, that’s not what I asked about. I asked, ‘Are you Thirsty for more?’ 

If not, you should be.

You need to spend time in prayer asking God to renew your thirst again also!

This thirst is much more important than a physical thirst!

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Let yourself be ‘thirsty’ again…and go to The Source for refreshment!

“All Who are Thirsty”…are YOU one?

Deeper and Higher!

If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, you know that God loves you.

That, after all, is the main reason that He sent His son into the world!

“God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His son in to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world, through Him.” (John 3:16-17)

Many of us have experienced the love of God–at least, at the ‘introductory’ level. That is, we’ve experienced the power of the Holy Spirit drawing us in to feel His love for us, our conviction of sin, our realization of our need for Him, and helping us to be willing to repent of our sin’open up’ in faith to Him.

That is huge! That is the point where we’ve crossed over from death to life!

At that point, the Holy Spirit changes His approach–from working ‘on’ us to working ‘within’ us. He begins to make us more and more like Christ, transforming our character so that we no longer ‘want’ to sin–rather, we now ‘want’ to follow God. We want to be more like Jesus. We want to say ‘no’ to worldliness and sin, and say ‘yes’ to godliness and obedience.

Yet, for far too many of us, that is where it stops. Our Christian life goes from ‘religious obedience to law’ to ‘desire to change’, but it stops there…we don’t actually see much change!

Is that as good as it gets?

Can we experience more?

At Kalamazoo Community Church (http://www.mykcc.org), we’ve been considering an important teaching of Jesus. He said (John 10:10), ‘The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they (His followers) might have life and have it to the full.”

Question: As a Believer, are you experiencing ‘Life…to the full’?

Life–in abundance?

To me, this simply means ‘life the way that God designed it. Life–with Him as the Source, the Director and the Leader?

It is living ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE in willing subjection to Him…not out of fear, but out of faith. Out of love.

The Love of God is the ‘stream’ that the Christian life ‘flows’ from. If your Christian life is apathetic, stuck in ‘neutral’ or powerless, it’s probably because you’re not ‘in the flow’ of God’s love. You probably believe–with your mind–that God loves you and wants the best for you, but you haven’t really embraced it–with your heart.

…and therefore, you’re not going any ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ anytime soon.

Around here we talk about ‘Relentlessly pursuing an ever-deepening relationship with God.’

This is what we’re talking about.

It is clear that none of us have gotten so close to Him that His character has ‘rubbed off on us’ sufficiently. This is not because He doesn’t want that closeness and intimacy with us, but because we may not really want it with Him–not if it means real change of lifestyle.

In many ways, it comes down to THIS DECISION (and I’m talking to the Believers):

Do you believe that this world–it’s philosophies and its stuff–holds the key to life and living? OR do you believe that the Love of God holds that key?

Which characterizes our lives more?

Which would other people–who don’t know you, except by how you live–identify for you?

If you think that This world has anything to offer, you’re sadly mistaken and have to do some serious reflection and consideration. In fact, it might just be time for Repentance!

After all, if–as a Believer in Jesus Christ–you (or I) have adopted a lifestyle which says ‘I love the stuff of this world more than Jesus’, or ‘I’m living for this world more than I’m living for God’s glory’, then here’s the hard, cold, truth: You have been unfaithful to God!


1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

James 4:4: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

This MATTERS to God!

He wants (and deserves) His children to love Him, worship Him, obey Him and willingly walk with Him! He’s certainly gone ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ to show His love for us…and His grace…but we, far too often, take that for granted.

Hence, our need to Repent of our ways and come to Him humbly, ready to ask Him to move in us, change us, and refine us…for His glory!

This is what James means, as he continues… Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:7-10).

This is certainly not ‘light and fluffy’ teaching, but James is (of course) correct!

Here’s the bottom line: God LOVES you and I with a passion!

He truly wants the best for us–now, and in eternity!

He genuinely wants to bless us with that ‘best’…in James’ words, to “Come near to us” and to “lift us up”.

…and He will do so!

However, He will not share His rightful place on the throne of our lives.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

Pray about this. Get in a quiet place and ask God, ‘Lord, do I love this world more than I love You?’

Listen to what He says. Let Him take you through the areas of your life and ‘evaluate’ you…then respond in repentance (if necessary) and renewed worship and obedience.

Know this: Bringing our lives into conformity to His will is ALWAYS the best thing to do!

Surrender to God always leads to blessing!

Fear–a Good Motivator?

Fear.

We’ve all felt it.

We’ve all experienced it.

Something goes ‘bump’ in the night and wakes us up.

Someone threatens us.

Opposition arises to a cause, a belief, a person we hold dear.

Fear can be complex.

It can drive us to a ‘fight or flight’ response.

But we often get it wrong.

Some of the things we should ‘fight’ we choose to flee from.

Others we should flee from, we stubbornly stand and fight.

Think of Temptation, for example: There are many times we should simply flee the situation when we’re tempted, but we sometimes tell ourselves that ‘we can handle it’, and we stay near. Oftentimes, that is when we become most vulnerable to falling.

Other times, we should fight…for example, when opposition to our faith arises. A stand we’re taking, a belief we have may be entirely consistent with our faith…yet, opposition arises. In fact, opposition is increasing to many of the Scriptural teachings, which not long ago, were respected and widely held.

So, what should we do in those cases?

We stand…strong…and fight!

“Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20); “We must obey God, rather than men!” (Acts 5:29).

In those cases, it was more important to Peter that he please God, rather than taking the easier way out and pleasing men–even, in this case, men who had some degree of influence over their immediate future.

In fact, there are many times in the life of an average believer in Jesus that it becomes difficult to stand with Him.

In that case, it’s not a question of ‘whether’ you let ‘fear’ guide you, but rather ‘Which fear’?

Do you ‘fear’ men? Do you ‘fear’ your friends, the ‘popular’ kids, the ‘bullies’, or even the terrorists?

OR…do you ‘fear’ God, and disappointing Him. Do you ‘fear’ letting Him down? Do you ‘fear’ compromising and causing His name to be maligned in some way?

Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

I, for one, do not want to give in to the fear of others’ opinions. If any ‘fear’ should drive me, it’s being ‘afraid’ of compromise and hurting the heart of my loving heavenly Father.

So, by all means: Allow FEAR to motivate you: Just make sure it’s the right ‘fear’!

You are a Child Of God! You need not fear anything!