Stay Thirsty,My Friendsby Ed de la Cour on February 19, 2012
Ephesians 1: 15 – 21 February 12, 2012
“STAY THIRSTY, MY FRIENDS”
The word for today has to do with hunger and thirst, those sensations we feel when , we experience a need either for food or drink. The Bible uses language like that to represent our need for intimacy with God and for the way God makes Himself known to us.
The way God works, the way He moves, the way He touches us or changes our lives – as far as all these things are concerned, we are fond of saying, “Our God moves in mysterious ways.” His ways are beyond our figuring out, they are more than we can understand. Yet, the truth is that God has not made His ways totally confusing or completely unintelligible. The problem for our way of thinking is that God cannot be manipulated. We cannot make God like us. We can’t make God do what we want Him to do. And we can’t make God do or say something that is inconsistent with His will or His purpose.
How does God reveal Himself? How does He make Himself or His will known? We have made this a matter of seminary training. Our pulpits are full of people who can analyze the jot and tittle, who will argue about exactly when Jesus will return, who are masters at Bible trivia, but who cannot understand what God is doing in this world today. We have scholars and Bible lecturers when what we need are simple practitioners. Speaking somewhat sarcastically of this problem, Donald Miller writes,
“If you want to grow in Christ, you should study more. Christian growth, then, is an academic path. And like educators, we only advance to become higher-level educators. The point of learning is always teaching, which produces further learning and then more teaching. The only difference between the church and another educational institution is that nobody ever graduates from the church. We just keep going to school.”
Today, we are going to try to break out of that mold and we’re going to tell some truth. When God speaks to us, we do not receive a voice message that says, “You’ve got mail!” We do not get to parse His words as though God were a politician. We don’t get to negotiate a better deal as though God were a union shop steward. God doesn’t speculate and God doesn’t argue; simply put, God reveals.
Spiritual truth is transmitted by revelation. Spiritual truth is not true because it makes sense to us, or because it seems right or feels right, or because we can deduce that it is logical to believe it. It is the Holy Spirit who causes understanding to rise in our hearts and minds. There is an interaction between God and our inner self. It is God who awakens, and it is God who illumines the mind. It is God who opens the heart, and it is God who reveals. Revelation is the work of God. It’s not something we can duplicate or imitate. Revelation is something like what happens in cartoons when the lightbulb appears over the head. It is a sudden realization, a dawning, an awakening, one of those eureka moments of life.
When revelation happens, we respond to it. That response may be emotional or it may be intellectual; it may be positive, or it may be negative, but we do not fail to respond in some way to revelation. We respond because revelation comes at God’s initiative and it pierces both the heart and the mind. Revelation comes as a result of the activity of the Holy Spirit and it is totally outside of our own ability. We are not the ones who reveal spiritual truth. When Jesus opened the eyes of the man who was born blind in John 9, the man’s understanding of what had happened was shaped by the event itself. The man said, “One thing I do know: I was blind but now I see.” He was responding to Jesus who had opened his eyes. The man had nothing to do with it.
We may wonder how it is that we are ever able to perceive the work of God in our own lives, or in anyone else’s life. Toward the end of Luke 24, we find the risen Jesus with the disciples. Certainly, they were filled with wonder and awe, but verse 41 indicates that mixed in their joy and amazement, they also were struggling with unbelief. Slowly, they were beginning to realize, through the revelation of spiritual truth in their inner being, that Jesus was not only alive, but that He is the Messiah, the Christ. In verse 45 Luke said, “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” How do I come to a clear and right understanding of, and interpretation of God’s Word? God must illumine my heart. He must open my eyes to understand. Apart from His work in my life, in my spirit, it is as though I am a dead man. My mind is dark. When I am living in my own strength, my understanding of spiritual things is a study in futility. But once Jesus opens my mind – and this is a sovereign and supernatural act of God – then I am able to grasp the Gospel. I can receive the Good News. The disciples were able to comprehend spiritual truth. They were able to understand the call of God on their own lives.
That is why I do not encourage you to just read the Bible, as though it were a work of fiction you got out of the library. Instead, I ask you to seek God first. As you open the Bible, ask the Father, in the words of Psalm 119: 18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.” The world in which we live is full of falsehoods, misdirections, and partial truths that exist only to trip up the unwary seeker. You want your eyes to be opened by God; ask Him.
When people have no relationship with God at all, how are they to understand and come to know the truth? In Acts 16, Paul and Silas arrived in Philippi and they started to seek out people who may potentially be open to receive Jesus. They found a group of women gathered by the river at a place of prayer. There, in the course of conversation with a woman named Lydia in verse 14, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” God opened her heart. God opened her eyes. Jesus opened her mind, and she responded in faith. If you want a relationship with God, ask Him.
God expresses Himself through revelation by opening us up to Himself. God also works through creating and sustaining hunger and thirst in those to whom He is speaking. You may have seen the commercial starring “the world’s most interesting man.” The tag line in every commercial is, “Stay thirsty, my friends.” At first, I thought nothing about it, thinking it was just a commercial about a self-absorbed and self-possessed person of no real interest. I was right, of course, but one day, my coach posted those words on Facebook, and suddenly it was as though the Lord was speaking to me in a flash of revelation. This man is nothing but a well-dressed and smooth-talking imposter. He’s a poser. He is a man who possesses and uses a good vocabulary, but he’s not all that interesting. What is compellingly interesting is Jesus: that Jesus would search until He found us. What holds my interest is that out of all the lonely people, Jesus would seek us out. Jesus would want to open our closed minds and reveal His love to us. Now, that I find really interesting. As far as I am concerned, Jesus is the most interesting man in the world.
What Jesus has said that will impact us today, and it is essentially, “Stay thirsty, my friends.” It is God who opens our eyes, who clears the path through the fog that clouds our minds. Even that thirst and hunger for God is a gift from Him, but God has called us to stay thirsty. Our job is to stay hungry. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” How can I keep myself hungry or thirsty for God? How can I be filled? The answer is simple: you can put yourself in a place where you can meet God. You can get in His way. You can open His Word and listen to Him speak to you. You can ask Him to reveal Himself to you. You may have only a small appetite for God right now, just a small hunger, maybe just an insignificant thirst. But, the more you listen, the more you will hear. The more you receive, the more you will want. If you increase your intake, you will also increase, you will also build up your appetite for the things of God.
A greater appetite for God will mean an increase in your ability to receive from Him. As you respond to God, as you welcome His subtle drawing you closer to Him, you will find that little by little you will be coming to know Him better.
Later in that same message, Jesus also said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” There is no secret to this. This is not brain surgery. If you are only a little hungry for God; if you know that you need to hunger more for Him; if you know you need more thirst for God, then do something that will increase your hunger and your desire to know Him. If you desire to have God be a significant part in your life, you don’t have to look far to find Him. What Jesus said is just what the old song said, “If you want it, here it is, come and get it.” You do not have to sit idly by and pout, thinking that God must not want you to know Him better. We just read this Word – Paul prayed for you. The prayers in the Bible are in agreement with God’s will, and God always answers when we pray according to His will. So, what was prayed in those verses from Ephesians 1 is exactly what God wants to do in our lives.
Many of us are willing to go and get as many of the things we desire out of this life as we can possible grasp. We want money, houses, cars, and comfort and all the accouterments that go along with an American lifestyle. But do you want what God has to give you? When you wanted to buy something that cost a lot of money, you either saved for it or you used credit and you are paying for it every month. Your appetite increased until you decided you had to have it. You were hungry, you were thirsty for the things of this world. How thirsty for God are you, my friend? How hungry for God are you? Start asking, start knocking and seeking until you receive that for which you thirst.
If you are only thirsty for what this world has to offer then there is an interesting man out there who can offer you tips on how to get what you want. But if you are thirsty for God, if you are hungering after Him, then this is what God is offering you today.
God wants you to give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so you may know Him better. To know Him better and to hear God more clearly, stay thirsty.
God wants you to have a Biblically enlarged heart – not a serious medical condition, but a heart for God that grows with His love and swells with and desires His presence. To have a heart for the things of God, stay thirsty.
You will find that when you start taking in His Word, when you are listening to His heart for you and for your world, and seeking His face in prayer, the awareness of God’s presence in your life will grow. God wants to open the eyes of your heart, so you can know the hope He has given you. To have hope for tomorrow, stay thirsty. That way, no matter how stormy life becomes, you will not doubt that He is your God, that He is the sturdy Shield and Protector of your life, that God is your Faithful Provider. Do you want that? Stay thirsty, my friends.
God wants you to know by experience the same power that raised Jesus from the grave. When you are faced by a powerful enemy, that is when you find that resurrection power is not just for when you die. You can know the power of God in your life today. You just need to stay thirsty, my friends.
Edmund C. de la Cour, Jr.
First Baptist Church of Pocasset
298 Barlows Landing Road
Post Office Box 1080
Pocasset, MA 02559
Church Office: 508-563-3164