Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Where's your water?

Where’s your water?
            On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.(John 7:37-39 ESV)

            There was a man who one day realized he had a passion for fighting fires. He set out to equip himself to accomplish his goal and satisfy his passion to fight fires. The day came when there was a house on fire and he went into action.
            He had his hat, he had his coat, and he had his suspenders, his pants, and his boots. He had his mask and he had his oxygen tank. He had his axe. He ran into the burning home and quickly realized; “Man…it’s hot in here!” The longer he stayed in the home; the hotter it got. Finally; he could no longer stand the heat and he went running out of the house.
            Overheated, exhausted and frustrated; he stood there bent over in defeat and wondering what went wrong. Soon a pair of boots appears in his vision. He slowly stands up to see who it is that is just standing there. It took but a moment before he realized it was the captain of the fire department; a puzzled look across his face as he asks; “Where’s your water?”

             There is no one that can question the noble efforts of this man as he attempted to follow his passion. But everyone can just as easily identify the flaws in his attempt to satisfy that passion. Most of us can also easily identify the danger of his actions.
           Please follow me on a short journey of exploration of the gap between this man’s passion, his ability for success, and how it relates to our passion to serve Christ.


             I believe, and I want you to understand that this belief is being re-enforced daily; that our first, foundational, fundamental purpose of creation is to be in relationship with our Heavenly Father. I believe that I was created because God, my Heavenly Father, wants to be in a relationship with ME. So much so that through His sacrifice, which was the sacrifice of His Son, that I would have an opportunity to spend an eternity in that relationship with HIM!

         Jesus taught us; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)

             We all have gotten to a point in our lives where we recognize our need for our Heavenly Father and get to a place of submission to His authority and we make a decision to follow Jesus Christ. With that comes either a desire to serve him; or a message on Sunday morning that tells us we need to be serving him. So we gather up our bible, we put on our Sunday best, we clean up our language and our behavior and as if interviewing for a job; we show up and announce we want to serve.

We want to fight fires, but we have not taken the time to get connected to the water and its source.

             The biggest part of this journey between passion and performance is the realization of who I am and who the Holy Spirit is. Let me just take a moment to tell you who I am without the Holy Spirit in me: I am selfish. I am needy. I am sinful. I am angry and I am hateful. It is not in me to love you (heck…it’s not in me to love me!) It is not in me to care for you or even about you. I am broken. I am fallen. I am tired. I am afraid.
           Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
            Now let me tell you about the Holy Spirit who resides in me and flows through me: I am love. I am compassion. I am joy. I am fearless, I am endless and tireless. I am He who resides in me. I am Christ.
            But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24 ESV)

             Can the two exist separately? What did Jesus say?
           “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
            “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:1-12 ESV)  

             This is really easy for me to put onto paper for you. Heck; most of it is just cut, copy and paste! But I want to you understand; and Paul understood that this is NOT easy! The point of this is to remind you that none of this is easy; and I say this, having a relationship with Christ, acknowledging that all of this would be impossible without the Holy Spirit.

            Paul writes:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
            So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25 ESV)

            Paul continues:           
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Paul further encourages us:
            Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)

             Let there be no misunderstanding. There is a spiritual battle taking place. The devil is Hell bent on separating us from our Creator, our Provider…our Father. If you are attempting life, let alone serving at your church, without being connected to the water and its source; the devil is turning up the heat around you as we speak. It is only a matter of time before it gets too hot to handle and you will go running for the door!
           Do not be angry or discouraged about this message. The struggle will never stop in this life, but be encouraged that when connected to the source, that in relationship with your Heavenly Father and when you have the Holy Spirit flowing in you and through you; the only thing you have to do to fight fires…is hold the hose. Then it’s just; stand there and watch God work!

Thoughts of Reflection and Encouragement
            O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
                                Be our arm every morning,
                                our salvation in the time of trouble. (Isaiah 33:2 ESV)

                The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
                                a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9 ESV)

                 For he will hide me in his shelter
                               in the day of trouble;
                he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
                                he will lift me high upon a rock.(Psalm 27:5 ESV)

                Therefore let everyone who is godly
                                offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
                surely in the rush of great waters,
                                they shall not reach him.
                You are a hiding place for me;
                                you preserve me from trouble;
                                you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (Psalm 32:6-7 ESV)
                The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
                                he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
                The LORD helps them and delivers them;
                                he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
                                because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40 ESV)
                Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
                                all day long an attacker oppresses me;
                my enemies trample on me all day long,
                                for many attack me proudly.
                When I am afraid,
                                I put my trust in you.
                In God, whose word I praise,
                                in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
                                What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:1-4 ESV)
                He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
                                will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
                I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
                                my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 ESV)
                Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
                                you preserve my life;
                you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
                                and your right hand delivers me.
                The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
                                your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
                                Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:7-8 ESV)

Fire Department

             I love my analogy so far. Man…when god gives me an idea, the great thing is that it’s always just the tip of the ice berg. Then I just wait and see as he slowly reveals what He has to say to me. And, if I were to be perfectly honest…most times, it never stops!

            So anyway; have you ever seen just one man…standing alone…fighting fires?

            You have probably gotten where I am going with this already; but I’m going to elaborate anyway for the many out there (like myself) that need a message delivered on a 32 ounce Louisville. (That’s a baseball bat for those of you from outside the United States.)
            We were not created to do this alone. From the moments of creation; God noted that we were not to be a one man show and He recognized our need for companionship, help and support.
            Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18 ESV)
            The first “church” was launched as a result of the gifting of the Holy Spirit to a family or community of believers.
           And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
            This does not paint a picture of an individual effort, but of a community of people who are drawn together by a unified spirit…by a Holy Spirit.
            We have already discussed not only the spiritual battle we are in, but the battle between our own flesh and our own spirit. Your Heavenly Father does not intend, nor does he desire for you to engage in this battle on your own! Let me give you one more point of interest in this ongoing battle; one of the devil’s greatest tool is isolation! Have you ever noticed (if you’re willing to admit it) that whenever you are in a physical, an emotional or a spiritual struggle…your first reaction or instinct is to want to be alone! Why? Because if the devil can isolate you from any support…he can really begin to turn up the heat on your self-doubt, your self-image, and eventually your faith!
            How long does it take to boil a cup of water…a gallon of water…a swimming pool? There is safety in numbers. There is support, love, encouragement, understanding, and re-enforcements when the battle draws out.
            Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17:8-13 ESV)
            This story is a part of the Exodus story for one reason, and one reason only. Exodus illustrates that Moses could NOT operate without God’s direction; and Moses could NOT maintain his obedience without the help and support of those around him. After God had given clear instruction to Moses and fully equipped him; He sent Aaron to Moses to walk with him during the confrontation of the Israelite elders and the Pharaoh of Egypt.

I don’t know how to make this any more clear. Life is a team effort; no athlete ever won a championship…teams win championships. Even athletes, who compete in individual sports such as track and field, will all admit the team of coaches and trainers that got them to where they are.

When you come to a submission to Jesus Christ; He will begin to put passions on your heart. These passions are not the goal, they are the direction. Remember, you have to first establish your relationship with your Heavenly Father as made available through Jesus Christ and supported by the Holy Spirit; so that you can align your passions with the will of your Father. You must second; get yourself into a support group. Not like AA (although that might be an important step for you), but a group of fellow Christ followers who can support you, guide you and hold you up when needed. You are also there to be the support that others are so desperately in need of. It is only after these two steps that you are truly connected to the water source and are ready to follow your passions as directed by the Holy Spirit, not by your own will or effort, but under His!

Battle Lines

             When Jesus called his disciples to him; it was a very simple, yet almost impossible request; “Follow me”. Drop your nets, quit what you’re doing, leave everything and “follow me”.
Jesus didn’t pull any punches in John chapter 6. The crowds gathered to get another free meal…Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 ESV)
Those that didn’t like what Jesus had to say…After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:66 ESV)

             “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16 ESV)

Fruit of the         Works of the
Spirit                    Flesh
Love of others             Love of self
Joy                               Sorrow
Peace                          Enmity / Strife / Jealousy / Dissension / Fear
Patience                      Fits of Anger / Demanding
Kindness                      Rivalries / Demeaning / Degrading / Self-Righteous
Goodness                     Impurity / Sorcery / Envy / Agenda
Faithfulness                 Idolatry / Division / Tired / Self-Promotion
Gentleness                  Destruction / Honesty without Love / Unbridled Tongue
Self-Control                 Sexual Immorality / Sensuality / Drunkenness / Orgies
Above I have listed two categories. I have elaborated a little bit more on some of the attributes of the flesh as listed in Galatians Chapter 5. The above categories of Spirit versus Flesh can and should be applied to every aspect of our lives. But I’m going to ask just a few short questions that apply to you serving in a church specifically and I ask you to take some time to meditate on your answers.
1.      When confronted with the people that make up the Body of Christ that quite honestly you don’t like; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind?     Is it Love?
2.      When the alarm clock goes off on Sunday morning; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind and your heart?                                                     Is it Joy?
3.      When your area of service is making changes and your uncertain why; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind and your heart?                             Is it peace?
4.      When confronted with change in your area of service; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind and your heart?                                                     Is it patience?
5.      How do those around you describe your reaction to difficult or challenging people or situations?                                                                         Is it kindness or goodness?
6.      When the storms of life rock the waves of trouble in our lives; how would those around us describe our reaction in the storm?                        Is it faithfulness or gentleness?
7.      Examine your life. Is your daily walk in your relationship; as a branch of the vine of Jesus Christ; yielding the fruit of the spirit of self-control? Or are you a withering branch of self!
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
           For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
            Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

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