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.
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.
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 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?
“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.
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!
For he will hide me in his shelter
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)
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?
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)
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.
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”.
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)