We all know people whose fire for The Lord doesn’t burn as hot as it once did. The bright light that was such an inspiration, such a beacon for Christ, struggles to even be visible. Maybe you are that person. You remember the joy of walking so closely to your Savior and now find the world smothering your passion.
As I sat in a bible study the Lord laid an image on my heart that was so clear it filled my mind and sparked my imagination. Living a worldly life is comparable to drowning. When we try to find our peace, joy, or purpose in earthly things we end up empty and alone. The lack of fulfillment causes us to struggle harder and to seek greater extremes to find the joy we remember. We can recall what we found in Christ but struggle to find the foothold we want to stop struggling against drowning in our sinfulness, pride, self-focus, and earthly desire. I imagine the panic and hopelessness of drowning and the inability to overcome the desperation, unable to remember what solid ground felt like. It’s kicking and fighting to stay afloat as hope sinks below the surface. We look up from under the water trying to remember what fresh air in our lungs felt like. It was this kind of feeling that caused the image the Spirit gave me to flourish in my struggling heart.
We struggle but our Savior walks on water and commands the seas to be calm. When Peter focused on Jesus he was able to walk on water too. It’s in a Christ focused existence that we can walk on top of the turbulent seas of worldliness, and that Christ can command those waves to be calm or show us how to let the water roll off our back as He leads us by example. When we take the right hand of God and allow Him to lead again, the water we once allowed to cover us becomes a mist, noticeable but harmless.
We are called to seek first the kingdom of God, focused on Christ, walking on the water with Him. We can be sure that even when we fall away and lose our focus on Him, His focus never leaves us. His hand is always outstretched and waiting for us to take it again. The world and all of the temporary things in it will quit on us and leave us alone and empty. We have a promise that our eternal God will never leave nor forsake us. Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5 quoting Deuteronomy 31:6)
I found the picture above, it’s the closest one to the personal picture the Spirit gave me. I hope it helps make these words more real and reignites the hope in your heart that will fuel your fire.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Jesus gave communion at The Last Supper so that those who follow Him would later receive those elements and remember what He sacrificed as God’s lamb for us. I see that the feelings that are supposed to be invoked from communion according to (1 Corinthians 11:28-29) Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves, are feelings we would do well to consider every time we sit to nourish our bodies. As we sit to nourish a body that is slowly returning to dust we can take a moment to glorify the savior that gives us spiritual nourishment and eternal life. We are meant to remember Jesus any time we eat. We honor God in all things. Because we always have to eat to sustain our bodies, Jesus desired that we remember Him so that we can sustain ourselves spiritually. We need to remember to dwell in God’s word and listen to His spirit at least as often as we eat. Just imagine how much closer you can walk with the Lord if every time you sit to fulfill the hunger of your body you also take the time to allow Jesus to fulfill the hunger of your spirit. There are many things we do that keep us from feeling hungry: appetite suppressants, busy lifestyle, or allowing our bodies to get use to not eating. Sin acts in the same way to reduce our connection (appetite for) Jesus. Just like eating less lowers our metabolism so that our body needs less food to operate, falling away from a focus on Jesus reduces our hunger for His Word and provision. Glorify Him in all things and take a moment as you sustain your body with food to thank Him and nourish your spirit with His all sufficient provision.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
(Matthew 22:37-40) “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The commandment to love God covers the first 6 commandments given to Moses in Exodus. Love your neighbor covers the final 4. (Romans 13:8-10) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The love found from God and through the Holy Spirit removes the need for the laws given in the Old Testament. Jesus came to earth to bring about a new covenant that is not under the law. The new covenant involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. The maturing of the spirit leads us to the ultimate goal of unconditional and perfect love found in 2 Peter 1:5-7. Love is culmination of the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Christ had to remove the law to allow room for love to flourish. The law creates judgement, love creates mercy. (James 2:13) Mercy triumphs over judgment. God is love. The Holy Spirit makes unconditional love possible in our sinful human form. The presence of perfect love does not allow sin or temptation to exist. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s people makes the Old Testament law obsolete. The presence of love fills the voids of that law and proves how incomplete it was without the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin made evident in the law. Once we realize our need for a savior because adherence to the law is impossible, we can let go of its hold on us and live in God’s love, through Christ as we reflect that love back to God and to our neighbors.
(Galatians 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(2 Peter 1:5-7) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
Throughout the Old Testament (2 Kings specifically today) I see a trend in God’s people that continues to plague us. As we study, we see God ‘delivering’ those who don’t follow Him into the hands of His people. We see God ‘driving people out’ of lands He desires for His people. God’s provision in terms of land, both to live and farm, and dwell safely is clearly repeated many times. It’s only in the people’s disobedience and ‘turning away’ that His provisions are left unprotected to be taken by foreign kings. God must continually show His people that all they have is because of Him.
God physically set His people apart in the Old Testament. Today, as believers, we are set apart spiritually as we work toward Christ likeness. This Christ likeness is a process of becoming holy known as sanctification. The definition of holy is ‘set apart.’ As God’s chosen He sets us apart from the darkness of this world just as He set apart His people in their own lands long ago.
Just like then, we still seek the things that we are meant to be set apart from. At that time people continued to offer sacrifice to the gods of the previous inhabitants. They sought comfort in the ways that God had removed from them. These types of acts were evil in the sight of God. As we read these stories of God handing over armies and land, then His people building an altar to a god that had just been conquered, it seems absurd, and it is! Yet we do the exact same thing today. God delivers us from the sinful nature of the world, He gives us Jesus to reconcile us to Him and His Holy nature. Yet each of us returns to the comforts of this world in an attempt to sooth ourselves, whether it’s food, drugs, sex/pornography, wealth, status, control, etc. The list could go on. We all miss the facts shown the Old Testament that God is the source of all of our provision, a provision that is always better than the tainted versions found on earth. The fullness found in the holy provision of God is missed by those unwilling to let God have control of their life. We should take a moment to see the mistakes by those from long ago, learn from their mistake, and ask God to be our only provision. We should trust that His provision, in His timing, will bring us into His fullness and truly set us apart.
21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
As a follower of Jesus there is a decision to be made. Do we seek earthly rewards and pleasure or the abundance that awaits in heaven? This question pertains to many things: 1) possessions, 2) status, 3) recognition, 4) affection, 5) acceptance, 6) control and 7) longevity. This list is limited but should suffice in awakening the senses to the other ways people seek this world over eternity in paradise.
In order to build up great wealth it must become a focus in your life. When so much attention is being paid to earthly possessions there is little left for the heavenly wealth you are meant to build up in the service of God. When you’ve set your eyes on the creation of man you cannot focus on the one who created everything. Following in the steps of Christ requires believers to become selfless and to take care of the less fortunate with the blessings God has given. We are meant to share the blessings of God with others so that they can see the provision of God, especially those that go beyond monetary gain. Giving back is a form of worship. Praise God for His blessings to you by helping those lost in the dark. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.