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Before going on, answer these questions as honestly as possible. The more honest you are, the better this study will apply.
1. If I didn’t have to work for a living, what would I just love to do?
2. If I were given five million dollars, lump sum, tax-free, how would it change the way I live?
3. If I learned that I have only six (healthy) months to live, confirmed by all sources, what would I do with the rest of my life?
What is it that you want more than anything else in life? How you answered the questions listed above reveals much of that answer. What do you really want? One of my favorite quotes is, "You can have anything you want, just can’t have everything you want."
You may think that is preposterous. Many of the rich and famous can get what they want, when they want it. Yeah? How about real peace of mind, love, truth and joy, or a good marriage or other relationships, or health?
What do people really want – blessedness, Kingdom of God, true comfort, the earth – materially and in authority, satisfaction, see God, called children of God, reward -- things all promised in the Sermon on the Mount. If we really took seriously the claims of Jesus and the Bible – we’d be different people. We’d live and think differently. Let's turn to God's word and see what He says about it…
1 Chr. 1.7 On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 8 And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” 11 Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.” Solomon's priorities were good, and the Lord blessed his request with much more than he asked for.
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, "Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why do you take thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
We cannot serve two masters, not, don't serve two masters -- like a commandment. Jesus here is stating that it is an impossibility to have two masters. In reality, we can follow, serve, obey only one master. Eventually, one master is going to ask you to do something that contradicts the other. And, it is an oxymoron to say, "No, Lord?! The word Lord or Master implies someone you will obey without question.
Each one of us has a limited amount of time, money, thoughts, and energy. We must choose how to spend these valuable resources. They will get spent, rather wasted, if we don't actively make correct choices.
What is eternal, what lasts forever? Word Is. 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand forever. Love 1 Cor. 13:8 Love never fails. People Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake, which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. God Dt. 33:27a The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Let’s spend ourselves on what will last forever. The more we pour out our time, money and energy on the eternal, fulfilling God's priorities, the better off we will be. Like Solomon, we will have pursued what is right.
Something I receive in an email illustrates this perfectly:
The Big Rocks and The Jar
A high school science teacher wanted to demonstrate a concept to his students. He takes a large-mouth jar and places several large rocks in it. He then asks the class, "Is it full?
"Unanimously, the class reply, "Yes!"
The teacher then takes a bucket of gravel and pours it into the jar. The small rocks settle into the spaces between the big rocks.
He then asks the class, "Is it full?"
This time there are some students holding back, but most reply, "Yes!"
The teacher then produces a large can of sand and proceeds to pour it into the jar. The sand fills up the spaces between the gravel.
For the third time, the teacher asks, "Is it full?
"Now most of the students are wary of answering, but again, many reply, "Yes!"
Then the teacher brings out a pitcher of water and pours it into the jar. The water saturates the sand. At this point the teacher asks the class, "What is the point of this demonstration?"
One bright young student raises his hand and then responds, "No matter how full one's schedule is in life, he can always squeeze in more things!"
"No," replies the teacher, "The point is that unless you first place the big rocks into the jar, you are never going to get them in. The big rocks are the important things in your life ...your family, your friends, your personal growth. If you fill your life with small things, as demonstrated by the gravel, the sand, and the water...you will never have the time for the important things.
So, what are the "Big Rocks" in your life? Carefully select your big rocks, because there is only so much room for them. You can't have as many as you want! The other stuff of life will fill in the cracks.
Check out the words used in the following verses. They are active, passionate words, full of pathos. This is what is required to reach any goal before us, especially if we want eternal things as out objective. Once we choose a goal, no matter what it is, to reach it, it will take all we have. God and His Kingdom are no different.
Dt. 13.4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.
Josh. 22.5 But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Ps. 27.4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. 8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Ps 17.15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness
Is. 26:9 With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
Ps. 145.19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them
Rom. 6.4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Rom. 8.6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
Phil. 3.12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Col. 3.1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
1 Tim. 4.14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
1 Tim. 6.11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Thess. 4.1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more.
Heb. 10.22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Heb.12.1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
To seek means: require, request, seek -- (out, to find, to secure, the face, with care, in prayer and worship, with application, early, diligently, earnestly, in order to find, for, [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to inquire into, after) ask, begging, desire, get, inquisition, procure, exact, request, demand, search, to resort to, frequent (a place), (tread a place), to consult, to investigate, to practice, study, follow, consult, look early or diligently for, aim at, strive after, to crave, scrutinize.
Let's pursue the things of God like we would pursue things in the world. Think of how someone driven to obtain fame, fortune, power, drugs or alcohol acts, what their priorities are. We should be no different toward the things of God. In reality, because they are infinitely more valuable, we should pursue them much more than the world does its things.
Thinking about someone addicted to a substance, what do they do? They:
1. Keep it close by.
2. Partake often.
3. Know where their sources are.
4. Do whatever it takes to have plenty.
We should do no less in striving after the priorities God gives us and that we have embraced.
Hungering and Thirsting:
Ps. 42.1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”
Ps. 63.1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
Ps. 107.9 For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Is 41.17 "The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, their tongues fail for thirst. I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
Is 44.3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.
Is 55.1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Amos 8.11 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord God, "That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord."
Luke 1.53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
Lk. 9.23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Lk. 14.26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Mt. 5.6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
John 4.14 But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
John 6.27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this he spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Do you hunger after God like someone who hasn’t eaten for weeks? Are you thirsty for His presence like someone who has hiked miles in the desert without fluids? Do you long and yearn for Him like the scriptures declare? Me either, but I want to! What do we do about it?
1. Don’t fill up on other things.
2. Ask for it.
3. Hang out with folks who are not satisfied with their Christian life.
4. Have people who are hungry for God pray for us.
Some definitions of hunger and thirst…Strong's: to suffer want, to be needy, to crave ardently, to seek with eager desire and thirst painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened. From Webster's: crave vehemently, eager, avid, strongly motivated, barren, famished, peckish, ravenous, starved, rapacious, voracious, urgent need, uneasy sensation or a weakened condition occasioned by the lack of food, eager desire, long, ache, hanker, lust, pine, sigh, yearn, yen, ardent desire, dehydrated, parched, itch, dry, anxious, breathless, impatient, keen, wild, not full, glutted, gorged, sated, satiated.
Some questions to ponder:
How does hunger and thirst rearrange your priorities?
Loving and Longing for:
Ps. 84.2 My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 4 Blessed are they that dwell in your house: they will be still praising you. Selah. 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; in whose heart are the ways of them. 6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also fills the pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appears before God. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in you.
Song of Sol. 1.4 Draw me away! We will run after you!
Psa 87:5-7 But of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her"; And the Most High Himself will establish her. The LORD will count when He registers the peoples , "This one was born there." Selah. Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, "All my springs of joy are in you."
Ps. 119.20 My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.
Ps 37.4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart
Rom. 12.9 Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
2 Cor. 5.14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died.
Phil. 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
Col. 1.10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Jam. 4.4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
1 Jn. 2.15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Rev. 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence you art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent. The church in Ephesus left their first love. This is not an emotion that is waning, this is an act of the will! They had their act together doctrinally, but their heart was not where God wanted it to be! Leaving first love implies and act of the will, not just an accident. Have we left if behind, choosing something in its place?
Rev. 3.15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
(This next part is borrowed from Bill Gothard.) Think about your life with God right now. How would you rate yourself, your love and your works for Him, from 1-9.
Freezing, ice cold -- 1
Cold -- 2
Chilly -- 3
Cool -- 4
Neutral -- 5
Warm -- 6
Heating up -- 7
Red Hot -- 8
White Hot -- 9
God wants us to be a 1 or a 9. I’m neither one, how about you? What can we do to get there? This is not an option, unless we want to be rejected into God’s ‘barf bag’!!!
Part of the clue to this whole process is realizing how desperate we truly are for God’s presence and His work in our lives. (Like what God told the church in Laodecia.) I have come to realize that if I don’t get close communion with God each day, many times a day, I will soon be in bad shape. I am a mess. Without God, I would be on the streets, in jail or dead. Honestly. I know this to be true. This is an addiction I need.
Again – how do we get here? We need to realize our need. We must ask for it. "More, Lord", I need you, Lord" Hanging out with those who are seeking the same thing can help. Get prayer, i.e. hands laid on by those same folks will also help. Mostly, we need to recognize our desperation and cry out to God for His mercy, increased hunger and thirst, and increased capacity for Him.
To sum up, we need to carefully choose what we are going to spend ourselves on in this life. If not, we may get what we really don't want. After we choose those priorities, we need to go after them with all our heart, soul, life and strength. Again, if we don't pursue them with reckless abandon, we may not get them at all.