Having a hunger and thirst for God

Rev. Billy Holland
Thursday, August 15, 2019
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Rev. Billy Holland

We all love to sit down to a good meal. Whatever our favorite food, we really look forward to enjoying the things we love. After our appetite is satisfied, it doesn’t take but a few hours and we are hungry again, but we sel- dom consider that our spiritual life functions in much the same way. For those who follow God, they have been given a new spirit who loves to spend time reading, praying, meditating, praising, and enjoying his presence as this is how we absorb our spiritual nourishment. However, when we are busy and neglect our relationship with God, we become weak and lethargic just as we would if we went a long time without eating. My wife and I watch a real- ity series called, “Alone” where a group of individuals are trying to survive in the wilderness and one of the main challenges is finding food. After a couple of weeks without nourishment, the body begins to suffer physically and mentally and likewise, when we go long periods without acknowledging God, we become spiritually weak and miserable.

With all the foods we prefer, it’s common to use the term crave when it comes to what tastes good. Likewise, our new spirit craves to dwell and fellowship with our Creator. In Psalm 42:1-2, the writer emphasizes an intense desire and longing to be with God. “As the hart (deer) pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with Him?” There is very good news today. If you want to be with the one who made you and who loves you more than anything, you can reach out to him right now and ask him to surround you with his love and mercy. I’m convinced when we are going through a difficult situation and feeling down, that many times we have simply drifted away from the peaceful harbor of his grace. When life becomes heavy with discouragement, maybe we are simply experiencing the consequences of neglecting him. If we are not craving his presence, this could very well be an indicator of just how far we have drifted away from him. His mercy can forgive any mistake we have made and our past is never too damaged or dark that the light and compassion of God cannot restore us. This Life was never intended to be free from problems or distractions, but we were promised we can have hope and joy in the journey when we choose to hold his hand.

Some individuals can remember a time when they were involved with God in some way. Maybe as a child, their parents took them to Sunday school and church or maybe someone read them Bible stories. These are good memories especially if this led us into a personal relation- ship with God and we are truly grateful someone loved us and cared about our soul. Unfortunately, there are others who have allowed the cares of the world to pull them far away from the Lord. A few may even believe that our past experiences (as good as they might be) will carry them through the rest of their life and supply them with a continuous flow of peace and faith, but this deception is causing many to ig- nore a critical spiritual principle. The Christian life is not empowered by a yearly, monthly, or even a weekly visitation with God; it’s all about a constant awareness of his presence as a lifestyle.

A wonderful passage that pertains to our subject is found in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” This is an assurance from Jesus that for those who desire more of God, they can certainly have all they want, whenever they want him. Christ is say- ing the spiritual life can be very much like an endless buffet, but the question for all of us is do we really have a passion and craving to be filled with him? It’s important to remember that our mind and conscience has everything to do with how close we will walk with God. Yes, we can live in denial and depend on false se- curities, but the truth is we cannot live however we want and still be on good terms with him. Come to think of it, maybe this was the reason we drifted away in the first place.

The beauty of

a clear conscience

In every sense, we can say that our conscience is much more important than we think. In fact, one of the challenges within our human development is that we are seldom taught to consider our conscience at all. I want to intentionally make a big deal about our conscience because I consider it to be one of our highest treasures. How so? We’ve all seen the cartoons that portray the person trying to decide if they should be bad or good along with the angel sitting on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Actually, this scenario represents each of us and the in- ner turmoil of trying to choose which path to take exposes the war between rebellious tempta- tions and the awareness of do- ing what is right. What is rarely clarified in this popular presentation is how the angel represents God’s perfect truth and though everyone can have a basic comprehension of right and wrong, it is difficult to understand God’s voice especially if an individu- al has not personally accepted Christ into their life as Lord and Savior. In this light, we comprehend that everyone’s conscience is directly associated with their spirit. Some have a value system that is based on emotions and philosophy while others follow and embrace where God guides. As pain sensors tell our brain that something is wrong in our body, the conscience also works with the Holy Spirit as a secu- rity system that reminds God’s children when they have sinned and warns them if they are even contemplating about being bad. Obeying God is the beauty of a clear conscience.

I have often mentioned how important it is to cultivate and maintain our thoughts. The mind is not only the area of all our

ideas and intentions but is the battlefield where we are constantly making critical decisions. To not be concerned about incorporating mental discipline and allowing God to help us renew our mind, we are ignoring one of the most crucial responsibilities in this life. George Bernard Shaw is quoted, “A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me, there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, the one I feed the most.” If the conscience is an- other word for the heart, we can agree that whichever we choose to use, it involves the deepest part of who we are. I personally believe the mind is the ultimate control center but the conscience can influence and persuade our decisions. Let us not forget the individual who has invited Christ into their life also has God’s presence as the most important influence to help manage and control. Again, the best-case scenario is when a person allows their conscience to be controlled through the Lord. I remember watching an interview years ago and the person was asked to talk about their faith and to give their personal interpretation of sin. They replied, “Being out of line with my values.” This is hardly a solid answer theologically because right and wrong are not based on human values. It’s true that following our conscience is trustworthy when it obeys God’s desires, however, this answer was referring to the act of someone’s conscience being violated or compromised. Sin has everything to do with us choosing our own will over God’s will.

In a fallen world that is filled with distractions, we realize that a clear conscience is associated with spiritual peace and content- ment. Carl Jung is quoted as saying, “Through pride, we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience, a still small voice says to us, something is out of tune.” The world’s motto declares how they cannot obtain satisfaction and within this de- fault disposition, we find that no class of society is immune from this reality. When wrong ideas are planted, wrong attitudes are easily developed such as the idea that the more possessions a person gathers, the more contentment we will have. Nothing could be further from the truth. So how can we be set free from the misery of a deceived and calloused conscience? We can ask God to save us from ourselves. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eter- nal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” Hebrews 9:14.

Read more at billyhollandministries.com

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