Hunger and Thirst

A few weeks ago I was sharing with my friend that Jesus told me “worship would be my warfare” as I pursued freedom in certain areas of my life. I confessed to her that I was finding it hard to really love on Jesus and fully give myself to Him in worship. Even though I had some powerful encounters with God and really did enjoy times of worship, I knew fear was holding me back from fully giving myself over to praising Him.

The fear was that if I let go of myself and gave all of my being, emotions, thoughts, etc over to Jesus in worship, then I’d lose something. If I I stopped thinking about myself and my life and honored God instead, I thought, then I’d lose a part of myself. I’d lose love and pleasure, or something. I felt “protected” when I didn’t ascribe the fully glory of God in my spirit. I know it sounds weird, but that’s what I was struggling with. I identified it as “self-love” and pride, although that was just the fruit of wrong thinking and a bit unhelpful to identify.

I knew deep down I was falling short of pure worship:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:23-24

To worship in truth, we must know the truth about God in our hearts, not just our heads.

And to do that, we must be saved through the healing power of Christ alone, saved mostly from wrong thinking, not wrong doing. Behaviors are a result of wrong thinking, so we must renew our minds in order to change our behavior. My behavior during worship, of not really giving myself over to Jesus in worship, showed me that I had some wrong thinking about God.

Up until this point, in my heart, I believed God to be a selfish God, even though in my knowledge of Him I knew this was false. I believed that He only loved me so He can get things from me in return, like worship, good deeds, money, everything that I desired in life, etc. I always thought that when I worshiped, it was almost as if His love for me turned off as He received all this love from me in selfishness. This is why I couldn’t fully give myself over to Him in worship, I had to kind of hang on to myself in a sense so that He couldn’t “hurt” me by taking something away, in His “selfishness.” Crazy right? I bet I’m not the only one who believes this about God.

I didn’t realize that God’s love is never self-seeking. Conditional love belongs to the kingdom of darkness. He paid the price for my sin expecting nothing in return from me, and that is an absolute truth. His love never stops flowing toward me, even when I give my mind and heart over to Him in worship, and that it’s only through His constant giving that I’m able to worship Him in the first place.

God knew this wrong belief (aka sin) was blocking me from pure worship.

This is why He saves us from sin, so that we can worship Him. Throughout the Bible, God promises to “save” (heal, deliver, rescue) His people. And what’s the purpose of saving us? So that we worship. So we realize that God’s love is truly trustworthy and not self-seeking and/or manipulative in any way.

Righteousness (or salvation, deliverance from wrong thinking) comes first, then true worship comes as a result:

For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Isaiah 61:11

The verse below is incredible because right there it shows that God wants and promises that He will heal us from soul wounds that occurred in our childhood. Everyone has soul wounds, even people with great families, that will block full intimacy with God and others unless we seek healing from Jesus:

Forget the former things;

do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing! 

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland….

Isaiah 43:18,19

Unfortunately, we cannot forget the things of the past by pretending nothing affected us and moving on with life. This is because as small children, we soak up everything as truth since we don’t have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong behavior from authority figures in our lives. In order to not “dwell on the past,” we must ask God to reveal the lie we’re believing that we picked up at some point and ask Him to heal us by giving the truth (this is what the Sozo Ministry of Bethel does, along with other counseling methods that acknowledge only God alone can heal and not just good advice and revelation from the counselor). If we don’t confront these lies, the soul wounds from the past will show up in our present and future relationships, including our relationship with God.

And what is the ultimate purpose of this inner healing? The answer comes a few verses later:

…that they may proclaim my praise.

Isaiah 43:21

The end result of our sanctification is pure worship! That is what God seeks, because He knows it gives us the fullest satisfaction in life, not because He’s selfish and egotistical! And, we worship not just because we’re thankful, but because we have literally been set free from wrong thinking that enables us to worship from a right heart.

No human love or anything else we aspire toward like achievements and successful living can satisfy us like the pleasures of God in worship! If the Bible talks about the pleasures of God in His presence both here and in heaven, then I want to discover that, not just think it’s a nice theoretical happy thought from the Bible that I can never experience myself.

You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11

Probably one of the most famous books on this subject is John Piper’s Desiring God. Piper’s whole thesis says:

God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in Him.

Maybe Christians have missed the mark on what glorifies God the most. Maybe it’s not all about evangelizing, serving the poor, being humble, etc, although these things definitely glorify God and are things He certainly loves.

But if God is mainly concerned about making true worshipers out of us like the Bible says, if He truly is most glorified when His people are most satisfied in Him, then God must love it when people literally thirst for righteousness (salvation, healing). He will answer our thirst, and then we will be filled to the brim, leaving no room for the lust. And not just sexual lust. Trying to “get love” from our relationships is a form of lust. Addiction to substances, busyness, achievements, entertainment, etc is lust.

Instead, these God-given desires for family, achievement, good food, etc will be put in their proper place (below God), allowing us to enjoy them the way they were meant to be enjoyed and evangelism, outreach to the poor and oppressed, humility etc. become the natural fruit of our lives.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

Resting in Confidence

Ever seen (or been) one of those people who press the button to switch the traffic light over and over again as if the technology didn’t process this the first time?

My impatience was revealed as I caught myself doing this last week, even though I rarely ever do this, knowing logically in my head it makes no difference. But I justified it, thinking to myself, I’ve been at the light for already a full minute and a half, so something must be wrong.  Let’s try it three more times.

I realized I do this with God often. I pray the same prayer over and over, as if He didn’t hear me the first time, and then worry about my problem because I don’t have confidence that He’s gotten my prayer taken care of.

The Bible, however, shows how God always listens to His people’s prayers, and responds in perfect timing. He never “accidentally” misses my heart’s request because His mind is racing with other things and zones out on me.

Through this silly experience, God taught me to have confidence that He always hears me.  And because God hears me, that automatically means He’s gotten it taken care of – He will never  let one of my needs go unfulfilled. When I take the bold step to not repeat my prayers and worry about my problem, my faith grows as I watch Him constantly provide for my needs without me worrying. This is how we experience God, when we step out in faith. Knowledge from the Bible can only go so far without also stepping out in faith.

Saying our prayers and resting in God’s willingness and ability to provide reminds me of that Ron Popeil marketing guy who used to sell some invention to cook chicken. Similar to the crock-pot, this “invention” would allow you to cook your chicken without having to worry about it. You could press the “start” button and let it cook while you  moved on with your life. You could “Set it, and forget it!

Image

This is the ultimate promise of salvation: that we rest. It’s like when Jesus literally slept through the storm in complete confidence that His Father’s fierce love meant protection from harm. Worry creates unrest and a busy mind that leaves us exhausted and dreading life’s unpredictable circumstances.

…In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength

Isaiah 30:15

There are two types of prayer. There are prolonged times of prayer that intercede for His people and seek after God Himself, His will, wisdom, strategy and guidance. There are also short little ones that just need to be said once.

Example of seeking: Our Tahiti mission team pressed into God almost everyday to pray for people, seek His will, strategy and Presence. Without this kind of prayer, we would have missed God’s will for the mission and for our personal lives.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

Proverbs 25:2

Example of short little prayer: Let’s say you’re a Christian who is overcoming an alcohol addiction and you’re invited to a sporting event that triggers your craving for beer. Praying that the Holy Spirit give you grace to say “no” to beer, and focusing on God’s ability to do it, will enable you to not grow anxious before the event, and also enjoy yourself at the event. Of course you have to be in a place where you actually want to overcome the addiction, which is a whole other topic.

I also pray for sweet parking spots. It’s fun because God always comes through, seriously. Though this may seem trivial, when God provides in these smaller ways His love actually becomes bigger because it shows me that He even cares about the “less important” desires of my heart.

Regardless of which prayer we’re engaged in, we watch, wait and expect Him to answer. We’re not to focus on the problem. Just God Himself. It’s exciting. It builds our relationship with Him. It brings us joy to see Him respond.

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

John 16:24

Of course, this kind of confidence can only be achieved if we have the correct view of God’s love toward us and a correct view of ourselves. If we don’t *really* believe God is capable and willing to love us beyond our imagination like the Bible says, and/or we do not think we are perfectly worthy to receive God’s love because of grace, it is impossible to not worry.  We are all damaged people and desperately need to renew our minds about God’s love and ourselves. This is why reading the Bible, learning how to hear (and obey!) God’s voice, and inner healing are so important. Knowing His love and your own true worth is the antidote for all emotions rooted in fear like worry and anxiousness.

There is truly no greater pursuit in this life than the discovery and rediscovery of His love every day. It takes an open and teachable heart and mind, daily submission, commitment, and perseverance.  But it’s worth our very lives to know the width, the length, the height, the depth…

I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen

Ephesians 3:16-21