Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Eat Up His Words

When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
Lord God Almighty.  
Jeremiah 15:16

I visited some friends recently outside Austin, Texas.  One day we were trying to decide where to eat for lunch and I mentioned seeing a place that served Louisana-style shrimp and crab.  My friend exclaimed, “Oooo those are my two favorite foods!”  And off we went!

As our food was placed before us – heaping piles of crab, shrimp, corn and potatoes — I thought I heard my friend moan.  And when she started in, slurping and sucking on her crab I actually did hear her moan!  We started laughing so hard!  That lunch is what came to mind when I read this verse from Jeremiah.  Eating joyously and to our heart’s delight.

Jeremiah was in a pretty tough spot with God and the people of Israel.  He had to tell the people of God’s coming wrath.  You see, God was done being placated by Israel’s rulers.  It was time to pay the piper for their egregious and continuing sins.  But God promised to save Jeremiah after he makes his plea of faithfulness.

Just think if we all devoured God’s word like my friend did her pile of crab and shrimp!  Or like Jeremiah in his plea for rescue!

“The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.”-

A.W. Tozer

Acute desire.  To yearn to read more about God.  To seek with all our heart ways to serve God.  To sit in mediation with anxious expectation to hear from God.  That’s the kind of love God wants from us.  Like lovers that can’t get enough of each other!

My husband and I started out in a long distance relationship.  He lived and went to college in Colorado and I was in California.  We began calling each other every day.  Spending hours on the phone.  We wanted to learn everything we could about each other.  Then our phone bills started arriving!  As poor college students we couldn’t afford to call each other anymore so we took to writing.  Each day I would anxiously await the mail.  And each letter that came was pages long.   I ate up those words with joy and with a happy heart.

The Bible is like those love letters.  It tells us all we need to know about God’s character.  It regales us with stories of how He makes promises and keeps them.  He tells us about how much He sacrificed to show us love.  And He shows us the way to be united with Him again.

If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning.

Oswald Chambers

Loving God is not a passive pursuit.  We need to love with abandon.  We need to eat up every word from His lips!  

Then you will call on me and come 
and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 
You will seek me and find me when 
you seek me with all your heart.  
Jeremiah 29:12-13

Friends, the enemy is like that jealous school girl who wants to steal your boyfriend away.  She’d love to see you get a bit complacent with your relationship.  She’ll even find ways to distract you and put a wedge between you.  The difference is, the enemy can only work on one side of this relationship.  God is never distracted.

The presence of passion, faith, and belief in our hearts is a gift.  It’s on loan to our souls. 

Priscilla Shirer, Fervent

In other words, we don’t need to conjure up that passion or desire to eat up God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit is already there, waiting for us to access that burning faith!  We need only to call out to God and say, “I love you, Lord with all my heart!  Teach me everything about you so that I may serve you!”  And He will certainly place a feast before you.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Fresh Fire

That ye be not slothful, but followers 
of them who through faith and patience 
inherit the promises. 
Hebrews 6:12

I don’t typically pull Bible verses from the King James version.  But in one of my devotionals this version of Hebrews 6:12 was the focus of that day’s study.  It got me thinking about my own faith and where I stand with “slothfulness.”

When you hear that word “sloth” you probably think of the lazy animal, hanging out in a tree accomplishing next to nothing all day.  Yet slothfulness is not the same as being lazy – which is how the word is translated in the New International Version.  In fact, the word “slothful” in Greek is quite different.  And in the context of the verse in Hebrews it means to not allow our faith to become monotonous or without a blazing flame.  

Slothful: nōthrós – slow, sluggish; monotonous

Strong’s Greek

For many Christians we say we are religious because we attend church regularly.  We get up Sunday morning, find our usual spot to park at church, listen to a sermon, sing a few familiar songs, and look forward to the donut or muffin on the way out.  We might chat with a few friends then head to whatever else we have on our plate for the day.  We can check off our “faith” for that week. We might even go to a Bible study during the week to put another tick mark on our “faithful” list.

And for you overachieving, super involved Christians, it’s interesting to note that the author of my devotional is an accomplished author, missionary and evangelist.  He realized he was a good “worker” for God.  But somewhere along the line it became just that – work.

But what God wants of us is deep, passionate faith. And if you already have that – awesome!  I hope you will still enjoy what is to come in my Fresh Fire posts! 

He wants us to be in love with Him.  He wants us to be eager to speak with Him and to be sad if we don’t feel His presence.  He wants us to stand for Him in the face of those who would speak against Him.  He wants us to seek the opportunities to speak about His glorious promises.  He wants us to remove all spiritual neutrality and instead burn red-hot for His message of love, forgiveness, redemption and salvation!

My son-in-law once shared with me Charles Spurgeon’s compilation of prayers called, “Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare.”  I soon got my own copy and was amazed with the fervor level of his sermons.  There’s nothing slothful about Mr. Spurgeon!  I wanted to share this excerpt about praying with a blazing heart:

“I would that some of you prayed more vehemently! “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matt 11:12) An old Puritan said, “Prayer is a cannon set at the gate of heaven to burst open its gates.” You must take the city by storm if you would have it. You will not ride to heaven on a feather-bed, you must go on pilgrimage; there is no going to the land of glory while you are sound asleep, dreamy sluggards will have to wake up in hell. If God has made you to feel in your soul the need of salvation, cry like one who is awake and alive; be in earnest; cry aloud; spare not.

Charles Spurgeon, The Raven’s Cry

Whew!  I get exhausted each time I read that!  And yet, during the “Great Covid Pandemic” I watched friends’ faith fall by the wayside.  They were comfortable with sitting in their PJs watching a church video and nothing more.   I also watched others be lifted to higher heights.  Their Bible study life became daily and hour-long.  Their prayers became constant and vibrant!  Their work of sanctification grew by leaps and bounds!  I have written before that I believe a great sifting has occurred.  Those who choose to be “slothful” in their faith will continue to slide out of a relationship with Jesus.  But we don’t want to be lost into the world.

For five weeks, I’ll share 25 verses about strong, energetic, and passionate faith.  A few may feel familiar but my hope is that most will be something new.   Because that’s what this series is about – stripping away the “usual” and monotonous and injecting a bit of new fire.

God’s promises are so much more beautiful and glorious than anything the world can ever offer.  It’s up to us to grab hold of our faith with renewed vigor and fire.  It’s up to us to burn in passion for our Lord.  

Here’s the prayer from that day’s devotional about slothfulness.  I hope you pray it as a stepping off point for the study!

“Lord, help me understand how totally unacceptable it is for me to lose my passion, momentum and desire.  I ask you to forgive me for allowing any hint of slothfulness to operate in my life.  Today I repent and deliberately turn from slothfulness.  Holy Spirit,  I turn to you now and ask you to stir and reignite the fire in my heart.  Please help me regain the zeal, the thrust and the fire I once possessed.  Help me to keep that fire burning this time, never to lose it again.  I pray this is Jesus’ name!”