Shallow Christian?

P1250034 copyP1240982 copy P1250040 copyThere is a depth available in God that those who hunger for God will find! The Lord said, “Seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart” There is a condition to finding Him, there is a condition for the satisfaction of our souls in God. The condition is; “When you seek Me with all of your heart.” The Lord leaves very little, in fact no room for complacency in that statement. There is a wonderful promise, lavish and abundant in the Lord, He has given us great access to Himself, but the access is through faith and perseverance. He has invited us into a wonderful wrestling match, a wrestling match with Himself! We see the results of these wrestling matches in those who would not give up all throughout the scriptures. And this invitation resounds again and again; it is the call to return to the knowledge of God. It is deep calling unto deep!

There are a lot of practical things that we can do in response to this invitation from God: pray, fast, read the Bible, read a certain chapter or certain verses in the Bible over and over for a dedicated period of time, RWSSP, pray in tongues for extended periods of time, daily set aside time to meet God, turn on anointed praise and worship not simply to listen to but to get lost in God’s Presence with. So many helpful tips, but we just have to do it! Stop considering the idea of seeking God and start!!!

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, and those who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Exciting adventures and encounters with God await those who will diligently seek Him! So what are we waiting for, what hinders us from getting lost in the Beauty of this Man? King David said, “One thing I have desired of the Lord”. Could this be a key to depth in God we are missing today? Are we hindered by the fact that we desire more than One thing? Is our divided heart hindered by distractions from being able to pursue the knowledge of God?

I am presently focusing on our responsibility to seek after God. Initially and throughout our walk with the Lord it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44), but once we are in we need to begin to actively pursue Him. We are not going to go into deeper encounter with Jesus Christ by sitting in front of our computers looking at Facebook all day. Neither will we go deeper by sitting in front of television. Maybe neither of these are a distraction for you, whatever it is, if there is something that is an escape in your life that you run after instead of the beauty of Jesus, it will hinder your experience in God. I’m not being legalistic I am being realistic! You don’t get to know someone by being distracted with everything else but him. Much of the impurity that we face in our hearts is not simply sexual; it is diluted desire. Desire that is not “One thing” oriented is not pure. This is a pretty strong message that I wish I could say I am living out perfectly, but God’s word calls us to it. I am sharing partly from my experience but primarily from a need in my own heart for encounter with God that longs for whole-heartedness, for the sake of knowing Him.

Sometimes what distract us are those things that are gain to us. Sometimes it’s just the passion and drive to make a name for ourselves, to be recognized; building our own kingdom. Serving ourselves instead of the Lord. Serving ourselves instead of others.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 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. 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, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:7-14

I believe that there are people alive today that are embodying this message, not that they are perfect but if you cut them the will bleed out pure unadulterated passion for Jesus. They have willingly laid down earthly treasures, reputation, and legitimate pleasures for the sake of knowing Jesus. As Paul said in Philippians 3 “I count all things as loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” I can remember seasons of my life when I so desired to know God that I lay down many things to position myself to encounter God as much as possible. I would pray the prayers that people were afraid to pray, “God send your fire”, understanding that His refining would prepare me to go deeper into His Presence. Still today, I ask God for patience, humility and all of those things. I know people are joking often times when they talk about not praying those kinds of prayers, because of the means that God uses to produce that fruit in us, but I am not joking when I say that I do pray those kinds of prayers.

But I admit that I have not been taking full advantage of the resounding invitation to go deeper, I’m not saying either that I have given up the search, but I am aware of great weakness in this area in my life. We cannot depend on yesterday’s encounters with God; we need to press on toward the upward call of God in Christ.

How to Steward Hunger

For some time around February and March of this year, 2014, the Lord had been convicting me that I was not being a wise steward of my time, spending more than I should on Facebook. I am not saying by that that I was spending hours on it, but that I was spending more time than was productive. God was convicting me that I should not read status after status that my friends posted and I did not need to check continually throughout the day to see if somebody had commented on my status or liked it. Since the 21 Days of prayer and fasting the Prayer Furnace did back in April and into May I have experienced an awakening of hunger in my heart for the Lord. I looked back after this awakening in my heart and was amazed at how dull I had grown, or as they would say in Puerto Rico, how “pasmao” I had been. Amazing how 1-2 compiled hours of social media affected my hunger and desire for God! I still loved Jesus and served him and prayed. But I realized that my prayer life had been negatively impacted. I found that the things distracting me actually hindered my experience with God, at which point I shifted how I used my time.

Hunger for God has to be stewarded. If we do not act on the desires to “draw near to God” then not only will we miss out on the encounter that was available for that moment but also we will quench that desire. The more we act on the desire to pursue God the more that desire and joy will increase in our hearts. We can actually direct our appetites. That is why some foods are acquired tastes. When I was vegan some years back due to reading some health books I stopped eating processed foods and sweets. I began to loose the taste for unhealthy things that used to really enjoy and began to enjoy foods that I used to dislike, like carrots, I found them to be very sweet and still like them to this day although I am not a vegan anymore. The problem that many of us face is that we trained our appetites according to the love of the world. We have a hard time enjoying the Bible because we are so full with so many other things. We eat 5 bags of Dorito chips and then are disillusioned when we cannot find enjoyment in the 5-star restaurant. David meditated on the Word of God continually and he said about it, “How sweet are your words to my taste, they are sweeter than honey…” Try it! Began to read and meditate upon the word of God, pick a Psalm, the Gospel of John, or the Book of the Acts of the Apostles and read it over and over! You will find that you will begin to enjoy it more and more!

There are a lot of things that can distract believers that are not sinful “per se.” The word pleasure is not a bad word and does not equate sin. Eating a delicious Chipotle Veggie Bowl with guacamole on it is very pleasurable. It’s also healthy! Playing a sport, winning a game, watching a play, spending time with family and friends all of these things are good. Even watching a wholesome movie… you know, one of those movies that actually uphold Godly values rather than violence, sensuality, witchcraft, profanity and things that we sometimes think that since we are not actually doing them it is somehow ok to watch them… Oh, excuse me… I am now stepping off of my soapbox. J Back to what I was sharing, there are actually things that are pleasurable and not sinful. Some term these “legitimate pleasures” because they are things that are good for followers of Christ to engage in.

With all that has been said, I have to say, a pleasure that is not technically sin is not “legitimate” if it takes our gaze away from our Beloved. In other words idolatry does not belong on a list of “legitimate pleasures”. Television does not equal sin but idolatry does. If idolatry is in your equation with television (or fill in the blank), then there is a problem. Some for the sake of comfort will allow for things in their lives that are actually destructive to them. The love of the world truly is enmity with God. For the sake of comfort Lot moved his family in the direction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:5-13). Comfort is not bad, but if it is at the expense of nearness to God, than it is not worth it. It’s time for the high places, the altars of comfort, to be torn down in our nation, in the church.

One of the things that feed boredom most in our days is the entertainment industry. I can remember sitting in front of a television for hours on Saturdays while growing up and those TV programs were powerless to deal with the boredom that I was trying to escape. Boredom is the fruit of idleness; it is the evidence of barrenness (fruitlessness). Distraction cannot cure purposelessness; it can only increase it. Right now I am mostly speaking about a heart posture with which we sometimes go to entertainment. I understand that not every time a movie is watched that what I am describing is taking place; however I do believe that too often the details of this description are the reality. Lack of faith and lack of diligence (diligence – disciplines motivated by purpose) I believe are among the greatest hindrances to seeking God and to doing so with joy.

He Rewards those who Diligently Seek Him!

We see the results of “with all of your heart” kind of joyful seeking in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Elisha, Mary of Bethany and many others that we look up to from the scriptures. These men and women did not give up! If they found they were off track they would get right back on and continue to seek God. They sought His Presence, His blessing, His promise, His rewards, His face, but it all pointed to Him! Jacob wrestled with God for blessing, he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I want to seek all of God, His face, His hands, everything!

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”

Hebrews 11:6

This verse tells us about something that pleases God. Faith! I have found that often times I encounter God according to the level of expectation, faith, with which I come to Him. I did not say that I encounter God a certain way that I expected to, but that I encountered Him according to the level of faith I go before Him with. When I decide that I am going to set time aside to encounter God I am not trying to fulfill a quota of quite time, I am going in with “One thing” in mind.

Encounter-less times of prayer should not be an option for us. I believe that we need to set our expectation to meet God high, I don’t want to be satisfied with an intellectual experience that my 21st-century-brain can wrap around. I want 1 Corinthians 2:9-12! I want an experience with God that requires the spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to enter into. I believe that tonight the Lord is calling us to return to Him. We have seen that nothing else has satisfied or can satisfy.

The last verses from Jeremiah 29 spoke hope to the Jews in captivity, but I believe reveal to us an aspect of God’s heart and reveal a principle that endures to this day. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord…” Let us return to the Lord! Let us seek Him with all of our hearts!

But as it is written:“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12

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“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Jeremiah 2:13

“Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.”

Hosea 6:1-3

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

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