Thirsty for God by dfgh4bnmu

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									 Sermons from Vienna Presbyterian Church                                      September 26, 2010



Thirsty for God
                                                                lifting the boat out of the water
                                       e‟re inviting every-
The Rev. Dr.
Peter G. James
                           W           one in this church
                                       this fall to read John
                           Ortberg‟s book, The Me I Want
                                                                at a 45-degree angle. John
                                                                lunges forward as though he
                                                                has been shot from a cannon.
                                                                John gestures wildly for the
                           to Be. Our hope is that each of      boat to slow down, but his kids
John 7:37-39               us will discover the "me" God        driving the boat interpret it as a
                           wants us to be so we can be the      signal to go faster. So, they rev
                           church God wants us to               the engine full throttle and now
                           increasingly become.                 John is bouncing across the
Sermons Series:
                               John Ortberg writes about        water like you might skip a
In Christ Together
for the World              learning to water ski on vaca-       rock across a lake. Somehow it
                           tion one summer. John‟s wife,        doesn‟t occur to John to let go
                           Nancy, a veteran water skier,        of the rope. Eventually, John
                           has the honor of teaching John       loses his balance and lands on
                           how to ski. He masters, in short     his face. For six months, John
                           order, skiing on two skis, so he     could not smile out of the right
“Trying to                 graduates to a single ski. Unfor-    side of his mouth.
become the                 tunately, the motor boat they‟re         John concludes, “Trying to
person we                  using can‟t generate enough          become the person we were
                           power to pull John out of the        meant to be by our own efforts
were meant to              water. John notices on the           alone is like trying to ski
be by our own              boat‟s dashboard a button            behind a rowboat. We need a
efforts alone              labeled power-tilt. John knows       power tilt for the soul. Where
is like trying             nothing about motor boats but        do we look?” he asks.
                           thinks this button sounds prom-          Ortberg turns to the passage
to ski behind              ising. This is the point in the      read a few moments ago (John
a rowboat."                story where I become engaged.        7:37-39). The setting for this
    - John Ortberg         Pushing a power tilt button          passage, verse 37, is the last,
                           sounds like something I would        great day of a festival. If we
                           try.                                 trace back to verse 2, we learn
                               John positions himself           that Jesus and his disciples are
                           behind the boat on a single ski      attending the Festival of
                           and yells to Nancy, “Hit it.”        Booths, sometimes called the
                           That‟s her signal to push the        Feast of Tabernacles. Old
                           power tilt button. The power         Testament believers observed
                           button has the effect of driving     three major festivals each year:
                           the propeller deeper into the        the feast of Passover (Pesach)
                           water for extra thrust, thereby      in the spring, the feast of
                 Pentecost (Shavuot) in early         addresses the crowd: “Let any-
                 summer and the feast of Booths       one who is thirsty come to me
                 (Sukkoth) in the fall. These         and let the one who believes in
                 festivals align closely with the     me drink. As the Scripture has
                 agricultural year: with seed         said, „Out of the believer‟s
…rivers of       planting in spring (Passover),       heart shall flow rivers of living
                 with grain ripening in summer        water‟” (7:37-38).
living water     (Pentecost) and with the fall            Bold move, Jesus! It‟s a
will flow out    harvest (Booths).                    preposterous claim, the kind of
of us so that        My son, Andrew, asked me         statement that led C.S. Lewis to
those who live   Friday about the subject of          contend that either Jesus is who
                 today‟s sermon. “I‟m preach-         he says he is or he is a
farther          ing on the Feast of Booths," I       lunatic—on the level with the
downstream       told him. He looked at me with       man who says he is a poached
can benefit      a quizzical expression. He           egg.
                 thought I said the Feast of              Jesus said, “Out of the
also.            Booze. It‟s called the Festival      believer‟s heart will flow rivers
                 of Booths because people             of living water.” Living water
                 moved out of their homes into        represents flowing, running
                 temporary shelters, lean-tos, if     water. Rivers flow while pools
                 you will, for the duration of this   stagnate.
                 seven-day feast. Living in               Rivers play a vital role in
                 booths commemorated Israel‟s         Scripture. There are four rivers
                 40-year sojourn in the wilder-       that water the Garden of Eden
                 ness, when they lived in tem-        in Genesis (2:10-14). Jesus is
                 porary quarters.                     baptized in the river Jordan.
                     The primary images utilized      The book of Revelation depicts
                 during this festival are water       a new heaven and a new earth
                 (chapter 7) and light (chapter       that will be replenished by a
                 8). Each morning, priests would      river that will give life to the
                 process to the Pool of Siloam to     tree of life (22:3).
                 fill golden jars with water. The         I might have expected Jesus
                 jars were ceremoniously carried      to say that into our hearts will
                 to the temple and poured on the      flow rivers of living water.
                 altar as a drink offering. Water     Instead, he says that rivers of
                 in this desert region was a valu-    living water will flow out of us
                 able commodity for people‟s          so that those who live farther
                 crops and livelihood. This           downstream can benefit also.
                 water also recalls Moses‟ act of     Jesus wants to flood the whole
                 striking a rock in the wilderness    world with his life and power.
                 to quench people‟s thirst                Jesus likens this river of
                 (Exodus 17:1-7).                     living water to the Holy Spirit
                     On the last day of the festi-    in verse 39. This third member
                 val, perhaps as the water is be-     of the Trinity confuses people,
                 ing poured upon the altar, Jesus     Christians included. We
                   understand something of God               Some things in life are
                   the Father and Jesus the Son,        helped by trying harder. Yet,
                   but who exactly is God the           there are limits to what we can
                   Holy Spirit? The term, Holy          accomplish. Some things are
                   Ghost, further confounds us.         actually aggravated by trying
Don’t push         The Holy Spirit is none other        harder.
                   than the presence of God the              Take sleeping. We‟re not
the river.         Father and Jesus the Son that        successful at sleeping by trying
Relax and          takes up residence in every          harder. Maybe you‟ve had the
trust the river.   believer. When Jesus ascended        experience of saying to yourself
                   to the right hand of God the         as you lie in bed, “I‟ve got to
                   Father, he sent his presence, the    get to sleep. If I don‟t get a
                   Holy Spirit, to live inside of us.   good night‟s sleep, I‟ll be
                       “Where is the power?”            worthless tomorrow.” So, you
                   Ortberg asks. The Holy Spirit        lie in bed obsessing over not
                   provides the power.                  falling asleep.
                       So what difference does this          For me, it‟s the worst
                   sermon make in my life?              Saturday night, knowing I have
                       Maybe your spiritual life        to preach three times in quick
                   seems stagnant right now. Your       succession the next morning.
                   soul feels as dry as dust. There     No amount of trying helps me
                   are no rivers of living water        fall asleep.
                   flowing in or out of your life.           No amount of trying helps
                   Your enthusiasm for living the       us fall asleep. In fact, sleep
                   Christian life has slowed to a       experts tell us that the harder
                   trickle.                             we try to fall asleep, the harder
                       Perhaps you‟re living in a       it is to fall asleep. Trying harder
                   desert right now. Reading the        only increases our level of
                   Bible holds no appeal. God           anxiety and frustration.
                   seems distant. Prayer seems               The key to falling asleep is
                   pointless. Christians annoy you.     relaxation. We try softer, not
                       Jesus invites us: “Let           harder. I limit my TV viewing
                   anyone who is thirsty come to        at night, since television often
                   me.” Let the rivers of Jesus‟ life   acts as a stimulant. I try to
                   flow into your parched souls.        center my bedtime ritual in
                   Let his presence flow through        prayer. God, I give you my
                   you. Come into my life, Jesus.       worries, my failures, my
                   Live in me. Flow through me.         accomplishments. I‟m not go-
                   Revive me again.                     ing to worry about things for
                       Jesus is not asking you to try   which I can trust you. Psalm
                   harder. Quite the reverse.           4:8 has become my bedtime
                   Ortberg urges us “to try softer.”    mantra: “I will lie down and
                   Trying softer means we focus         sleep in peace, for you alone, O
                   more on God‟s goodness than          Lord, make me lie down in
                   our own efforts.                     safety.”
                      Don‟t push the river. Get in     had said about talking animals
                  the flow. Relax and trust the        in the land of Narnia.
                  river.                                  “Are you not thirsty?” said
                      I don‟t mean to imply there      the Lion.
                  is nothing we can do to help us          “I‟m dying of thirst,” said
Don’t look for    grow in faith. We devoted this       Jill.
                  past spring and summer to                “Would you mind going
satisfaction in   preaching the classic practices      away while I drink?" she asked
things that       of the Christian life that help us   the Lion. The delicious rippling
will not          grow in faith. There are things      noise of the stream was driving
satisfy.          we can do, but there are also        her nearly frantic. “Will you
                  things we can‟t do. We can‟t         promise not to do anything to
                  make ourselves grow. So we           me, if I do come?” she
                  relax in God‟s love. We trust        continued.
                  God‟s goodness more than                 “I make no promise,” said
                  relying on our efforts.              the Lion. Jill was now so thirsty
                      “Let anyone who is thirsty,      that, without noticing it, she
                  come to me.” You may think           had come a step nearer.
                  your thirst will be assuaged by          “Do you eat girls?” She
                  getting into the college of your     asked.
                  choice, a romantic relationship,         “I have swallowed up girls
                  a good job, more money, a            and boys, women and men,
                  bigger house. These things are       kings and emperors, cities and
                  only a mirage. They appear           realms,” said the Lion. It didn‟t
                  inviting. But on closer inspec-      say this as if it were boasting
                  tion, they fail to quench your       nor as if it were sorry, nor as if
                  spiritual thirst. Don‟t look for     it were angry. It just said it.
                  satisfaction in things that will         “I dare not come and drink,”
                  not satisfy.                         said Jill
                      The Silver Chair is the              “Then you will die of
                  fourth book in the fabled The        thirst,” said the Lion.
                  Chronicles of Narnia series. In          “Oh dear,” said Jill, coming
                  our story, Jill is in search of a    another step nearer. “I suppose
                  land called Narnia. She had          I must go and look for another
                  heard of a noble Lion called         stream then.”
                  Aslan, who serves in C.S.                “There is no other stream,”
                  Lewis‟s novels as a Christ           said the Lion. You‟ll have to
                  figure. In her quest for Narnia,     read the rest of the story to find
                  she becomes thirsty and comes        out what happens next!
                  upon a mountain stream. She              We are thirsty, all right. We
                  would have rushed forward to         are thirsty for God. Aslan is
                  drink, had it not been for the       right, “There is no other
                  Lion on the other side of the        stream.” Come to Jesus. “Let
                  stream. “If you are thirsty, you     anyone who is thirsty, come to
                  may drink,” the Lion said. She       me.”
                  remembered what her friend

								
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