Barnabas Bulletin ~ 0174
STIRRING A STRONGER DESIRE FOR GOD
In our last Barnabas Bulletin (No. 173) I shared about “Hungering After Righteousness”. Hungering and thirsting develops desire. The more hungry and thirsty one is the greater becomes the desire to have that hunger and thirst satisfied. In the things of God, if we desire more of Him, then we will get more of Him. The Scripture declares: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7). Just how near to God we get is all determined by the strength of our desire. The stronger the desire, the closer we will press in to God. The word “desire” means “to be zealous towards, a longing for, to seek after.” Right now we are as close to God as our desire dictates. May we all have a growing and stronger desire to come closer to God.
In James 5:17-18 we are given the example of Elijah. It says: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” Elijah was an ordinary man like us, but he cultivated a desire to see a supernatural and miracle-working God demonstrate His power and authority in his day. His desire was so strong that he “prayed earnestly” (“keep desiring eagerly with a zeal that never gives up”); he rose above all his own personal human weaknesses and determined to press through in God. He prayed continuously and earnestly; one has to have a strong desire to keep up that kind of commitment. Elijah did not (as far as we know) have anyone else to encourage and inspire him in his pursuit of God. His desire and example stirred something in the life of a young man called Elisha. Elisha saw something in Elijah that made him stir up a very strong desire to want to have a double portion of Elijah’s spirit! Think of that for a moment: There was a young man who wanted twice as much as the man who had heaps more than anyone else in his day. People would have thought that Elisha was “a proud young upstart,” presumptuous or perhaps seeking his own glory, etc. But God honoured the desire of that young man who longed to have twice as much as anyone else of the things of God. Elisha pressed through all the obstacles and obtained the desire of his heart. He received the double portion when he saw Elijah get caught up into heaven at the end of his time here on earth (2 Kings 2). The Bible records 8 miracles of Elijah and 16 of Elisha ~ that is a double portion!
The Psalmist declared: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5). This verse shows us that God wants us to cultivate good desires for Him, and that He will respond positively to those desires that want to honour the Lord.
HOLY SPIRIT MINISTRY
God has given us His Holy Spirit so we can live close to Him through Jesus Christ. The “manifestation” of the Holy Spirit in our lives are the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The word “manifestation” means “a making known; exhibition, i.e. expression. The act of demonstrating”. For these gifts to function and operate in a God-honouring way we are told to “earnestly desire” them (1 Corinthians 12:31 & 14:1). Strong words are used as there are so many obstacles that can get in the way and stop us from being more effective in and for God. Therefore we are told to “earnestly desire” the Spiritual Gifts. That means we have to see them as being extremely important, and that we should seek them seriously and in such a way that we are not satisfied until we know how they function correctly out of our lives. They are God’s gifts to you and me to enable us to represent Him in a supernatural way here on earth. They enable us to accomplish things for God that can be accomplished no other way. Sadly, many Christians are discouraged from seeking to minister through the Spiritual Gifts ~ and the Church suffers as a result. Our desire for God has to become stronger than all the negative talk and teachings, stronger than our own ambitions, until like Elijah and Elisha we are touching realms in God that we have not experienced before. Remember it is God Who has given us the Holy Spirit and His Gifts, and whatever God gives is extremely important for us in our walk and service for Him.
IT TAKES STRONG DESIRE TO TAKE UP OUR CROSS
When it comes to being a follower of Jesus Christ we should remember that His conditions to be a disciple of His are: When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them,“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).
There are obstacles that try and prevent us from obeying the commands of Jesus. The natural part of us does not like being denied, or having to come in submission to the ways of the Holy Spirit. It takes a strong desire to seek and to follow Jesus Christ. It demands that we prioritize what is most important to us in life ~ and if Jesus Christ is not our Number One priority then we are falling short of His requirements for us to be a true follower of Him. Notice that we have to cultivate the desire for more of Him. No one else can do that for us. You are responsible for where you are at in God right now, and I am responsible for where I am at in God right now. If we are not satisfied in our relationship with Him, then we have to cultivate and stir a stronger desire within our hearts that will cause us to take the right actions to get closer to Him. In reality each one of us is as close to God as we desire right now.
May our desire be one like Elisha had, desiring to have more of God than anyone else so we can prove His majesty and power in our lives, and experience more of His miracles working through us to heal and impact this present generation. People need to see a demonstration of the truth that Jesus is alive today ~ right now! ~ to meet the needs of those who will call upon Him. That is the mandate that He has given to His followers. May our desire be more and more to release the Living God out of our lives through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit Who lives within us! Let us encourage, inspire and challenge one another to let God be GOD in our midst today! May we all feel the need to draw even closer to Him in these times. God Bless YOU! ~ Rodney W. Francis.
Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to You in Jesus’ Mighty Name, and I ask You to help me to stir my heart and life to be more desirous after those things You have for me. Please help me to be free of all excuses so that I can be wholly dedicated and committed to the doing of Your will. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name I ask these things, Amen.”