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That Deer’s Thirsty

September 29, 2011

There was about a two year period between the time my wife completed her master’s degree in education and when she had to take another class.  She had done five years of training, had two years of on the job experience, but still had to go back to school to meet the continuing education requirements of the school district.  And listen, it’s not that she hadn’t learned what she needed, or even that what she had been taught was invalid…it’s that there is always more to learn…more to be added to what had already been obtained.

 So if you will, and I hope you will, take a moment and read through Acts 19:1-20.

 What we see…right out of the gate…is that there are some holes in what the people of Ephesus have been taught.  If you recall, Apollos had been there, and Priscilla and Aquila sort of pulled him aside and explained that what he was preaching was true, it was just a little out of date.  He was teaching as if the Messiah was to come…they explained to him that the Messiah had come.  So even though he knew all about Jesus, he didn’t know Jesus.  Now, Paul shows up in Ephesus…Apollos has gone to Corinth (which is great because now there are missionaries beginning to cross paths)…and Paul asks them if they received the Holy Spirit.  The people tell them, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  So there are some holes that Paul begins to fill.

 What Paul does next is some first century continuing education.  And listen…this is something that is missing in the Church today.  A lot of the time, there’s this sense among believers that we sort of…“have it.”  We know all the stories, we went to Sunday school, we say a blessing before we eat, and we have most of the words to “Amazing Grace” memorized…so we’ve got it.  There’s no hunger for more…there’s no striving after God.  There’s complacency, we’re comfortable, and we like it that way.

 In Psalm 42, a psalm that was hijacked by someone with a soft acoustic guitar, it says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”  The psalmist continues by saying, “My tears have been my food day and night.”  Now, I know we turned this into a cute, sort of sweet little praise song, but there is nothing cute about what the writer is saying.  He’s desperate for God.  He’s searching for God, longing for God, and dying to be in the presence of God.  There is some genuine angst in there.  Most of us are just really comfortable…we’re at peace with where we are.  The deer in this psalm isn’t at peace…it isn’t comfortable…the deer is thirsty…and it’s on the move.

 I don’t do this very often…but I’ll just be direct.  Don’t get too comfortable with where you are.  Complacency always leads to apathy.  If you continue reading, you’ll see the story of the sons of Sceva trying to cast out a demon.  It’s a funny story…the guys end up getting the clothes beaten off of them by the demon possessed guy.  But the demon says something interesting.  He says, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”  The sons of Sceva wanted the shortcut.  They wanted the power without the searching…without the thirsting after God.  But Paul understood something that many of us fail to know.  He understood that our God is infinite, and that we are finite, so there will always be more of Him to know.  And I love that the demons knew of him…because of his pursuit of Christ and his willingness to step out in faith.  Selah.

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