Rest for the Spiritual Seeker

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Rest for the Spiritual Seeker

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There's an ancient legend about a magic pebble, called the touchstone, which could turn any metal into gold. This pebble was said to lie on the shores of the Black Sea among tens of thousands of other pebbles, all looking alike. The only way you could tell the touchstone from other pebbles was that it was warm to the touch. Normal pebbles would feel cool.

One man discovered a book that told of the touchstone. He sold everything and traveled to the shores of the Black Sea. He knew if he started sorting through pebbles there was no way to know if he was picking up the same pebbles. So, he picked up a pebble, felt its coolness, and threw it into the sea.

All day long he picked up pebbles and threw them into the sea. Day after day, week after week, he searched for the magic touchstone that would change his life. Weeks turned into months, months into years.

One day he picked up a stone that felt warm. It was the touchstone, but by habit and without thinking, he threw it into the sea. Numbed by his daily routine, his search had become meaningless. What he wanted was within his grasp. But without even realizing, he threw it away.

Could you be like this tragic man? Has the daily grind of life, anxiety and the inundation of countless religious ideas left you lost and seeking for spiritual meaning? Is spiritual truth and meaning within your grasp, but you just don't recognize it?

It begins with your attitude

If traditional Christianity hasn't helped you find the answers to quench your spiritual thirst, maybe it's because you haven't been taught the real teachings of Jesus Christ. You may have learned some Bible stories—but not what they truly mean for your life.

The answers to your spiritual longing are contained in the life and teachings of Christ. If you are a seeker, are you willing to take the challenge that maybe what you think about Jesus Christ isn't the real story?

Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is the starting point in understanding His teachings. He begins the sermon with what are often called the beatitudes. The beatitudes concern fundamental attitudes or approaches to life that help us experience happiness. One of the beatitudes is "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6 Matthew 5:6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
American King James Version×
).

Hungering and thirsting are a description of intense need and longing!

When my son was a teenager, we were hiking in the desert of Big Bend National Park in Texas. The trail brought us to the camp store. It was so hot that the campgrounds were empty of campers. We stumbled into the store where, for a handful of quarters, we were able to take a shower, the first we'd had in a number of days, and get something cold to drink—which was quite refreshing compared to the tepid canteen water we'd been drinking.

I'll never forget the absolute giddiness we experienced sitting on the porch, freshly washed and having our thirst quenched, eating cold, sweet ice cream.

This was physical thirst. But have you ever experienced such thirst in a spiritual sense, as if you are lost in a desert? Are you longing for a spiritual cleansing and a generous drink of spiritual water?

Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness "shall be filled." Notice that He wasn't talking about those who thirst for a mystical spiritual feeling. He said that those who thirst for righteousness will find spiritual fulfillment.

What does Jesus mean by righteousness?

Righteousness is a right relationship with God. Only through God's grace, or favor, does anyone have the right to come into His presence. When God initiates a relationship with you, it's because of His love and mercy.

Still, you have to hear His spiritual call and agree to the relationship. You can't just wait until you have a serious need for help and then knock on God's door, demanding an audience. How are you to respond to God's invitation to enter into a relationship with Him?

Hundreds of people came to Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, who was preaching that people needed to repent and be baptized. This wasn't a new concept at that time. Their religious customs involved washing and immersion rituals that symbolized the human need to have their bad deeds—their sins—washed away.

Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized. John initially refused, saying that he needed to be baptized by Christ, not the other way around. John understood that Jesus didn't need to repent or be washed of sins, as He alone among humanity never sinned (Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version×
). Christ responded that He must be baptized to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15 Matthew 3:15And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
American King James Version×
). Jesus was modeling righteousness in action.

Jesus showed His followers that righteousness involves baptism. For the rest of us who have sinned, baptism is to accompany repentance—turning back to God. Repentance is change—changing the way you think and act. It means choosing to revolutionize the purpose for your life—to transform your direction and behavior—so that you are living the way God created you to live.

Not long after Jesus' death, Peter, one of the men Christ selected to carry on His work, explained to a large crowd who Jesus was and the reason for His crucifixion. The people who heard Peter became acutely aware of their spiritual thirst and asked, "What shall we do?"

Peter replied, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
).

As you become acutely aware of your spiritual thirst and realize that Jesus Christ is the Messenger who can lead you to God, you will essentially ask the same question: "What shall I do?"

The first steps to spiritual fulfillment

Here's what you must do if you want your spiritual thirst to be quenched!

First, you must recognize your need to repent. If you acutely feel the need to change your life and you accept that the change requires your choices and actions, you have taken the first step.

Repentance is more than just feeling sorry for what you have done wrong. Repentance involves a commitment to change your behavior—your past behavior having been against the way God created life to be lived. It means turning around and going the other way—God's way.

Genuine repentance also means recognizing that you are made in the image of God and that you are a battered, corrupted image of the Creator. You need God's forgiveness. You must acknowledge your wrong decisions and actions that have separated you from God and are destroying you spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

This is part of God's plan for your salvation! Jesus Christ is the Son of God who left His heavenly home, came to earth as a human being, was brutally murdered and died a horrible death as a substitute for your sins so that you can enter into the presence of the righteous Creator! God your Father and Jesus Christ your Savior chose that awesome sacrifice as a way of demonstrating to you Their love and righteousness in action. Now, God expects a response from you!

This basic truth lies at the core of your spiritual longing. It's why you need to get on your knees and ask God to help you repent and to forgive you of your sins. Israel's King David captured this deep longing for a relationship with God in Psalm 42, where he wrote: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (verses 1-2).

Do you experience this spiritual thirst? It springs from your need for God's forgiveness and restoration into a relationship with Him. Repentance is the first step to fulfilling that thirst.

The second action you need to take is baptism. Baptism means immersion. The early followers of Jesus followed the practice of total immersion in water to symbolize God's washing away of their sins. By following Christ's example of baptism, you accept God's forgiveness of your wrong decisions and actions through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.

What is the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Remember also that Peter said, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

To develop a lifelong relationship with God, you need a new way of thinking, a change of heart, a new motivation. The reason you are a spiritual seeker, experiencing spiritual thirst, is because you are spiritually incomplete. God must heal your mind from spiritual and emotional damage and give you power you don't naturally possess. Only then can you begin to fulfill your original purpose as a child of God!

If you, as a spiritual seeker, were to make a list of what you're really looking for in your life, what would it look like? Would it look something like this? I want a life of "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

This is a biblical list of the "fruit of the spirit" written by the apostle Paul (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
). This list of spiritual fruit is what God wants to produce in your life. You can't achieve this spiritual mind-set on your own power. You need God's divine help!

It's important to understand, however, that receiving God's Spirit does not mean your spiritual thirst is wholly quenched immediately. The steps of repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are only the beginning of the road to eternal life. Your spiritual journey is a lifelong process of God recreating your mind, your actions and your emotions so that you are molded into what you were originally intended to become—a child of God with His character and eternal life!

True Christianity is more than a mere set of beliefs or simply professing Christ. It is about having been lost and dying in a desert and someone giving you life-giving water. Do you want to drink living waters? You should kneel before your Creator and ask Him in prayer to quench your spiritual thirst. Also ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to open your mind to real repentance.

Christianity has plenty of believers. But what Jesus wants are committed disciples. He wants people who are willing to be right with God and live by His code of righteousness.

You are designed to have a personal relationship with your Creator. Take time out from the daily grind and seeking pleasure, and you will recognize the spiritual thirst within you. Remember that Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled"!  GN

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