SPIRITUAL THIRST
(JOHN 7:37)

INTRODUCTION:

1.               Have you ever been thirsty?  I don't mean the average thirst where a drink of water sounds good after a long walk or after working in the garden on a hot summer day. I mean really -- really thirsty…where your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth and all you can think about is water.

ILLUSTRATION:

In 1996, a young marine corporal named Joey Mora was standing on a platform of an aircraft carrier patrolling the Iranian Sea.   Incredibly, he fell overboard.  His absence was not known for 36 hours.   A search and rescue mission began, but was given up after another 24 hours.   No one could survive in the sea without even a lifejacket after 60 hours. His parents were notified that he was "missing and presumed dead."

The rest of the story is one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" events.  Script writers would pass it up as "not believable."  Four Pakistani fishermen found Joey Mora about 72 hours after he had fallen from the aircraft carrier. He was treading water in his sleep, clinging to a makeshift floatation device made from his trousers -- a skill learned in most military survival training.  He was delirious when they pulled him into their fishing boat.  His tongue was dry and cracked and his throat parched.

Just about two years later, as he spoke with Stone Philips of NBC Dateline, he recounted an unbelievable story of will to live and survival.  Who would not give up?  He said it was God who kept him struggling to survive.  His discovery by the fishermen makes searching for a needle in a haystack a piece of cake.  The most excruciating thing of all?  Joey said that the one thought that took over his body and pounded in his brain was "Water!"  [NBC Dateline: Nov. 1998]

2.               Have you ever been thirsty like that?

Physical Thirst

3.               I just have to share with you a couple of interesting facts about physical thirst.  Thirst is something we experience when the pituitary gland secretes two hormones in the body.  One causes a physical reaction in the kidneys and the other causes the more complicated activity of the hypothalamus to send signals to the salivary glands to reduce secretions. I discovered many years ago that just thinking about thirst can make you thirsty -- that is cause the hypothalamus to start talking to the salivary glands.

4.               Physical thirst can be excruciating and dangerous. Dehydration will get you into serious difficulty in a hurry. If you have ever been really,  truly thirsty then you will be much more able to connect with the meaning of thirst in a spiritual sense.

Spiritual Thirst

ILLUSTRATION:

The story is told of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, "Master, how can I truly find God?"  The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water.  When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, "Please immerse yourself in the water." The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man's head and held him under the water.  Presently the student began to struggle.   The master held him under still.  A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water.  Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air.  The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, "When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed -- then you shall find God."

5.               Thirst is one of the most powerful spiritual symbols in all of scripture. As dehydration draws the whole of our physical being to a longing for water, so a spiritual void will draw our spirits into a search for deeper meaning for our lives. The Psalmist expressed it this way, "As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (Psalm 42:1-2)    Or... "I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land." (Psalm 143:6).

6.               We must capture that type of spiritual thirst!  We must thirst and long for God and for spiritual living!

THIS MORNING, WE WILL TRY TO GAIN SOME INSIGHT INTO SPIRUTUAL THIRST…SPIRITUAL LIVING BY EXAMINING JESUS' STATEMENT IN (JOHN 7:37).

§         "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."

1.      Americans are a people who love to celebrate holidays.  I do not think anyone would argue that the three major holidays we celebrate throughout the year would be Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July.

2.      The Jewish people also love to celebrate holidays.  They call their holidays "feasts."  There were three great annual national "feasts" in the Jewish religious calendar.  The first was the Feast of the Passover; the second was known as the Feast of Pentecost; and the third was known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

3.      Now we know from v.2 that Jesus was speaking here during the Feast of Tabernacles.  This was a high, happy, holy day in the life of the Jew.  The Feast of Tabernacles was like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. 

4.      During that feast the High Priest would go to the Pool of Siloam, take a golden pitcher, dip it into that pool, and carry it back to the temple. There he would pour that water out on the altar of sacrifice. 

5.      At that moment the Levites would blow the trumpets, and the great crowd would cry out, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3).  There would be leaping, and dancing, and shouting, and singing, and great hallelujah's would fill the air.
 

6.      It was right at this climax of this great holiday that the Lord Jesus stood up in that crowd, and with that royal voice, cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." (v.37b)

7.      You see, Jesus realized that these people were drinking from the river of ritual…that after this day was over they would go back to the same old fears, the same old faults, the same old failures, the same old frustrations.

8.      What was wrong with that crowd in that day, is what is wrong with many people today.  They were drawing water from the wrong well.
 

9.      To often, we try to quench our thirst in all the wrong places.  We drink from the worldly well instead from the well of life which is found in Christ.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GAIN A SPIRITUAL THIRST, THEN LISTEN TO WHAT JESUS SAYS IN (JOHN 7:37).

§          “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."

I.                           TO GAIN A SPIRITUAL THIRST, WE MUST DESIRE IT.

1.      Notice the condition that Jesus lays down.  "If anyone thirsts," (v.37)  Now I thank God for that word "anyone."  Jesus plainly said if anyone wants God…a relationship with God, he can have it.  If anyone wants spiritual living, he can obtain it.  If anyone seeks God he can find Him.

2.      But notice that this is specifically addressed only to those who are thirsty. 

3.      The problem with many people is, they are just not thirsty for God and spiritual living.

4.      You see, before we can really have a close relationship with God, we've got to thirst for God.  I mean we've got to thirst like the Psalmist who said…

§         "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God"(Psalm 42:1-2a).

 

§         We've got to cry out as David cried out…"God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1).

 

§         We must come to a point where we can get before God and say, "I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land" (Psalm 143:6). 

5.      We will never have a close relationship with God until we thirst after Him.  That is why Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."

6.      Do you have the spiritual thirst that Jesus requires?

7.      If not, say a silent pray and ask God to fill you with spiritual thirst. 

§         For Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

8.      Fill up your spiritual tank this morning, and walk out of here as a brand new…regenerated…Christian. 

II.                         TO GAIN A SPIRITUAL THIRST, WE MUST COME TO JESUS.

1.               Once a person is hungry for God, Jesus said, "Let him come to Me." 

2.               If we want to experience the presence of God in our souls, we must come to Jesus.  If we want to know the person of God in our hearts, we must come to Jesus.  If we want to receive the power of God in our lives, we must come to Jesus. 

3.               I tell you, the Lord Jesus Christ is the only true source of satisfaction we will ever find in this life.

4.               I wish I could call to this platform the wisest and the richest man who ever lived, named Solomon.  I wish he could give us his personal testimony. 

5.               He tried drinking from the polluted wells of this world, trying to find satisfaction, and he tried it all.

6.               Listen to his diary in (Eccl. 2). 

a.      First he tried wildness.  "I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good."  But that also proved to be meaningless.  "Laughter," I said, "is foolish.  And what does pleasure accomplish?" (vs. 1-2).  He became the playboy, the party-boy.  It was all play and no work.  But that didn't satisfy him.

b.     He tried wine.  "I tried cheering myself with wine, and the embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom.  I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives" (v. 3). But he found out, like the alcoholic, wine doesn't work. 

c.      Then he tried wealth.  "I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man" (vs. 7-8).  But he found out, as the Bible says, "the eyes of man are never satisfied."

d.     Then he tried women.  "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. " (vs. 10).  He became the Hugh Heffner of his day.  We know that he had an eye for the ladies because he had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  But along with that came 700 mother-in-laws, so we know that didn't work.

e.      Finally, he tried wisdom.  "Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.  What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?  I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness."  But he found out the more that he learned, the less that he knew, and what he did know showed him that everything is futile and foolish without God.

7.               In the last chapter of his diary, he wrote these words:

§         "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecc. 12:13).

8.               Solomon finally found the true source and secret of satisfaction…God…a relationship with God.

9.               It makes no difference whether you are lost or you are saved, you need to have spiritual passion.

10.           To gain a spiritual passion, you must come to Jesus. 

11.           You see, some people think that the way to Jesus is holiness.  They believe that service, plus sacrifice, equals holiness.  If they can just do enough for God, and give enough to God, then God will be happy with them and give them the kind of power and joy and zeal that they need. 

12.           But friends, that is exactly backwards.  The way to Jesus is not holiness.  The way to holiness is Jesus.  You see, service and sacrifice are important, but they are not the roots of the Spirit-filled life.  They are but the fruit of the Spirit-filled life.  The root of all of it is Jesus. 

13.           If you would like to gain a spiritual thirst, you must not only desire it, but also you must come to Jesus to obtain it. 

III.                       TO GAIN A SPIRITUAL THIRST, WE MUST MAKE A DECISION.

1.      Now I want you to imagine that you have been in a desert for several days.  You've gone totally without water.  You are almost delirious.  Your lips are parched, your skin is cracked from the heat of that broiling, boiling sun.  All of a sudden, you come upon a river. 

2.      Now I want to ask you a silly question.  What would you do?  You know what you would do.  You would drink…quench your thirst.

3.      That is exactly what Jesus tells us to do.  "Let him come to Me and drink."  It is right here that so many Christians miss it.  They come to the bank of the river, they see the water, they watch the waves lap up on the shore.  They even see the reflection of their face on the surface, but they don't drink.

4.      You see, God will lead you to the trough, but He won't make you drink.  If you want to be filled, you must drink.

ILLUSTRATION:

I heard a story one time of a foreigner here in America who saw a water fountain for the first time in his life. But he could not see how to make it work.  It had no tap, no buttons to press.  He became very angry and frustrated.

He was about to turn away when somebody pointed out to him a little sign on the bottom of the fountain that simply said, "Stoop, and drink."  Well when he stooped over he discovered that an electric eye detected his presence and the water automatically came flowing out.

5.      You see, when we come to Jesus, He will provide us with living water…a spiritual satisfaction…a spiritual contentment that we cannot find anywhere.

CONCLUSION:

1.      If you are tired of living without a spiritual passion or zeal for God…if you are tired of just going through the motions…knowing deep down inside you are spiritually dying or dead, the Lord invites you this morning to come to Him for spiritual renewal.

2.      His Words are simple…"if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."

3.      Are you thirsty?  Are you thirsty for God?  Are you Are you thirsty for a victorious life?  Then friends, just come to Jesus and drink, and He will fill you until you overflow and become a river of living water that will bless others as well.

4.      Please come now as we stand and sing.

Primary Resources Used:

Sermon by James Merrit
Sermon by John P. Jewell