It’s hard to believe that we are already into July. Where did the first half of the year go?
I have been thinking of you and praying for you. I am praying that you have time this summer to rest and reflect, to remember all that Christ has done for you and to connect with your neighbours and friends. I am praying that your hunger for Jesus will grow. We need that. Jesus promised that we would be blessed and filled if we hungered and thirsted for righteousness.
The downside of me praying this way is that the road to hunger and thirst only comes through need or poverty. There is a sequence that Jesus teaches through in Matthew 5 that illustrates this. He says,
Blessed are the poor in spirit (vs 3)
Blessed are those who mourn (vs 4)
Blessed are the meek (vs 5)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst (vs 6)
It starts with poverty (spiritual, for sure, but also material, emotional and physical).
Poverty stirs up mourning within us. Mourning that we are suffering. Mourning for why we are suffering.
Then, if we are being honest and humble, that poverty can lead to meekness. We realize that we are no better than anyone else. We are in as much need as the homeless man or the incarcerated woman. Without the help of Jesus, we are doomed.
And that meekness, birthed out of poverty and mourning, can lead us to long to be filled, to long for spiritual sustenance, to long for Christ.
I think that one of our greatest setbacks to living where we do is that we have so many of our needs satisfied. Why would we ever hunger after more of Jesus when we can be so quickly filled with so many other things? It is only when we suffer that we really grasp our need and seek after relief.
So, I guess in a way, I am praying for suffering for us all. I am praying that God will use whatever means necessary to expose the true needs that we have in our lives so that we will honestly and continually seek to be filled with Christ.
I know that after my five years of being off work and suffering with kidney disease, I was closer to Jesus than I had ever been in my life. It was beautiful. The trade-off was so much in my favour that it was incredible. I lost tons of income and opportunity and health, but I gained Jesus. It was a fantastic deal in every way.
I guess this is why James tells us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. He knows that when that happens our faith will be tested, and we will grow in our perseverance. Eventually, after a lifetime of this, we will become mature and complete. We will have depended on Jesus so much that we will be completely in Him and He in us.
That is my deepest prayer for all of us. I want you all to know God’s love for you in all its vastness and beauty.
Continue to pray this way for me also. I want to know Christ with all my heart.
This weekend will be the last in our Armor of God series. I will be teaching on the Sword of the Spirit. I am really excited to talk about God’s Word; it has shaped and challenged me like nothing else. I hope that you can be there on Sunday.
Have a great weekend.
I love being your pastor.