Obey Your Deepest Thirst

man holding bible

HE COCA-COLA Company recently relaunched its “Obey Your Thirst” campaign for its lemon-lime soft drink, Sprite. The implied claim is that Sprite is the only drink that can satisfy your thirst, so don’t waste time trying something else.

The Sprite ad’s insinuated message is explicitly and unapologetically claimed by the Bible about itself in addressing a much deeper, eternal thirst in every human soul. The Word of God is put forth as indispensable to the believer’s spiritual life, helping to form the person’s identity:

• “His delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1:2).

• “Attend to my words. . . . For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20, 22).

• “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Ps. 119:130-131).

No mechanical reading of the Word is espoused here, but rather meditation flowing from a deep hunger for the God of the Word:

• “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:10-11).

• Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

Throughout the ages, believers have hazarded their lives to keep, preserve, and pass on the precious Word. Corrie ten Boom, who miraculously survived the horrific Nazi concentration camps, risked her life sneaking a tiny copy of the Bible with her and her sister, Betsy, into captivity. With it, they were able to keep their spirits up through daily devotions among their group of women. Betsy, in accordance with 1 Thessalonians 5:18, maintained a thankful heart She gave thanks even for the bothersome fleas, which Corrie could not fathom until later she found out it was the fleas which saved the women from further abuse by the guards.

From the heart proceeds our thoughts, decisions, and actions (Mark 7:21; Prov. 4:21); we cannot draw out what is not in there. Thus, the psalmist urges us to treasure God’s Word in our heart so we will lead pure lives and not sin against God (Ps. 119:9-11).

Remain in God’s Word

As a teen, an acquaintance of mine knew nothing about relationship with Christ, but was faithful to religion as he knew it. “Juan” loved basketball, and one day met a missionary’s son who was always playing on the local court. They became close friends, which spilled over even to a visit to the missionary’s home abroad. There Juan gave his life to Christ the night before he left, and the overjoyed missionary family presented him with a nice red Bible.

Trying to find his way back home internationally but being a novice at traveling, Juan got stuck in an unsavory neighborhood when a stranger appeared and insisted on helping him, taking his bags and leading him through the maze of streets to a hotel. Once inside, the kind stranger told Juan, “It’s good that you have a Bible. Make sure that you memorize Romans 6, 7, and 8.”

Before Juan could thank him, the gentleman had disappeared. The hotel staff had not seen him, and a mad rush outside the doors yielded not a sign of him.

In the ensuing years, despite opposition around him and no other believers in his household, the tiny bit of discipleship Juan received from the missionaries and the mysterious stranger helped him make it. He faithfully studied the Word— especially Romans 6, 7, and 8—and this helped him to lead a faithful Christian life.

Today as a husband and father of teens himself, Juan is also an elder at his church, and he preaches regularly in a border nation for a church without a pastor. We cannot overestimate the value of remaining in God’s Word.

Commune With God

The discipline of spending time in God’s Word and meditating on it is part of a love relationship with Him. This daily communion with God’s Word is intertwined with God himself. Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1:1, 14), and 2 Timothy 3:16 says the Scriptures are “God-breathed” (NIV).

The Bible is God’s self-revelation to us. Time in God’s Word allows us to get to know Him. It is not style, show, or religious obligation.

In certain cultures and belief systems, sacred writings are revered by being placed on a high shelf (above the heart) in a home, or by being handled only by clerics. In the Christian faith, reverence for the Word of God is demanded, but in a different way. Not the handling of the physical item, but something far more profound is instructed. Christians are invoked to ingest the Word of God. Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer. 15:16).

“Eating” the Word is not done with your teeth. Look at it this way: Whatever food goes into your bloodstream becomes part of you and affects your body. Likewise, the Word of God being ingested gives it opportunity to have the desired effect. To not let the reading of Scripture produce its intended effect is to deceive yourself (James 1:22).

As readers of God’s Word, we are expected to interact with the Author and live in obedience.

We are to “meditate day and night” on God’s Word. Meditation is “the act of calling to mind some supposition, pondering upon it, and correlating it to one’s own life” (Holman Bible Dictionary). If we allow the Word of God to impact us as God intends, remarkable things can happen:

• “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Ps. 107:20).

• “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jer. 20:9).

• “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

• “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” Jesus said (John 6:63).

• “For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Ps. 138:2).

• “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

We are what we eat, and what we put in is what comes out. A carnal diet, not centered on God’s ways, will produce a worldly life. Conversely, feeding on the Word affects the words that come out of us, helping us to be and act contrary to what the world expects.

Bear Fruit

God’s people “live by faith” (Rom. 1:17), which comes “by hearing . . . the word of God” (10:17).

What would a Christian be without the Word of God? Weak and ill-equipped. God’s people are exhorted to interact with His Word daily for guidance, instruction, comfort, growth, readiness to teach, and deliverance from temptation. In times of danger and persecution, the courage and strength put inside us through meditating on God’s Word will pour out. His Word never returns to Him “void” (Isa. 55:11), so we can expect fruit.

However, this fruit does not grow automatically. As readers of the Word, we are not impartial bystanders; instead, we are expected to interact with the Author and live in obedience.

Deuteronomy 12:28 reveals God’s heart in this matter: “Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God” (NKJV).

Our good and loving God directs us to lasting satisfaction. We need not waste time seeking another source outside His Word. Instead, let’s obey our deepest thirst, and drink deeply from Him.

July, 2016

Sharon Arthurs, a graduate of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, lives in Belize. She has written several volumes of the 24-7 Christian Lifestyle Devotional.