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The Bible

1) Thirsting
2002-07-26

Thirsting

Audience: Awana Scholarship Camp, grade 6-12 who know the Bible really well
Goal: By the end of this study the youth will be hungry for the Word of God as evident by them reciting the verses not so much just to do it for points but to meditate on it.
Props: 3 Jones, seeds

Introduction/Icebreaker - set the mood
Game - "What would you do for a Jones?" Have 3 Jones (or Coke) pops.
"Anyone thirsty?" How thirsty are you? Well in the past I have seen people so thirsty they have run up a ski hill with no socks, shoes or shirt, just their pants and slide down on a tube just to get one of these. I have seen people so thirsty they licked a guys armpits to get one of these. It was so gross. What are you willing to do to get a Jones? I召l tell you what, I史e got three of them, I召l take the three most craziest of you and I召l give them to you, now what are willing to do?

Transition
Well I don另 know if you guessed it or not but the topic tonight is on being thirsty. That is being so thirsty that nothing else in the entire world matters, just getting that one thing you just gotta have. And I am here this week to tell you about something that is so amazing that and I pray that you will be passionately thirsty for it. It is actually a person, a relationship really - a deep intimacy with the almighty God that does not compare to anything in this world. This is what seperates the bored Christian from the one who touches God and has life to the full. But we better start off with prayer because it is only God that can give us this thirst.

Prayer

Verse - Psalm 42:1-2
"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. When can I go and meet with God?"

Two Kinds of Churches

Some people say there are two kinds of Church services. You know the boring kind where everyone is falling asleep. I heard of one Church that was so dead that in the middle of the service this guy had a heartache. Well when the ambulance got there they had to clear out the back five rows just to find out which one was the dead guy. Do you know what I mean? There are other Churches where everything is so alive, people are singing the music as loud as they can not caring how bad they sound, when the preacher speaks they lean forward so as not to miss a word and it seems every time they pick up the Bible they are always finding something neat in it.

Some people blame the Churches, "this is a boring Church, this is a dead Church" they say. Well sometimes that is true but Churches are really made up of people and the reality is that it is the people who are dead. People like you and me. The reason I know this is that some people come up to me and say, "This Church is dead" Five minutes later another one says, "I have never experienced so much life in a Church before." And they are talking about the same place. Really they are saying, "This Church is dead to me" or maybe, "I am really dead when it comes to this Church." That being said there are indeed some Churches where it is easier to experience God more than others but tonight I want to reveal a secret that will allow you to meet God no matter how sleepy the service might be.

Two Kinds of Christians

Really there are two kinds of Christians, bored ones and excited ones. Do you know the difference between a bored Christian and an excited Christian? Hunger.

To be hungry for God is to come to a campfire like this and say, "God I really want to meet You"
To be bored is to come and say, "Oh God, when shall this be over."

To be hungry for God is to open the Bible and pray, "God I want to know You."
To be bored is to open your Bible and to start by turning the page to see how long this chapter is.

To be hungry for God is to do let the Bible verses soak in and reflect on what they mean. "For God so LOVED"
To be bored is to jam it in there and ramble it off so fast and never care what it means but only for the points.

Am I getting personal yet? Don另 worry I叮 talking about myself as much if not more than anyone here.

I remember an old man who was 99 years old. I used to go and visit him at the hospital every week. He had a younger friend who was only 96 and they used to listen to the Bible every day. They would each sit by their taperecorder with their headsets on and crank it up as loud as it would go so they could hear it. I used to walk into his room and there he would be sitting at his table with a huge magnifying glass squinting to read his large print Bible. He would sit me and down and begin to recite John Chapter 3 to me, apologizing for forgetting a few words in his old age. He taught me about hunger and I wanted to know the Word of God.

"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. When can I go and meet with God?"

Bible School and Bible Memory

So I went to Bible school and I poured over the Word of God. Can you imagine every day was dedicated to digging into the Bible and getting to know God more. One day I was in a class called "The Gospel of John" and the professor was explaining how for the final exam we would have to know all the chapter of the Gospel of John. I raised my hand, "Do you mean we have to memorize the entire book?" "Oh no", he said, "you just have to know which stories are in which chapters. " "Well what would you give us if we memorized the entire book of John" The class laughed. "Well I guess I would give you 10 percent bonus marks".

I remember when I first started memorizing large portions of Scripture. All my life I had been terrible at it. In Christian school I had to take the entire week just to learn my five verses and barely got them done in time. I remember sitting down and working on three small verses for an hour and was unable to get any of them. Finally I just got down on my knees and cried out to God. I met God in such a deep place of worship that time passed away like a breathe. Finally I got up again and memorized 7 verses that day. The next day 9 and it kept going.

Now I usually do not tell anyone about this because I run the danger of becoming proud or of others thinking I am something more than I am but I think you guys would understand it since you had to memorize so much Scripture to get here. It was a miracle and a gift from God.

Did you know that if you memorize only 1 verse a day for 8 years you will have all the epistles of the New Testament memorized. That is everything from Romans to Jude. Now that would be a Bible School education.

So I started memorizing the Gospel of John with another classmate. I had 4 months to work on it and fortunately there was a lot of stories which made it a bit easier. I remember at one point I was memorizing for three hours a day.

You can know about God but do you know God?

Now some people would look at that and say, "Wow, that is really great, you must be really close to God after spending so much time with Him." Do you want to know what the truth is. You can spend as much time as you want memorizing Scripture, Reading the Bible, going to Church and Awana and camp. You can complete all the Awana books that were ever written and you can still not know God.

Sure you can know about Him. You can have your head so jammed pack with ideas about God but do you know Him? Have you walked with God?

I saw a lot of my friends at Bible school dry up and God felt so far away to them. They came there to get to know God but as time went by they got so busy reading about God, talking about God, thinking about God that God was no longer a person to be in a radical loving relationship with but an idea that they could take apart and analyse and maybe put back together if they ever got the time.

True Hunger

"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. When can I go and meet with God?"

That is what it means to be hungry for God. It means to have your soul crying out, "When can I go and meet with God." It means to long for God, the living God. Not some dead God that sleeps on the textbooks but a God who is alive, whom we can walk with, talk with, weap with, love, rejoice and live with.

So let me ask you, "Why do you memorize Scripture?" There is nothing wrong with getting points for your team. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for getting it done or with pushing yourself. These things are great but when it all comes down to it why are you doing it? If your answer is anything less than that you want to know God then I warn you right now that you are on a dangerous road that leads only to emptiness.

Parable of the sower (throw seed at audience)

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear." Mt 13:3-9

That is what this story is all about. Do you have ears to hear? Well if you do then listen up and understand these things with your heart.

Then Jesus goes on and He begins to explain the story.

1st seed - hear but do not understand

The first seed is the kind that landed on the path. Now a path is hard, beaten down - like many peoples hearts. There is no place for seed to take root here. These are the kind who do not want anything to do with God, who push Him away and say, "I don另 want to listen". "I don另 want to listen because if I listen then I might have to change". They say things like, "I don另 care." and they spend their entire time thinking, "I卡 rather be doing something else". One guy described his heart to me as a field paved over - hard - unmovable, unreachable by God. But even cracks come through the hardest pavement. To these people Satan comes down and snatches away what is sown in their heart. Satan is very real and He wants to spoil your life and take away everything that is good. He wants more than anything to keep you from God and if you let Him He召l take this away. You召l leave her tonight and something else will distract you and you召l forget all about this challenge God wants to make on your heart tonight. Will you break up the hard ground and let God in?

2nd seed - Recieved but has no root so when trouble comes falls away
Now some of the seed fell on rocky places. This one actually grew. These are the ones who receives it with joy. They might be sitting here tonight and are so excited about what is saying and they are thinking about how they are going to go out from here and start reading the Bible and seeking God with all their heart. Even more important they hear that God loves them and offers them a new life and they are so close to saying 褣es. They are thinking, "Right on, this is great!" But do you know what is going to happen to them. Just like plants growing in the gravel on the side of the road they have no roots and when the sun comes up they dry up and wither away. Likewise at the first sign of trouble like when reading the Bible becomes hard or inconvient (and there are times when it will). Or when people at school begin to pick on them because they are a Christian or when God starts nudging them to give up their bad music and bad computer games, when they have to stand up for Christ when everyone is mocking Himout, or when a good friend of theirs dies they will put it all aside and forget it. I can另 tell you how many times I have taken youth out to youth conferences and seen them get so excited for God and then come home and do nothing. And I am worried for you that you too will get all excited this week and then go home and nothing will happen. But it does not have to be that way, you can enter into a relationship where you are hungering and thirsting for God tonight and when you go home and sense that emptiness where things just aren另 like camp you won另 give up but you召l know that emptiness is really hunger and you召l seek God all the more. This is why I am speaking this message tonight, the first night. If you are not hungry for God then all this week is meaningless, you召l be worse off when it is all over.

3rd seed - Hears it but the worries of this life choke it out
There was some seed that fell among thorns. This seed also grew up, it even had good root and had chucked out the rocks so it could make it for the long run but there was something else that held it back. These weeds starting growing up beside them, nasty weeds, the kind with thorns. The weeds grew so strong that they chocked the poor plant out and it did nothing. These are the people who set out to follow Jesus and they are doing really well but they get distracted. Now there are two killers in this story. The first is the worries of this life. We live in such a stressed out society! Some people really want to grow but they are so worried about so many things that they just can另 give over control to God.

The second big killer is the deceitfulness of wealth. This is one that is always before me. I have all these neat ideas. Things I call my million dollar ideas. Like a few years ago I came up with the idea of having "Choose your own Adventure DVD叫" where you pick the story in the movie. Another time I will come up with a really cool web page like this game I am working on where you fly all around space and explore the whole universe. It would be so easy for me to run off and chase these dreams and invest all my energy in them. If I wanted to I could be so rich but it would take everything I史e got. This is a trap of the Devil. He would really like it if I would give up my ministry and pursuit of God and spend my whole day making a bunch of money that won另 make any difference in the life hereafter just so I don另 get too close to God. He doesn另 even need me to give up on God, just get distracted, forget, and waste my life away. I still do some of these things but they are not the focus of my life. God is.

4th seed - Hears and understands
Finally there are those who hear it and understand it. These are the people who have opened their hearts and their ears to hear. They have taken out the plow and broken up the hardness of heart so it is ready to receive it and not be snatched away. They got down and pulled out the rocks, those things that make them shallow and fall away. They have heard the call of Christ and said "Yes, I will make a stand, come what may" And they have pulled out the thorns. They have put aside the things of this world.

What kind of soil will you be today?

Will you be the hungry soil that takes in the Word this week?

What does this mean?

It means that when you do your verses this week do not do them just to get them done do them to get to know God. When you come to campfire come with a heart praying, "God I have to know you more, meet me tonight!" When you wake up in the morning open your Bible and find God. When you walk through the woods see God叫 fingerprint in everything He has made and turn your heart to worship. Take His hand and walk with Him. Don另 just learn about God, get to know God Himself. And don另 let anything stop you. Hard times are going to come. Times will come when you feel dry but these are only times when your hunger is growing because it is when supper is farthest away that the stomach hurts the most. So you too will long for God deeper in the darkness. Hard times will come, worries and temptations will try to get you to lose focus but never forget your goal. Fix your eyes on God and cry out.

"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. When can I go and meet with God?"

And Jesus will answer, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (Jn 7:38 )

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