When I was about 8 or 9, I remember laying in my bed at night and just feeling…..icky. I wasn’t sick, and nothing was particularly wrong, but I just felt weird. Kind of sad. Off. Depressed, maybe (can a 9 year-old be depressed?) I remember coming out of my room crying and sitting at the dining room table with my mom. The conversation went something like this:
“Mom, I don’t feel good.”
“What’s wrong, baby?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you sick?”
“Did something happen?”
I’m crying and crying. “No. I just don’t feel good. I don’t know why. There’s nothing wrong.”
“Oh, sweetie you’re spiritually weak. You need some nourishment.”
Now, let me preface this by saying that my mom is not your average mom. She’s a believing maverick and has spiritual insight like no other mom I’ve ever met. Back to the story, mom pulled me in and curled me up and started talking about how we have to have spiritual food or we starve ourselves, literally making ourselves spiritually weak. I can’t remember all that happened next, but my guess is that she fixed me a mug of warm milk and sent me back to bed with a good psalm and a prayer. Good ol’ Ma.
During his temptation, in Matthew 4:4 (and Luke 4:4, oddly), Jesus quotes Deuteronomy and says “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” What does this mean? This means that the physical is not all there is. We also live by God’s word. What happens to our bodies when we do not eat? We starve. We get sick. We become weak and weary. Our bodies zap ourselves of stored nutrients in order just to function. If the Holy Spirit resides in you, and you aren’t feeding yourself spiritually, the same thing happens to you. Spiritual anorexia. Your growth is stunted. You are left gaunt, debilitated, and ineffective.
If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit resides in you. The Spirit in you is like a fire; the fire can be fanned into a flame (2 Tim 1:6), and it can also be extinguished, or “quenched” (1 Thess 5:19). The Spirit takes residence in you to continually sanctify you, which means to set you apart as holy. To move you further and further away from your sin nature. To make you more and more like Christ. To push you to increasing degrees of glory. 2 Chronicles 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” It’s the Spirit who authored the Word, teaches you the Word, and gives you the ability to apply the Word to your life. This application results in increasing degrees of sanctification. When we quench the Spirit (the word is used to talk about pouring water over a fire), we retard the transformation process. We stunt our sanctification, and the Holy Spirit actually GRIEVES (Eph 4:30)! Perhaps it was a window into His grief that left me feeling so……well, grieved that night.
The Word is at the heart of it all. Man lives by bread and…what? The Word of God. It gives us life. It quickens our hearts to the Spirit’s leadings. It fans the embers into blazing wildfires.
How do you quench the Spirit? You fail to study the Word. To take delight in it. To see it as God’s beautiful gift to you, His very words spoken to you. The most jaw-dropping, amazing, awe-inducing life changes wait at the tip of His tongue. His words are ALIVE and the Spirit quickens them to you. He teaches them to you. Shows you how they apply to you. But most importantly, they show Christ. They show His character. His face. His love and amazing grace and sacrifice for us. The answer to everything. For every question you have, He’s given you the answer….I AM. “What is my purpose?” I am. “Where should I go?” I am. “What do I do about my kid?” I am. The all-surpassing powerful God who called you up from the dead and poured grace over you and gave you life. He wants you. He wants you to want Him.
We want all of the answers without searching for them. God isn’t a spiritual Google, a search engine. He’s relational. He designed us for intimacy. I hear all the time, “I just wish He would tell me what to do.” Or, “I just want to know His will.” The answer is in scripture. And, the answers that aren’t in black or red letters in the Bible are given to you by the Holy Spirit whose flame is fanned by you studying the Word. Do you spend enough time there? Any time at all? Or, do you read it once in a while just to solve your own problems, or someone else’s problem, without studying it and delighting in it just to catch a glimpse of the glory of Christ? He’s there in the whole thing, woven through the testaments and covenants and promises and prophecies with a deep scarlet thread. The One and Only GOD who lowered himself to become a man and carry our junk and rebellion and died for it all, to bridge the gap between us. How He loves us so. We can quench the Spirit by carving out idols and choosing to worship our families or our kids or our jobs or ourSELVES instead of the One who created all of that. Isn’t that a scary thought. By quitting church and fellowship with other believers (Heb 10:24-25). We can quench Him by wallowing in worry and anxiety, which is fear rooted in unbelief, instead of trusting and delighting in Him. Of being more concerned about the spiritual life of our spouse than our own. Of not giving Him a second thought until the going gets tough and we pull out some one-liner verse and read it a couple of times or post it on Facebook. Maybe pin a picture of it on Pinterest. Probably while saying to ourselves, “oh this is a really good one for so-and-so. They really need to read this one.” Really!? The Bible says to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Phil 2:3). Let’s stop worrying about what “they” need to read and worry about our standing. Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Think about the fact that we did absolutely NOTHING to deserve Him, and that our righteousness is filthy rags. And AAAAAAALL of this, I say with my best southern accent as I sing ala Bobby Pinson… “Don’t Ask Me How I Knoooooooow.”
Are you feeling a little parched, love bug? Are you feeling some hunger pangs? Or is that pit in your stomach the echoing of gastric juices just waiting to consume a nourishing home-cooked meal? We like the healthy stuff around here. Good doctrine. Too much junk will give you a tummy ache. Okay, perhaps I’ve gone too far now. Grab your Bible and a cup of something warm, curl up, and delight in your Father. Give strength to your bones. Here’s your Psalm.
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?
My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon–from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me–a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Lord, thank you so much for your Word. What an awesome wonder it is that you chose me, and that you’ve revealed yourself to me in scripture. Thank you for the blessing of knowing you. I want to know you more quickly. Create in my heart a desire for your word. Fan the embers of the Holy Spirit in me into a consuming fire. I love you, Father. Thank you. In the name of your Son, Jesus! Amen.