Summary: Our desire should primarily be for the Holy Spirit Himself, not his gifts.
Are you thirsty?
Are you looking forward to your cup of tea after the meeting? When we are physically thirsty, our bodies need one thing – water. All our drinks, our tea, our coffee, our coca-cola, our orange juice, are basically just coloured and flavoured water. It is the water that our bodies need. Over half of our body is made of water. When our water levels start getting low and we need a drink, sensors in our brains pick up rising salt, urea and creatinine levels in our blood, and we feel thirsty. If we do not take the water that we need we get thirstier and thirstier, and eventually our cells start shrivelling up and then we die. Drinking petrol or cooking oil will not satisfy, nor any other non-water containing liquid.
But thirst does not have to be physical, it can occur whenever we have a deep desire or need for something. It can be a thirst for riches, for fame, success in a given field, attention, love. It can be a spiritual thirst when we know that there is a desire and need deep within our souls for something that we know cannot be provided by our physical and material world. It might even be a spiritual craving – when our whole being seems to be screaming out for something and it occupies all our thoughts and energy, when all that we are and all that we can be seems to be focussed on getting that which we thirst for.
I hope that we are here today because we are spiritually thirsty, craving for that peace, satisfaction, joy and fulfilment that all the fashions, fads, prosperity, riches and fame that this world has to offer cannot give. If so Christ has a message for us:-
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Are you thirsty? The drink that Jesus offers us is the Holy Spirit.
What is it that we thirst for?
Christ offers satisfaction for our thirst. But to be satisfied by it, we have to be thirsty for the right thing. If you are physically thirsty your cup of tea after the meeting will quench your thirst for a while, but a cup of bleach will not.
Today is Pentecost Sunday when we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We heard this morning how He came with power on the gathered believers, how he gave them gifts and special abilities. How he showed His almighty power on that day. We also know that he still comes to His Church, that he gives us believers gifts, some gifts of healing, some of talking in tongues, some of prophecy, or teaching, of abilities and powers to carry out many different ministries within the Church. The coming of the Holy Spirit is certainly very exciting.
Sometimes people come to the Army or another Church on Pentecost craving and thirsting to see God work in power or to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is all very good and right. We are told in 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1 that we should desire and crave for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We should long to see God move in power, to see people brought to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But what is it that should be our primary thirst? What is it that we need above all else? Psalm 42 gives us a clue. It is not wonderful powerful gifts or dramatic manifestations. It is quite simple:-
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
It is simply God himself. He made us for himself. For fellowship with him through his Spirit. That is what we were designed for. That is a need as basic to a human being as water or food. That is why humans throughout all continents and centuries have invented religions, in an instinctive drive to find that fellowship with the Holy Spirit that comes from the only true God and his Son. The devil has taken advantage of this instinct and led many astray in false religions.
Yes, it is wonderful when we see God’s power, when his Holy Spirit gives us His gifts. But our basic need is fellowship and friendship with him.
Let’s listen to Christ again. As the crowd in the temple on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles watched water being poured out by the priests in memory of the water that God brought out of a rock for the Israelites in the wilderness to drink and as they remembered the promise of the prophet Isaiah that they should joyfully draw water from the well of salvation, he stood up and said:-