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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are You Thirsty?

by Bill Stroup

On Sunday, July 14th Pastor Bryan referred to this verse:

     Psalm 42:1  "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God."

Related to the idea expressed here are the following verses from other psalms:

     Psalm 63:1  "O God, you are my God;
                           I earnestly search for you.
                           My soul thirsts for you;  
                           my whole body longs for you 
                           in this parched and weary land  
                           where there is no water."

     Psalm 65:9  "You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
                           The river of God has plenty of water;
                           it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so."

There is a song we sometimes sing, based on Psalm 42:1 –

          As the deer pants for the water
      So my soul longs after you.
      You alone are my heart’s desire
      And I long worship you.

        (Refrain)    You alone are my strength, my shield,
To you alone will my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship you.
      I want you more than gold or silver,
      Only you can satisfy.
      You alone are the real joy giver
      And the apple of my eye.

            You’re my friend and you are my Father
      Even though you are my King.
      I love you more than any other
      So much more than anything.

Really? Does that describe how you feel, how you react when thinking about God’s presence in your life. Are you dying of thirst for His presence, for an active relationship with Him?

As worship leader in another church I used the above song on occasion. One Sunday after having used this song in the service, a fellow elder in the church came to me and said, “Bill, I don’t really like that song very much. I wish you wouldn’t use it.”

When I responded back by asking him what he did not like about it he replied, “Well, there are lots of times when I just don’t feel that way. I don’t feel I’m dying of thirst for God’s presence in my life. I feel like when we sing it that I am telling a lie to God.”

Do you ever feel that way when using that particular song or other songs in which we express our love and appreciation toward God?

“John, I totally agree with you – but here, as in many of the songs we sing, we sing about where we know we ought to be, where we desire to be, where we hope that we will be as we grow and develop in our Christian lives. I really believe that if you sing it in that spirit that it will mean very much to you.”

What about you? Do you find that at times it is hard to sing some of the lyrics to worship songs? If so, remember that they are often meant to challenge us toward growth in our Christian lives and appreciation of God’s awesome goodness and care for us.

On the other hand, if you are never challenged by the songs we sing, are you actually thinking while you sing?  It can be easy to JUST SING, without focusing on the words, on their meaning. It is encouraging to hear Pastor Bryan comment often on the words of the songs we sing, to note how they touch his heart. That comes from paying attention to what is being expressed, and I would implore you to do that too. Think about the words – and allow them to turn your heart and mind to our God and his gracious and mighty character.

Even if you can only “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalm 100:1), allow the words of the songs to bring you to real worship.

(Bill Stroup is an elder serving on the River Church's advisory team.  He and his wife Mary Ellen have served the Lord in various leadership roles in churches over the years.  They also served as missionaries in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.)

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