How Deep Are You?
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
Spirituality is something that can be as deep as you want it to be. It is a part of you that has to be intentionally explored and nurtured. Prayer, meditation, reading and pondering deeply spiritual insights…all these things will connect you to your spirit and to the Creator. It is a dimension that will help you to excel on all levels…mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.
It is written in John7:37-38
“37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
For those who don’t know, the scriptures in the New Testament were originally written in Greek. The word used here for belly is koilias (κοιλίας). This word can be translated in several ways. It can literally be interpreted the physical belly and digestive organs. It can also be translated as a woman’s womb. The implication here and as properly interpreted in some modern translations is our innermost being. As I was pondering this scripture the Holy Spirit shared some insights with me on this that I would like to share with you. Hold on to your seats, this is some powerful stuff! I have heard this scripture interpreted as the belly being the soul, the spirit, the heart and many things. But consider this: It really depends on how deep your innermost being goes. Think about it. A person that is subject to the flesh, a worldly thinking person that is probably not even saved is going to gush out fleshly, worldly things, even selfish, lusty things. The soul is the seat of your mind, will, emotions and volition. So if a person is only as deep as their soul they gush forth emotional responses or things of the intellect, not really comprehending spiritual things. You know the type. They have to be able to understand with their mind and intellect. It has to be logical, scientific and explainable. If a person is spiritual though, as in being born again and in a relationship with God, they are going to gush forth with spiritual insight and understanding. They will speak and understand things with a spiritual depth. They are not subject to their emotions or have to figure things out with their mind. They walk by faith and trust in God and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). They see beyond what circumstances appear to be.
For a deeper understanding let’s go back and look at the early Jewish temple that God ordained and told them how to build. If you want to read in detail go to Exodus 25-27. The feature I want to focus on though is how the temple was divided into three sections. There was the outer court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was the innermost part of the temple. Only the priests were allowed in there. It is where the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat were located. It was where the blood of sacrificed animals were taken and poured out upon the mercy seat to atone for the sins of the children of Israel. This is significant and parallels to us for we are made of body, soul and spirit. Three parts, just like the temple. In fact the Bible says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit now (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19). God’s Spirit dwells in the innermost part of us, the spirit, if we are born again. When Jesus died on the cross the veil that separated the innermost Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom. “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. “ (Matthew 27:51). This was a sign to all that we no longer needed a priest to intercede for us but that all were welcome to approach God for themselves for Jesus, God’s own Son, had atoned for all our sins. It is significant that it was torn from top to bottom, not bottom to top. It came from above. It was something only God could do. No man could do this. It is also a symbol that we now have access and can draw deep from our spirit and that only God can tear the veil that separates us from our spirit and where the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, dwells when we are born again. Jesus accomplished this and made it possible and it is His desire to draw us into a deeper place. And only God can do this work in us.
Read with me in Ezekiel 47:1-12. Please take time to read this from the Bible before continuing. Let the Holy Spirit speak as you read. In this passage the prophet Ezekiel has a vision of someone leading him into the waters. He says at first it is only up to the ankles, then to the knees and eventually he is led into waters deep enough to swim in. How deep is your walk with God? Way too many people only want to wade around up to their ankles. They just go to church but they never really want to get any deeper. They are content with just enough church attendance to make them feel good, get a little guilt off of them, appease that still small voice in them that they know deep down wants to draw them into a deeper experience with God. God is always drawing us deeper into relationship with Him. Psalm 42:7 says “Deep calls unto deep.” God so desires to draw us into a deeper relationship and understanding. He is so deep and knows all things and He calls to that deepest part in us, our spirit. We are spiritual beings whether we want to deny it or not. That is why the unsaved person or even the saved person that doesn’t have a relationship with God is always searching and unsatisfied. Deep is calling to deep. Our spirit and God’s Spirit is calling to us from deep within, calling us to what we are meant to be. It is a hunger and a thirst. If we try to feed that hunger or quench that thirst with any other thing but God we will always be unsatisfied. Many try to fill this hunger with drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, power, careers and more. These things can never satisfy. Neither can you fill this place with religion, legalism, self-righteousness or pompous piety. Ah, but he who hungers and thirsts after righteousness shall be filled, shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).
How deep are you? What is really in you? Luke 6:45 says “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” This verse isn’t just about what we say. Speaking is an outward manifestation of what is within. So what is in us and the depth of our innermost being is what will come out of us. How we speak to other people, how we respond in trying situations, how we view others, the things we talk about and laugh at, the way we treat people, the way we treat our families, our priorities, what entertains us, our desire for God and lost souls, our desire to spend time in the Word of God and prayer…..All these things are indicators of how deep we are and what depth our innermost being is at.
So, how do we go deeper? Only one way. Spend time in God’s presence. Get in relationship with God. Get in an interactive relationship. You, speaking to God and Him, speaking to you. He speaks to you in your life circumstances, He speaks to you when you read the Word, He speaks when you fellowship with other believers who are in relationship with God, He speaks to you when you pray. Listen for His voice. He is speaking everywhere and in everything if you will only develop a habit and a skill of listening. That’s right, listening does not come natural it is a skill that must be learned. It is in His Word and interacting with your world as a Spirit person that you go deeper. As you do things God’s way, not in a legalistic fashion but in a love relationship, it will become more and more natural as you walk in it. This is what is meant by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). This is what is meant by not yielding your members as members of unrighteousness. “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:13)
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” (Romans 6:19). You understand that ‘members’ in this context is talking about your mouth, your hands, your feet, your mind…every part of who you are that you have control over. And you do have control over yourself whether you want to admit it or not. You chose to do evil. You chose to do nothing sometimes when you should have done something. You choose to do good. Every day, every moment you live is about choices. God gave you the power to choose. He will not take away your power of choice. God isn’t forcing you to live for Him. If you choose sin and hell he will honor your choice although I am sure His heart is broken when you choose death instead of life. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
It is up to you. How deep do you want to go? What are you afraid of? I think many people are afraid of what God will require of them. I have actually heard someone say they were afraid to yield totally to God because they felt sure He would call them to be a missionary in the deepest, scariest part of Africa. Believe me, God knows what you are made of. “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14). He knows what you are best suited for. He isn’t going to call you to do something you are not ready for. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). God doesn’t hurt. He only wants the best for you. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust God, my friend. Trust God. Deep is calling to deep. What will your answer be?
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
John 15 has an interesting analogy to ponder. It speaks of ‘abiding’. Specifically it speaks of abiding in Christ. I have been pondering for some time what it means to ‘abide’ in Christ. Then one day it became so obvious. I think very often we are all guilty of over spritualizing scriptures to the point they become some deep pondered ethereal mystery and we just kind of acknowledge the deepness of a passage like it isn’t MEANT to be understood. Granted there are some deep truths that we cannot comprehend in our finite minds and granted sometimes God, I believe, allows us to be gripped by a spiritual truth and not comprehend it so we WILL spend time with Him and seek understanding. That being said….this isn’t one of those times.
Abide speaks of where we live. I physically abide in a house in Asheville area. So I got thinking about these scriptures. Jesus gives a very vivid and clear instruction and insight here. He says if you abide in HIM and He abides in you can ask what you will and it will be done to you. So I may live physically in a house in Asheville but spiritually I live and abide in HIM. This is so DEEP yet so SIMPLE. He is saying when you become born again…you move in with HIM. You reside where He resides. And what is so great about it is it is a spiritual house that no matter where you are physically…mentally and spiritually you can be in His house! When you are going through a difficult time, you are in His house. When you are unemployed, you are in His house. No matter what you are going through rather than walk out in the street and deal with it just look out the window of His house. Things will look different if you will just stay in His house. If anyone needs to go out in the yard and deal with any situation He will handle it. This is GOOD NEWS! But it also begs us each to answer the question: WHERE DO YOU LIVE? Too many people are living in the past…living in depression….living in fear…living in doubt…living in religion and tradition…and I could go on. You need to ask yourself, WHERE DO YOU LIVE? Maybe you need to be honest before God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you REALLY live. There are some of us that are living in our houses of false contentment but are secretly looking out the window at the house across the street where God lives, when He is inviting us to come and dine. God desires so much more for our lives than where most of us are. Yet He has said throughout His word that His kingdom is within. It is a kingdom unlimited, unfettered, unaffected by the things of this world. You are in the Father’s house no matter where you go or what your circumstances are. No matter the storm outside you are safe in His house.
Look at Psalms 91.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
There is that word again, ABIDE. David wrote this psalm. David made a lot of bad choices in his life. He fell to a lot of temptation but when all was said and done he knew where to turn to or I should say RETURN to. When David wrote this Psalm it is said that he would often get up before the sun rose and bow in the shadow of the sanctuary of that temple the children of Israel carried where the Ark of the Covenant was housed, the presence of God appeared in that holy place. It is said that as the shadow moved David moved from sun up to sun down literally in the shadow of the Almighty. Look at the words he uses: He DWELLS in the secret place of the most high, he ABIDES under the shadow of the Almighty. In His house there is peace and protection…in His house is healing…in His house there is salvation. Praise God! Man, Psalms 91:1 is my 911 scripture! When I am going through something that challenges my faith, that challenges my sanity…911! I go bow myself in the shadow of the almighty…I remind myself whose house I dwell in…I remind the enemy of my soul where I live, where I ABIDE! I remind my troubled mind whose child I am and in whose house I abide in! I stand upon the promise of His word that though ‘a thousand fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand it shall not come nigh me!’ Why? Go on down to verse 9 ‘because I have made the Lord my refuge, even the most High, my habitation’ and in verse 14-15 ‘because I have set my love and my focus upon Him, He will deliver me: He will set me on high, because he has known my name. 15 I shall call upon Him, and He will answer me: He will be with me in trouble; He will deliver me, and honour me.’
Let’s return to John 15. He says HE IS THE VINE…WE ARE THE BRANCHES. He gives a very clear example here we can all relate to. How long does a branch live that you cut off of a tree? Not very long. As long as a branch stays connected to the vine He says it bears fruit…much fruit! If we don’t abide in the vine we wither…we are good for nothing except to be cast into the fire. And so it is with a person, specifically followers of Jesus Christ, christians. They are worthless if they think they can do it on their own. We are to be branches not BRANCH MANAGERS. The best definition I can give you of a Christian is take CHRIST out of word CHRISTIAN and you are left with three letters, IAN. These three letters can stand for I Am Nothing. In other words, if you are truly a Christian you know what that means, you are nothing without Christ. The modern day church has created its programs and become all professional and slick in appearance to the point they can have church whether God is present or not. But that is just an illusion and a lie. It is still the same, without Him we are nothing. If we are not connected to the vine, and Jesus leaves no doubt who the vine is in verse 1 when He says HE is the vine, we are lifeless, we are powerless, we cannot produce fruit without being connected to HIM. Galatians 5 tells us what that fruit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. In that verse where it is listed, verse 22, what does it call this fruit? The fruit of US? No, the fruit of the SPIRIT. It is HIS fruit. HE produces fruit through us as long as we are connected to the vine. If you are not producing the fruit of the Spirit guess what? You just might want to check and make sure what vine you are connected to. You can’t truly produce real fruit…effective fruit, unless you are connected to HIM…or more properly said, the Holy Spirit cannot produce fruit through you if you are not connected into the true vine, Jesus. Just like it would be impossible for you to stand there and hold a branch out, no matter how well you held it out, it WILL NOT produce fruit. It will die. You can decorate a Christmas tree up all you want and it may look all pretty but guess what it is a dying tree. So many of us are like Christmas trees we look the part, we look all pretty and alive, but guess what, let someone hang around you long enough and they will figure it out…you are dead. You are fruitless. Like a Christmas tree withers and dies though it has beautiful decorations on it, the truth cannot be hidden long, it dies and all the world sees that what was all shiny and glittery and looked so beautiful and alive was nothing but artificial. Are you a Christian that looks the part, all sparkly on the outside, maybe fooling a lot of people but deep down you are dying or already dead. People don’t want your artificial promises like ‘I will pray for you’ knowing you really won’t. People don’t want your blessing to ‘go, be ye warmed and filled’ when you give them nothing to fill their belly or keep them warm. People don’t want a church that says ‘live holy’ when they are living no differently than the rest of the world. People don’t want a church to pray for them to be healed and filled with the Spirit but don’t really believe it.
So many these days love to quote that verse in John 15:7 that says’ if my words abide in you ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done to you’ when they want something from God, like God is just some vending machine that if I put the right combination of coins in will get what I want. People love to quote that verse that says He will give me the desires of my heart believing that means whatever selfish desire you have. That’s not what these verses are saying. That one verse means He will give you the desires you are supposed to have, the desires HE wants you to have. If His words are truly in you and you are TRULY connected to Him like a branch to a vine you will produce the fruit He wants you to produce…the things you will ask will be things that bring HIM glory. You will ask what you will but guess what your desires will be HIS desires. You will desire and ask for things that glorify Him…that will forward HIS kingdom…that will break the chains of darkness and deliver those that are bound. If you are not producing spiritual fruit Galatians 5:19-21 tells you what you will produce…it calls it the works of the flesh…” which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings” and then he goes on to say “of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
This is serious, folks! If you are producing the works of the flesh you SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. You might be saying well, I’m not doing any of that stuff you said. Guess what, just as guilty if you are producing artificial fruit. Jesus made it clear in John 15:6 “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” No matter how good you think you are if you are not connected to Him whatever fruit you are producing no matter how good it is if it is not of Him, it will starve the world just as sure as if you fed them wax fruit. There are many good civic organizations doing many good works but that is not the fruit that will win the eternal souls of men and women. It is only as we allow Him to work through us that we become the deliverers this world needs. The 12 disciples who walked with Jesus were EVEN told to go to an upper room and wait to be endued with power from on high. It is the same with us. We get saved and if we don’t watch out we let our religion, traditions and denomination decorate us like a Christmas tree when God has delivered us from all that artificiality so we could truly bear the fruit He desires us to produce. We, like the disciples of old need to get before God and cry out to Him to connect us to the true vine…allow His life to surge through us…allow His power to flow through us and bear fruit that glorifies Him and feeds the hungry souls of this world. I…A…N…Without Him we can do nothing.
RAVENQUEST has been and continues to be such a journey for me. It has given me the opportunity to project in a creative way into our world a vision of a world where all creatures live in peace and harmony with one another. Yes, there are villains along the way but throughout this exciting story the reader senses an overarching philosophy that we are more alike than different and that we all have gifts to share with our world. What a world we would have if everyone were respected equally. Read the books….Join the community.
HOW IMPORTANT IS WHAT WE THINK ABOUT?