Message: How Hungry are you?
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How Hungry are you?
Obedience leads to relational knowledge
Several times in this teaching on pursuing relation knowledge of Jesus we’ve touched on the need for hungering after Him and today we are going to dive into that.
We will be looking at the need for hunger and the cost of hunger!
A lack of hunger is perhaps the greatest hindrance to growing in grace and relational knowledge of Jesus.
Well, hunger speaks to desire.
Desire is GOOD, but not everything is a worthy object of desire.
What are we to be hungry for?
Intimacy with God, Knowing God, Right standing with God, glory (character change)
I want to start off by reminding you that the goal of knowing Jesus and the Father relationally is the same as the goal of our faith – which is being conformed to His likeness.
Primary among God’s goals for humanity has ALWAYS been for us, out of our own free will, to choose Him, and value being like Him.
It will not surprise you therefore to learn once God finally had a people of His Own, Hunger for God was the first lesson God ever attempted to teach Israel once they crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness.
It was the lesson of the Manna.
It is found in Deuteronomy 8 so turn there now if you will.
As you are turning, let me say that one of the biggest issues we have as human beings is realizing what part is ours to play. What does and does not deserve the lion’s share of our attention, desire and effort or pursuit.
As humans we are susceptible and vulnerable to SO MUCH. Our individual authority is limited, our sphere of influence is limited, our knowledge and experience are limited and yet there seems to be an unending supply of people and things around us which exert their authority, influence and experience over us.
So naturally, as fallen humans we seek to do what we cannot do – protect ourselves or seek means by which we can mitigate how vulnerable we are to the inroads of everything undesirable in our lives.
Yet, God calls us rather to focus on what we CAN DO and predominate among them is what we set our desire upon.
You can control what your heart treasures!
What we set our desires and hopes in and upon largely defines our existence.
For example –
We look back on our own society from over a century ago and think we have become so advanced, but is that really true in terms of satisfaction and fulfillment?
Are OUR desires more satisfied or less?
Most families back then were whole families with…
- fathers who worked
- mothers who stayed home and reared the children and managed the home
- and children who were educated in schools AS WELL AS when they came home from school.
- And who had chores which minimized the parental workload, taught responsibility and prepared them for life once they were on their own.
Meals were cooked largely from scratch, clothes were washed by hand, cows were milked, chicks were fed, eggs collected and what little free time there was, was passed with talking, reading or playing an instrument and most people went to bed not long after sunset.
We have a tendency to look bad with pity on such simple times. Our modern conveniences allow for unprecedented freedoms and people have FAR more free time than ever before and they typically spend great portions of it being entertained.
For all that however, people are more dissatisfied, unfulfilled and unhappy now than then.
Why is this?
Well, the more we see the more we want and the less we are willing to be satisfied with. But back before it was possible to cook a meal in 20 minutes and do laundry without even being home, we did our work and found a certain satisfaction in maintaining what we had.
Our desires were few and simple and therefore it took little to satisfy us and make us live happy and fulfilled lives.
Our pursuits were more in keeping with those the Bible outlines for men, women, girls and boys and as such there was the satisfaction and fulfillment God worked into such labor which pacified the soul.
Our problem is not THAT we desire, but rather WHAT we desire.
Deut. 8:1-3, “(1) You must keep carefully all these commandments I am giving you today so that you may live, increase in number, and go in and occupy the land that the LORD promised to your ancestors.
(2) Remember the whole way by which He has brought you these forty years through the wilderness so that He might, by humbling you, test you to see if you have it within you to keep His commandments or not.
(3) So He humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the LORD’s mouth.”
The first lesson in the wilderness was to hunger for the word of the Lord.
It seems intuitive that all we need for living is food and water, but God affirms that this is NOT enough. We were designed for more!
We NEED Him!
We NEED His words in order to live.
No wonder that even before the fall, it was the voice of God which walked and talked with them in the cool of the day!
So God encourages His people to awaken a hunger for hearing His word or taken a little further, perhaps more relationally – to hunger for hearing from God’s heart.
Because God’s words come from the abundance of what is in His heart.
To be in contact with the heart of God like this is a true need, because life… eternal life, is found in hearing FROM Him.
Remember the words of Jesus to the Jewish leaders – “you study the scriptures but will not come to Me”. What He said one that great day of the Feast “Come all you who are weary and heavy laden… and learn FROM ME”.
But this hunger is one which has to be awakened in us because while we are naturally very attuned to our flesh, we are not so much attuned to our spirits.
Our spirit’s hunger as well, but until we pay attention to it, acknowledge it and work towards its satisfaction by feeding it we can and do largely walk unaware of our universal human hunger for God.
Circling back to a verse we read last week before communion in John 6, let’s see what Jesus said regarding this lesson of the manna.
John 6:27-36,“(27) Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to ETERNAL LIFE – the food which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has put His seal of approval on Him.”
“(28) So then they said to Him, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?”
(29) Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the One Whom He sent.”
(30) So they said to Him, “Then what miraculous sign will You perform, so that we may see it and believe You? What will You do? (31) Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
(32) Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the solemn truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but My Father is GIVING you the true bread from heaven. (33) For the bread of God is the One Who comes down from heaven and gives LIFE to the world.”
(34) So they said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”
(35) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to Me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in Me will never be thirsty. (36) But I told you that you have seen Me and still do not believe.”
John 6:45-58, “(45) It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught BY God.’ Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me. (46) (Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One Who is from God – He has seen the Father.)
(47) I tell you the solemn truth, the one who believes has ETERNAL LIFE.
(48) I am the bread of life. (49) Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (50) This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die.
(51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
This is similar to the words Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, only this time the analogy was Water instead of bread.
“Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and Who it is Who said to you, ‘Give Me some water to drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” ~ John 4:10
Both of these remind me of the passage in Isaiah 55 where God asks the question,
“(1) Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come! Buy and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost!
(2) Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me and eat what is nourishing! Enjoy fine food! (3) Pay attention and come to Me! Listen, so you can live!…”
Of course part of the lesson is learned in ignoring it.
It was due to Israel’s perpetual ignoring of the word, that God sent them a hunger that would NOT be fulfilled…
Amos 8:11-12,“(11) Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. (12) They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.”
Jesus when talking about the blessedness of those who DO hunger said in Luke 6:21, “Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.”
But of those who don’t He said,
Luke 6:25, “Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.”
So at this juncture you may rightly say to me, “brother Mark I don’t want to be the one who isn’t hungry now but will starve then… how do I create this hunger in my heart?”
Well the things we’ve covered since the beginning of these lessons a few weeks ago are a good start, but also you can cultivate a hunger for God through maintaining your Hope and Paul talks a great deal about this – especially in Romans and we’ve talked about maintaining our hope for some time the year before last.
The answer ultimately is found in valuing Him. When we truly see Him as valuable – and not only valuable but the most valuable thing in all of existence then His words will be like salt making you thirsty and like an aroma making you hungry.
But this hunger for God, which is the driving force behind our pursuit of knowing Him comes at a cost.
That is why you are going to HAVE to hunger for Him, because if you don’t, you will never pay the toll that is required to obtain and hold onto that knowledge.
Whether you realize it or not, the devil does – he knows that knowledge – personal and intimate knowledge of God is the most priceless thing in existence and he will FIGHT against your realizing it! (repeat)
We need to recognize the true and all surpassing value of knowing Him.
Forsaking all other loves
Knowing God, knowing Jesus is the most valuable thing in existence and you do not obtain real treasures without forsaking everything else.
2 Cor. 4:6-18, “(4) For God, Who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the One Who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the GLORIOUS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD in the face of Christ.
(7) But we have this TREASURE in clay jars,
Remember the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price mentioned in Matthew 13… how the point was that in order to obtain what was truly valuable one had to forsake all and give up all that they had!
So the question is how hungry are you?
Hunger will drive you to spend whatever is necessary in order to obtain the object of your desire.
“I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it. (24) Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize?
So run to win.
(25) Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
(26) So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. (27) Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.” ~ 1Cor. 9:23-27
This knowledge of God is something you will have to WANT because it will not just be given to you.
There is a reason why 1 Peter Chapter 1 tells us that the genuineness of our faith is tested to prove it… to prove you and prove your heart from which that trust arises.
This is where the WoF movement also fails and it fails in their own primary focus – which is regarding faith.
Faith is taught in the WoF movement as an object to acquire, a tool to use and a currency to spend, but TRUST IS A CHARACTER ISSUE.
Faith is not GIVEN, it happens and it grows!
Sure the scriptures tell us that Jesus is the author AND the developer of our faith.
But do you want to know HOW it is developed? Under what circumstances does it mature and bear fruit?
In opposition, in persecution, in trials, temptations and sufferings.
This is part of the gospel no one wants to talk about, but it is full of indispensable truth.
We get the gospel all mixed up, placing ourselves, our needs and our flesh focused desires at the center of the gospel rather than Christ and our Father.
We ARE HIS. We BELONG to Him. We were created for Him and His pleasure and what He takes pleasure in is US conformed to His image!
So any OTHER concerns God may have regarding our lives on this earth – they are at VERY BEST secondary to Christ being formed in us. This is why there are SO MANY times when things just don’t go our way.
Now if WE would be preoccupied with the same goal God has, then all things WOULD INDEED work out for our good, but our devotion to that is limited at best.
Usually that limit is set at some expression of personal comfort which we are unwilling to relinquish.
For me that area is usually mental or emotional. Yours might be social, or esteem, or possessions, or family, or friends, or health. Christ being formed in us can be substituted for any earthly desire and that desire MUST suffer a death or it will rule in your heart in place of Him and He loves you too much and desires you too much to hand you over to your other lovers without a fight!
Wherever we are prone to a pandering to our flesh, is also the place God will make the focus of His deliverance for us. We MUST be delivered from the power and authority of our flesh if Christ is ever to be formed in us and God is dedicated to your liberation from it!
There is a reason why that passage of Jesus being the author and developer of our faith is written in the middle of a passage about suffering.
Heb. 12 (right after Heb. 11)
“(1) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, (2) KEEPING OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
For the joy set out for Him He endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3) Think of Him Who endured such opposition against Himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.
(4) You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin.
(5) And have you forgotten
That is becoming a familiar refrain…
…have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons?
“My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when He corrects you. (6) “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and chastises every son He accepts.”
(7) Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?
(8) But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons.
(9) Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive LIFE?
(10) For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but He does so for our benefit, that we may share His holiness.
(11) Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it PRODUCES THE FRUIT of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.
(12) Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, (13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.
(14) Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.
(15) See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through it many become defiled.
(16) And see to it that no one becomes an immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
(17) For you know that later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing with tears.
(18) For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind (19) and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words such that those who heard begged to hear no more.
(20) For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”
(21) In fact, the scene was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.”
(22) But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the LIVINGGod, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly (23) and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, (24) and to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does.
(25) Take care not to refuse the One Who is speaking!
For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the One Who warns from heaven?
(26) Then His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised,
“I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven too.”
(27) Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken may remain.
(28) So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to Godin devotion and awe. (29) For our God is indeed a devouring fire.”
So relational knowledge and relational trust are BOTH received and developed through some form of suffering.
There is a reason why only a few hearts represented in the parable of the heart soils wind up producing fruit and out of those few good, productive hearts only ⅓ bear 100 fold.
All the others produce somewhere between 30 & 60 fold.
Of course these are not hard numbers but the reality they represent is solid.
Very few are hungry enough to suffer and even among those few who are, even less are willing to give all!
Remember that Noah was called to build the ark and be a preacher of righteousness at the tender age of 500 but did not see the first drop of rain for 100 years and the ONLY converts he had to show for a century of preaching were his immediate family.
Abraham was called out of Ur at 75, wandered in Canna for several years and was promised a nation and a son, he got ahead of God and had Ishmael 11 years later at 86, and God did not appear to Abraham about the son He promised him until he was 99 (13 additional years later) and Isaac was finally born when Abraham was 100.
Moses felt the hand of God in his heart at 40 in Egypt, but he lost everything he had – his wealth, his position, his future, his near universal esteem and wound up tending some other man’s sheep on the back side of the desert for 40 years before God appeared to him at 80 so he could shepherd God’s people through the wilderness and even then didn’t get to go into the promised land due to his sin which was provoked by the very people he had given his life to lead and protect.
David was called to be King and was anointed as such by Samuel at around 13 years old. He also played music to sooth Saul and slew Goliath about that same time.
Saul first tried to kill him as he played the harp for him then Saul banished David from the kingdom and was on a run for his life, literally for YEARS. David did not sit on the throne and reigning over all of Israel until the age of 37. One estimate says that David was anointed by Samuel in 1097B.C. and did not become the actual king of all Israel until 1077 which places him on the run for the lion’s share of 20 years!
But he did not complain, he did not lose faith, he did not lower his nobility by killing Saul, but placed his life and future into the hands of God, who saw this and said David was a man after His Own heart!
If you are unwilling to undergo persecution, difficulty, opposition, temptation, trial and suffering then you signed up with the WRONG company.
Now I know…
- You are not Noah, the earthly savior of the world
- you are not Abraham the father of the Israeli nation
- you are not Moses the shepherd of Israel and the one the law was given through
- you are not David the King who was after God’s Own heart…
you’re just an everyday garden variety Christian living in the ever so mundane 21st century. But, let me tell you what you are.
You are a CHILD of God. You are inheriting an inheritance which makes ALL that these great men obtained pale in comparison.
Hebrews says that all of these people died in faith having NEVER received the promise – they only saw it from a distance – but that God was providing something better for you and I!
Paul said regarding this inheritance, that the sufferings of this present time are NOT WORTHY to be compared with the glory which SHALL BE revealed IN US!
So this principle of suffering preceding glory is an established truth and we will pick up here next week.