Message: The cost of hungering for God
Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:13:43 — 126.3MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS
The cost of hungering for God
Last week we addressed one of the most important questions that could be posed to a believer – how hungry are you?
We learned that hunger is among the greatest motivating factors which drives us in our pursuit of knowing God and is THE motivating factor which most pleases Him.
Anyone could be moved to pursuing God in times of desperation and need, but to bring suffering upon yourself BECAUSE of your hunger to know Him is honoring and pleasing to Him. Not the suffering, but the reality that you value Him enough to not forgo the pursuit because of the suffering.
You might ask, if we ARE already actively pursuing Him then why allow the sufferings, trials, temptations and persecutions? He already has our hearts and therefore our allegiance?
Well that touches upon the purpose of our creation which I address in that article I’ve encouraged you all to read on the website.
Satan’s rebellion against God, as we saw in Isaiah and will see later in our trek through Ezekiel on Wednesday nights, was sponsored by a question regarding God’s goodness, faithfulness and character.
Satan knew he was the crown of creation at the time, that he was resplendent in beauty and even carried a title which Jesus Himself wears, that of Son of the Morning or Morning Star all of which led him to think highly of himself and once that pride began to swell in his heart he allowed himself to entertain the thought that he should reign in place of God.
His thought is presented as more of a statement, but that statement came from a question.
Why should you rule, why should you reign?
In his heart, the only reason he could conceive of led him to rebellion. We can only speculate what answer he arrived at, but I think we get glimpses of it upon his first temptation of mankind to rebel against God and redirect their allegiance towards him.
It was a challenge of God’s character, His goodness, His love and His power. Satan considered God’s having forbidden them to taste of the fruit as proof of His “keeping them in the dark“, essentially leaving them little choice but to believe and follow in subjugation since they saw no other options.
So satan plants the thought in Eve’s mind that God is harboring an untrustworthy agenda in His heart. There is MUCH more to this, but the idea is that God has told us that He predestined believers to be the ones who revealed His multifaceted wisdom to the heavenly rulers and authorities – that such has been His eternal plan and purpose of the ages which He accomplished in the man Christ Jesus our Lord.
So satan has the right to challenge our allegiance, our faithfulness, our dedication, our trust, our love and the genuineness of our desire to really know God. If God were to supernaturally step in an forbid all such opposition the second we believed, THAT alone would cause people to believe in God just to make Him their safe place, making belief about themselves and not a true desire for God. All of this would only serve to confirm the thoughts and accusations of the enemy.
However, with the devil allowed to oppose us and God working to rid our hearts from all worldly devotions, our first steps into New Life is a step into wilderness and the devil loves to tempt and harass in the wilderness.
“Now that you are out in the wilderness, does Egypt really look that bad?”
If with all our hearts we choose to return to Egypt God will not forbid it.
Scripture tells us as much in Hebrews…
Heb. 11:12-16, “(12) So in fact children were fathered by one man – and this one as good as dead – like the number of stars in the sky and like the innumerable grains of sand on the seashore . (13) These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them andacknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.
(14) For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. (15) In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. (16) But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
So our pursuit of God will cost us much, but what it costs is NOTHING in comparison to the greatness of our inheritance!
Paul said it had cost him everything but that all he had forsaken and lost in his pursuit of knowing Jesus he counted as less than nothing.
He also confirmed that what we suffer isn’t worthy to even be compared with what we will be inheriting.
Romans 8:12-19, “(12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die; BUT if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the mature sons of God.
(15) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by Whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
(16) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (17) and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
(18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the mature sons of God.”
Revealed in us: This coming glory will not only be revealed to us, but it will actually be revealed in us.
Peter also affirms that there is a need to test the genuineness of our faith and we mentioned that last week.
Also that 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)
So we closed last week with a few examples of those whose life story of hunger for God required faith, patience, suffering and trials before they arrived at a true relational knowledge of God which MORE THAN ANY OTHER THING IN THEIR LIVES was the source of their triumph.
It wasn’t Abraham’s favor with kings, birth of Issac or God providing a ram that were his experiences of triumph, it was because he came to know God well enough that he did not waver in faith, but believed that if necessary God would raise Isaac up from the ashes if necessary because he judged God as faithful!
It wasn’t David’s victory over Goliath, his victories in battle, his ascension to the throne over Israel but the favor of God which met him with wisdom, character, forgiveness and in a time of absolute desperation mingled His Own strength with David’s at Ziklag that were David’s crown of honor.
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!
It is conceivable that we are only lower than the angels in glory and strength in this life, but that the reality of our transformation intuition Jesus’ likeness, the fulness of our inheritance and our glorified bodies will raise us even above the angels, and cherubs and seraphim of God in glory and might. But part of our training ground makes us susceptible to the oppressive inroads of the fallen among that glorious group. But only for now.
“(5) For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.
(6) But one testified in a certain place, saying: “WHAT IS MAN THAT YOU ARE MINDFUL OF HIM, OR THE SON OF MAN THAT YOU TAKE CARE OF HIM? (7) YOU HAVE MADE HIM A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND SET HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.
(8) YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all things put under Him.
(9) But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of deathcrowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
(10) For it was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
(11) For both He Who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, (12) saying: “I WILL DECLARE YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN; IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY I WILL SING PRAISE TO YOU.”
(13) And again: “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.” And again: “HERE AM I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.”
(14) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
(16) For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.
(17) Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (18) For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”
So this principle of suffering preceding glory is a well established truth in scripture!
Remember Jesus’ words regarding the rich man and the beggar Lazarus.
“(19) There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. (20) But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, (21) who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.
In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores.
(22) “Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.
The rich man also died and was buried. (23) And in Hades, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side.
(24) So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’
(25) But Abraham said,
And this is the part we are reading this for…
‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish.
(26) Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
(27) So the rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father – send Lazarus to my father’s house (28) (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’
(29) But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them.’
(30) Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
(31) He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
And of course this became true of those who though they had thoroughly studied the scriptures they still possessed no true hunger for God and so when Jesus rose from the dead – they still would not believe.
Going further with this, we see in Romans how Paul uses a theological teaching to convey what Jesus here said by way of parable…
Romans 2:5-11, “(5) But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! (6) He will reward each one according to his works: (7) eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, (8) but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.
(9) There will be affliction and distress on everyone who does evil, on the Jew first and also the Greek, (10) but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, for the Jew first and also the Greek (11) For there is no partiality with God.”
I want you to notice that the hunger is for God – for His word, but that the natural human tendency is to pander to our flesh.
SO let me ask you…
If you were the devil and you knew this, how would you go about tempting God’s children to keep them from focusing on what really matters?
You know his arsenal is limited and you cannot be tempted beyond your ability to withstand.
In Jesus’ parable of the heart soils, it was the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things” which satan used to derail progress in Christ and towards His image being formed within us.
John in 1 John 2 says, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life”…and while these encompass MANY things in our lives, it is in fact, still limited!
So what would satan use to derail a Christian?
What did satan say to God regarding Job?
Job 2:3-10, “(3) And the LORD said to satan, “Have you set your heart on My servant Job? Indeed there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?
He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to destroy him without reason.”
(4) Then satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. (5) But stretch out Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.”
(6) And the LORD said to satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
(7) So satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (8) And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
(9) Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
(10) But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
This is not some subsection of the gospel, it is simply an inconvenient and avoided truth in most so-called Christian circles.
- Trials ALWAYS prove faith.
- Temptation ALWAYS precedes deeper revelation.
- Opposition and persecution ALWAYS precedes approved character.
- Suffering ALWAYSprecedes glory!
The intended purpose behind “LIFE – ETERNAL LIFE” is becoming like Christ. It is our great hope of glory, but as I told you that glory comes at a cost.
So I ask you again… how hungry are you or perhaps better put, are you willing to pay the cost of hunger?
Because you are going to have to be pretty hungry to push through all the opposition you will receive in order to arrive at life.
The value of what we are inheriting is SO VAST that any suffering you could mention, of any believer, from any time in history is completely unworthy of comparison – so GREAT is the value of knowing Jesus… knowing the Father!
A great summary verse which captures all of this is found in Philippians 3, let’s read as we drawing to a close…
Paul starts off with all the things he had going for him before he came to Christ and it was a pretty impressive list which would have kept him in a position of power, prestige and wealth for a lifetime. But he says…
“(7) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (8) Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
(10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (11) if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” [Our inheritance and great hope]
“(12) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (13) Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, (14) I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(15) Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
(16) Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
(17) Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (18) FOR MANY walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the CROSS of Christ:”
What do you do on a cross? You die!
“(19) whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.
(20) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) Who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Here are a few other passages to consider…
Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
What does that mean? Well obviously it means we cannot follow Him but it also means we cannot be like Him.
Matt. 10:25, “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.”
John 12:25, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
2 Timothy 2:4, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him Who enlisted him as a soldier.”
Rev. 2:10, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Romans 6:22, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”
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, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
(8) We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; (9) we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, (10) always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.
(11) For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body. (12) As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
(13) But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak. (14) We do so because we know that the One Who raised up Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into His presence.
(15) For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.
(16) Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. (17) For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (18) because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”