Sunday, November 15, 2009

Man I'm Starving(Acquiring an Appetite for God)

Have you ever found yourself in a moment when hunger just overwhelmed you? Like those times at work when you didn’t eat breakfast or the right kind of breakfast and you find yourself at 10:30 AM ready to eat wood or anything you could get your hands on?

Or it’s late in the day and schedules collide and dinner is late and you find yourself coming to the table saying “man I’m starving”? If you’re like me you can relate.

Let me preface my thoughts with this: I have never been in a place where I was genuinely starving. I have always had access to food. I have only really known hunger, because meal time was delayed, but never actual starvation. I know there are billions of people on this planet that could express volumes about starvation and I’m not one of them. But my thoughts today go beyond simple lack of nutrition.

Jesus said; “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NIV)

I find it very curious, Jesus tells us that there is a place where we will NEVER experience hunger or thirst again. Some kind of place where the pang of hunger in our bellies will never be felt again, nor the dryness of thirst that so often overtakes one caught in some sort of vigorous exercise or labor parches the throat and tongue. But He’s not talking about something physical; He’s talking about something very different, yet similar in its impact on our lives.

Jesus is talking about an acquired appetite so fixed on God that one cannot live without it. So critical is this type of appetite, that Jesus tells us nothing is more important. So where and how does this appetite come from?

Firstly, this type of appetite comes from God alone. That’s right; God provides by grace an appetite that can only be satisfied in Him alone. God has designed everything in the cosmos to come close to satisfying our desires, all the while leaving us void and wanting something more. Kind of like the theory that eating bad carbohydrates causes you to want more bad carbohydrates. It becomes a vicious cycle that can only be broken by training your body’s metabolism to be satisfied with better nutrition. And that takes time and deliberate action on our part.

God set up the scenario, consume Me and never be hungry and thirsty again, or consume other things and continue in your quest for satisfaction. I hate to admit it, but Mic Jaggar was right… he can never find true satisfaction in anything apart from God. Especially useless information designed to spark imagination, funny how we’ve used that formula in the church.

Secondly, this type of appetite is more than just a head trip. It’s more than a simple understanding that certain foods are good for you and others are not. I say that because almost every person in the Western world understands the gravity of certain foods over others. Meaning, a bowl of potato chips has units of heat that the body can use, but they are the wrong kind and often produce ill affects on your system management. Whereas a bowl of whole grain oats also has units of heat that the body can use, but those units of heat have more value because of other elements in their make up. The illustrations of nutrition could go on and on, but the point is, God alone holds the key to proper spiritual nutrition and simply KNOWING that fact is not enough.

Just like knowing about proper nutrition is not enough to have any significant affect on health and well being, so too is faith or belief in what God is telling us. Jesus is more than a religious icon we look to for solace and comfort. He is the ONE AND ONLY source of life and coming TO Him is only half of the equation.

For God’s plan to function as He designed it, we must accept the fact that He alone supplies all our needs and even our wants. We must realize the grace in empty calories that ultimately will lead us to refuel.

“Belief is not merely an agreement with facts in the head; it is also an appetite for God in the heart, which fastens on Jesus for satisfaction. ‘He who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst!’ Therefore eternal life is not given to people who merely think that Jesus is the Son of God. It is given to people who drink from Jesus as the Son of God. ‘The water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life’ (John 4:14). He is also the bread of life, and those who feed on Him for nourishment and satisfaction live by Him. ‘I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever’ (John 6:51). The point of these images of drinking and eating is to make clear the essence of faith. It is more than believing that there is such a thing as water and food; and it is more than believing that Jesus is life-giving water and food. Faith is coming to Jesus and drinking the water and eating the food so that we find our hearts satisfied in Him.” (John Piper; The Purifying Power of Living in Future Grace; p.86)

Do you get that? You can believe that coming to the table of the Lord is the right thing to do, but eating Him is a whole other thing. You can admire the beauty and presentation of a sumptuous meal, much like the pictures in food magazines, but eating is way better than just looking. Are you willing to consume the Living Lord with all your deepest desires and find true satisfaction, or will you continue to eat chips and candy in hopes to be satisfied and healthy?

My contention is this: How satisfied and healthy are we? I mean really, do we trust in our own resources to bring us satisfaction?

Jeremiah 9:23-24 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, (24) but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’
declares the LORD.”

This is where we miss getting our satisfaction from the Lord. All of us have, to some degree, wisdom, strength and riches. And that’s the problem. We are resourceful. We have access to all of the above, by birth or acquisition – we have access to wisdom, strength and riches.

So why do we need God, right? I mean really, let’s just do our Sunday church thing and get on with winning the rat race. Monday’s coming and we’ve got a plan. We’ve got a strategy to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, with or without God, right?

Sadly I say, that’s right, because all too often we find our satisfaction, temporarily in the things of this world and the resources that tend to flow from humans (self) instead of God.

Let me challenge you. Do you trust in anything other than God? Trusting in God means faithfully putting Him first in all your thinking and doing (actually doing as He tells you by His Spirit and His Word), and then taking action based upon your experiences and resources. Together you’ll find great satisfaction. The sum of God’s resources and yours are greater by far than yours alone.

Why not get hungry for God? Why not make Him the desire of your appetite? Why not?

Could it be that you’ve been snacking before dinner? Remember what your mother told you; “Don’t eat that or you’ll spoil your appetite for dinner.” Mom was right, and so is Dad. Trust Him.

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