Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What It Means To Hunger For God

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Psalm 34:10 "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing."


In today's post we want to look at the oft-used metaphor of "hunger" in the Bible. This word-picture describes what ought to be the spiritual impulse of God's people. When it is said to "hunger for God", what exactly is meant? The opening text of today's post portrays a pride of lions on a hunt. David would had been familiar with such imagery. David was a shepherd before he was King of Israel. Shepherds often kept their flocks in and around the Judean wilderness where predators would stalk their prey. We can picture these young lions coming up empty. Their inexperience and lack of skills may had been the culprit. Whatever the case may be, these lions have growling stomachs that drive them on to pursue their quarry. For the believer in Jesus Christ, nothing less than the presence of God will do. So what can we say about hungering for God?

1. Hungering for God means desperation for God. 

Whenever one is physically hunger - they crave and crave, desiring to fill their bellies with the object of their cravings. In the physical realm, hunger drives a person to accomplish their labor. Proverbs 16:26 states - "A worker’s appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on." The principle laid out in Proverbs is transferable to the spiritual realm. Christians ought to be a people that are "driven" by an intense desperation for God. David writes in Psalm 27:4 "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple." It is this hunger for God that fuel's genuine worship. David again writes in Psalm 63:1-3 "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.

Author Rhonda Hughey writes in her book: "Desperate For His Presence":

"People who are desperate for God's presence move beyond convenience and comfort. They have gotten hold of something in their spirit, and they cannot let go. For them, Jesus is not a religious concept-He is reality. The very fact that Jesus came to live among us is a clear example of His desire to be with us in a way that we can both understand and pursue."

Such a desperation for God characterizes the beginning of saving faith worked out in the human heart in salvation by the Holy Spirit. Jesus expresses this point in Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." So when we talk of hungering for God, we speak of a desperation for Him. Notice another description of this concept....

2. Hungering for God means desiring the things of God

Have you ever gotten in a conversation where the people are trying to decide where they'd like to eat? Someone might say a burger place, another "pizza" and a third "Chinese food". As the group attempts to zero down their options, some will appeal to whatever items accompany such choices. For example, a particular burger place has amazing sauce that can't be beat. The pizza people will evoke the heavenly crust or fresh toppings. For those craving Chinese food, there may be a desire for the tang of the freshly made "sweet-and-sour" sauce or the tenderness of the chicken-fried-rice. In other words, people will choose a food place by the things that accompany it.

I'm sure you have went to a particular restaurant known for its steak, or seafood or soups. In a seafood place, isn't it odd whenever someone decides to order a hamburger? Though they claim they wanted to go try out the seafood place, the "things" associated with such eateries are of no-interest. 

Whenever God's people gather together in a Sunday morning worship service or do a service project, there are certain "things" that ought to be craved. The so-called "things of God" are described as the objects of the spiritual appetite desiring to satiate spiritual hunger. Let me just mention three "things-of-God" that we ought to crave that demonstrates our genuine hunger for God.

A. Personal holiness. 

Jesus mentions how those who are converted in saving faith are blessed as a result of "hungering and thirsting for righteousness" (Matthew 5:16). Those who walk with God develop a hunger for holiness, since they are in fellowship with God who is holy (see Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16). Personal holiness is exercised by wanting to obey God and expressed in how much we love others with the love of God. James 1:26-27 reminds us: "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

B. Person of Christ.

Those who claim to hunger for God ought to have a desire to know Jesus as clearly, nearly and dearly as possible. John 6:35 records the following statement by Jesus - "Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."

C. Proclamation of the scriptures.

Whenever we hunger for God, one of the things that ought to be included in our cravings are the scriptures. Jeremiah writes for example in Jeremiah 15:16 "Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts." Or again, 1 Peter 2:2 "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation." Whenever God's people gather together in a worship service or in small group Bible study, what ought to characterize such gatherings is a desire to dig. Going deeper into the scriptures is not so much concerned only with factual knowledge, but faith building. We can only live out our faith by its length in-so-far as we have given ourselves to the scriptures in their depth. 

So we've identified hungering for God has having to do with a desperation for Him and a desire for the things He emphasizes as connected with His character. Let's consider one final point.

3. Hungering for God means depending on God. 

This final thought covers how we cultivate an ongoing status of hungering for God. A simple illustration of this is in driving an automobile. We drive our cars to get from one place to the next. People depend on cars to travel long distances. What happens whenever we are depending more on our vehicles? they get low on gas. Along the way there are gas stations. Although not every car stops in at any particular gas station - yet, at some point, such a stop will have to be made. The car is designed to run on gas. The car's dependence on fuel makes having fuel a matter of necessity for its operation. Our dependence upon a vehicle depending on fuel translates into us needing to go to a gas station. 

Whenever we think of the Christian life, one thing God is trying to cure us of is "self". Self has been identified as "me-in-me". Whenever Christ comes into my life at saving faith, therein begins this battle between the self or flesh or "me-in-me" versus the new found nature of "Christ-in-me". Rather than remaining "independent", I must become "dependent on God". Such a state-of-affairs ensures that I will hunger for God. By depending on God, I discover that I have the drive to want to live for God (see Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 40:31; Philippians 3:12-13). 

Closing thoughts

Today we noted some Biblical texts and other thoughts that lend aid in answering the question: "what does it mean to hunger for God". We discovered three answers. First, being desperate for God. Second, desiring the things of God (God's presence, the person of Christ and the preaching of the word). Thirdly, dependence on God. 

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