Bruce Springstein said it.. ”Everybody’s got a hungry heart”….
Everyone is hungry, every human on earth is thirsty, we just didn’t know for what. Since the fall of mankind in the Garden, when God was ripped from our hearts, every human being born was born hungry! Craving that which is missing. But the fall blinded us, the fall ruined our senses, we didn’t know what we were hungry for! We spent our lives trying to fill that emptiness with something.
Figure out what I’m hungry for.
What is it that’s missing in my life? What is it that’s not there? A lot of people really don’t know what they want in life. The Bible says we are spiritual beings and God made us to love Him and to know Him and be loved by Him. Nothing will take the place of that. There is no substitute. You need to recognize what your real hunger is. Your hunger is your spiritual being and you hunger for God. The sooner you recognize that, the better.
So we go off looking for something that will satisfy our hunger. We have three main types of needs: Physical needs (food, clothing & shelter), Emotional needs (companionship, relationships, comfort, support) and Spiritual needs (significance, acceptance, forgiveness, purpose, redemption, hope)
If we try to meet spiritual needs with physical things it won’t work. That’s the root that feeds all the sinful behavior we know and have experienced: we try to soothe those spiritual hunger pangs and trying to slake our spiritual thirst. And it’s not just gross sins of overindulgence like sexual promiscuity or drug abuse or drunkenness, its also those attitudinal things we try to gratify ourselves with, like self-pity, grief, regret, unforgivness and negativity. Those attitudes and behaviors we fall into will provide some sickly gratification, but don’t really satisfy that hunger long term.
It’s like giving sea water to a thirsty man, it only dehydrates him more. It’s like feeding sawdust to a starving man, it fills his stomach, but provides nothing to sustain him.
God says, “I made you with a God shaped vacuum and I want to meet that need.” Happy are the hungry! God’s getting ready to do something in your life.
Hungry people are practical people. A hungry man on the street doesn’t care for fine china and fancy linens. He just says, “Give me food!” Hunger is painful but it motivates.
Another attempt we make is trying to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst with SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The Jewish audience Jesus was preaching to know the example of the Pharisees when it came to perceived righteousness. A righteousness they assumed was established by their works. They assumed that the hunger they felt could be satiated by doing more, and feeling good about all they had done to be “godly”. Of course, so many fall into this trap, feeling that desire, that aching hunger and thirst, and trying to satisfy it by being the best “rule-keepers” they can be. But that never satisfies either. The hunger remains, but now with an aftertaste of condemnation, because no one can ever keep the rules well enough.
So, if we’re hungry, and what we want is something that satisfies that desire in a way that we enjoy,then what IS it?
“Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:16-18
The invitation is simple: “COME.” Come as you are. As a pastor, I hear people make excuses all the time. “If I come to church the roof will fall in. I’m too bad, everyone doesn’t know what I’ve done, I can’t be forgiven.” None of these things are true! We misunderstand the grace of God who loves us and wants to provide for us but we miss out because of our excuses. Come.
Am I missing God’s banquet table with everything good? If you are hungry, God has provided. Next to be F.U.L.L.
Understand junk food is a dead end.
The equivalent of spiritual junk food is rule keeping and religion. They may seem to satisfy but only temporarily. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Isaiah 55 in The Message like this: “Hey there! All who are thirsty come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway–buy and eat! Buy without money–everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best; fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, and listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting commitment with you, sure, solid, enduring love.“ Isaiah 55:1-3 (Mes)
I love cotton candy. But imagine if you tried to live on it? Uh. Sickness, headaches, rotten teeth and disease would soon follow. The same is true of religion, its dead.
- Am I on a diet of spiritual junk food? (Idols such as money or people will not satisfy but will discourage and exhaust by needing more and more)
- Am I trying to work for or earn my spirituality? (religion or rule keeping will not satisfy but discourage and exhaust)
God knows that we’re hungry, that’s what he’s speaking about in this passage. We spend our time and resources of our lives trying to satisfy that hunger, but on stuff that isn’t real food, only a substitute that will not satisfy. Here’s what will satisfy…
Let Jesus Satisfy Me
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty … If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever!” John 8:35, 51
Now that’s Wonder Bread! Bread is the basic essential of life, people live on bread and water. In a famine when they fly or drop supplies, the first thing they unload is flour to make bread.
Jesus is saying “I’m the bread (ESSENTIAL) of life! I’m IT. What you really need to live is ME! I can meet your needs. You’re looking for everything else, but I’m the bread of life, I’m the essential. I’m what you need. You need Me and you can’t do without Me.”
- Jesus & Jesus alone will satisfy your spiritual desires or hunger.
*In the New Age movement, one of the things they teach is “Find satisfaction in yourself.” “Find happiness within.” That makes no sense! Why? When you are physically hungry do you tell your stomach, “Feed yourself!” Does that work? No, you have to go to an outside source to get some food to feed yourself. When there is a spiritual vacuum in your life you don’t say to yourself, “Be your own god!” That leaves you just as empty as before. You have to go to an outside source, to God, who made you and created you with that vacuum so you would know Him and love Him and be loved by Him. He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus said, “Whoever drinks water will get thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again … It will become in him a spring of living water …” John 4:13-14
Water is even more essential than food. You can go several weeks without food, but you can’t go more than about three days without water. About 70-80% of your body is water. Every cell in your body needs water to survive. You can’t survive without water. Jesus is saying “It’s more than you want Me — you need Me. You need Me to survive. I am the Living Water. I am your bread I am your water. I made you and you can’t make it without Me.”
When you are thirsty, cost is immaterial. It doesn’t matter what it costs, you’ve got to have it! This is what it means to hunger and thirst for God.
Let Jesus Be My Righteousness
“Righteousness is to the soul what water is the body.” We have to have it and we crave it.
What does Jesus mean when he says hunger and thirst for righteousness?
In Romans, we learn that the Gospel is all about how the world has gone wrong from sin, but there is a righteousness…a “right-ness” in relationship with God that comes from heaven to us. This righteousness isn’t about doing stuff. This righteousness is about being right with God, it’s about relationship! Being restored to relationship with God, being restored to our true identity!
Seen from this perspective then, hungering and thirsting for righteousness isn’t about doing more religious duties…hungering and thirsting after righteousness is TO HUNGER FOR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
It’s about desiring that wholeness that comes from recognizing His love for us, that sense of completeness that comes from realizing we are part of something so much bigger than just ourselves, or our circumstances.
- My past doesn’t matter, I can be right with God today.
“For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.” Matt 21:32
I don’t have to be religious to be right with God.
“Now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Rom 3:21-22
Hungering/thirsting is inherent…we must learn to see what we are truly hungry for…we’re hungry for God through a relationship with Jesus. We’ve looked at this passage too many times with the thought going through our head “if only you were hungry for God like you are for other things”…and we feel so condemned by that we shrink away from him…but that’s not what this passage is trying to speak to us!
This is Jesus saying “I know your hungry…but you haven’t realized what will bring you the most enjoyment yet, you don’t realize what your really craving….it’s ME!”
When we begin to understand and recognize who we are from a perspective that is bigger than ourselves, from a perspective of belonging to a heavenly Father that loves us this much…and viewing all aspects of the life we’re placed in from that vantage point of His loving plan, we find that satisfaction of our aching desire. “I’m NOT just bumbling through a miserable life…I MEAN SOMETHING TO GOD”!!!
Now…will there be more Bible reading, more prayer? Yes…but as a means of communicating with the One we love, a response of love to our Hero…not a religious duty. Will we turn from those counterfeit substitutes for real food? Yes…but out of the satisfaction and pleasure of having our REAL desires met, not as a compliance with a set of rules.
God doesn’t want us to come to him because He needs some stuff done! (Is that the only reason we want our own children to come to us, just so we can give them a to do list? No we like a hug, to hear about their day and just be with them.) HE LOVES US! WE BELONG TO HIM!!! That was never more clearly demonstrated than when Jesus had his hands nailed to that beam, and his feet twisted up and spiked to that tree…dragging his open back across that wood to breathe and with a gurgling gasp say “Father it’s finished, into your hands I commend my spirit”…. “I did it, I rescued your beloved…I’ve brought them home.”
Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is knowing that deep desire to be rescued into right relationship with God…and to find ourselves there.
Don’t let these words of Jesus’ condemn us. Let them inspire us to recognize what we really crave to realize that there’s pleasure in satisfying that need.
Going back to the picture of Kaleb. Do you know why he is smiling so big? Yes he loves food and is hungry, but he’s happier than I am. Why? All that is before him is FREE!! He doesn’t have to pay for it. He has a father that will pay for it, me! The same is true of our heavenly father. He has paid the price; salvation ad righteousness in Christ is totally free!! Jesus paid it all. Have you come to the buffet table and gotten satisfied? Our job is to hunger, God’s job is to satisfy. Now that’s something to be happy about!
A prayer for the hungry,
“Jesus Christ, I believe You love me and You died for me. I want to know and understand that better. Jesus, I look to you for satisfaction. I realize the spiritual hunger I have, can only be met by You. I want all of You that You have to offer.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.