Hunger for God

SERMON TOPIC: Hunger for God

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 10 November 2013


Sermon synopsis: The Lord has given us a variety of appetites, which are essential for our physical survival. But He has also created within our hearts a hunger that is spiritual. David was a man who recognized and felt this yearning for the Lord. Throughout the Psalms, we find him meditating, offering praise, or crying out to God. His greatest joy was to be with his heavenly Father in intimate communion.

Hungering for the Lord is a desire to know and draw closer to Him. Sadly, this yearning lies dormant in many believers’ lives. They’re saved but have very little desire for more. One of the problems is that our society is filled with all sorts of things that grab and hold our interest and affections. These pleasures and pursuits compete with God for our attention, claiming our time and effort.
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Hunger for God.

PSALM 63:1-5.

1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Hunger for God.

The Lord has given us a variety of appetites, which are essential for our physical survival. But He has also created within our hearts a hunger that is spiritual. David was a man who recognized and felt this yearning for the Lord. Throughout the Psalms, we find him meditating, offering praise, or crying out to God. His greatest joy was to be with his heavenly Father in intimate communion.

Hungering for the Lord is a desire to know and draw closer to Him. Sadly, this yearning lies dormant in many believers’ lives. They’re saved but have very little desire for more. One of the problems is that our society is filled with all sorts of things that grab and hold our interest and affections. These pleasures and pursuits compete with God for our attention, claiming our time and effort.

Hunger for God.

The good news is that the longing for God can be awakened if we are willing to change our priorities and pursuits. Although cultivating a desire for the Lord takes time, the joy we’ll experience is lasting—and the rewards are eternal. You’ll always get more out of a relationship with God than you put in. In fact, as your hunger for Him comes to life, He will open your heart and mind to understand and desire Him even more.

When we yearn for the Lord, He will satisfy us with contentment and a sense of completeness, while awakening an even deeper longing in our soul. Unlike physical hunger, a craving for Him is filled but paradoxically leaves us hungry. The more we are satisfied in Christ, the more we want of Him.

Hunger for God.

We have a natural hunger for food that God used to demonstrate a spiritual truth in the desert to the Israelites (that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God)

We live in a world in which many people go to bed hungry every day, but Jesus makes this statement.

John 6:35

Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Hunger for God.

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.…

Hunger for God.

Hunger for God. (John Piper)

There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you.” Our appetites dictate the direction of our lives--whether it be the cravings of our stomachs, the passionate desire for possessions or power, or the longings of our spirits for God. But for the Christian, the hunger for anything besides God can be an arch-enemy. While our hunger for God--and Him alone--is the only thing that will bring victory.

Hunger for God.

Do you have that hunger for Him? As John Piper puts it: "If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great."

Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is this path of pleasant pain called fasting. For when God is the supreme hunger of your heart, He will be supreme in everything. And when you are most satisfied in Him, He will be most glorified in you.

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”

Hunger for God.

“The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable. . . .

Therefore, when I say that the root of Christian fasting is the hunger of homesickness for God, I mean that we will do anything and go without anything if, by any means, we might protect ourselves from the deadening effects of innocent delights and preserve the sweet longings of our homesickness for God.” ― work/ quotes/ 200711

Hunger for God.

Do you have a hunger for God’s Word?

1 Peter 2:2-3.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Colossians 3:16.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Luke 1:53.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

Hunger for God.

Luke 14:16-20. Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ’Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ’I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ’I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ’I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” • All three of these men made excuses instead of coming to the banquet. Possessions, work and family even good things can distract us from seeking God.

Hunger for God.

There is an ancient tale from India about a young man who was seeking God.

He went to a wise old sage for help. “How can I find God?” he asked the old man. The old man took him to a nearby river. Out they waded into the deep water. Soon the water was up just under their chins. Suddenly the old man seized the young man by the neck and pushed him under the water. He held the young man down until the young man was flailing the water in desperation. Another minute and he may well have drowned. Up out of the water the two of them came. The young man was coughing water from his lungs and still gasping for air. Reaching the bank he asked the man indignantly, “What did that have to do with my finding God?” The old man asked him quietly, “While you were under the water, what did you want more than anything else?” The young man thought for a minute and then answered, “I wanted air. I wanted air more than anything else?” The old man replied, “When you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find him.”

The rich young ruler wasn’t hungry enough for God?

He was more hungry for worldly wealth.

Mark 10:17-22.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.

And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up. Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Are you too busy to be hungry for God?

Martha complained that Mary was sitting at Jesus feet and not helping with the housework.

Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

The desperate were healed.

Blind Bartemaues did not keep quiet when told to stop crying out to Jesus but cried even louder.

Mark 10:46-52.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus stopped and said, Call him. So they called to the blind man, Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you. Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked him. The blind man said, Rabbi, I want to see. Go, said Jesus, your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The desperate were healed.

The woman with the issue of blood pushed through the crowd to take hold of the hem of Jesus garment.

Mark 5:24-34.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, Who touched my clothes? You see the people crowding against you, his disciples answered, and yet you can ask, Who touched me? But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.

Are you hungry for God?

Look at how desperate the Syrophonecian woman was for her daughter’s deliverance.

Mark 7:24-30.

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. First let the children eat all they want, he told her, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs. Lord, she replied, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs. Then he told her, For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter. She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Are you hungry for God?

Too many take offence at the slightest thing.

Jesus seemingly went out of His way at times to insult people to see what was in their heart. Was there a casual interest, or were they desperate for Him.

Psalm 119:115. Blessed are they who love thy law, nothing shall offend them.

Matthew 15:7-18.

You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules…. Then the disciples came to him and asked, Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this? He replied, Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. Peter said, Explain the parable to us. Are you still so dull? Jesus asked them. Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.

Jesus never made it easy to follow him.

“Today’s Gospel is cheap and costs nothing and requires no sacrifice”

Luke 9:57-62.

Along the way someone said to Jesus, “I’ll go anywhere with you!” Jesus said, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.”

Jesus told someone else to come with him. But the man said, “Lord, let me wait until I bury my father.” Jesus answered, “Let the dead take care of the dead, while you go and tell about God’s kingdom.”

Then someone said to Jesus, “I want to go with you, Lord, but first let me go back and take care of things at home.” Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts ploughing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!”

Charisma magazine (Hunger for God)

God has prepared a banquet for us (a feast of His presence) But we won't have the appetite for it if we're satisfied with something else. Long ago the psalmist wrote about hunger for God in

Psalm 42:1-2.

"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" The type of desire he describes is the type every one of us should have. It's not something unusual that is reserved for only a few impassioned souls; the normal state of a Christian is to be thirsty and hungry for God.

Ps. 107:9.

tells us that God "satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" But we must meet the requirement of the Word in order to receive the promised reward: We must be thirsty and hungry.

Charisma magazine (Hunger for God)

Spiritual hunger seems to come naturally when we first give our lives to Christ. I know when I got saved, I was truly hungry for God. I was single at the time, and everything I did--going to prayer meetings, praying, listening to teaching and worship tapes, reading books on spiritual topics, attending conferences--was intended to bring me closer to Him. Every spare minute of my day was filled with pursuing God and feeding on Him. I was so in love with Him! It was like being on a perpetual honeymoon. That's the way our relationships with God should be.

Charisma magazine (Hunger for God)

I wish I could say it stayed that way. But something happened: I fell in love and got married. Ideally, that should have enriched my relationship with God. But so many things in my life changed in a short period of time that I became distracted by my circumstances. In addition, I did not have the same opportunities to pursue God that I'd had before--no charismatic church, no prayer meetings, no encouragement from spiritually minded friends, no time to myself to study and pray.

By the time my husband finished school--four years and two children later--I had completely lost my focus. My eyes were constantly at ground level, assessing my situation, instead of on Jesus. I was no longer hungry for God because I was feeding on my discontent--as well as on fear and anxiety.

Charisma magazine (Hunger for God)


The condition I found myself in is not an uncommon one. All of us have been guilty of not being hungry when Jesus lays a banquet of His presence before us, and it's usually because either we're sick--or we've been snacking on something else. We know how this works in the natural. Our bodies were designed to require nourishment, so it is normal for us to feel hungry when it is time to eat--unless our appetites have been suppressed by illness or satisfied by something we ate before we got up to the table. It works the same way in the spiritual realm.

We were created for fellowship with God, but if we don't desire it, then either we are in sin or we have allowed other things to take the place of God in our lives. The result in both cases is that our appetites become dulled, and we don't pursue God with the same passion we normally would.

Charisma magazine (Hunger for God)

If you suspect that some form of spiritual sickness is taking the edge off your hunger for God, don't feel condemned! Cry out with the psalmist:

Ps. 139:23.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me...and see if there is any wicked way in me“ Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin and revive your desire for God.

What if you're not sick, but you've been snacking?

Allowing other things or people to come before God in your life will have the same effect as being in sin. You see, it is the nature of man to want to satisfy himself, to seek to assuage the insatiable hunger he was born with--but often we try to satisfy this hunger with the wrong things. We don't understand that the emptiness in our souls can be filled only by God.

Charisma magazine (Hunger for God)

The truth is, God has a banquet prepared for us--a feast of His presence- but we won't have the appetite for it if we have been satisfied with something else.

Many of us make the mistake of filling up on junk food--immoral TV programs, movies and other forms of entertainment, for example. But even seemingly good things, such as certain spiritual activities or disciplines, can diminish our hunger for the best.

Matt. 6:33. "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" Often we fail to do this because we get our eyes on something else, something that seems more pressing--or more appealing--than the meal set before us. But the ideal is for our hearts to burn with unquenchable desire for God in all circumstances. Is this the kind of believer you are--one who is hungry for God no matter what? Or have you allowed something other than Him to become the focal point of your desire?

Hunger for God attracts His attention.

Matthew 10:6-14.

But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Who is worthy?

Not someone who is deserving, but someone who is hungry.

Hunger for God attracts His attention.

How much time is wasted in ministry on people who are not hungry for God?

They may be hungry for physical bread or hungry for acceptance and recognition, but they have no appetite for the Lord or the holiness he requires of us.

John 6:25-29.

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, Rabbi, when did you get here? Jesus answered, Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. Then they asked him, What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.

Hunger for God attracts His attention.

Are the Church meetings and the singing and the ministry an end in themselves to you, are they satisfying a need you have to do something good or worthwhile, or are they part of you pursuit of God.

Jeremiah 29:11-14.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.

Hunger for God.

I Corinthians 10:3-13.

They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Hunger for God.

Charisma Magazine: (Thetus Tenny)

You would not be reading these words if you did not have a genuine desire to pursue God. But at the same time, you're probably feeling a degree of frustration about how to pursue Him while busily facing life's challenges.

In our culture we are surrounded by distractions. And just as there will never be a time of "enough time," there will never be a time without distractions; that is the impossible dream. The reality is that the urgent can often crowd out the important.

We have all had a good case of the "if onlys" at some point in our lives. Your spirit keenly feels that pursuing God is your greatest desire and delight, yet your life abounds with things that compete for your attention. You've probably said: "I would love to pursue God more fervently, if only I had more time ... if only I had more help ... if only others were more thoughtful ... if only my family didn't take so much of my time."

The "if only" list is virtually endless. Almost always it includes "if onlys" related to jobs, spouses, children and the church.

Hunger for God.

Decision to Pursue God

I can still remember a rainy day in late autumn many years ago. Our son, Tommy, would soon be 3 years old, and now we had our new baby girl, Teri. They were exactly what my husband and I had hoped for. The carefree days of "just the two of us" had been replaced with the responsibility of the four of us. I stared out a window, blinking away tears as I watched my husband, Tom, drive away to his ministry appointment. I was happy with the children and had vowed to be the best mother I could possibly be. Yet I had the inward stirrings of spiritual giftings and a deep yearning to be used of God. I struggled with these two callings: chasing God and chasing kids; heavenly passion and earthly parenting. Both of these required time and energy. Neither of them could ever really be completed in the space of time allowed. I made a decision on that day that has helped me balance spiritual pursuit and earthly responsibility. It helped keep me on track in my chase after God while chasing my lively children. Perhaps it was more of a desperate decision than a deliberate one.

Hunger for God.

I know my frustration came from a heart desperately hungry for God. With two babies at home and a husband in a travelling ministry, I could either seethe in frustration or find a way to feed my spiritual hunger. I couldn't do too much at the time. It was all I could do just to be what I was, but I could prepare myself for the time when I would be able to do more.

I made my decision: I would read, study, pray and meditate in the precious few moments of a young mother's "down time." At first, it was usually while the kids were down for their naps; then later, when they were at school.

For a special seven-year period, I carefully planned my time so that most evenings and every early morning would take me a little further in my pursuit of God. I am by nature an early riser, and this was a time that suited my God-chasing efforts.

My Bible and my books fed my hunger for learning about Him. My prayers brought Him intimately near so that in meditation, I learned from Him. The deliberate pursuit provided time to get to know Him.

Hunger for God.

The Chase

What seems like an unreachable, impossible dream—time to pursue God with all our hearts, free from distractions and hindrances—will become a possibility only with commitment.

True commitment is the driving force of life. Commitment evolves into passion, and passion is contagious.

Often, we sabotage our own good intentions of pursuing God because of a preconceived idea of how it should be done. Then if we fail to conform to this idea, we abandon our pursuit.

Perfectionism produces procrastination. And procrastination robs us of commitment. Perfectionism also produces pharisaical self-condemnation, which takes the joy out of the relationship. Joyless duty undermines commitment.

I wonder if there have ever been any God-chasers who did not have the opportunity to succumb to the "I would—if only" dilemma.

Hunger for God.

Note the words of the wonderful song, Fill My Cup, Lord by Richard Blanchard:

Like the woman at the well I was seeking For things that could not satisfy; And then I heard my Saviour speaking: “Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord, Come and quench this thirsting of my soul, Bread of heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more, Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

Hunger for God.

In a world hot in pursuit of quenching its thirst with everything but God, Tozer wrote:

In the midst of this great coldness toward God there are some, I rejoice to acknowledge, who will not be content with shallow logic. They will admit the force of the argument, and then turn away with tears to hunt some lonely place and pray, “O God, show me thy glory.” They want to taste, to touch with their hearts, to see with their inner eyes the wonder that is God.

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted.

Hunger for God.

The woman at the well wasn’t worthy, God is not looking for worthy people, he is looking for thirsty people, hungry people.

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