The night Jesus was born, the Angel of the Lord appeared to a group of shepherds, scared them to death, and yelled “Fear Not!”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”—Jesus from the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:6
- Each North American produces an average of three and a half pounds of garbage per day.
- Five million extra tons of trash is produced between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in the United States.
- The waste generated each year in the U.S. would fill a convoy of 10-ton garbage trucks 145,000 miles long—over half-way to the moon!
Someone complained in an e-mail about the amount of food being thrown out by Wal-Mart while there are hungry people everywhere. After a little research, they discovered that McDonald’s does it. Safeway does it. Grocery stores and convenience stores and fancy restaurants and hot dog stands do it. While people go hungry in the richest of all nations, stores, and restaurants are destroying tons of edible food each day in America.
- According to United Nations statistics, the average North American consumes:
- 5 times more than a person living in Mexico
- 10 times more than a person living in China, and
- 30 times more than a person living in India
- Since the end of WWII, malnutrition in the U.S. has shifted from trends of undernourishment to over nutrition. Many experts agree that the scale of calorie expenditure versus calorie consumption has simply tipped in favor of consumption. The end result, according to the World Health Organization, is “globosity”—a global epidemic of fatness that has millions suffering from an “array of serious associated health disorders.”
Let’s face it: Americans are spoiled!
We have the best of everything. Our average local supermarket offers over 200 kinds of cereal to choose from! Only a very small percentage of Americans know what it really means to go hungry. This Thanksgiving Day alone, we will consume thousands of tons of food.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE ARE NOT ONLY PHYSICALLY SPOILED IN AMERICA. WE ARE ALSO SPIRITUALLY SPOILED.
Until the COVID lockdown, every weekend, thousands of Americans make the weekly Sunday morning trek to their favorite local house of worship. There is certainly no shortage of churches. In many cities, it seems that there is a “church on every corner.” We have the best facilities money can buy. Powerful sound systems, Audio/Visual units project worship songs, sermon notes, and video clips onto screens. We have great choirs, worship teams, musical instruments/equipment, and the latest choruses from Vineyard and Integrity/Hosanna!
We have well-trained pastors, authors, and teachers. We’ve got Max Lucado, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Dr. James Dobson, Jack Hayford, and Tony Evans. We have the best teaching material available in the best Christian bookstores on the planet. We have Christian radio stations, Christian Television (24 hours a day on “Sky Angel”), and Christian Music Concerts. We’ve got all kinds/styles of Christian music. We write and market tons of best-selling Christian books ( “The Prayer of Jabez” and the latest book in “The Harbinger” series are available in mass quantities at your nearest Wal-Mart!).
Most of us have computers with e-mail access and the ability to search the worldwide Web for anything and everything Christian imaginable. We’ve got the Bible in more versions than Baskin Robbins has flavors. We’ve got “Our Daily Bread.” We’ve got small groups. We’ve got radical youth groups and cool youth pastors and high-tech church websites. We’ve got DC Talk and the Newsboys and Jaci Velasquez and Third Day (and for those of you who are a bit older – Bill and Gloria Gaither’s Homecoming Video Collection. What have they made now, about 1,000 of those?) And how could I leave out Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber? We’ve got Veggie Tales and 3-2-1 Penguins! We’ve got it all!
And yet, our marriages are falling apart. 50% of the marriages in America end in divorce, including those who consider themselves Christians. Many Christian men, including a large number of pastors, are hooked on pornography. Our families are hurting. We may have a church on nearly every corner, but many of them either sit empty on Sunday mornings or hold only a handful of gray-haired adults who are more interested in protecting traditions than they are in experiencing the power and presence of the living God. How can Christians living in a culture of such excess keep a healthy spiritual appetite? How can we get and stay hungry for more of God?
- EAT RIGHT. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”—Psalm. 34:8
One rule my Grandma had ( my grandparents raised me) in our house when I was growing up: “Don’t eat a bunch of junk food before dinner or you’ll ruin your appetite!” I could have a snack when we got home from school, but that was it. Grandma didn’t want me filling up on “junk food” because she knew if I did, I wouldn’t have any room left for the nutritious meal she’d be serving for dinner. Being a good grandma, she knew that Twinkies, cookies, and candy did not have the same nutritional value as green beans, corn on the cob, salad—and occasionally the “dreaded Brussel sprouts.”
Her rule did not hurt my appetite. In fact, it made me even hungrier for the right things, the best things, the healthy food. Along about 6:00 PM, the smell of dinner cooking would reach me and my olfactory senses would kick into overdrive. Roast beef with mashed potatoes, and all those memorable homemade meals of pizza, Lasagna, Ham, Turkey, and Chicken, just to name a few. When grandma would call us for dinner and I was like the “Road Runner.” (I was in my seat in a blur) And I would sit for the next 30 minutes or so and feast on a delicious home-cooked meal. (Man, I’m getting hungry!)
The Psalmist knew what he was talking about when he wrote, “O taste and see that the Lord He is good.” God is so good! God always has been and always will be best for us! The problem is, so many Christians today fill up on “spiritual junk food” that we aren’t hungry for God! We’ll talk for hours to a friend via e-mail or the telephone, but we don’t have time to pray. We’ll read the latest romance novel cover-to-cover or the entire sports section of USA Today, but we can’t seem to get interested in reading the Bible. We’ll sit for hours in front of the TV set with never a complaint, but it’s too much effort to get up and go sit in church for an hour and a half on Sunday morning. (Maybe we should start passing out Doritos when we receive the offering!)
For the healthy Christian, there’s no substitute for the Word and prayer. There are no shortcuts for those two things if you want to stay hungry. Many of us have no room left over for God in our spiritual bellies because we’ve gorged ourselves on things like gossip magazines and daytime soap operas. We know more about the latest websites than we do about the Word. Every day God spreads out a smorgasbord before us but we’re not hungry because we’ve been hanging out at the “Carnival of Carnality” stuffing ourselves with spiritual cotton candy. We have no appetite left for God. We fill our lives with so many things and yet, many Christians know full well that they are spiritually malnourished. The sinful condition of their private lives is proof.
You should include in your prayers every day: “God, help me cultivate a daily hunger for you and for your Word! Help me eat right!”
It’s possible to stuff yourself and still be malnourished. Have you lost your appetite for the things of God? You’ve gotta’ stop snacking on the junk food! You’re spoiling your appetite. Save some room for the good stuff. Pull up a chair at the banquet table. “Taste and see that the Lord, He is good.” You’ve gotta’ EAT RIGHT.
- EXERCISE YOUR FAITH! “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14a and 17b
Christian Comedian Mark Lowry once said on exercise: “I hate exercise—it’s too much work! I do one sit-up a day. In the morning I sit up in bed… that’s half when I lay down at night, that’s the other half!”
When you work hard, you work up a good appetite. James says, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” J.O. Fraser, missionary to China – “Faith is like a muscle which grows stronger and stronger with use, rather than rubber, which weakens when it is stretched.”
When you stretch a lot of American “Christians” they break. Our marriages are breaking our emotions are breaking, and our commitments are breaking. Why? Could the reason be that we come to our churches for appearances and now with COVID lockdown we even skip reading the bible altogether and sit around like couch potatoes—“church a distant second in our mind. How about witnessing? In reality, many Christians never do any witnessing. In a recent survey conducted by the A/G, the majority of Christians in America admitted they hadn’t witnessed to one person in the course of an entire year.
We march into our churches and demand, “Feed me!” But we never exercise our faith! The world is starving for answers all around us, but we leave our Christianity at the church door. Oh, we’ve got all the workout gear. We’ve got our spiritual Nikes. We’re like some guy who joined a health club, went out and bought expensive new cross-trainer shoes, new shorts, tank top, and sweats. We’ve sat through several sessions on how to use all the different pieces of workout equipment. We can tell others how to use the equipment. (Some of us even think we know more about how to use the equipment than the pastor does!) But we never do anything! We never actually get any exercise. Our biggest workout of the week was coming to the gym on Sunday!
If you want to get and stay hungry for God, you’ve got to take your faith beyond Sunday and give it some exercise during the week! It’s hard to stay hungry for God when you never attempt anything that makes you need Him. Obligate yourself!
III. WORK OUT WITH JESUS. “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…” – Hebrews 12:1b-2a
When you work out, you want to work out with someone who will push you past what you thought you could do. Why? To be the best you can be. To make sure you are in peak performance condition for the long season ahead, to avoid injuries.
Unless you have strong personal discipline and pain threshold, you won’t push yourself as hard as you need to in order to have that competitive edge on the field/court. In the off-season, Covid lockdown, when you’re not playing every day/week against the competition, you can get lazy and slack off. You might think you’re really pushing yourself, but when you get back with the competition, you’ll find out you’re not in as good a shape as you thought you were. You were measuring yourself against the wrong standard. A personal trainer keeps you in tip-top shape. They get “in your face” and push you to do more—to reach down and “suck it up.” They keep you hungry to win.
I challenge you to work out daily with Jesus. He will push you. He knows what it means to be a champion. He’s been to the cross. He’s defeated death, hell, and the grave. He knows what it takes to win the daily confrontation with sin. He expects greatness from you because He alone can look inside and see all your God-given potential. He will train you to see the world differently. He’ll push you past your own selfishness to see the needs of people around you. To understand the pain in their hearts, to love the unlovable, to see value in every life. He’ll develop a hunger for the things of God in you. You’ll begin to feel His passion for the lost. He’ll breathe the power of the Holy Spirit into you. Make you “more than a conqueror…” You’ll never be the same!
What do you say? Are you up for the challenge? What would it be like to have Jesus for your personal spiritual fitness trainer every day?
Have you lost your appetite for the things of God? You’ve gotta’ EAT RIGHT. Stop snacking on junk food! Don’t spoil your appetite. Save room for the good stuff. “Taste and see that the Lord, He is good.”
EXERCISE YOUR FAITH! If you want to get and stay hungry for God, you’ve got to take your faith out and give it some exercise during the week!
WORK OUT WITH JESUS. Is Jesus your passion, your motivation, your greatest desire? Does your heartbreak for the things that break the heart of God? I challenge you to work out daily with Jesus. He will push you. You will never be the same!
I pray this message has encouraged you to step out and step up. In these times AHEAD God needs each and every one of us to be bold and strong in our faith, Fear and paranoia are NOT of God.
Be blessed, my Friends! Dusty
Have mercy on us and forgive our sins. Father, heal our land and give our leaders Godly wisdom… Reveal the truth to our people and disclose the evil ones that would destroy our country. Lord, we give you all the praise and glory!
In Jesus name, we pray, Amen