Are You Hungry?

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
(Proverbs 27:7)

In this proverb, like a lot of the Proverbs, there is a contrast. There is someone who is full. They have stuffed their bodies so full, that even the taste of the sweetest substance on earth is not appealing to them. Then there is the other person who is famished. He is starved. This guy will take anything you give him and he’ll love it. Raw brussel sprouts with lemon peels? Yum, I’ll take it! Do you remember the woman who described herself as a dog who was happy to eat the crumbs from Jesus’ table (Matthew 15:27,28)? That’s the image of a truly hungry person.

So here are two quick observations for today:

  1. The “hungry” people have a different perspective on life. When we are so full in our minds by being consumed with the things of this world, we really have a hard time being grateful. Even the sweetest things in life just don’t bring us pleasure. We can be so full of stress, worry and busy-ness in this world that even a sweet baby playing can be annoying. But then spend time around someone who has faced serious disabilities from birth. I find a lot of those men and women see even the bitter things as sweet. They are so grateful, joyful and have a wonderful perspective on life. It might be good for you and me to spend more time with folks like that. We can learn to develop a “hungry” attitude that appreciates life and any blessing.
  2. The “hungry” people have a different perspective on the Word of God. They will listen to sermons, read the Bible, dive into the difficult stuff. Even the “bitter” things of the word are sweet because they are so hungry for drawing closer to God. The full person can’t even stomach the sweetest things of God. There is just no room in the tank for it. It might be that you have to put aside some of your regular entertainment, and shut off the devices more often. Start “tasting” the word, and with the Holy Spirit’s living power in that word you will develop a hunger (Hebrews 6:4-5; 1 Peter 2:1-3).

“And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!'”
(Luke 15:16-17)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:6)

Graves of Craving

Take some time to read Numbers 11 and Psalm 78:10-32. It records a time during the wilderness wanderings that Israel gave themselves up to intense craving (lust). Manna wasn’t good enough for them. They were not thankful for all that God had already done for them. They spoke of Egypt like it was a resort vacation spot, talking about how great they had it back there. “We want meat!”, they cried.

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!
(Numbers 11:4)

So God tells them, “Ok, I’ll give you meat…till it comes out your nostrils” (Numbers 11:20).

Then a wind from the LORD sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (GRAVES OF CRAVING), because there they buried the people who had the craving.
(Numbers 11:31-34)

This is a needed reminder from Scripture to help us see the power of cravings and what they can do to God’s people. What can it do to marriage? What can unrestrained lust do to all our relationships?

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.
(Proverbs 6:23-29)

A whole bunch of people were buried in a place that was forever remembered as “Graves of Craving.” Just like Arlington National Cemetery, you know what that place means. At Arlington we commemorate the men and women who gave their lives for our country. At Kibroth-hattaavah (Graves of Craving), they commemorated those who gave themselves up to lust. We do not want to create a graveyard that memorializes how we destroyed ourselves and others because of our lusts and cravings.

As God’s men, we must be committed to conquering lust with the power of Jesus Christ and with the help of other godly men in our lives. Help and grace is always there at the throne of God because of Jesus.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
(Ephesians 5:1-11)

Seeing the Blessings Right in Front of You

“And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him” (Ruth 4:15).

Naomi received this blessing from the women of Bethlehem when her baby grandson, Obed, was born to Ruth and Boaz.

I like this blessing because Naomi was gently reminded by the women of Bethlehem that she had a gem of a daughter-in-law in Ruth. Naomi experienced overwhelming grief and tragedy by losing her husband and her two sons, and no one can take away that grief. But sometimes in our grief, we focus so much on what we lost or what isn’t right that we fail to see the incredible blessings of God right in front of our faces.

Naomi may not have had a husband or sons anymore, but she had Ruth, who was better to her than seven sons. Ruth could not “replace” who Naomi lost, but Ruth was still an amazing blessing from God in Naomi’s life.

And now, on top of that, Ruth and Boaz bring little baby Obed into the world and he lays in the arms of his grandma Naomi (Ruth 4:16). Again, this wonderful blessing doesn’t replace who or what was lost, but this baby will “restore” her life and “nourish” Naomi in her old age.

It’s just a thought for us today, men, to take inventory of the blessings of God around us, especially in our families and churches. Since this is Friday, and we usually make some application regarding our relationship with our church families, let’s do that with Naomi and Ruth.

We are tempted at times to look at our congregations and find what is “missing” or what “isn’t right” or who “isn’t doing their part.” First of all we need to be careful that we first look humbly in the mirror and pray for God to help us see ourselves clearly before passing judgment upon others. But how about looking around in our congregations and seeing the “Ruth’s” that are better to us than whatever it is we think is lost or missing? I believe there are a lot more Ruth’s in our lives than we think, and we should be always in prayer with a grateful heart for the godly, loving and loyal friends in Christ that surround us.

None of this is to take away from the faith of Naomi. I believe Naomi was a strong woman of faith and she served God faithfully. She also showed great love and concern for her daughter-in-law Ruth. But we all need reminders sometimes, no matter how strong or mature we may be, to look around and see the blessings right in front of us.

Our soul loathes this worthless bread

Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died (Numbers 21:4-6).

God provided manna, bread from heaven, for the children of Israel. Every day was a miracle. Their food was miraculously provided for 40 years. Do the math. 6 days a week (extra manna provided on Friday for the Sabbath day) for 40 years. That’s a myriad miracles, and a gazillion tons of manna. They called it “worthless.” On top of that they said, “our soul loathes” it.

I was reading 1 Corinthians 10 yesterday where Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians about the Israelites in the wilderness. The sins they committed were recorded for us as examples, Paul explained, so that we do not repeat them. One of those sins Paul specified was complaining.

It just reminded me of how serious God takes complaining. If you haven’t done this lately, look through the Bible and do some word searches for words like grumbling, murmuring and complaining. See what God says about it. Look at the consequences. Lots of people died at God’s own hand because of it.

Our soul loathes this worthless bread

So, here we are, living under Christ, walking in His grace, and Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 to remember how God views complaining. It is still a serious thing to God, just as serious as sexual immorality and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). Sometimes we are tempted to think that the big sins are sexual immorality and murder, but complaining is just a little sin. We would be well served to take a walk through Exodus through Deuteronomy with the children of Israel to refresh our memories of God’s view of complaining.

Today, let us take a moment to thank God.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

If we recognize that we are living an ungrateful life, and have a complaining spirit, we should get down on our knees and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy. We also should ask the Lord to teach us to be more thankful. May God help our hearts to be content, and may our words express that daily. It is helpful for us to take regular inventory of how richly God has blessed us. That old song still rings true, “Count your many blessings.”

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Hebrews 13:15).

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).

Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalms 100:1-5).

why is it so important to be thankful?

It is foundational to our relationship with God. We “enter His gates” with thanksgiving. Can we really even have the right mindset to enter into a relationship with God, worship Him, and live for Him if we are not truly thankful for what He has done for us? When we become unthankful, our thinking becomes futile and we will be led away from God (Romans 1:21).

Having an attitude of thanksgiving is a sacrifice we offer to God. Being thankful for God and all His blessings is a great way of getting our minds off of ourselves (Hebrews 13:15-16).

Praying with thanksgiving helps us tremendously when we are stressed and anxious (Philippians 4:6-7). When you start thinking, meditating and thanking God for all that He has already done for you, it helps to settle your mind on what God is doing now and will do for you later.

Eating with thanksgiving helps us to remember the source of all our rich blessings (James 1:17). For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

History.com has a good video on first Thanksgiving in America and the development of the Thanksgiving tradition.

“In all things give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).