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A Hunger for Jesus

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A Hunger for Jesus

Repetition of “What are we looking for?”

Garden of Eden – tree of life – satisfaction.

The sights, sounds, tastes that stays with you.  A feeling of fullness and pleasure.

Sent out of the garden.  What happened to the tree?  Perhaps its fruit began to fall to the ground and rot.  The lush garden gave way to desert. 

Since then men have wandered the earth, looking for something. 

God made mankind upright,

but men have gone in search of many schemes.

[1]

What are we looking for?  Looking for meaning, something that satisfies.

Meaningless!  Meaningless!

            -Wisdom

            -Pleasures

           

Hunger that never ceases.  Desires that are never quenched.  What are we looking for?

Contentment – man looking for rest.  What are you looking for?

I’m reminded of the New York woman who without warning left her husband and children.  Some time later she surfaced in Hawaii where she was working at a store that sold hand-dipped chocolates.  When asked why, she explained that she was sorry to cause her family pain, but she had finally realized she had to “find herself.”  This was her way of doing it.  As far as I know, she’s still peddling chocolates under the palms. – Charles Colson

This woman was apparently looking for “herself.”  Apparently her husband and kids were keeping her from finding herself.  Who would have known that he “self” was hiding all along on a tropical island at a chocolate stand?

We look and look and look and work and work.  What are we working towards? 

Meaningless, meaningless!

-Work

            -Advancement

            -Wealth

Repetition of “What are we working towards?”

Don Spangler, also known as Spanky, retired from Southern California Gas Company in 1998. One of the first things he did was to throw out all his suits and ties. Spanky planned to retire to a life on the river, wearing shorts or bathing suits.

Spanky spent his days on the Colorado River, boating, water skiing, and partying with his friends. He was also building his dream house. Spanky lived his fantasy life for five years. Right after moving into his huge new home, he found out he was dying. A year later, at age 60, Spanky was dead.

Spanky had always lived larger than life. His booming voice and large 6-foot-3-inch frame, made him a monstrous presence. Wherever he went, a party followed, even at a child's soccer practice. When he partied, he wanted the music at top volume. When he bought a boat, he wanted it to be the fastest. When he got interested in salt-water fish tanks, they had to be huge. He rode anything that went fast—high-powered dirt bikes, dune buggies and boats with super-charged hydro engines. He was fanatical about his equipment. It had to be the best, and it had to be perfectly maintained. His cars had to be black or white, and his boats, bathing suits, and caps had to be red. It was a declaration of his love for life. Robin Hinch writes:

Death didn't come as easily to Spanky as life. He could not acknowledge the seriousness of his illness and called it "just a little inconvenience."

"Next week, I'll be back on the river," he insisted toward the end.

And he did not, as the famous Dylan Thomas poem suggests, "go gentle into that good night."

Spanky, in fact, fought death for hours after his family assured him it was okay to let go. And at the very end, he threw his arms up over his head, as if to ward off the angels that were coming for him, and uttered one last word: "NO!"

Robin Hinch, "'Spanky' Lived Fast and Furious," Orange County Register Obituaries (7-29-04); submitted by Brad Fogal, Trabuco Canyon, California

We work and work to try to get a tight grip on life and the more we squeeze the more life slips through our fingers like soft butter.  What are we working towards?

Stock market up and down.  Worries about futures, worries about finances. 

Man cannot serve both God and money.

Not if you will serve or if we will work for something, but who or what we serve and work for.  So what are we working towards?

The Problem:  The problem is not that fulfillment is not out there, the problem is with where we look.  Retirement, golf courses, tropical islands and chocolate stands.

The Problem:  Not that we do not have enough of what we work towards, but that we work and strive for things that do not bring life!  Wealth, boats, titles, advancements.

TEXT:

These men came looking for Jesus, but Jesus points out that they do not want Jesus, they want the bread for their bellies.  What would Jesus say to us?  Isn’t the same so true today?  How many today claim to be looking for Jesus, when they are really after the ease of life, the bread, the wealth and other stuff they perceive Jesus came to give them. 

“You stand here and watch the world go by, don’t you?”

Robert Morgan tells of when he had ducked into a newsstand at Chicago’s O’Hare for a paper, and the small gray-haired lady who took my money had perceptive eyes and oversized glasses.  She only glanced at me, her attention barely leaving the mass of humanity that was coming and going in a blur of motion.  I was intrigued by her absorption in the flowing crowd, so I asked her, “You stand here and watch the world go by, don’t you?” 

“Yes…” she said, her eyes still on the humanity.  “Yes, and much of it is sad.” 

She turned briefly to me, gave me my change and my paper, and nodded toward the men’s bathroom across the concourse.  “You wouldn’t believe the suicides they take out of that washroom.  Many men go in there and kill themselves, and the paramedics take them out one after another, all the time.” 

With that observation, she dismissed me from her attention, her eyes transfixed again by the humanity.

I am so glad Jesus did not come to give us what we want and what our hearts look for, but what we need.  He did not come to multiply bread and feed the masses only to leave and take his bread mulitiplication abilities with him.  He came to provide real, unending, life-giving bread that truly satisfies.  His miracles were signs of something greater than mere bread for the belly.  Even miracle bread that fed a multitude.  “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw the miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill!”  What are you looking for?

Did you know…

154 pound man                       Kilocalories per min.

Sleeping, resting, fasting 1-1.5
Sitting, reading, desk work 1.5-2
Sitting typing, playing piano, operating controls 2-3
Light bench work, serving in shop, gardening, slow walking 3-4
Social sports, cycling, tennis, cricket, light factory work, light farm work 4-6
Heavy physical labour, carrying, stacking, cutting wood, jogging, competitive sports 6-8.5
Very hard physical labour, intense physical activity, heavy lifting, very vigorous sporting activity over 12

These men traveled a long way to find Jesus.  They put in a lot of time and effort to find him.  Yet Jesus declares to them, “Do not work for food that spoils.  Work for food that endures to eternal life.”  “What is the work God requires?” they ask.  Jesus’ response should be branded on the hearts and minds of every Christian:  “The work of God is this, to believe on the one he has sent.” 

Here’s the question, how much of our energy is spend on the work that endures to eternal life?  What are we working toward? 

There is coming a day, when the work of man’s hands will be revealed by fire.  God’s going to light a match to all of our energy and efforts in this world.  The only works that will remain when the smoke has cleared is that which was centered on the our faith and hope in Christ Jesus.  For the work of God is this, TO BELIEVE on the one he has sent. 

Is that where we focus our energy?  To believe?  To trust?   To strive and strain to know and trust Christ above and beyond all else?  Do we say as Paul the Apostle,

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. [2]

In sum, my work that brings true life now and forever is to believe in Christ Jesus my Lord.

1 John 2:15ff.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. [3]

The man who does the will of God will live forever:  That will and work is simply for you to believe and trust in Jesus and his death to reconcile you with God.

How is your appetite?  What is it we crave? 

My weight loss for wrestling.  What are we hungry for? 

In his book Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper recounts a story his father often told in his days as a fiery Baptist evangelist. It is the story of a man who came to saving faith in Jesus Christ near the end of his earthly existence. Piper writes:

The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone's amazement he came and took my father's hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face, "I've wasted it! I've wasted it!"

Does our satisfaction in Christ quench the desires of the world, or are we still filling ourselves with that which will never satisfy and that which wastes our life?

Great news this morning.  Jesus came to bring real bread. Jesus came to provide true life.  Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty!”  Praise God!  We do not have to spend our years wandering in a meaningless search for satisfaction.  We can now cast aside our meaningless pursuits, worries, failures and endless lust and craving and finally eat and be satisfied. 

“This is the victory that overcomes the world when we are shipwrecked on God and stranded on Omnipotence!” – Vance Havner

The tree of life has returned!  The tree of life has returned!  And its fruit, does not come from our labor and toil.  The fruit of the tree of life comes from God’s work and not our own.  The life from this tree cries out and seeks after us, rather than our endless and meaningless search.  The life from this tree comes from the work of his nail-pierced hands, rather than the calluses on our own.  Because THIS is the tree of life.  His body is the true bread from heaven that a man can eat and truly live.  And the only work God requires of you is to believe. 

In his sermon "The Sinner's Feast," Lee Eclov comments on communion:

Maybe some morning, instead of solemnly passing these trays, we should dance for joy. Maybe we should sing every born-again song we know. Maybe we should tell our "homecoming" stories and laugh like people who no longer fear death. Maybe we should ask if anyone wants seconds and hold our little cups high to toast lost sisters found and dead brothers alive.

Lee Eclov, "The Sinner's Feast," PreachingToday.com

Praise God!  Jesus has brought us the bread of life, and communion is a time of celebration that our endless search and meaningless work and continual craving for satisfaction and life is over! 

What are we looking for?  What are we working towards?

Communion is not only a reminder to us of the body and blood of Christ and God’s gift of redemption and forgiveness.  Our eating of this bread and taking of the cup is a reminder to us of our pledge to fill ourselves with Christ.  No longer will we crave and strive to fill our lives with bread that doesn’t satisfy and the things of this world that never brings life.  Rather, we pledge that Christ would be our food.  That Christ would be our drink.  That Christ alone sustains us.

Video – card – trade that food that spoils for food that endures to eternal life.

May we remember:

If you have everything except Christ, you have nothing.

If you have nothing but Christ, you have everything. 


----

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ec 7:29). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Php 3:7-11). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Jn 2:15-17). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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