Spiritual Hunger

19 July 2020

Series: 2 Peter

  1. Last week we read (1:16-18) that Peter’s view of Christ-like goodness and moral virtue was shaped by his experience of being with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Describing the nature of Christ-likeness, Peter uses the words power, majesty, honor or respect, glory, and megaloprephs doxa, “megalo-prep-pace doxa”… Majestic Glory or World Famous Glory.
    1. Jesus promises that all who believe in Him can share in that glory. Peter puts it like this, (1:3) “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
    2. “Excellence” or arete in Greek refers to the kind of virtue and goodness exhibited in the hero of an epic adventure. It is how greatness and nobility are acted out… in concrete deeds and noble self-control. It isn’t prudish scruples or preachy moralizing.
    3. The “false teachers” among the Believers that Peter addressed are described as greedy, indulgent, self-absorbed, party-hardy, adulterous, arrogant and futile… or “futureless”. Fellowship was replaced by exploitation as they used others for their pleasure.
      1. Their message was “freedom”. Life is a buffet, so fill your plate again and again.
      2. However, indulging our cravings has a curious effect. When you feed a craving, the craving grows and grows until there is no way to satisfy it. Too late we realize that it is no longer the hunger of our heart.  It becomes a parasite that devours us from within.
      3. As for spiritual growth, the false teachers didn’t seemed concerned with it. “Glory and excellence: was replaced with grasping and indulgence.
    4. Peter called the Church to remember their roots… to recall the power and truth that saved them. (1:19-21) “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.  But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
  2. The False Teachers. But the message of the false teachers was attractive.
    1. These were not outsiders who barged in uninvited. They rose up from within the Church itself.
      1. In contrast to the inspired prophets, the false teachers didn’t proclaim a bold Word from the Lord.
      2. By their behavior and their attitudes they (2:1) “secretly introduced” a way of life that was not a bright light of inspired truth, but a warm, half-light of seductive comfort.
      3. There is no prophetic, “Thus saith the Lord”. Instead they would be more likely to ask, “What feels right?”
    2. They appealed to no authority because they respected no authority. They spoke from their appetites to the appetites of those around them. Read vv. 18-19.
      1. They promised freedom yet, ironically, they were slaves to their cravings.
      2. In Romans 6, Paul made it clear that our choice as spiritual beings is not between freedom and slavery. Our choice is between which master we will serve… Death or Life.
      3. Paul (Rom 6.16) says, “You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness”. And by righteousness, Paul means “life”… real life, not the zombie like corruption that sin degenerates into.
  3. Reflections on spiritual hunger. Spiritual hunger is not a bad thing. It is part of our nature, part of the Image of God in us always growing and seeking new and deeper springs of joy.
    1. Observation 1: Our spiritual hunger springs from a need to fulfill or an opportunity to grow.
      1. As slaves to Christ, or Life, there is remarkable freedom to attend to our spiritual hunger for the direction, insight, and joys they help us uncover… as long as Christ remains our Lord.
      2. Our hunger becomes a craving that leads us out of service to Christ and into bondage and death when:
        1. It becomes an idol that takes the place of God and our will trumps God’s.
        2. It so consumes our attention that we see our world (everyone and everything in it) as our personal smorgasbord… when the only love of our life is ourselves and our cravings.
    2. Observation 2: Spiritual hunger is just as effective and useful to my spirit when it remains tantalizingly and even painfully unfulfilled as it is when it is satisfied. As a matter of fact, God’s deepest blessings seem to require the longest hunger before they can take root in me.
      1. : Come home hungry after swimming work out… first impulse was to eat. Mom said, “Dinner will be served in just a few minutes. Don’t eat now or it will spoil your dinner.”  Snacking is never healthier than a balanced meal and it distracts from the satisfaction that dinner can give if our appetite has been blunted.  It bleeds off some of the joy that pent up hunger gives when faced with the real deal.
      2. The pain of hunger postponed works its way inward into our spirit. It creates open places… clearings in our hearts for God to fill.
      3. Psalm 37 (vv 3-5) says: “Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
  4. Conclusion.
    1. What are the desires of your heart? If you’re like most of us, you don’t really know. We usually think we want what we   Cravings are usually short cuts, spiritual junk food.  For example we may crave sexual flings instead of a true, loving relationship or public success instead of a heart at peace in the love of God.
    2. I am often unaware of what I am actually hungry for. I only know what will ease the hunger pains. The process is made more difficult by the fact that I have little concrete knowledge about the joys of Heaven and of fellowship with the Trinity, but I am fully aware of the joys of earthly indulgence.
    3. I hate to deny my appetites as much as most of you. But staying hungry until God serves whatever He is cooking up is what faithfulness is all about… trusting that God knows us and wants us to share His life with Him.
    4. I like the phrase in Psalm 37 that instructs us to “cultivate faithfulness”. If we refuse to take moral short cuts and, instead, live with being hungry… even painfully hungry as we wait on God… that’s part of cultivating faithfulness.
    5. Only God can fill our hungry hearts and we have no power to make Him feed us when we want it. There is no short cut that delivers the goods… it might seems great at the time but it slowly turns to poison.
    6. If we stay hungry and stay faithful, we will slowly learn the truest desires of our hearts.
    7. If we stay hungry and stay faithful, we will not fill up the empty places of our hearts with clutter and toxic waste. Instead our hunger will lead us to the true banquet where God will give us the desires of our heart.
    8. Indeed, you and I will find that God Himself IS the truest desire of our heart.
    9. During the eight years prior to coming to Grand Marais, I was waiting on God and for much of that time, I had great spiritual hunger. I craved a career that I could succeed at. I didn’t know that what I really hungered for was peace with God and the joy that comes in just abiding with him in my living.
      1. During those hard years, while I was cultivating faithfulness, God was hollowing out the cravings of my heart and slowly filling the empty place with peace and joy. To top it off, He brought Gayle and I here… to experience a ministry and a community that has been a good we could not have imagined.
      2. When I craved success and acceptance, I ended up choking it out of my life. When I was forced to learn how to surrender my life to God’s will, and to accept His love for me, God brought everything together… including us with you.
    10. There are no short cuts that lead anywhere that are really characterized by glory and excellence. We struggle to follow the righteous paths directed by the Word of God so that we stay tender to the heart of God and soft to the shaping of His hand.
      1. As Peter says in v. 9, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation.” We cultivate faithfulness so that our cravings do not master us and, instead, we can surrender ourselves to His love. God hardens our resolve and give us strength to do it.
      2. We are not settling for less than the so-called freedom of the false teachers. Actually, we are opening ourselves to a great deal more because our horizon is not limited to the here and now… it extends to eternity.
      3. And we are not constructing a world we THINK will make us happy. We are being taught that our greatest hunger is for Him alone. While we are learning that, God will exercise his magnificent, astounding, world famous Glory in bringing together a new heaven and earth that will trump every craving we ever pursued and reveal every dream we ever had for ourselves to be a shadow of what we really wanted.
    11. Don’t fall for the false teachers and their shortcuts to happiness. Encourage one another to cultivate faithfulness and always remember, “Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it!”