Cross and Flame - Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame).

The Soul Feast

Psalm 63:1

As I listened for the message from the Lord, I found a song in the hymnal that was the perfect introductory prayer.  But as the sermon took shape, the words of that song seemed to fit better as the spiritual segue from one part of the sermon points to the others.  It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit guides us from the natural to the spiritual and back.

I was sitting in a meeting and there was this weird sound coming from the person next to me.  I smiled at them and they smiled back at me.  It was obvious they were hungry.  When you are hungry your body sets off an internal alarm system.  When it goes off, it means it needs to be refueled just like your car.  The little gas pump shows up on your dash when the fuel level is low.

When you purchased your car, there was a book that came with it that told you about how much fuel you had left and how many more miles you could go when the light came on.

In your physical body, the alarm sounds like your stomach is hosting a wrestling match.  The noise gets so loud sometimes that it will disturb your neighbor.  If you have gone a long time without food, the noise will disturb everyone around you.  It is funny sometimes because it seems to happen when it is exceptionally quiet.  The point is, you have run out of fuel and you need to eat.  You need some food.

For any number of reasons, you sometimes try to trick it into thinking it has been fed.  You will consume diet pills that make you feel full, but you are not.  Some people will eat junk food like a bag of chips and a coke.  That was my lunch for several years when I worked.  Breakfast for some is a donut and coffee.  Dinner is a cheeseburger from Sonic on Tuesday because it’s two for one.

But, no matter what gimmick you use, the body knows the difference between junk food; food full of calories and very little nutritional value and a nutritiously balanced meal.

We face this same dilemma when we examine our spiritual diet.  Junk food and a little snack just won’t cut it.  We need real food.  Listen to the words from verse one of “Become to Us the Living Bread”.

Become to us the living bread

By which the Christ life is fed,

Renewed, and greatly comforted.

It is the same thing when we are thirsty.  We will drink everything to satisfy the thirst, but after a while, nothing will do; you must drink some water.  You can drink tea that has been so watered down that it shouldn’t even be called tea, but it doesn’t take the place of water.  Coffee drinkers who memorize a formula just to get a cup of coffee at certain places even realize a grandé won’t sustain you all day.  Only water will satisfy the thirst.  Devout soda drinkers will find that soda gets thick and sweet after a day of consumption.  The thirst can only be satisfied by the “real” thing and I don’t mean Coke.

Today you can purchase even water infused with different flavors, exotic fruit juices and vitamins.  And even though it is water, it will not totally satisfy the thirst.  Verse two of “Become to Us the Living Bread” speaks to our spiritual thirst.

Become the never-failing wine

The spring of joy that shall incline

Our hearts to hear the covenant sign.

Did you know that there is a spiritual hunger and thirst that cannot be satisfied by none other than the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Did you ever stop to think about our human longings and perhaps they mask our desire and longing for God?  If we have been fashioned with a natural desire for food that sustains us and is necessary for our growth, then we have also been given a spiritual desire for the “bread of heaven”?

Have you ever given thought to the idea that God loved you, His beloved creation, so much that in giving His only begotten Son, that he was trying to tell us that He longed for the love and intimacy that could only come from having a real relationship with Him?  Jesus would bridge that gap and we would have access to the Lord God Jehovah once again.

When we began to search for life’s meaning, it was because of a longing inside of us.  When we wanted to understand who God really was and how it affected our lives, it created a hunger; a relentless drive toward spiritual depth.   This insatiable hunger in our souls is God sounding the spiritual alarm for us to come home to Him through our belief in His Son Jesus Christ who would be our savior if we said yes.  As Marjorie Thomson writes in her book Soul Feast, “we are like the prodigal son – children far from home and starving.”  God bids us come home to Him.

Now, the problem is we hear the call but look for spiritual nourishment in all the wrong places.  We don’t know where to find it.  We don’t know how to explain what we feel or what we want.  Church used to be the place we came for fulfillment, but churches have become religious institutions advertising their wares.  Come over here.  We are people just like you.  No, come over here, we have enough programs to satisfy everyone in your family.  No, come over here, we are about social justice.  We will help you fight for your rights.  No, come over here, we have excellent mission ministries.  Sunday mornings is like a religious smorgasbord.  People have grown tired and frustrated with the Sunday morning drama and seek to satisfy their spiritual hunger and thirst in other places.

What will fill the emptiness in my heart?  It is Jesus Christ.  He wants you to have unspeakable joy.  He wants to satisfy that longing deep in your soul.  He calls you to Him to find rest and peace.  It is not His desire that you fill your bodies with chemicals to try to satisfy the hunger.  It is not His desire that you give up on the world and walk away.  It is not His desire that you try to satisfy everyone else’s hunger but your own.  The Holy Spirit is always calling us to a place of love, joy, and happiness.  He is calling us to walk in grace, mercy, and freedom.

The world desires to really know if God is real but cannot find any witnesses.  Are there any witnesses in the room?  Are there any among us who can attest to the presence of God in their life?  Is there anyone here who doesn’t care what the world says, God is real and they have a personal testimony?  The very longing in someone else’s life might be satisfied when you give your own testimony about how the Lord brought you through dangers, toils, and snares.

The Holy Spirit is here to conform us to the image of Christ.  It is not something just written in the Bible for our leisure reading.  The Word of God is to be life changing.  It will guide you through the transformation necessary to become a true disciple for Christ.  In the book of Genesis, it is recorded that humanity was created in the image of God, but we cannot see that if our spiritual eyes are not open.  Open our eyes, Holy Spirit.  Our hearts cry out to be re-created by God.  The Rev. Donnie McClurkin, a contemporary gospel artist, puts it like this:

Speak to my heart, Holy Spirit
Message of love to encourage me
Lifting my heart from the snare, how You love me and care for me
Speak to my heart

God is love and it is because of that love that we hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Could it be God misses us and wants us close to Him?  Could it be that He is grieved because we’ve wandered so far away from home?  Could it be that God has become frustrated with our futile efforts to religious idols that represent God but they are not?  God has warned about idols worshipped in His stead.  The sin is they are not real.  They cannot love you back.  They didn’t give you life.  The Lord stands with outstretched arms to all who would come.  He is the bread and wine we long for.  The last verse of “Become to Us the Living Bread” is this:

May Christians all with one accord

Unite around the sacred board

To praise your Holy name, O Lord.

Now, O Lord,

Speak to my heart, that’s what I want You to do
Speak to my heart, ’cause I’m waiting to hear from You
Speak to my heart, that’s what I want You to do
Speak to my heart.

Speak to my heart, Lord, give me Your holy word

If I can’t hear from You, then I’ll know what to do
I won’t go on, never go on my own
Just let Your spirit guide and let Your word abide.