Today’s talk is the third in a series given recently at Lee Abbey.
Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:
George Orwell described a wasp that “was sucking jam on my plate and I cut him in half. He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed oesophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him.” The wasp and people without Christ have much in common. Severed from their souls, but greedy and unaware, many people continue to consume life’s sweetness. Only when it’s time to fly away will they grasp their dreadful condition.
‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”’John 6:35
There is a hunger deep within the human heart. The leading psychologists of recent times have all recognised this. Freud said, “People are hungry for love.” Jung said, “People are hungry for security.” Adler said, “People are hungry for significance.” Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” In other words, if you want your hunger satisfied come to me, I am the source of true love, security and significance.
Professor Joad, who was converted from atheism to Christ said, “Trying to find happiness from this world is like trying to light up a dark room by lighting a succession of matches. You strike one, it flickers for a moment, and then it goes out. But when you find Jesus Christ, it’s as though the whole room is suddenly flooded with light.”
So let’s be honest, some questions to reflect on:
Am I hungry? If yes, how hungry? Maybe even before that – Hungry for what?
Power, peace, recognition, vindication, acceptance, validation, escape, anonymity, breakthrough, hope, success? Some of those are better than others; whatever the case, they are our reality. Jesus deals with our reality. And he says come to Me, you will be filled, I will satisfy your hunger, I am the bread of life.
John Piper wrote: “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
How much do you want of God?…
…because no one has less of God than they want.
D.L.Moody was perhaps the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. The encounter he had with the Holy Spirit in New York transformed his ministry. After one service, two old ladies called Mrs Cooke and Mrs Hawkhurst approached him and told him, “You are good, but you haven’t got it… we have been praying for you… you need power!” Moody, an already well-respected minister, was unimpressed. “I need power?” asked Moody. “Why, I thought I had power!”
The ladies poured out their hearts that he might receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost and soon there grew a great hunger in his soul. “I felt I did not want to live any longer if I had not this power for service.”
There began a period of deep spiritual hunger and desperation, of six months’ pleading with God for more. “I began to cry as never before for a greater blessing from God. The hunger increased; I really felt that I did not want to live any longer. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day in the City of New York – oh! What a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say, God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.”
He was never the same again. Although his sermons and doctrine had not changed, his effectiveness in winning thousands to Christ was evidence of this new power.
Walter Lewis Wilson was an American doctor born towards the end of the nineteenth century. He was a faithful Christian who often hosted visiting missionaries to his church. One visitor from France didn’t mince words, asking him, “Who is the Holy Spirit to you?” Wilson’s answer was doctrinally correct, “One of the Persons of the Godhead… Teacher, Guide, Third Person of the Trinity.” But it was an empty and rehearsed response. His friend pushed him harder, challenging him, “You haven’t answered my question.” Wilson opened up with real candour, “He’s nothing to me. I have no contact with him and could get along without him.” There was no spiritual hunger, rather resigned acceptance of going through the motions.
The following year, Wilson listened to a sermon at church from Romans 12 on the challenge to offer his body as a living sacrifice. The preacher called out from the pulpit, “Have you noticed that this verse doesn’t tell us to Whom we should give our bodies? It’s not the Lord Jesus. He has his own body. It’s not the Father. He remains on his throne. Another has come to earth without a body. God gives you the indescribable honour of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be his dwelling place on earth.”
Wilson was struck to the core and rushed home to seek the Lord. So hungry for an encounter with the Lord. He fell on his face and pleaded with the Lord, “My Lord, I’ve treated you like a servant. When I wanted you, I called for you. Now I give you this body from my head to my feet. I give you my hands, my limbs, my eyes and lips, my brain. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. It’s your body from this moment on.”
The next morning, Wilson was working in his office when two ladies arrived, trying to sell him advertising. He immediately led them to Christ. The previous night’s surrender had enabled him to access new power from on high. From that day onwards, his life entered a new dimension of evangelistic fruitfulness. He went on to pioneer a church plant, a mission organisation, and a Bible College, as well as becoming a best-selling author.
Do you want to be entrusted with that same power from the Holy Spirit? Well, who is the Holy Spirit to you? And how hungry are you? Like the early Wilson, can you get along perfectly well without him? Or are you truly willing to offer him your body as a living sacrifice, without conditions or caveats? There’s so much more power that I want to plug into for God’s glory. But will I trust him for every aspect of my life? Will I “consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3v8)? These are big, big questions. Here’s inviting you to total surrender, to deep hunger.
The members of the Punjab Prayer Union (John ‘Praying’ Hyde amongst them), who experienced revival in their midst, signed the following declaration to become members. It was in the form of questions:
- Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow-workers, and in the Church?
- Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power?
- Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus?
- Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening?
- Will you set apart one half-hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray till the awakening comes?