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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Hungering and Thirsting for God - Part 2

Charles Stanley - Hungering and Thirsting for God - Part 2

Charles Stanley - Hungering and Thirsting for God - Part 2
Charles Stanley - Hungering and Thirsting for God - Part 2

On any given day of your life, what is the strongest emotion you feel? Is it anger, bitterness, distrust, anxiety, or is it love and trust and gratitude and thanksgiving? All of us are expressing emotions toward other people in any given day, and to whom are you expressing those strongest feelings you have? And when you think about that person or those persons and you think about how you feel, do those feelings drag you down or do they lift you up? Well, what about this? How often during a given day do you think about the Lord? What are your emotions, what do you feel? Do you feel love, acceptance? Do you feel blessed? Do you feel trust? Or do you feel shame and embarrassment and guilt and uncertainty? It is certain that whatever our relationship with a person and ever how much we know about that person, it's going to affect how we feel toward them.

So, if you have certain feelings toward a person, it's gonna govern, it's gonna govern your relationship and your action and whatever knowledge you have of that person. It's gonna govern how you feel and how you think. That's true of our relationship to God as well as to someone else. So when you think about your relationship to the Lord, what governs that relationship? What governs the way you feel? It's what you know about Him and the kind of relationship you have. And so, I want us to look at the sixty-third Psalm, because in this Psalm, David is expressing what he feels toward his Heavenly Father, what he feels concerning his relationship to Him. And what I want to talk about in this message is, I want to talk about this whole idea of "Hungering and Thirsting for God". And you'll see something in this passage that I think reminds you of that.

Look at the sixty-third Psalm and the first eight verses. He says, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; and I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness. And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips; When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. For You have been my help, in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me". Listen to that. He says, "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me".

Those first couple of verses he's expressing the yearning desire of his heart as he says as a person who would be in a desert longing for something to refresh. He says, "I long for You. I earnestly seek You". And he says, for example, in the past I've seen Your power and Your glory. I'm looking for something that I know is real. He says, Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips'll praise you. He says, "What motivates me to long and hunger and thirst after You is what I know is real, what I've experienced". And he says, "I lift up my lips to praise You. I bless you". He says, "My soul is satisfied". That is, he is reminding himself of the satisfaction he has in the Lord.

Do you ever have that kind of feeling toward God, that your soul clings to Him? That you long for Him, that you want Him. That you want a more intimate relationship with Him or a better relationship? You want to feel closer to Him? Well that's what hungering and thirsting after God is all about. It's all about being drawn closer to Him. It's all about a more intimate relationship. It's all about drawing toward Him, moving toward Him. It's all about learning who He is and beginning to enjoy Him on a level that you have never enjoyed Him before. Now what we mean by hungering and thirsting and a growing relationship with Him is simply this: That is, this insatiable desire for Him. You can't really explain it fully and totally. It's just something inside of you that longs for. You feel moved toward Him, you feel drawn to Him. You feel sometimes as if something is shoving you toward Him.

There's this longing that goes on in your heart. And I want to simply ask you, Do you ever have any of that? Is God a stranger, or is He an intimate friend? Do you have a warm, intimate, personal relationship? Can you just not get enough of Him? Or, is He someone who's sorta on the periphery of your life? And what you have to ask is this: However you answer those questions will indicate what your relationship is, where you are in relationship to God, and where He wants you to be. And so I want us to think about this whole idea because you see, the truth is He wants that kind of relationship with all of us. And, a hungering thirsting relationship is a passion for God. It's a longing for Him. It's been placed there by the Holy Spirit. In fact, every single person born is born with a vacuum within their life that only God can fill.

And so when they come along in life, if that is nourished as it should be, that person will be saved. And then grow in their relationship. If it's not nurtured, not cared for, that person can naturally and normally head out in the other direction thinking little or nothing about God whatsoever. And probably some of you may feel that's exactly where you are. Why should I have a relationship to God? Nobody's told me about Him. I don't know anything about God. He's some stranger up in Heaven who's supposed to judge some and love others. What do I know about Him? That's what I want to talk about. And I want to talk about how you can have the kind of relationship with Him that is more powerful, more intimate, more satisfying, more undergirding and assuring you than any human relationship you can have on the face of this earth.

So let's think about it for a moment. If only He can satisfy the human heart, and only God can. If only He creates that great hunger within our hearts for Him that draws us, causes us to long for Him, tugs at our hearts, pulls at us, sometimes pushes to bring us in a close relationship with Him, what we have to ask is, Lord, how will I ever know whether I have that or not? Somebody says, Well, you know, I'd like to have that in my life. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. So what I'd like to do is to give you a few indications that you can know for absolute certain whether you're one of those persons who really and truly desires, longs for a deeper, intimate relationship with Him. Because the truth is most people don't.

Churches are filled with people who are sorta lukewarm. They love God today on Sunday, they may think about Him a couple of times during the week. They go to church once in a while, they give a little something once in a while, they tip God instead of tithing. And so, what happens is they're not satisfied. But at least they can sorta keep their conscience clear and then next week go back again and do a little something. Not talking about that. I'm talking about what are the real genuine godly evidences of a hungering, thirsting, yearning desire for Him? A relationship with Him that is intimate and extremely satisfying. Well, you got a pencil and a piece of paper? I want you to jot them down. Because this is a time to be absolutely deadly honest. And you see, we don't grow unless we are open and transparent with our Lord. And sometimes that requires being transparent before other people and with someone else.

If you really want this kind of relationship, if you want this kind, listen, of intimacy with your Heavenly Father. How can I be intimate with my Heavenly Father when I don't even see Him? You see, because He is absolutely perfect. Because He knows how in His awesome supernatural power to relate to us on the inside, in our innermost being. That's no problem with Him. Because you have a relationship with someone else and your intimacy flows, depending upon their attitude or how they feel or whatever it might be. God's not that way. Now we on our part, we may, we may float once in a while. But I'm talking about the kind of relationship that will satisfy you every day of your life. What is the first thing, the first evidence?

Now watch this. These answers are all simple, but they're the answers. And so I want to ask you to be honest and listen carefully. Make no judgment at this moment. Just listen. One of the first evidences that a person has a genuine, hungering, thirsting desire for God in that kind of a relationship is they're gonna have a love, they're gonna have an interest, they're gonna have a desire for the Word of God. That is, this book is gonna become a priority in your life. This book's all about God. This book unveils to us who God is, how He thinks, what He does, what He says, how He works in our life, the consequences of sin, the consequences of obedience. It's all right here in one book.

Now, if I'm gonna develop a relationship with Him, I want to know how He thinks. I want to know how He reasons. I want to know His ways. There's no such thing. I've never met a person in all these years who had a godly, deep, abiding devotion and hungering, thirsting for God who did not have a hunger and thirst for the Word of the Living God. They want to know Him. And as I read back through the years, not only great outstanding Christians that God's used in great ways, but other people and meet many people. You can tell in a little bit of the conversation, here's a person who has a hunger for God. Can't keep quiet. The Word of God, listen. This is where we come to seek knowledge and wisdom and strength and guidance in our life.

And here's what'll happen. You have a hunger and thirst for Him? You're gonna have a hunger and thirst for what He's saying about where you are at this point in your life, what's going on and what's happening and how He can operate in your life at that point. But say, Well, what happens as a result? Builds your faith. And listen, what does it build your faith in? It doesn't just build your faith in the pages of the Word of God, it builds your faith in the person of God. This is, this is the revelation of God. We don't worship this book. We worship the God who reveals Himself in this book. And what happens is we begin to get excited. And then you know what happens? Every time you open this book, it's like digging for gold.

You know that there's something precious here. You don't want to miss it. And all you have to do is to begin, begin, pursue this relationship with Him. God, speak to my heart. Let the Holy Spirit show me the truth. What does this verse mean? What is it saying to me? You know what's gonna happen? Your faith's gonna begin to grow. You're gonna dig like someone who is excited about what they're about to find because you're gonna find one nugget of truth after the other. One principle after the other that will guide your life. You know what it does? It equips you to face life, it equips you to live. You can face no matter what when you have that kind of relationship with Him.

Now, the second thing, evidence that we have this kind of hunger and thirsting relationship with Him is this: You're gonna love to spend time with God. How can you spend time with God when He's out yonder somewhere? No. God is, listen, Jesus said, "I am abiding within you". If a person has a genuine love for God, they're gonna want to spend time with Him. You're gonna want to spend time with Him. Well, you know, I'm just so busy. We're back to the same old excuse. Being busy, is I'll tell you what you do. Why don't you say this? God, I'd be happy to have this kind of relationship, spend time with You, but I'm so busy. So, God, do whatever is necessary so I won't be busy. Do you know what horizontal is? God could lay you out so that the only thing you could do is think about Him and read His Word. This busy business is the devil's lie and the devil's deception. That's not the way God operates.

And I think about when we spend time with Him, what does that say? Here's what it says. What does it say to you as a woman, when your husband says, You know what? Not going to work today. I's gonna spend this day with you. Wow! What happened? You know what God says to us? What about spending some time with Me? What about loving Me enough to be alone just with Me and let us talk. You see, if your prayer life is only centered around, God, now You know my needs for today, A, B, C, D, sixty-four, sixty-five, sixty-six, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, a hundred. And all you've done is made your plea to God. That's not what we're talking about. I'm talking about getting in His Word, meditating upon His Word, and then doing what? Talking to the Father.

Now listen carefully. Most people spend their time in prayer, number one, talking about themselves and their needs. Did you know what? You can spend a lot of time praying and not love God. You can spend a lot of time praying and not building an intimate relationship with Him. Why? Because you got your hand out. In fact, a lot of people have both hands out. You know what would please Him and what pleases Him? And one of the indications that you and I have a deep abiding relationship and a growing hunger and thirst for Him is that we want to talk to him about Him. Father, I know that You're God of grace. Lord, I don't feel sometimes. In other words, what happens is this, when you love someone, you like to talk about them. You want to hear them talk. And if you love someone, you've got to express it to them.

And what happens is this, when you have a hungering, thirsting relationship with Him, you're gonna want to spend time with Him, just talking to Him. You're gonna want to spend time with him listening to Him. If you desire a personal relationship with Him, and you begin to pursue that, God will begin to speak to you in ways you never dreamed of. You'd just have to take my word for it because I can't prove it, except I can prove it in my own life and the lives of many other people to say, Yes! God speaks. Yes, He makes it clear. Yes, He gives guidance. Yes, He knows how to bring us to the right decision. Yes He does.

When you pray, what do you ask for? Do you tell Him how much you love Him? Do you express your gratitude toward Him? Do you thank Him for being the God that He is? And when you read the scripture and you see how He's worked in people's lives and, do you, do you thank Him for the way He worked in David's life here? Do you praise Him for the fact that He's got so many things in the Bible that apply to us and sounds just like us when we get in trouble or being tempted or difficulty or hardship? When you understand who He is, what He desires for us, how He operates, you don't have to beg and plead and live in insecurity. You can live in the most awesome security.

There's a third thing I'd mention and that's this, so evident to me, that when you have a hungering, thirsting relationship with God, you know what happens? You get freed. Listen, God begins to free you from the tug and the pull of the world. You can't explain it. It's just that you don't feel it, why? Because now your soul is feasting upon God Himself. Your spirit is feasting upon God as you listen to Him and read His Word and talk to Him. Listen, what's, He's feeding you. He's satisfying you, quenching that thirst in you. And you know what happens? The things you thought you had to have, you think, Well, that's, that's not all that important. What happens is you get freedom from the tug of the world.

And I see so many people hungering and thirsting after so much and I think, Oh God, if they only knew that it doesn't cost anything to go to the Father. If they only knew how empty and futile and disillusioned, they are gonna be when that's all over. He desires, listen, a relationship with us that sets us emotionally free from these things. Then, I think another indication, another indication you have a strong devoted relationship to Him, hungering and thirsting after Him, and that is, listen, your desire to fellowship with other believers. He said, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together which is the manner of some". That is, a person has a hungering, thirsting desire for God, an intimate relationship, is going to be in the Lord's house, worshipping Him.

And I've heard people say this, Well, I'm saved and I've been baptized. I don't believe you have to belong to a church to go to Heaven. Absolutely correct. You don't have to belong to a church to go to Heaven, but you will miss God's best, you'll miss the blessings that He has in store for you for the simple reason, listen. You see, I'm gonna tell you how selfish that is. You listening? Say amen. This is how selfish this is. I don't need to go to church. What you're saying is, The only person I'm concerned about is me. I don't want to go to church, and therefore I'm not going to church. Has it ever dawned on you that God may put you in that fellowship of people because He wants to use you to bless somebody else? Because He knows exactly the person who will listen to you. They will, they, they will listen to you. They're the kind of person who feels free to share the heartaches and the burden.

There's something about you that they feel free to tell you about their heart and what they're going through, and God wants to use you. It is absolutely totally self-centered selfishness to say, I don't need to go to church. I can go to Heaven without it. Is that your attitude about the church? Are you one of those persons who sleeps in on Sunday morning because, after all, you've worked six hard days this week. I understand that. Lot of times I work seven days. You know what? Can't wait to get here. Not because I'm the pastor. I couldn't wait to get here to be among the people of God, to fellowship and to listen. Listen, to listen and the singing and the music, what it does to my soul. What you have to ask is this, how can you say that you love a God and have a relationship with Him, when He loves His people but you don't, you don't want to fellowship with them? Doesn't work.

A person who has a hungering, thirsting desire for Him, listen, is going to want to share it. You cannot keep it to yourself. We have an unavoidable commandment, a commission from the Lord Jesus Christ and here's what it says in essence, Talk about Me. Talk about Me. Talk about Me till they learn of Me. Talk about Me till they start following Me. Talk about Me till they're baptized. Talk about Me till we're multiplying churches all over the world. Talk about Me. Then you say, Well, I'm a Christian but I just think you oughta keep some things to yourself. Well absolutely you ought to, especially sin. But you don't keep Jesus to yourself. Listen, He comes into our heart to be given away. That's the reason He comes, to be given away, to save us, make us fit and to give us away. And we give Him away. Do you have that kind of relationship with Him?

You say, Well, I just have always believed you should keep those things private. No. So let's think about it for a moment. I've mentioned five indications of whether you have that kind of relationship, that kind of intimacy with Him. How would you answer that for yourself if you were absolutely, deadly honest? Would you say you do or you do not? Well, whatever the answer, I want to tell you about some steps you can take to pursue that beginning right now. Very simple. Complex? Sorta. Very simple. Listen to this. You want to begin that kind of relationship?

First of all, you must know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, step number one. Have to do, that's first step number one. Trusting Him as your Savior, the forgiver of your sins. Then what? You have to make a decision. Step two, you have to make a decision. I want the kind of relationship he's talking about. I want this intimate, deep, hungering, thirsting, yearning in my heart for God. I want that above everything else. Have to make a decision, a commitment. And then you ask God in prayer, Lord, teach me how to have this kind of relationship with You. This is what I want, Father. My soul reaches out to You, Father. My heart hungers for You, God. Build this kind of relationship between us.

Number four, you go where you have to go to the Word of God and you begin to read. But now you're reading for a whole different reasons. You're not reading to teach a Sunday School lesson, not reading to preach a sermon, not reading to answer somebody else's question. You're reading now and meditating upon God's Word for yourself. Lord, speak to my heart. Show me something about Yourself today. Show me something about myself. And then when He does, you're willing to confess and repent of whatever's not, what is not right. Or, thank Him and praise Him for the things that are right. So, you're gonna get into the Word of God and you be, listen, He's going to begin to work in your heart in the most amazing ways. Confession, repentance, very important.

When you come to, listen, this is very important. When you come to a passage and God convicts you of something, you either move on, listen, you either deal with it and move on in your developing relationship, or that relationship, listen, as far as it's going. As far as it's going. Where I stop in my confession, repentance and won't deal with sin, what I'm saying to God is, You're only worth this much to me. You're only worth this much in my life. And when you say, God, cleanse my heart. I genuinely repent of my sin, I'm trusting You, God, for Your forgiveness, you know what happens? He just draws you closer and closer and closer because that's what His heart's desire is. And then I'd just say one other thing. It all boils down to this.

Do I want this kind of relationship? All those steps are necessary. Not doing once, but continually. Will I falter and fall at some times? Yes, but I pick it up and keep going. He knows our heart. But the bottom line is this, if I'm willing to be obedient to Him in those areas, whatever He requires no matter what, I can move on in that relationship. But I can tell you in my own life. I can look back and see sometimes in my own life when that's as far as I could go, far as I could get. And I'd cry out to God, Lord, speak to my heart. And finally, when the Lord would say to me, We're not going anywhere until you deal with that. And I can tell you, once you deal with what He brings up, something happens in the relationship. It gets sweeter, more joyful, more fulfilling, more contenting, and you get more excited about Him.

But if there's something in your life He puts His finger on, and you intend to hold onto that no matter what, what you're saying is, A deep, abiding, intimate relationship with You is not nearly as valuable as the thing I hold and the truth is, that's foolish. You just deal with it and let God bless you with His very best. If I could open up the top of your head and pour all this in it, screw it back down real tight so you could never escape it, I'd do it but I can't. Here's where the, here's, listen. This is where what we say "the rubber meets the road". It is now your decision because you've heard the truth. It is your decision to decide.

Will I continue in my lukewarmness? Or do I want to get serious about my relationship to Him? Here's the problem. You've heard so much truth in this one message about that relationship, I can tell you this, if you purpose in your heart to stay in a lukewarm fashion, the bottom is gonna drop out of your life. Do you think God is gonna pour out His truth over and over and over again? And you just keep living that kind of selfish, self-centered, lukewarm life and God ignore it? No, He won't. To whom much is given, much is required. To whom much knowledge is given, much is required. And I would say if you're a wise person, you will say to Him today, Father, I want that kind of abiding, deep yearning, thirsting, hungering for You in my heart above everything else.
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