Sermon

Texts:

Psalm 106:15  In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test.  So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.   

And…

Isaiah 55:2  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  

 

It is possible to say that God wrote the sermon for today.

 

Psalm 106:15 is God’s own commentary on what took place in Exodus 16, our Old Testament reading for today.  When you read the companion accounting of this story of the Israelites craving meat in the wilderness (in the book of Numbers), you hear that God said in anger, “Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it.  You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month---until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it.”  Numbers 11:19,20  

 

What is it about craving something, anyway?  It says, “In the desert they gave in to their craving…”  It says in Numbers 11:4, “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat.’”  Apparently craving something is an affliction that is contagious.  You can even catch it from unbelievers.  It is hard to imagine the word craving in a good and right way.  God uses it that way, though.  Sometimes.  We’ll see that in the second part of our words today.  He also uses the word craving to describe something bad…something his children do that’s bad.  And that is what we will notice first…

 

CHRISTIAN CRAVINGS

 

1. Wrong cravings lead to spiritual skinniness

2. Right cravings lead to spiritual satisfaction

 

1. Wrong cravings lead to spiritual skinniness

Psalm 106:15  In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test.  So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.   

 

There you have it.  When God’s people---Christians!---crave some things it leads to bad things happening.  This kind of craving is something Christians “give in to” and it leads to spiritual skinniness.  Skinniness doesn’t sound very theological, but it’s the word God used.  (Leanness of soul is how the KJV and some other translations render it.  Here it is called “a wasting disease”…spiritual skinniness!)

 

The Israelites of Moses’ band craved meat.  They said they had had free fish in Egypt.  They also mentioned leeks, onions and garlic.  But it was really meat they were craving…something that would stick to their ribs and to their teeth.  It wasn’t that God wasn’t taking care of them.  There was manna every morning like the dew.  It was nourishing and good and free.  But meat!  That’s what they craved.  Meat!  That’s what they sat in their tent doors and wept over.

 

No doubt Christians today might say, “I don’t even like meat.  I’m pretty much a pasta person.  I like fruit.  I try and eat healthily.  My meat servings are about the size of a pack of cards.  I can’t imagine anyone craving meat like these Israelites.  What kind of weak and miserable people might they have been?”  But maybe not so fast.  Craving something is wanting something badly---very badly---now!  Business establishments are betting on the fact today that they know things you and I are craving.  They have to do with eating too.  Still.  The latest “The Best of Georgetown” offers slick coupons and offers from local businesses.  Guess what?  Most of them are about eating.  The difference between Israel of 13 centuries B.C. and Georgetown of 20 centuries A.D. is that the people in Georgetown can get all the meat they want to eat.  They have coupons and offers and money in their pockets.  There is no business in Georgetown---no church for sure---that can rival the activity and interest of HEB.  Not even close.  At holiday times, HEB does over a million dollars in business a day…just the store on Williams Drive.

 

But maybe The Best of Georgetown tells us other things that Christians living in Georgetown might crave and desire and spend their money for.  A new face?  A new figure?  (That’s what the cover shows.) New curves?  Maybe a session at a spa.  Maybe a dream wedding in Tuscany without leaving Texas?  Maybe just plain money and an investor who can give you big bonuses even in a recession.  And other siren calling might include: a new sports vehicle, a new vehicle and get rid of your clunker, a trip to the outlet mall, or what about a fling at Wolf Ranch?  

 

None of the things mentioned this morning are wrong.  But neither is meat wrong.  What is wrong is when people crave things other than their God wants them to crave because cravings of whatever time they might come bump God out of first place and put something like meat in his place.  You all have cravings that are wrong.  You look in your own life to what distracts you from true spiritual things and you will see your equivalent of craved meat.  You have to know that the Lord doesn’t deal in our cravings.  He allows them, but he doesn’t deal with them.  In fact, to punish losing first place in life, he might give you what you crave until it runs out of your nose!  And in the process of that awful picture your soul will shrivel and get skinny and emaciated.  

 

Psalm 106:15  In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test.  So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.   

 

2. Right cravings lead to spiritual satisfaction

But don’t get the wrong idea.  All craving is not wrong.  Some craving is right!  God made you---God wants you---to crave some things.  He even uses the word.  Listen!  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2  So don’t crave meat…but crave milk.  Pure spiritual milk.

 

Eat the word.  Swallow it.  Believe it.  (Remember that believing equals swallowing.  In this case, God does expect you to “swallow that!”)  Jesus’ words are one thing to crave that is right.  And you can’t get too much.  And when you follow this “appetite” that the Lord himself initiates, it leads not to leanness of soul (Spiritual skinniness) but satisfaction and health.  It is what Isaiah is talking about.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  

 

 The Lord himself initiates this appetite.  If you don’t have this appetite for the spiritual bread that Jesus is talking about, then know that someone or something is the cause of it.    Something is happening to spoil your appetite.  And this “something” is going to lead to sickness and spiritual skinniness.  The healthy soul eats.  The healthy soul eats a lot!  (Do you remember the “obscene” breakfasts the weight lifters ate in the Olympic games?  And at the end of the day after all those calories, they were still lacking.  Because of the work!  The Tour d’ France people ate a lot…good food in good abundance.  No one starving himself has ever won a Tour d’ France race.  Could any think that the Christian race is so easy that you complete it with a healthy snack once in a while?

 

This is what Isaiah the prophet is talking about.  Your life is a race.  Your life is dealing with heavy things that you have to move, things you have to resist, things you have to subdue (your cravings?).  These all require energy and strength that you get from outside yourself.  W=fd holds true in the spiritual things too.  You get this force that you need to move the object a distance from Jesus and him alone.  And from his Word to you and his words to you.  Then 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.”  John 6:35

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things.  Phil. 4:8  These are things we crave.

 

We crave the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand.  We crave that bread there that satisfies our souls.  We crave hearing Jesus say, “I am with you always.”  We crave knowing him as our Good Shepherd.  We crave knowing that everything is going to be all right and having Jesus whisper in our ears, “Fear not.  I am with you always.  Even to the end of the age.”  We crave seeing Jesus there before us in the Lord’s Supper offering us once more his forgiveness and telling us once more, “Go in peace, your sins are all forgiven.”  When we have to spend time in the wilderness we crave hearing Jesus tell us that our daily bread…he’s going to prepare.  When enemies threaten, there is that word which says he has us written on the palms of his hands and we stand there safe and secure.  We crave those words.  When we might feel poor in spirit and in pocket we crave hearing those words, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9  We crave his commendation on our work for him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  We crave his benediction where his face smiles on us and he is gracious to us.

 

Could we ever have enough of this comfort and good?  Would anything be able to rival the satisfaction this offers us?  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 

Just taste it!  Amen.