The Hunger for Greatness [Hungry for God]

During Lent at Eastbrook Church, we are exploring how our hungers lead us to God in order to find true rest for our souls. The series, “Hungry for God,” parallels the season of Lent, and has a companion daily devotional that you can access here.

This weekend I explored the hunger for greatness by looking at a quirky story in Mark 10, where James and John ask Jesus to give them a special place of honor when He returns in glory. The other disciples are incensed and it provides an opportunity for Jesus to discuss the nature of true greatness.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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Hungry for Greatness

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Someone once told me that what they wanted most in life was to be seen and acknowledged for who they were. We can describe that desire as a hunger for greatness or, at least, a desire to be necessary. We all want someone to see who we are and what we have to offer. That hunger for greatness can be appropriate, such as our longing for someone to recognize the uniqueness of how God has made us (Psalm 139:13-14) and also the unique talents and abilities God has placed within our lives (Romans 12:4-8).

However, there are times when our hunger for greatness expands beyond what is appropriate. John Milton, in Paradise Lost, describes Satan’s great sin as “Monarchal pride,” signaled by his belief that it is “better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” The way of Jesus the Messiah is unlike this. He taught differently – “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27) – and He lived differently – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

The same sort of pride seen in Satan can infuse our human longings for great- ness. This is why Paul the Apostle wrote to the church in Rome: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). Jesus Himself reminds us that we live in a world where hungers are often turned upside down. But in His Kingdom up is down and down is up: “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48).

James the Apostle comments on this theme: “Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:6-8). Throughout this week in the devotional, we will explore what it means to have an appropriate hunger for greatness that does not expand into pride.

RESPOND THIS WEEK:
Each week’s practice will feature some aspect of the process Paul describes for us in Ephesians 4:22-24, where we are to TAKE OFF something from our lives that has become corrupted or distracting and PUT ON in its place something God wants us to do.

Take Off:Take note this week of the ways that you tend to seek attention or turn conversations with others back toward yourself. How many times do you interject or interrupt others with stories of how what they are sharing relates to you? When you dress in the morning, how much of what you wear is intentionally chosen so that you will be noticed? Use the space below to take note of your experience this week.

Put On: Find ways each day this week to celebrate and build up someone else in your life. Write them a note, throw them a party, brag about them on Facebook, etc. At the end of each day, thank God for specific people and how they have blessed you that day.

[This a devotional I wrote with Jim Caler as part of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]

The Hunger for Love [Hungry for God]

St. Augustine of Hippo famously wrote near the beginning of Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we began a series that explores how our hungers lead us to God to find true rest for our souls. The series, “Hungry for God,” parallels the season of Lent, and has a companion daily devotional that you can access here.

This weekend I explored the hunger for love by walking through the story found in John 4 of Jesus’ conversation with a woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »

Hungry for Love

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All of us want to experience love. Sometimes this hunger for love looks like a longing for friendship. Sometimes our longing for love surfaces in the desire for intimacy. At other times, this hunger for love is as basic as the desire to belong somewhere with someone. Near the beginning of Genesis, in the account of God’s creation of human beings, we are told that this basic longing for love is seen in the connection between Adam and Eve: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). 

Elsewhere in Scripture we see that the hunger for love and connection is directly related to the fact that we have a built-in hunger for God. The Psalmist expresses this longing powerfully: 

“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

In the New Testament, Paul the Apostle echoes this longing for love in a prayer for early Christians about the significance of God’s love in our lives and growth with Christ. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Our theme for this week is the hunger for love. Throughout this week’s devotional, we will explore how hunger for love relates to human love and divine love. 

RESPOND THIS WEEK:
Each week’s practice will feature some aspect of the process Paul describes for us in Ephesians 4:22-24, where we are to TAKE OFF something from our lives that has become corrupted or distracting and PUT ON in its place something God wants us to do.

Take Off: This week’s practice starts with taking the time to identify some of the false loves in our lives we try to find our self-worth through. You can begin by simply listing the relationships you turn to in order to find love, value, and acceptance in your life. Have any of these become unhealthy in some way? Are any of these causing you to compromise who you are and/or your values in order to be accepted or loved? Are any of these contractual (as long as you do this for me, I’ll love you) or codependent (they are enabling or encouraging poor choices in your life)? Pray for God’s wisdom in how to respond to what you have identified.

Put On: Take a step this week to enter into meaningful Christian community, whether through an existing relationship with a Christian, a small group of some type through church, or some other means. A meaningful Christian community is one where you can know (and are known by) other Christians, where you can pray for and encourage one another and where together you can interact with the Truth of God (through a study, discussion, etc.). If you need ideas for how to find community like this, please contact the Eastbrook Church office. Use the space below to take note of your experience this week.

[This a devotional I wrote with Jim Caler as part of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]

Hungry for God

This week at Eastbrook Church we begin a new series entitled “Hungry for God.” Every human being has deep longings and hungers that propel us forward in life. We are hungry for love, hungry for belonging, hungry to leave a lasting legacy, and so much more. Where do those hungers come from and how can we fill them?

St. Augustine of Hippo famously wrote of God: “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.” In this series during Lent, we will explore the hungers of our souls, how God fills those deep hungers through Christ, and the ways in which we can lean into our hungers to experience life with God more fully and with greater satisfaction. Each week, there will be suggestions of specific spiritual practices of taking off certain things (fasting) and putting certain other things (replacing).

Along with the weekend messages, I want to invite you to join a 40-day devotional journey with us at Eastbrook. You can find out more about how to access that devotional in print or electronically here.

March 6 – “Hungry for God” [Journey to the Cross]

March 9/10 – “The Hunger for Love”

March 16/17 “The Hunger for Greatness”

March 23/24 – “The Hunger for Joy”

March 30/31 – “The Hunger to Know”

April 6/7- “The Hunger for Peace”

April 13/14 – “The Hunger to Leave a Legacy” [Palm Sunday]

Beginning with Hunger

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“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”
(Psalm 42:1-2)

In the story of Israel after the exodus from Egypt, God’s people were hungry for many things. They were hungry for food, so God provided miraculous manna and quail (Exodus 16). They were thirsty for water, so God provided miraculous water from a rock (Exodus 17). They were hungry for guidance from God, so God provided the miraculous Ten Commandments and other instructions (Exodus 20). They were hungry for victory over their enemies, so God provided them with a way through the Red Sea and success over their foes (Exodus 14 and 17). They were hungry for rest, so God instituted the sabbath (Exodus 31). 

Yet there were times when their hungers stretched beyond what God would give. They hungered for a god they could control, so they constructed an idol in the form of a golden calf (Exodus 32). God interrupted that desire by sending Moses down to stop that idolatrous feast. There were other times when God’s people reached out for satisfaction in ways God knew would not bring life to His people. Eventually, they wandered for forty years in the wilderness until, purified of their sinful attempts to satisfy their hungers, they were ready to enter into the Promised Land (Numbers 14). They needed to feel their hunger deeply and discover that their hungers could only be satisfied in God.

Today we begin a journey that parallels the forty years of wilderness wandering for Israel. It is a journey in which we will get in touch with our hungers and desires. In this journey we want to allow God to search through our hungers, including ways we attempt to satisfy our hungers that are skewed. We will enter into the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24: 

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Through it all, the foundational level of our journey is remembering that only God can satisfy the deepest longings of our souls. Let us join in this journey together as a community, beginning with the prayer of Psalm 42:1-2: 

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”

Let us say together: God, we are hungry for You.

[This a devotional I wrote for the first day of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]