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Sherman, Texas

 

The Attractiveness of God

May I share a verse I read in my quiet time recently?

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 - 3 (NIV)

What got my attention was the fourth word, "crave." I looked it up in my WordSearch Bible and discovered it is a compound Greek word--the normal word for "desire" plus the intensifier, "epi." Thus, the sense is "really desire a lot." The translation, "crave" seemed pretty accurate. I wondered about myself as I read. To what degree do I crave God in the way that a newborn craves milk?

I find myself craving Krispy Kreme donuts at times. I crave a nap after an early flight out. I miss my kids after an extended trip and long to see them. But, crave God? Crave the Word of God? Crave to live on the path that God has for me? I think I get to "willing" at times. Crave is a higher level. I think this needs to be a growth area for me.

I remembered in other places milk is associated with Christian teaching, and rather basic Christian teaching. Even babies can crave. "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." 1 Cor. 3:2 (NIV)

I thought of much of the teaching I have heard about prayer and Bible reading and quiet times. Teaching peppered with words like discipline and self-control. It occurred to me that if I could learn what babies know, to crave spiritual milk, that the discipline might take care of itself. How different living by craving is from living by discipline.

Not that there is not a place for discipline. Peter will later write, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness. . . self-control." 2 Peter 1:5-6 (NIV) There is a place for discipline, but a higher place for craving. When I crave right, discipline is no longer needed. Discipline is like a spare tire. If you need it, you need it and there is no shame in using a spare tire. Far better, however, if you never have to use it. Far better to live by craving than by discipline.

I was reminded of a discovery I made this summer while doing a study on the attributes of God. I was preparing a series on The God We Enjoy. I knew that God was omnipresent and omniscient and omnipotent. I had never thought about the fact that God is attractive. I don't know that I have ever heard a teaching on the attractiveness of God. He is magnetic. He is charming. He is charismatic. He is engaging. He is fascinating. He is inviting. He is mesmerizing.

Consider what these verses teach about the beauty of God:

  • O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Psalm 8:1 (NIV)
  • Your decisions are firm, and your temple will always be beautiful and holy. Psalm 93:5 (CEV)
  • Praise the Lord because he is good. Make music to praise his name because his name is beautiful. Psalm 135:3 (GW)
  • As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1 (NIV)

Consider the words of the hymn writer:

Fairest Lord Jesus
Ruler of all nature
O Thou of God and man the Son
Thee will I cherish
Thee will I honor
Thou my soul's glory, joy and crown

Fair are the meadows
Fairer still the woodlands
Robed in the blooming garb of spring
Jesus is fairer Jesus is purer
Who makes the woeful heart to sing

Fair is the sunshine
Fairer still the moonlight
And all the twinkling starry hosts
Jesus shines brighter
Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast

Do these sound like the words of mere discipline to you, or can you hear the heartbeat of one who craves? In more recent times, the words of Twila Paris:

How beautiful the hands that served
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
the long dusty roads and the hill to the cross
How beautiful! How beautiful!
How beautiful! Is the body of Christ!

How beautiful the heart that bled
that took all my sin and bore it instead
how beautiful the tender eyes
that choose to forgive and never despise
How beautiful! How beautiful!
How beautiful! Is the body of Christ!

Or, the words of Keith Green:

Oh Lord, you're beautiful,
Your face is all I seek.
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

How different this is from words of discipline and self-control. How different this is from words of ought to and should do.

Do you find God attractive? I know that you know He is powerful and good and merciful and righteous. But, do you find God attractive? If not, I have two words of advice for you:

  • Get closer. If you have not yet seen the beauty of God, get closer. He is even prettier up close.

  • Slow down. We don't often appreciate beauty of any kind at break-neck speed. Read your Bible slower. Pray slower. Look at sunsets slower. Slow down.

I heard John Ortberg say recently that every now and then we ought to do a sermon where we don't ask people to do anything except think about how great God is. I would invite you to think about how great God is. He is beautiful. Crave the pure spiritual milk.

 

-Josh

 

P.S.
A great way to teach is to start your lesson by saying, "May I share with you what I read in my quiet time recently?" Teach from a flowing river, not a stagnant pond. People want to know that God has done something for you lately. Teach from your heart, your current walk with God. Christian teaching is truth poured through the teacher. Pour slowly.


Appendix:

Other verses where the Greek word epipotheo is used: (courtesy WordSearch Bible)

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-- Romans 1:11 (NIV)

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 2 Cor. 5:2 (NIV)

And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 2 Cor. 9:14 (NIV)

God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philip. 1:8 (NIV)

For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Philip. 2:26 (NIV)

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 1 Thes. 3:6 (NIV)

Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 2 Tim. 1:4 (NIV)

Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? James 4:5 (NIV)

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 1 Peter 2:2 (NIV)

I love this material!

We are using this right now with my Singles group on Tuesday night. I have found the material really interesting.

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Josh Hunt with Dr. Larry Mays--This clear, practical guide equips teachers of adult classes to have impact—and produce disciples eager for spiritual growth and ministry. You get a Bible-based, proved process that’s achieved results in churches like yours—and comes highly recommended by Christian leaders like Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, Findley Edge, and Robert Coleman.

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