The Soul-Sustainer by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE SOUL SUSTAINER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

The Soul Sustainer

Introduction: Nicole and I look forward to summer when kids get out of school and we don’t have to get up as early or stay on a rigid schedule. But, somewhere around mid-summer we actually look forward for school to start. The reason: Our Grocery Bill! Nicole buys the groceries on Monday and by Wednesday the fridge and the pantry are empty! That’s just trying to feed 6 people! Now imagine trying to feed 5000 men plus women and children. Do the math – if half those men were married, that’s 2500 women and if each of those couples had 3 kids (By the way, that’s a conservative number for families back then), that’s 7500 kids. Altogether that’s 5000 + 2500 + 7500 = 15000 people. Jesus not only fed them but had 12 baskets left over! As great as that miracle was, Jesus did not come just to provide physical sustenance for the body. He came to provide spiritual sustenance for the soul, which is far more important. He is the great SOUL SUSTAINER.

John 6    2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Question: Your physical life comes from your physical appetite. Your spiritual life comes from your spiritual appetite. If your physical appetite is poor, your physical life will suffer. If your spiritual appetite is poor, your spiritual life will suffer. How is your spiritual life? What are you feeding your soul? Are you feeding upon Christ and his words? Are you saved? Have you ever been made spiritually alive?

Context: Let’s read again verse 2 “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” If you remember, few sermons back I explained to you that when John the apostle used the word “signs,” he had more than “miracles” in mind. He was referring to those incidents that proved that Jesus was/is God and he was the one who was to come. In other words, signs were more than miracles by Jesus to help people (the other gospels); they were proofs of who he was/is and why he came. The miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 men plus women and children was more than just about physical hunger and physical appetite. It was about spiritual hunger and spiritual appetite.

Listen to verse 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. If you read those verses too quickly, you’ll miss the sign behind the feeding miracle – the feast of the Passover. The Feast of the Passover (Pesach) along with the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Masot) were joint festivals that commemorated the freedom of the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt. Exodus 12 tells us that God commanded them that on the night of their escape the head of each Israelite home had to slaughter a lamb and smear its blood around the doorpost and the lintel of the house. This was to keep the destroyer from taking the life of the firstborn. Also, each family was to eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Something more – Exodus 12:11 “And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste…” In other words, this was no leisurely meal. They had to stand and eat as if they were late for a journey. For e.g. Ever been late for somewhere important and you had to eat before you left? No time for salt and ketchup. By the way, God also told them that this was not a one-time deal. They had to keep this feast for generations to come.

With that in mind, let’s return to John 6  5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” At first glance it appears that Jesus was just messing with Philip but that’s not true. Go back to John 1   43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” If Philip really understood Moses and the prophets, he would not have replied as he did. He would’ve fallen on his face before Jesus and said, “You are God. Nothing is impossible for you.”

Principle: When God tests us, he gives us the review sheet first.

What happened next? Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother finds a young kid with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish and brings him to Jesus. What was the main course of the Passover Meal? Roasted Lamb. No lamb at this meal, just fish. Or is the lamb there already? Twice in the first chapter of John the lamb of God is identified for us. John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Now, listen carefully to Jesus instructions – 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” The Greek word there is “anapesin” which actually translates “recline.” How were they supposed to eat the Passover meal? Standing up as if they were running for their lives. Not any longer. Why? Jesus is the Lamb of God. Life was in the lamb. You don’t run from your food. What is really happening here? Keep in mind that this is a sign. Just like the water into wine miracle where the new wine was better than the old proved that Jesus was superior to all the previous purifications rules and rituals. Now, Jesus is also superior to the Passover.

John adds a very interesting detail in verse 10 “Now there was much grass in the place.” Picture a vast multitude of people reclining on green grass. What does that remind you of? Psalm 23 1 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” The Lamb is also the Shepherd. Now listen to how the miracle happens. 11 “And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.” No bright light. No great sound. The food just keeps on coming. When they were full, Jesus told his disciples to gather up the fragments and 12 baskets were left over. Why was it so important to gather the fragments? Keep in mind that this was a multilayered sign. On one hand, it was proof that Jesus had superseded the Passover but, on the other hand, it was proof that Jesus had also superseded Moses. To understand this, drop down to John 6   32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. Remember, they were not supposed to gather any more manna than they needed for the day. What would happen if they did? It bred worms and stank. Listen again to Jesus in verse 51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” You can never have too much of Jesus! Gather as much as you want of him. There’ll always be more!

What was there response? 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. They missed the sign just like people still do. Few truths from this miracle:

  • All of us have been created with a spiritual appetite. Blaise Pascal (physicist, philosopher and a born again believer from the seventeenth century who got saved reading John 17) in his book Pensées called it the “infinite abyss.”
  • Only Jesus and his Word can satisfy this spiritual appetite.
  • Don’t revert to spiritual junk food. You become what you eat.
  • The longer you go without spiritual nourishment, the less hungry you become.
  • The more you feed upon Jesus and his Word, the hungrier you become.
  • People are dying of hunger. If you are a disciple, you have to pass the bread.
  • Don’t forget that Christ is also the Lamb of God. What’s the difference? Bread was a peasant’s food. But, don’t ever think that Christ is cheap. He’s also the priceless lamb!

The Blessing of a Spiritual Appetite

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

THE BLESSING OF A SPIRITUAL APPETITE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofaspiritualappetite

We’re in our series on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 called, “SALT AND LIGHT.” This morning we will be looking at the fourth beatitude and our message is called, “THE BLESSING OF A SPIRITUAL APPETITE.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” On the surface, this beatitude seems very simple to understand and easy to apply but it’s anything but that. Look at it carefully and you realize that there’s more to it than what you think – 1. What is righteousness? 2. Why do we have to hunger and thirst for it? After all Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 61:10 “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” I don’t have to work for it. I only have to trust Jesus for it. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Keep in mind that the Beatitudes build upon each other. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we develop an appetite for spiritual things like never before. There’s a new hunger and thirst in our lives. You know that you are accepted by God because of Jesus Christ but now you want to live a life that looks like Jesus Christ. It is a life that is simultaneously full and not full enough, quenched and unquenchable, satiated and insatiable, satisfied and yet always yearning for more.

Challenge: Does this describe your life? Do you hunger and thirst for the things of God or are you the type who can take it or leave it? Here’s a deeper question – have you ever had a spiritual appetite? A lost person is a dead person and a dead person cannot have an appetite.

This morning as we walk through this message, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying in your heart. Hopefully, by the end of this message your spiritual stomachs will start growling. If you’ve never had a spiritual appetite, we pray that you will be born-again and begin your spiritual meal. Three questions again this morning:

I. WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS?

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Background: When we hear the word “righteousness” in this beatitude, we need to first look at what it means in its immediate context.

Meaning: Two things in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness does not come naturally. You have to seek after it. Second, when you truly seek after this kind of righteousness, then you are filled. The words are in the passive voice referring to God. In other words, you seek after it and God fills you up. So we have – This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. But that still doesn’t tell us much about this “righteousness.” Let’s go beyond this verse to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount –

5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…

Meaning: Two things again in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness brings about an external and noticeable change in our lives. It’s not just some internal righteousness. Secondly, it does not always evoke a pleasant and favorable response. Sometimes the response is negative, hostile, and hateful. In other words, some of those who don’t have this righteousness persecute the ones who do have it. What do we have now? This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. People can see it and some of those who don’t have it persecute those who do.

5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Meaning: Two things again in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness can be faked. Jesus is saying, “You gotta do better than the hypocritical scribes and the Pharisees.” Second, if its fake then it can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven. So let’s see it again – This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. People can see it and some of those who don’t have it persecute those who do. Fake righteousness can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven.

6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Meaning: This time righteousness is connected to the kingdom of God. If you remember, kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven is the rule of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

So let’s connect the dots. What is this righteousness in this context? It is the work of the Holy Spirit that leads us to want to live a life that pleases God and looks more and more like Jesus Christ. It brings about external change that causes some people to be hostile. Those who fake this are not in the kingdom of heaven – under the control of the Holy Spirit. God promises to take care of those who really hunger and thirst for it.

Application: Does this describe you? Has there been a real change in your life? Is the Holy Spirit working in your heart causing you to yearn for the things of God? This does not mean that you are perfect but you are definitely not fake.

II. HOW TO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR IT? 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

In America it is very hard to understand hunger and thirst. If you’re hungry, go in the kitchen and make yourself a sandwich. If you’re still hungry, get a bag of chips or some cookies or some ice cream. If you’re hungry and don’t want to work for it, then get in your car and go through a drive through and get what you want. If you’re hungry and want somebody to wait on you, then go inside the restaurant and order what you want. What if you’re thirsty? Go to the kitchen sink and get some water. If you’re thirsty and don’t want water, then you have soft drinks, sweet tea, milk, juice, and other beverages we’re not going to name. We’re living in the land of milk and honey. I’m not saying there are no hungry people in America. There are people, especially some children in America, who would love to have what you threw in the trashcan last night. Overall we don’t understand hunger and thirst.

Illustration: Come to India with me and I will show you what real hunger and thirst looks like. Children walking around on the streets with their bellies bloated not because they ate a lot of food but because they have Kwashiorkor – protein malnutrition that swells their bellies. I have seen children so weak that they could barely walk. They have Marasmus. I’ve seen a brother and sister fighting over a piece of bread on the street. We have the luxury of all these drinks but I’ve seen people drink water from places that I wouldn’t use to water my lawn. They have Cholera and Typhoid.

Let me cut to the chase – If you’re not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, it could be a symptom of a deeper problem.

  • You are already stuffed. What are people stuffed with? Entertainment, Hobbies, Sports, and Toys. Not that all these things are bad in themselves but they cannot give you the nutrition that you need for your spiritual lives. No wonder many Christians are walking around with Spiritual Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.”
  • You are eating wrong spiritual food. What are you eating and drinking spiritually? If you are listening, watching, and reading the wrong biblical stuff, you will have Spiritual Cholera and Typhoid.

What are the consequences of a poor diet? It affects our relationship with God and with each other. We don’t have faith, hope, joy, peace, and wisdom. Instead, we have anger, bitterness, wrath, envy, jealousy, misunderstandings, and all the other junk. No wonder our churches are in such a mess! Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? Sometimes people come to church one Sunday and say “feed me.” My question: “How long since you ate?” It’s been a year! Imagine if you missed your meal for a year – 365 X 3 = 1095 meals! By the time a put a bib around their neck, they’re on the way out. “I went to church/bible study and it didn’t help me.” Same goes if you miss a week – 7 X 3 = 21 meals!

Application: How is your spiritual diet? Are you truly seeking after the things of God? Are you daily feeding upon His Word? Are you daily submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you dealing with sin harshly and resting in the righteousness of Christ?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Background: When people truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, God does the filling. The Greek word is “chortazomai” which means “fattening animals” or “being stuffed.” Spiritually malnutritioned people are a very poor representation of Jesus Christ. They are like the Snickers commercial – “You’re not you when you are hungry.” They make decisions that are shameful and embarrassing. They hurt people around them. They act in ways that are contrary to the Word of God. They actually repel people from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the world sees Christians who are stuffed with the right food and drink, the Holy Spirit holds them as an advertisement of what Jesus can do for them. They may not be perfect or have all that they want or they may have their struggles but in their hearts and on their faces there is the smile of contentment.

Invitation: Which one are you? Come to Jesus. He said in John 6 48 I am the bread of life…51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 7 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

%d bloggers like this: