Summary: Message delivered to preachers at a local association meeting.
Famine in the Land
In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul said,
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word…”
Peter, writing in his first letter, said,
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
In other words,
“If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God, speaking to the fullest or the best of the ability that God has given him, that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
Brethren, people are starving today for the greatness of God. I know and you know that they don’t realize that their greatest need is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ: a genuine, life-changing, intimate and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. They don’t know they’re starving for His greatness. They don’t know they’re starving for His holiness. They don’t know they’re starving for His righteousness, for His presence, for His purpose and for His power. They’re literally starving to death and don’t know it.
“The greatness and the glory of God are relevant. It doesn’t matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that doesn’t include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. Our people are starving for God.” He is the Bread of Life for the starving soul. He is the Living Water; He and He alone can quench the thirsty soul. Brethren, our job is to serve Him up, to present Him in such a manner that people see their hunger and feel their thirst and give the Holy Spirit room to work and draw and convict. And I am convinced of this: people want what Jesus has to offer. We are living in a time in history when spirituality is at an all time high. It’s on television, on the radio, in print, on the Internet, in the book stores, and everywhere else you turn its there. Oh, it may not be the spirituality that you and I know about, but the fact is that people are searching, they’re longing, they’re starving for a taste of that living bread and thirsting for a long drink from the well that never can run dry, and brethren, let’s be honest about something this morning: there’s a famine in the land today from which those starving multitudes are dying.
A few years ago, Dr. Carl F. Henry, founder and editor of Christianity Today, sent out a questionnaire to what he considered to be twenty of the leading intellectual preachers in the country. The question that he sent out was this: “What do you see for the church of Jesus Christ by the year 2000?” Now you and I all know what he meant by the church and we all know what we believe about it, so listen to one of the responses given by a Quaker by the name of Elton Trueblood. He said, “By the year 2000 the church will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant, militant paganism.” Think about that for a moment. Chew on it a while before you spit it out. The Lord’s churches, His work, surrounded by an arrogant, militant paganism.
I don’t know about you, but I think the man was right. Perhaps you might ask, what does that have to do with there being a famine in the land? My time is short today, so let me just get to the point and be frank with you. I believe that our work and our churches are in trouble. You’ve been in enough of them and I’ve been in enough of them to see it. You talk to enough pastors and church members to know it. I think that just by where your thoughts have gone already will prove the point. You think I’m talking about the ABA or Missionary Baptist churches. Perhaps you think I am talking about associational loyalty and things of that nature. Brethren, what I’m talking about this morning has nothing to do with what name is on your church sign or what version of the Bible you use.
The trouble I’m talking about this morning has to do with a lack of spiritual vitality among God’s people and a great love and zeal for knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and zealously living for Him! I’m not talking about the people in the pews either; they aren’t here this morning. Brethren, I’m talking about you and me – God’s men – you and I who have been called by Him to pray and to preach and to pour our souls out as sweet smelling savors unto the Lord, offerings of a glad willingness to first be the people He longs for us to be and then and only then to do the things He has planned for us to do.