A Hunger for God: The Foundation for Faithful and Effective Ministry

Advance 2013

Raleigh, NC

My title for this message is “A Hunger For God: A Foundation for Faithful and Effective Ministry.” Whether or not a hunger for God is a foundation — an essential foundation — for a faithful and effective ministry will depend on what you believe the goal of ministry is.

If you believe, as I do, that the goal of ministry is the all-satisfying gladness of your people’s hearts in the glory of Christ, or in all that God is for them in Christ, then it will follow that your joy in Christ is an essential foundation for that ministry. If that’s true, that your joy in Christ is essential for leading others to an all-satisfying joy in Christ, then it follows that a hunger for Christ, a hunger for God, is an essential foundation for Christian ministry that’s effective and faithful.

We could turn it upside down and start by saying, “The Bible says we should have a hunger for God. Therefore, if you have a hunger for God, you’ll be satisfied in God, and if you’re satisfied in God, you’ll be equipped to lead others to be satisfied in God. That will be the aim of your ministry, and you will lead a faithful and effective ministry.”

We’re not going to go that direction, though. We’re going to start with the goal of ministry, and then we’re going to move to the idea that in order to have an effective ministry, you have to embrace that goal in your own soul. Then we will go beneath that to a hunger for God.

The Goal of Ministry

So, I invite you to turn with me to 2 Corinthians 1:24. This remarkable statement has been so influential in my understanding of my own ministry over the years. It’s just so helpful to have crystal clear, apostolic statements about what you’re supposed to try to do in the ministry. There are 1,000 things you’re told to do as you read magazines and books, and it becomes very overwhelming and discouraging at times. So, hear a clear biblical statement can clear up all the cobwebs.

“The goal of ministry is the all-satisfying gladness of your people’s hearts in the glory of Christ”

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

We work with you for your joy. That was Paul’s clear apostolic goal in his ministry. I am working with you so that you will have joy. That’s what I think pastors should do. That’s what a faithful and effective ministry aspires to do.

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. (2 Corinthians 2:1–4)

That is an amazing five verses. Who talks like that? Someone talks like that when they have a very clear goal for their ministry, namely, to make others happy in God, and it has gotten down into the very fiber of their being.

My main goal for all of you is that you will embrace verse 24 as your functional mission statement. You don’t have to put it on your card or wall, but let it function that way for you. I work with my people for their joy. That’s what I do morning, noon, and night. Every sermon, every wedding homily, every funeral meditation, every staff devotion, I am targeting their soul for greater joy in God. That’s what I’m about. If I see them drifting off into other kinds of superior joys in their life, I’m on them because I want them to have superior joy in God. Paul said that was his goal, I want it to be mine, and I want it to be yours.

Believe me, your people want it to be your goal, although they’re not quite sure of that sometimes. So this is the apostolic goal: I work with you for your joy.

The Cost of Joy

This was not a cheap goal for Paul. So many people, when you start talking about joy, start having light thoughts, not heavy thoughts. All my thoughts about joy are heavy, so heavy that they almost crush me to the ground. Life is hell, and therefore to talk about joy in it is absurd. It’s just wild. It’s crazy. It’s supernatural. It’s off the charts unrealistic. There’s nothing frivolous or light about it.

This is Paul talking about what his goal was for all of those to whom he ministered. I work with you for your joy. What did it cost him? This book, 2 Corinthians, has in it more testimonies than any of the other books, and here’s the one from a little later in the book:

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one — I am talking like a madman — with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:23–27)

It was costly to work for their joy. So, please, if you start having light, breezy, airy, fluttery thoughts as you hear me say your goal in ministry is to labor for the joy of your people, just know what I have in mind. That’s what it will cost you, because we’re talking about a very particular kind of joy here that has a particular kind of fruit.

We are workers with you for your joy. It wasn’t cheap. That’s the first thing I want to say about it. It wasn’t cheap.

The Goal of Joy Really Works

The next thing I is that this was not an off-the-cuff psychological sop that you kind of throw out to wimpy readers who have such soft, tender feelings they need to be constantly comforted. “Oh you really are after our joy.” If you don’t keep telling them how wonderful Christianity is, they’re going to run away. It wasn’t that either.

It wasn’t that he was throwing it to them as a kind of sop to keep them happy. It comes from somewhere very, very deep inside Paul, so that when he opens his mouth and just starts talking about a relationship with them, it affects the way he talks about it in the most peculiar way.

When You’re Happy, I’m Happy

How does this passion to live for their joy, work for their joy, affect the way he even thinks and talks about his relationship with them?

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? (2 Corinthians 2:1–2)

In other words, one of the reasons I work for your joy is that your joy is my joy. Do you agree with that paraphrase? Did you see that? I don’t want to cause you pain, because if I ruin your joy, who is there to make me glad? I’m finding joy in your joy, so if I ruin your joy, my joy is going down. So the first thing that’s kind of bubbling up out of him is, “I’m after your joy because your joy is my joy.”

That’s amazing. A lot of people would shy away from talking like that because it can sound selfish or something. How could that be selfish? “I want you to be happy because when you’re happy, I’m happy.” Nobody would look at you and say, “Yeah, you’re always trying to be happy. You’re just using me.” “I’m not using you. Your happiness makes me happy.”

When I’m Happy, You’re Happy

And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. (2 Corinthians 2:3)

So it works the other way too. In verse 2 he doesn’t want to mess up their joy because theirs is his. Now he says at the end of verse 3, “My joy is the joy of you all. I just felt so completely sure that if I had joy, you would have joy.” Amazing.

This is a man for whom the pursuit of joy in the lives of others and the pursuit of fullness of joy in himself from their joy is so deeply rooted that it just flows out in the most remarkable way as he talks about their relationship. What makes you glad, makes me glad. What makes me glad, makes you glad. And then in verse 4, he puts a name on that.

Love Means Going After Joy

For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. (2 Corinthians 2:4)

That’s the name of it. What is love in Paul’s vocabulary? My definition here would be that love between a people is a relationship when your increasing in joy makes mine go big and when my increasing in joy makes yours go big. We call that love.

That’s what love is. When your joy is my joy, and my joy is your joy, and we’re out to increase each other’s joy for our own joy because when yours goes up, mine goes up, and when mine goes up, yours goes up. This is a glorious spiral together as we fight for each other’s joy. That’s love in Paul’s understanding.

So when Paul works for their joy, he is working for what makes him glad and he is loving them. I want you to know about the love that I have for you, that is why I speak to you as I do.

This Joy Is the Joy of Faith

If you step back from this text, you might say, “That’s just pure sentimentalism. I mean, that’s just pure, naturalistic sentimentalism.” Right? I mean, any natural, unbelieving group on the planet has a mutual admiration society where if one person is happy, everybody’s happy. You’re happy, I’m happy. I’m happy, you’re happy. There’s nothing Christ-exalting in it. There’s no gospel in it. There’s no holiness in it. There’s no spirituality in it. There’s nothing supernatural about it. It’s just pure sentimentality. Or is it?

We have left out something really, really important. What we’ve left out is the beginning and the ending of verse 24. We need to go back and get this thing fixed because so far we haven’t talked about anything distinctively Christian.

“Faith receives, takes in, embraces, enjoys, rests in, cleaves to, and is satisfied by Jesus.”

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

You would’ve expected him to say “faith,” not “joy.” I would have expected that. So now we have a sandwich. The two pieces of bread here are faith and in the middle is joy. It surprises me. I ask Paul, “What are you saying? Why didn’t you say, ‘Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your faith, for you stand firm in your faith’?” Why did you substitute joy in there?

Evidently, what he means by joy is the joy of faith. Now we’re starting to make it Christian. We’re going to make it gospel. We’re going to make it Pauline. We can make it biblical because that’s what it is.

Finding Satisfaction in Christ

We’re not, as a pastor, lording it over our people’s faith. We’re coming alongside them for the joy of faith. There is a peculiar kind of joy being talked about here. The joy of faith. I get this little phrase from Philippians 1:25. This verse is the only other place in Paul’s writings where he describes his apostolic mission as joy.

In context, Paul is struggling with whether to die and go to be with Christ or to remain behind and serve the church. He wants to die and be with Christ because that’s far better. Yet it’s more useful for the church, and so he’ll probably stay behind.

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith. (Philippians 1:23–25)

That’s just as breathtaking to me as 2 Corinthians 1:24: “I work with you for your joy.” Here he says, “I remain on planet earth for the joy of your faith.” But what does that mean?

Believing Means Seeking Satisfaction

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Aren’t those parallel, coming so as not to hunger, believing so as not to thirst? Living bread and living water. Come eat and be satisfied. Come drink and be satisfied. Only he didn’t say “come” in the second phrase, he said, “believe.” Believing then, in Jesus’s mind, is not a physical, but a soul coming to bread, a soul coming to a fountain, so as to eat and drink to the satisfaction of the soul. All other satisfactions become secondary, and this one is now totally dominant.

Believing Means Receiving Satisfaction

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

Receive, believe. Receive, believe. Receiving him as what? Water, bread, Lord, treasure, Savior, all that God is for us in Jesus. Faith receives, takes in, embraces, enjoys, rests in, cleaves to, and is satisfied by Jesus.

So when he says, “joy of faith,” that’s no surprise to me. That’s the joy of embracing Jesus as the all-satisfying water. That’s the joy of embracing Jesus as the all-satisfying bread. That’s the joy of embracing Jesus as the pearl of great price.

Faith embraces the glorious deity of Christ and delights in it. Faith embraces the humble, sinless, virgin born, humanity of Christ. Faith embraces it, and rests in it. Faith is satisfied by it. Faith embraces the miracle-working, universe-creating power of Christ. Faith embraces the covenant-keeping, law-fulfilling righteousness, providing death, and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Faith looks at the wrath-bearing, justice-satisfying, sin-atoning death of Jesus, and joyfully says, “Yes! Yes! Yes! This is what I want. This is what I need. This is the treasure of my life.” Faith is satisfied by the death-defeating, devil-destroying, heaven-opening resurrection of Jesus. Faith is satisfied by the sovereign, interceding, ever-present, never leaving us alone kingship of Jesus.

This is the joy of faith. It is the receiving, welcoming, drinking, and eating of the bread and the water, which is all of Christ, or all that God is for us in Christ. That’s what faith is.

We Work for That Satisfaction

Now, if that’s true, if we’re onto something here with the phrase, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy of all that believing, for you stand firm in that believing with all that joy,” we have a Christian text. Now we don’t have a mutual admiration society. We have something very different.

When I say to you now that your joy is my joy, I mean that when you find full satisfaction in magnifying Christ, I find satisfaction in you. When you watch me find my joy in the supremacy of Christ, you find satisfaction in me.

It all becomes Christ-exalting because my joy in you is because of your joy in Christ. Your joy in me is because of my joy in Christ. That’s called Christian love, not a natural, sentimental mutual admiration society.

The Joy of Faith in Action

I had this pressed on me big time in recent weeks. I get two more weeks as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. My last sermon is Easter Sunday, and then I’ll be done after 33 years.

So I’ve been watching these people love me, and I love my people. For the last several months, virtually every service, somebody will come up to me, they’ll take my hand, they’ll pause, get teary-eyed, and say, “I may not be able to get to you at your farewell service in April, so I just want to tell you thank you.” Sometimes that’s all they can say, and then they walk away.

“It takes a happy pastor to be a helpful pastor.”

But here’s the amazing thing: I don’t know them. I don’t know who they are. Sometimes they’ll let me off the hook and they’ll just say, “I’ve never met you. I’ve been here eight years. I’ve never met you. My wife and I have been here eight years at the north campus, and I just want to tell you, we’ve never been the same. If we hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t know what to do when we lost our daughter.” What is that? What is that emotion?

They don’t know me. I don’t know who they are. We have no personal relationship. They’re crying in front of me out of gratitude. What is that? I’ll tell you what it is: It’s love. It’s a love that is built on a shared valuing of Jesus week in and week out. You don’t even have to know a person’s name. He is valuing Jesus and talking about the preciousness of my Jesus. They’re soaking that in, and they’re loving Jesus, and deep things happen in the human soul relationally.

It’s amazing to watch it happen. So be encouraged that if you don’t know your people as well as you’d like to, you can still love them well, and remarkably deep things can happen over time between a well-fed people.

Your joy is my joy now means that when you find your supreme gladness in Christ, I find gladness in you. And my joy is your joy now means when I find my supreme gladness in Christ, you find your gladness in me. That’s the aim of Paul’s ministry. I work with you for your joy, specifically the joy of faith, the joy of embracing Christ as your supreme treasure. That’s why I live, I want you to have your joy in Christ.

So he’s pouring himself out for that. It is not a cheap goal. It’s not a Christian sop thrown psychologically to the needy people in the congregation. It is rooted deep, deep, deep down in Paul’s grasp of what the gospel is, who he is, and what the purpose of ministry is.

A Dangerous Goal

Now he needs to say to them that this is a very dangerous goal in ministry. It’s a very, very dangerous goal. If anybody hears you say that your goal for the church is the joy of the church, and they say, “Well, only a middle-class, well-to-do, persecution free, American pastor could talk like that,” just look them right in the eye and say, “You do not know what you are talking about.”

When I work with you for your joy, I am not pampering you. I am preparing you to suffer. My whole goal in preparing my people to have supreme pleasure in Christ is so that they won’t lose their pleasure when they lose everything but Christ. I do look back with some sense of sweet gratification on the number of testimonies in my church that understood that truth and walked through horrible things with joy. This is a very dangerous calling.

If you were to agree with me that you should go home now and make it your lifelong ambition to work with your people for their joy, you wouldn’t be spoiling them in luxury, you would be preparing them for suffering.

The Danger of Persecution

My wife and I bought a series of DVDs produced by the website ChinaSoul.org. The title of the series was called The Cross: Jesus in China. The first one is called “The Spring of Life,” the next is called “The Seeds of Blood,” and final one is called “The Bitter Cup.”

The series is about the church flourishing in China over the last 40 or 50 years through suffering. We came away with one overwhelming impression: The abiding theme running through all of those DVDs was joy, joy, joy. It seemed as though the old people who had suffered the longest spoke in the most endearing, tender, almost palpable terms about the sweetness of the presence of Jesus and the joy of faith in their suffering.

Preparation for Persecution

I don’t claim to have suffered in my ministry, at least nothing by way of comparison to what Christians in history have, or what these Chinese Christians have. I’m always trying to test my exegetical conclusions with reality so that I speak of it with some sense of living truth instead of just biblical theory.

Watching these Chinese Christians testify to the durable, unwavering joy of the Lord in the midst of suffering heartened my own sense of, “Yes, we’re onto something here.” We work with our people for their joy so that when China comes, and they’re in jail for twenty years, separated from their wife and kids, unjustly, they don’t spend their whole time kicking the wall saying, “Where’s God?”

We Americans are so ready to get in God’s face when things don’t go well. It didn’t enter their mind to get in God’s face. God was all they had. It’s not a pampering of your people to tell them, “I’m going to work with you for your joy.” It’s preparing of your people to suffer.

Why Is Love Not the Goal?

So why did Paul not say in 2 Corinthians 1:24 that we work with you for your love? I’m aware that when I say, “Let the goal of your ministry be the Christ-exalting, soul-satisfying, mission-advancing joy of your people,” somebody could come back to me and quote several important texts where the goal of Paul’s ministry was love.

“Christ gets glory from us when he satisfies our soul more than the absence of afflictions.”

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

We are aiming to get you to be loving people. That would be absolutely right. I’m not going to nullify any verses in the Bible. So I come back when I hear a voice like that over in 1 Timothy, and I say, “Why did he say I work with you for your joy? Don’t you want to say love? Don’t you want to say the real goal is others?”

If you try to make that a goal and you’re always on your people, “Do those good works. Love people. Love, love, love. Do those good works,” and you do an end run around massive heart-altering joy in Jesus, three bad things are going to happen.

One is that the root of love will be taken away. Nobody will sustain authentic love for the world who’s not profoundly satisfied in Jesus.

Second, you take the gift of love away. What would you have to give to anybody if you don’t have joy in Jesus? What are you going to give them? A full belly and the ability to read — then hell?

The only way we can authentically love people is to impart to them a soul satisfaction in Jesus that never ends. Forever. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). If you don’t have that to give to people, you don’t love them ultimately. You are just playing social games.

It’s a big burden of mine these days that evangelicals say to the world that we care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering. If you don’t have a gift for that, then you’ve thrown away the capacity to love them. If you try to do an end run to love as the goal around joy in Jesus, satisfaction in Jesus, what are you going to give them?

The third thing it loses is the spirit of love. Do you feel more loved when somebody does a good thing for you begrudgingly or joyfully?

They do a good thing for you. In one case they do it begrudgingly, “I don’t want to do it, but I’m supposed to do it, so I’ll do it.” The other one is, “I would love to do this for you. It would make my day.” In which of those do you feel more loved? If you try to do an end-run around deep, pervasive, soul-satisfying joy in Jesus in order to get your people to love, you’ll wind up with a duty-driven, legal, joyless, hardworking people.

Second Corinthians 8 provides a great example for this. This text convicts me to the roots and fills me with longing for the way I would love to be and the way I would like to influence the church to be. This is Paul using the example of the Macedonian believers as an example for how the Corinthians should be lovingly generous.

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:1–2)

I want you to know about the grace of God. Almighty, sovereign grace came down among the churches in Macedonia, and did something supernatural. What did it do? It caused an abundance of joy. But what makes the joy so stunning is that it’s sandwiched with affliction on one side and poverty on the other side. A severe test of affliction. Abundance of joy. Extreme poverty.

Sovereign grace comes down in the preaching of the gospel. God comes and he stuns these souls wide-awake. “Your sins are forgiven. Hell is shut. Heaven is open. You’re justified, your sins are taken away, you have the Holy Spirit, and you’re on your way to glory.”

They believed this so deeply that they were overflowing with joy and their affliction was increasing. Through many tribulations you must enter the kingdom, and their poverty hadn’t gone away. This means their joy was not based on their freedom from afflictions, and their joy was not based on their freedom from poverty. Their joy was based on the grace that had united them to Christ and satisfied their souls in him. This led to generosity, which is what is called love later in verse 7. “Your abundance of joy overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2).

So, if you ask Paul, “Why did you say that joy was the goal of your ministry in 2 Corinthians 1:24 and not love?” I think he’d point you to verse 2 Corinthians 8:2, and say, “That’s what happens. That’s what happens.”

If joy is strong enough in Christ, if satisfaction goes deep enough in all that God is for you in Christ, afflictions won’t be daunting, poverty won’t be daunting, and you will overflow with ministry to the poor. But if I try to do an end-run around joy, I’ll create social agencies and Christ will get no glory. Christ gets glory from us when he satisfies our soul more than the absence of afflictions and more than the presence of wealth.

The Pastor Must Seek Joy

I developed a logic where I said, “If the goal of ministry is the joy of believers in all that God is for them in Jesus, then it will follow that our joy in Jesus as pastors is an essential foundation for that ministry.”

I think those first two steps in the logic have been demonstrated from this text. Second Corinthians 1:24 demonstrates the first step, “We work with you for your joy.” That’s the goal of the ministry. Then the fact that I must share that joy is demonstrated in the way Paul impacts it, seen in 2 Corinthians 2:2–3, “Your joy is my joy, and my joy is your joy.” It was inconceivable for Paul that he could minister other people’s joy in God if he had none himself. It was absolutely inconceivable.

He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:3)

That’s the way that ministry works. I have the joy, they go to God.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:12–13)

Restore to me the joy of my salvation, so sinners will go to you. This is the way it works.

A Happy Pastor Is a Helpful Pastor

So I must find my satisfaction in Christ if I am to point people to Christ. I point people to Christ as the all-satisfying treasure of the universe. That’s the nature of the ministry.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

It takes a happy pastor to be a helpful pastor. It would be of no advantage to the people if the pastor is groaning over his ministry. “I don’t want to do this, but I need to do it. This is how I make my living.” It would be better for them to say, “I love my God. I love his word. I love my people. There are many burdens, but I love what I do. This is joy to me to find them finding joy in God through my words.” That makes a healthy people according to Hebrews 13:17.

The Pastor Must Be Hungry for God

We now move to our third level in the logic. If the aim of ministry is to help people find their satisfaction in the supreme value and beauty of Jesus, then our satisfaction must be an essential foundation of that ministry. This now leads to the bottom and deeper level that there must be therefore a hunger for God.

Where there’s no hunger for what you’re eating, there’s no pleasure in the eating. If you have no taste for what you’re putting in your mouth, you’re not going to say, “That’s good.” You’re just going to swallow it like a vitamin or spinach or something. This means that an essential foundation for a faithful and effective ministry, in fact, is a hunger for God.

As a Deer Pants for Flowing Streams

You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God . . . Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk. (1 Peter 1:23; 2:2)

You’re like babies that have just been born, and you’re rooting until you find the milk. It’s in you because that’s what babies do in their life. The new birth produces desire. I want the milk of the word.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2–3)

If you haven’t tasted, then you won’t desire him. There won’t be an all-satisfying embrace of Jesus as the supreme treasure and value of the world if down in your heart there hasn’t been awakened a “taste and see that he is good.” You must taste that he is more to be desired than anything in the world. That’s called the new birth.

I don’t mean to imply anything too strong, like genuine born again people don’t go up and down in their desires. We do. This is why we fight for this every day.

“The foundation of your ministry is a hunger for God.”

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
   so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
   for the living God. (Psalm 42:1–2)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
   my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
   as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

That’s the voice of a man who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good. For the time being, he is not getting all he needs and all he wants. He’s crying, he’s seeking, and he’s running for the brook. You need to do that every day.

Hunger Leads to Satisfaction

The foundation of your ministry is a hunger for God. Above that, the foundation for your ministry is being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus. The goal with that in ministry is to help your people go there.

Give yourself to that for all your life. Bring these people from loving the world, being satisfied in the world, to where they put all that to death and embrace Jesus as their all-satisfying treasure. That’s your goal in the ministry.

Seek God

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37–38)

Pastor, do you have a thirst? Do you have a hunger for God? That means that nothing, nothing, nothing can quench this but God. No television series can quench it. No wife can quench it. No children can quench it. No job. No preaching. No books can quench it.

Only one thing, believing God, experienced by the Holy Spirit in his word, walking with him daily, can quench it. He is my bread. He’s my fountain. If you have that hunger, then you will begin to grow in your satisfaction in him, and that will become a river of living water. Your people will drink from that. They’ll drink for decades from that. It’ll give them strength, and the freedom from the love of this world. So give yourself to that with all of your heart.