How’s your appetite? My question is not really a trivial one, because a healthy appetite always accompanies a healthy body. Sick people have a diminished hunger. That is not only true with physical appetites but with spiritual appetites as well. Jesus spoke about the appetite, or hunger, of people in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Jesus is asserting that there is a direct link between the hungry heart and the fullness God offers. Blessed are those who are spiritually healthy. God feeds you and serves you from a table overflowing with every good and delicious thing. He will not, however, treat you like some toddler in a high chair, forcibly feeding you. Instead, He sets the table and asks a question: “How’s your appetite?”
Have you ever prayed and found the experience empty? How about worship that fails to inspire you? Have there been times when you have opened your Bible and the words on the page were no more than that, just words on a page? What is the problem? Has prayer, worship, God’s Word, your church, pastor, etc. failed? On those occasions, you might have left your heart behind. Take heart. God’s table is filled; there is joy, music, laughter, nourishment, and refreshment.
The issue is appetite. Is your heart hungry? A healthy spirit means a healthy spiritual appetite. God has set the table. In His word is a lifetime of daily bread. The diet is balanced and delicious. Do not pick at your food!
Psalm 84 demonstrates a deep longing for God as a pilgrim focuses his attention on his homeward journey. This psalm suggests three features of a healthy spiritual appetite. Those people who have optimum spiritual health, who hunger after God, display it by their:
I’ll spend two posts writing about the above three points. Let’s begin!
According to the psalm, a person with a good spiritual appetite will always be found praising God with the people of God (v. 4) – “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.”
Notice the description of this person in v. 2: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
Longing, fainting, and crying out; these are verbs of intensity. The psalmist is not describing an occasional pleasant diversion in his life. He is not talking about a casual commitment to God. He is proclaiming that his very identity is a deep craving for God, and his devotion to and for God is the explanation for who he is and where he is going. He possesses a spiritually hungry heart.
In response to that I must ask myself this question: What is the deepest longing of my life? What is it that I am all about as a human being?
The psalmist provides a profile of a person who has a spiritually hungry heart. There are three keys to identifying this person’s praise.
The Location of Praise
The first four verses of Psalm 84 are replete with the desire to be at the Temple. Notice v. 3 in particular: “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”
The psalmist wishes he could be a sparrow, nesting in the rafters in the holy place! Have you ever longed to be in God’s house like that? That’s what we do when we have a ravenous spiritual appetite.
Compare the psalmist’s attitude towards God’s house with the person in Amos 8:5 who says, “When will the… Sabbath… be gone, that we may … set forth wheat?” Here you have a merchant, who will go to church, but he is “clock-eyed”, continually checking his watch, hoping the service doesn’t stretch into business hours. This is quite a contrast; two people in the house of the Lord with two very different attitudes and experiences. One sits at God’s table with a healthy, voracious appetite. The other is set before the same table, but has no appetite.
I want to stress a crucial point before moving on. Though a Christian can never be separated from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”), he can be separated from God’s people. Voluntarily choosing not to be among God’s people speaks volumes about one’s spiritual appetite.
The Foundation of Praise
Consider how the psalmist addresses God throughout the psalm:
1O LORD of hosts…2the living God…3O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God…8O LORD God of hosts…9O God our shield…11the LORD God is a sun and shield
God alone is worthy of worship and adoration! I fear that many Christians, in the perfectly legitimate quest to know God personally, have diminished God in their minds from the stature with which He is presented in Scripture. We have lowered Him down to the limited status of good friend or pal in our lives, rather than bowing down before His awesome majesty and splendor of His greatness.
The Expression of Praise
“4Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.”
The idea is continuous praise, not praise restricted to a certain time of day. It cannot stay locked up in the church building, confined to a couple hours per week. You praise God with your thoughts, your voice, your hands, your heart, and all within the very routine of your days. Praise is a continual thing, a controlling passion.
…Be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit; 19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:18b-20
Please do not confuse expression of praise with style of praise. Real praise and worship of God does not come as a result of any external stimulus. It’s not a matter of the right tune, the right time or place, or of having things just the way you want them. Praising God is an affair of the heart. For those who have left their hearts behind, prayer will not be profitable. Praise will fail to uplift. The Word will seem dull and unenlightening.
The living God, LORD of hosts is the foundation of all true praise and worship, and unless you have fulfilled a personal appointment with the living God in the time of worship, all you can really say is that you were physically present.