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Famine In The Land

By Ben Tagg

“Behold, I long for Your precepts…” Psalm 119:40.  Oh that the people of God would take up this same cry.  We are wrung out and dry, dying because of the same famine in the land that the prophet Amos spoke about when he said, “Not of food for hunger, nor of water for thirst, but for the Word of the Lord.”  (Amos 8:11)  Amos was watching a vision of our day, he spoke of ‘strong young men’ and ‘fair virgins’ fainting from thirst.  The rate of teenage depression and suicide in our day is higher than it has ever been. We have 16 year olds stumbling around drunk in the streets at 4 in the afternoon where I minister in South Buffalo. Amos was speaking in a time that couldn’t be more like America in our day. It was a time of complacency, prosperity, oppression of the poor, and religious rote and rituals. That is our time. 
Beloved, the famine that I’m talking about is not a lack of Bibles. Statistically, the average American Christian has 9 Bibles, whereas the average third world Pastor has no Bible at all.  There are over 50 English translations of the Bible.  In America there are approximately 15 Bibles (on and off the shelves) to every one person, whereas in Asia there is one Bible to every fifteen people.  We have too many Bibles.  The famine is because we have become a lazy and satisfied generation and in our pride think we have all we need.  A woman came up to me after a service that I had preached at in tears, she told me that she had been planning to leave her church.  After inquiring as to why, she couldn’t really explain it, she said, “I don’t really know what it is.” Even in church her family was dying of thirst for the Word.  David had a hunger for the Word of God. He wrote, “My tears have been my food…when can I go and meet with my God?”  One of my favorite preachers, David Wilkerson said that he observed most Christians “leave God’s house empty, unsatisfied and weak.”  What must we do that we might wake up and develop a hunger for Jesus? 
In Mark 10:46-52, there is a man that was hungry to hear a word from Jesus.  It says that Jesus was walking with his disciples and a many others.  Jesus was at the height of His popularity, we all know this didn’t last long, but anyway, he had his disciples, his followers, his fans, and the press all around him. What time would he have for a blind beggar?  The first thing that we must do as those who long for a hunger for Jesus is humble ourselves before him.  Stop being in denial!  You are a blind beggar without him, are you not?  You can’t see spiritually, and you’re spiritually bankrupt and destitute.  This man, named Bartimaeus knew his state and cried out from the side of the road, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  If you will not recognize that you need his mercy, you will never get it.  Bartimaeus could have sat there by the road, wallowing in his misery and grumbled ‘oh here comes that big shot, well I’m doing just fine without him.’  And thus many of us do.  Not that we say this, but the way we spend our time, our money, our energy, how we go days without praying, a week without opening His Holy Word.  It’s the non-verbals that are killing us!  So he’s there crying out to God.. When’s the last time you cried out to God?  Desperation is the master key to breakthrough.  We’re often all too satisfied with doing it on our own, never do we let ourselves get to a point where we just go to our room, shut the door, collapse into the arms of God and say ‘HELP!’  He wants to hear a cry from His people!  Like the Israelites in Egypt, 400 years and they finally started to cry out to God and God says in Exodus 3:9, “Behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come unto me…”  
The hungry cry of the people of God peaks his attention. Watch what happens in Mark 10.  Verse 49 says, “So Jesus stood still.”  Jesus stopped! Jesus was on his way somewhere, where?  He was on his way to Jerusalem to enter as king, riding on a donkey. Jesus had places to go, people to see.  Jesus had the cross on his mind as it was only a week away and he knew what he had to face. He had a noisy boisterous crowd all around him trying to get a piece of him.  It was probably a hot day and this unashamed and hungry cry moved the heart of Almighty God to stop in his tracks!  How powerful is that? Jesus saw that some people had tried to shut him up, but he was far too desperate to let them stop him from his cry.  Let me tell you something, when you take up a desperate and hungry cry for God, the religious people around you aren’t going to like it.  It ruffles religious feathers, because your cry is exposing their complacency.  You might have people, even in church, trying to drag you down into their spiritual tomb with them.  They are dead and dry and satisfied with mere religious games and they like it that way.  You may offend a lot of people. 
So then after Jesus has stopped in his tracks, Jesus does something amazing.  “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.”  Essentially Jesus is saying, ‘I want that man!’  When God sees that you’re hungry for his presence, He wants your presence. God will not call people who are not hungry for him.  If you are waiting for a call from God, wait in hunger and it will surely come soon.  Fast, pray, delve into His Word and take up wherever you are as your mission field, don’t wait for a call to start laboring for the Lord.  Too many wait for God’s call and in the meantime they become sluggish and pursue meaningless relationships, watch mind numbing TV, doubt God, entertain gossip and philosophies that are against God, and before too long they wouldn’t want a call from God even if he wrote in the sky for them.  “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Oh that the people of God would let out a cry “God help, we need You!  Where are you, we are desperate for your presence, we have abused your grace, we have blasphemed your Name and we have grieved your Holy Spirit. Have mercy Son of David!  Look on our blindness and spiritual destitution and come have your way in us. ”  Oh that the people of God would turn to Him with fasting and weeping and mourning!  This famine is killing us and we must humble ourselves and offer desperate prayers to the Captain of our salvation.

Ben Tagg is married to his beautiful wife Ruth. Together they serve as Directors of Ministry at Steps Ministry located in South Buffalo. Originally from England Ben is a missionary to the United States and raises his own support as a full time missionary in the Seneca Babcock Neighborhood of South Buffalo.