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by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

July, 2005

There’s a rule of survival called the “rule of three” that says a person can survive for three minutes without oxygen, three hours without warmth, three days without water, or three weeks without food. Of course, it’s sometimes possible to survive for considerably longer but not without significant health risks. Our computer at home was on the blink for several days recently and I nearly had to find out how long I could live without it. I suspect it would have come out somewhere between three days and three weeks, between food and water as needs go.

Food, water, warmth, and air are all very basic human needs. They touch the very core of our being. When Matthew described the temptation of Christ (Matt. 4:1-11), he wrote that “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matt. 4:2 NIV). He had gone without food for nearly six weeks, so by the above “rule of three,” his body must have been nearly dead from starvation. Jesus’ hunger clearly shows his humanity, while his reliance on scripture shows his divinity.

When the Israelites became hungry in the desert, God gave them manna (Exod. 16:1-36), and when they became thirsty, God gave them water (Exod. 17:1-7). The Psalmist wrote that the people of Israel “. . . were hungry and thirsty . . .” and God satisfied their needs (Psa. 107:5a NIV). The same God who made us and loves us knows what we need. Jesus told the people “‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’” (Matt. 6:3 NIV).

But there are other needs besides physical ones. Jesus said, “‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35 NIV). Again, the Psalmist wrote, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psa. 42:2a NIV). God has promised to give us the things we need: “. . . those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psa. 34:10b NIV). When Jesus gave the beatitudes during the “sermon on the mount,” he tied in to this theme: “‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’” (Matt. 5:6 NIV). God has promised spiritual food and water to all who ask, “. . . without money and without cost . . . and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isa. 55:1b, 2b NIV). The redeemed of God will never hunger nor thirst (Rev. 7:16a).

If you or I knew that someone was hungry, thirsty, or in some other form of physical need, we would try to help that person. If it were within our means, we would at least try to meet whatever need that person might have. And yet, there are people all around us who are starving for God, thirsty for salvation, whether they understand their need or not. But we know all about their need. We have been in the same situation. If we have accepted Christ, then we have have acknowledged our own need, our own hunger, our own thirst. We have eaten from the banquet table of grace, and drunk from the well of salvation. Someone near you is hungry for God. Someone you know has gone for too long without knowing the love of a savior. He or she is starving for hope, hungry for salvation, famished for grace. You can tell him or her about a banquet table that is free to all who ask, “. . . without money and without cost.” Jesus has paid the price and God has set the table. We have been filled, and we can tell others where they can be filled too.


“He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.” (Psa. 107:35-38 NIV.)

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Copyright © 2005 by David Phelps