Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS
(THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, PART 4)

I) INTRODUCTION – THIS MORNING WE ARE CONTINUING ON WITH OUR 4TH MESSAGE ON JESUS SERMON ON THE MOUNT FOUND IN MATTHEW CHAPTER 5. OUR TEXT TODAY IS MATT 5:6: BLESSED (HAPPY) ARE THEY WHICH DO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS: FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED. (KJV) IT IS INTERESTING HERE THAT JESUS WAS COUCHING THIS BLESSING IN TERMS THAT WE ALL UNDERSTAND: THE URGENCY OF THE SITUATION WHEN OUR PHYSICAL BODY EXPERIENCES HUNGER AND THIRST. WE CAN ALL RELATE, AS WE HAVE ALL EXPERIENCED HUNGER AND THIRST TO SOME DEGREE OR ANOTHER, SOME MUCH MORE THAN OTHERS. JESUS CERTAINLY COULD RELATE AS HE WAS LED OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD INTO THE WILDERNESS TO FAST FOR 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS AND AFTERWARDS WAS TEMPTED BY SATAN TO “TURN STONES INTO BREAD” TO FULFILL HIS EXTREME HUNGER, BUT JESUS REFUSED BECAUSE OF HIS CRAVING TO PLEASE HIS HEAVENLY FATHER.

II) JESUS UNDERSTOOD THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE “MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT COMES FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD” MATTHEW 4:4
A) HUMAN BEINGS ARE CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE AND AFTER HIS LIKENESS AND OUR HIGHEST PURPOSE IS TO WORSHIP GOD.
B) WE HAVE A DEEP FELT NEED FOR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND FOR THE WORD OF GOD BUT WE MAKE THE MISTAKE OF TRYING TO SATISFY THESE SPIRITUAL CRAVINGS WITH PHYSICAL AND MATERIAL THINGS BUT THEY DO NOT SATISFY THIS CRAVING.
C) MANY PEOPLE GO THROUGH THEIR WHOLE LIFE TRYING TO SATISFY THIS DEEP FELT SPIRITUAL NEED AND THE “HOLE IN THEIR HEART” IN AN OBSESSIVE SEARCH FOR PLEASURE, POWER, OR MATERIAL THINGS. THEY TRY TO ESCAPE INTO ALCOHOL, DRUGS, PROMISCUOUS SEX, OVER EATING – NONE OF WHICH SATISFY THIS DEEP SPIRITUAL HUNGER.

III) WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE RIGHTEOUS AND WHAT KIND OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WAS JESUS REFERRING TO?
A) RIGHTEOUSNESS GOES FAR BEYOND RESPECTABILITY OR GENERAL MORALITY OR JUST BEING A GOOD PERSON.
B) IT MEANS TO BE “RIGHT WITH GOD” TO BE FREE FROM SIN AND ANYTHING THAT WOULD OBSTRUCT AND LIMIT OUR FELLOWSHIP AND RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. WE MAY NOT BE ENTIRELY FREE FROM SIN WHILE IN THIS BODY BUT THAT DOES NOT STOP US FROM DESIRING AND LONGING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
C) IT GOES BEYOND “JUSTIFICATION” TO SANCTIFICATION MEANING BEING SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD AND SET APART ONTO GOD, FOR HIS PURPOSE AND HIS SERVICE.
D) TO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER GOD IS TO BECOME A “GOD CHASER”, A PERSON WHO NO LONGER IS SATISFIED WITH THE BLESSINGS AND BENEFITS THAT COME FROM GOD’S HAND BUT ONE WHO WANTS TO DWELL IN GOD’S PRESENCE, WHO SEEKS TO KNOW GOD AND UNDERSTAND HIS WAYS.
E) SOLOMON SPEAKS OF THIS CONSUMING, PASSIONATE LOVE IN SONG OF SOLOMON 3:1-2: BY NIGHT ON MY BED I SOUGHT HIM WHOM MY SOUL LOVETH: I SOUGHT HIM, BUT I FOUND HIM NOT. I WILL RISE NOW, AND GO ABOUT THE CITY IN THE STREETS, AND IN THE BROAD WAYS I WILL SEEK HIM WHOM MY SOUL LOVETH… KJV
F) PSALM 42:1-2 EXPRESSES THIS HUNGER FOR GOD: “AS THE DEER PANTS FOR THE WATER BROOKS, SO PANTS MY SOUL FOR YOU, O GOD. MY SOUL THIRSTS FOR GOD, FOR THE LIVING GOD. WHEN SHALL I COME AND APPEAR BEFORE GOD?” NKJV

IV) MOSES WAS A GOD CHASER, NO LONGER SEEKING JUST HIS BENEFITS OR EVEN A DEMONSTRATION OF HIS POWER FOR HE HAD WITNESSED THAT, BUT HUNGRY FOR GOD HIMSELF AND THE RIGHTEOUSNESS TO DWELL IN HIS HOLY PRESENCE (EXODUS 20:18 – 21)
A) GOD HAD CALLED THEM ALL UP INTO THE MOUNTAIN, ALL OF THEM. EXODUS 19:13B “WHEN THE TRUMPET SOUNDETH LONG, THEY SHALL COME UP INTO THE MOUNTAIN.”
B) ISRAEL SAW THE THUNDER AND THE LIGHTNING AND HEARD THE TRUMPET AND REMOVED THEMSELVES AND STOOD AFAR OFF.
C) INSTEAD OF ACCEPTING GOD’S INVITATION, THEY WANTED MOSES TO SPEAK TO THEM FOR GOD. THE CHURCH IS NOT THAT DIFFERENT TODAY. INSTEAD OF PRESSING INTO GOD DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM AND A PRAYER LIFE, WE STAND AFAR OFF AND WANT SOMEONE ELSE TO PRAY FOR US AND TO HEAR FROM GOD FOR US, WHEN GOD WANTS SPEAK TO YOU AND HAVE A LOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT!

V) HOW DOES ONE KNOW IF HE QUALIFIES AS ONE WHO HUNGERS AND THIRSTS AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS?
A) IF WE ARE SMUGLY SATISFIED THAT WE QUALIFY THEN WE DO NOT. IF WE FEEL LIKE THAT “WE HAVE ARRIVED” THEN CHANCES ARE THAT WE HAVE BEEN DECEIVED WITH OUR OWN SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT SCRIPTURE SAYS IS “AS FILTHY RAGS” IN GOD’S SIGHT.
B)
YOU SEE THAT THE HUNGERING, THIRSTING SOUL IS DISCONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO THAT IS THE NATURE OF HUNGER AND THIRST. HOW CAN WE BE CONTENT AND HUNGRY AND THIRSTY AT THE SAME TIME? IF WE HAVE TO ASK THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER WE ARE HUNGERING AND THIRSTING AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS THEN WE ARE NOT FOR WHEN YOU HUNGER AND THIRST YOU WILL KNOW IT.
C) ONE WHO HUNGERS AND THIRSTS AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS IS ONE WHO SEEKS TO PLEASE GOD RATHER THAN MAN. HE IS MORE CONCERNED WITH WHAT GOD THINKS THAN WHAT MEN THINK.

VI) CONCLUSION – THE QUESTION THAT ARISES IS AFTER WE HAVE ACCESSED OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION AND DETERMINED THAT WE ARE NOT HUNGERING AND THIRSTING AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT? YOU CANNOT WORK UP A HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS IT IS EITHER THERE OR IT IS NOT. HERE ARE SOME PRACTICAL STEPS TO TAKE:
A) CONFESS YOUR SIN TO GOD AND ADMIT YOU SPIRITUAL CONDITION; ASK GOD TO GIVE YOU A HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
B) STAY OFF OF JUNK FOOD THAT DIMINISHES YOUR SPIRITUAL APPETITE. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WATCH ON TELEVISION AND WHAT YOU ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO WATCH. WATCH CHRISTIAN TELEVISION: JOYCE MEYERS, JOHN HAGEE, BENNY HINN, CHARLE STANLEY AND OTHERS.
C) READ THE BIOGRAPHIES OF GREAT MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD MARTIN LUTHER, JOHN KNOX, CHARLES WESLEY, D.L. MOODY, A.B. SIMPSON, JOHN LAKE, KATHERN KULMAN, AMIE SIMPLE McPHERSON, ORAL ROBERTS, BILLY GRAHAM AND OTHERS.
D) COMMIT YOURSELF TO ATTENDING CHURCH REGULARLY AND BECOMING A PART OF THE BODY.
E) SET SUNDAY ASIDE AS A DAY TO GO TO CHURCH, SPEND TIME WITH GOD AND WITH YOUR FAMILY. DON’T WORK ON SUNDAY UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO.
F) SET ASIDE SOME QUALITY TIME, AT LEAST AN HOUR A DAY TO READ AND STUDY THE BIBLE AND PRAY.
G) LAST BUT NOT LEAST, FAST:
1) Isa 58:6:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? NIV
2) Dan 9:2-4; So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God…
3) Matt 6:16;16 “When you fast, NIV
4) Mark 2:20;20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. NIV
5) Acts 13:1-2;While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” NIV

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