Hunger for Righteousness

December 1, 2013  Matthew 5   Hunger for Righteousness

 

  Nine times Jesus says blessed, happy, fortunate, and to be envied are you in this passage. 

  Does Jesus give us the keys to living life to the fullest in this passage?     If He does how do we experience that life?     

  Kelly Mitchell shares In May of 1846, 187 men, women and children left from Missouri in a wagon train headed to California. There was nothing exceptional about the group or this journey and we would have never known about them had they not made the decision to try a shortcut. The “Hastings Cutoff”, as it was known, was indeed a shorter route to their destination but it had only been tried on horseback. No wagon had made the journey. This group, now known as “The Donner Party”, would not complete their journey.   This group is famous because of allegations of cannibalism that occurred within the group while waiting for rescue. We find the thought repugnant and disgusting. We like to believe that, no matter what, we would never do such a thing. It would be more accurate to say, “I have not been that hungry yet” than to say “I would never eat that.” The survivors were high in the Sierra Madre for three months with no food at all.

      Kelly shares I have heard people make the observation that, “I wasn’t fed at church.” I assume they mean that they didn’t learn anything useful or that they didn’t feel the presence of God.  I also have heard the charge that, “I don’t like doing it this way” or “I don’t like that version of the Bible.” I compare this to my kids coming to me complaining that there is nothing to eat in the house. When I point out various options, they exclaim, “I don’t like that.” My response is always the same. Then you aren’t truly hungry yet.   You know who doesn’t like what is spread on God’s table?   It is the person who isn’t hungry and the person seeking who seeks self satisfaction and validation.   The one that doesn’t think they need God. They are full... of themselves.  

    Jesus talks about hungering and thirsting in this passage.  I think he is talking about real hunger.   Think about how hungry the Donner Party was.   They were hungry to the point of starvation.    It is a hunger that says I have to have God.  I am desperate for God and for his righteousness.   I lay my pride and myself aside.   Jesus is talking about being desperate.  It is not being hungry for a bowl of soup but hungry for the whole buffet.    It is being hungry for God.   It is us sensing being hungry for God.   Pascal said within every person is a god shaped vacuum and only God can fill it.   Everyone has a natural hunger for God but it is often buried.  Sometimes it is sought for in the wrong places. 

    Do you believe that everyone has a hunger for God? 

    Why don’t people seek him?    

    How to be Hungry,” Dr. John MacArthur Jr. wrote, “Both hunger and thirst are intense desires. The concept Christ spoke of… was a more powerful concept in His culture than it is in ours.  For the most part we don’t know what it really means to hunger or thirst.   Most of us have never experienced a drought.     But the original audience of Jesus knew what it really means to be hungry or famished and to be thirsty or parched or dehydrated. The word for “hunger” means “to famish” and the word “thirst” means “to parch” or “to long for ardently.” In short, to hunger and thirst means to crave intensely.  

    Jesus told the crowds blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.   Blessed are those that crave God.   Blessed are those who are parched for God.   These must have been strange words for the crowd that was before Jesus.     Blessed means to be happy, fortunate, and blissful.   Nine times in this passage Jesus said blessed or happy are you.  God is not a kill joy.   God wants us to be happy.   God is truly interested in your happiness. But God is not interested in a lot of the world’s happiness.   God’s ways are not our ways and we tend seek our own ways to be happy.   People tend to think that their ways are better than God’s ways for being happy.  That is really not true is it?   Jesus tells us the person who hungers and thirst for God will be filled.  We will find life.  In Jeremiah God tells us that if we search for Him with all our heart we will find him. Many folks have tried to connect with God on their terms and then give up.  Many people do not persevere to find God and to sense God.   David in Psalms writes there is pleasure in God’s presence. 

     Lord what do you mean that it is good and blessed to be hungry and thirsty?    It is almost like saying happy are you if you are starving to death.   You are blessed if you are thirsty to the point of fainting.   The folks must have thought well I have been hungry before but I like it better when I am sitting down to a nice ham or turkey Thanksgiving meal.   Jesus is saying it is good to be hungry spiritually.   

    Read the passage in the Amplified Bible.    

    Are you blessed if you hunger and thirst for God?  Why? 

     It is good to thirst to be righteousness and for God.  Certainly we could say if you feel spiritually hungry that is really a good thing.   It is good for us to desire God.   It is good for us to desire to be righteous.   It is good when people desire to do the right thing.   The old world would be very different if everybody desired righteousness.   Things would be different.  

    And when we hunger and thirst for Him then we will be filled.   If you came to worship and came looking for the Holy Spirit to speak to you then you should leave filled.   If you come to the communion table set before us today realizing your sin, confess your sin and your need of the savior then you should find forgiveness and peace with God.   How you leave this church is lot more about you than what happens here.  Jesus promise in this passage is that if you hunger and thirst you will be filled.  God certainly wants you to be filled with him.   God wants us filled with his Holy Spirit.  

   How do you fill your hunger and thirst for God.   How are you filled with the Holy Spirit?  

   The start of all achievement is desire.    Maybe some of us feel like I am not very hungry for God.   Our lives are so full of things that many do not sense their spirit is starving.   We can be so out of touch with God.   That is not a good place to be.  We can be so busy we do not even know how far we are from God.   Some folks cannot relax and to sit quietly because for them it is torture.   That is not good.   Many people today cannot still their mind and their spirit.  In Psalms the bible tells us be still and know that I am God.    Maybe some would say I do not want to be close to God.   The admission of that is a great beginning point.   Just be honest with God.    My lack of desire for God is not because he is not desirable ort tasty.  The Psalmist said taste and see that the Lord is good.  God is good and very desirable.  Some of us have not experienced him.   Many have not felt how good the Lord is.   Many have not experienced him but God desires that we do experience him.  He reveals himself to us in the bible and in creation and He wants us to know him.   Those that seek him with all their heart find him.  Paul’s desire was to know Jesus.  Moses spent 40 days and nights 3 times alone with God and he went without food and at least once he went without water for 40 days and lived.   God was all that Moses needed.    

    We all hunger and are thirsty physically at times.   When we leave church we usually go some place and look forward to a nice meal and for some it is a time to rest.  God certainly understands that.  If we need food and water for physical survival we need God and his spirit and his word for our spiritual life.    I think Jesus is saying the drive of your life should be pointed toward God.  In Matthew 6 Jesus encourages us that God knows our need for food, clothing and Jesus said life is more important than food and the body is more important than clothes.  Jesus said do not worry about those things.  

    We are very dependent on water and we thirst for water.   Many perhaps most people do not drink enough water.  The human body is ⅔ water.  By the time you are 70-years-old, it is estimated that you will have used 1 and ½ million gallons of water.  Studies show that increasing water consumption can decrease fat deposits.   Water is a natural appetite suppressant.    If you lose 2% of your body’s water supply, your energy will decrease by 20% and a 10% decrease in water, you will be unable to walk, and a 20% decrease – you’re dead.  If we do not get enough water we will begin to experience the results of that.   Our spiritual tank – our spirit needs filling also.  When the gas tank gets too empty you find out and spiritually we can run dry.  Most of us make sure that we keep gas in the vehicle.   Our spiritual life is more important than our gas tanks.  A dry pastor cannot feed his flock.  A dry father or burned out wife can’t give much.   The person who is running on empty cannot give.   It is critical to spend time with God.  

     Those that are hungry to the point of starving will eat.   You do not have to beg them to eat.   Those that are dying of thirst will drink.    We were made for God and we need God but we sometimes are blind to our need for God.   So we seek to live our life trying to satisfy ourselves with this world.      It is like the prodigal son who tried to fill himself on the husks that the pigs were fed.   I raised pigs when I was in high school and we would feed them on occasion a whole ear of corn.   The pigs would eat all the corn off from it and leave the dry husk which virtually has no food value.   Pigs will eat about anything and what they leave would not be appealing for human consumption.  

       The main drive of the spiritually hungry and thirsty person is Jesus.   It is God’s spirit and his word the bible.  It is not lots of money and success.  It is not a lot of the things that the world would tell us that we need to be happy.