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What Are You Hungry For?

What are You Hungry For?

Once a young man kneeled before a beautiful young woman. “Darling,” he said, “I want you to know that I love you more than life. I want you to marry me. I’m not a wealthy man. I don’t have a yacht, a Rolls-Royce, or lots of money like Johnny Green, but I love you with all my heart.” The young woman paused for a moment and said, “Darling, I love you with all my heart too. But before I say ‘yes,’ tell me a little more about Johnny Green.”

That story illustrates a universal truth; we can hunger and thirst for temporal things that don’t bring satisfaction and miss the more valuable things that money can’t buy.

Isaiah 55:1-2 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare

After my last sermon, I had a few church members say they had never seen before how the beatitudes are intimately tied together. First, we looked at the “poor in spirit.” They are those who come to the realization that they are spiritually bankrupt before God. However, they are blessed because they are now in the position to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.

Second, we looked at “those who mourn.” This is the natural response of those who are “poor in spirit.” They see the darkness of their sin before a Holy God and it leads them to cry out in deep anguish and repentance. After mourning and repentance, the Holy Spirit comforts us with forgiveness, peace, and joy.

Third, we looked at “the meek.” Having seen the corruption of their own heart, the Holy Spirit is able to develop meekness in the Christian and this changes their perspective about themselves and other people. Meekness is a strength under God’s control that makes the meek useful to God. God can trust the meek to use their gifts and responsibilities to promote His Kingdom on earth.

Today, we will look at Matt 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Those who realize their spiritual bankruptcy, mourn over their sin, and become meek and useful to God will taste the Lord’s righteousness, power, and glory. This taste creates a continuing hunger and thirst for righteousness, which is God, the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 63:1-2 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

The first three beatitudes taught us the need for depending completely on God and empting ourselves of all sin. In the fourth beatitude, Jesus says, "Now that you’re empty, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, I will fill you.”

Jesus’ intention is to fill us up with Himself. He is our righteousness. He will bring us to feast and drink from Himself till we are full, full of the Holy Spirit, cleansed from all sin, sanctified wholly, and set apart from the world to serve Him and love Him all of our days.

Jesus quenches our thirst with the “springs of living water” that “flow from the throne of grace.” We are full of His presence, the Holy Spirit, who guides us, keeping us from the snares of Satan.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is the greatest joy man can ever know. It is beyond the joy of marriage, of watching your children being born, or even a sunrise. All of these are joyful, but being filled with the Holy Spirit is greater than these.

Righteousness is what is given to the believer when they are saved and baptized. When you put your faith in what Christ did for you on the Cross, His righteousness is credited to your account.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This imputation of righteousness is always by faith, not by our deeds or actions. When we make Jesus our Lord and Savior, His righteousness is given to us! This imputed righteousness creates a hungering and thirsting for sanctification. We could say it this way: Because I have been given the righteousness of Christ, I want to live righteously in practice. In fact, when we’re right with God, we will hunger and thirst for more of Him and live rightly to get closer to Him. We desire to obey Him with all our life.

Romans 6:16-23 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Fellow believer, do you have an insatiable hunger and a relentless thirst to obey God? More than that, do you have an intense longing for an intimate relationship with Jesus?

As long as you see your relationship to Jesus as just doing the right thing, you will never find the satisfaction that Jesus promised. Jesus doesn’t just want right living; He desires a right relationship. Right living without a right relationship was the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees. They were moral, and they were religious, but they didn’t love Jesus.

We should want to do right because we love Jesus, and we avoid sin because it interferes with our relationship with Christ.

John 14:15-17 If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 

Christianity is not a religion; it is an intimate relationship with Christ. And Jesus is saying, “If you are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, then passionately, intensely, above anything else, long for an intimate relationship with Me and you will be filled."

An increased longing for Jesus and a decreased longing for wrong things is what brings us to the point where we’re being filled more and more. You see, our walk with Jesus is not measured by perfection but by progress. Notice Jesus doesn’t say, "Blessed are those who always live right," but rather, "who hunger and thirst for righteousness." You ought to be able to look back a year ago and say, "I’m closer to Jesus now than I was then." If you can’t say that, maybe you are looking in the wrong places for your satisfaction.

God made us as spiritual beings in a physical body. We are made in His image. We are created to love Him and know Him, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will fill that need—not people, not possessions, not prestige—nothing except knowing Him.

John 6:35 Jesus declared, "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. 

Unfortunately, many times, we lose our spiritual thirst and hunger because we have allowed our souls to be filled with earthly, carnal things. It can even be good things that have captured our attention instead of the Lord. For example, Martha welcomed Jesus into her house, but forsook His presence for hospitality concerns. She felt what she was doing was more important than what Jesus was saying.

What is your attitude toward the Lord, His presence, or His Word? Are you ignoring Him and pursuing other interests?

Jer. 2:13 My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

When we lose our spiritual appetite for the presence and the glory of God in our life, then we are in critical condition. Because if we’re not hungry and thirsty, we won’t eat and we won’t drink. And if we won’t eat from His Word and drink from the “spring of living water”, we’ll die.

Remember one of the first signs of a physical illness is the loss of appetite. It is also true of illness of the spirit.

Sometimes people lose their hunger and thirst for spiritual things, and they think that if they wait long enough it will return. It won’t. If we do not nurture that hunger and thirst, our spirit will become weak and eventually die of spiritual malnutrition.

The man or woman who hungers and thirsts after righteousness longs to be free from sin in all its forms and manifestations. The individual who is hungering and thirsting for righteousness will be feeding the spiritual man rather than the carnal man. His desire for spiritual things will be greater than his desire for carnal things.

Therefore, hungering and thirsting after righteousness also involves avoiding everything that is in any way opposed to righteousness. There are certain things in this life that we know are clearly opposed to God and His righteousness. We know they’re bad, we know they’re harmful, we know they’re sinful. To "hunger and thirst" after righteousness is to avoid these things at all costs. But a sincere and legitimate pursuit of righteousness goes beyond avoiding what is clearly and unmistakably sinful, it also involves avoiding those things that tend to dull or take the edge off our spiritual appetite. There are so many things that are quite harmless in themselves and which are perfectly legitimate. Yet, if we find that we are spending much of our time with these things and desiring God less, then we must avoid them.

Now, let’s look at the promise. The promise given to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness is that they will be filled. This filling is three-fold.

Initially, the filling deals with the salvation experience. The moment an individual is made to see their need of Christ and they come to Him in repentance and faith, desiring to die to their old life in baptism, they are given a new life and the righteousness of Christ. What joy floods their soul!

Secondly, we are filled continuously. The satisfaction we experience initially in Christ is so sweet to our spiritual taste that we desire to have more of Jesus and to be more like Him in our daily walk.

Psalms 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

The desire for Christ is so intense that nothing else will satisfy.

Philippians 3:8-10 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

Lastly, there is coming a day in which we will be perfectly, completely, and entirely righteous. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness long for the day when Jesus returns. Their cry is, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”

There is a story of the guy who pleaded with his psychiatrist for help: “Doc, you’ve got to help me! I can’t stop believing that I’m a dog.” The psychiatrist followed up with a question: “How long have you had this problem?” To which the man replied, “Ever since I was a puppy.”

While that might not be our problem today, my guess is that these beatitudes have affected each of us. We know we’re not who we’re supposed to be, and we been this way all our life. We also realize that there’s more to life in Christ than we are experiencing. Don’t give up hope; we are in the perfect position to receive more. God has given us two essential things: the righteousness of Christ, and a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those with this desire are blessed and they will be filled with the Holy Spirit, who continues to change us and empower us to be like Jesus, who is our righteousness.

Are you tired of living a “dog’s life”? Do you want God to change you? If so, then seek God with all your heart. Watch what you eat. Some of us have been consuming things that will not satisfy because they were never designed by the Creator to bring us fulfillment. One reason we may not be hungering for righteousness today is because, frankly, we feel pretty full.

Prov. 27:7 “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”

Maybe it’s time to admit that some of us are spiritual junk food addicts. We have filled ourselves with things that taste good at first, but later on they leave us disillusioned and depressed. Are you munching on material things in the hopes that they will fill you up? Are you snacking on a sexual sin, thinking that this will satisfy? Are you consuming your career as if that will meet your needs? Do you salivate over sports more than you should? Are you drinking or using drugs to dull the despair you are feeling? If so, it’s time to eat and drink what is good so that your soul may live. Gorge yourself on God and His Word. The sooner we realize that our longings can only be filled by Jesus, the sooner God can fill us with His Spirit and change our life.

If we want to grow spiritually, we must crave the milk of God’s Spirit and the meat of God’s Word, like a famished man seeks food and water.

1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

We must continually crave God, every day, at all times during the day. Listen to the desperate sense of desire for God in these verses:

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you.

Psalm 84:2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Psalm 143:6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Just as we need to eat and drink several times a day in order to stay physically healthy, so too, we need to consume spiritual food and drink on a daily basis if we are to grow spiritually. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The Israelites received manna in the desert every morning so that they would learn that God meets needs on a daily basis. And, when God provided the manna, He was actually using this as an object lesson that represented a much deeper truth.

Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to do whatever it takes to be in a right relationship with Jesus.  These are the ones who are blessed and will receive the blessing promised: “for they will be filled.”

Psalm 107:9 For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Here’s the key. Until we come to the place where we are single-minded in our pursuit of God, we will never be satisfied. We need to be so famished and so parched that we will become passionate about seeking the Savior in prayer, reading His Word, and asking Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit every day.

Do you love and desire the Lord like that? Then you know what it is like to be filled with His righteousness and His Spirit.

If not, you can know. After all, we have as much of God as we want. God wants to fill us with more of Himself, but He won’t force Himself upon us. We must hunger and thirst for Him, then we will be filled. If that is your desire, tell Him so today and repent of anything that is hindering you from receiving His promise.