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#42 What Do You Hunger For?

Have you ever been so hungry that all you could think about was where you would get your next bite of food and what it would taste like?

In this episode of “Now Is The Time” we talk about what it means to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and why  it is that we often don’t hunger for it.

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Note: This is the last week that I’m giving out my secret link to the podcast survey and the free download! Listen to the podcast for details.

Food Sanitation

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
(Mat 5:6)

Jesus’ Teachings Were Shocking!

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be in the crowd when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount?

Personally I think that as the crowd gathered there was a lot of noise, people were talking among themselves, asking each other what they thought Jesus would say. But as soon as Jesus sat down and opened his mouth a great hush came over the crowd. Everyone turned their ears to hear the Good Teacher, the miracle worker! What words of wisdom, what message of divine revelation would he give them?

What we know is that no one taught like Jesus did!

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
(Mat 7:28-29)

Jesus’ teachings were not what the people were used to. They were used to rules and more rules. They were used to the religious leaders telling them everything they had to do. Jesus described their teaching as placing unbearable loads on the backs of those who listened to them!

What Does it Mean to Hunger and Thirst?

Hunger and thirst represent one of the strongest desires known to man. It is stronger and more pervasive than the desire for sleep, it is stronger than the desire for sex, it is stronger than the desire to avoid pain, it is stronger than the desire for money, power or fame!

Not only is hunger and thirst arguably the most powerful desire that mankind experiences, it is also something that when satisfied gives him life, strength and great pleasure all at the same time.

The problem is that in the West we rarely experience true hunger or thirst! If you’re like me then you rarely go more than a few hours without stuffing something into my mouth. That means it’s a little hard to really relate to what Jesus is talking about here. What does it mean to have hunger? What does it mean to thirst and not know where you can find water? What does it mean to go for days or weeks without food!

Jesus isn’t just talking about an ordinary desire to eat. Sometimes I go into the kitchen I open the fridge I look around, there’s some soup from yesterday, some mashed potatoes, a bit of milk, some pickles. Nothing really sounds good to me at the moment so I close the fridge and go back to my work.

Was I hungry?

Not at all! I just wanted some entertainment for my mouth! My body was telling me I need food, it was just saying, “hey I’m bored, can you find something tasty to break up this monotony?”

There is difference between hunger and just wanting something to eat!

Jesus is talking about real hunger here, a desire that is stronger than any other known to man.

Here are a few observations on hunger.

1.Hunger is internal and it demands internal satisfaction
2. While hunger is internal it has external effects.
3. Hunger affects every aspect of man, physically, mentally, emotionally.
4. Hunger can motivate like nothing else.
5. The only thing that can satisfy hunger is food.

What is Righteousness?

When I think of righteousness I usually think of doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong thing. I know there are certain things I shouldn’t do. I shouldn’t lie, I shouldn’t commit adultery, I shouldn’t murder and so on. If I want to be righteous then I should avoid those sins and instead tell the truth, be faithful to my wife and give to the needy.

It’s true, I should avoid those evil things and I should do those good things, but Jesus is talking about a righteousness that is much deeper. He’s not just talking about what we do or don’t do, he’s talking about a state of being, he’s talking about the condition of the heart. A heart that is righteous will always produce righteous deeds!

If we pay careful attention we will see that there are 8 blesseds with a 9th that’s really a continuation of the 8th.

The 4th and 8th blessed are about righteousness.

Mat 5:3-11
(1) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(2) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(3) “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
(4) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
(5) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
(6) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(7) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(8) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(8b) “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

A Progression

What see is man who understands the poverty of his own spirit, as a result he weeps and he is humbled. This terrible realization of his own spiritual problems makes him hunger for a solution, he hungers for what he doesn’t have, he hungers for righteousness!

Jesus promises us that this man is blessed who hungers for righteousness and he will be filled.

Now notice what happens after verse 6. The blessed man is full of mercy, he has a pure heart and out of the overflow of his heart he begins to make peace with others. You see when God gives us his righteousness it doesn’t just stay with us, it fills us and then it begins to flow out of us.

In this passage we see a radical change in the heart of man! We see a man who is pursuing righteousness with everything he has. We see a man who looks different than the world around him. He has different desires and those desires determine the direction of his life.

Observations on righteousness

1. Jesus is talking about internal righteousness

2. We can’t obtain this righteousness on our own.

3. Verses 7-11 describe for us what that righteousness looks like.

How Can We Develop a Hunger for Righteousness?

Our problem is that the natural desire of the sinful man is to hunger and thirst for power, self-gratification, pleasure, money, anything but righteousness!

1. Start by recognizing your spiritual poverty!

2. Pay attention to what you are eating!

3. Understand that a hunger for righteousness is really a hunger for God

Prayer Requests

  • This week terrorists bombed a pro-Ukrainian store here in Odessa, please pray for peace in our city.
  • Pray for Dennis who was injured by shrapnel. I gave him and audio Bible to listen to because his sight is too poor even to read large print.
  • Pray for me as I travel to the town of Lebeden this Saturday for graduation of our Bible school students.
  • Pray for our institute’s Bible school conference next week, December 9-11.

Links

Question: How do you develop your hunger and thirst for righteousness?

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • I read your post and look forward to listening to the pod cast.

    For me, the more of Jesus I consume, the more I want! I start to crave Him like I do my favorite foods.

    A pastor friend once said that the more of Jesus he gets the more he needs because it (Jesus) leaks out of him as if he were full of holes. He can’t keep Jesus in, He keeps coming out- blessing others, helping others- and before long my friend said he needs more of Jesus poured back into him. Once isn’t enough.
    Just like with food. We can’t eat once and be satisfied for life, we must have continual nutriment. We burn our food as calories which give us energy and make our bodies function and those calories must continually be replaced.
    Same with God. As we live righteously and give to others from the abundance of His grace, we need more of Him to fill us.

    Great post. Praying for you all.

    • TC, I thought you might like to know that I just bought Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship.” I haven’t had a chance to get into it yet but looking forward to it.

      • That’s great. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

  • Ha, that was a peppy “Go tell it on the Mountain.”
    I remember when I was studying the Beatitudes; this passage was so startling when you really break it down. I was struck not only be the fervor of how our desire should be, but also just how essential the spiritual things are. They are to us as food.

    • Essential is a good word for it! Without the righteousness of Christ we are dead!

  • My thoughts as I listened; Your word is spoken with such clarity that this message speaks to people who received Christ long ago and new believers. Finished my day off with your message. Good words to end a day.

    • I’m so glad that I could bless you in this way Nancy! I’m always praying that the words I speak in my podcast will encourage and challenge people to live for God.

  • Great listen, Caleb! We crave whatever we regularly consume, either good or bad. It’s why spiritual disciplines are so important for are walk. Great post!

    • Right on Dan, Spiritual disciplines are way underrated.