Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

  • Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
  • Matthew 5:6
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • October 30, 2016
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10-30-16 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.


Celebrate LakeRidge ~ October 30, 2016

Deeper ~ November 1, 2016

You are here for the first of our four-week series called, “beAtitudes for Families.” As a church our vision is to “Connect the generations with Jesus in order to impact our world” and there is no better place for us to live that out than within the context of our families.


No matter if you are newly married or celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary, no matter if you have toddlers running around the house or you find yourself with an empty nest, no matter if you single, married, widowed or divorced – this series is for all of us. All of us play some role within a family system – daughter, son, sister, brother, mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandma or grandpa – we all know what it is to be part of a family in some measure.


The family might be traditional or blended. It might be impacted by divorce or death. Maybe you are family because of the gift of adoption. No matter what your family looks like I’ve got a question for you to consider this morning:


How many of you would love to have your homes and families be blessed? Raise your hands up high. There are some of you who do not have your hands up. So, I’m assuming you want yours cursed? Of course you don’t. We all would love to see our homes and families blessed.


But when you look at families today, in general, “blessed” is not the first word that comes to your mind.  Right? When we look at so many families today, rather than say, “Man, they’re really blessed,” more often, we say, “Wow, they’re really struggling.”  “Their marriage is not what it could be” or “raising the kids is more difficult than they thought,” or “financially, man, we’re kind of living paycheck-to-paycheck.”


And so, what we’re going to do is let the teaching of Jesus from Mathew 5, when he taught on what is known as the beatitudes.  We’re going to apply several of the beatitudes into our homes.


Now, some of you may say, “But I’m a student.  I don’t have a family yet.”  This is the best time to prepare your heart for future blessings.  I would have given anything to have learned stuff like this years and years ago.  So, I believe it will speak to everyone.


What I’m going to do is be really transparent in this message series.  There are times when I’m going to tell you things that have worked from our home.  But I want to tell you, our family is far from perfect. I get frustrated with Joni and the girls. They get frustrated with me. We yell. We cry. We laugh. We hug. We do all of the same things your family does. We are trying to live into all of this just like any other family.


Today, let’s look at Matthew 5:6 (NIV) for our first of the beatitudes we’re going to study.  And this is what Jesus said. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” 


When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be filled, and yet so many homes today are not filled with that which matters most, but are searching and striving for anything that would bring meaning.


Why is that?  Because we’re filling our lives with things that don’t matter, and  we’re not as blessed as we could be because we’re not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for right living, for doing the right thing in the way we live to please God, by faith and by the way we live.


So, here’s a question that I want to ask all of you just for application, and I want to dare you to be really, really honest.  Here’s the question: In your home, what are you hungering for?  In your life, in your dorm, with your friends, what are you pursuing?  What matters most to you?


And some of you, with integrity, you could say, “We’re here to please God.”  Some of you, you’d try to say that with your Sunday school answer, “We’re here to please God.”  But if I asked your kids, they might say something entirely different.


Just look, let’s make it easy, at the last seven days, just the last seven days.  What were you characterized as pursuing?  What were you hungering for?


And if you’re honest, some of us would have to say things like, “Well, you know, we’re really just trying to relax,” and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Or, “We’re trying to have a good time,” or “You know, kind of for comfort.”  “We want to work hard for the week so that we can do whatever we want on the weekend.”  “We just want to have fun, to chill, to unwind, to do something fun.”  Nothing wrong with that but let’s call it what it is.


Some would say, “Well, you know, we’re hungering for popularity.”  “You know, we want to be liked and so we’re kind of about image management, look at our family from the outside, look at the way we dress, look at our home, look at our yard, look at the cars we drive, look at the way we walk into church.”  “Don’t we look like the happy Christian family?”


“Don’t anybody tell them we were cursing and yelling in the car,” “Oh, look we’re at church, let’s all strap on our smiley faces and go in and praise Jesus.”  It’s image management.


For some, it would be just the whim.  That’s what you’re pursuing, whatever the whim means to you.  The whim might mean more money, a bigger house.  It might mean that your elementary kid was the student of the year.  Maybe you’ve got a kid who isn’t so bright and so you’re excited that your kid can beat up the elementary student of the year.


Or it’s sports.  “Our child is champion underwater synchronized swimming polo player in four-and-under.”  “He’s on the traveling team.” So, we’re going to be the best at that, whatever it is for you, it’s the whim.  What are you hungering and thirsting for?


And if you’re like most people in our culture today, if you’re really, really hones, you’d say over the last seven days, we were pursuing something or many things above God.  We were not hungering and thirsting for righteousness.


So, what do we do when we realize that we are hungering for the wrong things?  What do we do when we realize that we have an appetite for things that do not satisfy and are not best for us?  Well, we change our appetites.


When I was a seminary student living in Kentucky, my friends and I really missed having good TexMex food like I was able to get back in Lubbock when I was in college.  A new Kentucky friend took us to a restaurant in Lexington calledChiChi’s”. I was so looking forward to having some good TexMex. The only problem was that the food was awful. I would have rather eaten a TV dinner. This wasn’t TexMex. This wasn’t even close to TexMex. This was “faux TexMex.” My friend thought it was great. I was like, “This is not good food. I don’t know where to find it yet, but I promise you there is better food than this.” A few weeks later I discovered a place called, “9 Point Mesa.” The owners were from Texas and it was incredible. Once my friend ate at 9 Point Mesas, she never wanted to eat at ChiChi’s again. It is all a matter of perspective.


Here’s the thing, if you start pursuing God and you start seeking God, suddenly, you’re going to see the benefits of walking, led by the Spirit of God, empowered by his presence and His Spirit. And suddenly, you’ll long for more of him, and the “faux” food of this world, which didn’t satisfy you, isn’t going to be at the top of your cravings because now you’re developing an appetite for the good stuff.  You’re hungering and thirsting for righteousness and you’re fulfilled and satisfied as you’re knowing, serving and doing the will of God.


Now, why doesn’t this happen more in our homes?  Why don’t we see more homes that are blessed?  Let me tell you what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to building a home centered around Christ.  And we’ll start with what does not work.  If you’re taking notes, there are two things that do not work.  The first thing that doesn’t work is legalistic Christianity.  The second thing that doesn’t work is lukewarm Christianity.


Let me give you some examples.  What is legalistic Christianity?  That’s when we reduce Christianity in our homes to a bunch of do’s and don’ts, cans and can’ts, should and shouldn’ts, ought and ought not’s.  “Don’t do this and don’t do that”.  And “do this” and “it’s a rule.”  And “if you’re a good Christian, you always get it right.”  And “whatever you do, kids, don’t drink and don’t smoke and don’t chew and don’t run with kids who do.” It’s the rules.  The problem is, write this down: “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”  Have you ever seen that?


The second thing that also doesn’t work is Lukewarm Christianity.  What is that?  That’s when we believe in God but we live as if he doesn’t exist; it’s cultural Christianity.  It’s Christian in name only, but no real passion for things that bring glory to God.


Now, how do we know if you’re a part of the lukewarm Christian home?  And the answer is, I can’t judge your faith. I don’t, because I don’t know.  But I’ll tell you for me, here’s some indicators I would know that my home or I’m becoming more lukewarm.


For example, when both of our daughters were home and if it had been several days and I haven’t been back to pray with them, that’s a very good indicator. Or if we are in a movie or are watching a television show that suddenly seems inappropriate but I don’t move to change the channel, that’s a very good indicator. There are plenty of others, but you get the idea.


Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-16 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!


And those things simply don’t work.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”  So, what does work?


What does work, if you’re taking notes, write this down: “As a family, we are not just a Christian family.  Instead, we are a Christ-centered home.”  At first those two things might not sound all that different, but I promise you that they are.


Unfortunately, where I live today, you may call yourself a Christian family and that doesn’t mean much.  Does it?  About 80% or so of our country say, “Yeah, we’re

Christians.” but they are not Christ-centered homes.


People just call themselves “Christian.”  You can call yourself a Christian; that doesn’t mean you’re a Christian.  You can call yourself a duck, and you may be able to quack, but unless you can fly and lay an egg, you are not a duck.  You’re just a weird person quacking.  Right?  There’s a big difference between saying, “Oh, yeah, I mean, we’re all Christians, right?  I mean, we’re Christians,” and saying, “No, Jesus isn’t just a part of our lives, he is the center of our lives.  Our home is characterized by being Christ centered.”


Scripture doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who believe in Christ when it’s convenient for them,” but “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  If we don’t, we need to change our appetites.


I love the way David explained this.  I love the imagery of his language in Psalms 63:1, he said, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”


You see that language.  It isn’t just a, “Hey, I want you when it’s convenient for me.”  “Hey, God I kind of believe in you whenever I need you.”  No, it’s every moment of every day, every bit of me longs for you.  We’re not just a Christian family, we’re a Christ-centered home.


And so, I interpreted and translated that verse toward the family just for fun to show you how it would sound. Would you help me out?  If we made an edited version, it would go like this: “You, God, are our God.  Earnestly we seek you.  We thirst for you.  Our whole family longs for you.”


Imagine the silly things that we live for in the place of God.  “Oh, popularity, you are my god.  I long for you in a dry and weary land.”  That sounds stupid, doesn’t it? “Oh, championship of the eight-and-under soccer league, you are my god.  I long for you.”  It seems stupid, right?  “Oh, new car my backside longs for a leather interior and seat warmers.  You are my” – it’s just stupid.  And yet, that’s the way so many of us live, and we wonder why we’re so empty.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  For you will be filled.”


So, how do we do that?  I want to take it from up here to a practical level, and I’ll just say as simply as I can:  This has been my philosophy in creating a Christ-centered home.  What I want to do, and I hope you’ll want to do this is just simply – “Help our family see God as loving, approachable and involved.”  Very simple.


We’re going to help our family to see God as lovable. He loves you; he’s approachable.  You can go to him for anything and everything.  He wants you to approach the thrown of grace with boldness and he’s involved in all that you do.


You should create an environment where your kids want to have discussions about God so it’s not something they feel like they have to do, but something they want to do.


So, how do you do it?  You say, “I don’t even know where to start.”  Let me make it as simple as I can and give you a couple of ways to make a hunger and thirst for God.  The first thing, if you’re taking notes, we’re simply going to involve God in our daily conversations. When we’re talking about anything, we’re going to involve God in our daily conversations.  It may seem kind of weird to you, but it’s really simple.  You’re driving along outside, beautiful sunrise on the way to school, you say, “Man, that’s awesome.”  Instead, you say, “Wow, look at the sunrise that God has blessed us with.”  And you’re simply showing that God is a part of your conversation.


And you do this in your marriage, instead of saying, “Man, I don’t know what to do.  What do you think we should do?  Let’s look at the pro’s.  What do you think we should do?”  Instead, you say, “Wow, I wonder what God wants us to do?”  And so, in your marriage, you are reminding yourself you are not just a Christian home, you are a Christ-centered home.  You involve God in your conversations.


Second thing, if you want to hunger and thirst for righteousness, is make church a non-negotiable. If you’re a Christ-centered home, guess what you do?  You make the priority of the worship of your God something that is non-negotiable.  To take one hour a week to honor the Creator and Sustainer of this universe who sent his Son, Jesus, to hear the proclamation of the word, because faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God.  And you say to your family, “We’re going to go to church, period.”   You can make it.  And it’s part of who we are.  The fellowship of the believers.


This is a gift that my parents gave to me. It is an example that they set for me.


You can have what God wants you to have if you will pursue God, period.  But you say, “You don’t know how messed up we are.  You don’t know how bad it is.  I mean, I’m trying to keep my fourteen-year-old off drugs.  You have no idea.”  Listen to me, listen to me carefully.  You can have what God wants you to have if you pursue him.  Don’t give me excuses.


Parents, get up off your duffs and lead.  Lead toward a Christ-centered culture.  Lead toward  it.  You say, “I don’t even know where to start.”  We made it as simple as we can.  Can you show it’s a blessing to serve God?  Yes, you can.  Can you make church a priority? Yes, you can.


Can you involve God in your conversations?  Yes, you can.  And I love what Joshua said very simply.  He said this in Joshua 24:15 “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”


Here it is.  You choose today.  You make the choice this day because  blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.