In this sermon, Youth Director Mike Bittenbender preaches on the 4th Beatitude– Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
In John chapter 7, Jesus is at the Festival of Tabernacles. Quite a bit of drama unfolds but it says: “On the last and greatest day of the Festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” In this moment Jesus is signaling that to find satisfaction, to find fulfillment, to thirst no more, come to Him. And even when Jesus is no longer here on earth, we will have the Holy Spirit with us…
Our appetite needs to be for things above. Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Our appetite, as we hunger and thirst for righteousness, needs to be set on the things that appeal to God. Matthew 6:33 says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” John Stott says: “There is perhaps no greater secret of progress in Christian living than a healthy, hearty spiritual appetite. And if we are conscious of slow spiritual growth, the reason may be that we have a jaded appetite.”
Where is your appetite for God’s righteousness? Would you characterize your appetite as sharp or dull? See spiritual hunger is a characteristic of the people of God. It is perpetual. It will not be fully satisfied this side of Christ’s return. Spurgeon drives home this point when he says; “Man is to throw the wholeintensity of his nature into the pursuit of what is heavenly and eternal, which is here described as ‘righteousness.’”
We can either hunger and thirst for righteousness, or we can hunger and thirst for our own gratification. We either serve God or we serve ourselves. When we serve ourselves, we long for everything the world can give us, all the pleasures of this world, everything that makes us feel good. We can either put ourselves up as number one, or God. Just as the Bible says, we cannot serve two masters. Who are you serving?
The Pharisees had trouble grasping this concept. The Pharisees, while they may have sought God’s righteousness, they believed they did so by their actions. They believed that works could gain them righteousness. The Israelites after leaving Egypt began to grumble. Surprising, I know. Why did they start to grumble? They were hungry. In Deuteronomy 8:3 it says that God let them go hungry. Why would He do that? Because food isn’t everything. We eat and we will get hungry again. We need to learn to obey God in everything and depend on Him for everything, especially for righteousness. If we depend on God for His righteousness, we will be filled. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness it will added to us.
Oftentimes we look to things we think will “fill” us or satisfy us. Where do you find your fulfillment? In today’s world, people will often find their fulfillment in their job, their family, their youse, their bowling ball. Graham Smith mentioned that there are three places where people will often look to find their fulfillment: 1) Pleasure, 2) Performance, and 3) Possessions.
By pleasure he means how people try to find pleasure in whatever makes them happy. Some people will tell themselves that once they get some time away, then they will be happy. Smith says: “What then is the secret of satisfaction?” Read with me Psalm 37:4: “Seek your happiness in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.” Notice, he says here, “Don’t seek happiness. Seek God.” Thousands upon thousands of teenagers die by suicide every year because they’ve tried everything that pleasure can offer, and it turns to ashes in their mouth.
Nothing here on this earth, whether our pleasures, performances or possessions, will ever satisfy us. Everything here on this earth, when we place such an importance on it that if we could just do (blank), we will be happy, will only ever leave us feeling empty. And it is not about just not looking at other things for satisfaction. Sin avoidance is not the only factor here but a look to Christ and His righteousness.
Jesus says in John 6:35: ‘Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” We must look to Jesus for our satisfaction.