Good morning, Church. For those that don’t know me, my name is Mike Degree and I’m super excited to be able to speak before you today. We are in part three of a six part series titled “blessed” as a study on the Beatitudes. And I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed the message series so far. We learned about emptying ourselves. We learned about our disposition before God. We learned about just being able to see the happiness and the blessedness of not relying on ourselves, but relying on God.
I think we’re in a good place right now to focus on God, there’s so many things happening around us in our country. But right now, we get an opportunity to just empty ourselves and to see our need for God. We talked about being poor in spirit, we talked about being meek, and today we are going to be talking about hungry and thirsty for righteousness. If you don’t mind, actually, I’d like to jump right on in Matthew, chapter five verse six.
Here’s what it says. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” You know, this scripture reminds me of a story I heard, and in this story, there was a young man who wanted to be successful. So he decided to visit this wise man, this guru, and he went to this guru and he told the guru, you know, I like to be successful like you. And the guru said, hey, if you want to be successful like me, here’s what you need to do.
Meet me at the beach tomorrow morning at four a.m.. The young man said, OK, four a.m. So the young man got to the beach at four a.m., he was ready to rock and roll and the guru looked at the straight in his eyes in the asked him. How bad do you want to be successful? And the young man said real bad, he said, OK, we’re at the beach, I’m already in the water, walk on out into the water.
So he walks out into the water. And when he walks out to the water, the young man, he gets waist deep. And at this point, he’s starting to regret the decision that he made to go into the water, he’s complaining in his heart. And he’s thinking this wise guy, this guru, he’s crazy. I told him I want to be successful. He got me out here swimming. I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard. I asked to be successful.
And the guru said, come on out a little further, he came out on out a little further and and at this point the water is right at his mouth and the young man is fed up. He’s like. I can’t take this man’s, you know, antics anymore, he shouts, I’m not going to move another inch until you tell me what’s going on here. And the old man said, I thought you wanted to be successful. He said, I do, but I don’t see what this has to do with anything.
The guru says, come on out little further. And the old man came closer to the young man and he grabbed his head and shoved his head down into the water and held him down. And the young man is freaking out at this point as anyone would, he’s flapping his arms, he’s splashing in the water, he’s scratching, he’s grabbing on to the guru to pull himself up. And finally, after much effort, the young man was able to break loose and emerge from the water.
And the guru then said. I got a question for you when you thought you were drowning, what one thing did you want most of all? And as the young man still gasping for air. I wanted to breathe, and the guru said, when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful. And brothers and sisters, what I want to talk to you about today is that if you want to be righteous as much as you want to breathe then you’ll be righteous. When you want God’s standards for your life as much as a starving person wants to be fed. And you’ll get it, will you want righteousness more than anything else in this life? You get it. Unless we truly hunger and thirst after righteousness. We can never really obtain it. I know I need to clarify some things, I know that. Words like righteousness and words like hunger and thirst. Came up. But let me just ask you this before we get into to the sermon and as we kind of think about these questions.
Based on your life right now. So we’re talking about hunger and thirst for righteousness based off of your life right now. Are you happy with how you’re pursuing God and his righteousness? I think this question in the story speaks to exactly what I’m trying to go with the sermon. So let me just tell you my main idea as we get started. The main idea is this God’s promise of righteousness hinges on our pursuit. Of righteousness. If you want to be righteous, it’s not going to come to you automatically, you got to pursue it.
But let me just clarify righteousness before we move on here, righteousness equals right relationship with God. So when you think about being righteous. Think about relationship. And I think it’s two passages that speak to righteousness. 2 Corinthians chapter five or twenty one, it says, God made him who had no sin to be sent for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. And the idea is this. We become right with God because of God.
The passage says that God made him, who had no sin to be sent for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. This is an act of God. This is the role of God. We can’t earn this, nor do we deserve it. That’s God’s work. So that’s one aspect of righteousness, but here’s another aspect of righteousness for John three, verse seven, it says, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.
The one who does what is right is righteous just as He is righteous.” And his idea we become right with God by doing right by God. The idea is to do to do as he does, to see as He sees, to feel as he feels, to say what he says, to love what he loves, to hate what he hates. The idea is to imitate God, but it’s an action to pursue his only will, to pursue his ways to pursue his desires.
That’s the thought. That’s the heart. So we think about righteousness. We think about two aspects. Becoming right with God because God made it happen and becoming right with God by doing right by God. I just want to tell you, we’re going to focus more on this idea. I don’t really believe in. You need to earn your salvation. That’s not what we’re talking about here, but because we are saved, we act as if we are saved.
That’s the whole point. So this is kind of my main definition as we move on here. So I hope righteousness is clarified a little bit as we continue on, and I just want you to know that as I’m going to be talking righteousness, I’m going to use it interchangeably. Righteousness and doing right by God, I’m going to use that interchangeably so we understand what righteousness is great. So let me clarify what hunger and thirst for righteousness is, because we got some pretty active words, there hunger and thirst.
So what is that, what is Jesus speaking about, like how is he describing hunger and thirst? And let me just tell you right off the bat that what we think about hunger and thirst is different from how Jesus thought about hunger and thirst. And if people actually understood hunger and thirst differently from how we understand it today, so the people back in Jesus’s day would have understood hunger and thirst, not as a casual I missed breakfast, so I’m going to grab a quick snack or maybe I’m going to eat a bigger lunch.
No, the people wouldn’t have understood the word hunger and thirst. They would have understood it as a matter of life or death. It was more of an emergency. So for somewhere to go to hunger and thirst back then, it meant that people basically were on the brink of starvation and dehydration. And the only way for that starvation and dehydration to cease was to desperately, not casually pursue food and water. Basically, food and water would become a hot commodity, like immediately food and water would become prominent to a person’s life.
They’re starving or dehydrated. I mean, we get that right. That makes sense. And at the top of someone’s priority list. Why, because it was a matter of emergency for them, like food and water, it would be the only thing that could actually satisfy them. So when Jesus used this word hunger and thirst for righteousness, here’s what he’s saying. This is the spirit of it. The spirit is that everyone who is going to enter into this kingdom, that they would be desperate, that they will be they longing and craving to do what is right by God more than anything else.
Just to go back to the story, the young man was like what I wanted most. I wanted to breathe. He wasn’t thinking about a party, he wasn’t thinking about a relationship, he wasn’t thinking about anything, he was just thinking about breathing. And Jesus is saying when you come into the kingdom, the idea is that doing right by God would be what consumes you, it’s what you crave. The call is to do and to pursue what’s right by God, as if your life depends on it.
But what does that look like? I think there are so many examples in scriptures of what it looks like to do right by God to pursue righteousness. John, Chapter four, I believe, gives us a good illustration of that. Jesus, the best example we can go to, so let’s go out and read it, John chapter four verse thirty one to thirty five. It says, “meanwhile, his disciples urged him. Rabbi, eat something they said to them, I have food to eat that you know nothing about. Then his disciples said to each other because someone had brought him food. My food said, Jesus is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying it’s still four months until harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest.” If we ever want to get a picture of what it looks like to hunger and thirst for righteousness, if we ever want to get a picture of what it looks like to do right, by God, we don’t have to look any further than Jesus.
But let me ask you a question. Obviously, it’s rhetorical because you can’t say anything to me right now. Have you ever been so focused, so excited about something that you didn’t eat? Maybe it was taking on a new job. Getting married. Having your first child, getting a new video game, first day of school. It was an interview. Whatever it was. I think we all can relate to be so excited, be so consumed, be so passionate about something, that it takes away an appetite.
In here what we see in this passage is that. The disciples were urging Jesus to eat. I don’t remember the last time someone had to urge me to do anything because I love to eat, but. Jesus was so enthusiastic, so excited, so passionate about doing God’s will, that he didn’t need anything. His fuel, his sustenance, his appetite at this point was all about God’s plan and purposes for his life, what occupied Jesus thought world was doing right by God more than anything else.
That is what it looks like to hunger and thirst after righteousness and of course, we have to ask ourselves is. Or. Got a few questions here, what role, if any, does doing God’s will have in your life today? Are you desperate for it? Are you hungry for it? Is there anything at this moment that means more to you than doing right by God is doing God’s will must have in your life? I’m not trying to make you feel bad here, and if that’s the case, if you like.
All of those answers or all those questions, the answer’s no. Mike. Well, what is your must have in life if it’s not God’s will then what it is, what is it? What is driving your life, consuming your thoughts, directing your impulses? Ask that because. You have something that can be gifted to you offered by God, and I don’t think you want to squander that. I don’t even want to squander that the main thought is God’s promise of righteousness hinges on our pursuit of righteousness.
So if we squandered the pursuit, we squandered the promise. And the question is, is it worth it? Is that worth your promise, is that worth your righteousness? If we want to be filled with righteousness. Then we have to pursue righteousness. OK, so if that example wasn’t clear enough, let me just go to another passage here and Psalm forty two I mean, I love this passage. Psalm 42 verse one or two, it says, “as the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God, my soul thirsts for God, for the living God, when can I go and meet with God?”
I love this passage because there’s just an intensity, I don’t know if you see it, but I see an intensity of desire. The passage says my soul for you, my soul thirst for you. And a question that inspires me every single time I read it and actually challenges me, the question is in this passage is when can I go and meet with God? What was the last time you asked that question? It’s challenging for me. For me to even hear that question.
Ask when can I go get some food? When can I see my wife? When can I go to this event, but. Do I ever ask the question, when can I go to meet with God? What have you ever asked a question? God, I can’t wait to meet with you. Name the time and place. I love this passage because it just illustrates the heart of pursuit. This Psalmist is like, man, wherever God is, that’s what I want to be.
I want his presence to dominate my life, I have no space for me because I’m so fixated on He. He fills every crevice of my life. Are you so in love, so obsessed, so needy for doing right by God. You’re so obsessed that you’re like, man, I just wish there were more hours in the day because I just want to be with him. The scripture of the day won’t do it. The prayer time on the way to work is not going to do it the daily quiet, it’s daily quiet time. It just won’t do it.
I just want to have an appointment with God. I’m anticipating the next moment I just get really excited thinking about when I can just go be with God. I like that question because there’s nothing about it that communicates to me obligation. There’s nothing about it that communicates. Just going through the motions, there’s nothing about that question that communicates to me, I’m trying to appease somebody. I’m trying to avoid going to hell like.
The question is all about passion. The question is all about pursuit, like where can I go be with him? The question is. When can you go meet with Him? My answer is whenever you want. And the thought is you are going to be as close to God as you want to be. God’s promise of righteousness hinges on your pursuit of righteousness, if you want to be filled, you will be filled. That decision is yours, always has been, always will be.
I love the book of Psalms with this topic, and Psalm sixty three speaks to this as well. So let’s look at it. Psalm sixty three, verse one, it says, “you got to my God earnestly, I seek you, I thirst for you. My whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your glory. Because your love is better than life.
My lips will glorify you, I will praise you as long as I live and in your name, I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied. As with the riches of foods with singing lips, my mouth will praise you. On my bed, I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night because you are my help I seeing in the shadow of your wings. Awesome. Men, there are just so many statements, and this passage is just fires me up.
Beginning with the passage, the Psalmist is like earnestly I seek for you. then it says, my whole being longs for you. When was the last time you felt like your whole self? Longed for God like all that, you are everything you have to offer, it belongs to God. Verse three, he says, your love is better than life. Do you consider God’s love better than the air that you’re breathing right now? As long as I can breathe, I want to praise you, it says I will praise you as long as I live.
Oh my bad. I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night. I don’t want to go to bed because I’m just so obsessed with thinking about God. It’s hard for me to go to sleep because I remember you on my bed. I cling to you. I’m sure you guys have used to saying, man, that person is clingy. If God were to have a conversation with someone about you. Would God, describe you as clingy.
If I were to have that said about me, I would want God Almighty to say that about me. Mike is so clingy, I love it like. I would want the God who promises me righteousness, I would want him to say about me, man, he’s always trying to talk to me, he’s always trying to do what I want him to do. He’s always speaking about me. That’s what that’s what my dream is. I’m far from it.
But that’s what I desire. Brothers and sisters, what do you decide today? What consumes your thoughts, will you obsess about? What are the locking dates in your schedule? What do you think about at night when you think about when you wake up in the morning? I know I’m talking a lot about this intensity, this passion, this desire. This pursuit. I know a lot of times as we talk about these things, you could probably think about all the things that kind of stop you from doing that this, this, this, this, this.
I think it’s good to address them as good to identify the areas that stop you from pursuing the God who wants to give you his righteousness. He wants to fill you with his righteousness, is good to talk about and put it out in the air. What is it that’s stopping me? Some of us are distracted by other things. We’re distracted by other pursuits, and I’m talking about pursuing God. But our hearts belong to someone else or to something else.
What is it? Is it politics? I know we’re in a very charged season right now. Does politics have your heart? Is that what you obsess about? Is that what keeps you up at night? Is that what wakes you up in the morning? Is that what gives you hope? Meaning significance? What is it? Racial equity. Racial equality. Is it that promotion? Financial freedom, security. The end to coronavirus. I don’t think these are bad desires, I’m not trying to be down on anyone about these desires.
But the question is, is that what drives you, though? Is that what gives you hope? Is that what makes you feel good about yourself? Is that the thing that you just can’t seem? So let go. Those are questions that are tough, but those are questions that would be good, good to ask because the good subtle things. Can become. The thing that replaces God. That can be the thing that is the center of our focus.
You don’t want that. Because. The reality is that with all these things, they’re ever changing, there’s no security in that. There might be an end to the coronavirus this year or not. I hope for that I put your hope in something that’s not guaranteed. Was guaranteed God’s promise of righteousness. Hinges on your pursuit of righteousness. Meaning, if you want to be filled with righteousness, you don’t ever have to second guess this. You might second guess all the other things, but you don’t have to second guess this because when God says it is going to be.
God is not a man to he should lie. God is our rock is a refuge, he’s the cornerstone, he’s solid, he’s rock solid. We put our hope in him and I have to second guess it. God’s never been tardy. He’s always on time. To some of the think about. So it is good, subtle things can be what stops us. It can be what we pursue. Or maybe its’ we’re talking about hunger and thirst pursuing.
And let me just say this hungry and thirsty as a sign of life. So if you don’t feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. May be you’re not alive in Christ. Here’s what I’m saying. A dead body does not have hunger and thirst. Some of us here are dead spiritually. Sin has Jack us up? Some of us have even have not even made the decision to follow Jesus. I think Jesus is implying. That if you have absolutely no hunger and thirst for righteousness, then you need to examine the state of your soul.
You got to. If hunger and thirst is a sign of life and you don’t feel that, then maybe you’re dead. I’m not saying that to say. That’s going to be a future that can change because God’s promise of righteousness hinges on our pursuit of righteousness, meaning you can decide today. To pursue a right relationship with God. You can get it right today. You’ll have to wait for it. I’m not trying to say it is the things that we can pursue.
They leave us longing, they leave us empty, they don’t satisfy us the way that we hope our heart will be fulfilled and satisfied. As I come in for a close here. I love this passage because it speaks to security. It speaks to when we go to the God of the universe, He doesn’t leave us empty. Isaiah chapter fifty five, verse one through three says come all who are thirsty come to the waters. And you who have no money, come by and come by 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 you will delight in the riches. Give ear and come to me, listen, that you may live. That’s very relieving. That we can come to the God of the universe, as broken as we are, as empty as we are and come and be filled. We’ve talked a lot about emptying ourselves, this passage is all about getting ourselves filled up.
We can actually come to. The God of the Bible. He can leave a satisfied. We can delight in the riches affairs, we can actually live. What decisions do you need to make? To actually pursue righteousness. To follow his will, to desire his will, to meet with him, to wrestle with what decisions do you need today to make today? How can you overcome that can probably stop you from making those decisions? I encourage you have conversations.
The open. I want you to know that. When you come to God. It won’t leave wanting, you’ll leave satisfied. So decide. God’s waiting. He’s not going to run you away, He wants to hear from you come so that you may live come so that you can be feel calm so that you can be satisfied, come so that you can get the promise of righteousness. Come. Whatever that looks like for you, come.
That being said, I’ll close with a prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this opportunity to get into your Word to look at how we can find security in you can find the life in you can find whatever it is that we need from you God. You don’t expire. You’re not a false imitation of hope, you are hope we can come to you and get filled. I pray that we do that. I love you so much.