Studies In

The Sermon on the Mount



A Christian Appetite

Matthew 5:6; Romans 12:1,9 INTRODUCTION I. WE LIVE ON A BEAUTIFUL, BOUNTIFUL, WONDERFUL PLANET. A. Yet it is an earth polluted by sin, in thought, word,/action: We are in a great battle (Ephesians 6:10-18). B. The U.S. Public Health Service and Defense Department spend billions annually to "watch the diets" of its citizens physically, to insure pure food, water and air. C. But how is your spiritual appetite and taste today? D. God has provided a heavenly dietician, physician and health nurse. II. THE FOURTH BEATITUDE DEALS WITH POWERFUL DRIVING WORDS. A. "Hunger and thirst" expresses strong, intense, deep, craving desires for that which God has to offer. B. These are vitally related to human life now and eternally. C. What is your greatest hunger and deepest thirst? DISCUSSION I. A GOOD APPETITE IS A REAL BLESSING AND GREAT TREASURE. A. It is evidence of life: Only living things hunger and thirst. B. It is a mark of normal, healthful and vigorous life. C. It is a vital key/roadway to growth: Insures a growing condition. D. It is also a source of genuine enjoyment. 1. We speak fondly of "the bread mother used to bake," etc. 2. It is a delight to eat when one is truly hungry. 3. It is a joy to feed a hungry person, but almost impossible to feed one who is not hungry, physically or spiritually. II. THE POWER OF HUNGER/THIRST IS ENORMOUS, FAR-REACHING AND TRANSFORMING. A. What will a person do to satisfy hunger and thirst? 1. Esau sold his spiritual birthright (Genesis 25:30-34; Hebrews 12:17). 2. The Israelites murmured in the wilderness because of manna, and longed for fish, leeks, garlic, melons (Numbers 11:5). 3. Hunger leads to cannibalism: Famine in Samaria (2 Kings 6:24-29). Josephus tells some terrible tales about the siege of Jerusalem by Titus which "confounded all natural passions" (McCord, Happiness Guaranteed, p.30.) Recent survivors of a plane crash in the Andes in S. America lived on their dead comrades-- Spiritual Sword, April 1973, p.10. B. Millions have said, "I wanted it so bad I could taste it." We know the feeling, yet Jesus spent 40 foodless days and did not disobey God once. C. Tell story of young man who went to Buddha: Allen, God's Psychiatry, p. 140. III. MAN NEEDS/HUNGERS FOR MUCH MORE THAN PHYSICAL AND CARNAL BREAD A. Bread is essential to satisfy physical hunger. 1. "Just what I needed!" We understand such language. 2. This hunger is shared by lower orders of life. B. But we have higher hungers which are a badge of our higher spiritual nature, which animals do not share. (Matthew 4:4). 1. Our dog Joe and I ate, played and hunted together, but he could not share my dreams, the beauties of music, poetry, nature (sunrise, hills, trees, etc.). 2. The world of ideas: Desire for knowledge and growth in it. 3. Longing of the soul for God/Christ, Creator of all good (Psalm 42:1,2). IV. "RIGHTEOUSNESS:" LORD, WHO ARE THE "BLESSED" ONES? (Matthew 3:15; 5:20; 6:1; Proverbs 14:34; Ephesians 6:14 ). A. What is the righteousness for which we are to hunger? 1. "The quality of being right or just"--the state or condition which is acceptable to God and which he approves. 2. It is uprightness of heart/life: Inward righteousness, one who longs to be good and to do right (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 23:23). 3. A synonym of goodness: "The state of him who is as he ought to be;" Integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in thinking, feeling/acting (Matthew 3:15; 5:6,10,20; Acts 13:10)" -- Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, p. 148, 194. (Gus Nichols' three questions.) 4. To be "right" necessarily implies an objective spiritual standard because it must include knowledge of God and His righteousness, Christ/heaven--the righteousness which is of God (Jeremiah 23:6; Job 23:3; Matthew 5:48). Jesus set our standard and is our standard (John 6:35; Matthew 4:4; Hebrews 1:9; 11:6; Romans 10:17). B. Jesus "loved righteousness, and hated iniquity" (Hebrews 1:9; cf. Acts 10:38). 1. Barnabas was "a good man," devoted wholly to Christ, and he was generous in hand, heart and in his judgments of others (Acts 11:24; 4:36,37; 9:26-29). 2. "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Romans 12:1,2,9,21). 3. What is "good"? "Fried chicken, strawberries, pizza vs. squash, etc." "Purity of life, correct thinking, feeling, actions vs. immoral living, corrupt thinking, speaking, actions, etc." C. How "prove all things" to determine between good and evil? (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Willard Collins, Great Preachers, p. 153. 1. Does the Bible condemn or warn against it? (2 Timothy 3:16,17). 2. Will it injure, hurt/cause the downfall of other people, or cause me to be a stumbling block to them? (Romans 14:15, 21; Matthew 18:6,7). 3. Will it hurt my influence? "A good name is..." (Proverbs 22:1). 4. Will this bring me into close companionship with evil? D. How may we develop and strengthen an appetite for the good, and thus follow Jesus and not the crowd, majority, etc.? 1. By study of the Bible, "the word of life," God's food for the soul: "Behold his love, goodness, mercy" (Psalm 1:1-3). 2. Practice doing what you know to be right, obeying God, and begin now: "Repent and do the first works" (Revelation 2:5). 3. Sing good songs: The influence of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is truly great, far reaching and uplifting. 4. Pray to God without ceasing, and worship faithfully in spirit and truth (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Hebrews 10:24,25; John 4:23,24; 17:17; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). 5. Abide in the word of Christ, the fellowship of His disciples and receive their encouragement to engage in all good works (Titus 3:1). V. WHY ARE SUCH PEOPLE BLESSED? WHAT IS THEIR BLESSING? A. The meaning of it: They are already "blessed." 1. Such longing denotes that they are already in some measure the possessors of that for which they crave: They already, in some degree, possess that for which they hunger and thirst. Unless one is already righteous in some measure, it would be impossible to yearn to become righteous. 2. "They have set (addicted) themselves to minister unto the saints" (1 Corinthians 16:15). B. The certainty of it: "They shall be filled;" i.e., the law of cause/effect: Sponge: Honey/vinegar. 1. If your deepest desire and hunger is to be righteous, no power on earth can prevent you from becoming righteous (Romans 1:16,17; Galatians 6:7,8). 2. The one who thus hungers and thirsts will seek, and seeking, will find: "Ask and ye shall receive..." Jesus describes a desire in this beatitude so intense it seeks fulfillment of that for which it craves (Matthew 7:7; John 4:13,14; 7:37,38). C. What is their blessing? They shall be filled. 1. With that which God has to offer: His kingdom/righteousness, the highest degree and quality of life now and eternal forgiveness and joy hereafter (Acts 7:52; 17:31; 24:24,25). 2. Such hunger and thirst lead to a richer, fuller, more abiding possession and satisfaction, of that for which they hunger now and eternally. 3. "Is acceptable to God" (Acts 10:34,35). 4. Right with regard to (1) the past, (2) the present, (3) the future (2 Timothy 4:8). CONCLUSION I. WHAT JESUS SAYS PLAINLY IS THAT SUCH WILL INSURE OUR FILLING: "Blessed are they whose ruling desire is to be right and good above everything else in the world." A. The greatness of any soul is measured by the intensity/quality of its desires. B. Men are right and good in proportion to their earnest desire to be good and right. C. "You never find God until he becomes your deepest desire" -- Allen, God's Psychiatry, p. 142. II. WE CAN HAVE GOD IN OUR SOULS AND IN OUR WORLD WHENEVER WE TRULY WANT HIM (James 4:7,8; John 14:23). A. Every soul eventually becomes what it craves most earnestly, and seeks to be. B. So "be careful what you set your heart on, for you will surely get it" -- G. Harkness. III. IT IS CERTAIN THAT THOSE WHO SEEK AFTER GOD PROMPTLY, WHOLE-HEARTEDLY, DILIGENTLY AND STEADFASTLY WILL FIND HIM (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 55:5,6; Philippians 4:5; James 4:7,8). A. Isn't it wonderful that, We can have God in our lives whenever we truly desire HIM? B. JUST SUPPOSE THERE IS ONLY ONE REAL BELIEVER ON EARTH NOW, AND THE NUMBER DOUBLES EACH YEAR.... In 31 years, 3,147,483,648! C. But it all depends upon a Christian appetite!!!! -- Charles E. Crouch
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