Emmanuel CRC
Blessed are those who hunger and thrist
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  • Come People Of The Risen King
  • We Will Feast In The House Of Zion
  • Christ Our Hope In Life And Death
  • Pre-Scripture Reading Introduction

    This morning I want to take a few minutes to give some context to the beatitudes that will be helpful to us in understanding all the beatitudes, but which are particularly important for the beatitude we will focus on this morning: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. First let’s consider the question . . .

    What does “blessed” mean?

    The word beatitude comes from the Latin word “beatus” which means blessed or happy. The Greek word translated “blessed” in each of the beatitudes is “Makarios” which means blessed or happy. However, we know Matthew grounds his Gospel in the Hebrew Scriptures and he is using Greek words and expressions to convey Hebrew meanings.
    When we look at the Hebrew concepts for blessed there are two word-groups. The word group related to the Hebrew word “berak” and the word group related to the Hebrew word “ashrei.” These words have different but overlapping meanings, but English translations use “blessed” to express both concepts. When one English word translates two distinct Hebrew words, we can lose or confuse significant differences in meaning clearly conveyed in the original languages.
    Berak means the experience of blessing as the result of God’s active favor. When scholars apply this meaning to the Beatitudes, they emphasize that these are the kinds of people who experience God’s active favor. Which is true. In fact, it is so true that “feeling blessed” is not a necessary characteristic of God’s blessing. Because they are living in relationship with God blessing flows to them. Negative feelings, the absence of feelings or adverse conditions cannot take away the blessedness of these persons.[1]
    On the other hand, the actual Greek word translated “blessed” in the beatitudes is “makarios” which is used in the Greek Old Testament to translate the Hebrew word “ashrei.” Ashrei conveys the idea of blessing as human flourishing. When scholars apply this understanding of blessing to the Beatitudes, they stress that these are the kinds of persons that experience the fullness of human life as God intended it to be. Given the direct linguistic connection, one can assert that this is the primary meaning for blessing as expressed in the Beatitudes. However, it is not an either-or proposition. Both of these meanings are true, and they overlap because one can only experience the fullness of human flourishing if one is the object of God’s active favor.
    Therefore, combining these two concepts, I propose this way of understanding the word “blessed” in the context of the beatitudes.
    Blessing is experiencing the fullness of human flourishing, which flows from the active favor of God.[2]
    To wrap up this introduction, I want to briefly answer the question

    What kind of Literature are the Beatitudes?

    The beatitudes are poetic in form – specifically Hebrew poetic form expressed in Greek. In addition to their poetic form, the beatitudes are “apocalyptic” literature. That might come as a shock. Because we think of “apocalyptic” literature as being “end of time” visions such as those contained in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. Remember that the word “apocalypse” means “a revelation – a revealing of something.” The beatitudes are apocalyptic in two senses.
    The first apocalyptic sense of the beatitudes is that in the beatitudes Jesus reveals to us what normal human flourishing looks like within the rule and reign of God.
    The second apocalyptic sense of the beatitudes is that although their blessings are available to us in the here and now, their ultimate fulfillment is in “The Day of the Lord” when Christ returns and God reconciles all things to himself in the new heaven and new earth.[3]
    With this background, let us hear the Word of the Lord as our Lord Jesus Christ speaks it to us in the Beatitudes.
    Scripture Reading Matthew 5:1-12
    Matthew 5:1–12 NIV
    Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    The Problem of meekness

    “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
    I do not know if you see it this way, but I think this beatitude is one of the most confusing for those of us submerged in the USA culture. Who are the meek? “The meek” when we run it through our cultural brains sound so much like “the weak.” Equating “meek” with “weak” causes in the best-case confusion and at worst revulsion. “Blessed are the weak” that idea runs rough trod over our American mindset to such a degree that, if we are honest, we find it disturbing.
    No American in our right cultural mind wants to be weak. Even worse, the thought of others thinking of us as “weak” is almost unbearable. What do we do when people let slip signs of weakness in our presence? Most often, we naturally find the words to remind them, “Hey, you’ve got to be strong.” In our culture strong is good; weak is not good.
    Most sermons on this beatitude that I have heard in the United States spend a considerable amount of time explaining that meekness is not weakness. This is most often accomplished by pointing to Jesus standing up to the religious authorities who opposed him and especially referencing Jesus chasing the money changers out of the temple with whips as proof positive that Jesus was not weak. Therefore, we are off the hook! Meek men don’t chase people with whips – Whew, thank God!
    The sermon then goes on to explain that a better understanding of the meaning of meek would be gentle. Unfortunately, in the American mind, “gentle” is a minor upgrade from “meek.” After all, Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish American war did not lead the charge of the “gentle riders” – no it could never be – because Americans are “rough riders” that’s who we are.
    One cultural indicator of how we view ourselves in relation to perceived meekness or weakness is the names we choose for our sports teams. We have the Bears, the Tigers, the Panthers and list goes on and on. These are names that communicate strength and intimidation. Nobody names their team “The Nice Guys” or the “Hand holders.” I did find one team which must be the exception that proves the rule. They are the New Orleans Baby Cakes which play in the Pacific Coast Baseball League.
    Well, you get the point gentle is not much better than weak in the American mindset. Knowing this the typical sermon moves on to explain that humility is the key behavior associated with meekness. Humility is acceptable to the American mind because we do at least pay lip service to humility as being a good thing. In practice, however, considering our national dialog across the ideological spectrum – humility seems to be in short supply.
    What if our worst fears are true? What if the best way to understand meekness is that meekness runs right through weakness? That is exactly what I am proposing this morning. Despite our fears, understanding meekness as weakness opens the way for us to express meekness as gentleness and humility.
    I hope to trace the line of meekness through weakness in two ways. First, as a logical flow of the beatitudes and second in the way Jesus fulfils the Old Testament vision of the Messiah-King.
    Once we understand meekness, then we can take up its positive outcome, which is the blessing of inheriting the earth. First let’s consider . . .

    The Meaning of meekness

    Over the last two Sundays we have seen that the qualities of being poor in spirit and of mourning are not qualities that we are required to achieve in order to have the blessings that Jesus promises. Instead, being poor in spirit and mourning are natural states of being in a broken world. Likewise, contrary to what we might think, meekness is not an exceptional quality we must reach, but meekness is a state-of-being-in-a-broken-world.
    Being poor in spirit means that we have nothing of spiritual value to bring to God to merit his blessings. Without looking for trouble, evil hammers us from within ourselves and through the actions of others and the society in which we live. We know that in ourselves we cannot overcome our spiritual poverty; neither can we overcome the powers of evil. Intuitively, we understand that we are in a hopeless situation that we have no power to overcome.
    In this sense everybody in the world is a meek person. We are weak, powerless, and utterly humiliated by our spiritual poverty before a holy and righteous God, humbled by our vulnerability in the face of the unrelenting evil that comes our way and by our own desire to submit to and embrace evil rather than to move toward God and submit ourselves to him. It is not an interpretive stretch to say that . . .
    Meekness is acknowledging our weakness against the crushing forces of our natural spiritual poverty and the evil that naturally causes us to mourn.
    Let’s look at how the Old Testament speaks of a weak Messiah-King and how Jesus applies that understanding to himself in relation to meekness.
    In Zechariah 9:9-10 we read,
    Zechariah 9:9–10 NIV
    Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    Notice that this Messiah-King shows three defining qualities:
    · The King is righteous. Which means he is morally upright and just in his behavior.
    · The King is victorious. Which means in his morality and justice He experiences triumph.
    · The King is lowly.
    The Hebrew word “ani” translated as “lowly” means without property, poor, wretched[4] [5] (deeply afflicted, dejected, distressed in body and mind, and needy).[6] In anybody’s world a person who believes himself to be a king yet who is without property, who is poor, who is deeply afflicted, dejected, distressed in body and mind, and needy – is not royalty they are mentally ill. This person, we would say, is too weak in their entire being to be a king.
    Isaiah described the weak Messiah King when he wrote,
    Isaiah 53:2–3 NIV
    He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
    In the New Testament, “ani” translates to Greek as “praus” which translates English as gentle and as meek.[7]
    Hebrew “ani” = Greek “praus”
    This is important to remember for later. But for right now, let’s look at how strong the Messiah-King is in his weakness. The King . . .
    · Takes away His people’s ability to make war. He disarms them.
    · Proclaims peace to the nations
    · Extends his rule to the ends of the earth
    Matthew records how Jesus fulfills Zechariah’s prophecy in connection with Jesus entry into Jerusalem the week in which evil men will take Jesus and crucify him. Matthew wrote,
    Matthew 21:1–5 NIV
    As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
    See your king comes to you, weak with no property, poor, wretched and needy, and riding on a donkey.
    Tim Keller has this to say about Jesus the weak Messiah-King.
    God works through weakness not strength, through poverty not wealth, through suffering and difficulty this is the pattern of God’s salvation, but beyond the pattern is a person. Jesus is the ultimate climax and embodiment of God’s pattern of salvation. Jesus comes as a poor man. He comes as a weak and powerless man. He is beaten, excluded, tortured, and put to death. He is a king – the anointed king that goes to a cross and not a throne. In this Jesus is saying salvation is by grace. If Jesus had come in strength, and said be strong like me, then that would be a strong God coming to save the strong. But if you have a weak God coming to die on the cross in your place to take the punishment for your sins. Then salvation goes not to those who think they are strong, but to those who know they are weak.[8]
    Then Jesus says about himself,
    Matthew 11:29 NIV
    Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
    Knowing that Matthew uses the Greek “praus” to express the sense of the Hebrew word “ani”, we can legitimately paraphrase this verse like this: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am poor, weak, full of suffering . . . in my weakness you will find strength – rest for your souls.
    This is the call, this is the offer to every person who is weak, powerless, and utterly humiliated by their spiritual poverty and vulnerability to evil – which is everyone of us. Will we come to Jesus who became weak so that we can be strong, who became despised and rejected so that we could be accepted by the Father, who died in our place so we can live eternally? Will we come?
    Jesus turns to us and says, “Blessed are the meek, the weak ones, the spiritual zeros, those who have nothing to offer, those afflicted, suffering, and lonely, those who struggle with sin in their lives and those who mourn because of the evil in the world – they will inherit the earth!
    Oh, we need to come to Jesus for the salvation of our souls! And we need to continually come to him in our poverty, vulnerability, and weakness as we work out our salvation day after day. Will we come? If we will come to Jesus, then we will experience . . .

    The Blessing of meekness

    Jesus promises the entire earth to everyone who will bring their meekness, their weakness to him. What does it mean to inherit the earth? First, notice that it is an inheritance. We don’t buy an inheritance. We don’t earn an inheritance. An inheritance is not based on our deserving it. An inheritance is an act of grace. An inheritance is a gift. Most often, an inheritance occurs within the family. The Apostle Paul teaches us if we come to Jesus, we are children of God. Paul wrote,
    Romans 8:16–17 NIV
    The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
    In Ephesians Paul writes that the Father has,
    Ephesians 1:9–10 NIV
    he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
    God is actively working out his purpose to bring everything in heaven and on earth under Christ. The rule and reign of God is fully operational throughout the whole earth in the here and now. Because we are part of the family, we are already taking part in our inheritance. As God’s children, Father, Son, and Holy Spirt live in us. Where we go God is there. We are in small and big ways the answer to the Lord’s Prayer “may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As disciples of Jesus that is our job description – we are in the business of seeing God’s will done on earth as it is done in heaven. How is God’s will done in heaven? In heaven God’s will is carried out fully, completely, and without hesitation. Just so you know I’m not making this up let me give you some Scriptural support for the idea that this is our job description. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, he told them,
    Luke 10:8–11 NIV
    “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’
    You see when we show up, the Kingdom of God shows up. Whether we are accepted or rejected the message is the same, “The Kingdom of God has come near.”
    That’s what God calls us meek and weak people to do to see that His will is done fully, completely, and without hesitation – when we come to him he fills our meekness and weakness with his power and love to get the job done. In this sense we have inherited the earth!
    But there is another sense in which there is more to come. There is a new heaven and a new earth coming in which our inheritance will be complete.[9] Paul tells us,
    Romans 8:18–23 NIV
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
    When Adam and Eve sinned, it was an act so evil, so horrid that God cursed the earth. In a sense, God had to conform his perfect earth to the sinfulness of humankind. But in the Day of the Lord, it will be just the opposite. Creation groans waiting in eager expectation to see the children of God in our glory. How does that happen? Christ vanquishes the curse of the fall. Christ conquers death and redeems our bodies. Christ restores us to the full glory that was ours before the Fall. In that moment all the sons and daughters of God from all nations, every ethnic group from throughout all of time will have personally recognizable physical bodies that will radiate with unimaginable glory. That is the moment that all of creation is groaning for. After the Sons and Daughters of God are completely restored with glory, then creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay –[don’t miss this] – and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God!.[10]
    In the sin of Adam, the earth reflects the curse of death. When the new heaven and earth comes, the earth will reflect the glory of the children of God. It is that earth – the earth that reflects the glory of the children of God which will be our eternal inheritance.
    2 Peter 3:13 NIV
    But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
    Revelation 21:4 NIV
    ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth!
    [1] Wilkins, M. J. (2004). Matthew (p. 204). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
    [2] The discussion is based primarily on Pennington, Jonathan T. NT251 The Sermon on the Mount (Videos). Logos Mobile Education. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014.
    [3] Horton, M. (2011). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (p. 542). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
    [4] Strong, J. (2009). עָנִיʿânîy. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 2, p. 90). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
    [5]Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 10, pp. 575–580). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
    [6]Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Wretched. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wretched
    [7] πραΰς, πραεῖα, πραΰ Lust, J., Eynikel, E., & Hauspie, K. (2003). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart.
    [8] Adapted from Tim Kellar, Hanna’s Prayer. June 1, 2020. Tim Keller Sermons Podcast by Gospel in Life. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hannahs-prayer/id352660924?i=1000481737401
    [9] For support concerning “already but not yet” nature of the Kingdom of God see Horton, M. (2011). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (p. 544). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
    [10] See John Piper, June 16, 2008. The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and the New Earth. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-triumph-of-the-gospel-in-the-new-heavens-and-the-new-earth--2
      • Matthew 5:1–12NIV2011

      • 1 Corinthians 1:26–30NIV2011

      • Philippians 3:8–9NIV2011

      • Philippians 1:9–11NIV2011

      • Romans 8:10NIV2011

      • 1 Peter 2:2NIV2011

      • Matthew 4:3–4NIV2011

      • John 4:32–34NIV2011

      • 1 Corinthians 11:23–25NIV2011

      • Matthew 5:6NIV2011

  • Taste and See
  • Blest Are They
  • How Did we Get Here?

    We got here through the natural flow of the blessings of God. In God’s mercy and grace, our heavenly Father draws us to realize our spiritual poverty. There is nothing that we can bring to God to deserve his forgiveness for our sins and his blessing on our life. In God’s mercy and grace, our heavenly Father brings us to mourn outcomes of evil in our own lives and in the world. In God’s mercy and grace, our heavenly Father works in us to help us admit our meekness, our weakness, our complete powerlessness to overcome our spiritual poverty and the effects of evil in our lives. This flow of God’s mercy and grace which is the showering of God’s blessings for us – however painful they may feel – leads us, again by God’s mercy and grace, to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

    What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?

    The meaning of this beatitude does not require excessive explanation. To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to have an emotional desire to be righteous that is like the desire to eat or drink when we are hungry and thirsty. Eventually, our hunger and thirst for food, will compel us to eat and drink. Likewise, God uses the circumstance of our lives and the work of the Holy Spirit to compel us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. A normally healthy person does not have to work to become hungry or thirsty; it happens naturally. Likewise, a person who is following the wooing of the Father through their spiritual poverty, through their mourning, and through their meekness will naturally hunger and thirst for righteousness.
    What is righteousness? Righteousness is a character and actions that are full of moral integrity as measured by God’s revealed will, which includes acting with justice and faithfulness.[1]
    It is easy to let the term “righteousness” trip us up in the verse. Because, contrary to the Bible and Reformed Doctrine, people teach that righteousness is a state of life which we must reach. The Gospel is that we do not reach righteousness, but God fills us with Christ’s righteousness. Let’s remind ourselves what the New Testament teaches us about our righteousness in Christ.
    Paul writes in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth,
    “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
    Paul was saying to those Christians and to us, when most of you came to Christ you were weak and powerless in the eyes of this world. According to this world’s standards, you were spiritual zeros who could never merit God’s favor and blessing.
    1 Corinthians 1:26–30 NIV
    Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
    Paul says that we are righteous, holy, and redeemed in Christ. How does that happen to us? Paul explains in his letter to the church in Philippi.
    Philippians 3:8–9 NIV
    What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
    God confers on us all the moral standing of Christ’s sinless life when we have faith in Jesus. Nothing else can transport us from being a spiritual zero to standing pure and blameless before God.
    Paul explains how it is that on the Day of the Lord, we will stand before God pure and blameless.
    Philippians 1:9–11 NIV
    And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
    Righteousness is the fruit of Christ’s life in us. It is this “fruit of righteousness” that will cause us to be pure and blameless in the day of Christ’s return. Paul wrote in Romans 8:10,
    Romans 8:10 NIV
    But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
    We are righteous because Christ is in us. Because of Christ’s righteousness in us the Spirit gives to us a quality of life that is like the life of Jesus which enables us to live like Jesus in this world and which will continue into eternity.
    We can never reach a state of righteousness by our own efforts. When we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills us with the righteousness of Jesus that makes us pure and blameless before God.
    In short . . .
    Righteousness is simply believing in Jesus so that Jesus lives in us and lives his life through us.
    Once we receive this unmerited, undeserved blessing of righteousness in Christ, we do have a responsibility to grow in righteousness.
    The Apostle Peter put it like this,
    1 Peter 2:2 NIV
    Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
    One way to assess how we are doing in growing in the fruit of righteousness – that is our desire to have more of the life of Jesus flowing through us – is to ask ourselves individually and as a church family . . .

    How hungry are we?

    not slightly very ravenous
    📷
    When it comes to hungering and thirsting for righteousness, where would you place yourself on this scale?
    · I am not at all hungry for the life of Jesus to flow through me.
    · I am slightly hungry for the life of Jesus to flow through me.
    · I am very hungry for the life of Jesus to flow through me.
    · I am ravenous for the life of Jesus to flow through me.
    Another way to assess our growth in righteousness is to ask . .

    How full are we?

    When it comes to experiencing the fullness of the life of Christ flowing through you, where would you place yourself on this scale?
    empty unsatisfied somewhat full
    · 📷 I am empty. I don’t sense the life of Jesus flowing through me at all, but I yearn for more.
    · I am unsatisfied with the extent that I sense the life of Jesus flowing through me – and I yearn for more.
    · I am somewhat satisfied with the extent that I sense the life of Jesus is flowing through me, but I yearn for more.
    · I am full of the life of Jesus flowing through me most of the time – and I yearn for more.
    Wherever you might place yourself on this scale, the real problem comes if you cannot say “and I yearn for more.” Hungering and thirsting for righteousness always involves a positive sense of not yet experiencing all the life of Jesus in me that I yearn to experience.
    If we say we belong to Jesus, and yet have no yearning to experience his life in us more and more fully, then we have to ask ourselves, why would that be the case?
    If we want to experience more of the life of Jesus in us, we must take in the proper nutrition. As Peter puts it, we must have “pure spiritual milk.” If we want to grow in righteousness, we need to examine the quality and frequency of our spiritual nutrition.

    What’s our nutrition intake?

    In the same way that we speak of physical food being junk food or nutritious food, there is also spiritual junk food and spiritually nourishing food.
    Physical junk food may taste good, make us feel good, and give us an immediate boost of energy, but in the end, it harms our health rather than helping it. Nutritious food, especially, when we are weaning ourselves off of junk food often does not taste good or make us feel good in the moment, but over time it makes our body and mind healthier and able to stand up under stress and to better heal itself. Likewise, there is spiritual junk food that has immediate appeal and makes us feel good in the moment, but quickly lets us down under the stresses and pressures of life. The test of the quality of spiritual food is always one question: “If I take this into my life and apply it, will it over time produce more of the life of Jesus in me?” If so, eat and drink as much as you want – it can only help you and it will never hurt you!
    When it comes to taking in spiritual nutrition, where would you place yourself on this scale?
    none snacking & variable regular & good
    📷
    · My spiritual nourishment intake is none.
    · My spiritual nourishment intake is comparable to snacking. It’s enough to get me through the moment and sometimes its junk food and sometimes its good for me.
    · My spiritual nourishment intake is comparable to eating regular meals that are good for me.
    No matter where we locate ourselves on these three scales we can learn from Jesus how to move upward in a positive direction on each of these scales.

    How Can we learn from Jesus to up our scales?

    Increasing our hunger and thirst

    When it comes to increasing our hunger and thirst to grow in righteousness we can learn from Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. After fasting for 40 days and nights, Jesus was hungry for real food and thirsty for real water. Then . . .
    Matthew 4:3–4 NIV
    The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
    We can increase our hunger and thirst for righteousness by taking seriously the stones we are trying to turn to bread in our life. It could be the pursuit of happiness at all costs, the never-ending quest for professional success, the obsession with building wealth, or the pursuit of acceptance through always trying to please others. This list could be endless.
    What is your stone or stones that you are desperately trying to turn into bread to satisfy what you are hungering and thirsting for?
    Once we name those things, then we can let those stones lie in the dust. We know we cannot live on them, but we can live on every word that comes out of God’s mouth. We can ask Jesus to make us ravenous for his Word, then start walking in that direction and let Jesus naturally increase our desire for God’s Word.

    Increasing our fullness

    When it comes to assessing how fully we are experiencing the life of Jesus, we can learn from Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus’ disciples had gone into town to buy food, after the conversation with the woman his disciples returned and said, “Rabbi, eat something.”
    John 4:32–34 NIV
    But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
    What amount of time do I spend pursuing my will? How am I aligning my will with the Father’s will to reconcile all things to himself through the blood of Jesus by loving God and loving my neighbor through living out and talking about the story of Jesus?[2]

    Improving our spiritual nutrition

    Finally, we can improve our spiritual nourishment by learning to feast on Jesus.
    1 Corinthians 11:23–25 NIV
    For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
    What exactly is the grace we receive in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? It is the grace of the presence of Jesus. We take the Supper to remember Jesus’ death for us; his righteousness, his very life is present with us and in us. As a church family we experience the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when we share together the Lord’s Supper. Sharing the Supper together reminds us that when we are not together, we are still bound together by the life of Jesus in us. It reminds us that when we are not together the presence of Jesus is with and in each of us every second of every day. This is the promise and grace of which the Supper before us reminds us. We take on solid spiritual nourishment every moment that we spend time with Jesus when we gather and when we are alone. We take on pure spiritual milk every moment that we remember that Jesus is living his life through us when we are together and when we are alone.
    Here’s . . .

    The story of us

    The story of you and the story of me.
    God takes our brokenness, our spiritual poverty, our mourning over the effects of evil in our lives and in our world. God takes our meekness, our complete powerlessness to do anything that can secure our hope in a hopeless situation. God uses all of this to woo us to himself by causing us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, which is nothing less than Jesus living his life in and through us. In this way, God causes all things to work together for our good. He brings us into the protection and provision of his rule and reign in the Kingdom of heaven, he provides real and eternal comfort for our mourning over sin, and he completely overturns our weakness in the face of the powers of darkness, by filling us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When God looks at us, he does not see our poverty, he does not pity our mourning, he does not see failures. God the Father looks on us and He sees Jesus in us and says . . . there you see the family resemblance . . . he/she looks like my Son and everyday he/she is looking more and more like Him – that’s my child, he/she is filled to the brim with the righteousness of my Son - gloriously pure and blameless before me.
    Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, O what a fore taste of glory divine, Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit washed in His blood.
    This is our Story, this is our song:
    Blessed are those, bless are we who hunger and thirst for righteousness for we will be filled with the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord!
    [1] Anderson, G. P. (2014). Righteousness. D. Mangum, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, & R. Hurst (Eds.), Lexham Theological Wordbook. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
    [2] Colossians 1:19-20

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