Archive | April 2014

How Far is Heaven?

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The Story of Man’s Struggle to Measure up to

Throughout history the trait of mankind’s pride and self-sufficiency has been the sin that most often drives the population from salvation and eternity with God. This trait is evident in the hero stories that man has composed in antiquity and modern day. Woven into the fabric of the lines of the writing is the idea that man has the capacity to earn favor with the gods and repair damage that previous acts of rebellion and selfishness have caused. Christianity, as it is revealed in the New Testament writings of the Bible, offers a strikingly different perspective on the human condition and the path to redemption and restoration with God’s favor.

Meredith Sprunger (n.d.) compiled a concise summary of major world religions that reveals the various means to salvation that each ascribes to. With regard to most religions there were acts of sacrifice, obedience, impulse control, and ritual that were to be religiously followed in effort to attain eternity. For example, followers of Islam are required to submit to the will of Allah and live according to the “Five Pillars.” This seems reasonable, and it allows for man’s efforts to be recognized and rewarded, thus fulfilling the need for pride and self-sufficiency.

Buddhism, on the other hand, involves more in the realm of mind and impulse control. According to Sprunger’s (n.d.) chart, the Budhist’s path to eternity requires: “Nonattachment to the world; Follow the eight-fold path; Self-effort; Salvation is through reincarnation and working with the laws of karma; Mahayana Buddhism has deities which function as saviors”

(http://www.urantiabook.org/archive/readers/religion_belief_comparisons.htm).

Within this structure there is an appeal to selflessness that satisfies the self-imposed religious need for sacrifice and self-denial. For man to receive the reward of eternity he must essentially demonstrate that he is worthy of eternity by improving himself over the course of a number of lifetimes.

In these religious systems the divine, the immortal, the gods become impressed with the life lived by the practitioner and recompense their obedience and virtue with entrance into whatever eternal paradise or Nirvana awaits them. In the epics of literature there is the similar theme of man attempting to earn favor with the gods through feats of strength, sacrifice, bravery, and demonstrating their own worthiness. Slaying mythological beasts, claiming impossible treasures, offering costly sacrifices, appeasing an offended immortal, and impressing the various deities were the way that men earned favor with the gods.

Biblical history bears evidence of this sort of behavior, even among the Israelites who sinfully worshipped the gods of neighboring countries in efforts to please them and gain a benefit. In the story of the prophet Elijah’s confrontation on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal there is suggestion of a ritual that included frantic shouting, dancing, and self-mutilation:

26Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. (1 Kings 18.26-29, New International Version, emphasis added).

The narrative continues with Elijah demonstrating God’s faithfulness and power, without regard to his own ability. This story is one of many that reminds the world that God does not want to be impressed with man’s ability and strength, but rather desires that man would be impressed with His power and faithfulness. Elijah simply prepares the way for God to act on top of the mountain. His prayer and actions demonstrate his faith in God.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God” (1 Kings 18.36-39)!

What Must I DO to Inherit Eternal Life?

The early epics of literature, the efforts of the religions of the world, and the nature of humanity all beg for an answer to the question, “What must I do?” The expectation is that some great act or show of devotion must be required in order to appease God and garner His favor. The unlikely answer comes in the form of Jesus of Nazareth and a revelation that God loves us, even in our sinful state. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5.6-8:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Powerless seems quite distant from the realm of heroe like Oddyseus and Aeneas amid their bravery and strength. Ungodly doesn’t seem to relate to the wisdom of men like Confucius, or the honor and obedience of the exiled Rama. Sinner isn’t the first thought to enter the mind when contemplating the piety and religious zeal of Saul of Tarsus. Perhaps others would require the intervention of God, but not these men.

Add to this the concept of any god offering a sacrifice is counter to man’s understanding of the way things work. Yet, this is exactly how Paul describes God’s action in Jesus. He offered Him as the sacrifice for the sins of humanity. To the question of why God would do this, the answer “He demonstrated His love for us” is given. The gods of literature, and even among the other world religions, seem to despise humans and their sinful actions. The God of Christianity, on the other hand, loves this sinful humanity. Man’s efforts amount to nothing. His self-sufficiency comes up short. He can’t do anything to earn God’s favor. Everything is accomplished because of God’s love for His creation. Even in the midst of judgment, the love and heart of God is evident.

References

Sprunger, M. J. (n.d.). Belief Comparisons of the World’s Major Religions. Retreived from: http://www.urantiabook.org/archive/readers/religion_belief_comparisons.htm on April 2, 2014.

Holding out for a Hero!

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

Humanity loves and longs for true heroes. One of the traits present in older literary texts is man’s infatuation with heroes and heroines. Writing, theater, folk lore, and contemporary entertainments are replete with epic stories of daring rescues, challenges, triumphs, and tragedies. The Oscar Award ceremony recently highlighted this fascination with the heroic in the montage of hero scenes presented during the program. (To see video follow this hyperlink or enter the URL in your browser: http://screencrush.com/heroes-montage-2014-oscars/)

Based on evidence gleaned from ancient texts, such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Virgil’s Aeneid, hero worship has been around for ages. Wayfaring wanderers facing trials and tasks that no man could overcome, except by the intervention of a supernatural force, is an element that appears frequently in the lines of these stories. Mortals capable of performing tasks often reserved for the immortal is a recurring refrain that captures the hope of humanity that man may one day have the potential to rise to a higher level of experience in life.

Interplay of the Mortal and Immortal

Ironically, the same immortal powers who determine to aid the mortals in conquest are also often to blame for the hardships that they encounter. As Penelope and Telemachus pined for the husband and father, they assumed long dead, Odysseus was prevented from returning to his beloved land and family by the vengeful machinations of the god Poseidon and the lustful desire of Calypso. Instead, he was left wistfully weeping for home upon a cliff towering above the far off island. Eventually the other gods take pity on the forlorn hero, because of his courage and honor, by devising a plan to return him home despite the intentions of the offended deity. In addition, through a series of events and challenges, orchestrated by the Olympians, Telemachus grows from a scared and bullied boy into a strong and mature man.

Ultimately, the shipwrecked warrior is allowed to return to his home and family in Ithaca. Secretly returned to his family and disguised by the goddess Athena, Odysseus exacts his revenge, slaying the squatting suitors who had designs on claiming his rightful place in his home and with his wife. Because of his honor, his desire for family and country, and his bravery in the face on impossible obstacles, Odysseus is a hero for the ages.

The World Loves Hero Stories

Whether originally told in the lands of the Greek, Hebrew, Asian, Chinese, Roman, German, Scandinavian, Celtic, Australian, or American cultures, possible sources of hero stories circle the globe. From Hercules in Roman mythology, Thor among the Norse gods, American legends and tall tales of the men in the Wild West, and even the comic adventures of Crocodile Dundee from the back country of Australia, there are myriad stories of conquest, betrayal, heroic deeds, and warrior songs. Plentiful are the romantic fictions where the hero saves the day and woos the fair damsel’s heart. Readers of all ages and cultures seem to long for these stories of men and women who are larger than life.

The Bible offers hero stories of men who performed miraculous feats through the agency of God’s presence and power of His spirit. One such hero would be mighty Samson (Judges 13-16). Samson was born different and set apart for special assignment by God. Blessed with great strength, Samson won many battles and brought great victories against the Philistines. Samson, however, also lost battles that every human faces. The battle against pride and self-aggrandizement comes, and Samson falls. The battle of lust and sensual desire comes, and Samson falls. The wounds of those battles leave Samson bald, blind, and bound. In the end, however, the hero rises one last time in a feat of strength and total sacrifice and his final performance in the closing act of the drama of the hero’s life “brings down the house.”

Are There Still Heroes in Contemporary Culture?

Bonnie Tyler’s 1984 hit from the soundtrack of the movie “Footloose” reveals how this ancient infatuation with the characteristics of gods and heroes continues as she asks,

“Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need”

(Steinman & Pitchford, 1984).

Ms. Tyler was holding out for a hero. According to her query, the traits of these mortals who defy the odds, and occasionally the gods, appeared to be lacking in the world. Her song is at the same time a mournful lament and a fervent plea.

Where have all the good men gone? Certainly, if one is looking for “white knights on fiery steeds,” there may be a lack of that specific display of heroism. The deeds of valor that the ancient world of myth and legend applaud do not regularly appear on the broadcasts of the daily cable news program.

I contend, however, that heroism is not a misty image in ancient literature. True heroes are alive in our modern world. They face obstacles and rise above them. Life’s circumstances challenge them, and they meet the challenge. Disaster strikes and they respond. Terror bears its fearsome fangs and they answer, sacrificially accepting its sting.

“Let’s Roll!”

On a sunny Tuesday morning in early September, Todd Beamer boarded a plane in Newark, NJ bound for San Francisco. Beamer and the other 37 passengers on that flight, along with several crewmembers, had no idea that they would soon face a terrible challenge and have to make a critical decision that would result in a high cost, but an even greater value in terms of innocent lives spared.

Shortly after taking off that morning, hijackers took control of that flight and three others over the United States. Within minutes, the hijackers intentionally flew two of those planes into both Twin Towers in New York City. A third was purposely crashed into the side of The Pentagon in Washington, DC. News of the events that morning reached the passengers on Beamer’s flight through telephone communication. It became clear that their flight would also be used as a weapon against an unsuspecting target on the ground. Determined “not be pawns in the hijackers’ suicidal plot” (McKinnon, 2001) Beamer and the other hostages rose up and fought their captors. One can only speculate what exactly transpired in the plane. What we do know is that the aircraft, initially aimed at a target in Washington, potentially the White House, began to fly erratically through the sky before mysteriously crashing in a field in Pennsylvania, killing everyone aboard, far from the terrorist’s intended target.

The tragic events of 9/11 are etched in the memories of all who endured that terrifying day in American history, riveted to the news programs that brought us the latest details. Beamer’s last recorded words, “Let’s Roll!” captured the nature of a hero’s heart and garnered the attention and affection of the world. His words became a slogan that characterized the renewed sense of patriotism and rally cry for action felt throughout the country. Indeed, the passengers of flight 93 who sacrificed themselves to fight back earned a seat at the hero’s banquet, along with the many others who acted bravely and sacrificed so much to give others a chance to live on that day.

Recognizing the Everyday Heroes

Odysseus and Aeneas demonstrate impossible feats and amazing displays of strength and courage However, these actions are not the only traits that make a person a hero. One can see true heroism in the ordinary lives of people who live lives with integrity, honor, humility, and service. If you ask the family of Todd Beamer, they will tell you that he was a hero long before he gained notoriety by his sacrifice on 9/11. According to Beamer’s wife, Lisa, her family was well aware of the “kind of person Todd was. We know he’s in heaven. He was saved. Just knowing that when the crisis came up he maintained the same character we all knew, it’s a testament to what real faith means” (McKinnon, 2001).

There are often simple acts of bravery, service and sacrifice that we take for granted. A person reaching out to an outcast is a hero. A student who confronts to the school bully is a hero. A first responder holding the hands of a terrified passenger in a wrecked car is a hero. A person who holds the door for another with an armload of groceries is a hero. The donor whose gift of blood saves the life of a disaster victim is a hero. Heroic deeds do not have a standard they must measure up to in order to be considered heroic. These actions simply have to be viewed as heroic by the one who benefits from the act, and others who bear witness to it.

The World is Still Holding out for a Hero

Why are stories about heroes and heroines so popular still today? Perhaps it is because the world still needs heroes. Humanity still longs for someone heroic to rise up and claim victory. As long as tragedy continues to be a part of the human experience, humanity will long for, and even create stories about, heroes.

This very drive and hunger in humankind for a hero is a trait that God can use to draw men to the greatest hero ever to live and die, Jesus Christ. This heavenly Hero wrestled with the power of sin in the path of the full fury of the one true and holy God and was victorious, gaining, through His sacrifice, eternal life in heaven for all who would believe. If someone is going to hold out for a hero, invite them to look to the bloodied cross, the empty grave, and the heavenly throne. Invite them to look to Jesus!

References

McKinnon, J. (2001) The phone line from Flight 93 was still open when a GTE operator heard Todd Beamer say: ‘Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.’ Printed in the Post-Gazette. September 16, 2001. Retrieved from: http://old.post-gazette.com/headlines/20010916phonecallnat3p3.asp

Romano, N. (2014). Heroes Montage From the 2014 Oscars retrieved from http://screencrush.com/heroes-montage-2014-oscars/ on March 25, 2014.

Steinman, J. & Pitchford, D. (1984). Holding out for a Hero [Recorded by Bonnie Tyler]. On Footloose Soundtrack. Washington, DC: Columbia Records.

Passion and Romance from Antiquity to Now

-Dave Bentley

(photo from: http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/tag/love)

Disclaimer: Please note that the following article contains clear descriptions of passion, lust, desire and sex and may not be acceptable to all readers.  If you are offended by these subjects please do not read this article.  This is an attempt to show, in a tasteful and cultured way, how these elements have been part of love and romance specifically in marriage from the beginning of time.  Sadly, humanity has distorted and abused what was intended from the start to bring unity and intimacy so that now they more often bring division and shame

Love in Its Many Forms

Love is a confusing and complicated subject. Just asking the meaning of love can lead to deep and debated discussion. The Greek language uses four different words to relate to differing levels of love. Agape, a love built on commitment and unconditional acceptance, occasionally called the “Christ love.” Phileo is something akin to brotherly love or affection and friendship. Storge is the more binding love of parents, children, and other familial connection.

To this noble list, we blush to add the hot sultry love that is often the subject of whispered conversation. Eros is the steamy love of physical attraction, sexual desire, and human sensuality. This Greek word forms the root of the term erotic. Sadly, this word is often used to refer to something far removed from its original purity and passion intended in the beginning of male and female relations. Understanding human nature and varied needs, and the divine design intended by the creator can elevate Eros from its position in the shadows to the pinnacle of passion and purity intended to be experienced by husband and wife.

Ancient Answers to Contemporary Questions

Modern society strives to instruct young people in love, but often leaves them confused and bewildered as it seeks to secularize, sanitize, socialize and sexualize the subject, while failing to spiritualize it by connecting love to its source. Forty years ago Dr. James Dobson (1975) wrote that young people, through education, media, and peer pressure, were being “taught to confuse the real thing with infatuation and to idealize marriage into something it can never be” (p. 84). Perhaps the best advice one can offer these love hungry youths, seeking answers concerning love and romance in relationships, is to direct them back to the wisdom of historic texts. This age-old sage advice is not limited just to the teachings of the Scriptures, but is also found in the experiences of loves through the ages.

Ancient poetry and literature offer a telling glimpse into love and romance that contemporary humanity may not realize was present millennia ago. Stories told in modern movies and novellas often relate a kind of utilitarian relationship that existed in the form of arranged marriages, lacking in love and romance, for the primary purpose of bringing forth offspring, providing work hands, and developing community. This perspective, however, does not seem present in ancient love poems and stories of antiquity. In fact, these lyrics and tales speak of a naked and expressive passion that existed between men and women and illustrates how the needs, drives, and loves of each gender were articulated long before any contemplation that men are Martians and women Venusian. (Gray, 2012).

The First Love Lyrics

The first love song spoken from a man to a woman was uttered immediately after the creation of man’s compliment, woman. I do not know what the linguistic sounds of the song were, but the intent is evident. The creator had fostered, on purpose, a deep desire in the man for a suitable companion. His intent was that man would find in the mate God would create the completion that he realized was lacking. The account appears in Genesis 2:20-25.

For Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
     The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
     and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman, ‘
     for she was taken out of man.”
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (New International Version).

One student of Literature, Whitney Bonheim, (Bonheim, 2014) advanced the following consideration in a discussion related to romantic love and the creation of Adam and Eve. She commented that Eve was not created in the same way God created Adam, perhaps as evidence of God’s intent to reveal in the marriage union the design of love itself. Having Eve fashioned from components taken from Adam illustrates the physical and emotional elements of romantic and committed love between man and woman. Regarding the unique design of the romantic and sexual union of man and woman Bonheim writes,

“that love is created of two beings, connected from the start. Just as man was created in the likeness of God, Eve was created from the body of Adam, holding within her flesh the divine love that had been issued to humankind by the Creator” (Retrieved 3/20/14).

Humanity continues to strive for social connection, relationship, and love precisely because we have been designed and created to love and be loved.

Following the introduction of the first couple in the Garden of Eden there is this addendum about the initial purity and passion that humanity experienced, prior to the entry of sin and rebellion in to the “Good” of God’s creation:

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame (Genesis 2.25).

Unfortunately, the purity of this sacred moment would not be long-lived. Genesis 3.7-8 finds our inaugural couple hastily covering their nakedness and hiding from the approaching footsteps of the divine Creator. Never again would the kind of unashamed physical and relational intimacy they had known in the beginning exist between man and woman. Sin shattered the divinely devised relationship. Shame and condemnation drove human sexuality into hiding, known henceforth only in darkened bedrooms behind closed doors, thus distorting the gift by which God had intended to demonstrate the deep internal love that He has for His creation. As rebellious humanity fled to their hiding place, their action brought distance and division in place of intimacy with each other and with God. Even after experiencing the redemption of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, the pure intimacy of Genesis 2 remains elusive The sin nature of “flesh” continues to linger even in those released, for whom “there is therefore now no condemnation” (Romans 8.1).

Romance and Love: A Mingling of Sights and Sighs

In spite of the shame that sin introduced into the realm of human sexuality, humanity continues to hunger for love and sexual fulfillment. The ancient texts of love poems relate that longing in even the earliest of manuscripts. Physical passion and longing for romance grace each pen-stroke. In “Last night, as I, the queen, was shining bright” these steamy words comprise three lines:

“While we by the moonlight indulge our passion, I will prepare for you a bed pure, sweet, and noble, Will while away the sweet time with you in joyful fulfillment” (Damrosch & Pike, 2009, p. 42).

This oldest of ancient texts reveals a depth of passion that breaks through the expectation of a utilitarian love and romance. Indulging passions and joyful fulfillment are not the dry lack-“lust”er words that one might associate with historic romance. Add to sentiments such as these this brief passage from “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and a reader may find they need to fan themselves because of the heat and humidity produced by such erotic passion.

Shamhat unclutched her bosom, exposed her sex, and he took in her voluptuousness.
She was not restrained, but took his energy.
She spread out her robe and he lay upon her,
she performed for the primitive the task of womankind.
His lust groaned over her;
for six days and seven nights Enkidu stayed aroused,
and had intercourse with the harlot
until he was sated with her charms (Damrosch & Pike, 2009, p. 62).

These old texts offer more, however, than just erotic images of sex and physical pleasure. In fact, there appears to be much affection and commitment demonstrated in these ancient texts. Consider this line from “The Voice of the turtledove speaks out,” as the lovers offer this greeting card worthy sentiment.

“We said: I shall never be far away from you while my hand is in your hand, and I shall stroll with you in every favorite place” (Damrosch & Pike, 2009, p. 44).

Another thing that these historic love songs illustrate is the difference between the drives and needs men and women. Gary Chapman (1992) wrote a bestselling book on relationships called The Five Love Languages. Borrowing from his years of counseling couples he delineated the communication and reception of love in such a way as to fit into five basic categories: (1) Physical touch; (2) Quality time; (3) Words of affirmation; (4) Acts of service; and (5) Receiving gifts. In some way, each person on the planet will fit in one or two of these categories in regard to how they communicate and receive love. When I first read this book I thought the message was revolutionary and provided new insight. However, these ancient poems and love songs offer evidence of the presence of these “love languages” in how they communicate love and romance from the male and female perspective.

Men, as most modern advertisers are obviously aware, are often captivated and infatuated with the vision of beauty, attracted by the physical, before learning what lies beneath the surface of woman. Women, on the other hand tend to seek security and provision, in addition to romance and feeling. She would like to be wooed, whereas the man needs to be wowed.

“One, the lady love without a duplicate” is a poem brimming with physical descriptions. My assumption is that a man with a specific woman in mind wrote this poem. Consider this example from the poem:

Her buttocks droop when her waist is girt,
her legs reveal her perfection;
her steps are pleasing when she walks the earth,
she takes my heart in her embrace.

She turns the head of every man,
all captivated at the sight of her;
everyone who embraces her rejoices,
for he has become the most successful of lovers

(Damrosch & Pike, 2009, p. 44-45).

The very vivid description of the subject’s physical appearance and identification as the prize of the successful lover suggests man’s drive to conquest.

Further evidence of the poetic reference to the physical drives of man is the fourth chapter of the Song of Songs which offers an expressively erotic image in the description of the woman. In a very sensual passage, the author engages the senses of sight, smell, touch and taste in the course of these verses, and if one considers the sounds of wind, the rippling of water in a fountain, and the subtle smack of lips in a kiss, the sense of hearing is present as well.

Conclusion

Romantic and sensual love is evident in the most ancient of texts. These early writings capture a pure and passionately erotic love vividly expressed between man and woman. Unfortunately, just using the word erotic in modern society conjures up thoughts and images of scandalous impurity.

The Creator’s intent and design, however, was for humanity to express and experience love in a deep and intimate way, as evident from the physical construction of our bodies and the emotional structure of our hearts and minds. He wanted us to love and be loved in return. He has made us with the capacity for love on all levels. Perhaps it is the longing for a return to purity that drives us to read love stories and watch romantic films. We have been internally wired for love and long to have that activated in us.

References:

Bonheim, W. (2014) Discussion Board Post for ENG656 at Liberty University Online.

Retrieved from: http://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=/webapps/blackboard/execute/courseMain?course_id=_11067_1 on March 20, 2014.

Chapman, G. (1992). The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt

Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.

Damrosch, D. & Pike D. L. (2009). The Longman Anthology: World Literature.

(Vol. A. 2nd. Ed.) New York, NY: Pearson.

Dobson, J. (1975). What Wives with their Husbands Knew about Women.

Wheaton, IL: Tyndale.

Gray, J. (2012). Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus. New York, NY:

Harper Collins Publishing.

Directives for Disciples: The Beatitudes

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MATTHEW SERIES: THE KING AND HIS KINGDOM

The Beatitudes: Directives For Disciples (Message 4)

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who

HUNGER and THIRST for RIGHTEOUSNESS,

for they will be FILLED.

DEFINITION: WHAT IT MEANS TO HUNGER & THIRST

We Can’t Comprehend That Kind Of Hunger:

Not just any hunger, but the hunger of a man who hadn’t eaten in a week and didn’t know from where his next meal would come. A man who could probably only eat meat once a month if he was lucky.

We Can’t Comprehend That Kind Of Thirst:

The kind of thirst that comes from having sand in your throat and nostrils, in the heat of the dry dessert, with no cold water tap in sight, let alone a stream or a pond from which a small relief could be found.

Psalms 42.1-2

1 As the deer PANTS for streams of water,
     so my soul PANTS for you, O God.
2 My soul THIRSTS for God, for the living God.
     When can I go and meet with God?

To hunger and thirst for righteousness would therefore be

  • Intense (a matter of life or death)
  • All consuming (consuming time, resources, efforts, passions)
  • Challenging (all the beatitudes are a challenge)

APPLICATION: RIGHTEOUSNESS IN 2014

Question: What is Righteousness? If we are to hunger and thirst for something, perhaps we should know what that something is.

Life Application Bible Commentary on RIGHTEOUSNESS:

Refers to a personal righteousness—being so filled with God that the person completely does God’s will, without tripping up, sinning, making mistakes, and disappointing God. Righteousness refers to total discipleship and complete obedience. It may also refer to righteousness for the entire world—an end to the sin and evil that fill it.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness experience

that longing in at least three forms:

  • The desire to be righteous—to be forgiven and accepted by God; right with God.
  • The desire to do what is right—do what God commands
  • The desire to see right done—to help bring about God’s will in the world.

The Greek word refers to a “WHOLE RIGHTEOUSNESS” (APPLICATION)

  • PERMEATES! – Affects every aspect of life
    • public and private
    • work and home
    • All the time, Every Day…Not just Sundays
  • PENETRATES! – A righteousness on the inside as well as the outside
  • DEMONSTRATES! A righteousness according to the kingdom of God, not man.

A Warning To The “Well Fed” Luke 6:20-26 (Focus on v. 25)

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
     for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
     for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
     for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
     when they exclude you and insult you
     and reject your name as evil,
     because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
     for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
     for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
     for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
     for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

“WOE” is the Exact Opposite of “BLESSED”

  • They trust in their own righteousness.
    • “Apart from Jesus my righteousness is like filthy rags”
  • Appear to be righteous on the outside, but inside…

SATISFACTION – They Will be Filled

The word for “filled” (chortasthēsontai) means to feed or to fatten cattle from the word for fodder or grass like Mark 6:39 “green grass” (chortos chlōros).

—Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament

  • Deeply Satisfied
  • Longings and Desires Met
  • Hunger and Thirst Abated

INVITATION

  • Empty yourself and become hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
    • Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
  • Remember that you will indeed be satisfied, don’t ever stop hungering…