THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 5-15-05

LESSON TITLE: "THE BEATITUDES: BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO THIRST AND HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS"

WELCOME

In God's Word we read, "Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul" (Ps. 146:1). How blessed we are this day to assemble before His mighty throne and to "Praise the Lord! I hope you are willing to do your part this day as we are gathered to Praise Him together!

Thanks for joining us this morning for God's Living Word. Let me remind us again this day of the privilege we will have together to Praise our God in song, through prayer, as well as in the study of His Word. What a privilege it is to be a Child of the King!

So, as we begin our offering to God on this first day of the week, will you bow with me before His throne in prayer!

(PRAYER)

What better way to Praise God, than by worshipping Him in song. So at this time let's join together in our first hymn of the day, it's name, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms."

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

We started out this morning with the words of David, as he exclaimed, "Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul," Psalm 146:1. In verse two, we continue to read, "While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being." Oh, what a wondrous opportunity we have in this life to be Children of God and to Praise and Worship His Holy Name!

However, I would like to confirm as well, just who must praise God or what must show forth His glory? Continue reading with me from the Psalmist, but over in chapter 148. There it says, "Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens," verses 1-4! Now we are beginning to see the many things in this life which are to Praise, or show forth praise to God.

On down in the same Psalm, David talks of further things which must Praise God. He mentions the earth, its seasons and its elements. He also specifies that all creatures "great and small," must praise God. But we might ask WHY?

Well, the same text answers the question. In verse 5, we learn that God created all things and established His Law! Down in verse 14, he talks of God's love and care on those whom He loves. You see, our God is a God who is worthy of Praise, honor and glory, because He has done, is doing and has promised to do so much for us. Yes, our God is worthy to be praised!

So I ask us all to consider this day just how much are we Praising God? Have you joined in with all of God's creation to show forth His glory and magnificence? Have you truly shown your God how much you love Him, by proving just how Praise worthy He Is? May I exhort us all to Praise the Lord God of all!

As far as our topic of the day, this morning we will continue our series on the, "Beatitudes." Our specific lesson of the day will confirm the teaching that, "Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst For Righteousness?" To lead us in this study of the day, we are happy to have brother Ray Crawford with us. Brother Crawford is the minister for the Bellefonte Church of Christ in Harrison, Arkansas. We thank this good brother for being with us this day to lead us in the study of God's Precious Word.

So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, brother Ray Crawford will proclaim unto us God's Word. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Nothing But The Blood."

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Ray Crawford

Someone has said that the Beatitudes that are recorded for us in Matthew the 5th chapter are those things that we could call the Bible in miniature. Perhaps this is correct because it covers so wonderfully the love of God and the blessings that are given to us when we please God. There is no wonder why we do not read the words that say, "Blessed are ( or in some translations - "happy are...") the people that fulfill those things."

Let us set the stage for this great Sermon on the Mount before we begin in talking about the Beatitudes. Remember that in the book of Matthew the 3rd chapter, verse 17, Jesus came to John to be baptized of him in the River Jordan. John was baptizing there because there was much water to be found there. As Jesus approached and come to John, John wanted to refuse to baptize Jesus for he knew Jesus and knew the life that Jesus lived and knew the example that He set. So therefore he said that Jesus needed to baptize him rather than Himself. But Jesus of course mentions and said, "Suffer it to be so and fulfill the righteousness of God." Giving what God said a fulfillment and Jesus was obedient to His Heavenly Father.

It is interesting to look at Jesus' life before we begin the Beatitudes in talking about in the Hebrew letter in the 5th chapter verses 8 and 9, the writer writes, "Though He were a son yet learned the obedience through the things which He suffered and being made perfect He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." This passage clearly points out for us that Jesus Christ, although He was a son of God, learned the things that would make Him perfect in the way of God and the obedience and compliance to God's Will. And so He came to John to fulfill what Jesus had then set forth through His Father, God.

And then we find also that during this period of time, Jesus is led straight away after His baptism in the 17th chapter when the Spirit descends upon Him as a dove and then the Father recognizes Him as a son in whom He was well-pleased. He is taken by the Spirit into the wilderness and there He fasts for 40 days and 40 nights, after which the scripture says He was hungered and the tempter came to Him. Even though the tempter came to Him at a very down time for Jesus Christ, Jesus was able because of His Father and because of His commitment to God's Word to refuse to submit Himself and to lower Himself to obeying Satan or the tempter. So He answered and responded with each temptation, "As it is written..." or "Thus sayeth the Lord..." We find this was a part of that which sets forth the wonderful teachings of Jesus after which He began to teach and His fame went abroad and everyone would flock to see Him and to hear Him as He would declare the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

And so we find the scene that is before us which we call the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes is the beginning or the introduction to what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, Jesus takes His disciples up with Him, sets them down and opens His mouth and begins to preach unto them. Now already, there have been discussions on the first Beatitudes, the poor in spirit. Also we have discussion of those that mourn, and also the meek.

Today, we would like to look at just for a few moments, we'd like to look at the next Beatitude in chapter 5 and verse 6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." This is a beautiful passage of scripture because we find in the former parts of this Beatitude giving that we have the beginning of faith, the first three Beatitudes discuss the beginning of a system of faith that God desires of each and every one of us.

And now we come to verse 6, and in this passage of scripture we have what we call the progress of faith. Now listen. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." Blessed. This is a direct relationship to the first group of Beatitudes and will lead us to the second group of Beatitudes. In this, we find that even our very depths cry out for the righteousness of God. If we look at the end of the Beatitudes, we may observe a progressive order, namely if you will, the conscious need of it, verses 3-5, the conscious longing for it in verse 6 the first part, and then the conscious possession of it in the latter part of that same verse. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness. I believe most of us can understand a little bit about what it means to hunger. Now true that we are not always in a hungry state and many of us, most of us in the United States of America, have never experienced the real hunger that in many places they do. And we can say also that most of us are familiar with and we know about thirst. Now the hunger that is used here in this passage is a hunger that has to do with actually being ravenous of food, desiring to have food completely, and the thirst is the type of thirst that is a parching of our very being that we want to satisfy our appetite for water.

So we understand what the terms mean, hunger and thirst. But the key is the righteousness that is pointed out for us. Often times, we do not understand what the righteousness of God might be. As I looked up the definition of righteousness in the Webster's Ninth Edition New Collegiate Dictionary, I found it meant upright or just right, just and pure. Well we can understand that righteousness in this text, as it speaks about the religion and it talks about Jesus Christ and God Almighty, it is talking about being upright in the sight of God. It is defined for us back in the book of Job in the first chapter where it says that Job was a perfect man, upright and before God. The wrath of man will not produce the righteousness of God as we read in James the first chapter and verse 20. We need to understand that when we speak about this hunger and thirsting after righteousness, it is after the righteousness of Almighty God. And the beautiful Psalm in 119th Psalm verse 172, the scripture says, "My tongue shall speak of Thy Word for all Thy commandments are righteousness." In this passage of scripture then we can ascertain completely that the righteousness of God is His commands, those that are given to us. And so when it says to hunger and thirst after righteousness, He is talking about a desire, a great need, a craving to know what God wants us to know.

Now as we read our Bibles, we know this and understand that the Word of God is perfect converting the soul. It is that which we desire to know and understand. It is what we crave for. That's what He is speaking of here. And blessed is the person that craves the knowledge of God's perfect Will.

As I read my Bible in 2 Timothy the 3rd chapter verses 16-17, I realize that the Bible says that "All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, or God- breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work." This passage of scripture very basically says for us in simple English that we have a desire to know the Word of God and that the Word of God provides us.

In 2 Peter the 1st chapter and verse 3, following talking about the desired precious faith, he speaks and says that "We have been given that pertain unto life as well as unto godliness." That's speaking of the Word of God. This is what we desire in our lives today. We desire. We have a hunger. We have a thirst for the righteousness of God or the Word of God. So therefore in order for us to attain this, we have to study our Bibles. We have to study the Word of God. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 2 and verse 15, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling or rightly dividing the word of truth." The Word says that we need to study the Word of God so that we might be approved unto God, not unto man, but unto God. We need to put our time in on pleasing God. This is what the righteousness of God stands for. This is what He is speaking of, and this is the progress of our faith. If we have this faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if we will consider all the aspects and precepts of the Word of God as given to us and apply them to our lives, then we are blessed or we are happy in His sight. We need to study the Word of God.

We also realize that the meaning of righteousness in a broad sense is a condition that is only acceptable by God and acceptable of God. It is a doctrine concerning the way in which man may live and should live, a state by which God approves.

In the beautiful book of Romans the 1st chapter verses 16 and 17, the Lord said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," as recorded by Paul, "for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Then he continues in verse 17 and says, "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed. From faith to faith as it is written, the just shall live by faith." God wants us to know and understand that His righteousness is the development of our faith. When we stand before God with a faithful being before Him, obedience to His Word, taking the assurance that He gives to us, then we are performing the righteousness before Him.

In Romans the 10th chapter verses 1-4, the apostle again by inspiration writes, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God is that Israel might be saved." He says, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God but not according to knowledge for they being ignorant of God's righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." So God, in these passages of scripture, makes it very plain for us that we need to serve God according to His Word and we need to apply the things that we read so that we might show ourselves to be a good example.

In giving the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ speaks of some things in which must be seen in us. In the beautiful book of Matthew the 7th chapter verses 13 and 14, we find that the Lord tells us, "there is a narrow way and a broad way," and He compels us through His Word and through His love to follow after the narrow way so that we might have life in heaven everlasting. Now the wide gate of course leads to destruction and He says that "Many there will be that enter there at."

We also need to realize in the 5th chapter of the book of Matthew that we're to be salt of the earth. We're to be light. God wants us to be a light. He wants us to shine as Christians before a crooked and perverse generation. He wants us to shine as an example before others. As a matter of fact, in the beautiful book of Matthew the 5th chapter verse 16, the scripture says that "We are to let our light so shine before men so that they might see our good works and glorify the Father which is in Heaven." That means of course that we are righteous in His sight and when we hunger and thirst after righteousness and then we take that Word of God that we read, that is revealed to us in His Word, apply it to our lives, then our lives will truly change. But someone will ask the question, "How can I change my life? How can I really go from what I am today to what God would have me to be?" Well of course we realize that the righteousness of God must affect our minds or our spiritual hearts.

Philippians 4 and verse 8 gives us a wonderful way or manner in which we can change not only ourselves but the world around about us. Now listen to this. "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things." Now I submit to you today that wouldn't it be great if every person had a positive attitude in their lives? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we no longer looked at the bad but at the good? Wouldn't it be wonderful if all we heard on the news forecast today would be those things that are good and acceptable and make us smile rather than frown, and make us laugh instead of crying? God says that if we follow the life of righteousness that these things will be at least in our own minds. We need to develop our progress of faith so that we can stand as God would have us to stand right in His sight.

I love to read the book of Hebrews the 11th chapter. In it we find many examples of faithful people that would perform as God had told them to perform, that would stand righteous in His sight, and I believe these people are examples of those that would truly hunger and thirst after righteousness. They had a desire to please God and we also must have a desire to please our everlasting Father. Let us make a resolution in our life even today. Let us resolve that we're no longer going to look at the bad things, but we're going to look at the good things and by doing this, we will turn our attention, our minds to the Word of God, His Will, so that we might truly be righteous in His sight. I hope and pray that we can all develop a desire, a sincere hungering, a craving for the Word of God. We need to be desiring to place the Word of God first and foremost in our lives and if we follow that, God has given us a wonderful promise.

Remember if you will that in reading the Beatitudes that in every "blessed" or "happy," we find a result. Now look at this passage of scripture with me one more time before we close our lesson today. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." If we hunger and if we thirst after righteousness of God, then God says that we will be filled. There is a wonderful reward. Just as we read about our lives, "if we live faithful unto God, Heaven is ours," if we hunger and thirst after righteousness, God says that He will fill us up. We need to have a craving, a desire to satisfy our appetites when it comes to the Word of God. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." Filled with the wonderful Word of God. Filled with the glory of God, and filled first and foremost by the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Let us always decide that we are going to follow the Lord and let us make our resolution today that I'm going to know Jesus by studying His Word, by following His Word through obedience to His Will. Just as Jesus did for God, even so we must do.

(SONG # 3 - "Take My Life, And Let It Be!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!

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What a great lesson we have learned concerning our need to focus on that which is most important in this life! As one who loves God are you truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness?

(Program closing)