Monday, February 26, 2007

Hungering for Righteousness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

There is a thirst and a righteousness that promises complete fulfillment. That hunger and thirst is that which has to do with God. Hungering and thirsting for God is the right kind of need. That is what Jesus wants us to see in Matthew 5:6. Those who are in the kingdom are those for hunger for these things.

There are many people who pursue happiness in the wrong places. Lucifer, whose name means "star of the morning" or more literally, "the bright One," was not satisfied with living in God's glory. So he said in his heart, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High" (Isa.14:13-14). His ambition was not to reflect God's glory but to usurp God's sovereign power -- while forsaking righteousness. God's response to his ambition was "yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit" (v.15). There's another person who had mis-directed ambition. In Daniel 4:29-32 you read about Nebuchadnezzar. In this passage you see that his hunger was for praise. Therefore God humbled him until he knew "that the Most High rules in teh kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses" (v.25). Even in Luke 12:16-21, in the parable of the rich man, we find someone like Necuchadnezzar and Lucifer who were hungry for the wrong things. The rich man was pleasure hungry. Because they all hungered for wrong things and rejected God's good things, they forfeited both.

"Jesus declares that the deepest desire of every person ought to be the hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is the Spirit-prompted desire that will lead a person to salvation and keep him strong and faithful once he is in the kingdom. It is the only ambition that, when fulfilled, brings enduring happiness" (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew, p.178).

Do you thirst for God's righteousness? Do you hunger in the sense that you have "a passionate longing for something about which one cannot live?" (Colin Brown). As Psalm 119:20 speaks of a soul that "breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times," may your heart be filled with a hunger for His righteousness today as you serve Him.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Panting After God

Psalm 42:1-2 says, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (emphasis added).

That is the truest expression of a child of God in worship. His "soul thirts for God." When was the last time that you wanted God that much? There are so many things to distract us from this kind of relationship that we rarely thirst. If I could encourage you today I would challenge you to feast on God's Word. Begin by taking small bites, like reading through a book in the New Testament (e.g., 1 John). Then move to larger books (e.g., John). Before you know it you will find yourself desiring God's Word more. You see, when you want God that much then you are desiring the right things -- not to mention thirsting for the right One. So as "the deer pants" so must you. Pant after Him today!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

God My Salvation

How often do you thank God for your salvation? Is it monthly, weekly or daily? For some the thought never enters their mind. Each month when we share together as a church in the Lord's Supper, we seek to remember what Jesus did for us in the giving of His life for our sins. Have you ever shared the Lord's Supper in your home? That is something we do often in our home to remember the God of our Salvation and what He has done and to teach our kids what salvation is about.

If I could encourage you today, I would seek to help you to remember where you were when God delivered you and for what reason you were delivered. When we fail to remember, we are then tempted to leave our first love (Rev.2:4). And in this, Jesus says, "Remember therefore where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place -- unless you repent" (Rev.2:5, emphasis added).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Evangelism at Heart

What consumes you? What is your passion? Do you know that what consumes you will occupy your thoughts and time? Could it be said that you are consumed with seeing your friend, neighbor or family member come to know Jesus as you do? Or do you question your own confession of Christ? Jesus said to His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples" (Mat.28:19). Are you obeying that command? Is the fulfillment of that command your purpose in life?

As you evaluate these questions, take inventory of what occupies your time? If it's not Jesus and obedience to His Word, I would question my allegiance. Think about it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Why People Reject Jesus

John 1:10-11 says, "He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him."

When it says that Athe world did not recognize [or know] Him,@ it means they did not know Him in a saving way. They could not comprehend that the carpenter=s son, who was Athe son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon@ (Mk.6:3, NKJV) was the Messiah. John 7:5 tells us that Aeven His brothers did not believe in Him@ (NKJV). The apostle John records Jesus= own words as to why His people rejected Him.

In John 5:38 he said it was because they did Anot have His Word abiding in [them]. And because of this they were Anot willing to come to [Him] that [they] may have life@ (v.40). In John 6:36 He gives a second reason why they rejected Him: They did not believe He was the Messiah. Jesus said, ABut I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe@ (NKJV). AgainCthey could not get past the fact that they knew His parents, brothers and sisters. They believed when the Messiah would come they would now know where He would come from. In John 6:37-40 He gives a third reason for His rejection. It is because the Father did not give them to Him. He says, AEveryone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day@ (NASB). The fourth reason goes along with the thirdCthe Father did not grant them the privilege to come to Him. Jesus said in John 6:65, ATherefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father@ (NKJV).

God did not give them to Jesus nor did He grant them the privilege of coming to Him for salvation because He did not choose them before the foundation of the world. The fifth reason why they rejected Jesus is because they were not His sheep. Jesus said in John 10:26-30, ABut you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 "I and the Father are one@ (NASB). When Jesus was in the world, the world rejected Him. When He came to His own people, the Jews, they did not Areceive Him@ (v.11, NASB). The word Areceive@ is paralambano. It means Ato take to one=s self@ (GING) or Awelcome@ (Robertson). They did not embrace or welcome Him. Instead they crucified Him. Man in his natural fallen state will always reject the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. His sin, as Joseph Alleine says, Ahas made [him] little better than the devils.@

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Overcoming Temptation

"Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (James 1:13-17).

How do you respond when you're tempted? Are you quick to run as Paul stated to Timothy? Or do you stay around seeing if you're strong enough to overcome? Such thinking is folly when you consider that all sin is against God (Ps.51:1-2). Therefore why do we want to play with something that would cause us to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph.4:30). There are two things that I want you to remember today. They come from a puritan preacher named George Downame. He writes: "The Christian soldier must avoid two evils—he must not faint or yield in the time of fight, and after a victory he must not wax insolent and secure. When he has overcome, he is so to behave himself as though he were presently again to be assaulted. For Satan's temptations, like the waves of the sea, do follow one in the neck of the other."

Remember part of the battle is fleeing all temptation, even those things that might not be sin but may give that impression. Satan's assaults "do follow one in the neck of the other," therefore we must always be ready.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Overcoming Weariness

As I sit here and write this article my eyes are filled with the desire for sleep. They are weary. Weary from little sleep; weary from late nights and early mornings. But the weariness Paul talks about in Galatians 6:9 isn't referring to sleepiness but to evil. He writes, "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lost heart." Paul is saying do not "grow weary" or "give into evil" "while doing good." It is tempting to stop doing what is right simply because of this carcass of sin that we carry. If it's not the flesh with its ragging battles then it is the demonic world seeking to lead us astray. But we must seek to do what is right no matter the price. Martin Luther said, "For it is an easy matter for a man to do good once or twice; but to continue, and not to be discouraged through the ingratitude and perverseness of those to whom he has done good, that is very hard. Therefore, he not only exhorts us to do good, but also not to be wary in doing good" (Commentary on Galatians). Continue in the righteousness that is found only in Jesus Christ. Remember that it was His goodness that brought you to repentance. Never forget that in due time we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Ask God to give you the strength you need today to continue doing what is right and not to turn from the truth.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Jesus said in Luke 9:23 "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

These words clearly state the cost of following Jesus. This invitation to the crowd held a supreme price -- death of self. "It's the end of you -- your dreams, hopes, ambitions, goals. The gospel is not about self-fulfillment; it's about self-denial" (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Daily Bible, p.ix).

To deny yourself means "to refuse to associate with." Coming to Christ means that you refuse to associate with the person that you are. You are sick of yourself and your sin and in desperation you willingly surrender that empty life that you no longer desire to associate with.

How extreme is this commitment? It involves taking up your cross daily. "In the ancient world, the cross only meant one thing -- a painful, horrible, shameful death" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.ix).

Is this the price that you have paid to follow Jesus? Remember Jesus said, "If you want to follow Me, it's the death of you."