“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I like to eat.
Much like a car pulls up to a gas pump for a filling, I like to pull up my chair to the table and eat. The needle on my gut will move from left to right, from E to F.
Eating is my one of my favorite parts of life. I love to say that it’s very Biblical––many significant events in the Bible were centered around food. Our church, not unlike most churches, likes to get together for any reason to eat.
Food is a blessing from God. I do not take it for granted nor am I entitled to such an abundance. I fully realize that my placement in this world comes as a gift with a responsibility to share the blessings of God with others.
There are folks––all over the world––who will not eat as well or at all today. Hunger is a phenomenon that I have never known personally. I cannot tell you what it must be like to be “really” hungry, and consequently, I cannot tell you that I’ve ever really known how to appreciate what I have.
Appreciation is often expressed most by those who have not. That pretty much applies to everything.
Especially the invisible things.
Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be blessed. This hunger will be filled.
Imagine the joy of the one who finds food after desperately searching for something to eat. Food, in this case, would be eaten with reckless abandon and intense gratitude.
Hunger leads to desperation; desperation to seeking; and seeking to finding––especially when it comes to righteousness.
Righteousness is godliness. Righteous living is living like God intended you to live. Righteous thinking is pure and wise. Righteous standing before God is given to those who seek him.
Seek and you will find––desire the righteous life and you will find it every time. You can always pull up your chair to God’s table and walk away full.
The choice is always yours.
• In order to get filled, you’ve got to pull up to the table. God’s gift of righteousness is for those who seek. He will not force Himself upon you. The invitation has been given over and over again. He awaits your RSVP.
• You can return to the table everyday. Just like you eat every time the sun rises, you must also be spiritually fed with each new day. You cannot rely upon previous experiences to keep you going. Your past should always motivate the fresh potential of the present.
• You cannot make your own fuel. In terms of righteousness, only God can supply what you lack. His righteousness is given, not achieved or earned. No matter how hard you try or how far you get, you will still need God to find righteousness.
• God only fills empty stomachs. Full guts don’t need God. They are self-sufficient. The Bible is consistently clear about how to approach God––with humility and a spirit of poverty. Bottom line: if you are full of yourself, there is no room for God anyway!
• Only one table works. There are plenty to choose from. You live in a world that offers you ample opportunity to find satisfaction on every corner. Pleasure, fame, wealth and pride only work for the moment. They do not satisfy. Their tables may be stacked high with that which pleases the eye but it can never please the soul.
That’s what God’s table does. It brings blessing. It supplies filling. It satisfies.
So, pull up your chair, get your fill and remember to give thanks!by Pastor Doug
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
When you have been backed into a corner, what do you do?
Dogs calculate. They come out with full set of teeth and mouth dripping with slobber.
Generals ask themselves if they can and, then, ask themselves if they should. They calculate. In the heat of the moment, angry married people do the same. They calculate.
Kids who get teased, friends who get betrayed, and leaders who get caught all calculate. It is the natural thing to do.
What do you do when you’ve been backed into a corner? What do you do when you’ve been a victim of slander, mockery––any type of undeserved abuse?
Let me tell you what I do out of impulse: my first reaction is to look for ammunition. I check my inventory and look for ways to defend my reputation. I survey the situation and, before I know it, I start to calculate.
The “ammunition calculation” works like this:
1. How much do they have?
2. How much do I have?
3. Can I take ‘em?
Blessed is the man who can walk away from the calculation––even when he knows that he can blow them way, way, way out of the water!
Walking away––this is called meekness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Meekness is the guts to turn and walk away from the calculation.
Meekness, contrary to popular thinking, is unparalleled strength. It is courage in the following ways:
• Being content with your rather-ordinariness. God uses the ordinary with extraordinary results. It takes courage to humbly admit that apart from God you can do nothing. Bravery is trusting God for that which you cannot do.
• Being willing to let God settle the accounts. He always does. Many times he does it here. However, he always does it there––in heaven, that is. This is a guarantee to bank on: You will always reap what you sow! Consequently, you’ll be better off to let him keep score.
• Being aware of the difference of standing up for right and standing up for self. Between the two, there is a vast disparity. Stand up for what is true and back down for what is selfish. It would change the world if everybody abided by this simple principle. Start this change with you.
• Being able to see the big picture in everyday struggles. It’s a lot like watching the Olympics on the other side of the world. Because of the time differences, by the time we watch it in the evening, we already know the outcome. So it is with everything in this world: we watch the temporary unfold while having confidence of the eternal outcome.
God promises that everyone––including you––will stand before him one day and will give an account of the truth, no matter how slippery they were in this life. No spin. No defense attorneys. No plea bargaining. Just you, God, and the truth. Nothing but the truth.
If you are fully and confidently committed to a complete disclosure of the truth, then a knowledge of the final judgment should be enough to allow you a full and confident commitment to meekness. You can be humbly assured today because you know the final score tomorrow.
Meekness is doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit while humbly considering others better than yourself. Meekness is looking not only to your own interest but to the interest of others.
As a youth, I wrote in my Bible a phrase that I’ve never forgotten: “Meekness is not weakness, it’s velvet-covered steel!”
The bullies who come out swinging may win the battle but the meek always win the war.
They, in case you’ve forgotten, will inherit the earth.by Pastor Doug
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
There is something almost magical about Band-Aids…
Every kid loves the comfort they bring. It’s more than an adhesive strip. It’s a feeling of well-being––a security that medicine cannot explain.
My children used to go through a Band-Aid box a bit faster than necessary––at least from an adult perspective. Sometimes I found Band-Aids all over their little bodies. Years ago, when I asked my daughter why she liked them so much, she replied, “Because they make me feel all better!”
Band-Aids make people feel “all better?” If that’s true, it’s too bad you have to grow up! For, as you know, in the grown-up world nothing is ever so easy that a “quick fix” will do.
Yet, I wish it were so. I’d give the farm to have a box of anything that I could attach to real life situations, instantly repairing complex pain.
However, the stench of evil is such a authentic part of the world in which we live. We taste the pain of broken relationships. We hear the sound of devastating words. We see an ugliness that’s way too big for a Band-Aid.
Worst of all, we top it all off with the guarantee that one day––if not today––we will feel the sting of death when it visits those we love.
Death is unfair, never a respecter of persons. It calls upon every home and the living are left needing something that brings comfort and security––an adult-sized Band-Aid for an adult-sized pain, a universal-sized Band-Aid for our universal pain!
So, when Jesus says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” I am curious to know what he must mean. For those of you who are in the midst of great grief, you must wonder about such promises as well.
Psychologists have identified a natural grieving process that humanity follows. It’s known as the stages of mourning. You move from the initial shock to a yearning and longing to be reunited with the lost loved one. The reality of this impossibility naturally leads to a depression that is marked by anger and guilt. This is natural. This is part of what it means to be human.
Finally, after months and years of grief, recovery becomes a real possibility. This is an acceptance that, although life will never be the same, you can move forward and begin anew.
So, how do you comfort those who are mourning?
• Sign up for the long haul. Remember that mourning is a complex process, not a huge obstacle. There aren’t any “drive-through solutions” on the road of grieving.
• Allow time. It can become your best ally. Grieving takes time––there is no way around it! Rather than the microwaved counsel to which we normally thrive, be supportive and available, advising minimally.
• Listen and share. Hearing another’s grief reduces their sense of isolation. Together, as Shakespeare said, you help “give sorrow words.”
• Healthy recovery takes one forward, not backward. You never return to exactly where you start. You don’t expect the griever to be the same ol’ person. We all must change and that’s perfectly alright. God, although unchanging in character, designed a universe that changes.
• You build your hope on heaven. Upon the solid rock of eternity you place your trust. You understand the temporal while holding on to the eternal. Death has a way of making that truth crystal clear. The desire for something beyond the tears and pain of this world is always greatest when we are faced with the loneliness of death.
God, like nobody anywhere, supplies comfort. His heavenly Band-Aids stretch all the way to eternity. They cover the whole world. They always soothe. And, best of all, they reinforce the promise that “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”by Pastor Doug
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Desperation is not a bad place to be––from God’s perspective, that is. Yet nobody signs up for it. Everybody works hard to avoid it. Not a soul likes to appear desperate.
But, have you ever wanted something so much that you’d be willing to do anything to get it?
I am reminded of the guy who is stranded in the middle of the ocean. As he is helplessly swimming for shore, he begins to cut deals with God, eagerly seeking salvation.
When the shore seems impossibly far away, he promises everything, including the kitchen sink. However, the closer the land appears, the less he needs God. Forever becomes most of the time. Most of the time becomes some of the time. Some of the time becomes a maybe and by the time he makes it to the beach he even forgets to say thanks.
The sandy shore of our own sufficiency isn’t all it is cracked up to be. God knows that. The writers of scripture knew that. The question remains, however, do you and I know that?
Desperation is merely the subconscious drive that reveals our most sacred priorities. Everyone can fake devotion until they are fighting for air. Only the devout will sell everything to hold on to something priceless.
Is there anything in your life to which you truly feel that way––including your passion for your Creator?
It seems that the kingdom of heaven should be a membership to which you hold tightly with a willingness to release anything and everything that stands in the way.
On the other hand, the kingdoms of this earth come and go, much like the ever-changing shoreline of life. What seemed important yesterday is no longer important today––what mattered no longer does. It must be dismal to discover that you have spent your days working on a castle that was built upon sinking sand!
This is the problem of being rich in spirit.
The rich in spirit have so much to show for their efforts. They complement their material wealth with a resume of good work and perfect citizenship. When you seek the core of their goodness, it’s always filled with their self-sufficiency.
This is the beauty of being poor in spirit.
The poor in spirit are desperately dependent on God. They know their need and are never ashamed to seek his salvation. They have nothing to hold except divine compassion and forgiveness. They live a life of amazing grace.
The moment you realize your spiritual poverty––no matter how
well-stocked your pantry is––is the moment that you are ready to receive a happiness that can only come from heaven. This joy is not bound by the limitations of the temporal. It is eternal. It empowers daily purpose.
If you have spent your days relying upon your impressive string of accomplishments, you have never known the benefits of experiencing the love of God.
If, however, you haven’t been distracted by the false hopes of this temporary kingdom, you have found a life that is focused on a kingdom to come, able to enjoy the best of what we see before us.
The daily joy of heaven can begin while still on this side of eternity. The kingdom of heaven is yours today as well as forever. God has a way of making you a better person. This world has a way of coming up empty time and again.
This is why it’s not so bad to be desperate, especially when you find God waiting at the end of your rope!by Pastor Doug