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HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 4 (Mt.5:6) “Righteousness”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

DRINK IT IN:
Have you ever been out on a walk or a drive and you pass through the invisible waves of Bar B Que aroma floating out of someone’s back yard? It catches your attention immediately. I think it might be my favorite smell on the planet. Its almost torturous to smell such an aroma when I’m hungry. The smell nearly causes my mouth to water and my stomach to growl. When there is ample food available, I think one of the greatest feelings is when my stomach growls and I know that I am getting ready to eat something delicious. I just love to eat! You too?

Another powerful feeling is the desire called thirst. I grew up on a farm in Kansas and I remember the couple of times that I ran out of water to drink while out driving the farm tractor on those hot summer days. I was never in trouble of becoming dehydrated, but I remember the desire of thirst growing intensely when I had to wait for a couple of hours for my dad to drive out to the field to check on me. He would always have an insulated container with ice cold water in it. When he would arrive on the field I remember the strong to desire of wanting to get my hands on that ice cold water. Thirst is a powerful desire.

So it makes sense when Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”

Jesus said things like, “Man cannot live on bread alone.” He also said in John 4:34, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

I wish I could give you some quick formula that would help you increase in your hunger and thirst for God. There is no quick formula. Its something that we grow into. Did you notice that these first four phrases, that Jesus mentions in His very first sermon that are recorded in Matthew 5, show a PROCESS of maturity.

The first step is being “poor in spirit.” This means being totally dependent on God. The next progression that Jesus mentions is being a person that “mourns.” This means recognizing that the world is not what God meant for it to be and it actually saddens you and causes you to long for what Heaven is. The third progression towards spiritual maturity is living a life of “meekness.” This means that we don’t focus on our own lives very much because we are serving others. When we are growing in these areas of our lives, then what is actually happening, is God is helping us to be in constant Hunger and Thirst for Him…which causes us to want to please Him and we know that righteousness is a key element in pleasing God.

“Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”

When you hunger for Chocolate…what do you constantly focus on? Chocolate.
When you thirst…what do you constantly focus on? Your favorite beverage.

Hunger or thirst are actually focus! What we focus on is what we give our priorities to. Our priorities are what we commit to. What we commit to, is what we become.

You and I will become what we are committed to.

If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, then we focus on living right. When we focus on living right, then we do right. When we do right, then we make a strong impact on the circles of influence around us. When we have a strong impact on those around us, then we are living a life of purpose and significance. Living a life of purpose and significance is fulfilling. If we are fulfilled, then our lives are full.

Jesus says…”you will be filled…if you hunger and thirst for righteousness.” He’s not saying anything profound here. He’s speaking common sense.

Its not that Jesus sends some magical blessing down upon us when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. He is simply saying…we will become what we are committed to. What you hunger and thirst for you focus on. What you focus on, you become.

SWEAT IT OUT:

So, here is the deal. If you are frustrated with where your life is headed, isn’t it fair for me to ask you to inspect where your hunger and thirst is? Where is your focus?

If you struggle in determining where your focus is, then I want to share with you a short-cut to help you determine the undeniable truth as to where your focus is.

Do a quick peak at your CALENDAR. What are you spending a major portion of your life doing? You might say “work.” That’s okay. Work is a blessing from God. I’m not asking you to make God the “First” priority in your life…I’m asking you to make God the “Center” of everything you do. There is a difference in First and Center. If God is first in your life, then every time you go to work you are going to feel like you are letting God down because you are focused on work. So, the solution is to make God the center of your life and then no matter where you go or what you do, God is always in your central focus. Make sense? So, again, what are you spending a major portion of your time doing?

Another quick short-cut to help you determine where you focus is, is to take a look at your Bank Account expenditures. I’m not asking you to do this to make you feel guilty, I’m simply asking you to measure where you spend a majority of your money. It will help you understand where your priorities are. I do challenge you to set aside and give to God a minimum of 10% of all your income. This is something that God asks of every one of us. It is a part of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. This kind of generosity is good for you. That’s why God asks us to give it. Your giving not only helps you stay selfless, but also helps meet the needs of many that Jesus commands us to help. You should give this tithe/10% to a ministry that is clearly focusing on Hungering and Thirsting for righteousness.

Are you a part of a local church that focus’ on teaching and learning the Word of God and pushes you to serve others using your strengths and talents? Keep looking until you find the right fit. When you do, jump on board fully.

Take a few moments to rate yourself in how you are doing with the first 4 phrases of Matthew 5. Use a scale of 1 to 10 to show how you are doing in each one. Is one weaker than the others? Focus a little more on that one weaker one. Keep growing in the ones you are doing well in. You should be pretty balanced with each one. They should all be a strong and growing reality in our lives.

Focusing on the key elements I mentioned above are a critical factor in living a fulfilling life.
I hope you will commit to moving forward in all of these starting now.
Make your day today one of hungering and thirsting for righteousness.


Retweeting Jesus “RTJesusChrist #8”

Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.
Luke 23:34(NLT)

If Jesus would have used Twitter to send this message to His followers it would have had to have been delivered by the hands of someone else. Jesus was hanging on the cross when He “sent” this message. His hands were nailed down. He had just been severely beaten. He would have been deeply dehydrated. As I write out the remaining messages that were short enough for Jesus to have actually tweeted back in His day…the remaining “tweets” are all His final phrases before He dies on the cross. The next 7 “tweets” are going to be intense and serious. Each message that Jesus sends out from this point forward is a message He sends in the final moments of His life.

I like to say that when a person knows they are dying and they only have a few moments left…what they say is of vital importance for they only focus on the moment and what is deeply in their heart.

Jesus says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

As this message is going out, think about what was happening all around Him. Soldiers are gambling for His One Piece Undergarment. Bystanders are yelling at Him, spitting at Him, mocking Him, rolling their eyes, thinking He deserves every bit of what is happening to Him. He is literally bleeding out. He has two men, one on each side yelling at Him. He is being used as a warning to all Jews in the area. The warning is this…”Don’t mess with the Religious Leaders and Don’t mess with the Roman Empire.” Position and Power are dangerous things in our world. Jesus defied them and it got Him killed. Oh, He knew it was going to kill Him and even though He didn’t like the fact He was to die…He knew what would happen in a few days.

Imagine you are alive and well in Jerusalem at this moment in time. You are one of His followers and you actually receive this message in the form of a tweet. After reading it, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing,” what would you think or do? I think I would instantly recall things I had spoken about Him behind His back. I would have flashes of unholy behavior from recent times in my life and then think about how He walked around and healed that blind man, and how that woman stopped bleeding when she touched Him, and how Lazarus came out of his own tomb after being dead for like four days, and remember how He walked on the Sea of Galilee. I would remember him putting his hand on my shoulder and encouraging me to believe in myself even when important people in my life mistreated me and kept putting me down. I would think about that day He prevented a sinful woman from being stoned to death and how He stared into the eyes of her accusers and got them all to drop their stones and walk away embarrassed by their judgmental demeanor, knowing that their hypocrisy had been exposed.

What a tweet.

Even though you and I are guilty of all sorts of sins, and those sins actually separated us from our God…Jesus’ moments on the cross and His final breath, His shed blood, His sacrifice, took all of God’s anger towards us and our sinful actions and washed it away with our sins.

When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing,”

Mankind’s very worst collided with God’s very best!

When the collision took place in that moment of history…who was stronger? God’s Best or Man’s Worst? God’s Best or Your Worst?

NO COMPETITION!

God wins. Yet in a crazy kind of way in this competition, we won too! You win. You are forgiven.

What’s your very worst? Can it even compete with God’s power, and love, and patience, and kindness? No way! Once again, No competition!

So if you are allowing your crap and your filth of your past and yesterday’s stupidity to hold you back and make you feel worthless…STOP IT!

If God can forgive it/you, why can’t you?

Here’s the deal…What Jesus says…Happens! How do I know that? Because Jesus said in the Great Commission noted in Matthew 28, “I have been given ALL AUTHORITY in Heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

If Jesus has been given all authority and He says, “Father Forgive them.” Then its done.

Be Free…Be Forgiven. And since you have been forgiven so much….make it a priority to forgive those who have hurt you. It’s worth it. Forgive. If I can help you work through forgiveness, just ask. I’ll do my best.

I challenge you to memorize this passage…”If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” Thats 1 John 1:9.

Always remember that GOD LOVES YOU!
When He looks down upon you from Heaven, He smiles WAY more than He frowns.
Believe it. Live it. Share it.
Amen?


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #7”

Pray that you will not give in to temptation. –JC
Luke 22:40(NLT)

What do you do to prepare yourself so you won’t give in to temptation when it presents itself? Jesus says you should pray. Have you tried this? Let’s play this out in our heads. You get up in the morning and you get on your knees and you clasp your hands together in the way people who pray do and you close your eyes… You say, “Dear God, help me today to not give in to temptation…In Jesus name…Amen.” You get up off your knees and you are prepared to fight temptation all day long. Porn, Violence, Greed, Selfish Ambition, Gluttony, pride, gossip, etc.

It won’t work will it? Why? My opinion is that we have the concept of prayer all messed up. In our western culture we have sub-consciencely made convenient what Prayer is.

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17… “Pray continually.” Some translations say, “Pray without ceasing.”

How is this possible!? If prayer is something you clasp your hands and close your eyes to do in the morning…then you CANNOT do it without ceasing or continually! You would kill somebody while driving. You would drown while swimming because your hands would be together. You would trip over the curb on your way to the grocery store. You would be considered rude greeting someone because you couldn’t shake hands. All because you were “praying” without ceasing. Ridiculous…I know. Since I’m being cynical, I want to put a few other things that drives me crazy about what people think Prayer is. NOTICE…I said things that drive me crazy. I didn’t say they were wrong. So if I offend you, please lighten up and relax and try to chuckle because you know I’m right. LOL
Why is it that in Church services we have to start playing some soft music in the background when the preacher starts praying? Prayer is conversation right? (Can you imagine having a conversation with your kids teacher, but before you started to talk, a musician positions himself behind you and begins to strum his guitar or play his piano as you “converse” with the teacher?) Another thing that drives me crazy about people who pray. I could have a conversation with somebody all day long and they never use big demonstrative words in their chat with me. But then we close the day with prayer and they begin to use words that I need to get a dictionary to define. Another one is when, throughout the prayer, they continually use the word “Father/God” over and over interspersed through the “conversation.” Can you imagine the conversation with your own dad on the phone and you used his title over and over. “Hey dad…how are you dad…Father Dad…I so appreciate you dad. You are the greatest dad….and dad, thanks for the gift you gave me dad.” Maddening isn’t’ it? How about one more and then I’ll knock off the attitude. It drives me crazy when a preacher prays and they preach a mini sermon in the “prayer.” I mean come on…prayer is supposed to be talking to God, right? God knows everything about himself and He is the one who wrote the Scriptures, so why does a person praying “remind” God about who He is and what He wrote in the Scriptures. It would be like you talking to your Mailman (I know that title is not PC) and saying to him/her, “Hey Mailman…you are the great mailman, you open the mailboxes with such eloquence and you place the mail in the box with such expertise that I am so inspired. I want to have your skills mailman. And Mailman, your policy states that you must deliver the mail and not open any of it as the mailman, Oh great mailman. You are to drive carefully when you go from Mailbox to Mailbox. Thank you for being a great mailman, in the United States Post Office Name I pray…Amen.” Did I go overboard on that?

So…what is prayer…that when you do it…it helps you NOT give in to temptation?

Prayer is focus. Prayer is attention. Prayer is conversation. Prayer is communication.
Example?
If your desire is to honor and love your earthly dad so much that you want to not give in to the temptations that would upset your dad. Not offend him. Not hurt him. Not let him down. Then what you would need to do is continually stay in the presence of your dad. Keep talking to him. Take him with you when you drive and play and sing, and work and relax. Take your dad with you to the coffee shop, the school, the ball fields, the trips, the vacations and hotel stays and business meetings. Get it?

If you took your dad with you to every life thing you do and you knew he was always in your presence…wouldn’t it help you minute by minute to make good decision so as not to hurt your dad? If your dad was always with you and you “talked” with him throughout your day…how much easier would it be to NOT give into temptation and hurt your dad? Its more than just minute by minute being with you dad, you also take the time through out the day to have longer conversations with him where you spend time listening undistracted (Bible Reading) to him. You learn more about what he likes and dislikes. Those conversations are special and planned and put on the calendar. AND you take him with you everywhere you go. It would be harder and harder to fall into to temptation and offend him, wouldn’t it?
It would make all the difference.

Pray so that you will not give in to temptation.

Continually.


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #6”

But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. –JC Luke 11:28(NLT)

Did you know that the word “Obey” is not in the Old Testament? You might find the words Obedience, Obedient, and Obey in our English translations, but there is no word ‘Obey’ in the Hebrew Old Testament original language and writing. We just translated it that way. Okay…okay…for you doubters, go ahead and get your study tools out and test what I am saying. The Bible does say “Test everything!” Go ahead and then come back. I highly recommend that you use a Hebrew Interlinear to discover this truth for yourself.

Crazy to think that in the Old Testament times they never would have heard the word “Obey” from anyone, not even from God.

There is a philosophy that exists that says this…if you have to say it, then you probably aren’t really doing a good job of it. Perry Noble, Pastor of New Spring Church in NC said recently on his blog… www.perrynoble.com

“Does Martha Stewart have to declare she is a good cook?
Does Drew Brees have to declare that he is a good quarterback?
Does Taylor Swift have to declare that she can sing?
Does Lebron James have to declare he can dunk a basketball?
Does B.B. King have to declare that he can play the blues?
Does John Grisham have to declare that he can write fiction really well?

Perry makes a good point in those questions above. It is my opinion that If you, your church, or your business are constantly declaring that you ARE something then I think its fair to say that you might be trying to convince your self. The reality is this, you aren’t who you are because of what you are declaring, but rather because of what you are doing. Anyone can declare that they can do something or be something. Jesus says in Matthew 11:19 that, “wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” I would translate that, “Talk is Cheap,” or “Action speaks louder than words.”

Ask yourself, “Am I doing a lot of talking in an area of my life, but in reality I have no proof that I’m actually doing what I’m continually saying?” I would encourage you to ask the people around you if you are saying a lot of something, but not actually doing it. Or, if you have the capability to actually measure the facts as to your success of what you are saying, then do the study and get the facts. I was recently a part of a group that said over and over that they were actually doing something and they even said publicly that they did it better than most. So I took the time to actually measure whether or not they were actually doing what they were saying. When the facts and the proof statistics came back to me. It was clear that my group was just saying this as a marketing tool, but actually weren’t doing very good at it at all. Are there areas in your life that the same thing is happening in your case? Are you saying something…a lot…but you’re really not putting it into practice or showing any results proving it?

“But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

This tweet from Jesus was in response to a person that shouted at him from the crowd. The person who shouted said, “God Bless your mother, the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” LOL. What a strange shout out. I have had many people shout some funny, cool, and even mean stuff from the crowd when I was preaching. But never anything like this one! Can you imagine? Jesus’ reply was simple. “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice!”

Practice Makes Permanent!

So back to my point…Instead of the word “OBEY” God had them use the word “LISTEN.” For the people of the Old Testament to “Hear” WAS to “Obey.” In the Hebrew culture, to hear the word of God or to listen to a person in authority automatically obligated you to do what the person of authority was saying.
TO HEAR was to OBEY. They didn’t have to use the word obey. If they heard it they were obligated to do it…thus their is no need for the word obey, because I think God knows that talk can be cheap. Hear = Do. It puts a new spin on the frequent phrase in the Old Testament, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is one!” Do you understand? There is a lot of meaning now in the phrase, “HEAR O Israel!”

We actually understand this in our Western Culture. If you are a parent and you tell your children to do something but they don’t actually do it. What do you typically say to them when you noticed they didn’t do what you asked of them? I’ll speak for myself here, but I actually say to my kids, “Why are you not LISTENING to me?” Or, “Did you not HEAR me?” I am guessing when I ask this of my kids they think to themselves… “I HEARD you, I just didn’t DO what you asked of me.” It’s rare to actually hear a parent ask of their kids. “Why didn’t you Obey me.” We usually ask, Why did you not listen to me?”

Knowing this…how might it change you? Do you understand now the importance of not just reading the Bible, but doing what we “hear” from it?

Jesus said some things about this…

“Why do you call me Lord, when you don’t do what I say?” Luke 6:46
“Not everyone who SAYS to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father.” Matthew 7:21
James writes, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:19

All Jesus and other spiritual authorities are saying here is “Talk is Cheap.”

I know this, you know this, and so does everybody else.

“But even more blessed are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.”

Keep “Listening!”

Is your gut telling you something right now that you have been saying, but need to start doing.

Just Do It.


My Trip To Africa!

I’m waiting at Sky Harbor Airport to head to Portland and then to Amsterdam and then to Entebbe Uganda! I have 20 plus hours of flying ahead of me. The lady behind the counter with Delta got me an exit seat to Portland and I pray for the same as I fly the 10 hour flight to Amsterdam.
I am excited about the trip. I am curious what set of emotions I will experience as I arrive in such a mysterious and mystical place. Will I be disgusted at the unjustifiable poverty I find in Africa? Will I be frustrated at what is a lack of gratefulness and thankfulness of the quality of life we have in America. I wish I could pack up the whole “Occupy whatever town” in America and drop them in a 3rd world country so they could learn to count their blessings instead of cry out with entitlement mentalities.

I am asking God on this trip to make it clear to me if I am to dedicate the rest of my life to missions work or if I am to step back into a Lead Pastor Role of the Church. When did we ever separate the words Missions and Church? What a travesty. They are the same thing!

Anyway…time to go check in and get “comfy” on the plane. I ask for your prayers that I may return home with an expanded mind and experience in life.

I am honored that you are reading this post and the future ones to come. You matter to me and I want the very best for your life. Stay tuned!