In His “Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented a series of “Blessed are . . . ” statements which modern-day theologians reference as “The Beatitudes.” The problem with grouping them together is it tends to discourage the study of each statement individually. If we look at them as separate indicators of desirable characteristics in those who follow Christ, they take on much more meaning.
With the indicator noted above in Matthew 5:6, Christ emphasized the importance of “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” as personal descriptors of a devoted Christian. He also noted: those seeking righteousness to this extent will be filled. In other words, if a follower truly hungers and thirsts for righteousness, time and energy will be spent trying to emulate the example Christ gave us when He was on earth, since everything He did was done in a manner well-pleasing unto God. We see this in Matthew 3, verses 16 and 17:
16 — “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, low, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him.”
17 — “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”
Matthew 3:16-17 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Thus, one must first “hunger and thirst after righteousness” in order to be filled. This hungering and thirsting will increase our “searching of the scriptures” which will allow God to “fill our desire for righteousness.” The more we learn from the scriptures, the more we understand of what God wants from those of us who follow Jesus’ commandments.
As newborn Christians, we are to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow” in likeness to Christ. This growth is how we are filled with God’s righteousness.
1 — “Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,”
2 — “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
1 Peter 2:1-2 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Peter goes on to say that those who believe and follow Jesus are “the chosen ones;” thus, they shall be filled with righteousness if it is searched and applied. He goes to great lengths in this chapter to describe the differences between those who believe and those who do not believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:”
1 Peter 2:9 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
In searching the scriptures, if we hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness, we will learn how emulating Christ’s actions and attitudes, while He was on earth, will satiate us and increase those behaviors in us. Thus, we “shall be filled,” and we shall become more like Christ as we continue to grow and live for Him.
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of God’s righteousness.
Photo Above:by permission from Benjamin South @facebook.com.
Thinking back to the devotional about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, what can we learn from Satan’s role? He appears in disguise as a serpent and delights in creating havoc when things are going well. God created Adam; then He created Eve as a helpmeet to Adam. He put them in the Garden of Eden which He had filled with every beautiful tree and trees with fruit for them to eat. However, He told them not to eat from two trees or they would surely die.
Satan saw how smoothly things were going. God was even going to the garden every afternoon in the cool of the day to walk and talk with Adam and Eve. Satan decides to “have a little fun and confuse the issue with Adam and Eve.” How often have you heard one person say, “so-and-so was picking on me!” The other person laughs a heartless laugh and chortles, “I was just playin!” Well , this is the attitude Satan had when he talked to Eve about the tree from whence she and Adam had been told not to eat.
1 — “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?””
2 — “And the woman said unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:'”
3 — “‘But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ‘Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.””
4 — “And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die.””
5 — “‘For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.'”
6 — “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”
7 — “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.”
8 — “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.”
9 — “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, ‘Where art thou?'”
10 — “And he said, ‘I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.'”
11 — “And He said, ‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?'”
12 — “And the man said, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.'”
13 — “And the Lord God said unto the woman, ‘What is this that thou hast done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.'”
14 — “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, ‘Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field, upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.‘”
15 — “‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.'”
16 — “Unto the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.'”
17 — “Unto the man He said, ‘Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;'”
18 — “‘Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;'”
19 — “‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.'”
20 — “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.”
21 — “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them.”
22 — “And the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:'”
23 — “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.”
24 — “So, He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
Genesis 3:1-24 — “Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
So, Satan saw: Adam and Eve were happy in the garden of Eden, things were going as God intended. Satan was unsettled by this. He plotted and schemed (which is normal for Satan) and devised a plan to cause God some grief. Unbeknownst to Adam and Eve, they became putty in Satan’s hands, and he molded them as he wished. They fell right into his plan. The result was: God’s plans went awry.
This is the same role Satan plays in the world today. All of the chaos around us, all of the violence and ill-will–Satan’s doings: and humanity falls right into his scheme and pushes it along.
12 — “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”
13 — “For thou hast said in thine heart, ‘I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:'”
14 — “‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.'”
15 — “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.'”
Isaiah 14:12-15 — “Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
When we are tempted to do wrong, Satan is pushing those buttons, making us believe there is nothing wrong with whatever we are being tempted to do. He tells us “if God is good, He will not punish you.” He makes us believe all manner of falsehoods about any and all things by which we are tempted. After all, he is the one tempting us. When we do his will instead of doing the will of God and Jesus in heaven above, Satan wins. If this happens often enough for a long enough time, we reach a point where our hearts are hardened to God’s word.
12 — “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;”
13 — “but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Hebrews 3:12, 13 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
If we allow our hearts to harden against God and His plan for us, we will never listen to His plan of Salvation again. We will never believe Jesus is God’s Son. Ultimately, we will never enter heaven–and Satan will have won. At that point, he knows we will spend eternity with him in hell; since he is the father of sin, he will then be the father of those who follow him instead of God and Jesus.
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
John 8:44 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
1 John 3:8 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KVJ)
If we wish to make an eternal home in heaven with God and Jesus, we must first believe Jesus is God’s Son. Then, we must study God’s word, that we might know what to do in order to follow Him instead of Satan. Finally, we must do all that Jesus and His apostles commanded. They spoke with authority by divine inspiration in order to guide those who were receptive to God’s will in the way they must go.. Today, we must adhere to Christ’s plan of eternal salvation, and we must be faithful to that plan unto death if we wish to spend eternity with God and Jesus in heaven.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
In order to defeat Satan in his game of deceit, it is necessary to arm ourselves with the knowledge of God’s word. We must overcome temptation and devote our life in service to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 5:8 (above) says Satan “is like a roaring lion, roaming about the earth, seeking whom he may devour.” When we do wrong, there are always consequences for those wrongs. When those consequences “eat at us” it is Satan devouring our lives one sin at a time. If we do not stay alert and resist his temptation, he will win–we will be cast into hell along with him for all eternity. Therefore, we must gird ourselves with God’s protection as we turn from sin. If we are truly trying to overcome temptation and avoid all sin, and if we ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, God will provide the knowledge, faith, and strength to avoid Satan’s snares,
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version: (KJV)
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Ephesians 6:12 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
2 Corinthians 11:14 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
I pray we all strengthen our faith in God and Jesus through the study of God’s word that we might turn from Satan. His trickery may make him appear to be an “angel of light,” but it will only give him cause to lock us in hell with him for all eternity. There is an old saying: “misery loves company.” We read above, in Isaiah chapter 14 verses 12 through 15, about Satan (Lucifer) deciding he was going to overthrow God and take over heaven as the Most High.” The result was: God cast him to the pit of hell. Now, he wants us there with him to keep him company. He wants to ease his own guilt by convincing all who are in the world to embrace his guilt and join with him in it. He does not want to be alone in his guilt for all eternity. He wants us in hell with him.
Therefore, I pray we all turn to God for strength and perseverance in our fight against Satan that we might have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
May God give us the knowledge, the understanding, the faith, and the strength to “win the good fight” that we might spend eternity in heaven.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Ephesians 6:11 — “Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version” (KJV)
As Julie moves toward the light, she has to step carefully. Another misstep could land her back in the mud. So, she tries to keep one eye on the light and feel the ground ahead with her foot before putting it in place. Then, the light flickers and disappears. Surprised and more than a little bit fearful, she emits a big sigh of indignation, throws her arms in the air, then does exactly what she has been trying so hard to not do–she slips and falls. This time, she falls into a mud puddle. In exasperation, she just sits there–then she looks up in the direction she thinks she was going. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a flicker to her right. “Now, how did it get over there?”
“But . . . now there are two.”
She slowly rises, gives up on the idea of trying to look presentable, and decides to try again. Standing still for a moment, she offers up a prayer asking for help and guidance. Then–taking a slow, deep breath–focusing on the light, she steps slowly and gingerly forward toward the small beam. Suddenly, she sees another flicker back to the left where the first light was shining. “Now what do I do?” Deciding to continue toward the light on her right, she calls out, “Who’s there?”
“Can you hear me?”
“I’m lost, and I have no light. Can you help me?”
No one answers.
Suddenly, a third light appears, a bit brighter than the others. This one is a little to the right of the second light–then a fourth light pops up between the first and second light. Trying hard not to get distracted, she continues toward the second light and calls out again, “Help!!! Somebody, can you hear me????”
From behind, she hears a voice saying, “Stay where you are, and I will come to you.”
“Don’t move, just talk to me.”
“How did you get out here in the middle of this field?”
Then the man’s voice says, “No, don’t answer that. It is of no matter how you ended up here. The fact is you are here. So, we need to try and get you out of here.”
“What is your name?”
“My name is Julie.”
“What is yours?”
“My name is Jesse–now, just keep talking. I will shine the light toward your voice, and I will follow your voice to you. Just stay calm. Tell me where you are from or something about you.”
“I am so thankful you are here. It got pitch dark out here. I was taking a short cut across the field. Then, all of a sudden it was sooooo dark, I couldn’t see anything. Then, I fell and lost my sense of direction.”
Jesse is flashing the light back and forth in the general direction of her voice. Suddenly, he thinks he sees her. Then it disappears. “It must not have been her.” He is getting closer, but “Why am I having such a hard time zeroing in on her with the light?“
He says, “Julie, what color clothes do you have on?”
She responds, “Black pants and a blue jacket.”
“But, I am covered with mud too,” she whimpers. “I have fallen twice–the second time in a big mud puddle. So, be careful. You could fall too.”
“Well, I have the light; so, I have a little bit of an advantage.”
“I should have brought one, but it wasn’t real dark when I headed out. It got soooo dark all of a sudden. I couldn’t see anything.”
About that time, the light flashes across her. She begins to slowly move toward Jesse. When he gets to her, he takes her hand and begins leading her back the way he came. Finally, they arrive at the road.
“Which road is this?” she asks.
“This is State Road #4. Is it the road you came in on?”
“No; I came in on Magnolia Lane. I am thinking it should be back to the right. Am I correct?”
“Yes; back to your right. Do you want me to walk over there with you?”
“No, I can make it ok since I am back on a road. I should never have ventured off State Road #6 with it getting dark, and I should have brought a light. I will not make these mistakes again.”
“Thank You, so much, Jesse, for your help!”
“Can I buy you dinner sometime to repay you for your kindness?”
“No; that won’t be necessary. I am just glad I was passing by this way. I usually take another road.”
“I am too! You were an answer to prayer!”
“I’m just glad I could be of some help. You take care now. I am off in the opposite direction.”
She starts walking to the right, and he to the left. He is continuing the way he was going. She is backtracking to the road she should have stayed on when she cut across the field–State Road #6.
The darkness surrounding her is so thick and black, she is certain it can be cut with a knife. The intensity of the weight it carries threatens to take her breath, leaves her dizzy with anxiety. There is no hint of light anywhere.
Julie cannot remember ever trying to maneuver in such vexatious surroundings. The dead silence only adds to the unwelcoming ambience which renders familiar surroundings unhinged. The unrealistic fear of stepping off into the unknown–a great abyss–besieges her. Moving forward stealthily, carefully placing one foot in front of the other, trying to recall the territorial map in her mind, Julie slips in the mud, stumbles, screams as she lands with a “Splat!!”
The scream is totally unexpected and only adds to the breach of peace skittering through her.
“Who’s there???” (a little less than forcefully).
“Who screamed?? she quivers.
Dead silence responds.
If only there were the least hint of light, the effort of traversing the familiar field would not be so affronting. She can almost hear the howling scene in any one of the mystery thriller movies she has ever seen. The scream, apparently emitted by some imagined other, has set her nerves on edge. There is nothing to hold too, . . . nothing to help her calm the jerkiness of movement. She slowly rises from the muck and steadies her stance by separating her feet just a bit. Standing there, covered with mud, she forces a slow steadiness to her inhale, then to her exhale–followed by another, and another.
Now, as she calms herself enough to think more clearly, it dawns on her that the fall has shifted her sense of direction and darkness is confounding her ability to decide which direction to take now. Bit by bit she turns, tries to orient in the inkiness, and bit by bit she searches the darkness for even the tiniest hint of light. At this point, any direction will do if it helps her find familiar territory again.
There, she sees it. Then it’s gone. She sees it again–a hint, ever so slight, a hint of light. It seems to be moving. As she watches, it grows ever so slowly–then a flicker–and she is sure of it. A light to move toward. Step by step she inches forward toward the light, not allowing any thought into her mind except the task at hand–move toward the light!