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The Sermon on the Mount
“Living A Satisfied Life”
Watching commercials gives some insight into how Jesus taught lessons in His day. Advertisers pay millions of dollars to put their slogans and images before us, because they know it works. They know that if they can get their slogan or image into our heads it’ll influence our choices. It’s called buying real estate in the mind.
Madison Avenue actually has a two-part plan to accomplish this strategy. First they make the suggestion that our world is incomplete without their product. Second they give that same image over and over again, to where we believe that the idea to buy their product comes from our own thoughts.
Jesus understood the power of an image connected to an idea because He created us. When you think about it, one of the most powerful images over the past two millenniums is the cross.
Jesus used such images in His teachings, like a mustard see, a lamp on a lampstand, a city set upon a hill, a hidden pearl, a lost coin, and to hunger and thirst. These are powerful images that reveal ideas Jesus wanted to get across about His purpose.
This idea and image of hunger and thirst is what drives us to McDonalds or a restaurant. It’s an image we face everyday. Through this image Jesus is teaching us the secret of a healthy spiritual life, which begins with a passion, a hunger and thirst for God.
This is at the heart of our next, or the fourth beatitude.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV)
You may be thinking, “Dennis, this talks about a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, not God.” And that’s good; we should always make sure that what’s said matches the Scriptures. To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to hunger and thirst for God, because only God is righteous. And it’s only through our relationship with God that we can be righteous.
And so what we need is a spiritual appetite for God.
The words, “hunger” and “thirst” mean to be famished, and to greatly long for something. So to hunger and thirst for God isn’t taking a bite and a sip, rather it’s consuming everything that is of God. It’s a craving after God to put Him first.
We could then paraphrase this beatitude saying,
“Blessed are those who want all there is of God. They’re not satisfied with a little blessing, but want God to be their everything and the center of their lives.”
There remains inside everyone a hunger and thirst for God. It’s what the Psalmist brings out in Psalm 42.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NKJV)
Augustine said, “Out hearts are restless ‘till we find our rest in Thee.”
C.S. Lewis says that we all have within us this “God-shaped hole.”
Today we say, “My life is empty,” “I’m bored and restless,” or “Something’s missing in my life.” It’s what I cried out saying, “There’s got to be more to life than this?”
People are no longer satisfied because they’re looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places.
This is seen in what it’s tied to, and that’s the word, “if,” “If I could just.” And we attach to it everything that we think we want and desire. But the Bible says,
“All things are full of labor; man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” (Ecclesiastes 1:8 NKJV)
Advertisers thrive on this hunger for happiness. They give us slogans like, “The taste that satisfies.” But if this were true we’d only eat one Lays potato chip, or drink just one cup of coffee.
How many of us go to the kitchen open the refrigerator door and just stand there looking? We’re hungry but we don’t know what we want. So we end up snacking because we never get our hunger satisfied.
People are like that in their spiritual lives. They know they’re hungry and thirsty for God but end up snacking on anything religious or spiritual. Or they fill their lives up with what are unsatisfying, that is, alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sexual immorality.
In short they’re looking for spiritual satisfaction through worldly means.
“What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest.” (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 NIV)
There’s a myth that says success will bring satisfaction. But it’s a myth, because after the thrill of winning comes the emptiness of fading glory. You see they can’t keep it going, age and competition catches up with us all.
While there are more products with the statement, “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” there are actually more people than ever before who are dissatisfied. Even when we get everything we want, it’s never enough.
Solomon, the richest man ever, said,
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV)
And so if pleasure, performance, and possessions can’t bring satisfaction, what can?
What is the Secret of Satisfaction?
Most people don’t know what they want. But as spiritual beings the Bible tells us that God made us to love Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him. Nothing takes the place of this.
There’s no spiritual substitute for a personal loving relationship with God. Our real hunger is a hunger for God and His righteousness, and the sooner we recognize this, the better off we’re going to be.
God is the one who creates this hunger.
“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV)
The children of Israel wandered the wilderness 40 years. There were no Taco Bells in the Sinai, or McDonalds at the watering holes. So they got hungry and God provided them with this white substance that people called “manna,” which literally means, “What the heck is that?” They went out one morning and saw it and said, “Manna,” or “What’s this?”
God let them get hungry so they would recognize their need for Him, and then depend upon Him for their daily bread.
God uses problems in our lives to get our attention. God let’s us get hungry as well so that we recognize our need for Him so we can depend upon Him. So it’s not pleasure, performance, or pleasure that will meet our need, but only God.
We eat a whole lot of junk food, which is why most of us are undernourished even when we have so much.
What I see the Lord saying to us is that we need to stop eating spiritual junk food, food that truly doesn’t satisfy. The prophet Isaiah said,
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isaiah 55:2 NKJV)
Isaiah is saying stop wasting time on worldly pleasures and possessions that don’t really satisfy. Instead focus upon God and eat from His table.
The Apostle Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV)
Jesus said that His food, and therefore our food, is to do the will of the Father, John 4:34.
If we’re really seeking after God, we need to stop eating all this other junk disguised as spiritual food.
I am told that there’s a plant that grow in Australia whose spores can be made into bread. But it contains no proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins. It contains absolutely none of the essentials for sustaining life. So while a person’s stomach may be full, they’ll eventually die.
A lot of this spiritual junk food is disguised as religion. Today there’s more junk to fill our minds and take our money than ever before. And so we jump from this new thing to that new thing thinking that this is what’s life’s all about only to get disappointed once again.
And while this stuff may be filling, it doesn’t satisfy our real hunger and thirst for God and His righteousness.
And so we first need to recognize our true hunger, and then stop trying to fill it with junk food, and then we’ll realize that …
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:35 NKJV)
In Jesus we have all the essentials for life.
Today there’s a movement that says we can only find satisfaction in ourselves. That happiness is found from within, which is kind of nuts. If we’re hungry we don’t tell our stomachs to fill themselves. No, instead we fix ourselves something to eat or go to restaurant.
The same applies in filling up our spiritual lives. We don’t say, “I’m my own god.” That just leaves us empty. We have to go to an outside source, someone outside ourselves to get filled and satisfied. And that outside source is the Lord God who made us, and who loves us.
Whoever partakes of Jesus will never hunger or thirst, because not only is Jesus the bread of life, but he is also the living water.
To His disciples Jesus said,
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51 NIV)
And to the woman at the well Jesus said,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 NIV)
At the deepest level of our soul we wonder if there’s more to life than merely getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home, having some dinner, watching some TV, and going to bed, only to do it again tomorrow.
When we were born God gave us a physical appetite to keep us alive. He also gave us a spiritual appetite to know Him, and only Jesus can truly satisfy that hunger and produce ultimate satisfaction. Money can’t. A nice home can’t. Having kids can’t. Having our kids get “A’s” can’t. Being famous, powerful, and having every pleasure imaginable can’t. And the reason is what satisfies isn’t physical, it’s spiritual.
Only in God is our satisfaction guaranteed. And if God can’t guarantee it, then nobody can. Our spiritual hunger is met in knowing God and being known and loved by God. And when we seek Him, then we’ll kind the happiness that satisfies.
And so, a satisfied life is a life lived in and for God alone.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study