By Pastor Greg Byman
October 15, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
St Joe Community Church
What did Jesus mean when he taught his followers to regard themselves as blessed when they are persecuted? Is the believer in Christ supposed to just smile in the face of loss of health, wealth, reputation, family or even life?
Today’s sermon is the fourth in a series called Game Changers, principles found in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, which when implemented in the Christ-follower’s life, produce game-changing results in one’s spiritual, emotional and even physical life. Pastor Greg Byman preached this sermon on October 15, 2017 at St. Joe Community Church, in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he serves as the senior pastor. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org.
Game Changer, Part 4: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger
By Pastor Greg Byman
St. Joe Community Church
October 15, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
Well we are in Matthew chapter five we're continuing a series of lessons or messages on the Beatitudes the blessing chapter the preamble to what Jesus talked about and he took basically the Old Testament was the law he was preaching on the spirit of the law where it was black and white and you could see clearly that this was right and this is wrong I mean if I murder somebody I know it's wrong if I don't I know I'm right but he said let's go deeper when you hate somebody that's the same as murder oh it suddenly raised the bar of what God expected for us to do it raised the bar for how we were supposed to live and he begins this teaching time on a mountaintop as his disciples came near to him and he began to teach them and he talked about this blessing chapter this blessing these eight different blessings bless it are those who and then he would say something that would be really to us we say that makes That's common sense but it's profound when you really think about it it really does turn upside down our thinking compared to how the world thinks today and how it's always thought for that matter quite And so we've talked about this message calling calling it a game changer message these are game changers these are ways in which we can actually win in the game of life we can actually win spiritually we can win in our families we can win as parents we can when as kids says students as young people trying to get through this thing called life at school I can't even imagine the temptations and the struggles that students go through today I remember when I was in school I kind of remember it's been a while but I do know that we all had struggles when we went through school but I can't imagine what it would be like today in so many ways the. Freedom to do anything you want to do and the amount of the can ability that seems to be accounted big becomes lower and lower and lower as more and more people are afraid of confronting people with any kind of authority. It just seems to be and an incredible problem today. And so we need to have game changers we need to say that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord as for our church family we're going to do things differently we're going to be salt and light we're going to be different so that we might infect or Al fecht or change in a positive way this city this community this region our state our nation and ultimately our world in a positive way in the name of Jesus Christ through what he has given us as game changers for a life but it starts with me it starts with you I have to say that this series has changed me and my thinking and I hope that it will change you and your thinking as well the past three weeks we have talked about three things and then this parallels by the way the eight principles that are that are talked about and used as a basis for Celebrate Recovery a Christ centered recovery program and so the three that we talked about already one was based on bless that of the poor in spirit for they will be given the kingdom of God and that's principle number one realize that I'm not God I admit that I'm powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is on manageable now you can google eight principles Celebrate Recovery and you're going to find these all over the Internet so you don't necessarily have to write all these down I just want to put them out in front of you today they are out there all over the place in fact I'm copying and pasting these so I don't want to keep printing writing them all out it's real simple to find if you just do a search on the Internet you're going to find celebrate Rick. Covering eight principles you're going to find that real quickly Principle Number two is blessed as based on bless that of the people who mourn and by the way that we're mourning over the sinfulness of our life and the cost that it gives us the cost to other people around us and ultimately the cost that it cost Jesus Christ on the cross for our When he died for our sins we earnestly believe that God exists that I matter to him and that he has the power to help me recover I have to surrender not only the fact that I can't do anything about it but that God's the only one who can do anything about it. Principle Number three is based on bless that of the gentle are some of your scripture verses say Blessed are the meek and it's consciously choose to commit all of my life and will to Christ Care and Control it's a humble factor I submit myself to the Lord Jesus Christ to the Lord to my boss. To my all and compensating authority I surrender it all God You call the shots tell you what the best day of your life is when you wake up in the morning and you say god you're in control and I really mean that. Because I'm not and anything I put in control isn't going to work anyway you know he's the one that knows what's going to happen that day why would you trust anyone else I have no idea what's going to happen two seconds from now God does. And I put him in control of my life because he's the one that knows how to get me through the circumstances whether they be great ones so I don't blow it and get prideful and whether the Sadler's are sorrowful or horrible ones but I can get through the pain and the suffering and the struggle and in an honorable God filled Blessing Way put today we're going to talk about Matthew chapter five or six and that verse and let's read that together blessid are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be filled. That's our verse for today that's the game changer today's game changer is about hungering and thirsting for the right things so that we might be filled in a way that will help us to truly be fulfilled filled that's what we're talking about today those who hunger and thirst will be filled if they are hungering and thirsting for righteousness Well let's back up and say remind ourselves what we've talked about the last three times what it means to be blessed in the first place you're going to be blessed What does it mean it means that God's of plotting you from heaven it means that God is all for you he's on he is cheering you on he is blessing you when your parents say good job you did a great job when a grandparent says great job good job you did a wonderful job when a boss or a person says I'm really one it's really wonderful what you've done for us you know it's a blessing that you receive confirmation that you're heading in the right direction that you're moving forward instead of backwards or if you are moving backwards that you're not sitting in the process of moving backwards OK there were actually it went somewhat sometimes just standing still and life is going to complement because you're you're pushing against a header wind that's pushing against you the life circumstances that are blowing against you and you're like man I'm going to fall over and God says I got this and he's got your back and he's pushing you forward and he's helping you move forward he's blessing you because you've chosen to move in a direction that is honorable and God filled a way that is healthy and holy. In a way that you will be blessed and it's not only a blessing that's happening now but it's something that in the future some of these events that are going to occur best that is those the kingdom of God is theirs Blessed are those the earth they will inherit the Earth Well I the last I checked my bank account hasn't changed every day that I choose to be gentle. You know I thought that I inherited the earth Greg what's going on I mean I thought that there was going to be you know name it claim and. You know this is your best day come on let's get it let's make it happen I know there are some future blessings that we're not yet going to get on this side of Heaven I've I've I've done a lot of funerals of some very excited wonderful people who are very poor financially but I have a confidence that some day when this is all said and done the meek will inherit the earth. They inherited it in a sense of they experienced a greater life on this there are than those who had way more money than they had. But we know someday God's going to put in charge of this earth of the new heaven in the year New Earth people who are his children and that's a whole nother story but I'm telling you what I'm looking forward to that day when he makes everything right and all the wrongs will be not we wipe. The way and all the sorrow that we caused others in the sorrow that others caused us he said he's going to wipe the tears from our eyes wow. That means that there is sorrow in the process of getting there but God is the one who brings the Kleenex and helps us get through the struggle it's now and it's later and I want to talk about the now and how important it is for us to experience this in our lives and make this is a game changer hungering and thirsting for righteousness so what does it mean to hunger and thirst and hunger and thirst is craving for what is needed to live. Now the people that Jesus was talking to on that day were really a hand to mouth moment Terry lifestyle they they didn't know if they were going to get a meal tomorrow they really did experience hunger and thirst in that particular land and even to this day water as at a premium in the Middle East and it was important for them to look for water all the time you see in the Old Testament there were conversations about digging wells it was so important water was the I mean you hear about the Oasis is right an oasis where that's where water is. That's where life can occur and everything around it is desert land and dry and Wasteland I'm telling you we don't know what hunger and thirst is not someone in this room may know what it means to be if you have been in college you kind of know what hunger and thirst is sometimes there's poor and then there's college poor but anyway that there's there's there's there's ways in which you know but not really the way that these people knew hunger and thirst. Again there are some in this room that may have gone to bed hungry because they didn't have the financial means to put food in their stomach that night before but most of us our hunger is because we're saying no to a refrigerator this crying out I want to help you get fatter and bigger and we fulfilled with food and calories and the sweetness and the goodness OK I mean that's really that's our hunger problem these people it was a matter of life or death hunger and thirst OK. That's what this conversation is about. Is there ever been something that you crave so deeply that you just couldn't you were just you were just consumed with am I going to get that. Maybe even unhealthy something in your life that was unhealthy maybe it was maybe it was maybe you were Dick to disarm thing that use like I have to have this maybe even right now you're craving something you know you can't have a but you crave it hunger and thirst. Some people crave relationships and they'll even go into an unhealthy relationship just to have a relationship because they don't want to be lonely and they fill their life with somebody that they should never put in their life but they do this because they're craving relationships. We crave things all the time and Jesus said there's a hunger and thirst this he's tapping into that natural feeling that we have in our lives to fulfill or to fill ourselves with something that we need that we need to live. And what he's saying is that we must hunger and thirst for righteousness. Righteousness what is righteousness righteousness is basically three things what are we hungering for righteousness I'm hungering for I'm craving to be right with God and whether people agree with you or not we are all craving spiritual significance the whole world is there has not been an edge a society that we've discovered in any remotest parts of the world where we have not also seen an attempt to worship some god or some entity above and beyond themselves we're just a fixed sophisticated ourselves in the Western Hemisphere western part of the world rest of civilization and we've said now we're the God and the people that have rejected a higher being of any kind of shape or form are now saying that we are the gods and we have control over what we think and say and all of this thing about having a spiritual God above ourselves in a Creator God that made us is all a bunch of bunk and that's just saying I'm replacing an authority above myself I'm putting myself is that as that authority above everybody else atheists people who'd who would just that's a religion it's a faith it's takes a faith to believe in that man is in charge and man is the center of the universe and that of saying you know what there are things I don't know and I'm willing to be open to hearing and knowing what that don't know answer is. God is all present and there is a need there is an eternal time clock in our minds in our hearts that are there saying there's something more there something more. And that yearning is saying is craving for a right relationship with something or somehow atonement the word atonement atoning for somebody sends or there's an atonement that is that is throughout all of history all of civilizations somewhere say perform it that they created in their mind or they found God through faith in Jesus Christ there is this concept of atonement that we know that we're dirty that we're central that we've done wrong and somehow that needs to be a racist the guilt of that needs to be covered and taken care of that's a craving to be right with God and that craving needs to conclude with finding their faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus is saying he's the teacher they know he is he was ultimately crucify because he claimed to be God not because they could find any fault with him. And when we put our faith in Christ we get right with God and that craving disappears now we may think that we have that craving but when we come to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior learn we can know that that he is within us and he has has loved us and he's thrown his sins behind his back and you can't see what's behind your back that's what God's done with your sense. And that craving to be right with God can be fulfilled through a relationship with Him through faith in Christ the second way we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness is to crave to live right for God See for the Christian in this room for you who have put your faith in Christ this isn't about finding God again and trusting in him again as your savior is already your savior but how can two walk together if they be not agreed we have to walk with the Lord and God is walking in a holy and an honorable and righteous way and if we're not we're not going to be walking with him will be resisting what he's trying to do will be opposing his plan for this world his plan for your life his plan for your marriage his plan for your children his plan for everybody around you at work. We need to walk with Him We need to crave what God wants it's because our so that's why our small groups are so important is why I don't know what to do in my life you know I will Graham last week three different times I was there too and up to the times of the of the three weeks that he was three times that he was there and at the end of every one that he had people come forward and make some kind of a spiritual decision he would say start reading the book of John. Just get a Bible and start reading the book of John and just reach just start reading it the second is good Sure he said it is how he said it but he had that good old almost Billy Graham sound good to church go to church be a part of a family of God that can walk with you and say what does that verse mean oh I got some you know we're working on this together you need a community of people around you to encourage you and we say don't just come to church don't come to worship service but also go to small group because you can't form relationships in rows you or you form them in circles you form them around tables you form them in a living room you form that a coffee shop wherever your group meets It's a way for use to get closer to one another so that you can actually get next to each other so that even as Karen and I were talking about it I mean I have never had anybody in the middle the worship say. I've got I'm experiencing mental struggles and I think I. I'm just not finding any hope I'm never happy by stand up and say that out loud in a worship service. But I have seen someone say that in a small group. And I've had had people at the small group during that little what you consider just the meet and greet time you know because small groups are as good as their food. But but we eating or are drinking that little cup of coffee and that suddenly that little cup gives us the courage or juice or whatever it is you have a gives us the courage to say to the person next you know you know. I'm thinking of checking myself in somewhere I'm really I'm really messed up right now I got to really think through some stuff and suddenly this person can become your advocate become your encourage or become the helper. But there's no way you can get to that point if you don't at least first venture into the circle or venture into the Rose or in some way venture into the community of faith. And not just be part of the big church but be part of a local church and that's why we so importantly talk about that part of our experience is a spiritual habit that helps us to grow we live right for God That's a craving and the third thing is to craving to make things right socially. And what I mean by that is that when that we pray for justice to prevail we pray for right things to happen in our world today there are some flyers all around here about the human trafficking issue that exists right here in Fort Wayne in a truck stop in this community that's in the outskirts of our town and even beyond those places but those are those are hotspots for human trafficking to be occurring. For young people to be abducted for horrific things to be happening things that are F.B.I. and Homeland Security will not talk to the public about that in fact many cities don't even want it to be mentioned that this is going on because it might tarnish the reputation of the city and so it's all thrown under the rug or kept in a warehouse literally and nobody rescues these who have slipped in through the cracks they've run away from home they've they've struggled and one where the other they've been lowered here by the promise of a better life and suddenly they're they're trapped and then the shame of that trap even when they're in public they can't tell anybody what's going on the threat of their life the struggles that they go through what we ought to be upset about that we ought to be hot fire mad about it mad for God's sake righteous signaled nation now that's the kind of not the righteous Sigman nation that say they didn't kill it they didn't create the right carpet in this room for me that's just ridiculous madness and it's one thing to talk about that but I'm talking about your upset for the unrighteousness that is happening in our city and for the victims that are being that are being harmed daily. That's an important thing for us to hunger and thirst for we hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God to prevail in our city and we want to be protectors and encourage others to people who are poor who are susceptible to the evils of the society. We've got to deal with that and we need to be hungering and thirsting for that hungering and thirsting for a relationship with God hungering and thirsting for fellowship with God on a regular basis and hungering and thirsting. We're seeing right things happen in our world and particularly in our small town our big town. Even when nobody else will stand up we must stand up if the church won't stand up for what's right who will and when public servants and people who don't even believe in God are for standing up for things that we should be standing up for before we do shame on us we have to do our part and be a part of that by the way that flyers about jewelry sale that's going to be taking place and here in our building we've done this is our second time we've done it so this our second annual jewelry sale so guys. Great excuse to get your get your stuff so. Look for those flyers. So we hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled Have you ever been filled and I've been hoes down on Have you ever been filled because your kid did the right thing. And you're just basking in the joy of them making good decisions have you ever been filled when you did the right thing and you enjoyed the the good consequences of doing the right thing. Have you ever had fulfillment when you've invested in your marriage in a Godly way and suddenly the blessings that God promises us when we do that yea Have you ever been filled that you've laid your head on the bed at night and you know that so help you God you have lived an honorable life that day and whatever you didn't you you were able to clean up a little bit with the Lord you were able to clean up and conversation with God and be forgiven and receive the grace in the forgiveness and love. Have you ever been filled knowing that you did not fill your life with the with with drug or alcohol or something that you had used to use to try to fill your life and now you feel fulfilled because you did the right thing. They will be filled when they go after righteousness you will be filled when you crave the right thing. Interesting analogy my niece was talking to someone and he was contemplating getting out of a rehab program and my niece who's in high school she said and she just on her own gave the prompting of this as her own analogy as you know I'm in cross country and she said you know that first mile feels really good I'm going to win I'm going to go through this race I'm going to complete this race she's not a stellar athlete but she's trying hard and she's pretty good at what she does and she said it's the second mile that you decide you want to quit. The Second Mile you can't see the finish line you just don't see it your body says stop this is stupid why are you running like this there's no point in running like this I feel this way every time I start to run and and you're like I don't want to do this what's the purpose and she said to this person she said you got it's during mile two when you want to quit you've got to look at the finish line and say that's why I'm doing this. And your WANT TO has to come not in mild to but you have to draw strength from Mile three and next because that's when the endorphins kick in and a runner knows this I've not really that your body kicks in and suddenly there's this runner high that you get. This fulfillment of running that I and there's a loose of to me but but but this foot running and it's the same thing spiritually you're in a dark spot but there's that a loose of fulfillment. You got to get through the dark spot knowing the fulfillments coming. Because when it hits you. In the right spot I've done what I'm supposed to do I'm living for God and it's paying off it really is my best day because not because it's because God is giving me the strength I need to get through this moment. In spite of this moment in spite of the pain and the suffering around me in spite of the loss in spite of what I can't have I think I ought to have but guess what I'm OK with that because God's in control and if God's in control everything's OK we cannot live on empty. Empty looks like this it looks like a man that this size that he wants to poke out a hole and a high rise and start shooting at people him to see is when someone who is filled with hate whose friends people in an African-American community comes in and then start shooting them for no reason other than hate Hadfield his heart instead of God. Empty is when we are running after things like crazy to fulfill ourselves that we'll never fulfilled ourselves and addiction is an all time high so much so that we have to have. Things to take people out of their ad of their drug overdose they're calling the police officer and saying I'm about to overdose comes to rescue me click and they bring the drug into their body and they just hope that the rest of the first responder gets there in time to give them the epi pen or to give them whatever kind of kit they have. To get them out of their drug induced state we're in an all time struggle. Where we even have to have programs that slowly give you legal doses of opiates to get you off opiates while that's where we are today because the bodies are so addicted marriage falling apart why because we're filling ourselves with a relationship that isn't based on what God wants just I've got to come together and we've got to but I'll call it a Hollywood style movie fantasy idea of what relationships are and they're falling apart and then people that are grasping at money people that are getting things and properties and all kinds of material goods being wildly successful at their jobs and yet they're completely unhappy and unfulfilled when we begin to long for things that we should long for we'll be empty and when we are empty it is we are vulnerable to the evils of whatever that our mind can come up with and we're pretty creative at being able you ever thought about how to get away with a crime anybody here let's be honest how many of you are thought about getting away with a crime you don't hear and I'm the only one really think I can get away with that. This is awful Have you ever thought about how you know way with. Often somebody. This is awful how could you get away with it thank you Beth I see that hand or pray for you know pray for me pray for me this is confession moment we've all thought how to get away with something why are we trying to do that because we're really going to be incredibly bad. Heaven help us God help us. Hunger and thirst for righteousness for you'll be filled so that you won't even fulfill or think about wanting to do or you won't try to do the things that you thought you might be able to get away with. I don't sit here and say all these people are so bad look at me no look at you look in the air that's just scare you more than anything up there scares me. I know what I'm capable love Heaven help me God help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness Matthew six thirty three But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you in other words the things that I think I have to have in order to live and be fulfilled God says I'll take care that if you'll just go after the things first what you're supposed to go after go after what I want to have happen go after me go after righteousness go after what I want to have happen in this world and I'll take care of all these other things in your life. That's when we're fall that's one more fulfilled that's when God clicks into our heart and mind and life and our cup overflows with the goodness of the Lord. So this relates us to that celebrate principle Celebrate Recovery principle that says I voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask him to remove my character defects who really if you ever ask God what's wrong with you you got a while. That's not a five minute devotion. That's not a three minute daily bread thing where you just read a little booklet and you go to work that's a deep soul searching moment to say God what do you want and we said last week another thing you could do is ask yourself ask your spouse if you're married or ask your best friend you say anything in my life that you know can you name one send that I need to work on and there's the one leader then the book that we're reading said his wife said Can I give you two. Really are you bold enough to ask are you bold enough to do the hard lifting of asking people to speak into your life. Because you know sometimes God isn't as tangible unless I have a godly person around me. I feel like I'm getting away with it I'm really not but when I have someone in my life that's godly that's representing. What God Wants in my life not replacing God that person can help me. Learn better so finally this morning let's just close out to say the game changer is total surrender. Total surrender that's the game changing this morning I hunger and thirst for what God wants. That's the game changer and when I begin to hunger and thirst for what he wants I will be filled team want to come on up and let's sing that last song together each of you received in your bulletin a yellow card I've discovered we've discovered and we're probably reworked this card at some point there's a lot of lines on it fact I mean Michael glasses to read it sometimes but but I don't want this to intimidate you. I want this to be a tool. That you'll leverage this little piece of paper to the advantage that God wants to give you as you change your life. Through this game changer and it might mean that this morning you've been pricked in your heart that you need to start learning what it means to become a follower of Christ or maybe it's time for you to get serious about your relationship with God in a church family and we will very soon before Christmas time I'd like to schedule another before the holiday season comes we'd like to schedule a discovering church membership class is there someone that would want to take that and just learn what it means to belong to a church I welcome you to put that on the card I want to be baptized. I'm willing to help where needed I'm interested in church membership I'd like more information on this is just a tool and we want you to use it that you might just find the help that you need and be truly encouraged in your walk spiritually.
B: Bible book