How Hungry Are We?

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How Hungry Are We?

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 14th February, 2021

From the start of this year, we’ve been confronted with the reality of what it means to belong to the Kingdom of God – to become more Kingdom minded – and even more than that – to understand what it means to carry the Kingdom of God on the inside of us.

I feel as though God is growing us up as a church.  He’s rebuilding us for Kingdom purposes.

And our greatest strength as a church is that we uphold the the Word of God as powerful, Anointed truth!   It’s not just the letter of the law – but the Holy Spirit breathed life and truth that flows from this Book like streams of living water. 

The Word always wins!  It is the filter through which every aspect of life flows.

And what a privilege it is to go on this journey together.

I feel as though we are together being called to be like the the sons of Issachar.  They are described as one of the divisions of David’s army who were equipped and prepared for battle.

1 Chronicles 12:32

New King James Version

“…the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command”

This was no small band of brothers.  This was an army in its one right.  Two hundred leaders alone.

Imagine an army of God’s people who seek to understand the times they are living in – from a foundation of strength – from the Word of God.

We need to be spiritually discerning of the days in which we live. 

There’s a maturity and a grounding in the Word, and the Spirit of God, that I believe we are walking into – and God will use it for His glory – and for His Kingdom.

The war that we are part of is first of all spiritual – but of course what happens in the spirit affects what we experience in the natural.

I want to move on with our Kingdom theme, and my main scripture for this morning is:

Matthew 6:31-33

New King James Version

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

The Passion says:  “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him.”

Generally speaking, we have been washed over and over in the incredible scriptures of God’s mercy and grace – and we have been called into that place of personal intimacy in our relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We know that we have personally been saved and redeemed by a loving God – and we should always be seeking to nurture our own personal relationship with Jesus.

None of that ever changes.

It seems though, that in this season right now, there is an upward call as a people together.

I’m reminded of Deborah – the prophetess and the judge over all of Israel.  

Imagine that – in the midst of a heavily patriarchal society, there is a woman leading the people of God.  Go Deborah!

You should read her story.  Deborah was awesome!

She heard the Lord speak to her to gather her army against the enemy but her commander, Barak, was a bit reluctant.  He said – if you go then I’ll go too.  

It’s not quite the kind of courageous leadership that Deborah would have been looking for from her military commander.

When the time came to face the enemy, Deborah certainly did go with him, and she has a one word sentence for Barak.  “Up.”

I know how it feels.  I’ve definitely needed a strong and courageous woman by my side – and there’s been the odd occasion when all she’s needed to say is – “Up!”

So I’m hearing that word prophetically for us as the church together right now.  “Up!”

There’s a call to rise up into Kingdom purposes.   To seek God’s Kingdom first and foremost.

Let me just add here – as it says in Mathew 6 – we have no need to worry about the every day aspects of our life.  God says, don’t worry about all that.  I know exactly what you need.  Focus on the Kingdom.

And elsewhere we are reminded – there’s no place for fear.  God didn’t give us a spirit of fear.  He gave us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind!

Who knows – there seems to be an enormous lack of sound minds in the world right now.  Don’t get me started on that, or we’ll be here all day!

God’s Kingdom has been around forever.  Wherever God rules and where His presence resides – that’s where His Kingdom is.

And I think it’s important to remember that when Jesus came to earth – His message was that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom Heaven (same thing) is at hand.

Matthew 3:2

New King James Version

“…“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Just like now – the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  It was at hand when the people of Israel were established.  It was at hand when Christ brought the dawn of the New Covenant – and the Kingdom is always still to come more and more in all its fullness.

Jesus taught His disciples to preach the same message:

Matthew 10:7

New King James Version

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Jesus taught the disciples to pray:

Luke 11:2

New King James Version

So He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.”

Isn’t it interesting that He doesn’t start out by saying – Father I love You and praise you.  Or Father, thank you for Your love and goodness towards me…

It doesn’t start out personal at all.  It starts out all about “Our” Father as King – and about His Kingdom coming from heaven to earth.

We’ve become so individualistic as a culture – it’s all about me!  But the culture of the Kingdom is about us together – the body of Christ – the Church – the ecclesia – the called out ones.

We’re meant to journey this life together – never alone!  

Hallowed be Your name!  That means – Your name is Holy and Sacred.  All that Your name represents is Holy.  You are set apart from everything and everyone.  All glory and honour is given to You Lord God.

I touched on this last week.  We should always be standing in awe of His majesty and glory – in reverence of Who He is as the King of Kings.  

We have become so familiar with His love and grace and merciful heart, that sometimes we forget that He is also to be feared – in a good and reverent way –  as the powerful and fearful God that He is.

So we get it that we are called to a Kingdom life.  A Kingdom calling and a Kingdom perspective.  And it’s about walking in it together.  He is “Our” Father.  

But notice that its not just the Kingdom that we are to seek after first of all – it is also His righteousness.

And this is my main focus this morning.  Our call “Up” is a call to what it means to seek His righteousness – to chase after His righteousness.

Righteousness is described as right standing with God.  But there’s so much more to be teased out of that word than a simple, single sentence.

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:20

New King James Version

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Pharisees tried to make themselves righteous by living according to the law – and by making a big outward show of it.  They had their pompous clothes and they threw their money into the collection plate to make a loud sound to get everyone’s attention.  

They were proud of their outer display of righteousness – but in the end, Jesus called them white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones.

They had no substance.  It was religion at its worst.

But Jesus showed us that righteousness was never about the outward appearance.  And it could never be earned.  But it is very much about the heart.

Positionally, we are made righteous only by the blood of Jesus Christ.

We are clothed in His righteousness.  

So that’s who we are because of the Blood of Jesus.

But at the same time, there’s a call for us to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ – from glory to glory.  And part of that journey is to grow in righteousness.

It’s part of our ongoing journey in sanctification.  Sanctification is the process of maturing in living a holy life and separating ourselves more and more from sin.

Our spirit is renewed and changed in an instant – but our soul – our mind, will and emotions – and our bodies – they are on a continual journey of catching up with our spirit.

The fantastic news is that we can seek the fullness of God’s Kingdom – and we can chase after His righteousness – and allow the presence and power of God within us to flow from the inside out.

Forget about striving to make your outer appearance fit with what you know in your head to be right standing with God.  Trying to look the part even though on the inside you know you’re a fraud.  That’s what the Pharisees did.  It’s just religious, hypocritical works.

Righteousness has to come from the inside out!

After all, doesn’t the bible say that God looks at the heart?  

If we get our heart right – it will automatically be reflected in what appears on the outside.  But it rarely, if ever, happens the other way around.

We have to have a hunger and a thirst for righteousness.

While Jesus was giving His famous Sermon on the Mount, which speaks so much of what the Kingdom of God is like, He said:

Matthew 5:6

New King James Version

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they shall be filled.”

Filled with what?  Filled with righteousness!

If you want it badly enough, you can have it.  If you’re hungry enough.  If you seek Him with all your heart – you will find Him – and His righteousness.

We need to be like David:

Psalm 42:1-2

New King James Version

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God?”

Psalm 63:1

New King James Version

“O God, You are my God;  Early will I seek You;  

My soul thirsts for You;  My flesh longs for You

In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”

If ever we were living in a land that is dry and thirsty – it’s now – in this generation!   This land is desolate of the nourishment of truth, of hope, of healing.   

And the more that decisions are made to exclude God from everyday life, the more desolate it becomes.

We need to be interceding for Australia – I know that many of you do!  That it would be flooded with streams of living water.  

Many have spoken prophetically about a spiritual tsunami washing over this land.    Waves of the Spirit pouring forth.  God is not done with Australia!

In fact, the way we have been protected this last year compared to other nations – and the condition of our economy – it speaks of God’s hand upon us.

But how thirsty are we? How thirsty and hungry are we to be filled with and to walk in the righteousness that Jesus promises.

If we’re not thirsty and hungry, then it’s a sign that we aren’t well.  

It’s a sign when we’re physically sick – but we’re also spiritually sick when we’ve lost our appetite!

Or maybe we’re trying to satisfy those hunger pains with something else.  There’s no shortage of alternatives to try.  

But in the end, none of them work.  They never satisfy our deepest longing for knowing we are right with God.

Isaiah 55:2-3

The Passion Translation

“Why spend your hard-earned money

    on something that can’t nourish you

    or work so hard for something that can’t satisfy?

    So listen carefully to me

    and you’ll enjoy a sumptuous feast,

    delighting in the finest of food.

Pay attention and come closer to me,

    and hear, that your total being may flourish.

    I will enter into an everlasting covenant with you,

    and I will show you the same faithful love

    that I showed David.”

 

I just recall watching an American series that was based on the fact people are now becoming more overweight and yet they are more undernourished.

They’re trying to fill their hunger – but it’s with food that has no nutrition.

That’s kind of what Isaiah is talking about.

The Sermon on the Mount that I’ve been quoting a bit from this morning, continues on and tells us what a righteous filled life looks like.

We haven’t got time to go into it all, but here is a summary:

  • It’s a life of salt and light.  A life that seasons other people with truth – and shines light in such a way that it glorifies God.
  • It’s a life that fulfils the law – not through self striving – but through a heart change.
  • Then it goes on to actually say that a life lived under grace is actually a call to an even higher standard than under the law – because it’s about heart issues – not just about outer behaviour.  Murder, adultery, judgement – they are all begin in the heart.
  • It speaks of going the extra mile, of not only loving your friends, but also loving your enemies.
  • It’s a life that does charitable deeds purely for what they are – and not for others to necessarily see or praise you for.
  • God sees what we do in private – and it’s up to Him whether we are rewarded in public.
  • It’s laying up treasure in heaven – not on earth.
  • It’s allowing your eyes to be used to fill your life with light.  Whatever we look upon will either bring light or darkness into our soul.
  • It’s a life full of peace and rest – not worry and fear.

And it goes on and on…

These are the outer expressions of an inner world that is full – full of righteousness – full of love – full of peace.

It all sounds like a utopian ideal that can never be attained.  But that’s the spirit of unbelief speaking.  It’s the devil’s lie that we can never live righteously.

It all begins by faith.  It begins, just as our salvation begins – by simply believing that all these things belong to us because we ourselves are set apart.  We have been made holy and righteous through Jesus.

Others who have gone before us, including David, have discovered what it means to be filled.

Abraham was another.

Genesis 15:6

New King James Version

“And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

Genesis 15:6

The Message

“And he believed!  Believed God!  God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.”

And in Romans:

Romans 3:21-23

New King James Version

God’s Righteousness Through Faith

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Righteousness starts with faith.  It renews our spirit immediately.  But then it grows with hunger and thirst from the heart.  And it changes us from the inside out.

How willing – how desiring are we – to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first – before anything else?

Let me finish with a couple of verses from the last chapter in the very last prophetic book in the Old Testament.

It starts out by speaking of a day burning like an oven.  It’s the last days – and it’s not good for the proud and wicked.

But then Malachi says:

Malachi 4:2

New King James Version

“But to you who fear My name (there’s the fear of the Lord)

The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;

And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”

Jesus is the Son of Righteousness!  

And a bit later it says:

Malachi 4:5-6

New King James Version

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,

And the hearts of the children to their fathers,  Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

This is a whole other message – but the Spirit of Elijah is the Holy Spirit – and He will come with power.  He will come with a proclamation of Jesus’ imminent return.

He will come to reconcile hearts of fathers and children – but most of all to reconcile all who will believe to our Father God.

For those who fear Him – Righteousness will be poured out like a healing balm.

And believe it or not – going forth like a fat stall-fed calf is actually a really good thing.

We will bound forth – totally healed – totally restored – and released with joy from the confinement of living in this broken world.

It’s the best message and revelation the last book of the Old Testament could bring – and when we turn the page – it’s 400 years later – and it all begins to unfold!


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