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Hunger, thirst for Jesus’ love

Hartzell

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

Several years ago, my father bought me a charcoal smoker because he knows how much I love barbecued ribs. It takes four to six hours to smoke ribs, and the entire time they are smoking, I get hungrier by the minute. The smell of the wood chips, charcoal, ribs and sauce make my hunger almost unbearable. However, I know that when my ribs are done, my wife, boys and I will be able to fill ourselves with some mouth-watering barbecue.

Jesus told us that when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are blessed, because a time will come when that hunger and thirst will be satisfied and we will be filled. A righteous life is not about legalistically following a rigid list of do’s and don’ts. Righteousness is about living a life of holiness and obedience that stems out of a covenant relationship with God.

Hunger and thirst are natural instincts that make us aware of need. Jesus let us know that we are blessed when, in our spirits, we sense a need to be in a relationship with our heavenly father.

Something else to note about this verse is that the verbs, in Greek, are in a state of continuous activity. In other words, we are not to hunger once and be filled once, but rather, we are to continue to hunger, continue to thirst, and we will continue to be filled.

Unfortunately, many Christians often lose their sense of hunger for the things of God. One reason for this is because they have forgotten their first love, Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus addresses the Ephesian church and commends them for their hard work, perseverance, intolerance for wickedness and even their hatred for evil deeds. This sounds like quite a list of admirable qualities for a church. However, Jesus charges them with a serious offense; they had forsaken their first love.

As Christians, it is incredibly easy to get caught up in religious activities. We stay busy, work hard, persevere and even hate the things that God hates. However, we completely miss the mark if we don’t keep our focus on our love for the Lord and if we stop hungering and thirsting for a relationship with him. In 1 Corinthians 13:3, the Apostle Paul states, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

It is so easy to sacrifice and get involved with so many activities that we forget our reason for doing them is because of our love for God. That is why Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ.” We must constantly remind ourselves that our love for Jesus is the reason we exist and do the things we do.

So what is the solution when we stop hungering for a relationship with the Lord and find ourselves going through the motions devoid of love? The answer to this question is the command that Jesus gave to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:5: “Repent and do the things you did at first.”

In Acts 19, we learn that prior to the gospel reaching Ephesus, it was a city filled with occult practices. When many of the people who had practiced the occult came to salvation, they took their occult books and scrolls and burned them. After that, Acts 19:20 states, “In this way, the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” True repentance was demonstrated by action, and because of that action, a powerful move of God swept through their land.

If you have found lately that your love for the things of God isn’t what it once was, or if you have never believed in Jesus, I would like to encourage you to examine your life. Are you going through the motions doing a number of religious things but still feel hungry and thirsty? Have you allowed idols or anything else to become a hindrance to God’s filling you and doing a mighty work in you and through you?

If so, I would like to encourage you to turn from these things and turn to Jesus. Let him know he is all you want, he is all you need, and you are hungry and thirsty to have a relationship with him. Then be patient and watch. You will not only be filled but also fulfilled!

Sean Hartzell is associate pastor at New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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