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Text Box: The 4th Step: Crave Godís Approval!











Text Box: (Matthew 5:6 NIV)  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 GWT)  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God's approval. They will be satisfied.
(1 Peter 2:2-4 NIV)  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(Psalm 42:1-2 NIV) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
(John 6:27 NIV)  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
(2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NIV)  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
(Psalm 1:2 NIV)  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.


Text Box: What is it that you desire and run after the most?  What occupies your mind most of the time? Jesus said something that is very revealing to me: 
(Matthew 6:21 NIV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Whatever it is that I crave and in whatever I involve my heart Ė thatís my treasure.  Thatís what I value.
Letís see what Jesus sought after:
(Luke 19:10 NIV) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
(John 4:34 NIV) ďMy food,Ē said Jesus, ďis to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.Ē
What work was Jesus talking about here?  The work of preaching the Gospel.  Jesus was consumed by the desire to do the will of God Ė to be approved by Him (John 2:17).  Thatís why He was obedient unto death (Hebrews 5:8,9; Philippians 2:8).
He teaches us in the parables that we must be consumed by the desire to continue the work He was sent to do (Luke 15:1-10).  This is the work He commissioned us to do when we died to self in baptism (Matthew 28:19-20).
He describes the kind of desire we are to have in terms of desires that are familiar to us Ė hunger and thirst.  We can hardly ignore these cravings for food and drink when they come upon us.  They are not desires we can easily ignore or put on the back burner.  Jesus teaches us in this fourth Beatitude that our desire for Godís approval (righteousness) must be equally as strong, for this is a desire that can be satisfied, as opposed to the cravings of the flesh which are never truly satisfied (Ecclesiastes 5:10; 6:7; Proverbs 27:20).
Notice how in the first three Beatitudes, we studied a process of emptying of self and giving control to God.  In this fourth Beatitude, we will study what we are to fill ourselves with, so that our journey in the footsteps of Jesus may end in glory (Isaiah 32:17)!
(Revelation 7:16-17 NIV)  Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.



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Text Box: The 4th Step: Crave Godís Approval!







What is righteousness? Look up righteousness in a reliable dictionary.Even if you didnít have a dictionary you can probably guess what righteousness means.Would you disagree in believing that righteousness has to do with being right?However, ďjust being rightĒ is not where Jesusí definition of righteousness stops. He goes on to define the kind of righteousness He looks for a little later on in the Sermon Ė in verse 20 of Matthew 5.In the verses following verse 20 of Matthew 5, up till chapter 6 verse 18 (Matthew 5:21-6:18), He explains exactly what He means in Matthew 5:20. Take a peek at these verses (Matthew 5:21-6:18) and see if you can pick up the contrast between Jesusí righteousness and the righteousness the Pharisees expected. List some specific examples of how Jesusí righteousness is different from that of the Pharisees.Read Romans 3:19-28.Can anybody earn righteousness by observing the law (having a great track record)? What is the law for? How are we declared righteous?How does justification come for us sinners?You see, only someone who craves righteousness can be justified (satisfied), because they are seeking to be better, not just act better.They seek to please God and not themselves.Righteousness is an earnest desire to please the Lord and not you, or anyone else.It comes by understanding Who is the One that justifies (Romans 8:33; Genesis 4:7).



Jesusí brand of righteousness requires an abandonment of fleshly desires.Letís see why that is, by taking a look at Luke 8:14.(If you have not read the Parable of the Sower before, read Luke 8:5-15.)What do the thorns stand for in verse 14?What effect do these thorns have on the seedís growth?Letís see what needs to happen so that these thorns donít hold you back from maturing.Read Romans 8:5-8.Are your desires affected by what you think about?So -- putting together Luke 8:14 and this passage -- if you worry, or think about the riches you would like, or the pleasures of this life, to what are you submitting?Are you being hostile to God?Is your mind dead (yikes!)?Can you please God if your mindset is on the flesh (sinful nature)?If not, then where does your mind need to be in order that you may grow spiritually and produce good fruit?Now read Romans 8:9-17.Why is your spirit alive when Christ is in you (verse 10)? ďÖyet your spirit is alive because of ______________.ĒSo, how did righteousness get in the picture Ė by listening to the cravings of the flesh or by craving the things of God (i.e., reading the Word, praying, fellowship, assemblies)?List some of your own thorns that have pricked you in the past and that prick you now and then.Is there any particular thorn that has a chokehold on you? Read 1 John 2:15-17.Should you love anything in the world?Where do the things of the world come from?Why shouldnít we love anything in the world?



Seeking to be right to atone for a guilty conscience is not enough. Craving righteousness happens in a heart that is totally given to Jesus -- a heart that desires to make Jesus Lord, thoroughly.Look at what was happening to the Ephesians in Revelation 2:2-7.On what does Jesus complement them in verses 2 and 3?What did He hold against them?So, if they had lost their first love, what was motivating them to persevere and endure?Could they have fallen into the rut of religious correctness (similar to political correctness) as opposed to righteousness?What was Jesusí prescription for them to get back on track?Letís read about the results of a heart totally committed to the Lord in 2 Chronicles 15.After reading this whole chapter, would you say Asa hungered and thirsted for Godís approval (righteousness) or manís approval?Notice that Asaís motivation came from Godís Word through Azariah in verse 2.Letís see what happens in chapter 16.Read 2 Chronicles 16:1-14. What happened to Asa?Did he turn his heart from the Lord as Hanani suggested in verse 9?Even though Asa may have been doing the right things (animal sacrifices, observing the Law, etc.), who was he really trusting (verse 7 & 12)?How will you know if your heart is fully committed to the Lord?If it is, wonít He give you strength in all you do for Him?When you have truly given yourself to the Lord by dying to self (remember you pledged to do that when you were baptized [Romans 6:3-8]), your conscience will be free of guilt because you know your motive is to please God (1 Peter 3:21; Hebrews 10:19-22).



Today we will look at two people who spoke with Jesus and believed Him.We can see from their actions what they were really craving.Read John 4:5-42.Would you say this woman was living in sin?How do you know that?Was Jesus very ďup-frontĒ with her?How did she respond when her sin was plainly visible?After hearing Jesus, do you think the woman was concerned about the water she came to draw (verse 28)?Do you think this woman was devoted to Jesusí righteousness from that point on (verse 39)? Now letís look at another person. Read John 5:1-15.Do you think this man wanted to get well?Maybe he needed a little motivation, huh?After being healed, did he need a little reminder of where he came from (verse 14)?Was this man craving for righteousness as much as the Samaritan woman from the well?Didnít the fruit of their actions prove where their heart was? Again, I encourage you to take to heart this issue. Examine your actions!2 Corinthians 13:5.



The first four beatitudes orient us toward the God of Heaven Ė they describe the way we need to relate to God.The next four speak of how we need to relate to others. The first four Beatitudes, or "blessed sayings," depict the ideal heart of kingdom citizens; and the latter five portray the actions resulting from this attitude of heart. Together, they emphasize being and living rather than doing, so that the kingdom citizen responds instinctively to various situations as they arise. They revolutionize accepted priorities and the world's standard of blessedness.Hungering for Godís approval is a matter of attitude.Look at Davidís attitude in Psalm 139:23,24 and in Psalm 1.Which of your desires are greater than your desire for Godís approval?


But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Ė Matthew 6:33


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