Chris Hodges - Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst
Oh, it's so good to see all of you here today at church. Who's glad to be in church today? Anybody, anybody? Yeah, it's awesome, really good to see you guys, and a big hello to all of our campuses. If you're new to our church, we are one church that has 23 locations all across Alabama and right into Columbus, Georgia. So, God bless every single one of you. I know you're having an amazing worship experience, and we're so glad that we're now joined together to hear one message. And so, to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. Guys, we are now in 21 of those facilities all across the state of Alabama, and what a joy and privilege it is to have that.
And those that are watching online, we're so glad you have that option. We invite you to come be in the room with us when you can. But God bless you today. And I want to give a special shout out. I got a text this week from a group of men, 22 men who were at the Foundry Farm, overcoming their addictions. And I've heard they're watching our messages and revival is taking place. Come on, how about we put our hands together, say a big hello to the guys there. God bless you all! Yeah, all right, we are in week number four of a nine-part series on the Beatitudes. If you don't know what those are, these are the nine principles that Jesus began, the most famous sermon of all time, the Sermon on the Mount. This preamble to the sermon began with nine principles that we're studying in these nine weeks.
In fact, we've given you a little journal or a handout guide that are being taken by the droves. In fact, I think we're already in a reprint because you guys have grabbed so many of these. But if you'll grab this outline or this booklet, we'll just say we're on page 27, a place for you to take notes. And it also gives you a place to continue your devotions on the topic that we cover today. And today we're going to talk about the fourth of the Beatitudes, and I'd say I considered going back and doing the second one again, "Blessed are those who mourn," after last night's game. Anyway, so I thought about doing that. I have a lot of material on the subject, actually, now. So, you didn't think I was gonna say anything, did you? Yeah, so anyway, but that's all you're getting, okay?
In fact, I pulled out my clothes before on Saturday just to kind of, so I don't have to make that decision on Sunday. And I pulled out a purple shirt in the hopes, help me, Jesus. Anyway, so anyway, all right, go Tigers. So, all right, but today we are going to study the fourth Beatitude, and it's a beautiful one. I want you to lean into this one. I hope that God speaks to you in a great way. In fact, I know for a fact that somebody's life today is gonna be changed forever. So, I know that. So, what I'm going to share with you today has the potential to change your life forever. And it really is Jesus saying this to us, "Blessed..." And, of course, the word "blessed," makarios in the Greek, happy, but not like a worldly happy, utter fulfillment.
Oh, the blessedness of those who do two things: they hunger and thirst for righteousness. I'll define what righteousness means at the end of the message. Those who hunger, they have this craving and this appetite for righteousness, for they will be filled. And I felt like the Holy Spirit really drew me to the word "filled". The word "filled" can be translated many different ways. In fact, a lot of translations it's the word "satisfied". Here's how the Living Bible says it. "Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied". The New Century Version says it this way. "Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy, because God will fully satisfy them".
I'm dedicating this message today to every person who's not satisfied. So, like, you've been doing life, and you've been pursuing a lot of things, and you come up happy. And Jesus uses the metaphor of hunger and thirsting. I think it's a beautiful metaphor. I'm a foodie. I like food. I think it matters. In fact, always trust a guy who has a little girth. Y'all know what I'm talking about, everybody? Like, I know about food and, but I don't know if you've ever been hungry for something, but you're not sure what you're hungry for. I don't know if you ever opened the refrigerator door, and you just, you just stand there for a while. You've got options, but you don't want any of them. Or if you've ever been to the Cheesecake Factory, and you've got that 80-page menu. Come on, somebody, right?
It kind of all looks good, and none of it looks good at the same time. I think life, I think that's the picture of life. Of course, back in the, I don't know when it was, '80s or '90s, the U2 band with Bono put out a song that says, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". If I were to give this message another title, it'd be, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". I mean, that band, I looked it up just for fun, the band has a net worth of 1.8 billion dollars today. Bono is worth 700 million dollars himself, and I think he has some moral authority to say, "I know there's some of you out there saying you still haven't found what you're looking for". And it's not in all the usual suspects.
So, we always go looking somewhere, right? And all of us are on this pursuit of satisfaction. And God's saying, "I've got a solution, if you're looking for a meal where you'll never want to eat again". And I really want you to lean in, for those who say, "Ah, not totally satisfied with what I've been pursuing all of my life". It automatically brought me to the life of Solomon. Solomon's the son of King David. Solomon was now the King of Israel. He was, of course, the wealthiest man to have ever lived in Bible times. In fact, the Queen of Sheba came and was just adoring his wealth and his wisdom. Even God just said the wisest man ever alive, writes the Proverbs, most of the Proverbs. But he writes this miserable book, and it really is, called Ecclesiastes. And it's depressing.
I'll just tell you, most of it, you read it, you watch this 12-chapter journey of a guy who literally tried every food in the refrigerator, and none of it filled him up. I mean, he tries, in the very first chapter, he tries knowledge, education. He just thought, "You know what? If I just go get degrees, if I'll go get my bachelor's, my master's, my doctorate, if I'll get certificates on the wall..." And then he says this. He says, "But with much wisdom comes much sorrow". I've actually lost my innocence. The more knowledge, the more grief. At the end of Ecclesiastes he says, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body". Come on, students. Say a good amen right there, right?
Yeah, it's like, "That's where I'm at". And then you go to the next chapter, and he's pursuing a career. He thought, "No, maybe I need a good job. Maybe I need a nice car. I need to set some high goals. I need some achievements. I need to go enjoy some great vacations". And he says in chapter 2, "I denied myself nothing". If it was there to get, I tried it. If it was there to drink, I drank it. If it was there to eat, I ate it. If it was there to travel to, I went to it. "And I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in my labor". So, I thought I was enjoying my career, "and this was the reward for all my toil". And he says, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, it didn't fill me up. It was actually meaningless. It was like a meal that didn't satisfy, a chasing after the wind. Nothing was gained under the sun".
So, he just decided, "You know what? Maybe work's not enough, career's not enough. Maybe I just need to work harder, or maybe I need to become the CEO of the corporation. Maybe I need to be one of those guys who doesn't just pay bills with a good job, but maybe I need to be master of my universe. I need to own the company". And he became a, literally, a workaholic, and he got to a place in Ecclesiastes where he talks about how much he dreaded Mondays. I can't believe it's time to go to work again. And he says in chapter 2, "I hated life". I was on Sunday nights, knowing Monday's coming, and I thought "the work that is done under the sun, it became a hardship. It's grievous to me". Am I speaking to anybody out there today? "All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind". He says, "I hated all the things I had toiled for, everything I ever worked for under the sun, because all I really am gonna do, I'm just gonna leave for some, I'm gonna die, and somebody else is gonna enjoy everything that I've created".
So, then he thought, "Well, maybe it's in investing. Maybe it's in, you know, make more money. Let my money make more money". And maybe in not only making more money, but maybe I need to spend it. I need to have the finest boat, the finest lake house. He even bought art to put on the wall, and he says this in chapter 5. He says, "Whoever loves money, you know what I figured out? It's never enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied". I tried to eat that meal, and just you know what? It didn't do it for me. "This, too, is meaningless". And he says, "As goods increase, I've gotta insure it, paint it, protect it, put a camera on it, right"? He said, "So do all those who consumed them. And what benefit are they to the owners except I just look at my art".
Okay, that's pretty, spent a thousand dollars on that, and it's just hanging on the wall. And then he, of course, amassed popularity. He thought maybe that'll satisfy. He becomes king. Of course, he has servants around him. He has the court around him. Never alone, everyone looking to his needs. But at the same time with people everywhere around him, he wasn't alone, but he felt lonely. And the Bible says there was a man, and he's speaking about himself. "There was a man all alone. And I've got people, but I don't have brothers or sons. I don't have anybody I could trust. And there was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth". And so he goes on after chapter 5, he gets into wine, women, and song. Maybe it's all about partying. Let's go party. Let's get some women.
In fact, in 1 Kings it says that Solomon "had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines". Come on, somebody. Where y'all at, right? The brother had some women around him. I heard a pastor tell a story about a seminary professor who was asked by one of his students, "How in the world does Solomon have 700 wives"? And he was hoping for a theological answer from his seminary professor, and his seminary professor said, "It was just in the hopes that when he woke up in the morning, one of them would be in a good mood". Now, this is another pastor said that, not me. That was, sorry, I couldn't resist. Y'all got too serious on me. I had to, all right, sorry, forgive me. That was another pastor. I would never preach that.
So, but let me skip to the end of the chapter. Let me skip ahead and skip to the end of your life, okay? So, let me just tell you how this is gonna play out. And I'm not sure when it's gonna happen. It could happen today. That's the better choice. Or it's gonna happen at some point. There's gonna be an end to your search for something that satisfies. Here's where Solomon ended up. Now, you've gotta remember, he goes 11 chapters, and most of it is just coming up empty. And he says, "The last and final word is this: Fear God". By the way, "Fear God," doesn't have the same meaning in our culture that it had in his culture. We think of fear as being afraid of, and a lot of people actually are afraid of God. They think God's a mad, they have a mad God philosophy. God's not mad at you. The wrath of God has been satisfied by the blood of Jesus.
You need to know that. The word "fear" here means "revere, honor". In fact, I don't have time to show this to you, but Jesus is actually quoting the Old Testament when he's being tempted of the devil in Matthew chapter 4. So, three temptations, he responds back every time with a Scripture, most of them out of the book of Deuteronomy. One of the Scriptures that he quoted in Deuteronomy says, "Fear God," and Jesus replaces the word "fear" with "worship," which gives us commentary on the word "fear," that it's not being afraid of. It means a deep respect, honor. It means you actually want to approach him; but when you do, you bow before him. It's a different word. And he says, "Fear God, love him, honor him, get as close as you can".
He's really, really, really, really good. You need to get as close as you can. He's an awesome God. And then when you get there, do what he says. And so many people are trying so many like, "I love him, and I know him, and I'll confess him, and I'm a Christian. I don't know if I want to do everything he says". And Solomon says just love him, fear him, and do what he says, and that's it. And eventually, what's gonna happen, if you do or don't? You're gonna stand before him, and everything that we do out in the open, he's gonna, there's gonna be a review of it all, and he's gonna judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it was good or bad. Basically, what Solomon is saying is this: if you're searching, if you still haven't found what you're looking for, today you're gonna have an opportunity to fear God, worship God, get close to him, and then to live the life he always intended for you.
And if you don't, you're gonna either find out today that it was the right way, or you will find out later when it's too late. So, this past Sunday, of course, I wasn't here, and Pastor Dino brought an amazing word about meekness. Do you guys agree? Do you think he brought a great word? I thought it was really, really good. I watched it, got blessed by it, and he's such a fun preacher, but really just a wonderful revelation of "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth". And I was actually at another speaking event, but it's a strange one. It's not at another church. For the past five years, I've been a part of this group of about 80 businessmen.
Now, if I told you the companies that they own, you would recognize all these companies. And these guys are kind of masters of their own universe. And for about 16 years, long before I was a part of it, they had been gathering for a weekend once a year to play golf. They're all big-time golfers. In fact, many of them are in the golfing industry in a variety of different ways, have all played, you know, at high levels. These are really, these guys can play. And so they got together, but to study God's Word for a weekend and just be buddies and be accountable to one another. And for 16 years, they've been rotating out pastors, until five years ago when I came. Y'all they ain't rotated another guy in since.
Come on, somebody, right? Anyway, I'm just saying, I'm just saying, sorry. I guess I didn't listen to Pastor Dino's message enough. Anyways, there you go, okay. It's, so anyways, for the past five years I've been going once a year to bring a Bible study to these guys, and then we play golf. But it's so interesting, it's always so interesting to me to sit with them and to hear. And from time to time, there'll be one that comes that is really, honestly has attained it all, everything you could imagine. You can't name anything, and you can see the dire emptiness.
And I spoke to a guy. Again, if I told you the companies that he owns, you would recognize, every one of you would know them. And I'll never forget the conversation I had just last weekend, when he looked across the table, and he says, "You know, Chris," he says, "for years I went after God but in more of a religious kind of a way, and it was a dread. I did it, I'm a disciplined guy, but I did it, I'd go spend time with God every morning, but kind of looking forward to it being over". And then tears came down his face, and he talked about it, he goes, "It is now the sweetest part of my day". He says, "I just can't, I want, I can't, I can't, I don't even like it when it's over. I can't spend enough time with God". And I saw a person who in the natural, everything that everybody else would say would make you successful. He said, "I have found, " He looked at the other men in the little, small group we were in. "I have found what truly satisfies".
It reminds me of the quote by St. Augustine that says, "Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee". And I'm trying to make an appeal to someone today to take the advice of this fourth Beatitude to, what would it look like if you actually had a hunger and a thirst? You're at the refrigerator door of life, and you're looking for the thing that actually will be the best meal you ever ate, the only thing that truly satisfies, and Jesus says, "It's righteousness". In fact, Proverbs says it this way. Proverbs says, "Whoever pursues righteousness and love will find life, prosperity and honor".
So, why don't we? Here's the question. Why don't we? What keeps us from getting all that God has for us? It's, honestly, it's the question I constantly ask. I'm always asking God to give me creative ways to not grow the church. If you know me, that is not what I'm all about. I'm trying to grow you. Let me say it this way. I know what God has for you. And the most frustrating thing for me personally, as a pastor, is to know that God has something for you that could fully satisfy you, but yet so many people still don't choose to take it. So, they take a piece of God. And it's especially true, unfortunately, in the place where God is more available, in the church.
So, if you grew up in church, you're kind of used to church, you know what to expect in church. I mean, I know when I'm talking to people, and I just mention a reference, I just, anything, just, I mention, I mention a passage. "Oh, no, I know that. John 11, that's Lazarus. He rose again, it was good. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, got the mug, heard that sermon. You can't tell me anything I haven't heard before". I went to a Christian university a couple of years ago. And when I was walking up to speak to bring this message, the chaplain of that university said, "Oh, by the way, there's nothing you can tell them that they haven't heard before. Don't try to impress them".
And you know what that experience was like? Just like that. Y'all I brought the best message in the world, you know, and nobody wanted it. I put a meal on a plate, and nobody wanted to eat it. Why? Because they had created some scenarios in their heart that kept their appetite and their hunger from God instead of to God. And I'm telling you, it happens. So, here's what I want to give you. I want to give you two things that'll keep you from being hungry for God, and I'm gonna show you the two ways you can pursue righteousness and get all of God. Here's the first, and that is I think we fill up on the wrong things. Like, you already ate. And even though there's a great meal there, you already ate; but unfortunately, you ate something that's not gonna satisfy you. It's like driving home from work, not sure if mama cooked anything or not, so you thought, "Maybe while I'm filling up, I'll go ahead inside the convenience store and eat the wonderful food they have". Y'all know what I'm talking about?
Just incredible food there. And you get a couple of bags of chips and maybe one of those Slim Jims, you know, the greasy things that clog your arteries with every bite, and a little Reese's Cup. Come on, y'all. That's one of the five food groups, right? Everybody, Reese's Cup. And gonna get one of those and gonna get me a Power Ade. And you load it up, and then you kind of eating on the way home, and it's just, you're eating, and it's Cheez-Its on your clothes, and got a little Reese's Cup on the face. And you pull up, and mama cooked, though, and it smells good. It's like your favorite meal. The problem is you already ate. And a perfectly good, nutritious meal is right there, but you already filled up. That's what mama used to say before dinner. "Now don't eat that. Don't. Dinner's almost ready".
You see in the pantry, while she's cooking on the stove, you're in, "No, no, no, don't go in there". Or if you're at the restaurant when they bring that bread out. Come on, somebody. I can smell it right now. And you know it, you know it when you're lathering up another slice, like, I'm gonna pay the price for this a little bit later. That's what I'm talking about. I want you to think about in your life the things that you have filled up on that have not filled you up. I want you to think about the things that you consume that do not, what's your list? If you were to write a book of Ecclesiastes, what would yours look like? I know this, that sin tastes good, but it never satisfies.
In fact, in Hebrews chapter 11, when it was talking about Moses, it says Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God, rather to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. One translation says, "instead of enjoying sin that only lasts for a short season". But would you lean in for a moment and just consider something? That the Lord says this, "All of you who are thirsty..." It's like you searched for it all. You tried it all. "Come and drink. And those of you who do not have money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend your money? Why spend your efforts and your life on something that is not real food? Why work for something that does not really satisfy you? Listen closely to me".
If y'all had any idea how hard I'm trying right now to encourage you to eat what is good, and what's gonna happen is you're gonna find in your soul the rich food that actually satisfies. Can I just offer a thought for some of you to hear today? It's time for a different meal. It's just time. But maybe, maybe, maybe you're not filling up on the wrong thing. Maybe you're making a conscious choice not to take what God is actually offering. And I thought about that, as I was studying this week. Why would somebody sit there and look at something that I know is gonna change your life, and you still don't want it? And I think it's because you just don't know how good it is. I don't know if you've ever had somebody offer you a food item, and you was like, "Mm, no thanks". Like, I do a lot. I'm a picky eater. Really, not really.
I have two rules: cook my vegetables, don't cook my fruit. You know what I'm saying? I've got two, just two. I don't like uncooked vegetables. And my family are like, most of my boys, they're all obsessed with sushi. Sushi. Okay? The outside layer of sushi is seaweed, like weeds from the sea. Are y'all hearing me, everybody? And they hide it with a little rice. I love rice, but then they slip a cucumber in there, like a raw one, a little avocado, and then it's got pink, raw fish in there, too. Y'all I don't eat dead minnows. Come on, somebody. Y'all listening to me? And I'm just like, "Thank you, no". And then they gonna dip it in the saltiest sauce, like it cross your eyeballs. It's nasty. And then they have this little green stuff, wasabi. And like, if you smell it, it cleans your sinuses for a week. You know what I'm talking about?
It's nasty. I'm like, "What are y'all doing? What are y'all doing"? And then one of my boys said, "Dad," knowing I like cooked food, "they have cooked sushi. Try it". Like, "No, I'm all right, bro. Look at me. I'm doing fine. I've got it going on. I'm good". "Try it". So, I tried it. Lord Jesus, that stuff was good. I ate myself sick. Some of you have rejected some of the things of God, like, "I'm not, that's all right, I'm all right. I know, I know baptism, I know baptism. I know God commanded it, you know, but I did that as a kid. It wasn't meaningful. I don't remember it. But, you know, that's all right, it's all right, it's okay". And I'm over here going, "No, no, no, you have no idea how following the Lord in something that he commanded..."
Like, when you come up, that's why we show you these videos on the Highlands News of these people's expressions 'cause it's just like one of the most powerful experiences of your life. You're like, "Ah, that's all right, that's all right". And it's why you always hear me say, "Hey, why don't you try, why don't you try, jump in, you know, try this". You're like, "Nah, that's all right. I don't know". Make small groups, "People don't need to know what I'm going through. That's all right, man, that's okay". Like try. You have no idea how much you'll grow until you lead something. Like, there's a part of growth that you never experience. "Nah, nah, I'm all right. I'm here enough Sundays, kind of check the box". And the Bible comes along and says, "Come on, taste, see that the LORD is," say it out loud, "the LORD is..." ...is good.
You have no idea what you're missing. Some of you, you've rejected the things of God because of how someone else served that food, and you blamed on God just because somebody else didn't know how to prepare it. You got in a place where they abused you, and they mistreated you. And you're like, "I hate church". Well, I guess you do, and it's left this bad taste in your mouth, and you're like, "I'm not eating that again". I don't know if you've ever had like eating a bad oyster. It's like, no, I'm healed from those. I'm not having it again. And for some of you, you've rejected the, you're not hungry for God. It's like, "Ah, that's all right".
And when I was a youth pastor in Colorado Springs, every, about twice a week, every week, I would go to a different high school or junior high school. Principals don't allow this now, I think, but I used to go to a different high school or junior high school and just go to lunch. They don't allow a youth pastor to sit at lunch. And they would bring their friends. My students would bring their friends, and I'd witness to them. But like in the most, in a way, it always worked every time. And I wouldn't talk to them about what they were doing wrong. I would simply just ask them questions. I'd say, "Tell me what you think about God". And they'd say, "What do you mean"? "You know, describe him for me". And what they would describe is not what the Bible describes God as. And then I'd go, "Oh, no, I wouldn't want it either". Or "Tell me what you think about church"?
And they would describe church, but it wasn't church like we knew it. Like, "Oh, no wonder, I wouldn't want that either". Because so many people have taken a step toward something and said, "Nah, that's all right. I don't think I want that". But you're never gonna know. You'll never know cooked sushi actually tastes good. In fact, honey, can we have that? Like, I want that today. God bless you. Have a good day. I'm done. No. And that was Paul. I mean, if you had had any idea, "Oh, I just want this so bad for you," Paul says. "I pray, I'm just praying that you may have power together with all the Lord's holy people, just to be able to, I wish you could just grasp". One translation says, "I wish you could understand how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know it. I just wish you could know it like I know it. You'd want it if you had it, that you may be filled with the food that really satisfied. And not only that, to the measure of all the fullness of God".
Nothing more frustrating from my position, I'm just gonna shoot straight with you, that knowing there's something that can change your life and people saying, "Nah, that's all right, that's okay. I've got enough. I'm just gonna have this". So, I'm gonna say it again. I've said it a thousand times. I'm gonna say it a thousand more. Here it goes. I'm inviting you, once again, to go all-in with God. What we say around here is give us a year of your life and do everything. So, we're gonna have a prayer meeting, come pray. If we fast, come fast. If we tithe, tithe. If we go to small groups, go to small groups. If we go and like, just what do you have to lose but to try? Just go all-in and see. I've never, I always tell people, I say, if you do that for a year, and you come back and say, "No, just didn't do anything for me, I just didn't, mm-mm, didn't work".
I'll change churches with you. I'll go find another one with you. I've always, no one's ever, I've never had to do that. In fact, this past week, I had a lunch with a guy. I had lunch with some of our evening college students, just had them in my office for, just to get to know some of our students. And I said, "Tell me your story". And he said, "I came the first time to 'At the Movies.' Rolled my eyes and all but called you guys a cult 'cause y'all were playing movies in church. I thought, 'Lord Jesus.'" He says, "And then I heard the gospel". He says, "And when you did the invitation, I didn't respond 'cause I was programmed not to. But even though God was doing something in my heart, but I kept coming back".
He said, "PC, I sat there for two years hearing your 'Give me one year' invitation and just thought, 'That's for somebody else.'" He says, "And then I crossed the line. I stepped across". And tears down his face, he goes, "It changed my life forever". And now this young man is in Highlands College pursuing full-time ministry. Come on, somebody. Like, God's changed his life. So, I think that's why we don't, let me tell you how you can. And to do this, I'm gonna teach the word "righteousness". You know, Jesus said, "If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you'll be filled". So, what is righteousness? And righteousness is not one thing. It's two things. Righteousness, first of all, is right standing with God. That's what righteousness is. To be made right is to have a right standing, a right relationship with God. I'll show it to you.
Romans chapter 1 says "The Good News," the gospel, "shows how God makes people right with himself". Romans chapter 3 says it this way. "We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us". So, some of you are gonna get that chance today. I'm actually gonna say it this way. Jesus paid for your sins. Do you want to be made right? That's not an invitation to join Highlands. It's an invitation to feel right, to know you're right, that even though you've done nothing but wrong your whole life, like I had, that Jesus pays for it, and then you have this clean conscience, and made right. Romans 5 says it this way. "And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from condemnation. For since our friendship with God..."
And that gives us the clue of how you're made right, by the way. You say, "Chris, well, how do you get made right"? Friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. "So now we can rejoice in a wonderful new..." Say the next word out loud. "...wonderful new..." So, if you want to know how to be right, it's not joining a church. It's a relationship with God. And what can happen that would blow some of your minds, if you ever actually experienced it, you don't even hardly call him your God. He's your friend. I'm a friend of God. It's a relationship change. And until you've experienced that, you haven't really never experienced Christianity, to know that when you're praying you're not just talking to a deity. You're in the presence of your best friend, and you feel as comfortable with him as you do your best friend.
And I want that for you so badly. That's how I came to faith. Religious kid, never missed church, lost as a goose. Read Matthew 7:21-23. Not everyone who calls him Lord is gonna go to heaven. Uh-oh, that was my plan. And Jesus says, "I'll tell them, 'Away from me, you're an evildoer, 'cause I never, I never knew you. I wasn't looking for religion. I was looking for a relationship.'" We are made right with God by coming into a relationship with God. So, if you want to pursue righteousness, I'm putting it on a plate in front of you right now. It's the best meal you've ever had in your life. You'll never be hungry again. But it's not just right standing with God. Righteousness is also right living on earth. And this one's important 'cause some of you will say, "Well, I did that, and I'm still not satisfied". Yeah, because you're living your life your way.
I talked to a young person this past week. "I'm living my truth". Well, how is that working out for you? I mean, help yourself. Actually, I never argue with them. You know what I say to people who say that to me? I say, "Go try it. I'll leave the light on 'cause you'll be back". You go your own way, you leave the Father and do it your way, live how you want to live, it always puts you in a pigpen, always. That's the story of the prodigal son. And you're gonna come to your senses, God willing, and you're gonna say, "I'm going back to the Father. I'm doing it his way". There's a way, it looks right to you, but it ain't right, and I will not argue with you. I'm just gonna let it lead you to this place. And I'm not talking about physical death. God forbid. Death to your emotions, death to your dreams, death to everything that matters to you. You'll find, like, it's not working. Yes.
So, what do we do? We have right living on earth by pursuing a lifestyle that God intends. It's found in his Bible. It's in the Bible. So, this culture shifts right now, and everything is moving away from the authority of God's Word. We're not. In a couple of weeks, we're going to study about being persecuted for righteousness' sake. That's coming our way. But we don't, we're not gonna move. I had a conversation two weeks ago with a young man who was to share with me his lifestyle, and he asked me what I thought, and it was according to God's Word an ungodly lifestyle. And I said, "Well, that's ungodly". And he said, "Are you trying to change me"? And I said, "Yes". Just like I'm asking God to change me, just like I'm asking God to change you, yes, actually, yes. We're pursuing God's, a relationship with God and living a lifestyle the way God intends. That's righteousness. And in that way of righteousness, it works.
You know what this word "life" means? It means the fullness. It's the meal that fully satisfies, and it's the path to living in heaven forever. So, I thought about how to end. I always like a closing story, and I usually like one that's kind of moderate, like, but I want to tell you a Bible one. I almost read the verses, I just want to tell it to you. So, listen. It's just a good story. So, disciples went and bought food, run an errand, and left Jesus alone. Very rare when the disciples and Jesus not together. Jesus is a little thirsty. He runs over to a well. And when he gets there, there's a woman already drawing water, and she's a Samaritan. And Jesus says, "Hey, while you're drawing yours, could you draw me a drink, as well"?
She's shocked 'cause Jews don't talk to Samaritans. Men don't talk to women. And Jesus, being the amazing God he is, smashes right through gender and racial barriers. And she knows this is odd. And he goes, "This is not just odd. I could give you water where you'd never want another drink". She goes, "What"? She goes, "Well, I think I want that". He says, "Great, go get your husband". She goes, "But I don't have one". He goes, "That's right. You've had five, and you're living with a guy now that's not your husband". That was her book of Ecclesiastes. I tried, I tried, I tried, I tried, I tried, I tried.
So, now he has her attention. She goes, "Well, I do want that, but I know it's gonna come in the form of someone that we've all been waiting for forever, the Messiah. And it's just, he's kind of slow in coming, and I just don't know if he's ever gonna come". And Jesus says this. "You don't have to wait any longer, and you don't have to look any further". This is my altar call today. If you're living your life, and it's been miserable and unsatisfying, this whole message and this Beatitude is for you. And if you're in search and you think it's in the other places, help yourself. You're gonna be back. But if you want the bread and the drink that will completely satisfy you, you don't have to wait any longer, and you don't have to look any further. It's found in this man, Jesus. Let's bow for prayer.
So, Lord, I'm asking right now, Lord, that you would lead people to have the courage to not just play church, be religious, but to go all-in with you. And Lord, I'm praying, God, for every person who's not in a relationship or not in the right lifestyle just to say, "You know what? It's time for me to live my life knowing God and living the way he always intended". And God, I pray for those who know you but just haven't taken all the steps. God, let them today, let them today take the steps of church membership, and baptism, and serving, and let them find the joy, the satisfaction in it.
Heads bowed, eyes closed. If you're here today, and you know God, but he's not your friend, and you believe in God, but there's no relationship, today's your day, today's your day for all that to go to the place that fully satisfies. And if that's you, it comes by just giving your life to Jesus. At every location, if that's you, before I hand it to the campus pastors, would you pray this prayer? Say:
Jesus, I'm going all-in. I'm going to give you my life 100% today. Thank you for paying for my sins. Thank you for making the way. I believe you're the only one that satisfies. And so, today, heart and soul, mind and strength, I give you my life. In your name I pray, amen.