Hunger and Thirst

hummer

My wife and I have lived in several different locations and at each home we have been blessed with seeing God’s creation in all different shapes, colors, sounds, and sizes.  Perhaps the one critter that is the most intriguing are hummingbirds.  There is just something about them that makes them compelling little critters to watch.  Sometimes they are super territorial, chasing each other away from the feeder with incredible tenacity!  Other times several of them will be sitting peacefully around the feeder enjoying the sweet water.  They are shy, yet aggressive.  They are ravenous, but selective.  They are either going 1000 miles per hour…or nearly motionless.  They don’t say a lot, but when they start talking other hummers listen.  It is easy to see why it was no surprise when the Lord used one of his little hummers to teach me a lesson today.

As you probably know, hummingbirds are perpetually hungry and thirsty.  In fact, when it comes to food and drink, they eat all kinds of soft insects and they suck down nectar like crazy.  Amazingly, they can consume twice their weight in nectar each day!  How can they drink that much?  Why do they need that much nectar?  The short answer is that they have an extremely high metabolism and it requires a tremendous amount of energy for them to fly.  They simply have to continually consume it because they are constantly in need of it!

bird3In the hummingbird we see a balance of high energy and high consumption.  There are no fat hummingbirds.  There are no slow flying hummingbirds.  There are no hummingbirds that will casually pass up opportunities to get into a feeding hole and consume that nectar.  In fact, it is a battle for them at times to get to the food.  Sometimes they cannot even sit down to eat…but they are determined to eat anyhow.  They are tenacious.  They are driven.  They are purposeful.  You see, if they cannot get what they need…they will die.  So they are driven to seek it out, fight for it, and consume it as often as possible and at each and every opportunity.

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus is sharing what are referred to as the beatitudes, and he says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” A few verses later in Matthew 6:33 Jesus would say to the disciples “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness...

When I saw that little bird, I began thinking of my personal life and how I simply do not always live with that singleness of priority or determination to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I was reminded by that hummingbird that I need to pursue righteousness with zeal, fighting to make time for myself at the feeder, and drinking more than I think possible.  I was convicted of the need to seek first His righteousness and to remind myself that my failure to hunger and thirst after righteousness will leave me unsatisfied.

The righteousness that Christ spoke of is not selective or limited in scope in any way.  In fact, the Greek word for “righteousness” in the first passage is written in the accusative case.  That means that the hungering and thirsting is for the whole of righteousness.  It is like the difference between saying “I ate chicken for dinner.” and “I ate the chicken for dinner”.  Christ says that those that hunger and thirst for the whole of righteousness will be satisfied.  Also, notice it doesn’t say that those that have consumed and drank righteousness will be satisfied…it says they are to “hunger and thirst”.  Here again it is important to look at the original language.  The Greek words “peinōntes” and “dipsōntes” translate as “hungering” and thirsting” respectively.  They are to be ongoing real time activities in our lives.  We don’t stop hungering and thirsting.  We may sin or fail at times, but our never-ending desire is to be hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

hummer feeding clearer crop

As I watched that tiny bird I witnessed the passion with which the bird approached the feeder for food, I saw the peaceful manner while it sat there drinking in life, and the purpose with which this precious little creature would return over and over again to this available source of life giving food. Unlike food or drink in our lives, the hungering and thirsting for righteousness will never be met this side of heaven, but in our love for our Lord we seek His righteousness, we hunger and thirst for it.  We long for it.  Nothing else will ever satisfy.

My prayer is that as children of God we will all increase in our hungering and thirsting for the His righteousness and do so with intense passion, peace, and purpose claiming in our hearts the promise from God that the result of that hungering and thirsting is being satisfied.

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Mercy Me

I stagger and am in awe of the mercy that God shows to me each day.  Who am I that He would show me mercy?

In Matthew 5:7, in the amazing list of Beatitudes, Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”   As a child of God we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are a new creation.  Being merciful is a reflection of God that is lived out and demonstrated in that new creation.  It is a part of who we are, how we think, and how we act.

Why does this matter?  Why should we be merciful?  Let me give just three reasons…(there are plenty more though)

First, being merciful is evidence of who we are in Christ.  It gives testimony to the working of God in our lives and allows us to demonstrate the mercy of God that he has shown towards us.  We live our lives in the light of the truth that we will not be judged for our sins but will instead be shown mercy.

Second, it is in the light of His mercy that we live a life of sacrifice for Him.  Paul reminds us in Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  In the light of, and simply because of the mercies of God, we live our lives as spiritual worship to God.  We present ourselves as that living sacrifice, in Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, because of the abundant and undeserved mercy that he has shown us.

Lastly, we are commanded to be merciful.  In Luke 6:36 Jesus gives perhaps the most simple and concrete command to his followers.  He says “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  This command sounds a lot like the Lord’s command to “Be holy because I am holy” found in Leviticus 11, 19, and 20 as well as in Peter’s reminder to the church found in 1 Peter 1:16.  We cannot be perfectly merciful in the same manner that God is merciful any more than we can be completely holy.  But mercy is a part of God’s character and we are to reflect His mercy to others.  We are to demonstrate, declare, and show people of the mercy that He has shown to us.  We reflect His mercy when we give testimony to His sustaining work in our lives.  We reflect His mercy when we give a reason for the hope that is within us.  We reflect His mercy when we live our lives for Him and only Him.  That is what mercy looks like when it is reflected in our lives.

 Mercy, without reflecting and crediting its Author and Creator, is simply human magnanimousness.  True mercy is a reflection of Almighty God, His richness, and gives Him alone all the honor and glory!