The Best Meal You Will Ever Eat
(The Blessed Family – Part 4)
By Kim Butts
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6).
When was the last time your family had a desperate, passionate longing to see the righteousness of Christ burning brightly in your household? Have you ever gone after God…or desired to experience His manifest presence in your midst? Are you desperate to do God’s will from the heart so that you will be filled when Christ’s kingdom comes? Do you fervently wish to see the knowledge of the glory of the Lord fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14)? If not, then you need to take steps as a family to develop an appetite for God! Eugene Peterson, in his rendering of Matthew 5:6 in The Message, states that when we have a good appetite for God, we experience that He is "food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat."
In this New Year, rather than resolutions, why not be determined to spend time exploring how to experience the blessing of the filling of God as you hunger and thirst for His righteousness? Here are some practical ways to help your family to go after the best meal you will ever eat…so that He can fill you:
Recognize the Righteousness of God
It is important that we, as individuals and as family, have a good understanding of how holy the Lord is. Otherwise, we can’t fully understand how unworthy we are. In our culture, we have been selfish, self-focused and completely filled with a sense of our own importance. We have, in short, behaved as self-righteous people rather than made- righteous people.
Righteousness is inherent in who God is: "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made" (Psalm 145:17). What is amazing is that He chooses to love us! Our righteous God searches the minds and hearts of all people to make the righteous secure (Psalm 7:9). He loves us and He wants what is best for us. "The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion" (Psalm 116:5). It is by His grace that we are saved, and have become righteous men, women and children of God, because He had compassion upon us. How can we look upon such a God and not be awestruck? Perhaps it is because we are too busy to gaze upon Him – too busy indulging ourselves in the mindless pursuit of today’s latest distraction.
Today, parents – check your lives and the lives of your children to see if you are filled with a passionate discontent…a longing to have all of God…to truly know Him in all His glory and fullness. If the answer is, "No" then realize that your family is missing what He promises the righteous in this life. If you are merely content to show Him honor when you see Him face to face in heaven, then you are missing the awesome blessings of the righteous, promised in Matthew 5:6.
Family Friendly Activities:
• Decide to turn off the TV one evening to spend some time talking about who God is. Use a chalkboard, or a large piece of paper and take turns describing the Lord of the Universe. Have one person write down everyone’s responses. You can use your Bibles, especially the Psalms, to find ways to describe the holiness and righteousness of God. Now, take some time to pray to this amazing Father, thanking Him for His righteousness. Example: "Lord, thank You for being the ultimate example of how we should live our lives. Thank You that You are gracious and full of love, compassionate and slow to anger, a strong tower, a Prince of Peace…." Describing God describes His righteousness, because He is the Ultimate Good. He gave us the precious gift of His Son, Jesus, so that we would have His righteousness, and so that we might live holy lives by His earthly example. Spend some time reflecting upon what Jesus was like when He walked on the earth. Choose some ways that your family can be more like Him each day and decide what it would take for you to do so. Challenge one another to develop Christ-like attributes and actions. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24). At the end of one month, meet together to see how you are progressing as righteous sons and daughters of the Most High God.
• Put a basket on your kitchen table. Have slips of paper and a few pencils nearby. Whenever you think of a way in which the Lord has shown His righteousness to you, write (or draw, for the pre-writers in your family) it down and put it into the basket. One night at dinner, pull the notes out one at a time and read them. Example: "Father, the heavens proclaim Your righteousness (Psalm 50:6)…tonight the stars were bright and beautiful in the sky that You created." Or, whenever you learn something new about righteousness, write it or draw it and place it in the basket to encourage the rest of your family. For Example: "Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep" (Psalm 36:6). It’s pretty amazing that the Lord’s righteousness and justice are as high as the mountains and as deep as the ocean!
Know That Righteousness Is Present in You by Faith
Parents, it is so important that our children understand that God sacrificed His Son on the cross for the sake of our righteousness. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).
When we have a true, personal relationship with Jesus that is manifested in the way we live out our lives, then His righteousness has become our own. Because He took our sins upon Himself on the cross, an amazing exchange took place. Our unrighteous, unholy selves were made righteous, because through Jesus we were reconciled to God. It is even more amazing when we realize that this is freely given to us because God poured out His divine grace upon us. Grace has been extended to us, but we must receive it by faith. The prerequisite to our righteousness is the free gift of God’s grace to us! Only an All-Powerful, Mighty Creator could take our sinfulness and replace it with new life. He has expectations, however – that we are to become holy, as He is holy. "But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’" (1 Peter 1:15-16). So, we are saved by grace through faith and we must also live by faith (Romans 1:17).
Family Friendly Activity:
Read this passage out loud as a family: "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him" (1 John 2:29). Talk together and make a list about how righteous, holy people should act. Now ask, "What should set apart Christian families from those who don’t follow Christ?" Decide what ways your family should behave differently than families without Jesus. How can you demonstrate to your neighbors and your community that your family lives for Jesus?
One way to recognize His holiness is to spend time in daily worship – individually, and as a family. According to Graham Nicholson, "It is quite clear from the Bible, that the real engine room of a united worshipping Church is the united worshipping family. The whole stress on God’s covenant promises and man’s covenant responsibility is evidence of that. It is equally clear, that this is something which must continually be pressed on each successive generation by patient and loving example and instruction."
When we worship the Lord together, our hearts are lifted toward the glory of God, and He is honored. "Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart" (Psalm 32:11). "Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him" (Psalm 33:1). God considers His people to be righteous and upright, and He desires our earnest worship. It pleases Him and brings Him honor. "Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name" (Psalm 97:12).
Family Friendly Activity:
Whenever you gather as a family, be sure to spend some time worshipping the Lord together. Read Psalm 63:1-5. Sing a hymn or a chorus that focuses attention on Him. Or, you could read a Psalm that speaks about the glory and majesty of God. You might sit quietly before Him in silent worship, or lie on your faces before Him…or kneel. He is worthy of our worship!
Seek After the Righteous God
God wants His righteous people to continually be seeking to come near Him. "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer…" (1 Peter 3:12). He promises in return, that He will come near to us (James 4:8). Prayer is the key component…the foundation to our existence as Christians. If we are not seeking God in prayer, we cannot possibly get to know Him deeply. Certainly we can experience His nearness and presence in other ways, but we cannot truly hear His heartbeat for our lives if we are not in tune with what He has to say to us.
Calling on God in prayer is to be our first response, not our last resort: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Most Christians today seem to call to God only when they are in need: "Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer" (Psalm 4:1). Certainly He hears us when we pray during our difficulties, yet how He longs to hear from us daily because we can hardly wait to spend time with Him. When we seek Him first, our needs will be met – He promises.
Family Friendly Activity:
Read Psalm 42:1-2 and/or sing the chorus that goes with it. Ask your family, "Is this your daily experience with God? Can you hardly wait for that time alone with the King of kings? Or, do you ‘put in your time’ and then go on with your day?" Have each family member honestly relate how his or her prayer life is going. Discuss your struggles and help one another to grow in prayer. Pray passages of Scripture out loud to the Lord. The book of Ephesians provides many good passages.
Receive the Blessing of Being Filled with His Righteousness
As a family, read through these promises. Know that you can claim them as His promised blessing when you hunger and thirst for righteousness:
• "…for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" (Psalm 107:9).
• "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous…" (Psalm 1:6).
• "For surely, O LORD, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield" (Psalm 5:12).
• "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all…" (Psalm 34:19).
• "Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22).
• "The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous" (Proverbs 10:29). "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and they are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
• "…for God is present in the company of the righteous" (Psalm 14:5).
Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness (who have worked up an appetite for God), for you will be filled (with the best meal you’ve ever eaten). "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).
Next Month – Beatitude 5: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7).