Many of the founders of our country were Christians, and part of our inalienable rights is “the pursuit of happiness.” I used to think that wasn’t a Christian philosophy, but the Sermon on the Mount is showing me something quite different. We have a natural longing to be happy, a longing God gave us — but we often seek it in a worldly way and come up empty. God gave us the book of Ecclesiastes to illustrate this. Solomon built fabulous homes and gardens, had slaves to care for his every need, and a whole harem of beautiful women. He writes: “I denied himself nothing my eyes desired.” Yet, he found this:
The Rolling Stones found the same, singing a song that resonated with millions of young people:
In my guide, “A Woman of Contentment,” I share how Solomon finally found the secret. It cannot be found “under the sun,” for one must look up, beyond the sun, and set his affections on Christ and things above. This is the secret we are will explore this week in the Beatitudes, and I can’t wait to explore it with you.
1.What stands out to you from the above and why?
2.Where do you often look under the sun for satisfaction? How has that worked out for you?
3. How have you sensed God in your life in the last day?
Monday: Hearts Ready To Be Hungry
4. Colin Smith says this is a turn in the Beatitudes. The first three beatitudes help our hearts to be hungry to be righteous. Why would that be?
5. Read carefully Matthew 5:6 in a couple of translations.
- Refresh: What does blessed mean?
- Look carefully — is it the righteous who are satisfied? If not, who is satsified? (So interesting)
- Describe what you think a person who hungers and thirst for righteousness would be like.
Tuesday: Tozer on Why Some Christians Move Forward and Others Stay Stuck
My grandson, Stephen, who is three, says one of these things at least ten times a day:
I’m soooo soooo soooo hungry.
I’m soooo soooo soooo thirsty.
We need to be so so so hungry to be righteous.
When we receive Christ, God cleanses us and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ. It is a gift. Yet we are also called into righteousness, which involves our response. We die to ourselves and live to Christ, and as we, we become more and more like Jesus.
I remember asking my friend Leslie Vernick why some Christians are able to do this better than others and actually move past their besetting sins and heart idols — and others are stuck. She quoted A. W. Tozer, saying it has to do with our predominant desires. Is it for righteousness? Is it for more of God? Tozer prophesied that the church was going to become lukewarm because they saw God as a means to an end, a means to get what they really wanted, instead of really wanting God Himself. That prophecy has been fulfilled in the western world in the last century. Colin Smith quotes this prayer from Tozer:
Oh God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more . I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want You. I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Your glory, I pray that I may know You indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul “Rise up my love and come away.” Then give me the grace to rise and follow You, up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
6. Do you feel you see God as a means to an end or want God for Himself? Ask the Lord to show you.
7. Meditate on this prayer and make it your own. Either write it out or simply pray it with your whole heart and check that you did.
8. Do you have a God Hunt to share?
Wednesday: Hunger Versus Appetite
Again, I’ll use my grandchildren, with whom I’ve had much time this summer. This is Claire and Sadie, who unlike Steven, are never hungry and stick thin. We are happy to get any food in them and often cater to their very few likes: grilled cheese, hot dogs, mac and cheese and apples… Their mother makes them try bites of other things we are serving but they nibble, turn up their noses, and say, “I tried it and I don’t like it.”
The good news is that while hunger is natural, appetite can be developed. Early in my life, I read the Bible like I ate kale — I knew it was good for me, but I didn’t crave it. But then I began to experience its wonders, and I developed an appetite for it.
In the same way, dying to self is hard, but I endeavor to do it in obedience to God, Yet I am also finding that with every death comes a resurrection that brings life, liberty, and, yes, happiness! So I am developing an appetite for righteousness.
9. Comment on the above.
10. What do you learn from the following psalms?
A. Psalm 42:2
B. Psalm 63:1
11. We also develop an appetite for righteousness through obedience. What do you learn from the following?
A. 1 John 2:5
B. 1 John 3:18-19
C. 1 John 3:24
Thursday-Friday: Colin Smith on Happiness and Idolatry
(I made a mistake and gave you the wrong link. Listen to the first — not that the second isn’t good, but it isn’t Colin Smith on the Beatitude we are studying. I now don’t know how to get rid of the second link!)
12. Listen to the following and share your thoughts and comments.
13. How has God worked in your life through this Beatitude?