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Finding Happiness (Part 4)

Matthew 5:6

I was doing some research for this sermon and decided to type the word “craving” into a google news search engine to see what people are craving for.  On the first page I saw articles about Girl Scout cookies, hot chili, drugs, calm and gambling.  I clicked on one headline entitled “Superior Court Employee Embezzles Money to Alleviate Casino Craving” and read this, “David Anthony Macias, 47, an accounting supervisor at the Superior Court in El Cajon, California, allegedly stole court fees and fines possibly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to alleviate his craving for casino gambling.” What struck me as odd about this article is the website I found it on.  Look at this screen shot of the page—it is on a site entitled 101-best-online-casinos.com.  (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html) Premium members graphic

I’m dumbfounded.  Why would a gambling site tell the story of what happens to people who crave gambling?  Probably the same reason that beer ads encourage people to drink responsibly; it is an acknowledgement of what can happen to people who have uncontrollable cravings.

What are you craving?  What are you hungry and thirsty for?  According to Jesus, the happy people are those who crave righteousness.

Some people crave influence & power but find destruction --you will destroy yourself and others trying to satisfy this insatiable urge. Saddam Hussein was a power hungry dictator who would stop at nothing to accumulate power. He paid writers to portray him as a modern Saladin, a 12th century warrior who unified Muslim armies. One Iraqi stamp pictures Hussein and Saladin side by side, and a children's book refers to the Iraqi leader as Saladin II. 

Historians say Hussein's model in consolidating power and governing was Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.  Robert G. Rabil, manager of the Iraqi Research and Documentation Project in Washington says what Hussein built in Iraq "is a replica of what Stalin did in the Soviet Union.” He surrounded himself with grateful relatives and complaint fellow tribesmen from Tikrit. Hussein followed the path Stalin took by taking control of security agencies and strictly controlling administrative tasks himself. Hussein collected books on Stalin and built his regime on a Stalinist model, using constant purges of his Baath party to eliminate rivals. 

Phebe Marr, author of a history of Iraq, says Hussein “stopped a cycle of coups” in Iraq when he came to power.  She notes that the leader promoted education and spread around wealth from oil sales.  Marr says, “But he fastened to Iraq a totalitarian system the degree if which has never been seen before in the Middle East.” She adds, “There were no checks and balances on his judgment” which eventually proved to be Hussein's undoing. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)   Psalm 73:6 says, “Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.”  (KJV) and Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.” (TLB)

Some people crave money but find emptiness.  In 1993, Suzanne Mullins won 4.2 million dollars in the Virginia Lottery. Eleven years later, she was deep in debt to a Florida Company. A circuit court ruled that Mullins owed $154,147.

In 1998, Mullins took out a loan with a Florida company that serves lottery winners who need their money faster than the annual payments can arrive. The Florida Company lent money, expecting payments from the yearly lottery checks through 2006. When the lottery rules changed allowing winners to collect their money in a lump sum, Mullins decided to cash in the remaining amount and did not make payments on the loan after February 2001.

A spokesman for the Florida lending company said his understanding was that Mullins had no assets to repay the remaining money. Tom Nasta of Personal Financial Planning in Roanoke said it's not unusual for people to go broke after wining the lottery. He says one client of his who won one million dollars only had a mobile home to show for it seven years later. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (NIV) and 1 Timothy 6:10-11 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. [11] But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (KJV)

Some people crave youthful lusts but find death.  Their search for pleasure will eventually lead to death because they will do extremely risky things to satisfy this insatiable urge.  In his book, Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris wrote about a missionary who gave in to sexual temptation before he was married. "He was a virgin in his thirties and two months away from getting married. One night, inflamed by lust and tired of resisting temptation, he made his way to the red-light district of the city and the bed of a prostitute. Only once. Just fifteen minutes in a dark, dingy room--a moment of indulgence in years of work for God. But he left infected with AIDS. Two months later he unwittingly infected the bride who had waited so patiently for him. He groans in anguish at the disease that now wracks both of their bodies." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html

Proverbs 5:8-11 says, “Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. [9] You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. [10] Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you? [11] You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones,” (MSG) And 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (KJV)

All these cravings lead to disaster.  1 Corinthians 10:6 says, “Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved.”  (NASB)

Other people crave righteousness and find happiness.  Psalm 42:1b-2 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. [2] My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV)  And Psalm 63:1b says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” (KJV)

Perhaps you’ve seen one of the Public Service Advertisement produced by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote Asthma Awareness. One of the ads shows the water draining out of a goldfish bowl leaving the goldfish gasping for water.  At the end of the ad a small boy says, “I don’t want to feel like a fish with no water.” Premium members video I’ve never had asthma, but I have had the wind knocked out of me when I played football and once I swallowed something wrong and started choking and couldn’t breathe.  Both times, I wanted air—I was desperate for it.

That’s how God wants us to be for His righteousness.  He wants us to be desperate for it—He wants us to be in the place in our lives where nothing else really matters except His righteousness.  We will never be happy until we reach this point in life.  We will never be happy until we feel like a fish with no water.  Because it is only then that Jesus can satisfy us.  Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
 

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