No Desires, No Delighting

Have you ever felt like you didn’t care about anything. You were tired, exhuasted, and you feel like you are just on the neverending hamster wheel of life. At it’s very core, you don’t want anything. You have no desire for anything in particular.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. I’ve been to the place when I find delight in absolutely nothing. Food is bland, activities are boring, successes are empty, and I’m just  . . .  existing.

I read a verse yesterday that impressed on me in a new way. Psalm 37:4-5 has always been a favorite passage of mine, but this time it helped me with a whole ‘nother perspective.

Verse 4 says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Notice it does not say He will fulfill the desires of your heart, but that He will give them to you. Later on the passage tells us God brings those desires to pass after you trust and commit to Him.

This verse communiates so strongly- God doesn’t want you to be apathetic. He doesn’t want you to go through life not caring about anything. I would pose the idea to you that He wants you to enjoy life, enjoy His blessings, have hobbies and interests.

The latest idea i took away from this verse was that, If you find yourself not caring about anything, then you most likely have not been delighting in God. When you delight in God, He gives you the desire for things. And He does this so He can show His goodness and glorify Himself, by fulfilling them for His faithful servants.

So have you felt lethargic and uncaring for the things in life lately?

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how much you’ve been delighting in God.

When bitterness strikes

There’s a classic stereotype of a bitter old man. He grunts at most, approves of little, and smiles not at all. He lives his life casting a gloomy shadow on the lives of others. People say, “grumpy old man” and most understand this idea. But how does one become this way? There are plenty of grumpy people everywhere, young or old.

The Bible prescribes a preventative for grumpy bitterness. It says,

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”

The first verse gives us two objectives to follow. God desires that we seek peace with all men. It’s easy to get in a rut of contention without thinking about it. Complaining about the boss, or that coworker that doesn’t pull their weight. How about the grumbling about that driver who drives in the most annoying way possible. The government, the greedy rich people, the ridiculous activists.

Pick something.

Without realizing it, we can set ourselves to be at odds with people over and over again. We all have our faults. We all play the part of the annoyance at one point or another. If we allow offenses to pile up, if we complain consistently instead of praying without ceasing,

Are we really seeking peace with ALL men?

Secondly holiness. If we follow the love of Christ, and the purity that comes with righteousness, then we are seeking holiness indeed. Putting others before ourselves. Putting Christ’s commands before all else. Restraining ourselves from acting selfishly towards another or participating in excessive self-indulgence.

Christ first. Us last. This is the path to holiness.

To sum up the passage, Christ tells us to look diligently in order that no man fail the grace of God and a root of bitterness trouble you. But what does this mean? Christ tells us to watch out in general for the church. Not just ourselves.

When bitterness strikes, it troubles many. Just like that grumpy old man that seems to drag the rain cloud with him, if we allow bitterness in our lives, it will trouble all those around us. It will pollute the church, and detract from the objective: peace with all men, and holiness.

God’s commands are never unobtainable. God commands them because he knows we can achieve them with His empowerment. I challenge you, seek those two objectives, and look diligently that any root of bitterness does not spring up and destroy what Christ labors in us to produce. He is laboring in us, and when His spirit is in our lives, it will bring peace!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace  . . . ” – Galatians 5:22

What would fulfill your joy?

As we go through this life, many times we envision what would make us happy. We want a new car, a better house, a pay raise, nice vacation . . . But should any of these things qualify for things that would satisfy us? When our perspective is put in it’s proper place, we realize that all these things are nothing. Their lack of eternal value is glaringly apparent, and we find desire for more permanent and lasting endeavors.

Paul shares his heart with us in Philippians 2. He’s talking to believers when he pleads with them to be unified. Not only does unity bring of an atmosphere of Christlike love, but it presents a more protective barrier against Satan’s devices. Paul pleads from the depths of his heart,

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love,being of one accord, of one mind.”

Notice that Paul says that such unity in the church would “fulfill his joy.” It would please him completely, it would “fill his happiness to the brim” if the church would dwell in unity.

So here’s my humble challenge to you. Examine your desires. What do you believe would fulfill you. Is it some material thing that you have seen advertised? Is it some lifestyle you desire to attain? Or is it deeper or more meaningful?

If you find yourself desiring carnal things there is a simple solution. Ask God to help you delight in Him. For He tells us, in Psalm 37:4-5, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

God will give us proper and meaningful desires when we delight in Him. And when we continue to focus on Him, He brings them to pass.

I challenge you, let’s have meaningful desires, and focus on that which is eternal instead of physical pleasures. Let something meaningful fulfill our joy.

Pause for praise

I would like to differ from my normal devotional format. I’m not really going to follow my usual routine. Today, I would just like to share with you from the heart. Last night, I was getting ready for bed and I really didn’t feel like reading my Bible. I felt perhaps that maybe I should just skip my usual reading instead of doing it out of “duty.” The Lord quickly showed me that was wrong and I decided to read a few chapters despite my feelings.

I flipped to Psalms and just glanced at the last Psalm. It read, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him . . .” The chapter went on, and it ended with, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.”

I reflected on a previous time when everything in my life seemed to be perfect and God was blessing tremendously. I was encouraged, I was excited, and practically dancing for joy because of God’s blessings. But this moment seemed different. I wasn’t feeling quite so happy. The atmosphere wasn’t so bright, and I was sullen.

The idea of praising the Lord hit me like a ton of bricks. I am completely humiliated to say this, but I hadn’t been taking time during my day to praise the Lord. I’d like to think that I’ve been thankful, but I haven’t praised Him. I haven’t reflected on His greatness and His love. While I was reading, I couldn’t believe how much I had forgotten something so important and so rudimentary.

I am to praise God.

While I read the previous chapters of Psalms, I realized that part of praising God must be a proper fear of Him. We can praise God in hard times and in times when things seem less than great because we know Him and how great He is. When we live in awe of Him, and how big He is, our problems and situations look so small. He is so much greater than anything else in our lives, and we ought to fulfill our purpose in serving Him.

I could ramble on about how great God is in comparison to our lives and situations, but I won’t. I am writing this to you, because I couldn’t help wonder if there was someone else out there who hadn’t taken the time to praise the Lord. If you haven’t taken the time, pause. Stop your thoughts; stop your actions. Empty your mind and rest.  Remind yourself of His greatness and rekindle the fear of the Lord in your life.

“He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” – Psalm 147:10-11

Praise ye the Lord.

Any military can do that . . .

A lot of times it’s easy to get caught up in do’s and don’ts. We can easily tell people what to do and what not to do. It’s simple right? If you have a line drawn, like, “Don’t steal.” Then we can tell someone when they stole, that stealing is wrong. It seems to be the simplest way to explain God’s expectations, but is it the best way?

In Matthew 5, Jesus speaks to the people and He is explaining the law. The law was a list of do’s and don’ts  that was designed for the Jewish people. Jesus explains the reason for the do’s and don’ts.  In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus explains, that the law said don’t kill. However, the reason the law said don’t kill was that God did not want people to even hate one another. The law also spoke against adultery, but Jesus explained that looking with the intention of thinking lustful thoughts is sin.

So, if you are teaching another about God’s will, don’t always resort to do’s and don’ts. Yes, it is true that God wants us to have proper actions, but God also wants us to have proper thoughts and attitudes. The sin of murder is wrong, but so is the sin of hate. The sin of stealing is wrong, but so is the sin of selfishness.

I challenge you, seek to give a complete view of sin when you teach.  The Christian life is much more than changing our actions. God wants our hearts and our inner beings to change as well. Don’t allow someone to think that only their actions must change. Give them a complete view of God. God wants a relationship with them, not just a robotic obedience.

We can force ourselves to obey strict commands, any well run military is proof of that. In contrast, we need God’s transforming power to change our inner beings to be like Him. That’s what the Christian life is about. Won’t you seek Him for that transforming power, and share it with others today?

Do you even shed a tear?

I remember being told as a child to remain quiet out of respect to the mourners. I wasn’t supposed to laugh or joke, or run around with other kids at the funeral. I was to mourn with the family who had lost someone special. I’d like to share something with you about the time of mourning that each of us must have in our lives. It’s a command in scripture, a command I think we often forget.

In James 4:6-8, God gives a recipe for revival. God explains that if we want to grow close to Him we must humble ourselves, resist the devil, and purify our lives of sin. Okay great! Sounds simple to me, if we will just do these things, then we will be coming close to God, He will come close to us, and we’ll have a great relationship!

But, it doesn’t end there. Verse nine gives another command, or ingredient if you will. The verse reads, "Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness." That’s not a verse I like to spend a lot of time in. It’s not something that we like to talk about. Weeping over sin. Mourning our loss of service to God. Coming face to face with the seriousness of the sin that separated us from our loving Savior. It’s not fun. But there is hope.

1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God says that he will forgive us and cleanse us if we simply confess. Isn’t that amazing? But what is confession? Is saying that we’re sorry really enough?

Many people think that confessing our sin is simply saying, "Oh, I lied, please forgive me. I stole, forgive me God. I was lazy this afternoon, forgive me." The word confession means "to say the same as." So, in essense, God wants us to say the same thing about that sin that he would. Do we speak of sin, or think of it, as God does? When you make a decision to turn from sin, do you take it seriously? God isn’t interested in His servants having a flippant attitude towards sin, sin that was so serious, that it’s atonement could only be brought about His death on the cross. Sin is serious.

My friends, do you take sin seriously? Or do you acknowledge your sin and make a half-hearted decision to change later. I am very guilty of treating sin as something of no consequence, but God commands us to view sin as He sees it. He tells us to mourn over it. Do we mourn? He tells us to weep. Do we even shed a tear? When you confess your sin, take a moment to realize the greatness of your offense and what it cost Christ.

I’ve said it multiple times now, but sin is a serious matter. When you repent, it’s a time to mourn, it’s a time to weep. Take the time to mourn. Don’t simply mention how you’re sorry and then pretend like nothing happened. Realize your guilt, and acknowledge it. Then, afterward, rejoice in the Lord. God promises to forgive you once you have confessed your sin. You don’t have to live in guilt. Weep, but realize that joy comes in the morning, and your God will always be ready to forgive and cleanse a contrite heart.

Bein’ real, with God.

You ever have that person that you could tell anything to? It may have been your mom, dad, grandmother, best friend, counselor, or pastor. Whoever they were they were close to you. No matter what was going on, you could talk to them. You found rest knowing that they understood. You found relief being able to unload when they were around. Our relationship to God should be like that, and so much more!

You see, many times when Christians pray to God, they veil their true feelings. They think, "Oh, I’m talking to God." And they try to be all holy, when in fact, all their doing is keeping themselves from true fellowship with their Creator.

David, a man after God’s own heart wrote, "Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah." Psalm 62:8. I want you to notice that middle clause, "pour out your heart before him." Pour out your heart before Him. Think on that for a moment.

Our heart is the seat of emotions. All our feelings are associated with our heart. Do you tell God how you feel? Think of that wording, "Pour out." David is saying, when you go before God, tell Him everything. Vent. Pour out. Don’t hold back. Let God know exactly how you feel.

If we read through the Psalms, we will find that that is exactly how David lived. Whenever He had a trial, or a trouble, or persecution, or victory, or accomplishment, or blessing, or whatever happened, David told God about it. You know, when we share our heart with someone, we become closer to them. And when we become closer to them, we are more likely to share our heart with them again.

I would encourage you, share your heart with God. Not everything you feel is Holy and pious. Not every desire or want is going to be in God’s will, but He already knows how you are. God doesn’t want a bunch of people who come before Him and pretend. God wants you, He wants you to be real, with Him. When you share all your heart with Him, then you open yourself up. You give Him an opportunity to help you, and you allow Him to give you some relief from your troubles. Be real, with God.

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." – 1 Peter 5:7

An Exceeding Joy

Spending time with someone you love is almost always a pleasurable thing to do. Do you remember being little and having that favorite friend you always had fun with? I mean, you had fun even if you were just sitting on the floor doing nothing. Even now, I am sure there are people who you want to be around, simply because it makes you happy to be with them. Well, if we get to know God, we will find that time with Him gives us the greatest pleasure of all.

When we spend time with God, we will find our greatest pleasure from fellowship with Him. But here’s the thing, we never have to stop enjoying our friendship. Think back to your childhood friend, there was always a time when you had to come inside, or do your homework, or something. God is everywhere, and we can keep our fellowship with Him wherever we go.

Christians, I would challenge you, seek to have that intimate relationship with Christ. Get close to Him. Learn to delight in the God who saved you. When we learn to delight in God, we will seek Him as David did. Think about David’s heart as is shown in this verse,

"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;" – Psalm 63:1

In Psalm 43:4 the psalmist calls God his exceeding joy.
"Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God."

Is God your exceeding joy?

Rejoice in the Lord: It’s a command!

Have you ever realized that one of the commands in the Bible is to rejoice? We seem to skip over passages like that and think, "Well ya know, it says rejoice." But do we truly rejoice on a regular basis?

Phillipians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." It says to rejoice always. But it does not simply say that. It says to rejoice in the Lord. I would submit to you that many Christians have trouble finding joy in their everyday lives, because they do not have God in their everyday lives. How can we "rejoice in the Lord," when we do not keep the Lord in our lives?

God wants us to rejoice, but in order to do that, we need to remember our reason for rejoicing. We need to be thankful for what God has done for us. Have you remembered what God has done for you? Do you remember how great God is, and how much He loves you. I would challenge you to put these things in your remembrance. Ask God to help you rejoice in Him. I know He will!

"Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright." – Psalm 33:1

Joy: God’s Provision- Our Strength

Can you honestly say that you have joy in your life? There are many Christians who try to do good, and work to have right attitudes, but honestly, they are miserable. They are doing right things, but they aren’t enjoying life. God wants us to have joy. He wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to delight in serving Him.

In Galatians 5:22, joy is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. If the Spirit is active in our life we will have joy. Joy is more than just being happy. Joy is a persistent attitude in our life despite our circumstances. In Nehemiah 8:10, we are told that, "The joy of the LORD is your strength." If we are cast down in our souls then we are living in weakness. The joy of the Lord is our strength. That is joy that comes from the Lord. We must be in fellowship with Him to receive His joy.

If you find yourself absolutely dejected, if you find yourself regularly dreading certain parts of your day or week, then I would challenge you to examine your walk with God.

Are you allowing the Spirit of God to work in your heart? Are you dwelling in God’s presence? Or have you forgotten to live in remembrance of your Father above? If you have been living in anything less than God’s joy, I would encourage you to ask God to help you. It doesn’t matter what your life looks like. What matters is how much you have been communing with the God who died to save you.

When your relationship with God is right, you can rejoice despite your circumstances like Habakkuk did when he said,

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit bein the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation." – Habakkuk 3:17-18