Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

Given the Desires of Our Hearts

Can it really be true?

Praying

by Dennis Pollock

One of the all-time favorite Bible promises among Christians is found in the thirty-seventh chapter of Psalms. It says: "Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). What could be better than that? We are promised not just a particular desire of our heart, but all the desires of our heart. Talk about being blessed – this is surely the ultimate blessing!

I am convinced that there is more than meets the eye in this promise, however. Clearly God is promising to fulfill the desires of those who delight in Him, but hidden behind this promise and made plain throughout the Scriptures is the idea that God will place the desires in our hearts that He wants to fulfill. This promise is not for the man who starts making a wish list: "Well, let's see. I believe I want a dozen new red Ferraris, a fifteen bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills, a castle in Germany, a condo in Paris, and a large villa in Switzerland. I'll take enough shoes to fill a room, enough watches to be able to wear a different one every day for a year, and enough gold and silver jewelry to put the queen of England to shame. And oh, by the way Lord, I'd like to be a rock star, a movie star, and eventually the president of the United States. And while You're at it, change my face and make me the most handsome man in the entire world.

Born Again

To understand the means by which our kind and gracious God fulfills the desires of those who delight in Him, let us first look at the nature of the new birth, the experience with Jesus Christ that transforms us into a child of God and makes it possible for us to delight in Him. The problem with men and women that necessitates the new birth is that we have been corrupted not only by sin, but by a sinful nature which we inherited at birth. At the heart of this sin nature is something the Bible calls lust: strong, passionate desires for all the wrong things. In modern times lust almost always has a sexual connotation to it, but in Biblical terms lust simply means you want something you have no business having – and you want it terribly! It might be your neighbor's wife, but it could also be that second piece of French Silk pie, or that huge television that you cannot possibly afford, which you place on your nearly maxed-out credit card.

The Scriptures tell us that the evil, misery, and corruption there is in this world is directly or indirectly because of lust. Peter writes: "…by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4). Ephesians tells us: "We all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath…" (Ephesians 2:3).

Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again in order to provide a place for us in heaven, but also to change our very nature. When we trust Him as our Lord and Savior, we receive a new nature. Ezekiel foresaw this and wrote: " I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes…" (Ezekiel 36:26,27). With this new heart we receive new desires: the desire for righteousness, the desire to live peaceably, the desire to be kind and have loving relationships. This is the work the Holy Spirit begins to do in us starting from the moment we put our faith in the Lord Jesus.

God immediately begins the process of matching and coordinating our desires with the lifestyle and calling He desires for us. Paul writes, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Taking no chances, the very "want-to" is supplied us through the Holy Spirit who has now taken up His residence within us. Desires that used to carry so much weight and seem so huge to us begin to melt away in the heat of God's love and presence. Other desires, which we had never even considered, miraculously emerge and grow stronger and more irresistible with each passing day. These new desires mesh perfectly with the will and purpose of God for us. What is happening? We are beginning to "will and do for His good pleasure."

Delighting in His Will

As we delight in the Lord, we begin to delight in everything that pertains to Him: His word, His plan for our lives, the people He joins to us, and the gifts He gives us to accomplish His purposes. The Messianic psalm says, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8). As we read the Bible, and pray, and go to church and attend Bible studies we find that we enjoy these things. Others may look at us and wonder how we could take pleasure such a life, but for us it seems totally natural.

One way to understand this is to consider something we all do every day, several times a day. This is the act of putting food in our mouths, chewing it, and swallowing it. When you consider just how much eating we do, how many hundreds of thousands of mouthfuls we chew, how many meals we prepare and eat over the course of our lives, one might suppose that it would get terrible wearisome. But of course it never does. As a matter of fact most of us quite enjoy it and would feel terribly deprived if it were taken away. Even if some scientist could come up with a pill taken once a day that would provide all the nutrition, calories, and benefits of three or four meals, we would never want to substitute this for our breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Dinner

The reason we never tire of eating has to do with the taste buds that we were born with, those amazing little nerve endings on our tongue and throat which make our food taste so great. We don't have to eat; we get to eat, and our meals are some of the sweetest times of our day. Because of these taste buds almost no one has to be reminded to eat. When is the last time you found yourself at bedtime thinking, "Wow, I forgot to eat supper this evening!" In a similar manner God has given us spiritual taste buds, a sweetness produced by the Holy Spirit in the Christian which makes the things of God exceedingly delightful. The psalmist writes, "How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Psalm 119:103). In Proverbs we read: "My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom  be to your soul…" (Proverbs 24:13,14).

Sweetness of God

First and foremost our delight is in the Lord Himself: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His ways and His presence become exceedingly sweet to us. But our delight also extends to His plans for us – even as far as the job He gives us, the spouse He places in our lives, and the children that result from that union. Happiness and joy are not a result of attaining to a certain level in life, or reaching a particular measure of success. Many wealthy, famous, and successful people are not one degree happier than the men or women working regular jobs and living ordinary lives. In fact they are often far less content. Having tasted more than their share of success they strive constantly to improve on that success or to maintain it. Believers have ambitions, hopes, and dreams for the future as well, but they are taught by their God and enabled by the Holy Spirit to enjoy even the simplest of pleasures of the present.

Because I travel to the nations of the world and do international ministry, some might suppose my life to be glamorous. But when I am at home I live the simplest life in the world. At times our ministry has been in such desperate need of money to do missions I have had to get by personally on a very small salary. What my wife and I have sometimes lacked in salary we made up for by going to neighborhood garage sales on Saturday mornings. At times I have come home with a few treasures, having spent all of eight or ten dollars, and felt like a very blessed man. Sometimes I even haggle with the sellers to get a better price, saving a dollar or two here and there. Wealthy people might abhor this, but I take as much delight in getting a two or three dollar bargain at a garage sale as they might in making a thousand dollar purchase. More than once I have heartily thanked God for the blessings of a particular Saturday morning at the garage sales. Sometimes I would thank Him for making me such a "rich" man. To live a simple life, to share my joys and sorrows with my lovely and amazing wife, to be able to pay my bills on time, to have pleasant meals to eat three times a day, to be warm when it is bitterly cold outside and cool when the blazing Texas sun shines mercilessly day after day in the summer – I know I am truly blessed. And beyond all of this, to have the privilege of preaching Christ in many places in Africa and India – how could I not be grateful and joyful?

Transformed

As we abide in Jesus, a great process of transformation begins. Old desires melt away, and new desires are given which God is both able and willing to fulfill. We discover that God is giving us the desires of our hearts – first creating those desires within us and then fulfilling them. We find ourselves praying for the very things our God has planned for us to have from the foundation of the world. As we move to a new and different lifestyle in Christ, it becomes sweet to us. We delight even in the ordinary things that make up our normal days: a cup of tea, dinner out with the family, helping the children with their homework, or getting some chores done around the house on the weekend. Holy Spirit-formed spiritual taste buds make our life sweet. The gap between where we are and where we want to be continually diminishes. All of this contributes to our joy, which is no small virtue in the life of the Christian. It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength, according to Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:10). When we are depressed and gloomy all day long, our service to Christ will be weakened and ineffectual.

God is no Pharaoh, requiring his children to make bricks without giving them the necessary straw. Whatever He asks of us, He will make sure that we have an abundance of all we need to get the job done. And this includes our emotional needs of joy and delight. Some people worry and fear that God may call them to be a missionary to Africa, or ask them to do some difficult and unpleasant service they positively despise. Have no fear! Whatever Jesus bids of us, He will give us a corresponding delight in the work. When God's grace is operating in our lives as it should, preachers will enjoy their preaching, accountants their bookkeeping, chefs their cooking, Sunday school teachers their teaching, writers their writing, housewives their housewiving… and well, you get the idea!

It will never be perfect of course. One of the early Pilgrims wrote: "Prosperity is too fulsome a diet for any man…unless seasoned with some grains of adversity." Mixed with our blessings and the sweetness of serving God there will be trials and scary circumstances that drive us closer to Christ and draw our eyes continually toward Him. Still, even with the "grains of adversity" we find contentment in Christ. He who is our Delight and the ultimate Sweetness of our souls will never leave us. The joy and pleasure we find in Him now is but a tiny foretaste of that which is to come when we will live in His presence in that realm where pain and sorrow are no more.

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

 

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring some pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.