Am I Desperate for GOD – Part 1

I recently did a study on the topic of “Desperate for GOD”. As I was pondering these words, I felt the LORD speak to me and ask me “well are you?” It made me stop and I had to ask myself “AM I DESPERATE FOR GOD?”

Although not applauded in our society, it is truly an awesome thing to be DESPERATE FOR GOD! As I began to examine my life I sadly realized my own lack of desperation for God. It seems that I am more desperate for: success at work, things at home, the latest gadget – all instead of being desperate for GOD. In the world we may be told that desperation is a bad thing, but I believe Scripture actually shows something else. In fact, from God’s perspective there are many blessings and even promises in Scripture that cannot be received except through being desperate for GOD. Matthew 6:33 tells us to “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well…”, literally if you get Desperate for GOD and seek HIS FACE and HIS PRESENCE, HE will supply your needs! What an awesome promise. So then why don’t I seek HIM like this? Why am I not as Desperate for GOD as I should be? Do I even understand what it means to be Desperate for God?

This last question led me down a journey to understand the “What”, “Who”, “Why”, “When” and “Where”of being Desperate for GOD. Will you join me on the journey?

Let’s take a look at the first question: What does it mean to be desperate for GOD? I believe we really don’t know what the word desperate means, do we? We live in a culture where we are rarely “in want” for anything. The dictionary defines desperate as an adjective meaning (at least the meaning we will focus on) having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention. So that means that Desperation only comes when there is a recognized need that is beyond our own ability to meet. Literally this means having a deep desire, a passion, a yearning that can ONLY be satisfied by the presence of our HOLY GOD.

There are several portions of scripture that tell us about being desperate for GOD. Matthew 5:6 tells us “…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled…” Literally blessed are those who are desperate for GOD for they will be filled. As I looked at this I realized that in our country in this generation, we don’t really know what it really means to be hungry and thirsty. Most of us can open our refrigerator, go to “Kroger’s” or stop by “Chick-fil-a” anytime we want to satisfy our hunger. If we are thirsty all we have to do is turn on the faucet and we can satisfy our thirst. Most of us have never really known the desperation of Hunger or Thirst, but the crowd that was listening to Jesus speak these words, understood exactly what he meant. They understood desperation because they didn’t have the conveniences that we are blessed with in this country. Mother Teresa – missionary to India once wrote, “People in India are physically hungry. People in America are spiritually hungry. That makes people in India better off, because Americans don’t know they are starving.” Without Jesus we all have an emptiness – even if we don’t realize it – but when we Hunger and Thirst for JESUS, that emptiness is filled.

The Psalms are full of examples of a man who was “Desperate for GOD”.

Psalm 42 starts by stating “…as the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God”. Notice it mention that the deer was worried about the hunter in the woods…it doesn’t mention that “Bambi” was looking for his best friend “Thumper”…it doesn’t mention that the deer was looking for a new place to settle down…it doesn’t even mention that the deer was looking for a vacation at the beach…all the deer wanted was “living water”! The description is of a totally dehydrated creature with only one thought…get me to the “living water”.
Did you know that the word used here in the Greek that is translated as “water brooks” literally means “perennial springs which never run dry” and is also used in Jermiah 2:13; 17:13?

A few pages later we find Psalm 63. Right from the first words we hear a cry of a man desperate for GOD. “O God you are my God! I shall seek you earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Now THAT sounds like the cry of a man desperate for the presence of GOD! The back story to this Psalm is that David is running for his life from his son Absalom, who has planned to kill him and take the throne (2 Sam. 15:23, 28). David left his palace, left his throne and was hiding in the Judean Wilderness. It is amazing to notice that he doesn’t say anything in this Psalm about missing his throne, or missing his riches or missing the power of his position. He doesn’t even mention the trouble with his son. All he wants is the presence of GOD.

How about Psalm 69? The psalmist uses phrases like: “Save me, O GOD, for the waters have come up to my neck…”, “…My eyes fail, looking for my GOD…”, “…You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you…But I pray to you, O Lord…”, “…O God, answer me…”, “…O Lord, out of the goodness of your love, in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant…”, “…come near and rescue me; redeem me…”! When was the last time I prayed like this? To me, this speaks of desperation beyond reason, beyond logic, beyond caring about what other people think, beyond caring about what may be happening in the world around you. It is a cry from deep within that can only be fulfilled by GOD.

I once heard a story of a seminary student who was given a final assignment to write a theological paper on the topic of “being desperate for GOD”. The student was a “straight A” student, but the professor was tough. Ultimately the student received a bad grade from his professor and instead of just accepting it he went to see his professor.

The student bravely went before the old professor and said “how could you give me such a bad grade on this assignment, everything was theologically and grammatically correct, I checked sources, made superior arguments and did everything right!”

The professor told the Seminary student “it was because you did not understand desperation”.

The student began to argue with the professor and tried to make his point on why he did understand desperation and why he deserved a better grade. The professor asked the student to join him at the back of the room so that he could show him something. He brought the student to a large fish tank and asked the student to look into it. He then asked him what he saw. The student began to describe the contents of the fish tank at which point the professor asked him to “look deeper”. As soon as the student began to peer over the edge of the tank, the old professor took both of his hands and pushed the students head into the water holding his head under the water.

The students began fighting but he was at a disadvantage, his arms were flailing, he was dying. When he was almost to the end, the professor let him up. The student began gasping for air. He sputtered “Are you crazy!?!?! Why did you do that???? I couldn’t breathe! Why would you try to kill me?”

The professor responded with a question, “when you were in the water what was it you wanted?”

“AIR” shouted the student!

“You mean you weren’t thinking about your grades or your paper or your career or your possessions or anything else?” replied the wise professor.

“No, ALL I WAS THINKING ABOUT WAS AIR…JUST AIR” cried the student “I WAS DESPERATE FOR…air…”.

The Professor looked at the student and smiled at him and said, “now you get it…that is desperation, when that is all that you can think of, all that consumes you.”

He then asked the student “are you that desperate for GOD”?

Am I that desperate for GOD? If we want to see a change in our world, in our country, in our town, in our neighborhood, in our church, we need to be that Desperate for GOD! God promises that when we are desperate for Him – seeking HIM, we will find Him! “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7).

Join us next week as we look at the “Who”, “Why”, “When” and “Where” of being Desperate for GOD.  While you are waiting, enjoy the video below of the song “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher.

God Bless!
–Stephen

 

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope. Thank you.

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‘Bout Time For An Update

Back in January, I wrote of how I usually adopt a “theme verse for the year” and that this year’s is “Pray without ceasing” from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB95). As we are half way through the year, I thought that it was ’bout time for an update– a reevaluation of sorts.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear your theme verse for the year?

Who knew that three, THREE, simple words could be so challenging! Needless to say, this year’s theme verse has been the hardest to apply so far!

Why do you say that?

As there’s so much to do and so little time, my past six months have looked a lot like this: coffee, intensely and simultaneously think about the hundred and fifty plus things that I have to do and/or am concerned about, attempt to get ’em done and/or resolved, and repeat! (Yes, I heard that “amen”, you know what I’m talking about!) But I’m not to let any instant be without prayer!

So where does that fit into your schedule?

That’s it, the exact problem: I’ve been fitting prayer into my schedule, rather than earnestly and attentively engaging in prayer with God and letting Him set my schedule!

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“And it scares me to think that I would choose my life over You, oh, my selfish heart divides me from You, it tears us apart” (“Beautiful Ending”, BarlowGirl).

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What are you going to do about it?

Ah, good question! I’m learning that intending to do something and actually doing that something are two different things, in this case. I could intend to “pray without ceasing” all year long, but if I don’t actually make the effort and do it, I’ll get nowhere. That said…I know that what I need to do about it is PRAY! I need to pray specifically that my will, my schedule, my concerns would be shaped to be what Christ wants. Christ needs to be above and over everything that I do in every instant of my life because my life is His!

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“Take all of the good and all of the bad ’cause all of it’s so me, take all of my ways the things that I chase the things that control me. And all that I hide could You bring it to life, could you open my eyes and show me, take all that was me and shape it to be reflecting you solely! I wanna lose myself, lose myself to find You” (“Lose Myself”, TobyMac).

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Learning to lose myself (Rom. 6:11-13),

Victoria

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Gently, Lovingly Leading…

At the beginning of this year, I began a chronological Bible study along with my family. We recently made it to the 8th century B.C. and are reading from 2 Chronicles, 2 Kings, Isaiah, and Hosea.

You know, one of the innumerable awesome things about studying God’s Word is that whether you’re reading or hearing a passage for the first time, the tenth time, or the thousandth time– God speaks to your heart every time (Heb. 14:12)!

So I came to the closing chapters of the book of Hosea which, as the earlier chapters do, speaks bluntly yet beautifully about the goodness and kindness and mercifulness of God’s affectionate love.  I did a double-take when I came to Hosea 11:4 in the New King James Version (82) which reads, “I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them”.

Gentle cords? Bands of love?

The Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon helped me understand that “gentle cords” means to draw humanely or kindly. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (09) translates Hosea 11:4 like this, “I led them with human cords, with ropes of love. To them I was like one who eases the yoke from their jaws; I bent down to give them food”; the New Living Translation (07) like this, “I led Israel along with My ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I Myself stooped to feed him”; and the New International Version (84) like this, ” I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them”.

The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible helped me understand that “bands of love” is parallel to “gentle cords”, again meaning to draw. “Bands of love” (or “ropes of love” or “ropes of kindness and love” or “ties of love” ) further implies a gentle, loving leading.

 So what does this have to do with me?

Essentially, Hosea 11:4 depicts God’s fatherly appeals of affection for you- His child!  Ever find yourself wondering if God cares about what is going on in your life– the victories and joys, the struggles and hurts, the certainties and uncertainties, the decisions and responsibilities…?  Well you don’t have to wonder any longer because He absolutely does care and will gently, lovingly lead you!  Listen and you’ll hear the Father’s soft, tender voice faithfully and affectionately leading you, His beloved child!

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“…the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78–79, NASB95).

“your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always” (Isaiah 58:10-11, NIV84).
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Being Gently, Lovingly Led…

Victoria

Quest to be the Best

I saw on ESPN this week that Major League Baseball may ban several players including such well known players as Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez. It appears that Major League Baseball may have secured a witness in their investigation of active baseball players who may have used “Performance Enhancement Drugs”. As I listened to the reporter, I couldn’t help but think why would a millionaire athlete take the risk of suspension and the related embarrassment by taking performance enhancement drugs? What is it that drives a person to go down this type of path? As I pondered this thought throughout the day, I couldn’t help but think it is the quest to be the best. We live in a culture where everyone wants to be the best…everyone wants to be first. We use phrases like a quest to be the best, or striving for excellence, or a team of “type A” personalities, but what it really comes down to is a desire to be known as being first or being the best at whatever you do.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this view — which is applauded by our society — is actually a contradiction to what is taught by the Bible. John chapter 3 tells us about a discussion that Jesus’ cousin – John the Baptist, had with his disciples. You see, John had risen to the height of popularity in his day. Crowds of people were coming to hear the message that John was preaching and they were responding and getting baptized in water. We then see that Jesus goes into the Judean countryside and starts to attract crowds and baptize people. In our vernacular, the rivalry had begun. I can see it now…John’s disciples (agents in today’s “sports environment”) start to point out to John that he was losing his status as the main “go to guy” for baptisms…and to make it worse, to them it seemed that it was John’s cousin that was stealing his title. Maybe he should take some “Performance Enhancement Drugs” so that he could once again be at the top of his game. Maybe he should change his approach so that he could attract bigger crowds once again. Maybe he should serve food or provide designed swimwear to create a “value add” experience. Instead John gives an incredible answer in John 3: 22-36 (NLT)– let’s take a look:

 Then Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.  At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism.  (This was before John was thrown into prison.)  A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing.  So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to Him instead of coming to us.”  John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.  You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for Him.’  It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at His success.  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.  “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but He has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.  He testifies about what He has seen and heard, but how few believe what He tells them!  Anyone who accepts His testimony can affirm that God is true.  For He is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives Him the Spirit without limit.  The Father loves his Son and has put everything into His hands.  And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”

Did you catch that? John basically says that he doesn’t need to be the best, he doesn’t need to be first, in fact he states boldly that “HE [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I [John] must become less and less”. What an incredible statement! This shows us that we don’t have to strive to be the best. We don’t even need to try to be first in everything. As Christians, our role is actually to become less and promote JESUS CHRIST! This is the opposite view of our society. It is not about being the first or the best, it is all about willingly recognizing that first place belongs to JESUS CHRIST.

Are you on a quest to be the best today? If you are, I want to encourage you to be less and less and allow JESUS to become greater and greater in your life. This is the type of radical attitude change that will truly impact the WORLD!
Become LESS and let JESUS BE GREATER in your life today!

–Stephen

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.