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Our Heart’s Desire
God is far more interested in what lies within our heart than all the externals we try to add, that is, our image. And if we’re honest about it we’re more interested in the image we project, because we think it covers up what’s really going on inside.
In this world we live in, image is everything. Dressing for success and conveying a positive impression are what people are most concerned with rather than overhauling our hearts.
Consider the story of O. J. Simpson. Seeing he’ll soon be released from prison, this might be a good opportunity to review His story. His is the quintessential story of success. Simpson grew up in the ghetto and was often in trouble. But the one thing he could do well is run.
His High School coach got a hold of him and started him in the right direction, and although he didn’t make the grades to get into college, his atheism got him into junior college where he broke most junior college football records.
Eventually he got into USC and became an All-American, winning the coveted Heisman trophy. The Buffalo Bills then drafted him. He was the first player to ever rush for more then 2,000 yards in a single season. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was in several movies, was football commentator, and the face of Hertz Rental Car.
But in 1994 He was arrested for murder, and while he was acquitted he was found guilty in a civil court. Later he was arrested and convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping.
What you might say is that the image didn’t live up to the reality.
We need to be more concerned with what’s inside our hearts than the image we project.
Today I’d like to explore what the Bible says how it’s God’s desire to give us the desires of our hearts, and that may well be because it’s out of the heart that the issues of life happen.
Read Psalm 37:1-11
Notice that in our passage King David tells us three times not to fret. Now “fret” is not a word that is used that often, if ever. You just don’t hear people say, “Why fretist thou?” But if we put this in our modern day language we’d say, “Why are you getting so frustrated?”
Life is frustrating, which is something I think we all can agree with. We all have these longings and desires, but due to life’s circumstances they aren’t coming out the way we hoped or wanted. And these unfulfilled desires foster frustrations.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)
And here in our passage King David said,
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NKJV)
But with everything that goes on in this life, all the problems and frustrations, this is where our faith then meets the promises of God.
We know as believers we’re to trust in verses like this, but for the most part behind our smiling faces and exterior images lays a frustrated interior of unfulfilled desires.
So how are we to reconcile that God wants to give to us the desires of our hearts, but we haven’t yet received them. It may just be found in the next two verses.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5 NKJV)
But what is God going to bring to pass?
“He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:6 NKJV)
God will give us the desires of our hearts when we delight ourselves in Him rather than in what the world has to offer, and commit ourselves to fully follow Him.
God will give us the desires of our hearts when the desires of our hearts match His, that is, when it brings forth righteousness and justice.
God will give us the desires of our hearts when the desire of our hearts are in accordance with God’s purpose in making a kingdom impact.
There was a young soldier who was injured in the Civil War and was crippled for the rest of his life.
This soldier wrote,
• I asked for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might obey.
• I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
• I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise.
• I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need for God.
• I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
• I have received nothing I asked for; and in all that I hoped for, my prayer is answered
Dying of tuberculosis, German pastor, Joachim Neander, wrote in one of the great hymns of faith ever written, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” It’s one of the worship songs we sang this morning.
In the first refrain He praised the Lord for His health and salvation, but listen in the second refrain and remember he was dying when he wrote these words.
Praise to the Lord, Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, Yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen, How thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
God grants the desires of our heart, but not always in the way we want; rather it’s in the way God ordains so His righteousness can shine through us to this sin darkened world.
Yet in this Psalm David says there is a measure of frustration that happens because of the injustices we see. Further we’re not to envy the unrighteous when they get what they want and we struggle just to survive.
I believe we can all empathize with what David is seeing and asking.
• Why is it that others get all the power and make all the money by doing it the wrong way? That’s not right. That’s not fair.
o But the Lord says to trust even when we don’t understand.
• Yet we’re frustrated. God tells us to wait patiently when others get what they want.
o But the Lord tells us not to get angry, instead we’re to know and trust that one day the meek will inherit the earth.
And so what we end up doing is asking God if He might possibly rethink this whole thing.
But the Lord doesn’t work according to our desires, but His. So what does that mean?
• We’re to be generous when other people aren’t
• We’re the ones that have to be meek when people rip us off
• We’re the ones that have to keep our cool when others lose theirs
• We’re the ones who have to be still and wait while others pass us by
• We’re the ones who have to do good when others don’t, and
• We’re the ones who have to trust God and believe when others ridicule and persecute us for our faith.
In this Psalm David is very honest and forthright, not only in dealing with His frustrations in living a life of faith, but of life’s unfulfilled desires. He talks about the battles against evil and the struggles we have. He also reminds us that life is filled with slippery slopes and hidden pitfalls.
But we can still overcome if we follow David’s formula found in verses 4-6.
a. Trust in the Lord, and do good
b. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart
c. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass
In the rest of the Psalm David gives to us four life lessons to help us live with the frustrations.
1. Good Will Eventually Prevail (Psalm 37:12-15)
Eventually evil and wickedness will fail while goodness, righteousness, and meekness will prevail. Notice in verse 13 how the Lord will end up laughing at those who devise such evil, because He sees the end and what’s in store for them.
This is the same thing we see the Lord doing to those who plot against Himself and Messiah Jesus.
“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed … The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” (Psalm 2:2, 4 NIV)
Good will eventually prevail because the Lord will eventually prevail. There’s something I always says to those who think they’ve gotten away with something, and that is while God is long suffering, He’s not forever suffering.
2. God Will Eternally Triumph (Psalm 37:18-20)
If there ever was a statement of faith, this is it. While we haven’t yet experienced the end of days, we know that the end of days is at hand and that the end of days are in God’s hands, not ours. Look at what the Lord reveals at the end of time.
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10 NKJV)
In the end the Lord will triumph, but not only at the end of days, but also in the horrible and difficult days we face right now. Jesus said,
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)
Jesus has overcome and He will make us overcomers in Him, through Him, and with Him, and as they say, “We can take that to the bank and get it cashed.”
3. Grace Will Continually Flow (Psalm 37:23-25)
In the midst of these frustrating and terrible situations we face, God will give us wisdom to deal with them. Our problem is that we live in a culture that believes it can fix everything; that it has a cure for whatever ails us, and the remedy is to be quick, painless, and inexpensive.
But that is the world of fiction. Reality tells us there are some things that are never going to be fixed or have solutions to. Or if they’re going to be fixed, it will be slow and expensive. In other words, we didn’t get into our present predicament overnight; therefore we shouldn’t expect to get out of it overnight.
And so instead of asking for a cure, maybe we should be asking for God’s grace to carry us through so we can live in whatever situation we’re facing.
This was what those three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, found out when they were cast into the fiery furnace. They weren’t delivered from the furnace; they were delivered through it as Jesus was with them the whole time.
This is what the Apostle Paul received to see him through his circumstance and situation.
“I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9a NKJV)
It’s God’s grace, not our own strength that will see us through.
4. Godliness Will Ultimately Satisfy (Psalm 37:37-40)
In other words, living a godly life will be far more satisfactory than any other lifestyle.
Even while evil may succeed in its plans, we must believe that not only will good eventually prevail, that God will eternally triumph, and that God’s grace will continually flow to us, but that living a godly life will ultimately satisfy.
Solomon said that living a life of pleasure, prestige, and power will only end up being utterly and totally useless and without meaning.
“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV)
Any other life than a life lived for God will ultimately fail and lead to frustration. Only a life lived in the Lord will succeed in the end, and for our end.
In Psalm 37, David gives us four life lessons to apply to the frustrations that come in life. But he doesn’t leave us there. He takes it a step further and gives us three disciplines that will see us past life’s contradictions and into a life of peace, even though the storms rage around us.
And while we already looked at these, I think it’s important we review them once again.
A. Trust in the Lord
While this involves not only our past and future, it’s in the present that we have the most difficulty. But think about it, if we believe that God took care of our sins upon the cross and that heaven awaits us in the future, then why can’t we trust in God for our “today.”
Now I don’t know all the answers to what’s going on in your life, but what I do know is the One who does, and that is the Lord. What I know is that while the situation we find ourselves are frustrating because it seems like nothing is changing, but we can still trust God with our lives because He will do what is right, and what is good.
B. Delight in the Lord
When we delight ourselves in the Lord, then He will not only begin to work on our desires, but will give us a whole new set of desires, that is, His.
God places in our hearts the desires He wants us to have, and when we delight ourselves in Him, then He will give us these desires freely, holding nothing back.
C. Commit to the Lord
We need to commit our ways to God. There will always be problems and difficult situations, but we need to learn to trust God and commit our ways to Him in the midst of whatever we’re going through.
Such was the case of John Hus, a Christian reformer in the 1400’s. He was burned at the stake because He refused a final plea for him to renounce his faith.
If I were to break down Hus’s last words were it would be, “What I taught with my lips, I seal with my blood.”
Hus died, but its recorded that they had a hard time keeping the fire lit, maybe it was because they tried to fuel it with his manuscripts. As he was about to die he said, “Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.”
These disciplines of trusting God, delighting ourselves in Him, and committing our ways to Him are straightforward, and through them God will not only work on our desires, but He will work within our circumstances.
It is then that we’ll begin to discover God’s peace, and that God will give us the desires of our hearts, or shall I say, His heart.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study