Sermon from this morning!

Here is my message from this morning at Shepherd of the Valley.  I hope the Lord uses it in your life!

Sotv 8-29-10.mp3

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Deep Longings

Mike Bickle, Passion for Jesus: Cultivating Extravagant Love for God, p. 38-39

The idea of longing spans the gap between emotion and genuine need.  It is a feeling that ebbs and flows, and yet it is a concrete reality.  It cannot be reasoned with, negated, or dismissed.  If not attended to, it will overtake us.  A longing will be filled one way or the other.

These longings give us understanding into the way that God designed our spirit.  These cravings built into our design reveal the genius of God as our Creator.  He strategically put these longings in us as a reflection of His own personality.  Deep within our hearts, He intentionally placed these longings there to woo us into His grace and presence.  While our first reaction may be to fight against these natural longings, as we begin to identify their origins in God, we open a door to cooperating with them in accordance with His will.  We find the answer to our longings in the One who put them in us.

I have outlined a series of seven longings that are universal to every human heart.  These seven longings that we have draw us to God and reflect His glory in us.  They are the longing:

  1. For the assurance that we are enjoyed by God
  2. To be fascinated
  3. For beauty
  4. To be great
  5. For intimacy without shame
  6. To be wholehearted and passionate
  7. To make a deep and lasting impact

When we understand the longings that He created within us, then we understand our struggle and the purposes of life better.  When these longings are not touched in the grace of God, they leave us empty; they leave us with pain, mourning, and dissatisfaction.

These longings are actually expressions of His image.  We feel delight because He feels delight.  We experience joy because He is joy.  Our longings are fulfilled in experiencing who He is and in walking out who He created us to become in His image.  These “designer cravings” are an essential part of His beauty in our lives.

Yes, empty; in pain, mourning, and dissatisfaction.  This is what we experience when we seek to satisfy these longings outside of relationship with the Lord.  Ultimately, these longings can only be truly met in Him.  The world distorts them.

Our longing to be enjoyed by God leads us to make idols out of our relationships.  We think that our next girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife will really meet our needs.  Or we think our needs would be met if we had married that person instead.  They wouldn’t be.  Others can’t fill up these needs and longings.  Only the Lord truly meets them.

Our longing for fascination turns into things like the voyeurism that finds its expression in “reality” television or celebrity gossip web sites.  We sometimes become fascinated with the muck of life, rather than the wonderful and amazing things God has done.

Beauty disconnected from the source of all beauty often leads to cynicism.  Without God, beauty becomes a source of meaning unto itself.  And when it can’t satisfy, we rebel against it, creating art and music and literature that rages against the meaningless of life, rather than celebrating the author of beauty.

Greatness: this one is obvious.  What audience are we playing for?  Trying to become great in the eyes of the world is usually an exercise in pain and futility.  It rarely lasts.  When you succeed, so what?  In studies of happiness, the rich and the famous are typically more miserable than the rest of us.  But when we humble ourselves before God, and let God lift us up in His time when He has worked in us to develop the character necessary to handle what is coming, then truly great things happen. Sometimes this greatness does not lead to fame in this life, but for all eternity it will be a testimony of our love to God.  This greatness lasts.

Our longing for intimacy is so powerful.  Without intimacy with the Lord, we must seek it out from people exclusively.  Relationships become like drugs: they hurt us but we have to have them.  We end up used and abused.  But how beautiful is the heart of the one who first seeks intimacy with God, and then lets God direct her to those with whom she can share it!  She is contained and secure in the love of the Father.  And because she doesn’t need the rest of us, she is all the more attractive!

Oh, how I long to be more wholehearted! To not be distracted by the cares of this world, but to walk in union with Jesus.  There is a strength and security in those who “set their face like flint” toward the purpose of passionately and wholeheartedly walking with God.  But many of us end up focusing this longing on things of the world.  We find outlet in politics, sports, keeping up with the pop culture scene—whatever gets our emotions going.  We feel alive, like we are getting in touch with something significant.  But eventually our politicians betray us, our team loses, celebrities we admire lose our admiration, etc.  We feel empty, hurt, and insignificant.  The excitement and passion we sometimes feel in these areas is just a small taste of what we can experience in the Lord.  I would rather pray for someone and watch God heal than have the Lakers win the championship 10 years in a row!  It just doesn’t compare.  And yet why don’t my choices of what to pursue always reflect this reality?  Father, help me!

Our longing to make a deep and lasting impact can drive us mad if it’s not rooted in the Lord and in His kingdom.  As Stephen Covey famously said, “I climbed the ladder of success, only to find the ladder leaning against the wrong wall.”  The world is full of “wrong walls.”  We get to a certain age and realize that what we thought would make a lasting impact really isn’t all that significant.  Bitterness and anger take root in our hearts.  Some of us will start the blame game: it’s my parents’ fault I am this way!  Or we blame our wives or husbands or children or bosses or pastors.  God made us with certain gifts and callings that will truly make a deep and lasting impact if we trust Him to bring it about.

Father, thank you for these longings you have placed in me.  Lord, increase my faith to keep turning to you as you work out these longings in my life.  Thank you that I don’t have to figure it all out, but can put my trust in the One who knows the beginning and the end.

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