Don’t Try To Get Even

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When I work with students I frequently find that conflicts between them are really one-upmanship. Here’s what I mean: one student intentionally or unintentionally tweaks another student, that student then responds with a decidedly intentional verbal or physical shove, which is responded to by the initial student with a louder and more intentional reprisal. And on and on it escalates until someone steps in to stop it.

I often ask these students who are upset with each other, “What did you think was going to happen when you treated the other person that way?” The quick response is almost always, “I don’t know.” And I believe that because most of us don’t think through the counter-reaction to our reaction. 

So I will ask a follow-up question: “Did you think that by shoving him in response to his insult that he was going to say, ‘Oops, my bad. I’m sorry for that and I won’t do it again’?” 

Usually, the student answers quite honestly, “No, I didn’t think that would happen.” They were just so upset that they wanted to let the other person know that they had been hurt.

This idea of getting even is the longing of so many of the psalms: How long until we see victory? (see Psalms 6, 13, 35, and 94 as examples). It’s the cry of the martyrs before God’s throne: How long until we see justice? It’s the desire of every Christian wrongly accused and condemned: God, how long until Your truth prevails? 

Matthew quotes a passage from Isaiah 42:1-4 that is fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus. Part of that description says, “A bruised read He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out, till He leads justice to victory. In His name the nations will put their hope” (Matthew 12:20-21). Notice this key word: till HE leads justice to victory

Jesus is Justice and Truth, and He does ultimately triumph. But notice how Jesus accomplishes this because it is to be our model too: 

  • No quarreling 
  • No shoving back on those who have hurt us
  • No attacking those who have attacked me

Victory comes only through Jesus. I have to relent trying to balance the scales of justice—this is never my place. If I try to make things right on my own, my so-called justice only sets off a one-upmanship shoving match that continues to escalate in very ungodly ways. 

Vengeance is God’s. Justice is God’s. My hope—my immovable hope—is only in what Jesus has accomplished. Remember what Matthew quoted: “In His name the nations” [and all those who have been persecuted, wronged, and martyrd] “will put their hope”! 

Let’s all ask the Holy Spirit to remind us of this the next time we want to shove back the person who just shoved us. 

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Come To God And Keep Walking With Him

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I have been so grateful for the insights of Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages. I have found this book to be of immense value in helping couple prepares for marriage, and in helping married couples get beyond a place where intimacy has become stuck. 

In short, the five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. The goal of learning the other person’s love language—and learning to speak it consistently and fluently—is an increased level of intimacy. In the book of Amos, God asks, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3 NLT), and speaking the right love language definitely helps people agree! 

The whole reason we come to God in prayer as a Father, as a Brother, and as a Counselor is so that we can hear Him speaking our love language and we can continue to walk in deeper intimacy with Him. 

When my then-girlfriend Betsy and I first met, we spent hours and hours getting to know each other. We would ask questions, share stories, and tell things we did and didn’t enjoy. This is the epitome of intimate conversation: getting to know the other person’s heart as you open up your heart to them as well.

I’ve shared this analogy before, but intimacy grows stale and can eventually disappear altogether if those in a relationship are no longer walking together. It doesn’t work if I say, “Betsy, I’m looking forward to spending an hour with you each week,” or even if I say, “I’ll give you 15 minutes each morning.” Instead, our relationship needs to be one of continual walking. 

It’s the same thing for us as Christians: we cannot only give God an hour at a church service on Sunday mornings, nor is intimacy going to increase if I only walk and talk with my Savior for a few minutes in my morning devotions. 

Walking closely with Him is what God has desired right from the beginning. He walked with Adam and Eve each evening. This phrase “walking with God” is used consistently throughout the Bible of those who had an intimate relationship with their Father, Brother, and Counselor—Noah, Abraham, Isaac, the people of Israel (Genesis 3:8, 6:9, 17:1, 48:15; Leviticus 26:12). And even as the New Testament era dawns, we read, “And they [Zechariah and Elizabeth] were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6 NKJV). 

But I’m especially intrigued by the story of Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24. Twice in four short verses, we read “Enoch walked with God.” Remember that verse in Amos—“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”—so Enoch and God had to be in agreement. In fact, that’s exactly what we read about Enoch in the Book of Hebrews: 

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:5-6)

If you’ve taken Dr. Chapman’s love language assessment, you probably found that you were pretty lopsided: maybe you scored very highly in one love language and then barely registered in another. We may be lopsided in our love language skill, but God speaks every language perfectly! 

  • Words of affirmation—Hosea 2:14; Isaiah 40:2 
  • Quality time—Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 23:3-4
  • Gifts—James 1:17; 2 Peter 1:3
  • Acts of service—Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:28
  • Physical touch—Psalm 139:13-15; Luke 24:39 

(Click here to check out all of those verses.) 

Dr. Chapman noted that when our love language is being spoken to us sincerely and consistently, our love tank is filled, and all of the love languages begin to become more meaningful. 

Just as God walked with Enoch until the day He brought him Home, so He wants to walk with us. 

  • Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper. (Deuteronomy 5:33) 
  • The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to Him. (Deuteronomy 28:9) 
  • May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in obedience to Him and keep the commands. (1 Kings 8:58) 
  • Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him. (Psalm 128:1) 
  • And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. (2 John 6) 

When we walk in loving intimacy with Him, our intimacy grows deeper and more mature. Sometimes they will say of couples who have been married for a long time and walk in increasingly deeper intimacy with each other, “They seem to know each other’s thoughts.” That’s because they know each other’s hearts—and that’s what God wants to do with us. He did it with Enoch, and He will do that with us too (Jude 14; Jeremiah 33:3; Habakkuk 3:19). 

Enoch walked intimately with God for 365 years. Let us walk intimately with God for 365 days a year, for as many years as He gives us until God takes us away with Him forever! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our prayer series called Intimate Conversation, you can find all of the messages by clicking here. 

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How To Honor Our King

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Merry Christmas! 

When the Magi came to Jesus at His first advent they brought gifts. Isaiah also prophesies all peoples bringing gifts at the second advent of Jesus. Have you ever wondered what gift is appropriate for the King of kings? Fortunately, the Bible tells us the gift He is happy to receive from you! 

Check out the Bible verses I mention: 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in this Advent series, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

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Verifiable Facts About The Birth Of Jesus

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Check out the resources I mention in this video:

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Mighty Deliverer

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The world can marshal its weapons of war. They may gain a temporary victory. They may build strongholds, and cast spells, and appear to be the unquestioned ruler. But God always gets the final word, the decisive word, and the best word! 

Don’t despair in the middle of the Story! All of History is His Story. No matter how dark it seems, we are assured of God’s victorious outcome! 

Bethlehem is our proof:

  • 700 years before it happened, Bethlehem is named as the birthplace of Jesus (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7) 
  • 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, His titles were given and then fulfilled in the way that Jesus lived (see for example Isaiah 9:6 and Hebrews 13:20) 

Sometimes God has to let the darkness fall so heavy so that it seems hopeless. In fact, in human power alone it is hopeless and impossible. So God foretells His victory—

“Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel—but not in truth or righteousness—you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and claim to rely on the God of Israel—the Lord Almighty is His name: I foretold the former things long ago, My mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. … Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’” (Isaiah 48:1-5) 

We have seen how Micah prophesied our Messiah coming as the Great Shepherd and as the Prince of Peace, but He also comes as our Mighty Deliverer (Micah 5:1-6). He comes at an incredibly dark time that is described like this: “He will rescue us from the Assyrians when they pour over the borders to invade our land” (Micah 5:6 NLT). 

Darkness may appear to have a stranglehold even now in our time. One of the verses in the New Testament that pretty accurately sums up a Christ-less culture says, “The god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds that they should not discern the truth, preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4 AMP) . 

But this is only temporary darkness. When the mob came to arrest Jesus, He said, “This is your hour—when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53). Darkness only gets an hour, but the Light of God shines for all of eternity! 

One of my favorite Advent texts is found in Hebrews 2:14-15:

Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 

Our Mighty Deliverer came to destroy satan’s power and free those held hopelessly in darkness. The word “destroy” is a powerful, all-encompassing word. Imagine a tyrannical ruler who sent one of his strongest police officers with an arrest warrant, who then grabbed onto you and subdued you with his vice-like grip. 

Only someone stronger than that officer can release you from that grip. That’s what Jesus did when He destroyed satan’s ironclad grip on your soul. Paul asks mockingly, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Now you may be free of the grip of that officer, but the arrest warrant still remains—you are still subject to the penalty. But that word “destroy” also means that the charges against you have been set aside so that there is no penalty outstanding against you. The apostle Paul again addressed this when he wrote, “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. … Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 6:6, 8:33). 

You are now set completely and irrevocably free! “But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). 

The Messiah—our Mighty Deliverer—destroys darkness and delivers those who believe in Him! 

No matter how hopeless it may seem, the Mighty Deliverer always prevails! Jesus has destroyed every enemy that has opposed God’s people! Jesus our Champion shines a light so brightly that nothing in satan’s arsenal can ever diminish it. 

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5 NLT). 

So allow me to repeat: Don’t despair in the middle of the Story! All of History is His Story. No matter how dark it seems, Bethlehem is our proof that Jesus has destroyed our enemy and removed from him all grounds for charging us with sin. Bethlehem is our proof that we can live assured of God’s victorious outcome! 

What a great Christmas gift that truly is! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in this Advent series, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

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The Prince Of Peace

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Last week we saw the dark times in which Micah lived as he prophesied the advent of the Messiah. Israel was both surrounded by enemies as well as lots of practices within their borders that were heartbreaking to God. Many times, our lives can feel the same way: enemies of God all around us and our own turmoil and doubts inside our hearts and minds.      

In this dark, hopeless time, the Messiah came as our Great Shepherd. Take a look at what this Shepherd brings us:

He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the Earth. And He will be their peace. (Micah 5:4-5)

We see this idea of Jesus our Great Shepherd bringing peace to our hearts in the New Testament as well: 

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21) 

This peace is also implied in Psalm 23:1 when David wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” That phrase “I shall not be in want” really captures the definition of peace. 

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. An easy-to-remember definition of shalom is “nothing lost, nothing missing.” Our Great Shepherd makes sure nothing is lost or missing that would cause us anxiety or doubt, so we can have total peace—we can have shalom!

Jesus said the devil’s agenda was for everything to be lost or missing—“the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”—but our Great Shepherd’s agenda is for there to be nothing lost or missing—“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). 

Isaiah, who was prophesying at the same time as Micah, sounded a similar note:

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. … And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6) 

When this Great Shepherd was born in Bethlehem, the shepherds in the field were the first to hear the good news. Notice what the angels announced: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14). 

Who has God’s favor? Those with faith in Him: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). So those with faith in God have God’s favor. 

Faith in what? In all that Jesus purchased for us by His blood shed on the Cross: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). 

Check this out: The root word of shalom is a word that means, “It is finished.” These are the exact same words our Price of Peace announced from the Cross! Jesus finished the work that brings us peace from the turmoil and anxiety of sin! 

Faith comes from believing that God has made the promise of peace, that God has fulfilled the promise of peace through Jesus, and that God is bringing us to His eternal peace. So now our lives of peace in a world of turmoil can serve as a testimony to others. 

Jesus called His followers to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) but we cannot do this while we are experiencing anxiety or doubts. To be peacemakers we must be full of peace because of our relationship with the Prince of Peace, who has ensured that nothing is lost and nothing is missing! 

If you feel anxious, remember that Bethlehem is your proof that the Prince of Peace has come to remove doubts, anxiety, fear, and inner turmoil. Let every pang of anxiety be immediately a call to run to the Prince of Peace. He has paid an incalculable price to purchase your peace, so don’t leave this gift unopened and unused. A dark, anxious world is looking for peace. Know the author of shalom so that you can introduce others to this Prince of Peace. 

If you’ve missed any of the message in this series, please check them out by clicking here. 

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Attitude Adjustment

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Imagine if 700 years before you were born there was a prophecy given about you (Matthew 3:3). Or if on the day of your birth your father said, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him” (Luke 1:76). 

This was John the Baptist.

With these kinds of announcements and the stamp of approval from God Himself, it’s really quite astounding how humble John remained:

  • “After me comes One Who is more powerful than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry” (Matthew 3:11). 
  • “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). 

The confidence that he was God’s man for the hour gave John boldness to speak truth to religious leaders, wealthy people, and Roman soldiers (Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-20). Yet his humility was almost his undoing. 

John preached boldly, fulfilling the prophecies that were made about him. But when Jesus came to him to be baptized, John’s humility caused him to defer initially. Then Jesus reminded him that His baptism was necessary “to fulfill all righteousness. Then John consented” (Matthew 3:13-15). 

Whether I am lacking confidence to speak or lead boldly, or lacking humility to let someone else take the lead, I need to return to the Word of God—just as John did. Both his confidence and his humility were balanced by words spoken over him by God. So it must be for you and me too. 

Confidence without humility or humility without confidence can trip me up and cause me to miss out on all that God needs me to do. So my daily prayer must be: Holy Spirit, may I be sensitive to every correction and adjustment You need to make in me. Illuminate the Scriptures that I need to apply to my life that will keep me in a healthy, balanced place. 

I wrote about this tension between confidence and humility in my book Shepherd Leadership. This was also a topic of conversation in two interviews I did, which you can find here and here. Healthy leaders need the proper balance of confidence and humility to keep their leadership in a place that God can use powerfully. 

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Eternally Satisfied

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We see a pattern throughout the history of the Israelites in the Old Testament: They wanted to have all their bases covered, so they kept up the pretense of worshiping Jehovah, but they also added the idolatrous practices of the nations around them. It got pretty vile (see Jeremiah 2:23-25 as an example). 

These cravings for more than God had provided led to their punishment. As we quoted last week from Isaiah, they lost their “matchless, unbroken companionship” with God (Isaiah 30:18 AMP).

Craving for our self-created idols creates anxiety in our hearts that shows up in three nagging questions. 

(1) What will others think of me if they have things I don’t have?

Worrying about what others think of us has always been a trap. We play games, posture, and frequently hide the truth so that we “look right” to others. But this dishonesty only hurts us in the long run.

Dr. Tony Evans noted, “satan uses our legitimate need for acceptance in an illegitimate way that can result in us living under a false identity.” Jesus warned us not to show off to try to get others to think well of us (Matthew 6:1) and He lived this out in His own life. He said, “I receive not glory from men—I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame” (John 5:41 AMP). 

To avoid this trap remember: Recognition from God > Recognition from men. We should be living to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). 

(2) Will I have enough to survive?

Because the things of this earth pass away, it is natural to think that our supply may just <poof!> be gone in an instant. So we can crave the security of having our shelves fully stocked for the future. 

Jesus twice tells us that our Heavenly Father knows what we need (Matthew 6:8, 32). Then over a span of ten verses, Jesus tells us four times, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25-34). He can assure us of this because of this rock-solid reality: Heaven’s provisions > Earth’s provisions. 

(3) Will God accept me?

Just as satan tried to get Jesus to doubt that He was the Son of God, the devil will also try to get you to doubt whether or not you measure up in God’s sight. But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasizes the Fatherhood of God thirteen times—usually calling Him “your Father.” 

This tells me that we can cling to this: Being accepted by your Father > Being accepted by anyone else. Paul uses a wonderful description in Ephesians when he tells us we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). 

Isaiah told us that God longs to be gracious to us, and Jesus emphasizes that idea when He says, “Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also. Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!” (Luke 12:31-32 AMP) 

Just as God craves to bless you, so you are to crave your fulfillment in what He alone can supply. You must crave the only One Who can eternally satisfy you, Who longs to reward you, and Who delights to give you the inestimable rewards of His kingdom! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Craving series, check them out by clicking here. 

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Watch Out When Wants Become “Needs”

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There is a mistaken belief that urges or yearnings or cravings that humans have are sinful and must be quickly squelched. To that end, many will deny themselves absolutely anything that brings them pleasure. 

But what God creates, He calls “good” and even “very good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). In one part of the Creation account, we read that God created “trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (2:9). Things used in the way God created them are both good and good for us. The Creator knows the best uses, and He shares these with us. He also knows the harmful misuses, and He warns us of these. 

Even Lucifer was created “perfect in beauty” until his craving for more than God had given him corrupted his goodness and turned him into satan (Ezekiel 28:12-19). satan’s craving perverted his heart because he craved more than what the Creator had given him. 

He still uses the same tactic today: he attempts to turn a craving for a legitimate good into an irresistible, entitled pursuit for more. This is what he did with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, trying to get them to doubt God’s wisdom in forbidding them from eating that one tree (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:1-6). 

Adam and Eve needed food, and God gave them a craving for good food. But they didn’t need the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—they just wanted that forbidden fruit. 

When wants become “needs,” “needs” become idols. 

Once again, satan tried the same strategy with Jesus. Jesus had a craving for food after 40 days of fasting, but His Father said, “Not yet.” Notice how satan again tried to get Jesus to question God’s wisdom with his “if” questions at each temptation. He even quotes a Scripture out of context to try to legitimize turning a want into a need (Luke 4:3, 7, 9). 

These longings may seem irresistible, but John counsels us: For every child of God can obey Him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him (1 John 5:4 TLB). Jesus defeated the craving for wants-turned-to-“needs” by using the Word of God, and we would be wise to do the same (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). 

When wants become “needs,” “needs” become idols. And when “needs” become idols, our unfulfilled cravings create anxiety. And when anxiety persists, sin is usually not too far behind. 

So any anxiety in our hearts should alert us to the idols of wants-turned-to-“needs.” In other words, make sure what you are calling “needs” aren’t just wants in disguise. 

How can you do this? By asking yourself these four questions: 

  1. Is this an earthly craving or an eternal craving? Cravings for earthly things will ultimately fail because this world is temporary (1 John 2:17).  
  2. If I don’t get this thing, will I die? If I answer “no,” it’s probably a want. 
  3. Will this craving bring me closer to God? Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). So let’s ask ourselves, “If this longing is fulfilled, will it make me more dependent on God?” If the answer is “no,” then it’s probably a want. 
  4. Will this craving glorify God’s name? Jesus taught us to begin our prayer with an attitude of longing for God’s name to be glorified (Matthew 6:9-10). We can definitely spot wants we’ve turned into “needs” when we are looking for personal gain. Check out this verse from the prophet Isaiah— 

And therefore the Lord earnestly waits, expecting, looking, and longing to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed—happy, fortunate, to be envied—are all those who earnestly wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him—for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship! (Isaiah 30:18 AMP) 

God longs to be gracious to you, so He puts cravings in your heart that can only be satisfied by His presence. Lucifer and Adam and Eve all lost God’s “matchless, unbroken companionship” when they tried to appease the wants-turned-to-“needs” idol. It doesn’t have to be like that for us! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you spot those wrong cravings and turn them into cravings that only God can satisfy. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called Craving, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Aids Of Self-Judgment

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

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Aids Of Self-Judgment

My soul is consumed with longing for Your laws at all times. (Psalm 119:20) 

     Spiritual desires are the shadows of coming blessings. What God intends to give us, He first sets us longing for. Therefore, prayer is wonderfully effective because it is the embodiment of a longing that is inspired by God because He intends to bestow the blessing prayed for! What are your longings, then, my hearer? Do you long to be holy? The Lord will make you holy! Do you long to conquer sin? You will overcome it by faith in Jesus! Are you pining after fellowship with Christ? He will come and make His abode with you! Does your soul thirst, yes, even pant after God as the hart for the water brooks? Then you will be filled with all His fulness…. 

     I say not that it is so with all human wishes, for ‘the sluggard desires and has nothing’ [Proverbs 13:4] and many a man has such evil cravings within his heart that it were contrary to the purity of God for Him to grant them. But where there are intense, heartbreaking earnings of a holy order, depend upon it, they are tokens of good things to come! 

     Where the grace of God reigns in the soul, it makes a man become a stranger among his fellows…. Worldly men care nothing for the judgments of God. No, they care nothing for God Himself! But when a man becomes born anew, a citizen of heaven, there grows up within his spirit a spiritual appetite of which he had felt nothing before—and he longs after God and His Holy Word. See to it, brothers and sisters, whether your souls cry out for God, for the living God, for again I say, by your longings you may test yourselves—by your heart’s desires you may forecast the future—and by your hungering and thirsting you may judge whether you are men of this world or citizens of the world to come. With such aids to self-judgment, no man ought to remain in doubt as to his spiritual condition and eternal prospects.

From Holy Longings

I am currently teaching a series of lessons called Craving. We are learning in these sermons that God created our souls to long intensely, to have cravings. But we go astray when what we crave are things that will merely last during this world. 

John told us, “This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (1 John 2:17 NLT). So by its very definition, worldly things will never satisfy our cravings because the world is temporary. Only an eternal God can give us eternal satisfaction. 

As Spurgeon teaches us here, examining our longings is the best aid of self-judgment and will help us determine our future. Craving God’s presence will bring God’s blessing and His eternal fulfillment of our cravings. Craving anything else will lead to frustration and eternal disappointment. 

God longs to bless us (Isaiah 30:18) as long as we are craving Him!

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