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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Created To Crave God

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I was playing golf with a pastor and a missionary when the starter asked if a single player could join us to make a foursome. We happily agreed. About 4-5 holes into our game, our guest asked what we did. My pastor friend started out, “I’m a pastor, and this guy is a missionary, and—” 

Our guest interrupted and blurted out, “You guys are Christians?! I’ve never had so much fun! I always heard Christians were boring.” 

When did it come about that people thought of Christians as boring—or even worse, as sourpusses and killjoys? Sadly, too many Christians have helped cement this idea in people’s minds. I think this is largely because those Christians are misinformed and frustrated. This frustration, I believe, comes from the mistaken idea that Christians are supposed to squelch any urges or cravings that we have.  

But check out this Q&A from the Westminster Catechism—

Q: What is the chief end of man? 

A: To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. 

Glorifying God is supposed to result in enjoyment—enjoying both God’s presence and the life He has given us. We are created to crave the fuel of His Spirit that satisfies and energizes us. 

Just as your car would at best under-perform if you attempted to run it with anything else but gasoline, so our lives will under-perform and feel like drudgery if we are trying to fuel our cravings with anything other than God. 

The dictionary defines “craving” as a great or eager desire, or a yearning. But I believe the Bible defines God-honoring craving as the longing for an intimate relationship with God that is implanted by God Himself. 

The people of Judah had gone astray from God and were trying to satisfy their urges with foreign gods and pagan idolatry. When King Asa called these backsliders back to God, here’s how he did it—

[Asa] commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers—to inquire of and for Him and crave Him as a vital necessity—and to obey the law and the commandment. (2 Chronicles 14:4 AMP) 

Contrast this with the temporary cravings of earth—

But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish, useless, godless, and hurtful desires… (1 Timothy 6:9 AMP) 

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). 

Nowhere are godly cravings and earthly cravings better contrasted than in James 4:1-6. 

In this passage, the Greek word for desires (v. 1) and pleasures (v. 3) is hedone. This is where we get our English word “hedonism.” There is nothing wrong with pleasure—for God Himself takes pleasure—but it’s what pleasures we are craving that can make them ungodly. James rightly points out that the wrong hedonism is a craving to fulfill “your desires,” “your pleasures,” and to desire “friendship with the world” (v. 1, 3, 4)

Jesus talked about worldly cravings—using the same word hedone—when He said, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures [hedone], and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14). 

Notice the same thing in Isaiah 58:2 where God declares that people “seem eager” to delight in God, but it’s only a show for them to satisfy fleshly cravings. John Piper noted, “God means they are delighting in their business and not in the beauty of their God. He does not rebuke their hedonism. He rebukes the weakness of it. They have settled for secular interests and thus honor them above the Lord.” 

Instead, notice the fulfilled cravings when we seek God: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13-14). 

I like that reminder that “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The origin of the word craving is the Old Norse word krefja, which means to lay claim on something because of a promise. God has promised, and so we can claim it. 

James assures us that the spirit God implanted in us envies intensely (James 4:5). We were made to crave God’s presence, we were made to find ultimate satisfaction in His presence, we were made to find eternal delight in knowing Him more intimately! 

The proud person says, “God, I know what I want. Give it to me.” The humble person says, “God, I know Your presence is the only thing that will satisfy me. Give it to me.” 

The craving in our spirit can be redirected from earthly yearnings to God-honoring yearnings by yielding to the Holy Spirit. I would humbly suggest that our prayer should be something like this—

“Father, grant that my cravings are for Your name to be hallowed, Your kingdom to be made visible, and Your will to be done. Let the enjoyment I have in Your presence shine out of me in a way that invites others to be dissatisfied with their earthly cravings and find their ultimate satisfaction in a personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit, continue to refine and redirect all of my cravings away from earthly things to eternal pleasures. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” 

If you would like to follow along with all of the messages in this series called Craving, you can find all of the sermons by clicking here. 

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Craving

Doesn’t it seem like many Christians think of their relationship with Jesus as bland? After all, we’ve been told that any cravings we have should be quickly downplayed so that they don’t carry us away. But what we discover in the Bible is that God made us to be craving creatures—He wants us to long deeply and find ultimate satisfaction for those longings. 

Join us this Sunday as we begin a new series called Craving. I think you will find it quite eye-opening and heart-lifting. I would love for you to join us in person, but if you can’t, you can watch our messages on both Facebook and YouTube.

If you have missed any of the messages in this series, you can find them here:

Killing Mammon’s Covetousness

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Max Lucado wrote, 

“The United States economy endured ten recessions between 1948 and 2001. These downturns lasted an average of ten months apiece and resulted in the loss of billions of dollars. Every five years or so, the economy dumps its suitors and starts over. What would you think of a man who did the same with women? What word would you use to describe a husband who philandered his way through nine different wives over fifty years? And what word would you use to describe wife number ten? How about this one? Fool. Those who trust money are foolish. They are setting themselves up to be duped and dumped into a dystopia of unhappiness.” —Max Lucado, Fearless  

Yikes! It sounds like money can be a scary thing. So let’s consider statement #12 in our series asking “Is that in the Bible?”—Money is the root of all evil. Is that in the Bible? No! 

That phrase is close to one that is in the Bible, but “close” misses the real meaning. What Paul actually wrote to Timothy is, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). 

That three-word phrase “love of money” is actually just one word in Greek, and it means “friend of silver.” 

The Bible teaches that money itself is neither good nor evil. It’s merely a tool like a hammer that is used for building something or for destroying something. If the hammer builds or destroys, it’s not the hammer that is good or evil but the attitude of the one gripping the hammer determines the good or evil outcome. 

So too with money. Money keeps the lights on, puts gas in our car, clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs, it even helps people share the Gospel here and around the world. It’s our attitude toward money that leads us to good or evil thoughts and actions. 

In describing people who were a friend of silver, Paul uses phrases like this to describe them: teaches false doctrine … does not agree to sound instruction…and godly teaching … who think godliness is a means to financial gain … want to get rich … eager for money (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 9-10). 

In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers gathered at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Together these men controlled more wealth than the United States Treasury! They met together to discuss how they could use their present wealth to gain even more wealth. Their plan was put into place and it began to reap the results they planned: they expanded their influence and their bank accounts. 

Then six years later, on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday happened. The worst day for the New York Stock Exchange ever and the beginning of the Great Depression in the USA. 

What about that group of wealthy financiers who wanted more, more, more? 

  • Charles Schwab—president of Carnegie Steel Company—lived the last years of his life on borrowed money and died penniless 
  • Arthur Cutten—the world’s largest wheat speculator—died insolvent 
  • Richard Whitney—president of the NYSE—served a prison term for embezzlement 
  • Albert Fall—a member of the president’s cabinet—also went to prison 
  • Jessie Livermore—the “bear of Wall Street,” Leon Frazer—president of the Bank of International Settlements, and Ivar Kreuger—head of the world’s largest monopoly (a match company)—all committed suicide 

Their friendship with silver—their love of Money—led to their disastrous downfalls. 

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). 

The word Jesus used for “Money” is Mammon: wealth personified and deified. When we make Money our god—Money (with a capital “M”)—we naturally begin to covet what isn’t ours. Nothing satisfies and so we covet to possess more and more and more. 

Remember Jesus we cannot serve two masters. If we replace God with Mammon, it is inevitable that we will break all of the Ten Commandments. Has anyone ever made an idol to their Money, or murdered for money, or committed adultery, or stolen, or told lies? They sure have! 

Paul described those who worship Mammon this way—

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

But those who worship God, Paul described like this—

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:6-8) 

Simply put: Contentment with God kills Mammon’s covetousness! 

Want to know how to check your attitude toward money? When you think about giving God His tithe, or when the Holy Spirit prompts you to give to a missionary, what thought comes to your mind? Do you think, “Ugg, I have to give this” or do you rejoice to say, “Yes, I get to give this”? The answer to that question will give you a really good indication of how much pull Mammon has over your heart. 

We all have a choice to make: yield to God or yield to Mammon. But remember only God can give us contentment today and pleasures that last for eternity. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Is That In The Bible?, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Unexpected Response

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I’m a bit of a nut about the exactness of words, so one of my pet peeves is the incorrect use of imply and infer. “Imply” is something I do as the speaker; “infer” is something you do as the listener. Or you might say implying is like throwing and inferring is like catching. 

A big problem arises when I infer something that you didn’t imply. Or even worse, when I infer something based on something you didn’t say. People will often say something like this, “Since Jesus didn’t specifically talk about ________ then it must be okay.” In logic, this would be called an argument from ignorance: concluding that an action must be acceptable because it has not been specifically stated to be unacceptable. 

Statement #10 in our series asking “Is that in the Bible?” is—Love your neighbor. Is that in the Bible? Yes!  

Remember Jesus called “Scripture” all of the words we would now call “Old Testament.” So in Matthew 5:43 Jesus quoted Scripture: Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18). 

Later on, Jesus would add to this Deuteronomy 6:5—Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength—to answer the question about the greatest commandment of all. 

In Leviticus 19, the Hebrew word for love means love in the broadest sense of the word, and neighbor means a friend or a fellow citizen. Unfortunately, the rabbis inferred that someone not a Jew was therefore an enemy and therefore not worthy of love. They further inferred that the opposite of love was hate. 

Matthew Henry commented, “They were willing to infer what God never designed.” 

Statement #11 is—Hate your enemy. Is that in the Bible? Yes, in the fact that it appears in print in Matthew 5:43, but it doesn’t appear in the Scripture that Jesus knew. It had become so ingrained in the thinking of people that they now assumed it was in the Bible. 

In many ways, the Old Testament laws were easier to live out because they were all external and easy to measure, like don’t murder or don’t sleep with someone who isn’t your spouse. But Jesus made it a heart issue—He said lust is the same as adultery and hate is the same as murder. 

Jesus also made love for enemies a heart issue. The word He used for love in the Greek is agape—the same word describing God’s love for His enemies in John 3:16—For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life. 

Jesus said our enemies were really our neighbors and were worthy of sacrificial love because they, too, were loved by God. 

Matthew 5:44 is shortened in the NIV and has a footnote explaining that the longer verse was not seen in the earlier manuscripts. But given the fact that Jesus demonstrated everything found in the longer version of this verse, I think we are safe in using it. So let’s look at the response Jesus calls us to from the NKJV: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. 

Here’s what Jesus says it means for us to love our enemies:

(1) Bless the cursers. We’ve all been “cursed out” with nasty, hateful words. When that happens, Jesus wants to bless that neighbor. The word He used for bless literally means to say good words. 

(2) Help the haters. Jesus said we are to do those things that are beautiful and excellent—like the good Good Samaritan did for his enemy-turned-neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37).  

(3) Pray for the persecutors. Talk to God about them; don’t talk to others about them. 

This response from Christians toward people whom others would call an enemy is totally unexpected by the world. This unexpected response will begin to draw enemies toward Jesus (1 Peter 2:12). If we will treat enemies and neighbors, they may soon become brothers and sisters in the family of God! 

When the world hits us Christians out of hate, let’s respond with unexpected love: blessing those who curse us, helping those who hurt us, and praying for those who persecute us. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our Is That In The Bible? series, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Contented To Intercede

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

There is a sportswear company called ActiveFaith. I have a warmup shirt I wear sometimes in preparing for my workout. The front of the shirt says, “I can do all things,” and on the back it says, “through Christ.” I think that phrase is supposed to help me muscle through when I want to back off in my workouts. Perhaps reminding myself, “I can do all things through Christ” will help me persevere. 

As we continue our series asking, “Is that in the Bible?” we have come to statement #8—I can do everything through Christ. Is that in the Bible? Yes, but.…  

Yes, this verse is in the Bible in Philippians 4:13, but we need to as what exactly is the “everything” Paul is referencing. 

Remember that context is king, so we need to look at this whole letter to the church at Philippi, and especially the verses surrounding this statement. Let’s consider verses 10-19. 

In verse 10, Paul says he is glad that the Philippian Christians have had an opportunity to meet his material and financial needs again. This church was famous for its generosity (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-4), and when they heard Paul was in prison, they wanted to help. 

Prison was actually house arrest for Paul. He wasn’t allowed to leave the house, but he was responsible for all of his living expenses. Quite simply put: no money, no food. Epaphroditus brought the necessary funds from Philippi to Rome. He so invested himself in this mission to help Paul that he nearly died in the process (Philippians 2:25-30). 

Paul expresses his gratitude for the way these friends supplied for his needs, and he tells them twice that he has learned contentment during this ordeal. He says that he knows what it is to have plenty, and he knows what it is to have nothing. 

Did you catch that: Paul says that contentment is a learned attitude. It is learned through appetites satisfied and appetites thwarted, it is learned by looking back to recall God’s past mercies and then reassuring an anxious mind—that may become a discontented mind—that God is still God and that His future grace has not diminished one iota (see Philippians 4:4-7).  

Bottom line: Contentment is learned by being assured (or reassured) that I can get through this season of life by my unwavering faith in Christ’s ability to supply my needs. So Paul concludes, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” 

I like the way the Amplified Bible translates this verse: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me—I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. 

Contentment is keeping my eyes on Jesus regardless of the circumstances. Contentment brings an assurance to my heart to keep trusting God regardless of my circumstances. And contentment then helps me pray for others. 

How does contentment help us pray—or intercede—for others? 

Before I answer that, let me have you consider another “Is that in the Bible” statement. Statement #9—My God will meet all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Is that in the Bible? No! 

Paul is not praying for himself, but for his friends. Listen carefully to the pronouns in this verse: And my God will meet all YOUR needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). 

So back to my earlier question: How does contentment help us intercede for others?

It’s hard for me to pray for others to be blessed and have their needs supplied when my heart is discontented, isn’t it? When I have learned contentment—especially when I learned it by having all my needs supplied in a time of want—then I know how to both empathize with my friends who are in need and how to intercede for them. 

To the church at Corinth Paul said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, SO THAT we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). 

The Holy Spirit teaches me contentment through these difficult circumstances SO THAT I am strong, and SO THAT I can pray for that strength for others in their difficult circumstances. My contentment helps me empathize and intercede for my brothers and sisters. 

To check out other “Is that in the Bible” phrases we have explored, please click here to check out the full list. 

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Sure And Secure

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

We have looked at all of the psalms with a Selah pause, but there is one bonus message that we need to consider, and I think it’s a perfect wrap up to this series. 

Outside the book that bears his name, there is no other mention of Habakkuk anywhere else in the Bible. The author himself gives us no biographic information, nor does he give us dates as most of the other prophets do. However, there is enough information inside his short book that allows us to make some solid inferences:

  • based on his instructions in 3:19 we can infer he is a Levite and a worship leader—notice that he says “my instruments” 
  • we know for certain he is a song writer and a prophet (1:1; 3:1) 
  • he is a prophet with a heavy message—the word oracle in in the opening verse is probably better translated a “burden” 
  • he is a contemporary of Jeremiah, who spoke to backsliders, but Habakkuk speaks to the godly remnant to help them make sense of what’s happening in their crumbling culture 

Habakkuk does something that isn’t seen anywhere in the Bible except in the Psalms: he calls godly people to Selah—not once, but three times! 

In our look at the Selahs of Psalm 55 we noted how David’s Selahs almost came as an interruption of his anxious thoughts. Habakkuk’s Selahs follow this same theme. That’s because Habakkuk’s culture (like ours today) was increasingly unrighteous, unstable, and unsure. This prophetic worship leader wants righteous people trying to stand strong in their unrighteous culture to know that our surety and stability must come from our unshakable relationship with our righteous God. 

We’ve said that one of the definitions for Selah is “pause and calmly think of that,” but for Habakkuk’s Selahs I want to modify it slightly: Pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this…. What he wants us to consider, I believe, comes from the opening words of his song in chapter 3—

Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (v. 2). 

We are to pause to consider that God has already shown His unrivaled power in the past, and then we stand firm to see Him move again “in our day, in our time” so that the unrighteous will have an opportunity to repent and turn to Him. 

The first Selah is after v. 3 in which Habakkuk references Mount Paran. How did God show His fame there? Moses recorded it this way: 

The Lord came from Sinai and beamed upon us from Seir; He flashed forth from Mount Paran, from among ten thousands of holy ones, a flaming fire, a law, at His right hand. (Deuteronomy 33:2)  

Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before and He can do it again. His glory will cover the heavens, His praise will fill the earth, His power will be so evident that the earth will quake and nations will tremble (vv. 4-6). All of this to reassure the righteous and arrest the attention of the wayward unrighteous.  

The second Selah is after v. 9 where Habakkuk is still describing all that God will do personally to rescue His righteous ones. Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before—see the almost identical language David uses in Psalm 18:3-17—and He can do it again. All of this to reassure the righteous and arrest the attention of the wayward unrighteous. 

The final Selah is at the end of v. 13 where Habakkuk describes what God will do to the enemies of His people. He uses words of decisive victory—crushed, stripped, pierced, trampled. 

Once again, Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before and He can do it again. More specifically, Jesus is the Decisive and Ultimate Victor over sin and death! Check this out: 

Then the end will come, when [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26) 

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross. (Colossians 2:15) 

Do not be afraid. I [Jesus] am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)

When our culture is becoming increasingly unrighteous, unstable, and unsure, what an unshakable surety and security we have standing on Christ the Solid Rock. As the old hymn reminds us—when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay!

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our lengthy Selah series, you can find all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Dehydrated

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I just came back from California where drought-like conditions cause residents a lot of concern—wildfires, crop failure, what happens if too much rain falls too quickly? Being dry causes people a lot of stress. 

Most people live under-hydrated, if not dehydrated. Depending upon the size of the person, the amount of water in the human body makes up 55-75%. That means that when we don’t get enough water, many complications can arise. So if you struggle with…

  • …headaches, don’t take a Tylenol, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bad breath, don’t swish mouthwash, but trying drinking more water 
  • …being tired, don’t guzzle caffeine, but trying drinking more water 
  • …gut problems, don’t pop an Alka-Seltzer or milk of magnesia, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bags under your eyes, don’t get botox, but trying drinking more water 

The introduction to Psalm 143 only says, “A psalm of David,” but nothing about his actual predicament. But we can see the things that were weighing heavy on David: 

  • he pleaded for mercy, which means not getting the punishment he deserved (vv. 1-2) 
  • enemies were pursuing him (v. 3) 
  • he felt faint in spirit and dismayed in heart (v. 4) 
  • he had a failing spirit (v. 7) 
  • he was lost, asking God to “show me the way” (v. 8) 
  • he prayed for God to “preserve my life…bring me out of trouble” (v. 11) 
  • he felt the slander of his enemies (v. 12) 

All of this must have led to David feeling emotionally and spiritually—if not even physically—dehydrated. 

We have said there are three definitions for Selah, but I think the context of this chapter clearly limits it to just one definition: a pause to reflect. David’s Selah in this psalm is actually a quadruple Selah! A dehydrated David reminds himself and us to…

  • remember or recall to mind 
  • meditate or speak to yourself (also see Psalm 42:5-6) 
  • consider—some translations use the word “muse,” a word meaning an inner conversation, including airing our complaints 
  • Selah—the call to “pause and calmly think of that,” as the Amplified Bible defines that word  

All of these things pressing in on David were getting his full attention, so he forgot to drink deeply of the Living Water of God. As a result, David was dehydrated. This is why he calls for that quadruple Selah to be refreshed. 

But what if there are so many problems around us that we cannot even think of anything that we can “drink” from God? What if there are so many troubles that we don’t know what to thank Him for? 

Let me point you to a tiny preposition: IN in vv. 8, 9 (and also in Psalm 42:5-6). David is not saying he has to get a drink, but that he has to go IN to the Source of Living Water. 

Rejoice IN the Lord (Philippians 4:4) and Trust IN the Lord (Isaiah 26:4). As a result, God will then keep us IN His peace (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:7). [Check out all of these verses by clicking here.]

This is what I think David spoke to himself in his remembering, meditating, and considering—in his inner conversations. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust IN You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8). 

When you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, but we can look to the unchangeable attributes of God. David did this and it helped him with his actions and attitude: 

God’s love is unfailing so we can rely on Him (v. 8a)
God’s omniscience is infinite so we can trust His leading (v. 8b)
God’s omnipotence is unmatched so we can be secure in Him (v. 9)
God’s sovereign wisdom is unrivaled so we can confidently obey and follow Him (v. 10)
God’s eternal glory is unending so we can have eternal hope (v. 11)
Again David notes that God’s love is unfailing so we can continue to fearlessly serve Him (v. 12), which takes us right back to the opening two verses of this psalm

The Selah time allowed David to make these connections, or rather, it allowed him the quiet time to drink in the Holy Spirit’s reminders of these attributes of God. David always knew who God was, but in his time of dehydration his Selah re-reminded Him of who God was to him. 

When we are feeling dehydrated, we must Selah to drink deeply of the Living Water. This Selah pause plunges us INTO God’s presence and allows us to make His attributes personal.  

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list of them by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God Loves Wicked People

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

The first two Selah pauses we see in Psalm 140 are pauses to remember two things: 

  1. There, but for the grace of God, go I. 
  2. God is doing something in me through wicked people and evil times. 

But there is one more Selah in this chapter that we need to consider—Do not grant the wicked their desires, O Lord; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud. Selah. (v. 8) 

Most of  us would probably agree with Abraham Kuyper who said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” 

But the amazing thing here is that God allows David—and you and me—to call Him mine! “O LORD, I say to You, ‘You are MY God’” (v. 6). David goes on to say that God is my strong deliverer who shields me against evildoers (v. 7). 

But isn’t David’s God also the God of the wicked? Aren’t they a part of “the whole domain of human existence” that is His? Yes! 

So that must mean that God wants even wicked people to call Him, “My God”! 

This is exactly what Jesus told us: For God so loved the world [including wicked people] that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever [including wicked people] believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world [including wicked people] through Him (John 3:16-17). 

Just before this third Selah in verse 8 David prays that the plans of the wicked might be thwarted so that proud people don’t become even more proud. That seems okay. But after the Selah David seems to be asking God to let everything that wicked people have planned to boomerang back on them (vv. 9-11).  

Isn’t that hateful? Not if we understand “hate” correctly. 

Hate isn’t the opposite of love, but apathy is the opposite of love. Hate is a very strong emotion that usually comes out when something we love or desire is thwarted or kept from us. 

Just as we learned last week that God allows evil people and their slander and wickedness to prune us and make us more fruitful, can’t God give back to evil people exactly what they need to get their attention? Can’t He use their own evil plans for them just as He used them for us? Yes! 

If God loves us—and He does—then He must hate anything that keeps us from Him. 

If God loves wicked people—and He does—then He must also hate anything that keeps them from accepting the atoning work Jesus did for them on the Cross. 

God is love. There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more. There is nothing an evil person can do to make God love them any less. 

David’s third Selah is really his reminder that he must leave evil people to the only One who can discipline them in perfect measure. We have to leave evil people to God’s care—the only One who can rescue them. That’s why Jesus told us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). 

David’s prayer in verses 9-13 does leave evil people in God’s hands, and it’s a prayer you and I can personalize for those whom we desire to know Jesus as their Savior. 

It’s not God’s desire that any should perish. So let’s Selah to call God, “My God,” but to also pray that even the wicked people around us will come to the realization that through faith in Jesus, they too can cry out, “My God!” 

God gave me a unique story when I was walking through a challenging time with a friend that I needed to leave to God’s care. I called the story The Parable of the Lifeguard. You can watch it in the video below, or you can read it by clicking here. 

If you have missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

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