Watch Out When Wants Become “Needs”

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 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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Links & Quotes

“Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don’t anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you’re always trying for a topper you aren’t really listening.” —Groucho Marx

I don’t know about you, but it gets my attention when a physicist says that “dark matter makes up 25 per cent of the Universe and we have no idea what it is!” I love some of the discoveries that are being made and theories that are being proposed concerning black holes. None of this in any way shakes my belief in a Creator who spokle everything into existence. If you would like to consider the  beginning of the universe from a different perspective, check out Starlight And Time.

A reminder from a class I recently taught: you don’t have to go to a church building to be the Church of Jesus Christ—

“When the Holy Spirit is ignored or rejected, religious people are forced either to do their own creating or to fossilize completely. A few churches accept fossilization as the will of God and settle down to the work of preserving their past—as if it needed preserving. Others seek to appear modern and imitate the current activities of the world with the mistaken idea that they are being creative.” —A.W. Tozer

Entomologists have discovered powerful antibiotics in their [paper wasps’] venom, and there is also an indication the venom may be used as a possible cancer treatment.” Whoa!

Dr. Kristin Collier is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and director of the school’s Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. In a recent keynote address to medical students, she had some wise words: “The risk of this education and the one that I fell into is that you can come out of medical school with a bio-reductionist, mechanistic view of people and ultimately of yourself. You can easily end up seeing your patients as just a bag of blood and bones or human life as just molecules in motion. You are not technicians taking care of complex machines, but human beings taking care of other human beings. Let’s resist a view, of our patients and ourselves, that strips us of our humanity, and takes away from the very goal of why we went into this profession in the first place: to take care of human beings entrusted to our care in their moments of greatest need.”

The power of trusting God for our daily needs—

Dan Reiland shared a great post for leaders: 5 steps on a lifelong path to spiritual authority.

This is a short clip from a full-length video I provided exclusively for my Patreon supporters. Would you prayerfully consider supporting this ministry for just $5/month? All new supporters through the end of September will get access to both my content and access to all of the content I have already published.

Successful Against Temptation

The Holy Spirit showed some interesting thoughts from the story of the temptation of Jesus.

Below is a 1-minute clip from a much longer video that I provided exclusively for my Patreon supporters. My blog has 5000+ posts that are all free. In addition, nearly all of my teaching videos on YouTube are free to the public.

To help me continue to provide all of this free content, I ask my friends to support this ministry at just $5 per month. My Patreon supporters get quotes from the books I have read, access to teaching videos that no one else sees, and exclusive teaching content that I don’t make available publicly. This is just my way of saying “Thanks!”

Special offer—Any new Patreon supporters that sign on in the next 30 days will not only get all of my exclusive content going forward, but they will also receive access to all of the content I have already shared. Check it out and sign up here.

Links & Quotes

“Ministers should be persons of the same quiet, lamb-like spirit that Christ was of, the same spirit of submission to God’s will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men; of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men; of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence; the same disposition to pity the miserable, to weep with those who weep, to help men under their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the requests of the needy, and relieve the afflicted; the same spirit of condescension to the poor and mean, tenderness and gentleness towards the weak, and great and effectual love to enemies.” —Jonathan Edwards

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” —Elizabeth Elliot

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I talk about how important it is for us to get a good night’s sleep to keep our leadership skills sharp. Sleep is also vitally important to help in the battle against overcoming temptations.

A groundbreaking paper was released this year that appears to debunk evolutionary theories once again. Check out this commentary from John Stonestreet’s podcast.

“There’s no such thing as a spiritual vacuum in the cosmos. Whatever of our time, attention, interest, or strength is not devoted to the Lord, and His Kingdom and glory, will become susceptible to being taken over by contrary interests. These often take the form of false teachers who appeal to our selfish interests and encourage us to make of the faith of Jesus Christ a kind of spiritual smorgasbord for whatever we think we need. We leave off the solid food of sound doctrine and dabble in the sweets and crunchies of mere self-interest—if we spend any time in the Word of God at all. Our mind enters a period of arrested development which will become permanent atrophy unless serious measures are engaged.” —T.M. Moore

“Always make your gratitude greater than your success.” —Dan Sullivan & Catherine Nomura

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Fully Equipped For Success

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.

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

Fully Equipped For Success

The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6) 

     Oh, that we used more the naked Sword of the Spirit! I am afraid we keep this two-edged Sword in a scabbard, and somewhat pride ourselves that the sheath is so elaborately adorned. What is the use of the sheath? The Sword must be made bare, and we must fight with it, without attempting to garnish it. Tell forth the words of God. Omit neither the terrors of Sinai, nor the love notes of Calvary. …  

     My Master’s Word is a great opener of prison doors. … That is a most wonderful Word, which, like a battle-ax, smashes in the helmet of presumption, and at the same time, like the finger of love, touches the tender wound of the bleeding, and heals it in an instant! The words of the Lord—for breaking down or lifting up—are equally effective. …  

     The Bible may be compared to the locksmith’s bunch of keys. You handle them one by one, and say of one, ‘That is a strange key; surely it will fit no lock that ever was made!’ But one of these days the smith is sent for to open a very peculiar lock. None of his keys open it. At last he selects that singular specimen. Look! It enters, shoots back the bolt, and gives access to the treasure! …  

     Rest assured that you never will be in a labyrinth so complicated that this Book, blessed of the Spirit, will not help you through. … 

     Beloved, the words of God endure another test; they are our preservatives in times of temptation. You can write a book that may help a man when he is tempted in a certain direction. Will the same volume strengthen him when he is attracted in the opposite direction? … The devil himself cannot invent a temptation that is not met in these pages. And all the devils in hell together, if they were to hold parliament, and to call in the aid of all evil men, could not invent a device which is not met by this matchless Library of truth. It reaches the believer in every condition and position, and preserves him from all evil.

From The Bible Tried And Proved

There is no substitute for God’s Word, and there is no obstacle that the Holy Scripture cannot overcome—

ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The Bible is our sword and battle-ax for fighting battles, it is our key to the most complicated problems, it is our map to guide us to safety, and it is our life preserver to help us overcome temptation. 

What a Book! 

I say a loud, “Amen!” to these concluding words of Charles Spurgeon: “I grieve that even to some who bear the Christian name, Holy Scripture is the least read book in their library. … Brothers and sisters, open the Book! Do it freely. Do it heartily. Do it constantly.”

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—My Element

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.

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

My Element

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (Philippians 3:20—4:1). 

     Do you know what it is to feel that the life that is in you is first in Christ and still flows from Him, even as the life of the branch is mainly in the stem? ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20). This is to be in Christ! …     

     This expression is very short but very full: ‘In Christ.’ Does it not mean that we are in Christ as the birds are in the air that buoys them up and enables them to fly? Are we not in Christ as the fish are in the sea? Our Lord has become our element—vital and all surrounding! In Him we live, move, and have our being. He is in us, and we are in Him. We are filled with all the fullness of God because all fullness dwells in Christ and we dwell in Him.

From The Watchword For Today: “Stand Fast”

Years ago I was taking a class, and the teacher asked us to write down some of the different roles we had in our life. I wrote down things like son, brother, employee, team captain. After everyone had finished their lists, the teacher asked the students to share some of their roles. As each one listed a role, the rest of the class would raise a hand if that role also applied to them. One person said, “Christian,” and nearly every hand in the classroom went up. Except mine.

Being a Christian is not a role I step into; it’s who I am. It impacts everything I think and everything I do. 

Birds don’t step into the air when they want to fly. Fish don’t run to the water when they want to swim. Birds and fish always live in their element. We are in our element in Christ when we can always say, “In Him I live, and move, and have my being.” 

The devil has always used doubt and uncertainty—“Did God really say…” he asked Eve, and “Are you really the Son of God,” he mocked Jesus. He wants to do the same thing to you today, making you think you have somehow missed out on being in Christ. 

But if Christ is your Savior and your Lord, stand fast in that. Let nothing move you. Counteract the devil’s doubt-inciting accusations with truthful as-it-is-written statements from God’s Word. Immerse yourself in Christ and make Him your constant element—just as a branch connected to a stalk, or a bird in the air, or a fish in the ocean. You are in Christ, Christ is in you, and Christ is in the Father. Which means Jesus has taken you into the Father with Him. Live, and move, and have your very being in His presence every single moment!

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Overwhelmed?

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

Have you noticed some people just say, “Morning,” but not “Good morning”? Almost as if they are waiting to see if it’s actually going to be good. I think many people wake up overwhelmed before their feet hit the floor. If the cliche says, “When it rains it pours,” to them it seems like it’s always pouring! 

In our series, we’ve been asking if certain statements are in the Bible. Statement #7 is God won’t give you more than you can handle. Is that in the Bible? Well, kinda. 

Many people would say, “Yes, it’s in the Bible” based on 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

Remember that context is king, so we need to look at the whole setting. For this verse, I would suggest going back to the beginning of the chapter (1 Corinthians 10:1-14). Paul is telling us that Israel’s bad examples are a warning for us. What’s the warning? It boils down to not becoming overconfident in our own abilities—“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (v. 12). 

Overconfidence exposes us to temptation. James does a really good job of defining temptation as our own evil desires that have met an opportunity to give in (James 1:13-14). When the pressure is on, perhaps I’m tempted to…

  • …cut corners 
  • …water down the truth 
  • …tell a little white lie 
  • …justify helping myself to something that isn’t mine 
  • …excuse my unforgiveness

I like some of the insights we get from the Amplified Bible on 1 Corinthians 10:13. 

One phrase reminds us that “no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted” to us. God is helping us grow through those tempting times. 

Another phrase from this verse says that God “can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure.” God knows the perfect time and temperature of our trials to remove the impurities from our lives. 

Paul’s conclusion—his “therefore”—is found in the next verse: “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). “Flee” means we are to take hold of ourselves to stay away from dangerous places, and “idols” are anything we put in place of God. 

Notice the verse says, God…will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Sometimes I set myself up to stumble when I’m…

  • …physically tired 
  • …hangry 
  • …spiritually drained 
  • …emotionally frazzled 

Even in these things God will give us wisdom if we ask Him (James 1:5), but we must apply the wisdom He gives us. 

So God tests me to purify and strengthen me. God will never overwhelm me or set me up for failure, but I may overwhelm myself and set myself up for failure if I’m not being careful about the idols I set up in my life. 

So If you are feeling overwhelmed, if you are feeling like there’s too much, if you feel like you’re giving in to temptations, ask yourself: 

  • Am I getting enough sleep? 
  • How’s my diet? 
  • Have I made Bible reading and prayer a priority this week? 
  • Are there any relationships that are draining me? 
  • Have I confessed my shortcomings? 
  • Have I asked God for wisdom? 
  • Have I obeyed what God has already shown me? 

God will never give me more than I can handle in His tests, but sometimes I give myself more than I can handle. It’s time to remove those idols and stumbling blocks from my life.  

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Is That In The Bible?, I’ve shared links to all of the messages here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Faith Sees Better Than Sight Does

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.

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

Faith Sees Better Than Sight Does  

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) 

     There is walking by faith, and there is walking by sight. The most of men, all men indeed, naturally walk by sight. They have a proverb that says, ‘Seeing is believing,’ and they are wise men, for they trust people as far as they can see them, and no further. … Self-reliance is the name of the principle, and according to the world, the best and grandest thing that a man can do is have faith in himself. … 

     I think the world must be pretty well ashamed of itself if it still considers this poor earth to be all that a soul has to live for. I feel as if I could not talk upon the matter. Solomon tried everything there was in this world—riches, power, pleasure—every sort of delicacy and delight he had, beyond the point of satisfaction. And what was his verdict upon at all? ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2). … 

     If there is not another world to live for, I must say that this life is a most unutterably empty kind of thing! It is not worthy of a man! But oh, to believe what God tells me: that there is a God; that God became flesh to bear me up to Himself! To believe that I am God’s son, that I have an immortality within myself that will outlast the stars, that I will one day see His face and sing His praise forever with cherubim and seraphim! Why, there is something here! …

     If you walk only by sight and believe only what you see, what do you believe? You believe that while you are living here, it is a good thing to make the best you can of it. And then you will die and be buried, and that will be the end of you! What a poor, miserable, ignorant belief this is! … But when you believe in what God reveals and come to walk by faith, how your information expands! Now riddles are all solved, and the inexplicable is understood! … 

     The principle of faith does best in the dark. He who walks by faith can walk in the sunlight as well as you can, for he walks with God. He has enlightened eyes, but he can walk in the dark as you cannot, for his light is still shining upon him. He trusts in the unseen and in the invisible, and his soul rejoices when present things are passing away.

From Faith Versus Sight

One of the temptations of the devil has been to try to get us focused on the seen—the temporal. He did this successfully with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tried to get Jesus to focus on the temporal in his wilderness temptations, but Jesus steadfastly kept His eyes on the unseen. 

The devil’s strategy hasn’t changed. He will try to get you to say, “Woe is me! Look at all of the bad things happening around me!” 

But we walk by faith, not by sight. “Faith is the assurance—the confirmation, the title deed—of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality—faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).   

Don’t give in to the temptation to believe only what you see. There is so much more waiting for you. It’s all yours by faith in Jesus Christ!

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You’re No Match For Sexual Sin

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

At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. … 

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter…. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. (Proverbs 7) 

Solomon tells us that we know the place—her corner, her street, her house. 

Solomon tells us that we know her goal—she came out to meet him with crafty intent. 

Solomon tells us that we know her strategy—speaking lies with a brazen face, speaking words that are seductive, persuasive, smooth, and with an outfit to match the vocabulary. 

Solomon tells us we know the outcome—her victim is brought down into the chambers of death. 

The Bible never counsels us to fight sexual sin, but it says we should flee sexual sin. Stronger people than me have been sucked into the quicksand of sexual temptation. 

It sounds innocent enough (“it’s just a little flirting”). It sounds harmless enough (“there’s no harm in looking”). It sounds tame enough (“who will ever know?”). But her slain are a mighty throng! 

Solomon also tells us the way to avoid sexual sin—keep God’s words close by, store up His commands in your heart, keep wise and God-fearing friends around you, and stay away from her corner, her street, her house. 

This is not a trivial thing. I’m no match for the silky seduction of sexual temptation! Flee! Run away! Don’t even get close to it! Jesus said that drastic steps may be needed—get rid of your computer, stop watching TV alone, get a new job. 

Don’t fight it—flee it! Your best strategy is to stay as far, far away as possible. Let me say it again: You are no match for the crushing power of sexual temptation, so FLEE! 

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Perelandra (book review)

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

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis is the second book in Lewis’ space trilogy. Of all the books in this series, this is the only book that I would recommend reading the first book—Out Of The Silent Planet—first, so that you can fully appreciate the story. 

Out Of The Silent Planet took place on Malacandra (or Mars) where our protagonist Dr. Elwin Ransom learns the Old Solar language and clashes with the antagonist Dr. Edward Weston. Perelandra (or Venus) is the setting of this second book, which essentially picks up right from the conclusion of book one. 

Although C.S. Lewis had much stricter definitions for terms like “allegory” or “parable,” his fantasy stories in both this space trilogy and his Narnian books clearly are telling a much grander and more real Story than merely the fictional accounts in these books. This concept is on full display in Perelandra. 

In the biblical account of the temptation of Eve, the whole affair is covered rather quickly. The devil says, “Eat the fruit,” to which Eve replies, “We’re not supposed to.” And then the devil says, “Nothing bad will happen to you if you do eat it,” and she does it. In Perelandra, C.S. Lewis takes us back to that scene and imagines the debate that might have happened, with Ransom counseling the Lady of Perelandra to obey, and Weston (or at least Weston’s body) trying to convince her to bravely disobey. The interplay between these three characters is quite fascinating. 

This story is a very enjoyable read on its own, but I found that the backstory of Out Of The Silent Planet increased my enjoyment in reading this book again. Whenever you choose to read this book, you are in for—with all due apologies to C.S. Lewis—a lovely allegory! 

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