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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Links & Quotes

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“That which astonishes, astonishes once; but whatever is admirable become more and more admired.” —Joseph Joubert

“Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.” —Westminster Confession

“Adversity is the first path to trust.” —Lord Byron

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” —Victor Hugo

“God’s corrections are our instructions; His lashes our lessons, and His scourges our schoolmasters.” —John H. Aughey

“Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus, or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way? It is a great thing to tell yourself the truth.” —Oswald Chambers

“Press into God’s promises. When fears surface, respond with this thought: But God said … And when doubts arise, but God said… And when guilt overwhelms you, but God said…  Search the Scriptures like a miner digging for gold and trust the promises you find.” —Max Lucado

John Hendryx points out several similarities between Islamic and secular fundamentalism.

Josh McDowell reminds us that just teaching someone biblical truth is not enough.

If you would like to check out some devotional readings for Advent, click here.

The importance of belief in God for Issac Newton’s scientific discoveries.

[VIDEO] One of the most beautiful arrangements of Amazing Grace I’ve heard—

12 Quotes From “Keeping The Ten Commandments”

Keeping The Ten CommandmentsJ.I. Packer wrote a very readable, but scholarly, book examining how 21st-century people should live out the biblical Ten Commandments. You can read my full book review by clicking here, but I’m sharing some of my favorite quotes below.

“God’s love gave us the law just as His love gave us the gospel, and as there is no spiritual life for us save through the gospel, which points us to Jesus Christ the Savior, so there is no spiritual health for us save as we seek in Christ’s strength to keep the law and practice the love of God and neighbor for which it calls.”

“Where the law’s moral absolutes are not respected, people cease to respect either themselves or each other; humanity is deformed, and society slides into the killing decadence of mutual exploitation and self-indulgence.”

“The negative form of the Commandments has positive implications. ‘Where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded’ (Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 99). The negative form was needed at Sinai (as in the West today) to curb current lawlessness that threatened both godliness and national life.” 

“Moral permissiveness, supposedly so liberating and fulfilling, is actually wounding and destructive: not only of society (which God’s law protects), but also of the lawless individual, who gets coarsened and reduced as a person every time.”

“Law-keeping is that life for which we were fitted by nature, unfitted by sin, and refitted by grace, the life God loves to see and reward; and for that life liberty is the proper name.”

“The Bible, however, takes promises very seriously; God demands full faithfulness of our vows. Why? Partly because trustworthiness is part of His image, which He wants to see in us; partly because without it society falls apart.”

“We honor God by respecting His image in each other, which means consistently preserving life and furthering each other’s welfare in all possible ways.”

“We have in us capacities for fury, fear, envy, greed, conceit, callousness, and hate that, given the right provocation, could make killers out of us all. … When the fathomless wells of rage and hatred in the normal human heart are tapped, the results are fearful.”

“When you lie to put someone down, it is malice; when you lie to impress, move, and use him, and to keep him from seeing you in a bad light, it is pride.”

“Reformed theologians said that God’s law has three uses or functions: first, to maintain order in society; second, to convince us of sin and drive us to Christ for life; third, to spur us on in obedience, by means of its standards and its sanctions, all of which express God’s own nature.”

“What is God’s ideal? A God-fearing community, marked by common worship (commandments 1, 2, 3) and an accepted rhythm of work and rest (commandment 4), plus an unqualified respect for marriage and the family (commandments 5, 7), for property and owner’s rights (commandments 8, 10), for human life and each man’s claim on our protection (commandment 6), and for truth and honesty in all relationships (commandment 9).”

“When God’s values are ignored, and the only community ideal is permissiveness, where will moral capital come from once the Christian legacy is spent? How can national policy ever rise above material self-interest, pragmatic and unprincipled? How can internal collapse be avoided as sectional interests, unrestrained by any sense of national responsibility, cut each other down? How can an overall reduction, indeed destruction, of happiness be avoided when the revealed way of happiness, the ‘God first, others next, self last’ of the Commandments, is rejected? The prospects are ominous. May God bring us back to Himself and to the social wisdom of His Commandments before it is too late.”

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

“Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.” —Westminster Confession

“Whenever fear comes in and makes us falter, we are in danger of falling into sin. Conceit is to be dreaded, but so is cowardice. … Fear to fear. Be afraid to be afraid. Your worst enemy is within your own bosom. Get to your knees and cry for help, and then rise up saying, ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’” —Charles Spurgeon

[INFOGRAPHIC] Every Dream In The Bible

[VIDEO] What Babies Learn Before They’re Born

“Within the circles of evangelical Christianity itself there has arisen in the last few years dangerous and dismaying trends away from true Bible Christianity. A spirit has been introduced which is surely not the Spirit of Christ, methods employed which are wholly carnal, objectives adopted which have not one line of Scripture to support them, a level of conduct accepted which is practically identical with that of the world—and yet scarcely one voice has been raised in opposition.” —A.W. Tozer

[VIDEO] Very funny video from Ken Davis & Chonda Pierce about clueless husbands!

Thursdays With Oswald—The Vocation Of A Saint

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

Oswald Chambers

The Vocation Of A Saint 

     The vocation of a saint is to be in the thick of it “for His sake.” Whenever Jesus Christ refers to discipleship or to suffering, it is always, “for My sake.” The deep relationship of a saint is a personal one, and the reason a saint can be radiant is that he has lost interest in his own individuality and has become absolutely devoted to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

From Christian Disciplines

As the Westminster Catechism states: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

It is in this glorifying of God and the enjoyment of Him that the saint becomes radiant. And this radiance continues even through suffering or persecution. Am I willing to step into this discipleship relationship, and stay in it? YES!!

More Glory For God

You may be aware of this statement from the Westminster Catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

I love how John Piper elaborates on this in his book Desiring God

In view of God’s infinite power and wisdom and beauty, what would His love to a human being involve? Or, to put it another way: What could God give us to enjoy that would prove Him the most loving? There is only one possible answer: Himself! …So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, He must not only give us Himself; He must also win from us the praise of our hearts—not because He needs to shore up some weakness in Himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because He loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising Him, the most magnificent of all Beings.

The cycle here is similar to the cycle I talked about last week, but it looks something like this…

God is delighted when we’re delighted in Him. Why? If we are enthralled with Him, why would seek enjoyment in anything else?! So as we glorify Him, He shows us more of Himself for us to delight in. And as we delight in the newly-revealed view of Himself—as we are more and more captivated by His greatness—we glorify Him even more.

Which starts the glorifying God and enjoying Him forever cycle all over again. I LOVE IT!!

Do You Want To Be A (Better) People Pleaser?

I know a lot of people who want to please others. This pursuit, however, can get you into hot water. For instance, when you need to confront a friend on their poor behavior. Or when someone doesn’t properly express their appreciation to you for appreciating them.

The Bible gives us a better way to be a people pleaser. 

Paul wrote: So we make it our goal to please [God]… (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Instead of goal, the King James Version says, “we labor.” If it is labor, then it truly is a labor of love: work that is challenging, but rewarding. In fact, the rewards are so overwhelming, that the sweat of labor is quickly forgotten.

The Greek word for labor/goal means work that is activated by the love of honor, and so it brings forth our very best effort.

I desire to honor God and please Him, and I desire to be honored by God and find my full pleasure in Him. After all, as the Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

So my labor of love is activated first by my love for God; and secondarily by my love for others. Isn’t this what Jesus gave us as the Great Commandment (see Luke 10:27)?

It is God Who has made us for this very purpose [to enjoy Him forever] and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come [honor and eternal pleasure]. (2 Corinthians 5:5)

The Holy Spirit helps activate and direct my labor of love. The Spirit uses my labor of love to draw others to Christ; the Spirit assures me that my labor of love is bringing honor and pleasure to the Father. And in that knowledge, I find my pleasure to continue to labor in love.

So if I want to please people, my goal must be a labor in love that pleases God. Out of the knowledge of His pleasure and honor, I am better prepared to present a labor of love to others.

God pleaser (first) → People pleaser (as an overflow) 

The better we please God, the better we’ll please people.

Taking A Rest

“This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations; but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.” —Westminster Confession

“A holy rest” is usually a hard concept to grasp. When we rest we often feel one of two things:

  • There is something I should be doing <or>
  • I’m just lazy!

But rest is not the same thing as inactivity.

Rest is really different activity—rest is preparation for activity. The rabbis teach that a day of rest is supposed to be a day of distinction: a day that’s so different from the other six days of the week. Creating this day of distinction requires a lot of serious thought to prepare (“a due preparing of their hearts,” as the Confession says).

We need to take time to be OFF. You and I are not wired to be ON all the time. So as you contemplate a Sabbath day of rest for your life, think about this:

I’m going to be OFF tomorrow, so that I can be better ON to start the week.

Read the rest of this entry »

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