I was blessed to be asked to give the message (sermon) in my church on Feb. 2. This is it:
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4. NIV)
Julie K----, a long-time (and now happily retired) KJLY ministry worker, had that verse on her desk for many years. It was even on her retirement cake and Julie truly is a person who takes delight in the Lord.
When I first started thinking about what it meant, I thought to myself, “What? Is God some big bubble-gum machine where you can get whatever you want just by thinking He is wonderful?”
I mean, come on. There are lots of people who don’t have all the desires of their heart. Come to think of it, nobody I know--no matter what they have-- has all the desires of their heart. If that verse were true, wouldn’t every Christian alive be a multi-billionaire?
And, what about alcoholics? Isn’t the desire of their heart just one more drink, even though it’s bad for them?
It didn’t seem make sense to me, so I did some looking into it.
The line of reasoning goes like this: To truly take delight in the LORD and all He is and was and always will be is to align our will with his. The more we take delight in Him and get to know who God really is, the easier it is to see the incredible mercy, grace, and love that He is.
If we stop and think about it, we have plenty of reasons to take delight in the Lord. He has blessed us in so many ways.
In 1900, the infant mortality rate was 14%. That’s one in seven children who didn’t live to see their first birthday. In the 1950’s, it was about 3%, or one in 35. Today, infant mortality is less than seven-tenths of a percent, or one in 142.
In 1900, average life expectancy of men in the United States was 45. Women lived to an average age of 49. Today, those figures are 76 for men and 81 for women.
Even though indoor plumbing has been around for over a thousand years, it was only for the very rich and even then it wasn’t truly perfected until the 1920’s because we had not figured a way to keep sewer gas from backing up into homes. Leprosy and scores of other diseases which are virtually unheard of today were caused by sanitation issues.
Approximately two million children die each year in developing countries as a result of improper waste disposal.
Most urban homes didn’t have electricity until the 1930’s and many farm homes didn’t have electricity until the 1950’s or 1960’s.
People in the United States didn’t even understand the role of germs in disease and infection (and the importance of washing their hands) until after the Civil War.
Even today, over three million people still die each year from disease which could be prevented by washing one’s hands with soap and water.
So, dear Christian, when was the last time you praised God for a bar of soap?
Or the S-trap under your sink which keeps sewer gas out of your house?
Or clean water uncontaminated by your own outhouse?
Or for the wholesome food in your electric refrigerator and freezer?
Or for your very life and the lives of your children?
God blessed those of us alive today with more comfort and convenience, more protection and health than any people who have ever lived since the beginning of written history. Praise the LORD!
Yes, I know that bad things still happen and there are wars and murders and all sorts of evil in the world, and we should indeed weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn, but the fact is all of the things we see in this world cannot change the fact that we have a God who was willing to take on human flesh and die in our place to save our souls.
Al l of those things I just told you about are things that benefits to our flesh. They are great blessings, indeed, but God’s primary concern is for our souls.
And that’s the real deal: it’s about our souls.
In Psalm 37:4, the word translated “heart” is the Hebrew word for “inner man.” So do our souls really need a billion dollars? Does the alcoholic’s soul really need another drink?
All of the evil and wrong in this world gets to us because this is not our home. We were designed and built to live in paradise. Our souls yearn for a perfect world and perfect relationship with God. That is the true desire of our hearts--our souls--because God put that desire there.
So if our soul takes delight in the LORD, will the God of Abundance, El-Shaddai, allow it to lack for anything? After all, it all belongs to Him. There is nothing good that exists that did not come from Him in the first place and does not still belong to Him.
You remember the parable of the prodigal son, right? Do you remember the brother’s complaint? And what did his father tell him when he was all indignant and mad that his father never threw him an amazing party with a fatted calf? "His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. (Luke 15:31, NLT) (Emphasis added.)
Everything God has is OURS!
The Bible tells us we are children of God and His kingdom is our GUARANTEED inheritance. Ephesians 1:14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Jesus did not die on that cross to give us indoor plumbing. He came and died for us to save our souls! And, the presence of His Holy Spirit is our guarantee on this earth that we are indeed saved and that the souls of all who believe will not die but will have eternal life!
With a guarantee like that, is God worthy of praise? AMEN!
Oh my soul, praise the LORD!
God is worthy of praise and, not surprisingly, it is good for us. Praising God lifts our souls and equips us. It recharges us. It puts our minds and hearts and our souls on the right track. It fills us with truth.
And, there is protection in in praise. I once heard a minister preaching on KJLY say, ‘Praise of the Lord creates an atmosphere the enemy cannot move through.” And I have found it to be true!
Oh, but it can be so hard to put into practice.
When I’m late for work and the car is making a weird noise and the dog chewed up my favorite shoes and the guy in the Buick in front of me has me screaming, “Hey Grandpa, it’s that vertical pedal on the right!” suddenly, delight in the LORD seems very, very far away.
And that’s when the enemy of my soul starts whispering those killing lies in my ear that my life is just the worst and I really shouldn’t have to put up with all of this and I deserve soooo much better.
And that’s what the enemy’s lies do—they steal from us and they kill the joy God intends for us, and for the others we are intended to share that joy with. That theft, that spirit or complaining and bitterness, makes us ineffective as witnesses to the love of Christ!
(For a description of how God’s Complaint Department works, see Numbers 11.)
The fact is that I have a job , and I have a car, and I have a dog who bounces around with crazy joy just because I came home, and I have shoes, and I have a God who loves my soul enough to put a guy in front of me who is only driving 56 miles an hour so that maybe my soul can learn some patience and love for my fellow man because even if I don’t pass him, the convenience store is probably still going to have that chocolate donut my flesh just has to have!
Perspective is a humbling thing.
And praise of the LORD does make the devil flee from you.
So, child of the One True King, heir to all that belongs to the God of the Universe, sinner saved by the blood of the Lamb and the Risen King, the Living Jesus-- does your Father lack for anything? Is God poor?
And will He withhold any good and perfect gift from the souls of those who love Him?
Truly, the love of God is rich and pure, measureless and strong, and we do have 10,000 reasons and more to praise his holy name!
Have a delightful day.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21