June 23, 2019 Being Desperate for God

 

 

I wish to begin looking at one verse in three different paraphrase Bibles. Most often I use accurate translations in teaching and preaching, such as the ESV or the NASB. Every now and then a translation might be quite accurate as far as translating from the original language is concerned, but the English doesn’t quite capture the feeling or thought of the biblical author. I think Psalm 63:1 is like this. It’s not that the ESV or NASB are wrong. They just don’t adequately communicate, in my opinion, the desperateness of the author.

 

Let’s read it first from the Good News Bible:

 

O God, you are my God,
and I long for you.
My whole being desires you;
like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land,
my soul is thirsty for you.

 

King David expresses his longing for God. He says, “My whole being desires you.” I like that rendering. I think I like it because I have experienced it. Have you had the experience where every part of you desires God? Your spirit desires him, your mind wants to know him more, your love for him leaves you with a sense that you miss him and wish to be closer to him?

 

This verse expresses a kind of desperation that David had for the Lord. His desire overwhelmed him. I tell you, we need this desperation! Each one of us needs to be desperate for the Lord!

 

Let’s read the same verse in The Message Version:

 

God—you’re my God!
I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.

 

I appreciate the way this rendering expresses desperation! “I can’t get enough of you!” Have you had this experience? David hungered and thirsted for God!

 

One more. This one from The Passion Translation:

 

O God of my life, I’m lovesick for you in this weary wilderness.
I thirst with the deepest longings to love you more,
with cravings in my heart that can’t be described.
Such yearning grips my soul for you, my God!

 

David was lovesick for the Lord! Have you ever been lovesick? Not everyone has. But, if you have been, you know what it is like. You can’t stop thinking about the person you are in love with. You miss them so much that you feel sick when they are not around. This is how David felt towards the Lord. I have had this same sense towards the Lord. I tell you, we all need this kind of yearning for the Lord! If we do not have it we should cultivate it!

 

David says that he has cravings in his heart for God. A craving is a kind of desperation. We need desperation!

 

For the past few months we have been examining the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we all, each one of us, will stand before him to be judged for how we lived our lives.

 

9 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.[1]

 

The apostle writes, “whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” Who is the “we?” It is not unbelievers. It is not the lost. Look back at verse 1 of chapter 5:

 

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.[2]

 

This cannot be said of the lost. Then, in verse 5, we read:

 

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. [3]

 

It is clear that Paul is referring to believers in the Lord Jesus. So, in verse 11 he writes, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.” Paul and Timothy (1:1) know the terror of the Lord with respect to the Judgment Seat for believers!

 

We have emphasized before that this is not a judgment regarding eternal life. If we have repented of our sins and trusted in Christ for salvation then we should have no fear regarding our destiny. We possess eternal life and will be with the Lord always after the Great White Throne judgment. Yet, this judgment of Christ of his own people is still a sobering and fearful matter. It is a judgment for either reward or discipline and we must ready ourselves! Someone in this church recently observed, “If the apostle Paul had a certain terror about the judgment then I had better take it seriously!” Rightly so!

 

I will say that when Paul wrote to the Philippians he was uncertain whether he would get a full reward (Phil 3:10-13), but at the end of his life, when he wrote his last letter, he was then sure (2 Timothy 4:6-8). If Paul took the Judgment Seat so very seriously, so should we!

 

If we are honest with ourselves, may of us would admit that we are not ready. We do not love the brothers and sisters as we much as we should. We do not share the gospel with others as often as we should. We do not support the church as we ought. Listen! The remedy to these shortcomings is not our will power! It is not resolving to do better. If that is our solution, we might be better for a day or two, but it won’t be long before we are back to our old habits of living for comfort and being spiritually lazy. Some of us work hard at our jobs (or study hard, if in school), but when it comes to the things of God we are lazy! Some of us work hard at our jobs (or school) but then come home and plop down for the rest of the day. We ought to be seeking the face of God, discipling someone, or speaking to others about him; but we are watching TV or surfing the net.

 

The way to live for the Lord is to be desperate for the Lord! This is our greatest need just in itself! The truth is, even as believers, we are empty without him! There is nothing better on earth or in life than to love the Lord and be loved by him in return! When we get desperate for the Lord we will not only receive more of him, we will find our deepest longings satisfied and we will discover that the Christian life is not as hard as we thought!

 

If we are desperate for the Lord everything else falls in place. There is no effort on our part. There is just peace, joy, and a desire to live for him. Amen!

 

[READ Ephesians 3:16-21]

 

The apostle is praying for the saints in Ephesus to be strengthened with power through the Spirit “in their inner being.” If you have come to Christ for salvation then you have an inner being. This inner being is your human spirit where Christ has come to dwell (Colossians 3:4; Romans 8:10). Our inner being is Christ with our spirit deep within us!

 

Before we were saved, we had only one life, the life of our soul. The soul is the mind, emotion, and will. But now we have another life, the divine life in our spirit. Because we now have two lives, we have a problem. By which of these lives will we live? If we live by the soul-life, psuche, we will be soulish, just living according to our natural life – the life of the soul alone (I Cor 2:14)[4]. But if we live by the divine life, zoe, we will be spiritual. We should all desire to live by the life in our spirit, by the new divine life and not by the old human life.

 

In order to live by the divine life we need to be strengthened with power. We need to be strengthened with resurrection power, transcending power, subduing power, and overruling power.[5]

 

We have all had the experience of being lifeless, feeling dead regarding spiritual things. Sometimes it is because of difficult circumstances that get us down. But, other times, it seems to come out of nowhere. We just feel dead. We need the Lord’s resurrection power! And, this power is available to every follower of the Lord!

 

The power from the Spirit is a transcendent power. It is not of this earth and it rises above any and all things that suppress us or oppress us. These could be people or these could be ideas or thoughts. It doesn’t matter! The Spirit’s power is transcendent and when it comes it will make you transcendent. It will!

 

We need subduing power to put all sins and temptations under our feet. Whatever temptations afflict you, they can be subdued and will be subdued by the power of Christ. It is a divine reality that when the life in our spirit is released we subdue all sinful and negative things!

 

We need overruling power. Every principle and authority that sets itself against the Lord and Christ is helpless when faced with the Lord Himself. This Christ is in our spirit and the power to overrule is waiting!

 

We all have to realize that it is with this power—the resurrection power, the transcending power, the subduing power, and the overruling power—that our inner man is strengthened. We need to be strengthened into our inner man with the power that raised Christ from among the dead, that seated Christ at the right hand of God in the heavenlies, that subjected all things under His feet, and that gave Him to be Head over all things to the church. Today our inner man is weak because we are not desperate. We need to be desperate to experience this power that is within us so that our inner man might be strengthened.

 

In verse 17 Paul writes that we need to be strengthened through his Spirit in our inner being so that Christ may make his home in our heart.[6]

 

Christ is in us, but He may not be settled in us. If I come to your home as a guest, I am in your home, but I am not settled there. I can only go where you would allow me. I have seen your home, but I have not made my home there. In the same way, Christ may be in us but not settled in us. This is because our inner man has not been strengthened. Our inner man needs to be strengthened with the fourfold power. If all our deadness has been swallowed up, if all the rebellious factors have been conquered, if all the troublesome things have been subdued, and if we exercise the overruling power, we will be so strong in our spirit and Christ can make his home in us!

 

We cannot fully know the love that Christ has for us until he is at home in our hearts. Once we are strengthened in our spirit and we apprehend Christ’s love for us then we can be filled with all the fullness of God!

 

Do you know that you are a vessel to be filled? Our trouble is that not all of us are filled. To be filled we need to be strengthened first. And, to be strengthened we need to be desperate for the Lord.

 

Brothers and sisters, this is our greatest need! We need to be desperate for the Lord!

 

If we are not desperate, how do we get there? Recognizing our need is half the way in getting there. This is why I have spoken to you this morning. I have made you aware of your need. If you recognize your need, this may be all that you need. This has been my experience throughout my Christian life. The more I realize my need for the Lord, the more I desire him, the more I call out to him, the more desperate I become. Oh! It is so good to be desperate for the Lord!

 

If you are not desperate and you wish to be then I am going to give you three things that you can do to help you get there.[7]

 

[1.] Do you know how most, from our perspective, of the gifts of God begin to be received? It is by simply asking. The apostle James says,

 

You do not have because you do not ask. (4:2)

 

Every good gift begins by asking! Our Lord Himself told parables, teaching us to not only ask, but to be persistent in our asking.

 

A model petition is that of the father of a demon possessed boy. It is found in Mark chapter 9:

 

And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”[8]

 

These five words are powerful! “I believe, help my unbelief!” They are powerful because they both display a measure of faith – “I believe” – but they also confess a lack and a need – “Help my unbelief!” It is a prayer of honesty!

 

If you desire to be desperate for God this should be your prayer:

 

“Lord, I desire you; but increase my desire so that I am desperate for you!”

 

Do not be ashamed to say that prayer many times -- dozens, even hundreds of times! It is not repetition in prayer that the Lord forbids, but vain repetition. If you mean what you are praying then it is not vain!

 

[2.] The second thing that we can do is to pray the words of God back to him. There are no better prayers than those found in Scripture. Not only the prayers that are in the Bible but any verse can be turned into a prayer! Start with the verse that we began with: Psalm 63:1. I would encourage you to read it and pray it in one of the three versions that we showed you: The Good News Bible, The Message, or The Passion Translation.[9]

 

Here are a dozen more verses to pray:

 

Isaiah 26:9

Psalm 42:1

Psalm 119:20

Psalm 119:57

Psalm 119:82

Psalm 119:123

Psalm 143:6

Luke 10:27

Ephesians 6:24

2 Thes 3:5

I Peter 1:8

I John 4:19

 

Write these verses on 3 x 5 cards and carry them with you. Pray them often! Interact with them. Be like that father. Tell the Lord that you do love him but for him to help your lack of love.

 

[3.] Listen to songs that stimulate love and yearning for the Lord. Music has the quality of influence. Moreso than mere words. Songs that express desperation are the best. The beautiful song, Breathe, by Michael W Smith is such a song.

 

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I I'm desperate for you
And I I'm lost without you

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I I'm desperate for you
And I I'm lost without you

And I I'm lost without you
And I I'm desperate for you

And I I'm lost without you
I'm lost without you

 

There Must be a Place by Brian Doerksen is another such song.

 

 

Deep down inside
Inside my soul I feel passion and fire
I've got a yearning that words cannot express
A hunger for love and tenderness

Deep down inside
I know you feel the hunger and so do I
When the wonder of a fairy tale will never fail

There must be a place where dreams come true
There must be a time
When I'm free to fly
There must be a place

Deep down inside
Inside my heart I'm falling one more time
Overtaken by the promise of love
That I have been made a captive of

Deep down inside
I'd do anything if only I could find
Find all the memories of once upon a time

 

Another song is Nothing Without Love by Vince Ambrosetti, which is mostly just I Cor 13 put to beautiful music and they marvelous vocals of Vince.[10]

 

Listen to songs like these often. I believe you will find your heart being changed. If you don’t already own these three songs then I encourage you to purchase them (that will also help struggling Christian artists).

 

Brothers and sisters, we need to get ourselves ready for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We need to be strengthened with power, And we need to be filled with the fullness of God! Being desperate is the way!

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 2 Co 5:9–11). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] So, the Recovery Version (Living Stream Ministry) well translates I Cor 2:14 this way: “But a soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he is not able to know them because they are discerned spiritually.”

 

[5] This material was taken from the excellent little book entitled, The Two Greatest Prayers of the Apostle Paul, by Witness Lee.

[6] See the Recovery Version, Good News Translation, Living Bible, and New Living Translation.

[7] God is the source of all good things, even of our seeking him and our faith. There is nothing that we can do to bring about a desire for God. It must be his gracious gift. However, the Lord ordains the means as well as the results (desire and faith). By practicing the means, the mystery of desire and faith may be experienced.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 9:22–24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] At the present time, the Passion Translation is only available in the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.

[10] From the fantastic and inspiring CD entitled Come You Who Labor available here: https://www.ilpmusic.org/category/vacds.html