Desire God

June 10:  Pray We and Our Children Desire God (Psalm 42; 63)

Praying Scripture Series

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, June 10, 2018 

It was 2012 and I was going for a sunny afternoon run. I think I was in the best shape of my life. I had lost 40 pounds in the previous year and I was running at a pace which I have not been able to keep up with. Once a week I would go on a long run, which at that time was about 9 miles. It was a Thursday and it was sunny and warm. I pulled my 2000 Buick LeSabre into the gravel parking lot where the Mahoning Valley Trail began. It was hot, but I was ready, or so I thought. I usually would do some stretching and jumping jacks before the run. I am sure that this day was no different. On this particular run I encountered a problem. It started normal. I ran along the trail which ran along the Mahoning River. The river is small outside Alliance. It is about the size of Yellow Creek. I ran down and up through the wood on the trail. Then about two miles in the trail exits to North Rockhill Avenue. I turn right on North Rockhill and started running up a gradual hill which heads to the rest of the trail. The trail picks up again off of Greenbower Street NE and then the trail heads to the Deer creek Reservoir. As I ran up Rockhill the sun beat down on me and I hit a “wall” like never before. It was not a real “wall.” It is a term they use to describe sudden fatigue. I felt like I could not keep running. I stopped and I looked around. Though later I started carrying water on runs and even wearing a 2 liter water backpack, at this time I did not carry water on my runs. I had not eaten lunch because I would skip lunch in order to run. It was just over a 2 mile walk or run back to my car and if I ignore the wall and try to push through I had another 7 miles to run. I am pretty stubborn so I decided to keep going. I ran through the “wall” and finished my 9 miles.

What does it feel like to be depleted? Have you ever been thirsty? Have you been really thirsty?

How do you feel when you miss church? How do you feel when you miss your devotion time? How do you feel when you skip prayer? How do you feel when you do not read your Bible?

Desiring God video about reading the Bible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOhkldCSs04&t=63s

We are in a sermon series based on Scriptures I have been convicted to pray for myself and descendants. Today, I wish to talk about desiring God.

My theme today:

Pray that we and our descendants desire God. Pray that we desire God in a Psalm 42 and 63 way.

Let’s briefly look at Psalm 63:1-2:

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

  1. My theme and prayer is that we desire God.
    1. Allow me to introduce this Psalm with something Chuck Swindoll wrote:
    2. A Song of Quietness
      by Charles R. Swindoll,
      Psalm 63:1–11: How easy it is to fall into the trap of “ritual religion”! So many Christians know little of a vital, fresh, day-by-day relationship with the Lord. I did not say an inactive relationship. Christians have never been more active! The tyranny of the urgent is no theoretical problem. Many a believer jumps off the Sunday treadmill of activities only to hop on the weekday treadmill of meetings, appointments, functions, rehearsals, clubs, engagements, banquets, studies,  committees, and retreats. I heartily agree with the one who said, “Much of our religious activity today is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life!”[1]

That’s a harsh truth to ponder. As a pastor, I hope to help you cultivate a consistent and meaningful walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, a relationship that thrives without needing to be pumped up and recharged with an endless succession of activities. I would wish that we all might know our Lord in such a significant way that this divine companionship, this healthy vertical relationship, becomes a steady, serene, daily communion. We must find ways to live beyond the grind of ritual religion.

In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer writes,

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity that is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship and that servile imitation of the world that marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.[2]

Psalm 63 is David’s song about what it means to have a desperate longing for God, and what it means to be fully satisfied in Him alone. It is not a song of activity but of quietness. David didn’t write a march to impel busy feet, but a sonnet to woo thirsty souls.

Believe it or not, many people don’t know they’re thirsty. You may not feel a deep longing to cultivate an ongoing personal interaction with God. That’s probably because you have dulled your spiritual senses with activity. Career activity. Social activity. Religious activity. If so, your first response may be to slow your pace, to simplify.[3]

  1. I have to say that that devotional By Swindoll says it all. At least two Psalms are convictional to me in my prayers about desiring God. One Psalm is Psalm 42. I preached on that Psalm last year. Another Psalm is this Psalm 63.
  2. This Psalm is written by David, either when he was running from Saul or running from Absalom (1 Sam. 23:14–15; 24:1; 2 Sam. 15:23, 28). I think he was likely running from Absalom. You may know the story. David’s son Absalom successfully takes the kingdom away from David. David eventually does regain the kingdom.
  3. Here David says God is his God.
  4. As we review this Psalm, let’s do a Spiritual checkup.
  5. Can you say that? Do you live like God is your God? Or, has God been replaced? Do you organize your affairs around God or your television shows? Who runs your life?
  6. David says that he earnestly seeks God. Do you seek Him?
  7. His flesh yearns for God. He is thirsty for God?
  8. Have you ever been thirsty for God?
  9. In verse 3 David says that God’s lovingkindness is better than life?
  10. Do you believe that?
  11. Is God’s lovingkindness better than life? This is not saying equal to life, but better than life.
  12. David says his lips will praise God.
  13. In verse 4 David says that he will bless God as long as he lives.
  14. David will lift up his hands to God’s name. How are we doing with that?
  15. Notice verses 6-7: When I remember You on my bed,
    I meditate on You in the night watches,
    For You have been my help,
    And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy
    .
  16. Verse 6 has the idea of memorizing Scripture. Verse 6 has the idea of making God and His Word apart of us.
  17. Verse 6 is the idea of waking up at night and thinking about God and His Word. It is the idea of going to sleep thinking about God. A related Psalm is Psalm 4:4: Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
  18. Think about that, when we recognize who God is and who we are, we tremble at the complete reverence before the Holy, Righteous God. Then, we think about our relationship with God and we desire Him.
  19. David desired God. He was thirsty for God.
  20. Verse 8 says: My soul clingsto You;
    Your right hand upholds me.
  21. That word translated as “clings” is the same word used to describe the bond between a husband and wife.
  1. How do we desire God?
    1. I would start by spending time in His Word.
    2. You may not want to at first, but you must make yourself do it.
    3. Add prayer to your day.
    4. Don’t miss church. In fact, most American Christians are really not involved in the church. Attending church once a week is not being connected to the church in a Biblical way. God wants us to be in community. Join one of the other Bible Studies. Join the choir or the praise team. Come to Sunday School.
    5. In the fall I am starting a spiritual disciplines class which will meet either early in the morning or evening. I would lead that at midnight of that works best for one of you. I would do this because my prayer and desire is that we are disciples. Disciples desire God.
    6. You know what, I do not usually like water, but when I am really thirsty I desire water. That does not mean I do not need water the other times. We always need water. You may not crave and thirst for all the time, but you do need Him.
    7. I pray you desire God like David in this Psalm.

Conclusion:

I talked about hitting a runners wall on that summer run. Well, a few months later I did not hit a wall in that way, but I was more thirsty than ever before. This was another Thursday. It was early September of 2012. I was increasing my distance and was now running just over 10 miles. It was sunny and it was hot. I still had not learned to take water on my runs. I ran and I ran and I ran. Up the hills and through the town of Alliance, Ohio. Then, in the last mile of the run the lack of water hit me. I was running up the hill on the last road to my house and I was so thirsty. But I survived.

Will you survive without water?

You will not survive the Christian life without time in the Bible, time in prayer and time with the church.

I pray that we desire God.

John Piper writes:

The cost of food in the kingdom is hunger for the bread of heaven, instead of the white bread of the world. Do you want it? Are you hungry? Or are you satisfied with yourself and your television and your computer and your job and your family?[4]

Luke 9:23

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] Howard G. Hendricks in an unpublished speech at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

[2] A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2006), 17.

[3] Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[4] John Piper, author and pastor, from sermon “The Present Power of a Future Possession,” preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota (4-27-97).

 

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