As we head out again today on our spiritual life hike together, let me remind you of that one particular overarching truth that we’ll come back to, over and over – What God wants from me more than anything else is my total trust, confidence, and rest in Him. People have asked me over the years, “What is it that God really, really wants from me.” And the simple answer is in this statement. He wants us to lean back on Him. He doesn’t want us to follow our natural, earthly inclinations to constantly be running off the path and into the woods, or following side trails that look more interesting or easier to traverse.
Again, each week of this series has a theme and a statement. And for this second week and this second topic …
- Theme – The reality of a relationship with God grants greater soul sufficiency than great successes or material gains.
- Statement – I never get anything I really desire until I come to decide that my life in God without that thing is sufficient.
And that leads to today’s title: “Just God is Enough” … and we’ll will be talking today a lot about “desire” and “satisfaction.”
We all have desires, hopes and dreams in life. We strive for them and work to make them a reality. We anticipate these desires to be the root source for our happiness, satisfaction and contentment … our sense of well-being and fulfillment of purpose. Though we may at times possess hopes to achieve things that are not fully honorable, or are the stuff merely of this temporal world, probably most of our aspirations are worthy goals and desires.
But what I am saying with this topic is that, in my experience, God has not tended to quickly or easily and immediately fulfill my hopes in the manner and scope that I would have at first expected or appreciated. Rather, my experience is that God has more often tended to delay the fulfillments, often morphing them and changing them into something a bit different than my brilliant blueprints.
And here again is the big idea: I have learned that God most often brings me to a place where – seeing that the fulfillment of my aspiration is at least delayed if not denied – I need to yield to the viewpoint that even if my dream does not come true, I am deciding that my relationship with God without that fulfillment is enough for my personal satisfaction and contentment. It is often only then – at that point of yielded submission – that the aspiration finds some measure of fulfillment.
Sometimes, it has come true above and beyond all that I could ask or think. Other times, it has been exactly as I hoped (though on His schedule). A few times, I’ve had to learn contentment with a fraction of what I thought I would have wanted. Many times, the dream comes true in a morphed way that I would never have designed; but, when looking back, I can see that God made it better in every way. And, sometimes it does not happen at all, and that is fine.
I will hesitate to fill these weekly messages and writings with a host of personal stories about myself. But most of my desires are in the rather mundane category of those shared by a majority of people…
- There is that time as we become adults where we wonder about singleness or marriage, and the nature of what family may follow in our lives.
- We all wonder about what we are to invest our lives into in terms of careers and professions, stepping that back into educational choices toward preparations for such.
- Many have aspirations about their physical health and well-being, hoping to be able to accomplish activities and bring joy and a sense of accomplishment and vitality. (For me, that has been measured in thousands of miles of activity!)
- We have hopes about the success of what we do professionally and domestically, both in terms of reward and satisfaction, as well as how it facilitates the provision and accumulation of material assets such as houses, vehicles and other accoutrements of life that bring pleasure and serve our household needs.
I can relate to the big ideas of each of these categories. I will share (today and throughout the series) some stories of my ventures that led into doing local church ministry now for the past 42 years.
In high school, I was thinking about going into either the fields of investments/wealth management or into journalism. But then this music thing happened in my life, especially in my church world … where people encouraged me greatly, along with my family knowing of my biological father’s professional singing career. And the next thing I knew, I was in college in a five-year music program. It went well enough, I guess (though I’ll later in another week share a dramatic story about a fight I had with God over this!); but the further I went into music ministry, the more God was pulling me to be more expansive than just the music part of the church.
He sent me, quite to my surprise, to Dallas to go to seminary to prepare for more of an eventual pastoral calling. And while there, He gave me an incredible opportunity to lead a great music program and be blessed by that. And though I’ve dabbled in the music area over the years, it decreased from 50% of my first job description after the Dallas years, to now only doing the fun kids’ program at TSF each Spring.
But here’s my point: if God had made it clear in my last two years of high school that I was going to end up being a pastor/preacher dude, I would have run screaming in some bizarre direction! But day to day, experience to experience, He directed the whole way to get me where He wanted me to be.
And honestly, once I got deeply into it, I thought it would be a bigger deal than it has turned out to be. But even so, God has been so good to give me so much – more than most of my peers to be honest. And there is a sufficient contentment in that as I’m kicking now down the homestretch. We’re not the whole race, we’re relay runners; and my great pleasure is to have seen some of the kids through my churches become more talented communicators, musicians, and servants than I could ever be. We need to be faithful where God places us in the vineyard.
More than a few biblical characters went through experiences that were confusing to them as they sought to apply their energies to the tasks that seemed obvious to them relative to what God should have had them do. And many of them had to learn to be faithful in lesser ways than they might have originally imagined, as God had plans for the larger fulfillment to be accomplished through others who were to come after them.
And today, I’d like us to look quickly at how David was such a fellow, as we turn to 1 Chronicles to see him wrestle through what would be a personally unfulfilled desire to build the temple of the Lord – a permanent place for God’s worship to be centered.
1 Chronicles 28:1 – David assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the stewards of all the property and livestock of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the seasoned warriors. 2 Then King David rose to his feet and said: “Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and for the footstool of our God, and I made preparations for building. 3 But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’ 4 Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. 5 And of all my sons (for the Lord has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues strong in keeping my commandments and my rules, as he is today.’ 8 Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever.
David’s Charge to Solomon …
1 Chron. 28:9 – “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. 10 Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.”
11 Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; 12 and the plan of all that he had in mind for the courts of the house of the Lord, all the surrounding chambers, the treasuries of the house of God, and the treasuries for dedicated gifts; 13 for the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, and all the work of the service in the house of the Lord; for all the vessels for the service in the house of the Lord …………
1 Chron. 28:20-21 – Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. 21 And behold the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and with you in all the work will be every willing man who has skill for any kind of service; also the officers and all the people will be wholly at your command.”
David’s Charge to the people of Israel …
1 Chron. 29:1-2 … And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, … silver … bronze … iron … wood … quantities of all sorts of stones and marble …
Then we read a few verses later that tremendous amounts of gold and valuables were given by many people from the varied families and houses of Israel. And David finishes with a prayer …
1 Chron. 29:18-19 … O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 19 Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”
This chapter finishes with Solomon being named king, the text speaking of God blessing him with prosperity and greatness beyond any others. And finally, the chapter concludes by speaking of David being blessed to have been king for 40 years and dying of an old age in great honor, and dare we say the satisfaction of having done his job well, even with his imperfections. In fact, in Acts 13:36 it says of David that … David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers …
Is that not what we all should most want: that it would be said of us that we served God’s purpose for us in our generation?
As we think about this passage today, let’s summarize it with four statements about the attitude of David toward God’s different plan …
- David learned that God’s plan was different than his personal ambition.
- Though God’s plan was less glorious personally than David’s desire, he accepted it.
- David used the passing years of his life to make preparations for Solomon and others to accomplish God’s plan successfully.
- David experienced pleasure and satisfaction that carried him through his final years and to the very end.
Concerning this issue of “desire,” I think we can state three biblical truths …
- God truly does desire to fulfill our desires.
God is not in the business of frustrating His people or ignoring them. His nature is to be gracious, yet to be so in wise fashion, just as we would do so for our own children.
Psalm 145:19 … He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
Psalm 103:2,5 … Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits … who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Proverbs 11:23 … The desire of the righteous ends only in good, the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
- God desires to guide and inform our desires.
God is not simply going to give us things we want, merely because we want them. He wants to have a part in the formulation of our desires. So God should be in it from creation, and all the way through to final fulfillment.
Galatians 5:16-17 … But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Philippians 2:13 … for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
- God desires to be our desire.
It is not about us and the mere stuff of this world; God wants our values to make Him to be our ultimate desire. This is our resource from beginning to end.
Psalm 37:3-4 … Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
So there is a key passage for sure. But how do we delight in the Lord and know and follow His desires?
How do we make God our desire?
- Get to know Him. This is accomplished through the Word, through studies, and through spiritual disciplines.
- Do what you know to be the next right thing to do. This is much of what was discussed last week … to sit in the saddle and be faithful in the small things of life, day to day, moment to moment.
- Trust Him fully to supply your desires and your needs. Don’t be running ahead of God and trying to make everything happen right now. Yes, be faithful and diligent. But don’t be in a panic mode.
- Be content with His supply as truly sufficient for your every need today. We don’t need next year’s security today. The contentment you exhibit today has the ability to accumulate along with God’s sufficient supply in your life as the days go by. And after an extended time, you are able to look back with amazed gratitude at the multitudes of ways that God led and provided for what were, in reality (but not always what you thought) all of your daily needs. You find great pleasure in this faithfulness, and it is an amazing thing to see.
It’s actually not that complicated. Knowing God and having Him as our faithful, eternal Father is truly enough; everything else is gravy!
Week Two Items for Discussion
Have you had experiences in your Christian life where it feels like God is delaying the fulfillment of what you are confident are legitimate dreams and aspirations?
Can you relate to today’s theme and big idea that your dreams have never really been fulfilled until you came to a point of acceptance and submission that God may not want to fulfill them, and that is now OK with you?
Have you had certain dreams and aspirations altered by God, and now you are able to testify from the other side that it really is better they did not transpire as you originally hoped?
Can you name some rather entirely unfulfilled hopes? How might God use an unfulfilled dream to position you to help others accomplish that same worthy goal?
Are you able to testify as to how God’s morphing of your plans – making them either bigger or smaller – has resulted in your greater personal satisfaction and contentment?
How does this entire discussion affect the way you are making plans and sorting out aspirations for the remaining years of your life?