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The Word For Today

Understanding your desires 3

'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.' Psalm 34:8 NKJV

When the Bible tells you what you ought to do, you can take it in two different ways: the ought of obligation or the ought of opportunity. The first kind refers to your duty: you ought to pay your taxes; you ought to keep your dog on a lead; you ought to take your driver's test. The second kind gives you life: you ought to take a break; you ought to see the world; you ought to taste this cake.

The 'oughts' of Jesus' message are mainly the oughts of opportunity. And as you become more aware of this, you may start feeling guilty because your desire for God doesn't run deep enough. The problem is, you can't make yourself desire God more by simply telling yourself you should. But he is so gracious and patient in wanting you to want him, that he is willing to work with this kind of honesty. That's why his Word says, 'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34:8 NKJV). The word 'taste' is an invitation from a confident chef. You don't have to commit to eating the whole enchilada; just try a taste and if you don't like it you can skip the rest. The chef is convinced if he can just get you to take that first bite, you're going to want the whole thing.

The truth is that the more you read God's Word and pray, the more rewarding it becomes and the more you are drawn to it. Yes, it begins as a discipline. But when you stick with it, it becomes a delight.

Soulfood: Acts 1:1 - 3:10 Matt 8:1-9 Ps 109:1-15 Pro 15:22,


Understanding your desires 2

'Serve the Lord with gladness.' Psalm 100:2 NKJV

To grow in your relationship with God, you must move from the 'should' to the 'want to' category. The most basic assessment we have for any experience or event is what psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls our 'like-o-metre'. Your like-o-metre was running the day you were born. For example, taste receptors in babies are pretty well developed, so their like-o-metre usually involves what goes into their mouths: 'I like it - gotta have more,' or 'I hate it - get it out of here.' As you continue to grow, everything in life registers on your like-o-metre without your even having to think about it. Every sound you hear, every conversation you're part of, every bite you eat, rates positively or negatively on your scale. And people also register on your like-o-metre. During the briefest conversations you'll find yourself drawn towards certain people. Something within you says, 'I like this person. I'm enjoying this conversation.' The like-o-metre is always on.

So here's a question to consider: do you like God? That may sound like a strange question, but if you don't like spending time with him, you won't do it. And you need to be honest, because you can't pull the wool over God's eyes. In Scripture the Christian life is compared to a forty-two kilometre marathon. At the forty kilometre mark it doesn't matter whether you think you should finish, you'll only do it because you want to. In other words, your 'want-to' keeps you going when your 'should' finds it easier to quit.

The psalmist said, 'Serve the Lord with gladness' because nothing else will enable you to go the distance.

Soulfood: Ruth 1:3-18 John 6:41-69,


Understanding your desires 1

'He shall give you the desires of your heart.' Psalm 37:4 NKJV

Your capacity to desire certain things is a gift from God; it's a powerful motivator. Picture two children taking swimming lessons. One does it because he watched the Olympic Games and wants to win a gold medal when he grows up. The other takes lessons because his dad said he had to. Which child do you think is likely to make it to the Olympics?

In Genesis we read: 'Jacob served seven [more] years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her' (Genesis 29:20 NIV). What kind of person would see seven years' hard work as a mere few days? Someone working towards his or her dream! Jesus told the story of a man with a 'got-to-have-it' desire. When he discovered treasure buried in a field, he 'went and sold all he had and bought that field' (Matthew 13:44 NIV). Similarly, the people who listened to Jesus were so drawn to his peace, courage and wisdom that they thought, 'I must have what he has.'

Do our desires sometimes lead us astray? For sure! In order to be able to trust them, you must do two things: (1) Desire a relationship with God above all else. 'Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart' (Psalm 37:4 NKJV). (2) Make sure your desires are in harmony with his will. 'I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart' (Psalm 40:8 NKJV). When you centre your life around God and his Word, you can trust 'the desires of your heart'. And God will give them to you!

Soulfood: Joel 1-3 Matt 7:15-29 Ps 79 Pro 15:18-21,

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