Monday, November 12, 2007
What Happens When We Delight In The Lord?
Psalm 37:4 says this, “Delight yourself in the LORD, And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
What are the desires of your heart?
My experience has been that at this particular time you probably fit into one of three main categories.
1. You know the desires of your heart, and they’re wonderful.
They energize you, because you are living in them, you are receiving them, you are glorying in them, you are thanking God for them, and you are looking forward to expanding them and having new desires come into your heart and life. You’re excited about the desires of your heart.
2. You know the desires of your heart, but they are a burden to you.
They are unfulfilled, or they are merely worldly, and so they conflict with what you think your desires SHOULD be, and so you can’t glory in them.
You couldn’t glory in them even if they came to pass, because you sense they are ultimately empty, like the desires and plans of King Solomon, when he, the richest man in the world, had all of his desires met, but cried out, “Vanity! Emptiness! It’s all emptiness! All my riches and all my desires leave me empty." You couldn’t glory in them even if they did come to pass, but they’re not even coming to pass many times, and your heart is aching for real meaning.
3. You don’t even have any desires of your heart.
You’ve given up thinking you could ever have desires. You may not feel worthy of any desires of the heart. You’ve capitulated to what I call “worm” theology.
“I’m just an ol’ worm. I don’t deserve anything from God, because I’ve failed Him over and over. He knows what a rotten Christian I’ve been, and why should He give me anything? Desires of the heart? I’ve given up on those a long time ago. Why bother?”
Well, I’ve got Good News for you, no matter which category you’re in.
We usually speak of the Gospel as the Good News for the unsaved, and it is. If you’re not saved today, if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, now would be a great time to come to Him. The Bible says that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son (that’s Jesus), that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. The Bible tells us that Jesus died a horrible death, physically and spiritually, on the cross, to pay for sins, and to give the free gift of forgiveness and salvation, to whoever would come to Him. If that’s you, call out to Him now, thank Him now for His salvation. He said that whoever would come to Him He would in no way cast out. That means you, if you will come to Him and believe in Him as Lord and Savior.
But if you’re a Christian already, I’ve got Good News for you too. The Gospel is good news for getting saved, but it’s also good news for living the Christian life after we’re saved, all the way to the end of our life, all the way to heaven.
And here’s the Good News for you, as a believer. It comes from that verse we started out with, Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Now let’s take the second part of that verse first.
When it says “He will give you the desires of your heart”, it means it in two ways.
First, He will put the very desires in your heart that He wants you to have. Isn’t that something? God Himself will actually put into our hearts the desires, the wants, the longings that are best for us, and they are best for us because they are the desires that the all-wise all-knowing God wants for us because He loves us.
Second, after he puts those desires into our hearts, He will bring them to pass, in some way. He not only puts the desires into our hearts, he give us those desires, as part of His plan for us.
Well, that’s the second part of the verse, but the first part is just as important, “Delight yourself in the Lord.”
Let's look at what it means to "delight yourself in the Lord", and also how do we do it. But first I want to clarify something about the New Covenant.
Our tendency is to make this a conditional performance-based statement. Something like, “If, and only if, you delight yourself in the Lord, only then will He give you the desires of your heart.”
But thankfully that’s not true. Thankfully, sometimes even when I don’t delight in the Lord, He works out wonderful things, and turns my heart like the heart of a king (Proverbs 21:1).
Isn’t that what the New Covenant is all about? He has made us new creatures, and He has given us a new spirit, and has given us His Spirit, and has put into our hearts and minds His laws, and is causing us to walk in His ways. He is working in us both to will and to work His good pleasure. In other words, He gives us the desire to do His good pleasure and he works in us to actually do it.
But when we are walking by the flesh, and therefore not delighting in the Lord, outwardly at least, then we may very well cater to desires of the flesh, and not even notice the good work the Lord is doing in our hearts and spiritual desires.
And so it’s important to delight ourselves in the Lord. And so our two questions:
1. What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord?
It’s a wonderful Hebrew word, aw-nag’, which means, “Be glad about, be happy about.”
So, to delight ourselves in the Lord is to be glad about the Lord, to be happy about the Lord.
2. How do we delight ourselves in the Lord?
We get a clue from an Old Testament passage:
Isaiah 58:13,14 "If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father...”
Now you may be saying, “Terry, are you crazy? Following the Sabbath laws is the way to delight in the Lord?”
We are, of course, not under the Sabbath laws given to Israel under the Old Covenant.
In fact, Coloss 2:16,17 tell us, “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
So following Sabbath laws, or delighting in Saturday or Sunday is not what we are called to do.
But what principles from the heart of God are shown in this passage?
Hebrews 4:9-11 makes it clear that the Sabbath was all along meant to be a shadow of Christ who came to be our Sabbath rest. In Him there is a rest for the people of God, wherein they rest from their works.
In the New Covenant, Christ Himself is our Sabbath. He is our rest. We are saved by grace through faith in Him. But not only is our salvation not based on works, the very love of God for us, His acceptance of us, and His favor on our lives is by grace.
It doesn’t mean we won’t have good works in our lives. God is working those in us through His Spirit. But we rest from our works as the way to earn God’s love and favor. He loves us, period.
And so we delight in the Lord as we understand His wonderful grace. As we understand that there is no wall between us. As we understand that we can run to Him, even after we sin, ESPECIALLY after we sin, and He will comfort us with His grace.
In fact, we don’t even have to really run to Him. That’s just a figure of speech, because He is already here. He is already in our hearts. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
And so fellowshiping with Him, acknowledging His grace, is how we delight ourselves in Him.
And then He not only gives us the desire of our hearts, but we can see it. And praise and thank Him for it.
Remember the double meaning: He not only places those desires in our hearts, but He brings them to pass.
And so we are fulfilled in Him, and through Him.