When God Becomes our Satisfaction

My heart hasn’t had much of a desire for God and His word for a while now. Many days I would only pray that God would help me to want Him at all.

It’s a strange type of faith when you wake up in the morning, hoping that your spark of joy in Christ will be ignited. It’s almost like the joy is laying dormant, not necessarily gone altogether.

I don’t know if anyone has experienced this in their walk with Jesus, but it can be very discouraging. Wondering if there’s something wrong with you, wondering if God has abandoned you, wondering if your different sin struggles could have caused this.

As I wrestled with drawing near to God, i knew already that I was the one who moved. I’m the sinner, I’m the law-breaker, God didn’t become less amazing in the past few months, my own fallen self just wasn’t appreciating his Glory.

Something has changed in the last few weeks though. As I wrestled with some personal struggles, God used a combination of a music artist, a preacher, and His Word to grab hold of my heart.

He read from Jeremiah 2:13:

 

“for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We expect Jeremiah to give a laundry list of all the things they didn’t do right, all the things they need to work on, but instead we see something different. God says they have only committed two evils, they forsook God, and made cisterns of water that couldn’t hold any water.

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God’s using this powerful imagery to show them who the ultimate satisfaction is. The cisterns of false gods, food, money, power, sex, recognition, etc. were all cisterns that didn’t hold any water. In essence, even in the Old Testament we see God’s leading us to the heart of the issue: God and God alone can satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts. We can try to make relationships, money, and anything into a pseudo “cistern” but when we pour our satisfaction into it, it goes right through the bottom onto the floor. Left emptier than before.

And this has been my problem. As I’ve started my business, Iv’e felt a deep longing for financial stability, for recognition as a “business owner”, to have more freedom in my life. Though these can be good things, they’d slowly evolved into things I’d become obsessed with.

As my insecurity grew, and my idolatry turned to other things, I found myself medicating my idolatry with more idolatry, a broken cistern smashed into another. Many of us understand this vicious cycle, whether struggles with lust medicated with more lust, or desire for money medicated with visions of future financial success, or even personal insecurity turning to athletic races to gain self-worth.

All these things are worthless. They don’t satisfy. There are many more sins that I struggle with, but they’re all born of these two sins found in Jeremiah 2.

We forsake God. Whenever I want something more than Jesus, it’s an idol. Whenever I place my whole life into something other than Jesus, I become an idolater.

And God designed us this way, we were created for Him, we were created to enjoy Him above all things, and when we realize that nothing else satisfies our souls like pursuing and loving Jesus, we then find balance in the rest of our lives.

I’m slowly learning this on an upward climb to joy. I’m beginning to grasp it in little ways: being freed from worrying about clients because Jesus has purchased my eternal security on the cross, being freed of lust because God is far more beautiful than anything else in this created world, being freed of self-doubt, because God has my steps in His hands and has created me in His perfect purpose to accomplish His ultimate will.

These are only a few examples, and i haven’t lived them out perfectly, but God is working on my heart!

 

The Miracle Of Genuine Love

Ever known someone who on the outside proclaimed “goodness” and “service” and was a basic all-around “do-gooder” but in their off-time you knew them to be secretly a swindler, apathetic in their home, and an all around a lazy person? Maybe even said person is a professed Christian yet hates his brother and has animosity towards his/her family?

Maybe you know someone like this, or know of someone like this. We all could think of someone in the past (whether your own history, or history at-large) who’s claimed Christianity but’s been an extortioner in one way or another.

Jesus calls it “hypocrisy”. It’s defined (by Google) as:

“The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.”

we see in Matthew 23:13 a very controversial statement to the religious people of his day, claiming “favor” with God by all their “good works” and “alms and prayers”.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” ~Jesus

In the rest of Chapter 23 Jesus makes many more radical statements toward the hypocrites in his day.

One question though: Who would He say that to now? The guy on TBN? Your next-door neighbor? You?

By that definition (or you can just read it) Jesus was saying the Pharisee’s and Scribes were not practicing what they preached, they used people and were self-righteous, finding their favor with men, not with God. Where else do we find this? The next verse in 1st John in my little study of it. (click here to check out the last one)

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” ~1st John 2:9-11

That really goes along the lines of what I just wrote. You claim to be a believer yet you hate your brother and have animosity toward him? And as we’ve discussed before, this doesn’t mean show a fake “love” for your family to gain God’s approval. Jesus went to the problem when he said “love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt 22:37).

So loving God with all our hearts is shown through loving Him and our neighbors (which includes our brothers) from the inside out (from the heart), not merely just the outside.

So we come to fork in the road. “I don’t have it in me to love these people! So how can I love my neighbor?”

That’s a very important thought. The real question is: “where does my genuine love come from?” We must remember this: genuine love for God and others is not an attitude generated by ourselves.

After all, we’re desperately sinful and in need of a savior, unable to save ourselves (Rom 3:23, Jer 17:9). So our love has to be an outpouring of our security and gratefulness in God’s love in forgiving us despite of our desperate wickedness.

God chose to draw and save you despite knowing every thought, word, and deed you have and will ever commit. And to add icing on the proverbial cake, you’re completely unable to save yourself without him. He effects the change in your heart to love him.

We need to surrender and ask Him to renew our minds as we study His word and apply it. Ask Him to help us to love someone unlovable, ask Him to change our hearts to love Him more each day, which will in turn pour out to others in genuine love.

That is a miracle that you could never muster enough strength to do by yourself. We need God for everything. He keeps our hearts beating. Without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

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