Finding Satisfaction and Filling Our True Hunger

James 4:3, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”
 
We all have wants. And the motives behind those wants is often focused on our own pleasure. Those things we hope for in this world. Sometimes the wants are needs and sometimes they aren’t. Led by our flesh, we seek to satisfy our sometimes insatiable desire with things that just don’t last.
 
God is not a spoilsport and it is not wrong to have pleasure. It’s God’s idea after all. He gave us taste buds. It was His idea for intimacy between a man and a woman. He is a good God. But there is so much more that God has for us than just the pursuit of pleasure. And it is when we pursue God that we have the highest pleasure. This is the pleasure we are to pursue. And God surprises us with earthly pleasures, too, that pale in comparison, to meet our human needs and godly desires.
 
But God also left us hungry.
 
Not because He was cruel, but so we would not stop seeking Him. So we would recognize our need and not be so easily satisfied with the created, that we would long for the Creator.
 
Last night as I was helping the youth lead worship at our church, we sang the song, “Take My Life” and it hit me that these youth are hungering for things in this world. Popularity. Materialistic belongings. Attention. Well, truth be told, we all are wanting relief or pleasure of some sort. A chocolate dessert, perhaps . . . 😉
 
But what would it be like if we asked God to help us to hunger after what we sing and talk about in church? If we were to hunger for so much of Him in our lives that the world would see Christ in us? Hungering after righteousness, holiness, and faithfulness. Craving His presence and His word and not letting any substitute stand in the way or distract us from God?
 
Read More button

Worshipful Wednesday: Revelation’s Invitation

His Revelationisan invitation (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 75:1

“For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song. We give thanks to you, O God! We give thanks! You reveal your presence; people tell about your amazing deeds.”

Psalm 76:1

“God has revealed himself in Judah; in Israel his reputation is great.”


As a worship leader it makes me smile that this Psalm opens up with instructions to the musicians. “To the tune of Do Not Destroy” – I wonder what that tune sounded like.

Either way, God’s people had something to sing about, indeed. The fact that our Creator, the King of this universe, Holy and perfect, reveals Himself to imperfect man is beyond understanding; it is astounding. Overwhelming.

Those who violated His covenant and chose fake gods over His presence – those people – He chose to love and to show Himself to.

His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.

As we catch a glimpse of Who He is – just a part – we are overcome with His awesome presence and led to a deeper walk with Him.

Seeing part of His character motivates us to desire to be like Him. Seeing One so Holy, so far above us, Who would choose to stoop down and help us to see, causes us to act on that revelation and to be His ambassadors on this earth.

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us, moment by moment. Help us to bask in Your presence and take what we know of You to the uttermost parts of the world.

 

Truthful Tuesday: THE GRAND REVEAL

Forgive us our sins

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hiding things only complicates things and puts off the inevitable reality.

Scriptures of the Day:

Luke 8:17

For nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light.

Jeremiah 23:23-24

23 Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the LORD asks. 24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the LORD asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the LORD asks.


Fully seen. Fully known. Fully accepted. The exuberant joy at such a statement cannot be fully understood unless one knows what they were saved and forgiven from.

Being found in our sin is shocking and destroys those around us, too. That’s what sin does – it is death. Yet somehow we get tempted and deceived into believing it can bring life.

The reality of our sin is devastating and separates us from God. The revealing of our sins is traumatizing despite our full knowledge of it, but covering it up will not bring healing and only serve to cause more pain. When we love one another in Christ, we will help one another to see when we are myopic to our sin – not to judge one another, but to provoke one another toward righteousness and forgiveness.

Our futile attempts to try and make ourselves righteous before a perfect, transcendent God fall far short, but God knew we would. He longs to expose our sin not to condemn us but to set us free.

He knew we were rebels, choosing lesser things and chases us down, anyway, to open our eyes to see the wonder of knowing Himself and walking in His ways, which far surpasses the foolish goals we had for ourselves.

Just like the nation of Israel in biblical times, we vacillate between delighting in sin, being deceived and then God mercifully revealing our heart attitudes and spiritually bankrupt status.

Oh what a good God to do so! He does not leave us in our sinful condition, but exposes our utter depravity so that we will recognize our need for mercy from our most gracious God!

Maybe you are at the moment of the discovery of sin, maybe you were sinned against or the one who sinned. We will all play each of those roles in our lives and God already knew our transgressions before we were created. In that knowledge, He chose in the Garden of Eden to sacrifice His only Son and still chose to create man, anyway.

Lord, I am humbled that You created us knowing we would rebel against You. You are Holy and our joy! You are perfect, merciful, all knowing and all merciful. Thank You for showing us our sin even though it hurts to see our own wickedness. Keep us from deception and help us to seek You and Your glory alone.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer | Speaker | Worship Leader

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

masterpiece-1

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Mundane Monday: Isolation’s Surprise

isolation

Photo Credit Flickr Creative Commons and loufi.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the unlikely places that God reaches His people with His love and grace.

Scriptures of the Day:

Matthew 14:15

When evening arrived, his disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 15 But he replied, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 15:33

The disciples said to him, “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven–and a few small fish.”

It is sometimes not until we are in a place of want that we understand how blessed we are. Not knowing how the bills will be paid, hoping the debit card works at the register at the grocery store, not being able to afford prescription medication, or even being unable to fix our car – all things I have walked through – taught me lessons I could never have learned when provision was more abundant.

The assumption the disciples made and we often can, too, is that in those desolate places, when we are alone and it seems there is no help, it is not what we have that matters. It is Who we have that makes all the difference.

The disciples did not see how they could help the masses of people. They looked at what they had, they looked at the resources around them and it looked bleak. This makes sense in our practical world. We don’t plan on what might be, we plan according to what is in our hands. While this is a sensible approach when it comes to living on a budget, God’s math does not add up when His children are hurting or in need. In the place of isolation there is a test. A test to see what our response will be. A test of trust.

He loves to demonstrate His care and use us to do so, as well. Jesus looked at their hearts and longed to provide in a way that brought glory to God. No one could take credit for such a lavish feast. People still scratch their heads today wondering how such a miracle could occur, but that is what is so awesome about God’s provision – it always surprises us because it does not seem possible.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked means of God’s provision is us. He blesses us and watches to see how we will be sensitive to see the needs of others. Will we be His hands and feet? God is asking us today, “What do you have?” Phew. humbling. But one of the greatest joys is giving and seeing God at work in the life of the recipient.  Much like earthly parents love to surprise their children with blessings, our God waits to see if we will call on Him and also be used by Him so He can answer in amazing ways.

But perhaps the need and provision are not the most significant aspects of these biblical stories. God is using that need to open their eyes to seek Him, that we might know Him more.

Lord, thank You that You are never far off when we cry out to You. Please help us to be attentive to the needs around us, ready to help, as well.

Mundane Monday: A Higher Purpose

Perspective - Seeing Christ in Our World by Alex Wong - smaller size

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our blessings and trials are not about us, but about those around us seeing God’s activity in our lives. #SeeingDeep #DenisePass

Scripture:

Exodus 18:9

“Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.”

The car breaks down, home is foreclosed upon, miscarriage, diagnosed with multiple diseases, falsely arrested, hospitalization for pneumonia, a spouse betrays us. Poor us, right? Life’s ups and downs can leave any of us disillusioned, heart broken, in a foul mood or a bona fide well-deserved pity party. Or maybe not. For those who grab a hold of the grace of God are overcomers and are changed forever along with those around them.

What if our perspective on troubles was flipped “right side up” to recognize the hand of God at all times? Assuredly hardships are not something to be delighted in, but they teach us much about contentment and relying on our God, more than good times ever could. But more than that, the people around us get a front row seat and the opportunity to see God sustain us, encourage us and rescue us in evil times.

Jethro saw God’s hand in the life of his son-in-law, Moses. He was overjoyed, and this joy resulted in him worshiping God. Wow. To think that our response and God’s movement in our lives could serve as a catalyst for someone’s salvation and worship of God is humbling.

If we complain and blame, we lose our reward and perhaps the people watching us do, too. If we surrender, God is glorified, His fame spreads and victory is ours. Those troubles at the beginning of this blog? They were all just a few of what I have personally faced. They caused me to cry out to God, despite my need to confront my own lack of trust in Him for the suffering I faced.

Like Jacob, when we wrestle with God and try to understand, we end up transformed. Whether or not we ever fully comprehend, we inherently know our God is good and will use it all for good.

Lord, thank You for Your grace and for showing us the deeper purpose in all of life. Help us to glorify You in everything, for You are worthy!

Mundane Monday: Imitation Invitation

imitation.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Copying someone worthwhile is one of the most worthy investments we can make.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 11:1

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

Philippians 3:17

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 4:16

“Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”

“Mom, he is copying me again!  He is eating the same thing I am!”  What a crime, right? Why is our flesh bugged when someone wants to do the same thing we do? Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, but maybe to some people it is just being competitive.

Name brands and generic brands vie for the same consumer. The imitation brand might not be the same quality, but it serves the same purpose.

Doing the same thing over and over again is B-O-R-I-N-G, yet the consistency gives a stability and a peace.  We know what to expect. The disciplines of the Christian life are precious tools that help us to walk faithfully before God.

When Paul told the believers to imitate him, he was not talking about his style, preferences or food choices.  Each one of us is uniquely gifted from one another and we are not mean to be carbon copies.  Paul was talking about us following his passion and love for Christ and His service for the Kingdom of God.

Asking someone to emulate us is humbling.  Not one of us is perfect, but Paul knew that. He did not allow his weaknesses to disqualify him – he boasted in them, for then God received all the glory.

We are who we surround ourselves with. People can influence us and we can influence them.  Imitating excellence is one step closer to greatness, just as mindlessly following bad examples brings us down. We are either impacted by the culture around us or affecting our culture for Christ.

It might be easy to follow someone if they seem blessed, but following an example of suffering is another matter entirely. There Paul sat in chains, appealing to us to follow him. Seems crazy at first, until we see things beyond the surface.  Sometimes walking with Christ will bring persecution, but the treasures we gain in the midst are priceless.

When Paul was inviting us to imitate Him, He was inviting us to die. Sweet death that brings true living, though. To follow after and hunger after God is one of the hardest things we will do.  We have to resist the flesh and seek to do what is completely contrary to it. God help us to be mindful of who and what we are following – our decisions today may very well affect all of eternity.

Lord, help us to seek to be like You. When the world tries to lure us to be comfortable and apathetic, help us to never grow weary in well doing – for is due time we will reap a harvest.

Truthful Tuesday: Bitter or Better

Bitter-or-Better.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Bitterness blinds us to the truth.

Scripture of the Day:

Ruth 1:21

“I left here full, but the LORD has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the LORD has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.”

One thing you can say about Naomi – she did not pull any punches.  She was going to tell it to you like it was.  No sugar coating needed.  But perhaps her recounting of the story was not true, after all.

Sure, Naomi told the truth about how she felt, but her description of God was affected by those bitter emotions.  

Naomi felt that God opposed her.  Such an admission revealed a distrust of God.  Was He still the good God who blessed her in Jerusalem?  Was He still faithful in the famine? Or is faithfulness dependent upon us always being what we perceive as “blessed”?

Scripture says that God does oppose the proud, but it also says to endure all hardship as discipline from a loving Father. It is difficult to feel loved when we suffer. We wonder why a good God would allow pain when he is All-powerful and able to remove our sorrows.

I remember bowing down and crying out to God when I lost my baby.  I did not understand, until I came to God.  There in His Word was a precious promise.  He loved me, and “in His faithfulness He afflicts those He loves”.  I had to sing a song in a wedding the next day that mentioned a baby’s heart beating.  I had just watched my baby’s heartbeat stop beating the day before on an ultrasound.  Why would circumstances have to collide in such a fashion?

Beautiful brokenness brought me closer to my God and somehow the veil was lifted and a glimpse at the mystery of suffering with God was a moment of Holiness I will never forget.

I did not just worship God when I was healthy and blessed.  I now knew my God in a deeper way and trusted Him, even though, like Job, it seemed that He slayed me.  He did.  A part of my flesh was crucified that day and what rose was a soul comforted by the living God.

The former presumption that I only deserved blessing now humbled me. The feeling of betrayal and hurt was replaced by a daughter of the King who ruled her emotions and laid them at Her Master’s feet.  Trusting that His plan was best instead of mine – set me free to have a living faith in the One Who knows and sees all.

A surface relationship with God views His permitting of suffering as proof that His character is questionable.  But when we walk in the deep waters with God, our perspective changes and we realize that a relationship with God is during times of blessing and famine.  Sunshine Christianity, worshiping God only when He allows no pain in our lives is not true Christianity.  Carrying our cross and glorifying Him in the midst?  Priceless.

In the end, Naomi was not forgotten by God and was blessed again.  We can’t see the end, but how precious it is to trust in Jesus even in the rain.

Lord, thank You that You allow any blessings at all in our lives.  Thank You for Your mercy and kindness.  Help us to overflow to others around us with the healing You have given.

Truthful Tuesday: Our Moral Compass

bible_compass.jpg

Inspirational thought of the day:

Only God determines what is truly right.

Scripture of the day:

Judges 17:5

“In those days Israel had no king.  Each man did what was considered to be right.”

A ship follows the lead of a small instrument no bigger than a stopwatch and the captain of the ship trusts that this small tool called a compass is not leading them astray.

The Creator of this world has left us with a compass, as well.  Not only an instruction manual called the Bible, but the Holy Spirit to influence us toward righteousness.

I myself am directionally challenged and rely on a GPS to point me the right direction.  I will often trust the GPS above my own instinct, because I know the rate of accuracy of the GPS is far greater than mine.

But sometimes it gets confusing when there are multiple compasses and voices crying out, trying to persuade us that their voice is the right one.  Folly cries out but so does wisdom.

Humanism has seeped into every aspect of our culture to the point where it seems odd to not just do what we feel like doing.  That’s because the flesh is very persuasive.  But if our basis for our decisions is founded primarily upon our feelings, we can be led far away from God’s best.

If the heart is deceitful and every inclination of our heart is wicked in God’s sight, how are we then to live?  What compass do we use to make decisions and how can we make our stubborn wills follow God’s way?

In our pride, we tend to think we are right.  All arguments emanate from this reality.  Authority is a means by which god establishes order.  Without it, we drift.  With it, we often rebel, anyway. Using a compass takes humility and trust.

There is hope for those Who would call on the Name of God and seek the counsel of His word.   The Holy Spirit is able to guide us and we are able to exercise our free will to walk in integrity or to walk after the flesh and do whatever we want.

Ironically, what we want is often counter to God’s ways and as much as we think it pleases us, it leads to our ultimate ruin.  The motivation to do things our way would change if we could think the matter all the way through and choose according to God’s law.

Praise God that He has absolute truth in this world of relativity.

God has not left us without instruction nor does He let us remain in confusion if we seek Him sincerely. When we yield our plans to God and filter our desires through God’s word, we find peace.  Gently He leads us like an inner compass to do His will and not our own.

Lord, help us to surrender all to You.  Your will be done.  Your ways are best.  Grant us wisdom to recognize when our flesh is pulling us away from what really matters – living solely for You, Jesus, and according to Your Word.

Thoughtful Thursday: True Prosperity

True Propserity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Reconciliation with the Almighty God of this universe is the greatest wealth we can have.

Scripture:

Job 22:21-28

21 “Reconcile yourself with God, and be at peace with him; in this way your prosperity will be good. 22 Accept instruction from his mouth and store up his words in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent, 24 and throw your gold in the dust–your gold of Ophir among the rocks in the ravines– 25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold, and the choicest silver for you. 26 Surely then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face toward God. 27 You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28 Whatever you decide on a matter, it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.” 

I’ve heard of people longing to win the lottery – even going to great lengths on strategies to hopefully help them land the winning number – and end their woes.  Thing is, the people who do win often end up destroying their lives.  What happened?  Wasn’t prosperity the solution to all of their troubles?

Some preachers have taught that world wealth is a given for those who are in Christ. People who are poor by the world’s standards must just not have enough faith to obtain the wealth God planned for them.  I don’t buy it and I have never played the lottery, either.

Like Paul, I have known what it is to be in need and to have an abundance.  In both times, I praised God.  I did not want to forget God when He blessed us, nor did I want to blame Him when we were unemployed and sued into financial woe.  God was faithful through it all. Both circumstances were not easy.

In times of prosperity, materialism, comfort and apathy threatened to woo us into a backslidden, religious state.  In times of financial hardship, we had to adapt and go without. We cried out to God and gained things of value that wealth could never give us.  A deeper walk with Him, a deeper trust in Him as He provided in creative ways, and learning contentment – precious treasure earned in challenging financial ordeals.

My children and I look fondly on the times when we craved food that we could not purchase due to a limited budget, then the LORD impressed on other people’s hearts to bring us that very food.  It was very specific and amazing to see God’s faithfulness in even the smallest of things.

The greatest riches we can ever achieve were given freely to us and can never be lost. Eternal treasures purchased for us by the blood of Christ, the cost for our reconciliation to God.  Nothing compares to this prosperity.

Lord, thank You for giving us Yourself, the most precious gift ever.  Please help us to be a grateful people and to share what You have given to us with the world.