CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
THE DESIRES OF MY HEART
by Pastor Martha-Jean Fitch TEXT: Psalm 37
June 24, 2018
TEXT: Psalm 37
(Begin with Children’s Sermon in 1st service and begin on page 3
in 2nd service if there are no children)
Will the children come up and join me for a time of worship, please?
Hey kids, I am glad to see you today. I wanted to talk to you…(my cell phone rings). Oh my, it sounds like someone’s cell phone is ringing in worship. Wonder whose that can be? Hm-m! Do you hear it? Oh my – that’s my phone. Wow! Wonder who it could be?
“Hello. Yes that’s me… yes, all the kids are here. What? What did you say? Oh dear – I can’t hear you. Let me get to another spot. Maybe a quiet place. Ok. Now, there. Now I can hear you. Oh, ok. I will be sure to tell them. And yes – I love you too! Bye – uh, I mean, AMEN”
Well, guess who that was? Well – yes I was pretending it was God. God doesn’t really talk to us with a cell phone does He? How does God talk to us? In prayer, yes, that is right. And I believe that God really does want to talk to us and be close to us.
Have you ever heard God speak to you? What has He said?
When I was your age, my family had my Grandmother living with us. Sometimes my Grandmother got really mad at me and would get after me when she thought I had done something wrong. One time, I remember I was in trouble and I went to my room and I was really upset. I was crying and crying because I didn’t think it was right that I was in trouble. I was so upset, I couldn’t stop crying. Have you ever felt that way? Well, you know what I did? I prayed to God. I asked God to help me stop crying and to feel better. And guess what? He did. And all of the sudden – I didn’t hear God speak BUT I felt God’s presence, right there with me and I felt all at peace – and I felt loved. I think God was speaking to me that day in a very special way.
From that day on – I knew I could talk to God about anything – at any time. And if I listened, somehow He would speak to me – to give me peace and love when I needed it – and to show me the right way to live.
Our Scripture reading today says, “Delight yourself in the Lord” – (show Children’s bulletin cover) that means to keep worshiping Him and loving Him with all your heart. And then God will give you everything you need. If we keep praying and putting God first – God will help us and give us all that we need! That’s a pretty awesome promise, isn’t it?
Well, you know what God told me to tell you on the phone earlier? He said to tell you that He loves you all very much and He really wants to talk with you. I hope that you will talk to Him every day and always put Him first in your heart.
Let’s pray right now. PRAYER
BEGIN 2ND SERVICE HERE IF THERE ARE NO CHILDREN IN 2ND SERVICE
An overweight businessman decided it was time to shed some excess pounds. He took his new diet seriously, even changing his driving route to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning, however, he arrived at work carrying a gigantic coffee cake. His co-workers scolded him, but he we undeterred. With a smile he told them: “This is a very special coffee cake. I accidently drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window were a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed. ‘Lord, if you want me to have one of these delicious coffee cakes, let me have a parking place directly in front of the bakery.’ And sure enough, the 8th time around the block, there it was! This is an answer to my prayer! It was God’s will.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Those words of Psalm 37:4 are often used and misunderstood by those who believe that God will give you whatever you want if you just ask. They may think, I believe in God and I desire a million dollars – so I should be getting rich and prosperous because God will give me the desires of my heart. Now that might sound crazy – but what about other desires that we might have? What of our desires to have no sickness or pain – to live a long life with a successful career and marriage. Sometimes people question God’s promises when they fail in business or they get sick or they lose their loved ones. They think that God did not give them their desires and so they can’t trust Him. And what about all those other people that are evil and unworthy who just seem to be popular and prosperous and seem to get everything they desire. How do we handle all that?
Psalm 37 is truly a psalm that seems to speak to all of those questions. Turn in your Bible to Psalm 37, found in the middle of the Bible in the Old Testament. This psalm was written in 1000 BC and is believed to have been written by King David when he was very old – perhaps as words of wisdom, given to his son Solomon. If we were to read it in Hebrew, we would see that it is written as an acrostic, using each letter of the Hebrew alphabet for every 2 verses. David may have written this to help Solomon memorize these words of wisdom – or to even sing its melodic rhythm. Today we will look at just the first 7 verses and how it relates to our time of prayer and hearing the word of God.
Beginning at verse 1 we hear: “Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. 2 For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.” We are not to worry and fret about those who are evil, envying what they are getting that they don’t deserve. When we see what is going on in our world – all the wrong doers in our culture, it can be easy to be overwhelmed and depressed. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer – and there just seems to be so much pain and sorrow all over because of the evil that is done. We are to grieve the sin that we see – but we are not to the wrongdoing of others steal our joy and our peace. We are to remember that God is in control And what these unbelievers and evil ones are doing won’t last forever – they will fade and vanish like grass that withers and dies. But those who follow God will have treasures in heaven that will last forever. Instead of worrying and focusing on them, we need to look up and turn our focus on God.
The antidote for all that worry is found in verses 2-7.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Notice there are three verbs – commands we are to follow and obey – and three things that God will do in response
First, we are to trust in the Lord and do good. We are to commit everything we do to God – and then God will help us. The word commit and trust in Hebrew literally means “to roll”. The idea is that of rolling a heavy burden from ourselves onto God so that He may bear it. Literally, we can say, “Roll all your cares onto God.” Or as Peter says in I Peter 5:5, “Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for You.” We can literally depend on Him for every part of our life, and He will direct our step.”1
When I was in high school, one of my Bible Study teachers told me that one of the most important verses I would need to learn for life was Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” I have found that I need to listen for God’s guidance, to know what direction I need to go in life. I have to admit that I don’t know it all – that I need God, who I can trust to be faithful, to show me the way. I had to listen to His leading about the big issues in my life like what career to go into – and even who to marry and where to live. And I need to trust Him in even the day to day decisions like how to use my time – and how to relate to others. When I commit my life to Him and trust Him, He will help me.
Skipping down to verse seven, another command is to be still before the Lord and wait for Him to act. We have to find time to be quiet and listen for God’s voice. We live in a noisy world. Our schedules are so busy and we fill our lives up with so many voices that really can’t hear the voice of God. We have to be intentional to make time to listen to God. Everything will work against you doing that. Satan would like nothing better than to keep us so busy that we won’t be connected and close to God. We have to be proactive and set times in our daily schedules to be quiet and pray and meditate on God’s word every day – even if it is just for 2 minutes. Put that time on your calendar, just like you would a doctor’s appointment or an appointment to get your haircut. And honor that time just like you would any other appointment.
Rick Warren, in talking about making a quiet time a priority in your life says: “Jesus wants you to spend time with him. He died on the cross to give you fellowship with him. You don’t have time to do this.” Because of His death on the cross, Christ opened the way for us to go boldly before the throne of grace and get the help we need. It is a great privilege and blessing to spend time in the presence of the Lord. When we make that time to be quiet and still before the Lord – our focus is changed from ourselves to the greatness and strength of God. We are strengthened and empowered – comforted and renewed as we wait in His presence.2
The third command is to delight in the Lord and then, God says He will give us the desires of our hearts. We often focus on the last part of that verse – being given our desires… without remembering the first part which says to delight yourself in the Lord. What does it mean to delight? The dictionary defines delight is to take great pleasure in – to please greatly. So David is saying, “Take great pleasure in God.” The Passion Translation of Psalm 37:4 says: “Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life.”
When you delight yourself in another person, you want to spend time with that other person as much as possible. You want to learn their ways and get to know their voice and character. Your phone calls and emails you receive from them are a treasure and you delight in reading them again and again. Look at young couples who are in love and delight in each other. They rearrange their priorities so that the spend a lot of time with each other. And they try to make sure that nothing interferes with that. Why? Because that is what they desire.
The same is true in our relationship with God. To take delight in Him, we have to make time to know Him and to know His Word…and to read the Bible - God’s love letter to us.
When I think of delighting ourselves in God, I am reminded of the story of the sisters Mary and Martha. You will remember that Martha was the one that was very distracted. She was worried and fretting about so many things – and in particular, making all the preparations for the meal they were having to feed Jesus and His disciples. She was really frustrated that her sister Mary was not helping her. What was Mary doing? Sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to the Lord’s words. She was delighting in Jesus! Jesus said that Mary had made the better choice. We need to ask ourselves – do we delight in being with Jesus like Mary did? Do we sit lost in delight at our Savior’s feet each day – praying and listening to His voice? Or do we fill our days with so many other distractions that we miss that opportunity to be blessed and receive the desires of our hearts?
If we delight in Him – we make our relationship with Him our top priority. And as we delight in Him – we discover that our desires of our hearts have changed. God changes our desires by matching them up for His will for our lives.
Ron Hutchcraft says that when our focus is chase after the heart of God – God will take care of you and you will receive the desires of your heart, because those desires will be in line with what He wants to give you. “Major on loving Him and you’ll be wanting what He wants to give you. And at just the right time, in just the right way, He’ll provide it.”
Hutchcraft went on to say, “Anyone who loved you enough to die for you would never do you wrong. Romans 8:32 says: ‘He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?’”3
Joni Eareckson Tada is an amazing woman. Now at the age of 68, she has spent over 50 years living the life of a quadriplegic. Joni is a beautiful Christian artist and Christian radio speaker and advocate for those who are physically disabled. In one of her radio broadcasts, she shared the story of what delighting in the Lord meant to her. In part, it goes like this:
Remember those words: Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight.
Maybe you’ve said words like that before. Joni used to say them a lot. She would go out in her wheelchair and look up into the sky and wish upon a star and say, “please, please Lord Jesus, give me back the use of my body.” She had read about the different promises of God, about abiding in God – and delighting yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. She was sure that God wanted her to have her wish – to give her what she desired.
So, she began to follow faithfully the condition of that promise. She began to remain in Him as well as have His words remain in her. As she did that she came across words in Scripture about suffering with Christ and how we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. The more she dwelt on the words of Scripture and delighted in fellowship with God, the more she was able to find the sweetest, most wonderful supernatural strength to endure hardship. She was encouraged to keep on abiding in her Savior until finally she could look up in the stars again – and make a wish - and knew without a doubt that God would grant the wish.
In her words she said this: “I had delighted myself in the Lord, and I was convinced He’d given me the desire of my heart. And just what was my wish that evening under the stars? My wish was to simply draw closer to You, Jesus. I wish to know You better. That had become the desire of my heart. Not to rise to my feet, not to get back use of my hands, but to rise to new levels of trust and peace and joy in Jesus.”
Joni ended her broadcast with these words: “Friends what is your wish? When you see a star appear, what do you privately hope for? Well know this. Jesus says that whatever you wish, it will be done for you if His words fill your life and if you abide in Him. Funny thing though…when you do that you end getting far better than you ever imagined, more than you ever could wish for. Because you end up with the bright and morning star, Himself.”4\
PRAYER & INVITATION
1Verse by Verse Commentary. Psalm 37. https://www.studylight.org/commentary/psalms/37-5.html
2 Rick Warren. “Strategies for Building a Quiet Time with God.” https://pastorrick.com/strategies-for-building-a-quiet-time-with-god/
3Ron Hutchcraft. “The Mistakes We Make For Love”
4Joni Eareckson Tada. “Whatever You Wish”.