DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

                 Index

 
Desires
 

(Needs, Wants, Wishes)

1. Right Desires

What desires meet with God's approval?

Genesis 29:1-30
1 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples.
2 There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large.
3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well's mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob asked the shepherds, "My brothers, where are you from?" "We're from Haran," they replied.
5 He said to them, "Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?" "Yes, we know him," they answered.
6 Then Jacob asked them, "Is he well?" "Yes, he is," they said, "and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep."
7 "Look," he said, "the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture."
8 "We can't," they replied, "until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep."
9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess.
10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep.
11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.
12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.
13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things.
14 Then Laban said to him, "You are my own flesh and blood." After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month,
15 Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be."
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.
18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."
19 Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me."
20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her."
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast.
23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her.
24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"
26 Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.
27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant.
30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.


KEY BIBLE VERSE: Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. (Genesis 29:20)

Some desires require a real investment of ourselves. People often wonder if working a long time for something they desire is worth it. Jacob worked seven years to marry Rachel. After being tricked, he agreed to work seven more years for her (although he did get to marry Rachel shortly after he married Leah)! The most important goals and desires are worth working and waiting for. Movies and television have created the illusion that people have to wait only about an hour to solve their problems or get what they want. Don't be trapped into thinking the same is true in real life. Patience is hardest when we need it the most, but it is the key to achieving our goals.

Psalm 97:1-12
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
7 All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols-- worship him, all you gods!
8 Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, O LORD.
9 For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.


KEY BIBLE VERSE: You who love the Lord, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10)

Our desires should not go against what God desires. A sincere desire to please God will result in an alignment of your desires with God's desires. You will love what God loves and hate what God hates. If you love the Lord, you will hate evil. If you do not despise the actions of people who take advantage of others, if you admire people who only look out for themselves, or if you envy those who get ahead using any means to accomplish their ends, then your primary desire in life is not to please God. Learn to love God's ways and hate evil in every form-not only the obvious sins but also the socially acceptable ones.

Acts 21:1-16
1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara.
2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.
3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.
4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.
6 After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.
7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day.
8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.
9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
11 Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'"
12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done."
15 After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.
16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.


KEY BIBLE VERSE: But [Paul] said, "Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! For I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but also to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus."
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When desires are in conflict, the right choice is obedience to God. Paul knew he would be imprisoned in Jerusalem. Although his friends pleaded with him not to go there, he knew that he had to because God wanted him to. No one enjoys pain, but a faithful disciple wants above all else to please God. Our desire to please God should overshadow our desire to avoid hardship and suffering. When we really want to do God's will, we must accept all that comes with it-even the pain. Then we can say with Paul, "The Lord's will be done."

Hebrews 9:11-28
11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.
12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it,
17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
19 When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.
20 He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep."
21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies.
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.
25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.
26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.


KEY BIBLE VERSE: Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from deeds that lead to death so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. (Hebrews 9:14)

The Holy Spirit will reshape our desires to match God's. If our hearts are not changed, following God's rules is unpleasant and difficult. We rebel against being told how to live. The Holy Spirit, however, gives us new desires. He helps us want to obey God (see Phil. 2:12-13). With new hearts, we find that serving God is our greatest joy.

Philippians 2:12-13
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.


2. Incorrect Desires

What happens when our desires clash with God's desires?

Galatians 5:13-26
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love.
14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


KEY BIBLE VERSE: The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. (Galatians 5:17)

We need God's help to settle the conflict. Paul describes the two forces conflicting within us-the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature (our evil desires or inclinations; see also 5:16, 19, 24). Paul is not saying that these forces are equal-the Holy Spirit is infinitely stronger. But if we rely on our own wisdom, we will make wrong choices. If we try to follow the Spirit by our own human effort, we will fail. Our only way to freedom from our evil desires is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:9; Ephes. 4:23-24; Col. 3:3-8).

Romans 8:9
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Ephesians 4:23-24
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.


Colossians 3:3-8
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.


We must not ignore the tendency to follow our own way. We all have evil desires, and we can't ignore them. In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance, we must deal with them decisively (crucify them-5:24). These desires include obvious sins such as sexual immorality and witchcraft. They also include less obvious sins such as selfish ambition, hatred, and jealousy. Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them reveal that they have not received the gift of the Spirit leading to a transformed life.

Mathew 5:27-30
27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.


KEY BIBLE VERSE: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Uncontrolled desires can themselves be sinful. The Old Testament law said that it is wrong for a person to have sex with someone other than his or her spouse (Exodus 20:14).

Exodus 20:14
"You shall not commit adultery.

But Jesus said that the desire to have sex with someone other than your spouse is mental adultery and thus sin. Jesus emphasized that if the act is wrong, then so is the intention. To be faithful to your spouse with your body but not your mind is to break the trust so vital to a strong marriage. Jesus is not condemning natural interest in the opposite sex or even healthy sexual desire, but the deliberate and repeated filling of one's mind with fantasies that would be evil if acted out.

Uncontrolled desires can lead to sin. Some think that if lustful thoughts are sin, why shouldn't a person go ahead and carry out the lustful actions too? Acting out sinful desires is harmful in several ways:
(1) it causes people to excuse sin rather than to stop sinning;
(2) it destroys marriages;
(3) it is deliberate rebellion against God's Word; and
(4) it always hurts someone else in addition to the sinner.

Sinful action is more dangerous than sinful desire, and that is why desires should not be acted out. Nevertheless, sinful desire is just as damaging to righteousness. Left unchecked, wrong desires will result in wrong actions and turn people away from God.