Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekly Devotional: Trading YOUR Desires for GOD'S

From a young age, we are used to seeking our own desires and chasing after the things that we want. Some babies will cry all night long until you hold them because they desire affection and will go to any length, including screaming their brains out to get it!

I saw this just last week with my one-year-old god brother. I was making hot tea for myself, and he happens to love tea for some reason. He walked up to me and motioned for me to pick him up, so I did. Then he motioned for me to give him some tea. I told him that it was hot and he waited until I cooled it off a little and gave him a spoonful. Then all of a sudden, I seemed to be moving too slow for him, so he moved his hand towards the hot mug. I told him “No, it’s hot” and he moved his hand. Then he thought about it and tried again so I told him the same thing, but because he had already purposed in his mind that he was going to get some of that tea no matter what, he reached quickly towards the cup before I could pull him back, and he touched the outside of the mug. He wasn’t burned, but he realized that I was right, it was really hot, and he cried because of it. Needless to say, he walked away after that.

In many ways, our mentalities don’t change very much from the mentality of a child. We still have desires that we go for, no matter how detrimental they are or can be to our spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health. I mentioned before about how I kept drinking alcohol for a while even though I got sick every time I drank it. I had a desire that I was going to fulfill no matter how evidently it was impacting my health. My desire only changed when my mindset changed (thank God he changed me)!

This is a topic that God has really been dealing with me a lot on. I’ve learned that while it is good to have ambition and drive, it is also best to follow the way that God wants us to do things, not our own way. Romans 8:6 says, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” When we set our minds on the Spirit, we are automatic recipients of life and peace. We are liberated because the Spirit gives us power to walk away from the desires that we have been connected for so long. Galatians 5:24-26 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

Honestly, trading in the fulfillment of your own desires for someone else’s is the ultimate sacrifice. After a long work day, I was driving home from work and was just pulling into my complex (literally a minute from my door) when my mom called me. She asked me where I was and what I was doing I knew she was out of the state so I was thinking oh this is nice of her to see how my day is going. And then BAM! She dropped a hammer on me. She asked me to drive all the way to her house (during rush hour!!!), to check if she left her keys at home because she couldn’t find them, and take the dog out since I would already be there. Immediately my mind was racing. I wanted to hang up on her and pretend we got disconnected. I wanted to flat out say UMMM NO. But then I thought back on all the sacrifices that my mom has made for me and the love she has for me and I came to the realization that I would have to trade in my own desire to lay on my couch and set aside some time to do her a favor.

That’s the thing about trading in your own desires. It is contingent upon your love and admiration of the person/thing that is asking something of you. Jesus said, ““If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15). If you love someone you’ll do almost anything for them, most of all, you’ll give up what you really want to do what they want.

But the reality is that once you find a love for Jesus which cannot be separated, it still won’t be easy to stop chasing the desires of the flesh. We are humans after all! Lord knows I struggle with wanting to fulfill my own desires above all else on a daily basis! A lot of times I want to give in to my attitudes and moods. I want to be mean to people just because I feel like it and tell people off to release my pent up anger, but then I remind myself that I don’t want to be like that. I want to be like Jesus, trading in my own desires for what God wants.

Even Jesus struggled with this before going to the cross. As he prayed before he was confronted and taken to prison (and later crucified) the Bible says he said, "Abba Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." (Mark 14:36). As he was being taken away by the Roman soldiers, Peter cut off one of the soldiers’ ears. He was ready to fight to the death, yet still Jesus said “Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” (John 18:10).

I wrote the poem below. I hope it makes you think about what and who you’re giving your time to, and leads you to examine your desires and how they match up with God’s.

One of the most frequently used words in the Old Testament to indicate desire is “awa” and its derivatives, which can be found almost fifty times. Often the subject of this verb is “nephes” meaning self, soul, or appetite. The term is translated as "desire," "lust," "will," "pleasant," "greed," "dainty," and "desirable."- Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 

Your human desires won’t lead you anywhere, but to destruction.
Your desire for sex, for money, for power, for status, it’s insatiable.
Through your penchant for competition
you breathe each breath with a purpose,
motivated by the assurance of self.

Because even when friends don’t,
God knows, God knows.
He knows your browser history, no matter how often you delete.
He sees you lurk Instagram,
coveting the goods of your “followers,” and celebrity.
He knows your Google searches,
X.X.X marks the spot.
He sees every online purchase.
He watches you spend all you’ve got.
That time, that money,
it doesn’t further his kingdom.
You misuse the little you have as if the ticking will never end;
trying to be “hot” or something you’re not,
like a broken old watch,
come already, stoppp.

Because even when family doesn’t,
God knows, God knows.
He sees you cry at night because you’re sleeping alone.
Only without HIM is a house not a home.
He sees you stare in the mirror and dismiss your reflection,
cursing what God has given you
as if life and breath within itself isn’t a blessing.
He sees you mourn the passing of your youth,
cloaked in the darkness of deceit,
accepting the words “you’re ugly”
uttered by your high school bully
as if they were full of meaning and truth.
But of the words of the father,
which should resonate in your spirit, you’ve become aloof.

Because even when they don’t,
God knows, God knows.
He knows that deep down ALL you desire is LOVE.

But he’s saying,
“Am I not he who supplies your needs?
Knowing me is knowing love,
and knowing my love is knowing that I am in thee.
Thee I have not forsaken.
For you I gave and continue to give my all,
but for me you give a whisper lacking in fervor,
not even a 5am prayer call.
I know, yes, I know the longing of your heart,
and if you would just give yourself wholly to me,
I will make thee who thou art.”

“But who am I?” you say. “This person I have yet to discover.
And why is it that when you speak to me, your words I cannot uncover?”

“You are mine.
You are holy, you are sanctified,
blessed by me, the Lord God, the Divine.
So to put it plainly would be a grave injustice
when as the lover of your soul,
I am He to whom your heart should be entrusted.
Yes I am all-seeing; yes I am all-knowing;
yes I have all power,
And if you seek me first,
My love I will shower.
Shower like spring rain upon your locks,
a sweet, sweet presence,
a peaceful cooling beverage
on a wistful summer night.

 I know, yes, I know
that once you enter my presence
and my Spirit corrupts your sin,
you will want for nothing.
And the desires of mine will also become yours.
This is true love, true purpose and true peace.
It is what the devil abhors.
He wants to see you walk in selfish fulfillment,
bound by the thoughts that pollute your mind.
But I assure you, It’s gonna be okay.
You have my son’s example to show you the way
because for you I have in mind a life free from this bondage,
what do you say?
Will you accept my invitation, wrapped with its little red bow?
I know it’s at odds with your carnality,
But still,
I offer you a life unfulfilled by human desires
and instead full of genuine, holy sanguinity.
See, because my word will always ring true, my offer will always stand.
Stand against the bonds of wickedness, deceit, and every evil work of this land.
Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I know, yes I know, that I will give you rest."

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