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Desiring God – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 6, 2023 1:00 am

Desiring God – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 6, 2023 1:00 am

When we lose the distractions and pressures of life, we often feel our true craving for God. Few among us are as thirsty for God as David was. In this message, Pastor Lutzer articulates two truths that speak to our spiritual longing. When everything is taken away, only God can fill our true hunger.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Few among us are as thirsty for God as David was.

Too many things fill our lives, TV, the internet, the pressures of job and home. But when those things are taken away, our true hunger can be felt, a hunger that only God can fill. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Ludzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line.

Pastor Ludzer, as you take us again into Psalm 42, we find ourselves in a barren wilderness. Here, we will experience what David experienced, a growing thirst for the Lord. You know, Dave, I'm going to take the liberty of mentioning to our audience that many years ago, obviously, before Billy Graham died, I had the privilege of meeting with him, spending a few minutes with him, even though he was in a wheelchair.

Now, the thing that impressed me was this. There were no cameras, no crowds, nobody hovering around him. But it seemed to me that he was so content with Christ. Throughout his life, he always desired Christ and to your point, Dave, I think that when we think about the wilderness and everything taken away from us, the question is, will we still thirst for God and will we find God satisfying? I think that Billy Graham did. You know, we here at the Moody Media are so thankful for the support of many of our friends, our listeners, all those who believe that this ministry, as it continues to expand, continues to have God's blessing. They rejoice with us. Have you ever considered becoming an endurance partner?

That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, you need more info. You can write this down. Go to When you're there, you click on the endurance partner button, or you call us at 1-888-218-9337.

For, click on the endurance partner button. Listen to what he says, verse five. Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. David was going through a time of emotional bankruptcy. It was a time when it appeared as if God had withdrawn from him, and God does sometimes withdraw his presence from us, that is, his felt presence. And he does that so that we might learn to depend solely and totally upon him, when the emotions no longer can be relied upon, where we must walk simply by bare faith. Because when the Bible says we walk not by sight, but by faith, it doesn't mean just physical sight, it even means emotional sight. So there are times when we are despondent, there are times when we cry out to God in despair, and God does not seem to be there, and those times are set up by God that we might pursue him more passionately and more intimately. David's having this little talk with himself.

It's the kind of dissidence that you and I experience. We know in our minds that God is with us, but our souls, our emotions are not catching up with our theology. Yeah, yeah, God is with us, we know all the promises, we've sung all the songs, but why am I so downcast, oh my soul? So he talks with himself, just a little bit of healthy schizophrenia going on here in the text. We all talk to ourselves, I used to talk to myself a lot more, a little less since I've been married I'm sure.

I have a friend who says he always talks to himself because he says he just has a rule, he always wants to talk to the most intelligent person around. He's saying, why do I feel so bad when I've got all the promises of God? So I'm speaking to my soul, soul, why are you so downcast when God is here?

Hope in God. That's another thing that made him pursue God. Of course, if we were to look at David's life, we discover also that the pleasures of this world began to turn sour on him and that makes you pursue God and guilt makes you pursue God. You see, guilt drives many people away from God. They think that God is so mad at them, why should they come into God's presence? And they do not understand that guilt is God trying to put his arms around them and bringing them back into fellowship. That's why God rejoices when the prodigal son comes home. And we think, no, no, God will be happier if I just stay in the pig pan. No, God isn't happier. And so God pursues us in all these different ways. And if we're believers, he will not let us alone. He keeps pursuing us and say, I want you to trust me. I want you to love me.

I want you to get to know me. About a week ago, my wife and I were at dinner with some friends who were involved in the construction industry for many, many, many years and their construction company went bankrupt because of a number of different reasons. And this man whom I've known for years sitting beside me at the table says, I just want you to know that for years I went to church, for years I did the right thing, for years I heard that I should know God. But he said it never really penetrated me at all. And he says, now suddenly when our house was up for sale, and they almost did lose their house, and all of our savings were gone, he said, it drove me to God. He said, in the last two years, he said, I've read 37 books. And he says, I sit there reading books on theology and books on God. And my wife even said to me, why in the world? You don't even watch sports anymore, she said. She said, you just sit there and now you've become so boring reading all of these books.

One of the reasons she said that is because he said that he reads these books to her, so that could necessitate some negotiation. But I'm sitting watching this guy whom I knew 25 years ago, 30 years ago actually I met him. He was absolutely absorbed with the Chicago Cubs. If he couldn't go to a game, he watched the game. If he couldn't watch the game, he listened to the game, he kept up with the Chicago Cubs. Isn't it amazing how God undercuts things like Cub fans and the many different ways he does it?

He doesn't watch them anymore. David says, my soul longs for God. Now, what about God's desire for us? God's desire for us.

The fact that we should know God and that we should desire him is very obvious, but does God actually desire us? You know, John Piper in his good book entitled Desiring God, a book that all of you should read. He says that the Westminster Confession of Faith, you remember, which says that the end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. It does not say the ends of man.

In other words, there are not two goals, there's only one. And the way in which that should be interpreted is that the chief and singular of man is to know God by enjoying him forever. You see, it is not just that we desire God, but wonder of wonders, God actually desires us. And that's why the Apostle Paul says that the time is coming when Jesus Christ is going to return to earth and be glorified. Jesus is going to be glorified in the saints.

And this past week, I was reading the book of 1 Peter, where it talked about those who are going to be glorified, whom God is going to glorify. God is so interested in us, we are number one on his agenda of things to take care of in the universe. And God can give us delight and he can give us joy because he himself is a happy God. You know, could you imagine trying to plug into a God who was unhappy, a God who was, and you've heard me say this before, but it's got to come one more time, could you imagine trying to get to know a God who was moody, for example?

A God who sometimes his emotions could not be depended upon. No, we can delight in God. In fact, the Bible commands us to delight in God because God is a delightful God and desires our own individual delight. You say, well, isn't God upset because of the evil that is in the world? Well, Jonathan Edwards answered that question this way, and I believe it is biblical by saying that if you look at it narrowly, through a narrow lens, yes, God is angry and God is upset. But if you look at it from the totality of where history is going and where it has come from and the ultimate glory of God, God is a happy God and God invites us to rejoice in him. And the more we get to know him, the more we can rejoice.

But still, I haven't answered the question, have I? If you are downcast, if you have this raging thirst that has never been satisfied, if you're experiencing that, why God and why not drink? Why should we flee to God rather than to drugs and to escapism? Why God? Well, just think of God's resources to meet that deep need that you and I have. We were created for him.

You were wired for God because you and I have a soul, we have a connection, we have a spirit so that we can relate to God directly. No animal can do that. Many years ago when I was in university, we had to read articles about animals that were learning to talk. And I remember reading about Coco. Coco was a chimpanzee who was learning all of these words and they were saying things like, well, you know, we want Coco to be able to talk and maybe the day will come when she'll record her own history and so forth. Yeah, Coco was learning some words, but let me tell you something about Coco. Coco can never know God, never know God. Coco might be able to talk. You say, you monkeys talk.

Well, that could lead to some humor too, but we'll bypass that. The simple fact is that we were created for God and only God can fulfill and fill that God shaped vacuum. And all of the lures of the world, all of the things that the world has to offer, the world always deceives us. And I've seen people spend their whole life saying these wells have to contain some water.

Somewhere, someplace, I've got to be able to find it. And they go from one sin to another, one indulgence to another, even one addiction to another, absolutely convinced that the world has to keep its promises at some point. But the world does not keep its promises. You were made and created for God, for God. So what resources does God have? Imagine God being able to remove our guilt. Some of you spend so much time managing your sin that you think to yourself, well, I've taken care of my guilt.

No, you have not. Only God can take care of your guilt by wiping it away. He can remove our anxiety. He can bring us that peace of soul even in the midst of our despondency. But there's something else that God can do. He can love us unconditionally.

He can fulfill that deep need for a lasting, meaningful, eternal relationship. Only God is able to do that. And when we come to him, we discover that this thirst that has been in us can be satisfied only by him.

And no person and no thing and no achievement can take his place. You say, well, how is our thirst for God increased? Well, it begins at salvation. When we accept Christ as Savior, God creates a new nature within us so that we begin to love God.

As a matter of fact, if you're here today and you don't love God and the way in which you think about God is how can I use him to help accomplish my own ends? I would say that you probably have never been born again because one of the marks of the new birth is a fervent love for God. That doesn't mean that you don't struggle with sin. It may even mean that you fall back into old addictions, but there's something within you that says, I love God and I desire to serve God and the sin that I am committing grieves me because I know that it grieves God because at the end of the day, I love God. That is a necessary mark of being born again. And that it increases with our appetite as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word you grow there by and we begin to read God's word and we begin to love God more and more and we begin to see that God really is satisfying. We think of people like Bernard of Clerval who in the 12th century was trying to help the church get back to a sense yes of mysticism but also a love for Christ. You remember he wrote these words, Jesus thou joy of loving hearts, thou fount of life, thou light of men from the best bliss that earth imparts.

We turn to the unfilled again. Men like that loved God. Let me tell you about a young woman by the name of Madame Gaon. She experienced a close relationship with God in the midst of a very hard and cruel life. Some of you have read her book and her diaries. She was rejected by her family and harassed by her friends. When she was silent, she was accused of pride.

When she spoke, she was ridiculed and cursed. And yet despite all of this, she wrote at the age of 17, nothing was more easy for me than prayer. Hours passed away like moments. It was a prayer of rejoicing, devoid of busy imagination and forced reflections.

Catch this. The taste of God was so great, so pure, so unblended and so uninterrupted that it drew and absorbed the power of my soul. I had not sight but of Jesus alone.

All other pleasure was paying to me. I tasted with unalterable sweetness the enjoyment of God. And remember, God is most glorified when we are satisfied with him. David says, satisfy me with thy mercies and indeed David was satisfied with the mercies and the grace of God.

What is the bottom line to all this? First of all, remember this, that all sin at root is distrust of God. All sin at root is distrust of God. We think, for example, of Eve in the garden.

There she was. God said, don't eat of the fruit of the tree and Satan comes along and says eat of the fruit of the tree and now she faced a choice. Whom shall I obey?

What voice must I listen to? Shall I listen to God who seems to be restricting me or shall I listen to Satan who seems to be giving me a whole new sense of freedom? And furthermore, if I didn't eat, I'd always wonder what it was like if I had, so I might as well do it. And so she distrusted the goodness of God and she ate.

And of course, that was the beginning of plunging the entire human race into its sin and misery and despair. But you and I face the very same choice. Because the decision that we face is this, is it really true that I can trust God in my relationships? Is it really true that if I follow the Lord with my whole heart, even if I never am married, even if I never have a relationship that I would like to have of intimacy, that is much better and more satisfying and more fulfilling than finding that relationship and that fulfillment on my own terms? Do we trust God? You see now why sin is so serious? It's serious not only because of what it does to us, but it does grieve God. Now God is happy with his people. God is a very complex emotional being.

On the one hand, he is grieved. On the other hand, he does rejoice in us. But the simple fact is that our sin is saying, God, I have found a better way. In fact, it is necessary for me to choose another way because your way simply does not satisfy. Imagine how God feels when we say that.

And then there's a second lesson. And that is to seek God is not the renunciation of joy, but the fulfillment of joy. It's not the renunciation of joy, but it's fulfillment. You see, there are many people who think, well, you know, I have to choose between my own happiness and following God. And if I follow God, then of course my own happiness is circumvented and I end up without any pleasures in this world, any meaning in this world. That's such a wrong conception of God that again we insult the Almighty. Because you see, when we pursue God, like Madame Guillon or Bernard of Clairvaux, when we pursue God, when there is something within us that says God is the one who is going to meet my need, what we discover is the happiness and the sense of fulfillment and the sense of meaning that we have been looking for.

It lies in the direction of God and not all of the other places that we think it should be. Do you remember what Jeremiah said to the people? Speaking on behalf of God, he said, you know, the people have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and they have gone out and they have dug themselves holes and cisterns that have no water. I want to tell you today from the bottom of my heart that when it comes to the world, all of the wells are dry. And some people never learn that and they die still absolutely convinced that somewhere, some place, whether it's through money or position or power or something, somewhere, their raging thirst is going to be satisfied.

And they don't understand, it cannot be satisfied apart from God. Back in about the year 638, there is a story that comes to us from Arabia. A man by the name of Ferus, the horseman, was riding and he had a whole herd of horses there in the desert and suddenly in the distance, the horses saw the mirage and they thought that it was water and they began stampeding in the direction of more desert, though they didn't know it. And the story goes that Ferus took his horn that was used to make the horses halt and to obey and he blew it as loudly as he could and only six horses stopped and all of the others went to the mirage.

And the story goes on to say that it is from those six mares that we have today, the famous Arabian horses. I want you to know today that God blows the bugle. God is saying to us, look, the world is mad with its pleasures. It's mad with the promises that the world makes, but the world always betrays us. In the end, it is only more desert.

Stop! O everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye by and eat by milk and water without money and without price. Your raging thirst can only be met by God, only by God. Let's pray together. Father, again, we're reminded of the words of Bernard of Clairvaux, Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast, but sweeter far thy face to see and in thy presence rest. We think today of the words of Augustine who said, O God, thy word says that I cannot see thee and live, may I die that I might behold thy face. We ask today that you shall forgive us for all the different ways in which we seek to fill the void, to seek to drink from bitter waters and more desert. Make us a congregation that remembers that your word says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him out, and may we spend the rest of our days coming to know him whom to know is life eternal.

Birth within us that desire, we pray. Father, we pray that we as a congregation may be able to identify with David that as that deer pants for streams of water, so, O God, may we desire thee and take from us all that hinders that, we pray. In Jesus' name, amen.

Amen. Yes, my friend, only God can quench our spiritual thirst. Come to him to receive that living water. You know, in Isaiah chapter 29, it talks about the wicked as those who go to bed thirsty. They dream that they are drinking, but they wake up thirsty still.

They discover that all of the watering holes in the world are dry. We're so thankful for the ministry of Running to Win. I want to tell you that because of people just like you, we are now in the Russian language. And so this ministry continues to expand. I have in my hands a letter from someone. It says, I love your messages.

They are excellent, practical, and a great help to Christians as we face our daily situations and struggles. Now this comes from a Spanish listener, because Running to Win is in five different languages in more than 20 different countries. Would you consider supporting us as an endurance partner? That's someone who really becomes a part of the Running to Win family, and they support us with their prayers and their regular gifts. Now here's what you do to get info. Go to That's, and when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button. Or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Because you are such an important part of our ministry, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again.

But I want to tell you that my own heart rejoices because of people just like you, and thankfully, through people just like you. As I already mentioned, this work continues to expand. Here's what you do to investigate what an endurance partner is.

Go to When you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. As Christmas approaches, we remember that Jesus, like us, was born as a member of the human race. And like us, He had a family. Next time, we'll begin to explore the family of Jesus. Plan to join us. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-06 03:12:36 / 2023-12-06 03:21:49 / 9

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