You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.
How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose and was now glad to reject! You drove them from me, You who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, You who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, You who outshine all light yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, You who surpass all honor though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. At last my mind was free from the gnawing anxieties of ambition and gain, from wallowing in filth and scratching the itching sore of lust. I began to talk to you freely, O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.
God was so precious to my soul that the world with all its enjoyments appeared vile. I had no more value for the favor of men than for pebbles.
As long as I see anything to be done for God, life is worth having; but O how vain and unworthy it is to live for any lower end.
The great danger facing all of us…is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel [that] life has no meaning at all – not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to tender the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God – and be content to have it so – that is the danger. That someday we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with husks and trappings of life and have really missed life itself. For life without God, to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him, is unthinkable, impossible. That is what one prays one’s friends may be spared – satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best, that has in it no tingle or thrill that comes from a friendship with the Father.
Where love is the compelling power, there is no sense of strain or conflict or bondage in doing what is right: the man or woman who is compelled by Jesus’ love and empowered by His Spirit does the will of God from the heart.
How would you finish [this] sentence? “One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after _________.” What is the greatest desire and longing of your heart? In the answer to that question lies the explanation for much of what we do – our choices, our priorities, our use of time, the way we spend money, the way we respond to pressure, whom or what we love. [King] David’s answer (see Psm. 27:4) reveals why God could say, “This man’s heart beats like mine.”
If we are to grab the next generation with the gospel, we must grab them with passion. And to grab them with passion, we must be gripped with it ourselves. The world needs to see Christians burning, not with self-righteous fury at the sliding morals in our country, but with passion for God. As W.E. Sangster put it, “I’m not interested to know if you could set the Thames on fire. What I want to know is this: if I picked you up by the scruff of your neck and dropped you into the Thames, would it sizzle?”
The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation by Kevin DeYoung taken from Don’t Call it a Comeback, edited by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2011, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 23-24. Get this book!
In seeking after holiness we are not so much seeking after a thing as we are seeking a Person. The blessings of the gospel – election, justification, sanctification, glorification, and all the rest – have been deposited in no other treasury but Christ. We don’t just want holiness. We want the Holy One in whom we have been counted holy and are now being made holy. To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God.
Abide and Obey by Kevin DeYoung taken from The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2012, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 123.
On January 12, 1723, I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to be himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and His law for the constant rule of my obedience: engaging to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, to the end of my life.
Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites, [instead they ought] to be endeavoring by all possible ways to inflame their desires and to obtain more spiritual pleasures… Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value… [Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement… There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.
God, I pray Thee, light thee idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like You, Lord Jesus.
If we don’t take the time to enjoy God, we simply will not enjoy Him.
What you are when you are alone with God, that you are – and nothing more. You may make a great show of love and faith in church, singing like Pavarotti or attracting the masses to your profound Sunday school lectures. But if there is no private communion between you and Jesus – frequent and deep communion – then your religion is worthless.
God and eternal things are my only pleasure.
A believer longs after God: to come into His presence, to feel His love, to feel near to Him in secret, to feel in the crowd that he is nearer than all the creatures. Ah! dear brethren, have you ever tasted this blessedness? There is greater rest and solace to be found in the presence of God for one hour, than in an eternity of the presence of man.
In man’s nature the heart is the central power. As the heart is so is the man… Our inmost being must in truth be yielded to Him… It is only as the desire of the heart is fixed upon God, the whole heart seeking for God, giving its love and finding its joy in God, that a man can draw nigh to God.
A soul may be in as thriving a state when thirsting, seeking and mourning after the Lord as when actually rejoicing in Him; as much in earnest when fighting in the valley as when singing upon the mount.
There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.
Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when a people are utterly persuaded that nothing – not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends – is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God. This conviction breeds a people who passionately long for God on Sunday morning. They are not confused about why they are here. They do not see songs and prayers and sermons as mere traditions or mere duties. They see them as means of getting to God or God getting to them for more of His fullness.
If you just get the big things straightened out, you will have what you need in the little things. What everyone in the world is obsessed with, God makes a distant second. He’ll give you what you need to live on if you need Him in order to live.
The best evidence that a Christian desires (loves) something more than he desires (loves) God is his willingness to sin against God either in order to acquire that desire. “If you love Me keep My commandments,” Jesus said (Jn. 14:15).
The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought… “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.
God has created each of us with a thirst that only He can quench. French philosopher Pascal called it a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that only He can fill. Or as Augustine put it, “Our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Man is perpetually seeking. To whatever degree we don’t know the unseen and eternal realm; we seek answers in the seen and temporal. We look for eternal answers among temporal things. But we discover that they cannot provide them.
It is possible, in our pursuit of intimacy with God, to:
1. Allow our familiarity to degenerate into flippancy.
2. Fail to remember His transcendence by placing extreme emphasis on His immanence.
3. Lose sight of His holiness.
4. Overemphasize the subjective fruit to the exclusion of the objective foundation.
5. Fail to come to Him on His terms.
6. Lose sight of the distinction between Creator and creature.
The intrinsic drive to please the significant people in our lives reflects the fact that we were built to bring pleasure to someone outside of ourselves – God. The highest satisfaction of life is knowing in our spirits that He indeed is pleased with us.
I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.
What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.