Your Hearts Desire. Part 4: Unquenchable
On Sunday 27th January we finished our series 'Your Hearts Desire'.
In this blog you will find a summary of the talk.
To listen to the talk, please click here, here, here and here
Was the “School Sports Day” a positive or negative experience for you? Well, I guess the answer to that depends on your liking or otherwise for sport in general and whether you were competent or not at athletics in particular: running, jumping, and throwing. I had a love for all sports, both as a spectator and taking part. In fact you could say that my passion was unquenchable, except for one particular school sports day that I well remember.
I was representing my ‘school house’ (Finch) for several events, and I was expected to do well. However, there was one event that I was really glad I wasn’t involved in, the 400 yards – 1 lap of the track. (Today, 1 lap is 400 metres, but back then in was 400 yards). You see, I was very fast over 15 to 20 yards (one of the reasons that I was in the school football team) and I also did well at “cross-country”, (usually finishing in the top 3 or 4) but 400 yards – no way!
The school sports day arrived, and I was really excited, what could possibly go wrong that would quench my passion? Then it happened! The person picked to run in the 400 yards race was absent and the housemaster picked me as a substitute, my love of sport evaporated and the unquenchable was quenched!
I knew that I wouldn’t win, I knew that I wouldn’t do well in the race, and of course I didn’t, in fact I came last. You see, I was beaten before the race even started, because I had decided that the housemaster was wrong, I shouldn’t be in the race, and I had no chance; I hated sport! My approach was totally negative. I’m not saying that I would have won if I had approached the race with my usual passion for sport, but I definitely would have done so much better than I did.
We all have times like this don’t we? We start something that’s new and novel for us, perhaps others support us, and help to motivate us, and as time goes on we develop what seems to be an unquenchable desire. This can take weeks, months and even years, and then…….. something happens, and our passion fades. There are lots of examples.
It’s already been mentioned before in this series, but the boom in health club membership and diet plans at the beginning of January is a classic example. The passion, drive and determination of people to get fit or lose weight seems unquenchable to start with, they’re almost evangelical about it, but often it only lasts a few weeks or months at the most.
Sadly of course, this is also true with our spiritual development and growth. Often, when people first commit their life to Jesus, their faith is obvious to all. They join a church, and then a life group; begin giving their time and finances, read their bible and pray regularly; their commitment and love for Jesus seems enduring and unquenchable.
And then……… Well, they start to miss a few life group meetings, when volunteers are needed they always seem to be busy, reading their bible and praying becomes a chore. And although others try hard to support and motivate them, the novelty wears off, the overwhelming desire fades and the unquenchable is quenched.
The question is how do we prevent this from happening to us? How do we ensure that our church mission “to love God, love people, and grow together to become more like Jesus” becomes our own personal mission, and that it endures and does not diminish?
David, the shepherd boy who became King of Israel is a great example of how to develop an enduring faith through the “ups and downs” of life. Now, if you don’t know the details of his life, you might think that because he was a king he had an “easy life”. If you do think that, then can I suggest that you read about his life in the Old Testament part of the bible - 1 Samuel 16:1 to 2 Samuel 24:25. You can read this by clicking here. You will see that he was just like you and me in that his life had many “highs and lows.” In fact, during some of his “low times” people were trying to kill him! This is very much reflected in the psalms that he wrote, and again you can check this by reading them in the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament.
However, in spite of his many troubles and difficulties he is still able to write the words found in psalm 100, which is a clue to his unquenchable love of God:
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
David is saying that whatever your circumstances, good, bad, up, down, high or low, thank God, be joyful, praise him through songs and worship. Try it, and you will find that your perspective on life is positively changed, the atmosphere is changed and you are primed and charged. It’s almost impossible for your passion for God to be quenched when you are praising him. We have been talking in this series about “keys to growth”, and this is a very significant key to a devoted, passionate and enduring love of God.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us and we are his;
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
David gives a reason for his unquenchable love; we belong to God who made us. The creator of the universe knows us each individually. He is the shepherd who cares about us, loves us, and protects us. (Check out Psalm 139)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
And his courts with praise.
Thanksgiving is another ”key”. There is so much to be thankful for, and let’s never forget that God loves gratitude, but he hates ingratitude. So, our praise and love for God begins here on earth and continues in heaven.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
In this last verse, David tells us why our love for God should be unquenchable, and it is of course because God’s love for us endures forever. If we can truly grasp this, then I believe that our response will be heart felt, passionate and enduring.
David is a great example of enduring love for God throughout the “highs and lows” of his life. However, the greatest example is Jesus of course. His love for us and for God the Father was so great and unquenchable that he was prepared to go through the agony of being flogged nearly to death and then crucified on a cross.
So back to the key question, how can you ensure that the EBC mission “to love God, love people, and grow together to become more like Jesus” becomes your own personal mission, and that it then endures and does not diminish?
The truth is that in the long term, merely going through rituals (even good spiritual practices) may not be enough to sustain an energized and exciting relationship with God. God wants your heart to be in it and for your actions to be driven by a passionate love for him and for other people. God desires a loving relationship with you, and one that is not performance based. The evidence for this was Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, paying a price that neither you nor I could pay.
David knew that God made him and loved him, and he also knew that God’s love endures forever. That’s why he was able to worship God with gladness and shout for joy whatever his circumstances. His love was unquenchable.
We have even more reason than David had to sing for joy because we know that by sacrificing his life, Jesus has made it possible for us to pray directly to God, and to have the Holy Spirit living with us.
When we are absorbed with work, home, money, weather, anxieties about relationships, shopping, we forget that as followers of Jesus we are to be shining examples of the wholly blessed. We are chosen, adopted, loved, redeemed, forgiven, destined for heaven, marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit – and it all comes through Jesus whose unquenchable love has made this possible. There is so much to praise and thank God for…
And let’s never forget that it’s almost impossible for our passion for God to be quenched when we are praising and thanking him.
The Lord is good and his love endures forever!
1. Can you think of a time when you were passionate about something, but over time your enthusiasm waned? What happened and what were the circumstances?
2. How would you describe your commitment to the EBC mission? (To love God, love people, and grow together to become more like Jesus) Whether “hot” or “cold” what are the reasons for this?
3. Do you think that praising God in all circumstances is a spiritual “key to growth”? What are you reasons for a “yes” or “no” answer?
4. Do you really “know” that the Lord is God? If yes, how do you know? If no, what would it take for you to really know?
5. Can you list 10 things right now that you can give thanks to God for….. Are you grateful? How do you show your gratitude?
6. Read psalm 100. Is psalm 100 a reflection of your relationship with God right now?
7. When will you start the “psalm 100 challenge?”