Title: My Desire Is Before Thee
Text: Psalm 38:9
Scripture Reading: Psalm 38:1-22
Date: Sunday Morning - July 17, 1994
A long, long time ago a young preacher in London, England spent the afternoon with an older, veteran gospel preacher whom he greatly admired and from whom he learned much. The year was 1768. The young preacher was Augustus Toplady who wrote many of our best hymns. Toplady wrote “Rock of Ages.” The older preacher was a Mr. Brewer. I know absolutely nothing about Mr. Brewer except what he told Toplady that hot July afternoon in London more than 200 years ago. Toplady thought his words were worth writing down; and I’m glad he did. This is what Mr. Brewer said to the 28 year old preacher, Augustus Toplady:
“I cannot conclude without reminding you, my young brother of some things that may be of use to you in the course of your ministry:
1. Preach Christ crucified, and dwell cheifly on the blessing resulting from his righteousness, atonement, and intercession.
2. Avoid all needless controversies in the pulpit; except it be when your subject necessarily requires it; or when the truths of God are likely to suffer by your silence.
3. When you ascend the pulpit, leave your learning behind you. Endeavor to preach more to the hearts of your people than to their heads.
4. Do not affect too much oratory. Seek rather to profit than to be admired.
I cannot imagine four more needful admonitions. Every preacher needs to be constantly reminding himself of these things. I try to give heed to them every time I preach to you and I shall do so today. I am going to talk to you today about the desires of my heart. In doing so, I want to speak to your heart for the glory of God. Let me tell you three things by way of introduction. Then I will be very brief in bringing my message.
1. I am a sinner. I mean by that that I am fully convinced that I completely deserve the everlasting torments of God’s wrath in hell.
— I was born in sin (Ps. 51:5)
— I chose to live in sin (Ps. 58:3)
— I naturally love sin and hate righteousness (Eph. 2:1-3)
— I despised God’s grace, blasphemed his son, and refused to seek his grace with the
pride and rebellion of hell itself.
— I have never done and can never do a righteous thing!
2. But God has saved me by his free and sovereign grace in Christ, his dear son. (I Cor. 6:9-11)
— God the father chose me in eternal, free love (John 15:16)
— God the son redeemed me with his own blood. (Gal 2:20)
— God the Holy Spirit called me by his almighty grace (Eph 2:1-4)
— I was cast out as an unwanted thing. But he came to me in the time of love (Eph 16:8)
— I was dead, beyond the reach of any who might want to help, but he raised me up (Ezek 37)
— Like Mephibosheth, I was in the place of misery and want, hiding from the Lord, but he fetched me to himself (II Sam 7)
— Like Gomer, I brought myself to ruin, but he brought me to his house and his banner over me was love (Hosea 2)
— I am by nature a worthless piece of sinful flesh, of use to no one and good for nothing; but God has saved me, forgiven all my sins forever, and made me an heir of heaven. (Rom 8:17)
— On top of all that, he has put me in the ministry and made me an instrument of good to some (I Cor. 1:26-31)
3. In the light of these things, it should be obvious to all, but with me it is a matter of constantly increasing conviction that I owe everything to my God and Savior, who has delivered my soul from the lowest hell. (I Cor 6:19-20)
These are not matters of theory and doctrinal othodoxy, but matters of experience and deep conviction. For more than 27 years now, I have been the conscious and constant recipient of God’s infinite, amazing grace. I have not yet gotten over the wonder of this fact: The Lord God saved me. I am truly amazed by that!
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
‘Twas blind, but now I see!
All that I have experienced of God’s grace has inspired and constantly presses upon me the pursuit of five great desires. Turn with me to Psalm 38:9: “Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.”
The desires of a man’s heart are those things for which he groans and labors, without which he cannot be content and satisfied.
Let me talk to you for a few minutes about my desires. Here are five things I wrote down in the back of a book one day years ago when I was studying a prayer I wrote out to God. I have never shared them with anyone before. But I think the Lord has directed me to share them with you today. I trust he will make them the desires of your heart too. Note: I long ago gave up and nailed to the cross of Christ all aspirations and ambitions for fame, power, property, wealth, and even earthly tranquility and ease. Do not misunderstand me. My flesh craves all those things; but my heart craves freedom from the bondage of those things.
Here are the desires of my heart, the things for which my heart groans before the Lord:
I. First, being convinced of my sin and condemnation before the holy Lord God, I desire the favor of God. Psalm 119:58. - “I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.”
A. I know that God’s favor is in Christ. (Ps. 89:17)
B. I know that I have God’s favor. (Eph 1:6)
C. I know that God’s favor is my strength. (Ps. 30:7)
So long as I am conscious of God’s favor, I am strong. No one can terrify me. No trouble can destroy me. But there are times when the Lord God hides his face from me and I am troubled. (Ps. 30:7)
1. We must never presume upon God’s favor, making it a matter of indifference.
2. We must never be content not to walk in the consciousness of God’s favor.
3. When we have lost that sweet conscious awareness of God’s favor, we must diligently seek it. (Heb 4:16, Song 5:2-16)
II. Secondly, with every fiber of my soul, I want to be conformed to the image of God.
I want to be like my God. The image of God is Jesus Christ. I want to be like him. I know that one day soon I shall be like him in glory, perfectly holy and without sin. God predestinated it. (Rom. 8:29)
— Christ died to secure it. (Eph. 5:25-27)
— The Holy Spirit preserves me for it. (Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30)
But I want to live in this world as Christ lived in this world.
A. I want to love you. (John 13:35)
B. I want to serve you. (John 13:15) “Not to be ministered unto.”
C. I want to forgive you. (John 8:21)
D. I want to teach you
E. I want to help you along the way to heaven. (Phil 2:10)
Illustration: Bob Pomen and his brother - “He worries about me.”
— “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”
— “Rejoice with those that rejoice.”
— “Weep with those that weep.”
III Thirdly, knowing something of the task that lies before me, I desire and my heart groans for the presence of God. (Ex. 33:14-15)
Nothing can give us rest in this world of trouble but the conscious awareness of God’s presence.
A. I cannot lead God’s people without his presence.
B. I cannot endure the trials and temptations of life without God’s presence. (Isa. 42:10, 43:1-7)
C. I cannot live peacefully in a world of trouble without God’s presence. (Phil 4:4-7)
D. I cannot worship without his presence (Mt. 18:20)
E. I cannot die with confidence without God’s presence.
IV. Fourthly, I have learned and am continually reminded that it is never best for me to have my will. I don’t know what I need and what is best for me. So I crave in my very soul the will of God. I have learned from my Savior to pray, “Not my will, thy will be done.”
Now listen carefully to what I am saying.
A. I want to be obedient to God’s revealed will. Whatever God reveals in his word, I want the grace to obey. (Ps. 5:8, 86:11)
1. His doctrine must be my doctrine.
2. His ordinances are my duty.
3. His word must be the rule of my life.
B. I want to walk daily conforming to his will, seeking to do what he directs me to do. (Prov. 3:5-6)
C. I want God to bring to pass his providential will. (Rom. 8:28). I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the truthfulness of Cowper’s hymn:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines,
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.
If I had my life to live all over again and could choose whatever I wanted, I would walk the same paths, endure the same heartaches, experience the same troubles, weep the same tears, and visit the same graves as I have because all this has been done by the good and wise will of my heavenly father! He knows and does what is best. I don’t and cant!
D. Moreover, I want God to perform all the good pleasure of his eternal will. I want God to do exactly what he has predestinated that he will do. (Eph 1:11) This is how our Lord taught us to pray: “Thy will be done.” (Matt. 6:9-11)
V. Fifthly, unless I am deceived, this is what I want above everything in this world - The Glory of God, “the Lord be magnified.” (Ps. 35:27, 40:16, 70:4)
A. Let my doctrine be the doctrine that glorifies God.
— Divine Sovereignty
— Blood Atonement
— Salvation by Grace
B. Let everything in the house of God be done for the glory of God. (I Cor. 10:31)
— Every Song
— Every Prayer
— Every Sermon
— Every Ordinance
— Every Activity
C. Let my home be a place where God is glorified. (Eph. 5:18) - “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”
D. Let my life be lived and let it be ended for the glory of my God.
E. Indeed I rejoice to know that all things shall glorify the Lord my God. (Rom. 11:33-36)
— You will and I will. (His justice or his grace) (Eph. 2:1, Rev. 19:1-6)
— All things will! (Rev 5:13-14)
Application: “Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groanings are not hid from thee.” This is what I desire. These are the things for which my very heart groans....
1. The favor of God
2. The Image of God
3. The presence of God
4. The will of God
5. The glory of God.
These are the aspirations of my heart. Here’s a hymn I wrote yesterday after preparing for this message. We will sing it next Sunday, the Lord willing.
I would be weaned and emptied too
Of earth and self, and all but you
Surrendered to the crucified,
Only in love with Christ, who died.
Preserve me from the noise and strife,
The best, the pomp, the pride of life.
For heav’n alone my heart prepare,
Let all my affections be there.
My savior’s steps force me to trace
Pursuing naught but holiness
This path, with Jesus Christ in view,
By grace to heaven I’ll pursue.
Nothing but Jesus would I know,
Nothing but your will would I do.
Lord, take my heart, assert your right,
And put all rival loves to flight.
My dearest idols, Lord remove
By violent grace, and make me love
Nothing but Christ, who lived for me
And died from sin to set me free!
The sins I hate, help me to slay,
And consecrate myself today
To live for Jesus Christ alone,
Until my work on earth is done.