What do you desire?

  • World peace?
  • To remedy hunger world-wide?
  • To make sure every child learns to read?

Now let’s transition from the “Miss America” answers to a more personal response—What do YOU desire?

  • To own your own home?
  • To have a better job?
  • To be debt free?

Now let’s take it to the heart—WHAT DO YOU DESIRE?

Do you really know?

This may be tough to answer; however, maybe we should do what we can to make sure that what we desire is what God desires.  My intention here is not to sound churchy.  When I refer to what God desires, I am not merely referring to everyone being “saved,” or what could be referred to as the Miss America type of answers.

Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding where he turned over 120 gallons of water into wine (John 2: 1-12).  Jesus showed us in this story that he is concerned about everyday life.  This was not an occasion when someone was sick and needed healing; nobody had died and required being raised from the dead; Jesus wasn’t even preaching a sermon for the ages.  He was at a wedding celebration, and the people wanted to continue celebrating even after they had ran out of the allotted wine for the occasion.

Why do we need to examine our desires?

Let’s look at James 1: 12-15:

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.  Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.  

These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”

Because our temptations come from our own desires, I think we should do what we can to ensure that our desires are for the things God desires.  Instead of speculating, let’s look at the words of the Prophet Micah when he addressed the Israelites:

What can we bring to the Lord? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?  Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?  No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6: 6-8)

  • To do what is right
  • To love mercy
  • To walk humbly with your God.

Do you desire to do what is right?  Not what is right in your own mind, but what is right according to God’s Word?

Do you desire mercy?  Not necessarily mercy for yourself, but mercy for others?

Do you desire humility?  Not fake church humility that you feel a need to advertise to everyone, but true humility with God?

Now consider your answers in the context of your marriage or your singleness.

WHAT DO YOU DESIRE?  Remember: Your temptations come from YOUR desires.

When Church Leaders Fail

Has your faith been rocked by the moral failure of a spiritual leader? 

Maybe you recall the 1980’s when televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were in the headlines for moral failure; or maybe you were affected by the sex scandal that rocked the Catholic Church several years ago.  Spiritual leaders, politicians, sports figures and others failing to moral sins occur so much that it is common.  But when a spiritual leader you look up to and respect fails, what happens to your faith?  I’ve heard this as reasons for people to not put their faith in Christ, get involved in a church, or even drop out of church and the faith altogether.

This week I was told about the moral failure of a spiritual leader I have looked up to since I was a young teen-ager.  As I read the news, my heart just sank.  My heart was not hurt for me, but for him, his family, and the many people that will be affected.  As sad as this news was for me, this was not my first “rodeo” with this type of situation.

Many years ago when I was a young youth pastor, someone who was my friend and spiritual leader involved himself with sexual sin.  He committed adultery with another friend of mine, both of whom were married to other people.  He hurt a lot of people: his wife, his children, the church, and me.  There is a lot to that story, but to make it short, I discovered and confirmed the sin by contacting him, confronting him, and offering my help.  I then called someone of authority in the denomination hoping these leaders would provide help for both of my friends and their families.

As the truth about everything came out, I was very hurt.  He lied to me, lived a double life in front of me, and I felt like he had made a fool of me.  I wanted a sincere apology from him, only to never hear from him again.  Have you been there?  Do you have a life situation in which you can relate?  Did you react by dropping out of church?  Did your faith become shaken?

This took me some time to get over, and I believe if you allow God to work in your heart, your emotional pain can be healed. If your faith was rocked, it can be restored.

Here’s the truth, our relationship with Jesus must be just that, “with Jesus.”  If our faith with Christ is through our pastor, our church, or our denomination, then our faith will be shaken again and again.  I am not saying that a similar situation wouldn’t cause emotional pain, but our relationship with Jesus would remain strong regardless.   If our relationship is Jesus focused, then our attitude will be one of compassion.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1-3, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.  And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” (NLT)

The part of Paul’s message I want to point out is that we are not to consider ourselves above the person who stumbled.  We ourselves given the right set of circumstances could find ourselves in the same situation.

You may be thinking, “But he was a pastor, doesn’t he have a higher judgment from God?”  Yes he does, but that is up to God to deal with not us.  “Doesn’t he have to pay a price?”  Yes he will; two of them:  He will pay the price of the natural consequences of sexual sin, with his wife, family and friends and then whatever consequences determined by his spiritual authority, but again that is not up to us.

If our relationship with Jesus is focused properly, regardless if our pastor or some other spiritual leader were to stumble; regardless if our church were to accept sinful behavior; regardless if our denomination were to go astray our faith in Jesus remains.

“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2, NLT)

If you have dropped out of church because your spiritual leader failed, I encourage you to come back.  If you tried to give up on God because of the moral failure of a spiritual leader, only to become miserable, I encourage you to come back.  If you were a staff pastor and gave up the call because the pain was too much, I encourage you to pick up the mantel again.

Could your next pastor fail? Yes! Could your next church hurt you? Yes! I am not suggesting that these painful experiences may never occur again, but if they do, you will have a heart of compassion and your faith will grow stronger because it will be Jesus focused and you will know that if it were not for the Grace of God, you could be the one who stumbled.