Summary: I will share with you 1. The desire; 2. The problem; and 3. The solution.

“The Desire of God”

April 20, 2008

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

"In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me ’my husband’; you will no longer call me ’my master.’ I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.

In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air

and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land,

so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.

"In that day I will respond," declares the LORD— "I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.

I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ’Not my loved one.’

I will say to those called ’Not my people,’ ’You are my people’; and they will say, ’You are my God.’ "

Hosea 2:14-23

This morning we learned a new song in church. “How Great is Our God”. I love that song. It reminds me every time I sing it of how great God is! God is so awesome. God is so wonderful. God is so great in so many ways that we can hardly communicate it or even understand it.

This morning I want to share with you the greatness of His desire. I will share with you 1. The desire; 2. The problem; and 3. The solution.

First of all, let me simply say that His desire, God’s passion, is YOU! You are the apple of God’s eye. He loves you so much that we can hardly comprehend it. I’m sure we will never total understand it in this life – but God gives us a few clues. He says,

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

That verse is the most loved and well known verse in the Bible. Why? Because it reveals to us how much God loves us. “God so loved YOU – that He gave His only son…” We can hardly comprehend that kind of love. I love my son and daughter dearly. I would cheerfully give my life for them – but sacrifice their life for someone else? The last time I ever laid hands on a man was when, as a chaplain, I was riding with my son, and someone tried to kick him. I didn’t even think about it. I tackled his legs. Ben quickly subdued him. But I wasn’t going to stand around and let someone kick my son. In retrospect, I realize Ben didn’t need my help. But my love for my son would not let me stand ideally by.

As much as I love my son, God’s love is so much greater. Not only that – but the Son is a part of the Godhead. And yet God loved us so much He gave His only Son.

That ought to make every one of us feel valued and wanted and loved and desired. The Scriptures reveal that God is with us from the womb to tomb.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.” Psalm 139:13-16

Can you imagine God being aware of us and loving us before we were ever born. As we were being formed – He was there. He knew us. He loved us. He desired us. And all through life – He walks with us. God’s love reminds me of a story I heard recently. William Frey, retired Episcopal bishop from Colorado, told the following story: When I was a younger man, I volunteered to read to a degree student named John who was blind. One day I asked him, "How did you lose your sight?"

"A chemical explosion," John said, "at the age of thirteen." "How did that make you feel?" I asked. "Life was over. I felt helpless. I hated God," John responded. "For the first six months I did nothing to improve my lot in life. I would eat all my meals alone in my room. One day my father entered my room and said, ’John, winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up-that’s your job. I want those hung by the time I get back this evening or else!’ "Then he turned, walked out of the room and slammed the door. I got so angry. I thought, "Who does he think I am? I’m blind!" I was so angry I decided to do it. I felt my way to the garage, found the windows, located the necessary tools, found the ladder, all the while muttering under my breath, ’I’ll show them. I’ll fall, then they’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!’” John continued, "I got the windows up. I found out later that never at any moment was my father more than four or five feet away from my side."

Sometimes in life God asks us to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes He allows us to go through things that are very painful or makes us upset. When we understand how much He loves us and desires us – we can trust Him. One of the things that helped me was understanding God’s will. There is God’s ‘causive will’, God’s ‘desirous will’ and God’s ‘permissive will’. Everything that happens to us God permits. He may not cause it or even desire it – but He allows it. And if He allows it – His love will not permit us to experience what His grace can not keep us. And all through life – even when God seems so far away, like in the story of the blind son, God is really very near. And He will be with us all the way. Jesus said, “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20). David said,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

From the womb to the tomb – God’s is with you. Why? Because He loves you. There is something within you – His creation – His child – that He deeply desires.

But God has a problem. God is a holy God. We are unholy. God is pure. We are impure. God is sinless. We are sinful. And sin separates us from God. His word says,

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you,

so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” Isaiah 53:6

“The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23

It seems hopeless. We know how good God is – and how bad we are. We know God is a holy God – and we realize we aren’t. That’s pretty distressing to us when we really think about it. But imagine how disturbing it must be to our great and good God who loves us – the work of His hands.

I have heard about God calling people to do a lot of different things – but God calling Hosea must be the most unusual thing I can think of. God called Abraham to sacrifice his only son to him as a test of his faithfulness. God called Noah to build an ark on dry land. God called Peter, a devote Jew, to go share the Good News with the unclean Gentiles. But Hosea was asked to take an adulterous prostitute as a wife – knowing she would be unfaithful to him. God asked him to do that as an illustration of how much He loves His unfaithful people. Hosea’s life story illustrates that God’s love is not earned or deserved. Someone said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. That’s true – but love is also in the eye of the beholder.”

And the point of the story is that God loves us. He will not give up His quest for our love. We may be corrupted by sin. We may have given in to the enemy and done unimaginable evil things. We may be corrupted of heart and soul – but God’s love will not let us go. We are His desire. And He has found a solution. It’s the cross. The bible says,

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” Colossians 1:19-23

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6

Do you see the solution? It is Jesus. You are God’s desire. He longs to hold you. He longs to love you. He longs for a loving relationship with you. He longs for you to know Him and love Him in return. We are called His bride. He desires us to be one with Him someday. And all this stuff we are going through in life is preparing us for that day. We are learning what He desires. We are learning how to love and forgive and be kind and self-controlled and all that stuff we call Christlikeness. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we are learning to produce the fruits of the Spirit. Why? God is preparing His bride.

A.W. Tozer said, "We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God." God is worthy of our worship. One of the ways that you can be reasonably assured of your salvation is your desire to worship. Knowing the true God, and recognizing idols that would take His rightful place are marks of a true Christian.

As we realize God’s love and desire for us, our desire, like a bride to her husband, is to please Him. The test of true love is in the desire to please the one we love. A lack of love is expressed in a lack of caring. True love cares. And so our expression of love to the Father needs to be a desire to do His will.

Do you? Do you desire to do what God wants you to do? Do you desire to be what God wants you to be? Do you desire to go where He wants you to go and say what He wants you to say and NOT say what He doesn’t want you to say? If not – pray that God would increase your desire for Him. Pray that He would increase your love for Him. Let me leave you with a story.

The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you, and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.

On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill, and at last, she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed.

The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story.

One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?" "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite."

"That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again,

"Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you" And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?" Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace.

With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It’s for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure

Is there something in your life that is preventing your Great Love from giving you His greatest blessings? God loves you so much. God desires you so much. He longs to hold you in His arms and love you. What’s preventing that from happening in your life? Whatever it is – release it to Him. Pray a prayer like this:

Dear Jesus,

I love you so much. Thank you for loving me just the way I am. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying the price for my sins. Right now I give you ________________. Take them from me. Forgive me for doing what I knew You didn’t want me to do. Thank you for forgiving me. Help me to walk in a loving relationship with you from this point on.

In Jesus’ Name,