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Resolved to Long for God

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Good morning and Happy New Year to you. It’s so good to have you here with us. This morning’s message will be a little different. I want to open the New Year by challenging you to long for the Lord. Go ahead and open your Bibles to Psalm 42 and 43. We’re going to take a look at both today. Let me first ask you a question and let you think on it:
What is it in life that you truly long for? Is it success at work, to be popular, to have a lot of money? Do you long to be married, have children, maybe get a better job, or maybe to retire and collect seashells on a beach somewhere? What do you long for so much that it drives you?
Most of us have longings in our lives that drive us to act. Often we don’t long for God like we should and I wonder why that is. In our passages for today we are going to see the psalmist longing for God and expressing that longing through his writing. Not just longing in an abstract way but particularly, longing to worship with the people of God in the temple again. Let’s read from both Psalm 42 and 43 and see how he longs to worship God.
Psalm 42 ESV
To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah. 1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 43 ESV
1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! 2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
This is the Word of the Lord, let’s pray and ask God to change our hearts and lives.

I. Even Christ-followers face tough times.

We don’t fully know the situation for the psalmist, but he longs to return to worship again. It’s quite possible he was in exile or fleeing from an enemy. He feels much anguish. He pants for God. He wonders when he’ll see the face of God again. He’s consumed with tears. His soul is cast down. His pain is in his bones. These times are especially tough when he remembers previous days when he could go to worship.
Others who’ve followed God faithfully have also faced tough times: Moses was burdened with God’s people (Num 11:11) Elijah was pursued by the queen (1 Kgs 19:4) Paul despaired even to death (2 Cor 1:8)
ILLUSTRATION from a website:
Life can be so unpredictable—joys and sorrows, beautiful blessings and distressing difficulties can come unexpectedly. Our life’s dreams and plans can change in an instant. We all know this to be true. So how can we find peace amid such turbulence?
Horatio Spafford knew something about life’s unexpected challenges. He was a successful attorney and real estate investor who lost a fortune in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Around the same time, his beloved four-year-old son died of scarlet fever.
Thinking a vacation would do his family some good, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England, planning to join them after he finished some pressing business at home. However, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship was involved in a terrible collision and sunk. More than 200 people lost their lives, including all four of Horatio Spafford’s precious daughters. His wife, Anna, survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to her husband that began: “Saved alone. What shall I do?”
Horatio immediately set sail for England. At one point during his voyage, the captain of the ship, aware of the tragedy that had struck the Spafford family, summoned Horatio to tell him that they were now passing over the spot where the shipwreck had occurred.1
As Horatio thought about his daughters, words of comfort and hope filled his heart and mind. He wrote them down, and they have since become a well-beloved hymn:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll—
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well with my soul.2
Because we live in a fallen world we sometimes face tough times because of some one else’s decisions. Sometimes we face these times because of our own foolish decisions. In fact, that’s probably quite a lot of the time.
But, there is another reason these times happen: God wants us to thirst for Him. God will use the hard things in your life to cause you to long for Him. He’s shaping us to be more like Him, to love Him more, and to be what we are supposed to be.


Listen to the psalmist’s words. He pants for God. He thirsts for Him. He feels forgotten and rejected, but still he cries out to God. Sometimes we face these times, too, when we wonder if God’s even listening to our pray ing. When that happens we have two options:
1. Give up on God. 2. Long for Him even more. Turn to Him in desperation, admitting the hole in our heart and understanding that God sometimes turns off the waters of blessing to make us want Him more. AND that in and of itself is a blessing. Sometimes, it’s a blessing when you don’t get what you want.
In 2023 I want to be desperate for God. Do you? I want us as a church to be desperate for God and for us to follow Him closer than we ever have. I want us to be devoted to the things He has prescribed in His Word for His children to be all about.
Illustration of desperation for thirst
In 1963 the Looney Tunes Daffy Duck cartoon Aqua Duck came out. It features a scene where Daffy Duck is crawling threw the desert, completely worn out, somehow he’s dehydrated but sweating… I’m not sure how that works out. He’s crawling along saying water, water, cool, crisp, tingling or something like that. He sees a sweet oasis of water and jumps in and starts scooping the water into his mouth. He does this for awhile until it’s revealed that this is a mirage and he’s actually scooping sand into his mouth. It’s played for humor in the cartoon but that’s what I thought about when I started thinking about panting for water or a desperate thirst.
Maybe you’ve been without water for awhile. You’ve been asleep all night and maybe you had something sweet to eat before bed. You wake up and you almost can’t move your tongue because your mouth is so dry. You can’t swallow… so you head for a glass of water.
Or maybe, you’ve ever held your breath for a long time. When I was a kid my dad, brother, and I would have these challenges where we would see how far across our public pool we could swim underwater without coming up for air. My friends were all amazed because we could go pretty far. My dad could go all the way across and back and then maybe halfway again. So we’d try and go as far as we could but at some point, you can’t go any farther and you’re desperate to take a breath. You get to the surface as fast as you can and you gasp for air because you need it to live. That’s the kind of desperation and thirst I want for God. It’s what I want you to have for God.
And sometimes, friends, that is what God is trying to accomplish in our tough times. In our times of trial and our times of suffering. It’s to grow us and help us thirst for him.

III. Thirst is quenched by faith.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1). It’s trusting God even in the difficult times.
Watch how the psalmist deals with his emotions and struggles. He admits his feelings to God with abandon. He’s not falsely spiritual; he just speaks his heart.
Then, he challenges his feelings with faith. He has an ongoing conversation with himself to be reminded to trust God (in fact, see the refrain that echoes throughout these two psalms).
He reminds himself to hope in God, who will bring him to worship again and lead him to sing in the night.
The psalmist sees God’s care in the past and looks to His promises in the future—and those directions give him hope even as he struggles.
Let’s look at some practical ways to apply the Word of God in the difficult times we may face in this new year:
If you’re dealing with sin, trust 1 John 1:9
1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If you need wisdom, seek it James 1:5
James 1:5 ESV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
If you’re afraid, cling to the words of Heb 13:5-6
Hebrews 13:5–6 ESV
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
If you’re worried, read Jesus’ words in Matt 6:31-33
Matthew 6:31–33 ESV
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

IV. God is still the answer.

Note how the psalmist describes God in these psalms.
He is God.
The living God.
My God. - This is personal for him. God is interested in our lives.
The God of my life.
My rock. The God in whom I take refuge. My exceeding joy.
He knows that even in his longing, his God is still the answer for him. He wants to get back to the temple to worship, but deeper than that desire is his longing for God.
That same God is still the answer for us today.
We have a mighty God, a holy and living God, a personal God who has revealed Himself to us in Christ Jesus. Our God became human, all God and all man, and gave his perfect life in our place for our sins on a criminal’s cross. He died for you and for me. And if we will put our hope and our trust in Him and Him alone for salvation, then He comes and dwells in us by His Holy Spirit and walks through all of these tough times with us. He makes us long for God.
In John 6:44 Jesus says,
John 6:44 ESV
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
For those in Christ there is new life and there is the only satisfaction for that thirst. God will give you a thirst that only He can satisfy. You might try and fill that thirst with all kinds of other things in this world but none of them will truly and eternally satisfy. ONLY JESUS CAN.
As we start a new year, may it be that we long for God more than anything.
If that’s not where your heart is today, ask God to make you long for Him more—and be prepared for both
(1) difficulties that make you long for Him and, even more, (2) the joy that comes when we learn again He’s still the answer.
A second challenge to help you long for the Lord: Read the whole Bible this year. I know that can seem daunting, especially if you never have read the whole thing. So I want to help you. Do it with us. There is a Bible Reading plan that I will be using this year printed up and ready for you out on the table. It’s a six day plan per week and gives you Sunday to focus on the passage from the sermon. So good news, if you didn’t start today, you can start tomorrow when the reading actually begins. The number one indicator of someone’s spiritual growth and maturity is their engagement with the Word of God. Make 2023 the year you dive in deeper than you ever have before.
What will your 2023 look like? Only God knows for sure, but the question before you today is will you long for Him this year? Let’s pray.
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