Disciplines of Desire: Lessons in Drawing Near

another sermon.. i highlighted the main points so you should at least read those! (:

Disciplines of Desire: Lessons in Drawing Near
Tim Keller

Psalm 63

Intro

–       Illustration: putting something together

–       Need two things: step-by-step instructions (zoomed in on a specific part) and big picture (to help you locate each small part in the whole)

–       Spiritual experience is widely sought after nowadays

–       But spiritual experience is not the same as experiencing God

–       So how do we know that we are having an authentic experience of God?

–       We need step-by-step instructions (disciplines) as well as the big picture (examples of real experiences)

–       We want to know “what’s normal” – how we can judge if it’s an authentic experience

–       The psalms provide us with instruction — a journal of experience with God

–       Features of authentic Christian experience

–       Every feature is not only a test to see if it’s an authentic experience with God, but also a discipline

The Test

–       The way you know you’ve found God is that you develop a spiritual appetite

–       The way you know you’re moving towards God is that you feel you’re too far from Him

–       Psalmist (David) doesn’t say “gods that be, I am searching for you”; finding God is not a result of seeking for Him. Seeking God is a result of having found Him. You don’t start seeking God until He has found you.

–       Even though people have a spiritual hunger for God, people are trying to escape the true God

  • Acts 17: “men of Athens, I see that you are very religious. I even saw a monument to the unknown god. I would like to tell you who this unknown god is, whom you seek” – Paul
  • We want god in general, spiritual experience in general, but we don’t naturally want the real God. We are not capable of that.

–       v1 “O God, you are MY God”

  • Shows that David is in a covenant relationship with God
  • Think of the people in your life you can call “my” — shows that they are significant in your life, that you have a strong, secure, close relationship as a result of the fact that He is David’s God, David seeks Him à cause-effect

–       The way you know you’ve met the real God is that you’re hungry and thirsty

  • Real experience and spiritual hunger rise and fall together

–       The sense of His absence, the dissatisfaction with His absence is evidence that He has touched you

  • If He had never touched you, you would not be satisfied with it
  • If He’s not present in your life, you would not long for Him
  • The deeper that sense of absence is, the greater His presence in your life

How do we know if we’re seeking the real God?

–       Evidence that David is passionately after the real God: v2-3

  • Your love is better than life

–       When we take our first steps towards God, we are usually going to Him because we want something in life, and we’re hoping that He will give it to us

  • That’s fine, but it is not yet a sign that we have found Him, because it is not yet the mark of authentic Christian experience; it’s not the seeking David talks about, it’s not the thirst
  • We go after Him in order to get the things we think will complete us

–       But when we find Him, a change happens

  • In the beginning: ‘if you love me, give me a good life’
  • After experiencing God: ‘if i have Your love, i don’t need anything else in life; if I have Your love, that IS life’

–       “The mark of authentic spiritual experience is that you become satisfied with God for who He is, and not just for the benefits that He gives you” – Jonathan Edwards, “The Religious Affections”

  • After experiencing God, we find that we don’t want anything else, we don’t need anything else

–       If you’ve met the real God, you will know because you become interested in knowing Him

  • If your prayers are filled with petition and “give me”s and things that you need, you are seeking spiritual experience, but you’re not seeking God yet
  • But when you find yourself sitting down and enjoying studying a passage of Scripture on God’s glory and holiness and greatness, and that awes you and gives you some kind of rest, you are seeking God

The Discipline for Developing your Appetite

1. Don’t ruin your appetite

  • illustration: snacking before meal
  • ruins our appetite — but what is on the table is what we need
  • sin ruins our appetite
  • we find substitutes for God

2. Read about God in the Bible

  • Not just the stuff that works for you

3. Remember that the only reason you are hungry for God is because God is after you

  • Often, that immediately becomes a bridge into an experience with God
  • Your hatred of the absence of God is a sign of His presence
  • You wouldn’t even feel upset that He feels far unless He is near
  • You wouldn’t feel far away from Him unless He was near you

4. Pray about the things you’ve read about in the Bible

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