The Compass of Desire

Like millions of people around the world, I am an avid fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. In fact, I may be the only preacher I know who did a sermon series based on the original movie entitled, “Keep to the Code,” featuring our own local Pirate (John Barrett) for illustrative purposes. How’s that for devotion and fandom? Based loosely on the Disney ride by the same name, the motion pictures track the journey of Captain Jack Sparrow as he voyages across the sea in various intrigues guided not by a compass that actually works, but by a compass that points in the direction of what he desires the most. 

Most people today function without a moral compass, or for our purposes, an absolute or core set of values that governs a person’s lifestyle, character, and direction. Not unlike Jack Sparrow, many live their lives totally guided by what they desire the most without respect to the rightness of the behavior or how their choices impact the lives of other people. Like the mythical prop compass in the movies, our lives will go in the direction of our most dominant desires, regardless of whether those desires are moral or Scriptural. Consciously or unconsciously, we begin to align our efforts, time, and resources in the direction of our deepest desires. One wrong desire can send us reeling from God’s ordained path for our lives. Many believers have been caught in the storms of compromise and carnality because they have set a life course with faulty desires. Many have abandoned their divine destiny to pursue what is good at the expense of God’s best for their lives, driven off course by strong, but wrong desires. Proverbs 11:6 says, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” Because desire ultimately determines direction, the believer must make certain that his or her desires are God directed and Bible based.

James 4:1 declares, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (NIV). It is clear from James that ungodly desires lead us astray and produce strife rather than peace. Despite all the pressure to conform to the desires and priorities of the world around us (Romans 12:1-3), we have a strong Scriptural principle to makes sure that the desires that determine our ultimate course in life are consistent with God’s will and word. It’s alright that we have a compass of desire that dictates our choices in life as long as those desires are rooted in the revelation of God’s truth.

One of the most powerful verses in the Bible pertaining to the principle and impact of desire is found in Psalm 37:4. The Scripture says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” To delight in the Lord means that we find in Him our greatest degree of gratification, satisfaction, and pleasure. Practically speaking, we demonstrate this by seeking the Lord in prayer, worship, service, and the Word of God. I have always seen a dual application in this small but powerful verse. First, when we make the Lord our greatest delight he will see to it that our desires are fulfilled. Second, and more importantly, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He literally imparts or deposits the desires that we should be pursuing in our lives. This powerful truth gives us confidence that the Lord will place in our hearts the proper desire, that this desire will guide us accurately throughout life, and that the Lord Himself will see to it that the desire is ultimately fulfilled.

Let me encourage you to seek the Lord will all of your heart. Make up your mind to be like the Psalmist who said, “I desire to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8). Interestingly, the second part of the verse gives us the key to discerning and following God’s will in our lives: “…your law is within my heart.” As you make the Lord the greatest source of pleasure in your life, godly, proper, and accurate desires will begin to bubble up within your spirit. You should boldly and confidently go after those desires trusting that you are in the will of God and that He will see to it that those godly desires are fulfilled.

How Big Is Your Want To?

“I can do everything through Christ (the anointed one and his anointing) who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT). “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23, NIV).

The Bible is very plain when it comes to stating the potential of the believer for victory and to accomplish great things in life. The Apostle Paul boldly stated that all things or everything can be accomplished through the anointing made available to the believer through the grace of the anointed one, Jesus Christ. The message of Jesus in Mark 9 is emphatic – everything is within the realm of possibility for the one who truly believes. The word “possible” means that something is capable of happening, existing, or being true. The Greek indicates the concept of being strong, mighty, powerful, and able to do. This means that we can do it in Jesus’ name.

But possibility in life is tempered by a very significant variable, the variable of desire. Wrong desires lead us off the path of God and hinder the possibilities in our lives (James 1:13-14). Right desires lead us down the path of God and empower us to stay focused long enough to see the possibility become a reality. The Scriptures teaches us, “…what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye have them and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24, KJV). Desire is an intense longing or craving for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment. The word “desire” in Mark 11:24 is accurately translated to mean to pray with earnest desire, craving, and longing rather than the dead fish mumbling prayer so often heard in Christian circles. The fact is that as believers we fail to receive God’s best not because it is not God’s will or because some things are not possible, but because we lack the sustained, intense biblical desire to obtain the promise or the breakthrough.

I heard a story once about a man who was the town drunk. Each night he would leave his loving wife at home and head to the local tavern to get drunk. Each night at closing time he would walk home taking a short cut through the cemetery. One night as he was cutting through the graveyard, he fell headlong into an open grave recently dug for a funeral the next day. When he came to his senses he hollered, screamed, and cried for help into the darkness but there was no one around to help. He clawed, scratched, and climbed up the dirt walls of the grave only to slip back down over and over again. Exhausted from the experience sat down in the corner of the grave and resigned himself to the fact that he was not going to get out of his predicament, at least not until the next day. Then from the dark recesses of the grave he heard an eery voice cry out, “you’ll never get out of here.” Well…he did. Suddenly his failure was replaced by an amazing desire or “want to” and he got out of the pit.

The question today is how big is our want to? How badly do we want off drugs, or to make a difference, or to reach our potential, or to get that job, or to live right, or to be healed, or to lose weight (moving right along), or to finish that degree, or to have a great marriage, or get out of debt, or to change our life? If we want to make a change we can make a change but we must learn to develop a serious want to. The level of our desire or want to ultimately determines our outcome in life. If we have no desire we will see no results. A low desire will produce a few results. A medium desire will yield some results. A great or high level of desire will produce many results. It’s all a matter of our want to.

In today’s blog I want to encourage you to live with a big want to in your life. The Scripture says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4, NIV). This means that the Lord will deposit right desires in your life as well as bring those desires to pass. Here are five principles for living with a big want to:

  1. Immerse yourself in the Word (Proverbs 3:15). The more time you spend in the Word of God the more your desire will grow and the more you will think you can do it. As human beings we begin to attract the things we give our attention to in life. The more time you spend in the Word the more you will desire and attract the things of God into your life.
  2. Hang around successful people (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). I remember hearing about a millionaire entrepreneur and writer asking another successful businessman how he managed to earn billions. The individual simply told the man, “you hang around with millionaires but I started to hang around billionaires.” The truth is we become like the people we hang around the most.
  3. Quit the habit of quitting (James 5:10, MES). I love the way the Message renders this verse. It says, “They [the prophets] put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.” The habit of quitting indicates a very small want to so if you’re going to quit something this week, quit the habit of quitting.
  4. Put God’s desires and will first (Psalm 40:18, NIV). It’s amazing how big your want to grows when you have the confidence that you are pursuing the perfect will of God for your life. Faith begins where the will of God is known and great desire always follows the heart that is confident of the Lord’s will and direction.
  5. Ignore the voice of negativity (Numbers 13:32, CSB). There will always be people hanging around that delight in discouraging dreamers from pursuing the desires of their hearts. It is vital that you learn to tune out the naysayer and focus instead on the promise of God and voices that are edifying and encouraging. It’s amazing how just one negative comment can cancel out a boat load of encouragement. Learn to identify when the enemy is trying to use negativity to squash your desire and reject it.

To become a Green Beret in the United States Army Special Forces a soldier must stand out as exemplary and then be selected to attend the brutal two week (now three week) assessment school. At the end of the process the sleep-deprived soldiers are required to complete a twenty mile march in the middle of the night carrying their weapons and their sixty-five pound packs strapped to their backs. Completing the trek is no guarantee of acceptance into the training phase of the program but most certainly disqualifies any solder failing to complete it. Soldiers who have gone on to be selected, trained, and bestowed the coveted status and head gear say it all comes down to desire. I wonder what would happen if we wanted what God wants for us with that level of desire?

So…how big is your want to?