Want versus Need….

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Matthew 7:11 NLT

Have you heard the saying, “God doesn’t give us what we want, He gives what we need.”  I have-many times and unfortunately I believed it for many years.  After all, there are many things I want, have asked for in prayer even, but since I haven’t received them yet, this saying must be true, right? Wrong!

God has always provided me everything I need from the very basics of oxygen to breath to food, water, clothing, a roof over my head and even reliable transportation.  But is that really all God is going to give me, or you?  No, God gives us more than the bare necessities.  His word is full of promises that go beyond what we need.  Psalms 37:4 tells us if we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  Desire is another word for “wants”, not “needs.”  Abraham desired a child.  He didn’t need an heir.  He told God he planned to leave his fortune to a servant. (Genesis 15:2) Attempting to manufacture his own miracle he created a son with Hagar.  But God still gave him the heir He promised. God still gave him Isaac.

David and Bathsheba committed adultery and from their sin produced a son. As punishment for David’s attempt to cover up his sin God took the life of that child shortly after his birth.  But that wasn’t the end of David and Bathsheba’s story.  What did God do next? He gave David and Bathsheba another son, Solomon.  David had other children already-Solomon wasn’t a need.  Solomon was a want that God gave them. (2 Samuel 12:14, 24)

Matthew 7:11 compares God to earthly parents.  If you’re a parent I am confident you wear yourself out providing for the basic needs of your children, but you do more than that.  Don’t we as parents strive to give our children what they want too?  Don’t we delight in seeing our children’s joy when they receive that special present they longed for, not necessary something they need but something they will find true delight in.  I believe God does that for us too.  Within reason, God gives us what we want too.

Provided our desires line up with His will, He promises that whatever we ask for in His name, it will be done. (John 14:13-14) “Whatever” certainly doesn’t sound like just our basic needs. Whatever means everything we ask for in Jesus’ name, will be given to us.  The key phrase is “in Jesus’ name”-meaning in His will.  And God’s will is to definitely give us more than what we need-He longs to see the joy on our faces as we receive His blessings, that special present we’ve longed for no matter how long we’ve been asking Him for it.

What is the desire of your heart?  Is it a godly marriage, children, a dream job?  Have you aligned it with God’s will for your life?  Marriage, children, even careers aren’t anything we need.  But if they are part of God’s plans “for good, to prosper…to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) then we have to trust that He will give them to us. Just like our children ask us for wants (or if you aren’t a parent, remember the wants you asked your own parents) we can boldly approach our Heavenly Daddy asking Him for our wants too.  Keep in mind, God is not a genie-we can’t rub a lamp and ask Him to grant us 3 wishes.  But God does delight in showering His blessings upon us, including gifting us with “the desires of our hearts.”

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3…

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1

Ever find yourself waiting endlessly for an unfulfilled dream?  Perhaps it’s something you prayed for and believed God to give, maybe even a desire you believe God planted in your heart.  No matter how close you get to achieving that dream, the door seems to shut each and every time.  If you’re like me, you’re left wondering why?  You may question if you heard God correctly.  You may even think God must want the complete opposite for you (yep, I’ve thought that one many times too.)

Whenever the desire of my heart becomes a deep longing ache that seems like it will never be fulfilled, I think of Abraham and his dream of an heir.  God promised an heir to Abraham before He changed Abraham’s name.  But the promise didn’t happen overnight.  It didn’t happen 9 months from the day God spoke to Abraham.  It didn’t happen when Abraham tried creating his own miracle by sleeping with Hagar and producing Ishmael.  It took 25 years for God to give Sarah and Abraham, Isaac.  He was nearly 100 years old when he finally received God’s promise specifically for him.

There are a lot of studies on the lessons learned from Abraham’s waiting:  trusting God without questioning, undying faith, refinement through the process of waiting.  But the greater lesson learned is not Abraham’s waiting, it was the test God put him through after he received his promised heir.  Abraham’s waiting for 25 years, moving to a strange land, separating from his nephew, fathering a child that wasn’t God’s promised child-all of that was enough testing to break the average person’s faith.  Even though Abraham remained obedient, God still tested him further by asking Abraham to sacrifice his promised heir.

Some of you not familiar with this story might be thinking “Are you kidding me?  What kind of a God would not only take away the promise He gave but ask someone to kill their own child?  Is God playing mind games with Abraham?” Some might even think God was cruel to do that? But it wasn’t about cruelty or mind games, it was about opportunity.  The opportunity for Abraham to show who he loved most-God or his promised son, Isaac?  And Abraham proved his greater love for God.  Because of Abraham’s faith in that final test, God spared Isaac.  Abraham’s obedience brought the rest of the promise to fruition for we are all descendants of Abraham.

What is the desire of your heart?  Has God fulfilled your desire or are you still in the waiting season?  Have you received the promise but suddenly faced with the possibility of losing it?  God may even be calling you to sacrifice the very thing He gave you, the dream or person you prayed for and love most in this world, merely to see if who or what you love more, the dream, the person, or Him? If the promise came from God, no matter what happens, God will provide the ram, just like He did for Abraham. He will give you the desire of your heart.  God always keeps His promises.   So don’t doubt Him, just obey.  Obedience is the best way to pass God’s tests.  Abraham was the picture perfect example of that.   For greater details on Abraham’s faith read Genesis chapters 12-22.