All the Desires of Your Heart
“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). This is probably my favorite verse in the Bible. It is powerful, prophetic proof that God is alive and doing a great Work today. If we learn the lesson from this verse, we will produce great fruit.
One of my greatest desires as a young man was to go to Ambassador College, a liberal arts institution with a strong foundation in the Bible. I still believe that college was the greatest on Earth. When I submitted an application, I was rejected. I wasn’t quite qualified at that time, so I turned my focus to serving God’s Work in other ways. I also got married, which made the dream of attending Ambassador College fade into the background.
But God remembered my desire. Five years after my college application was denied, the administration decided to begin accepting married students. I applied again and was accepted. That was one of the happiest days of my life!
God says that He will give you the desires of your heart if you delight yourself in Him. What a phenomenal promise! I have been putting Him to the test on that promise for virtually all my adult life.
Once I was accepted, I had another desire. I wanted to be in the ministry because I appreciated the examples of ministers in the Worldwide Church of God and how they served in the Work and helped and loved God’s people. This seemed to me one of the most fantastic jobs a human could ever have, when it is done God’s way.
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (i Timothy 3:1). Being a minister is a calling from God. I couldn’t just decide to be a minister. The office of a minister is a good work, as it says here. But that doesn’t mean the desire to become one is good.
I continued trying to delight myself in the Eternal, seeking His will in everything in my life. Christ said “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Even when your human desires are different from God’s, you must choose to do God’s will. If you do, He will give you “the desires of thine heart.”
I graduated from Ambassador College and received a degree, but I was not called into the ministry. However, I was offered a job in the editorial department as a writer for the Plain Truth magazine. I enjoyed that work and accepted that it was God’s will for me to serve outside the ministry.
Time went on, and I almost forgot about my desire to become a minister. But God did not. After about a year, I was fired from the editorial department. As I was looking for another job, a high-ranking minister in the wcg called and asked if I would like to become a ministerial trainee. Without hesitation, I told him, “I’d love to!”
Serving as a minister of God is the hardest yet most inspiring job in the world. After two years as a ministerial trainee, I began to struggle with my responsibilities. I discussed this with a minister who I knew well. He corrected me strongly, saying, “God didn’t call us to quit!” You can’t delight yourself in the Lord by being a quitter.
If Christ had been a quitter, then no one would have an opportunity to be born into the Kingdom of God! Hebrews 12:1 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Christ endured a savage beating that marred Him beyond recognition, and then was brutally murdered, so we could one day obtain eternal life, become part of the God Family, and help Him rule the Earth and the universe forever. That is a horrifying sacrifice to pay for our breathtaking reward! But He never quit.
I took that minister’s advice, changed my attitude and prayed fervently for God’s will.
Those who delight themselves in the Lord will experience full joy for eternity. God desires a family. Jesus Christ is His firstborn Son, but millions and billions more sons are coming.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:3-4). Christ was perfect and infinitely more powerful than all humans combined, yet He allowed humans to torture and kill Him. That certainly is a shocking “contradiction.” He expects us to fight sin, even if it means dying!
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (verses 5-8).
That is strong language! Any father must correct his children to prevent them from becoming lawless. Without correction from God, we cannot qualify to become His sons. It is impossible to delight in God while rejecting His correction.
The correction I received at college and afterward was, for the most part, given in love. But even when ministers make mistakes in administering correction, God expects us to receive it with a humble and willing attitude.
“We have to begin to see things the way God sees them, and that’s the key,” I said in a sermon 17 years ago. “And always asking God to help you delight in Him and think as He thinks, and then He will give you the desires of your heart!” Life can and should be the most exciting, thrilling journey.
I said, “But we do have to learn to rejoice in those trials more and realize if you want God to give you the desires of your heart, He’s going to have to try you and test you, but just realize why He’s doing it! He can correct you and shape you and prepare you to be a king and a priest, which He says He is doing right now! He says you already are kings and priests in embryo.” If we are serving God before Christ’s Second Coming, we have a royal calling to become kings and priests forever.
“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). God focuses on people who submit to His will and delight themselves in Him.
In that sermon, I told a story about two evangelists who would often deliver sermons in back-to-back Sabbath services. For three-and-a-half years after graduating from college, I was blessed to receive this wonderful education. I learned about the Bible and about how to bring God’s blessings into my life! Nothing compares to the full joy this gave me!
When Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986, 95 percent of God’s people in the Worldwide Church of God rebelled and rejected the truth he had taught them. That church fell apart! Ambassador College, which Mr. Armstrong also founded, closed down. My dream college died before my eyes! That caused me to want to raise up the ruins (Amos 9:11-12). (Request Raising the Ruins to learn how God revived His Work after the Church rebellion.)
Churches die. Colleges die. Spiritual lives die. God’s truth never dies. We fought in court for six years to win the copyrights to 18 major writings of Mr. Armstrong. I wanted to give people the opportunity to be educated the way I was! That became my greatest passion!
The Philadelphia Church of God started with 12 members and $80. Now, we have a marvelous, $25 million auditorium, two beautiful college campuses, and even a private jet. God has blessed us beyond words to describe. Because we have obeyed Him, He has given us all “the desires of thine heart.”