4 Tests to Determine if a Desire Is From God

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And so it is with your spirit. It's OK to be dissatisfied in your spiritual walk. That's what beckons you into the deeper waters God has for you.

"'Come, all you who are thirsty," says the Word, "come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?'" (Is. 55:1-2).

If you find yourself wanting more, don't assume there's something wrong. Stop to consider the nature of your yearning. It is possible to know whether the desires in your heart are of God or not.

How do you tell? How do you determine whether to let those desires go and be content or press on until your heart is truly satisfied?

1. Examine your motives. James warns us, "You desire but do not have. ... When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:2, 3). In light of biblical contentment, you must first search your heart to see if your desires have eternal significance.

Jesus, knowing that man's heart is easily enticed by earthly things, tells us to "store up ... treasures in heaven" (Matt. 6:20), not only because earthly things will pass away but also because He wants our hearts to be given totally to Him.

"Where your treasure is," He says, "there your heart will be also" (v. 21). Follow the trail to your treasure chest, and there you will find your heart.

2. Fear the Lord. "He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them" (Ps. 145:19). A healthy fear of God will make you humbly aware of your accountability to Him.

If your heart seems to be guiding you to do a new thing, first yield that desire to the Lord and see if He releases you to pursue it. Once He makes His leading clear, follow it—or satisfaction will continue to elude you.

3. Be diligent. "The sluggard's appetite is never fulfilled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied" (Prov. 13:4). You may have a godly desire in your heart, but don't expect to simply wake up one morning and find yourself living your dream. You must birth it in prayer, ask the Holy Spirit what to do and then do it, whether it requires taking a baby step or a great leap of faith.

Sometimes there's nothing you can do to achieve your desires except pray and wait on the Lord. But even then you must live in the present.

Look around you. What is your current sphere of influence? Can you find a way to serve God there with a glad heart?

If so, you will eventually hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matt. 25:21).

4. Continue to hope. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" (Prov. 13:12). If you are inclined to "just be content" in every area of your life, ask yourself if you have lost hope. Perhaps a renewed hope in the Lord would give you reason to press on until you can truly say your heart is satisfied.

It is His desire to give us this hope: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart'" (Jer. 29:11-13).

In Oswald Chambers' classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers writes about vision becoming reality. "God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision," he writes. "It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint."

Chambers explains that God inspires us with vision but does not entrust us with the reality of it until we have been molded to His likeness, as clay on the potter's wheel.

"But don't lose heart in the process," he writes. "If you ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it."

My friend and the "hungry" people in her church refused to be content playing church. They pressed forth in prayer, and soon the church leadership recognized the need as well. They began to lead the congregation out to deeper waters of revival, raising the standard of their Christian experience.

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