Sermon #1573                                                                     Miscellaneous Notes


Title:               My Desire Is Before Thee

Text:               Psalm 38:9

Reading:       Psalm 38:1-22

Tape #                       Y-27a

Date:                         Sunday Morning ― June 20, 2004



A long, long time ago a young preacher in London, England spent the afternoon with an older, veteran gospel preacher whom he greatly admired and from whom he learned much. The year was 1768. The young preacher was Augustus Toplady who wrote many of our best hymns, including ŇRock of Ages.Ó


The older preacher was a Mr. Brewer. I know absolutely nothing about Mr. Brewer except what he told Toplady that hot July afternoon in London more than 200 years ago. Toplady thought his words were worth writing down; and IŐm glad he did. This is what Mr. Brewer said to the 28 year old preacher, Augustus Toplady:


ŇI cannot conclude without reminding you, my young brother of some things that may be of use to you in the course of your ministry:


1.    Preach Christ crucified, and dwell chiefly on the blessing resulting from his righteousness, atonement, and intercession.

2.    Avoid all needless controversies in the pulpit; except it be when your subject necessarily requires it; or when the truths of God are likely to suffer by your silence.

3.    When you ascend the pulpit, leave your learning behind you. Endeavor to preach more to the hearts of your people than to their heads.

4.    Do not affect too much oratory. Seek rather to profit than to be admired.


I cannot imagine four more needful admonitions. Every preacher needs to constantly remind himself of these things. I try to give heed to them every time I preach to you and I shall do so today.


I am going to talk to you today about the desires of my heart. In doing so, I want to speak to your heart for the glory of God. Let me tell you three things by way of introduction. Then I will be very brief in bringing my message.


1.    I am a sinner. I mean by that that I am fully convinced that I completely deserve the everlasting torments of GodŐs wrath in hell.


á      I was born in sin (Ps. 51:5).


(Psalms 51:5) "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."


á      I chose to live in sin (Ps. 58:3).


(Psalms 58:3) "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."


á      I naturally love sin and hate righteousness (Eph. 2:1-3).


(Ephesians 2:1-3) "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."


á      I despised GodŐs grace, blasphemed his Son, and refused to seek his grace with all the pride and rebellion of hell itself.

á      I have never done and can never do a righteous thing!


2.    But God has saved me by his free and sovereign grace in Christ, his dear Son. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)


(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."


á      God the Father chose me in eternal, free love (John 15:16).

á      God the Son redeemed me with his own blood. (Gal 2:20).

á      God the Holy Spirit called me by his omnipotent grace (Eph 2:1-4).

á      I was cast out as an unwanted thing; but he came to me in the time of love (Eph 16:8).

á      I was dead, beyond the reach of any who might want to help, but he raised me up (Ezek 37).

á      Like Mephibosheth, I was in the place of misery and want, hiding from the Lord; but he fetched me to himself (2 Sam 7).

á      Like Gomer, I brought myself to ruin; but he brought me to his house and his banner over me was love (Hosea 2).

á      I am by nature a worthless piece of sinful flesh, of use to no one and good for nothing; but God has saved me, forgiven all my sins forever, and made me an heir of heaven, an heir of God and joint-heir with Jesus Christ, his darling Son (Rom 8:17).

á      On top of all that, he has put me in the ministry and made me an instrument of good to some (1 Cor. 1:26-31).


(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."


3.    In the light of these things, it should be obvious to all, but with me it is a matter of constantly increasing conviction that I owe everything to my God and Savior, who has delivered my soul from the lowest hell (1 Cor 6:19-20).


These are not matters of theory and doctrinal orthodoxy, but matters of experience and deep conviction. For more than 37 years now, I have been the conscious and constant recipient of GodŐs infinite, amazing grace. I have not yet gotten over the wonder of this fact: The Lord God saved me. I am truly amazed by that!


Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

ÔTwas blind, but now I see!


All that I have experienced of GodŐs grace has inspired and constantly presses upon me the pursuit of five great desires. Turn with me to Psalm 38:9. This is my text. ― ŇLord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee


Proposition: The desires of a manŐs heart are those things for which he groans and labors, without which he cannot be content and satisfied.


Let me talk to you for a few minutes about my desires. Here are five things I wrote down in the back of a book one day years ago when I was studying a prayer I wrote out to God. I have never shared them with anyone before. But I think the Lord has directed me to share them with you today. I trust he will make them the desires of your heart too.


I long ago gave up and nailed to the cross of Christ all aspirations and ambitions for fame, power, property, wealth, and even earthly tranquility and ease. Do not misunderstand me. My flesh craves all those things; but my heart craves freedom from the bondage of those things. I have no desire for such dead weights. Here are the desires of my heart, the things for which my heart groans before the Lord.


GodŐs Favor


I.      First, being convinced of my sin and condemnation before the holy Lord God, I desire the favor of God (Psalm 119:58). ― ŇI entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word


A.    I know that GodŐs favor is in Christ (Ps. 89:17).


(Psalms 89:17) "For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted."


B.    I know that I have GodŐs favor (Eph 1:6).


(Ephesians 1:3-7) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."


C.   And I know that GodŐs favor is my strength (Ps. 30:7).


(Psalms 30:7) "LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled."


So long as I am conscious of GodŐs favor, I am strong. No one can terrify me. No trouble can destroy me. But there are times when the Lord God hides his face from me and I am troubled.


á      We must never presume upon GodŐs favor, making it a matter of indifference.

á      We must never be content to walk in this world without the consciousness of GodŐs favor.

á      When we have lost that sweet conscious awareness of GodŐs favor, we must diligently seek it (Heb 4:16, Song 5:2-16).


(Hebrews 4:16) "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."


(Song of Songs 5:2-16) "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. (3) I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? (4) My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. (5) I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. (6) I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. (7) The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. (8) I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. (9) What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? (10) My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. (11) His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. (12) His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. (13) His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. (14) His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. (15) His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. (16) His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."


Conformity to Christ


II.     Second, with every fiber of my soul, I want to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Savior.


I know that one day soon I shall be like him in glory, perfectly holy and without sin.


á      I was chosen to it (Eph. 1:4-5).

á      God predestinated it (Rom. 8:29).

á      Christ died to secure it (Eph. 5:25-27).

á      The Holy Spirit preserves me for it (Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30).


But I want to live in this world as Christ lived in this world as JehovahŐs righteous Servant, as my Substitute.


A.    I want to love you (John 13:35).

B.    I want to serve you (John 13:15). ― ŇNot to be ministered unto

C.   I want to forgive you (John 8:21).

D.   I want to teach you.

E.    I want to help you along the way to heaven (Phil 2:10).


á      ŇBear ye one anotherŐs burdens

á      ŇRejoice with those that rejoice

á      ŇWeep with those that weep


Illustration: ― ŇHe ainŐt heavy. HeŐs my brother.Ó ― The lyrics refer to a soldier in the Vietnam war carrying his platoon buddy who had been severely wounded. A reporter who was doing a story on the war saw him and asked, ŇIsnŐt he awfully heavy?Ó The soldier answered: "He ain't heavy, he's my brother."


GodŐs Presence


III.   Third, knowing something of the tasks that lie before me as GodŐs child in this world, GodŐs servant, and your pastor, I desire and my heart groans for the presence of God (Ex. 33:14-15).


(Exodus 33:13-18) "Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. (14) And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (15) And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. (16) For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. (17) And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (18) And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory."


Nothing can give us rest in this world of trouble but the conscious awareness of GodŐs presence.


A.    I cannot preach the gospel, I cannot serve your souls without his presence.


B.    I cannot endure the trials and temptations of life without GodŐs presence (Isa. 41:10, 43:1-7).


(Isaiah 41:10) "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."


(Isaiah 43:1-7) "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; (6) I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; (7) Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him."


C.   I cannot live peacefully in a world of trouble without GodŐs presence (Phil 4:4-7).


(Philippians 4:4-7) "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."


D.   I cannot worship without his presence (Mt. 18:20).


E.    I cannot die with confidence without GodŐs presence.


GodŐs Will


IV.  Fourth, I have learned and am continually reminded that it is never best for me to have my will. I donŐt know what I need and what is best for me. So I crave in my very soul the will of God. I have learned from my Savior to pray, ŇNot my will, thy will be done


Now listen carefully to what I am saying.


A.    I want to be obedient to GodŐs revealed will. Whatever God reveals in his word, I want the grace to obey (Ps. 5:8, 86:11).


(Psalms 5:8) "Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face."


(Psalms 86:11) "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name."


1. His doctrine must be my doctrine.

2. His ordinances are my duty.

3. His Word must be the rule of my life.


B.    I want to walk daily conforming to his will, seeking to do what he directs me to do (Prov. 3:5-6).


(Proverbs 3:5-6) "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."


C.   I want God to bring to pass his providential will. (Rom. 8:28). I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the truthfulness of CowperŐs hymn:


God moves in a mysterious way,

His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines,

Of never failing skill,

He treasures up his bright designs,

And works his sovereign will.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessing on your head.


His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour.

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace.

Behind the frowning providence,

He hides a smiling face.


If I had my life to live all over again and could choose whatever I wanted, I would walk the same paths, endure the same heartaches, experience the same troubles, weep the same tears, and visit the same graves as I have because all this has been done by the good and wise will of my heavenly Father! I wouldnŐt change a thing, if I could. He knows and does what is best. I donŐt and cant!


D.   Moreover, I want God to perform all the good pleasure of his eternal will. I want God to do exactly what he has predestinated that he will do (Eph 1:11). This is how our Lord taught us to pray: ŇThy will be doneÓ (Matt. 6:9-11).


GodŐs Glory


V.    Fifth, unless I am deceived, this is what I want above everything in this worldThe Glory of God, Ňthe Lord be magnifiedÓ (Ps. 35:27, 40:16, 70:4).


A.    Let my doctrine be the doctrine that glorifies God.


á      Divine Sovereignty

á      Blood Atonement

á      Salvation by Grace


B.    Let everything in the house of God be done for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).


á      Every Song

á      Every Prayer

á      Every Sermon

á      Every Ordinance

á      Every Activity


C.   Let my home be a place where God is glorified (Eph. 5:18). ― ŇAs for me and my house, we will serve the LordÓ


D.   Let my life be lived and let it be ended for the glory of my God.


E.    Indeed, I rejoice to know that all things shall glorify the Lord my God (Rom. 11:33-36).


(Romans 11:33-36) "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."


á      You will and I will glorify him, either his justice or his grace (Eph. 2:1, Rev. 19:1-6).

á      All things will glorify him (Rev 5:13-14).


(Revelation 5:13-14) "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (14) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."


Application: ŇLord, all my desire is before thee; and my groanings are not hid from thee.Ó This is what I desire. These are the things for which my very heart groans....

1. The Favor of God

2. The Image of God

3. The Presence of God

4. The Will of God

5. The Glory of God.


These are the aspirations of my heart. HereŐs a hymn I wrote several years ago, when meditating upon these five things.


I would be weaned and emptied, too

Of earth and self, and all but You

Surrendered to the crucified,

Only in love with Christ, Who died.

Preserve me from the noise and strife,

The boast, the pomp, the pride of life.

For heavŐn alone my heart prepare,

Let all my affections be there.


My SaviorŐs steps force me to trace

Pursuing grace and righteousness.

This path, with Jesus Christ in view,

By grace to heaven IŐll pursue.

Nothing but Jesus would I know,

Nothing but Your will would I do.

Lord, take my heart, assert Your right,

And put all rival loves to flight.


My dearest idols, Lord remove

By violent grace, and make me love

Nothing but Christ, who lived for me

And died from sin to set me free!

The sins I hate, help me to slay,

And consecrate myself today

To live for Jesus Christ alone,

Until my work on earth is done.






Don Fortner



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