What You Need

Battle of the Bands

This week I had a singer named Aloe Blacc playing on my iPod…probably because Augie really likes one of his songs and asked for it earlier. The title is "I Need a Dollar"…but Augie refers to it as the "Hey Hey Song" since he likes doing that phrase in the song with me:

I need a Dollar
A dollar is what I need
Hey, Hey

I like that song quite a bit myself, especially when Augie is accompanying it. 🙂

But that wasn't the tune that inspired this sermon, instead it is one named "Miss Fortune," where Miss Fortune's dad is discussing her with a suitor…and admitting he has messed her up by spoiling her just as he did her mom. This line in the song jumped out at me:

But the problem with having everything you want
Is you never really know what you need1

[ Repeat a second time ]

Now, I'd played that song before…but I have a habit of really only listening to the music…not the words…although I'll often pay some attention to the chorus. I'm glad this time I was actually aware of what he was singing…there seemed a lot of wisdom in such a simple statement (and in the tune itself…where the suitor doesn't listen to his soon-to-be father-in-law and sure enough, daughter turns out like mother).

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

What You Need

If you think about other songs that discuss need…if they are secular they are probably talking about needing a girlfriend or boyfriend. With Christian songs they are likely (and validly) talking about our need for God and/or Jesus…although I imagine a lot of them in a way that you can't tell if they are singing about God or a girlfriend. 🙂

Perhaps the most famous song that talks about need is the one that goes like this…maybe you'll recognize it:

You can't always get what you want [sung 3 times]
But if you try sometimes
You might find
You get what you need

Do you recognize it? That's right, it's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones off their Let it Bleed album.

So…what do you think? Is the advice of the Rolling Stones as wise as that of the prophetic father-in-law in Aloe Blacc's? Which do you think is more in line with what Scripture teaches? With history?

Let's discover that together…

Getting What You Want

First let's look at history…and we only have to go back to last week for our first example.

How many are familiar with the latest news about Charlie Sheen?

Here's a guy who, other than respect, probably gets whatever he wants. He's rich…makes 1.25 million per episode of "Two and a Half Men." He's never short of company…including the two women living with him right now who he refers to as his "goddesses" (one is a porn star). He is also, even in the midst of his apparently unstable condition, very popular. This past week when he fired up a Twitter account he broke the Guinness world record for getting to a million followers in the shortest time—in 25 hours and 17 minutes.2 When I checked where he was at 11:58PM Friday night he was 1,679,318.

Charlie Sheen has money…has "babes"…has fame. You could say he has everything he wants…but…

If you have seen and/or heard even a single one of his recent interviews, do you think he has what he needs? Or…getting back to Aloe's song…that he even knows what he needs? No…if there is any case of someone in denial with a capital D-E-N-I-A-L…it's him.

And…whether it is his show being cancelled for at least the rest of this season…or…speaking of news about him this week…his two young boys being removed from his home by police…all likelihood is that in following Mick Jagger's advice in "try[ing] sometime" to get what he wants, it is very unlikely he is going to get what he needs…short of being forced by a judge into psychiatric treatment.

Charlie needs prayer…so please remember him in yours…


Well, enough just looking at the secular side of things. Can you think of someone in the Bible who had everything he wanted?

[ Wait for answers. ]

That's right…let's spend a little time with Solomon. The Bible says:

  • "He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horseman" (1 Kings 10:26)…and 4,000 stalls for the horses (2 Chronicles 9:25)
  • "[M]ade silver as common in Jerusalem as stone" (1 Kings 10:27)
  • Had a "draft" of 30,000 men, "70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters," and "3,300 chief officers over the work" (1 Kings 5:13,15-16)
  • 700 wives and 300 concubines (a even 1,000 women!) (1 Kings 11:3)
  • Yearly received 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14) — now they aren't positive which "talent" this speaks about…could be anywhere from 130 pounds per to only 67.3. However, even using the lowest possibility, that would be 44,822 pounds a year.3

Anyone want to disagree that Solomon had everything he wanted?

And it made sense that he would. Ffter his father David died God pretty did a one-wish genie thing…asking the new king what he wanted…and all Solomon requested wisdom to govern his people (1 Kings 3:5-9). The Lord was very happy with his answer…and not only blessed Solomon with more wisdom than any man or woman before or after him…God promised he would "give [Solomon] also what [he had] not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with [him], all [his] days" (1 Kings 3:10-13).

How did having all he wanted work out for Solomon?

His Words

First, let's look at Solomon's own words in Ecclesiastes 2:1-11:

2 I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself." But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of pleasure, "What use is it?" 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man.

9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

So…Solomon gets more than we…everyone sitting (or standing) in this sanctuary will ever accumulate between all of us…and he says, "Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." For that matter…Solomon couldn't get more than two verses into Ecclesiastes before exclaiming, "Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). No matter what new way Solomon "[tried] sometime" to get what he wanted…he didn't get what he needed.

Luckily God kept his promise to Solomon…and thus Solomon kept his wisdom…and he ended that rather peculiar book of the Bible with what he really needed…really needed to remember that is…when he was testing his heart with pleasure:

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Solomon is lucky our Lord keeps His promises…because we'll read later what would have happened if He hadn't interceded in Solomon's life with a gift of wisdom and instead had given Solomon up to the results of his pleasure seeking.

God's Judgement

But more important than even the wisest man ever's judgment of Solomon's hedonism is our…and his…God's verdict. Remember those 700 wives? Inspiration says they turned Solomon's heart away in 1 Kings 11:3 and…well…

Let's turn to to 1 Kings 11:6-13:

6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. 11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen."

Solomon realized…after blowing it…all that pleasure-seeking was vanity. However, God had even harsher words…and delivered on his promise to "tear [the kingdom] out of the hand of [Solomon's] son."

Charlie Sheen and Solomon

So…no matter whether it is Charlie Sheen today…or Solomon thousands of years ago…history seems to confirm the words of Aloe Blacc:

But the problem with having everything you want
Is you never really know what you need

And disprove the words of Mick Jagger:

You can't always get what you want [sung 3 times]
But if you try sometimes
You might find
You get what you need

What You Really Need

There are so many more scriptures I would like to share…but I am trying to remain faithful to my newfound commitment to keep my sermons shorter. So just a few quick references before I wrap up with two scriptures.

  • First, if you look at Romans 8:26-30 you'll see how we really don't know what we need…as verse 26 says…"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." The good news is that section also says that God will make sure us believers get what we need.
  • Second, you review Matthew 6:25-33 you'll be reminded that our heavenly Father knows what we need, that He will watch over us, and that what we really need to do is "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
  • Third, if you read Paul's words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 you'll see the benefit of contentment…and an important warning in verse nine: "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction."

Man, it's hard to stop without giving you more! 🙂

God Will Give You What You Want

Two Options

At this point I want to leave you with two options. In either case God will give you what you want.

Option number one comes thanks to Paul…let's turn to Romans 1:18-32:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Notice three times how God gave them what they wanted…and "gave them up":

  • In the lusts of their hearts to impurity
  • To dishonorable passions
  • To a debased mind to do what ought not to be done

And…in the end…when it's time for judgment…He will give them what they have clamored most for…separation from God…which means eternal destruction.

That is option #1.

Option #2

Option #2 comes to us thanks to Jesus himself. Remember the rather…well…"loose" Samaritan woman? Here is a part of our Savior's conversation with her:

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." 13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water" (John 4:10-15).

The Samaritan woman had spent her life trying to get what she wanted…and where did it get her? She was an outcast of outcasts. But Jesus offered her a new desire…that for living water…and she accepted.

What I find interesting is that after she accepted His offer he first fulfilled it by pointing out her sin…"You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband'; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true" (John 4:17b-18). Part of the living water is busting through the D-E-N-I-A-L issue Charlie Sheen has.

And…praise God!…it changed her immediately and Scripture records:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did" (John 4:39)

Option 1 or Option 2?

So…which do you want…option 1 or option 2? Aloe's advice or Mick's? The Bible's or mankind's? God's or the Devil's?

Now…don't get me wrong…I can promise you that if you go with option 1 you won't always have misery…and you'll probably have a heck of a lot of fun here and there and much better stories to share with people than I ever will. However, if you will never surpass the riches and wisdom of Solomon…and it didn't work out well for him…how can you honestly think it'll turn out well for you?

You will get what you want

As I mentioned before…you will inevitably get what you want.

If you want to "[exchange] the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things" (Romans 1:23)…God…even here on earth…will "give you up" to what you want…and in eternity will give you your ultimate desire…separation from Him.

Or…if like the Samaritan woman…you want…you desire…you crave…living water…our Lord will give you that.

And your eternity will be far different from those "given up" to their lusts, their passions, and their debased minds…

And that's the only way to get what you want to be totally in line with what you need…because…as Aloe Blacc so movingly sang:

But the problem with having everything you want
Is you never really know what you need

Know what you need…

Stop going after what you don't…

You need the Savior and nothing else!


1"Miss Fortune" by Aloe Blacc (from the album Good Things)
2Wasserman, T. (2011, March 3). Charlie Sheen Sets New Guinness World Record for Twitter. Mashable. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from http://mashable.com/2011/03/03/charlie-sheen-sets-new-guinness-twitter-record/
3Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (2 Ch 9:13). Biblical Studies Press.

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Alan is an ordinary guy, living in a small, high plains Colorado town...and humbled to be a minister of God...

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