“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Will Graham hasn’t seen it all, but he’s seen a lot. In his ministry travels around the world, the grandson of Billy Graham has encountered people and cultures as opposite as night and day.
Yet, they all have hungry souls.
In a new, five-part video Bible study, Redeemed—How God Satisfies the Longing Soul, Will Graham talks about what people on every continent are missing.
“[God] loves you with an overarching, eternal love, and He’s waiting to embrace you today,” Will Graham writes in the accompanying study guide.
The Bible study kit contains a DVD, along with teaching notes, discussion questions, Scripture and questions for personal reflection. The set is a companion to the evangelist’s first book, Redeemed: Devotions for the Longing Soul.
Will Graham has seen lonely people everywhere he’s gone. He’s met spiritual doubters and people imprisoned by their own sin guilt, thinking God could never love them.
“The problem is, we live in an age where sin is no longer something to be repented of but something to be celebrated,” he writes. “Ours is such a sin-soaked culture that many of us don’t even know what the word means anymore.”
For those who realize and admit their sin, God is willing to forgive. In the Redeemed study guide, Will shares miracles he’s witnessed as people find forgiveness in Christ.
“Every time I offer an invitation to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, and people accept that hope and surrender their lives to Him, I see those who were once dead brought to life. I see the miracle of broken, hurting individuals finding peace and rest. I watch as tears stream down the faces of longing souls who finally understand they can be forgiven and spend eternity with Jesus—not because of anything they can do but because Christ’s sacrifice has made a way.”
There truly is hope for everyone, no matter their past behavior.
“We serve a Savior who is bigger than the sin in our lives—and who is ready to forgive us if we give our brokenness over to Him,” Will Graham explains. “He is the One who satisfies the deep longing of our soul. He fills that empty void with His goodness. It’s not more stuff. It’s not more work. It’s not harmful vices. It’s Jesus!”
Our reward will be great, Jesus said, not when we love people who love us back, but when we love “the ungrateful and the evil” as God does.
If you are married to the godliest, kindest, most giving and thoughtful spouse who ever lived, that will be your reward. There will be no extra credit in the heavenlies for having enjoyed an easier marriage than most. So you’ll have some very pleasant decades, while someone else may be storing up for eternity.
If, for instance, your spouse takes you for granted, you may never be appreciated on this earth, but the day will come—Jesus promises it!—when you see your heavenly Father-in-Law face-to-face and He says to you, “You loved My son (or daughter) so well, even though I know he never understood how blessed he was to be married to you. Now, let Me show you how I spend all of eternity rewarding those who love in My name. Receive your rewards, enter into your rest!”
You see how believing in that day changes how we define what is a good day in the here and now? We’ll look for opportunities to love, serve, notice, encourage, and appreciate, instead of being obsessed with how well our spouses are loving, serving, noticing, encouraging, and appreciating us. This is encouraging for those of you who are taken for granted. Let’s be honest: some of you married fools. I don’t mean to be flippant, but the Bible says there are fools, right? It seems to me, somebody must marry them. Maybe you picked one. From an earthly perspective, that’s a wasted life. From an eternal perspective, you have the opportunity to set yourself up for a particularly thrilling and fulfilling conversation at the judgment seat of Christ.
* How do these passages encourage you to love you spouse even when it’s hard? How will this lesson impact the way you live out your daily life with him or her?
Ask yourself: in my marriage, how often do I get trapped into fighting over things that, in the end, don’t really matter? How many marital problems would be solved if couples would simply read the Sermon on the Mount once a month together?
This isn’t to disdain the things of the earth—no need to do that—it’s to exalt the things of heaven. Jonathan Edwards wrote like a poet: “Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”
All of this means we have to work at keeping our focus, our magnificent obsession; otherwise, we might put all our focus on lesser (but still important) aims—trying to improve our communication, get our finances in order, keep our romance fresh and fun, and so on. We have to remember that these are not the stuff of life and they are not the end goal. After all, as Edwards reminds us, “If our lives be not a journey towards heaven, they will be a journey to hell.” If you truly desire to live this out, talk with your spouse and/or a group of good friends on a monthly basis. Ask one another: “How is the hope of heaven influencing the way we love one another, the way we raise our kids, the way we spend our money, and the way we focus our time?”
* How are you and your spouse daily living out your hope of heaven? If you were able to keep an eternal mindset, how would this affect your day-to-day life?