The Pursuit of Joy in Life and Ministry
- Mission Statement
- Introduction and Background
- A Summary of Christian Hedonism in Five Statements
- The Foundation of Christian Hedonism
- The Essence of Christian Hedonism
- The Grand Obligation
- How Then Shall We Fight for Joy?
- Addendum: The God-Centeredness of God
1. The Mission Statement of Bethlehem Baptist Church... And My Life and This Course
We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.
2. Introduction and Background
The Struggle with Motivation
Luke 14:13-14: "But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
T. W. Manson (British New Testament scholar): "The promise of reward for this kind of life [Luke 14:14] is there as a fact. You do not live this way for the sake of reward. If you do you are not living in this way but in the old selfish way." (T. W. Manson, The Sayings of Jesus, London: 1949, p. 280)
Ayn Rand (novelist and atheistic philosopher): "An action is moral, said Kant, only if one has no desire to perform it, but performs it out of a sense of duty and derives no benefit from it of any sort, neither material nor spiritual. A benefit destroys the moral value of an action. (Thus if one has no desire to be evil, one cannot be good, if one has, one can.)." (For the Intellectual, New York: Signet, 1961, p.32)
Blaise Pascal (French mathematician and philosopher): "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves." (Penses, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1958 p. 113, Thought # 425)
3. A Summary of Christian Hedonism in Five Statements
1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
2. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.
4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it expands to meet the needs of others in the manifold ways of love.
5. To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.
4. The Foundation of Christian Hedonism: God's Joyful Passion for His Own Glory
Biblical Texts to Show God's Zeal for His Own Glory
God chose his people for his glory.
Ephesians 1:4-6, cf. vv. 12, 14
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will unto the praise of the glory of his grace.
God created us for his glory.
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.
God called Israel for his glory.
You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified
I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory.
God rescued Israel from Egypt for his glory.
Our fathers when they were in Egypt did not consider thy wonderful works . . . but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake that he might make known his mighty power.
God raised Pharaoh up to show his power and glorify his name.
For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for this very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth."
God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show his glory.
Exodus 14:4; cf. vv. 17, 18
And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.
God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of his name.
I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of his name.
2 Samuel 7:23
What other nation on earth is like Thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be His people, making Himself a name, and doing for them great and terrible things, by driving out before His people a nation and its gods?
God did not cast away his people for the glory of his name.
1 Samuel 12:20-22
Fear not, you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord . . . For the Lord will not cast away his people for his great name's sake.
God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of his name.
2 Kings 19:34; cf. 20:6
For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.
God restored Israel from exile for the glory of his name.
Ezekiel 36:22-23, 32
Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name . . . And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name . . . and the nations will know that I am the Lord
For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.
God sent Jesus so that the nations might glorify God for his mercy.
For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy.
Jesus sought the glory of his father in all He did.
He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
Jesus told us to do good works so that God gets glory.
Matthew 5:16; cf. 1 Peter 2:12
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Jesus warned that not seeking God's glory makes faith impossible.
How can you believe who seek glory from one another and do not see the glory that comes from the only God?
Jesus said that he answers prayer that God would be glorified.
Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Jesus endured his final hours of suffering for God's glory.
John 12:27, 28
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? "Father, save me from this hour?" No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name. Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
John 17:1; cf. 13:31-32
Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify Thee.
God gave his Son to vindicate the glory of his righteousness.
God put Christ forward as a propitiation by his blood . . . to demonstrate God's righteousness . . . It was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous.
God forgives our sins for his own sake.
I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Jesus receives us into his fellowship for the glory of God.
Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Son of God.
He will glorify me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.
God instructs us to do everything for his glory.
1 Corinthinans 10:31; cf. 6:20
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
God tells us to serve in a way that will glorify him.
1 Peter 4:11
Whoever renders service [let him do it] as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus will fill us with fruits of righteousness for God's glory.
It is my prayer . . . that you be filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
All are under judgment for dishonoring God's glory.
They became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.
For all have fallen short of the glory of God.
Herod is struck dead because he did not give glory to God.
Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him because he did not give glory to God.
Jesus is coming again for the glory of God.
2 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Those who do not obey the gospel will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints and to be marveled at in all who have believed.
Jesus' ultimate aim for us is that we see and enjoy his glory.
Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory, which thou hast given me in Thy love for me before the foundation of the world.
Even in wrath God's aim is to make known the wealth of his glory.
Desiring to show his wrath and make known his power, he endured with much patience the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory.
God plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of his glory.
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Everything that happens will redound to God's glory.
From Him, to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever. Amen.
In the New Jerusalem the glory of God replaces the sun.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the lamb.
Jonathan Edwards' conclusion from all these texts
"The great end of God's works, which is so variously expressed in Scripture, is indeed but one; and this one end is most properly and comprehensively called the Glory of God." (Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World, Works, Vol. 1, [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974], p. 119).
This passion of God for his own glory in all he does is a joyful passion.
"Let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.
1 Timothy 1:11
[Paul refers to] "the gospel of the glory of the blessed [= happy, makariou theou] God, with which I have been entrusted."
Question: Is this thoroughgoing self-exaltation of God a loving way to be?
1 Corinthians 13:5
Love seeks not its own.
5. The Essence of Christian Hedonism: Man's Chief End is to Glorify God BY Enjoying Him
The Pivotal Quote from C. S. Lewis
But the most obvious fact about praise-whether of God or any thing-strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise-lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game-praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise what ever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. (C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, [New York: Harcourt, Brace and World 1958], pp. 93-95.)
1. The greatest favor God can do for us is to seek his praise in us as the consummation of our joy in him.
2. God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the highest virtue and the most loving act.
3. God is most glorified in us when we are the most satisfied in him.
4. The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever.
An Explicit Biblical Support for these Inferences
I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.
6. The Grand Obligation: The Pursuit of Joy
Does It Really Follow that We Should therefore Pursue our Joy in God?
Another pivotal quote from C. S. Lewis:
The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1965], pp. 1-2.)
There Are Biblical Commands to Pursue Our Joy in God
Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
There is a Biblical Threat if We Will Not Pursue Our Joy in God
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you.
The Essence of Evil and Sin Is to Pursue Satisfaction Outside God
"Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate," declares the LORD. "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water."
An Essential Element of Saving Faith Is Being Satisfied with All That He Is for Us
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."
2 Corinthians 1: 24
Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
The Affections (Emotions) Are Biblically Essential to Christian Living
No feelings of covetousness
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
Fervent Brotherly Love from the Heart
1 Peter 1:22
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.
1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, hope fully in the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Zeal and fervency
. . . not lagging behind in diligence, [be] fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
1 Peter 2:2
Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with lowliness regard one another as more important than yourselves.
1) Can we govern our feelings?
2) What if they are not there; what do we do?
The Meaning of Conversion is the Awakening of Delight in the Glory of God
Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.
And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
Ezekiel 36:26 –27
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
2 Corinthians 4:4-6
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Praising God (Worship) Is, in Essence, Prizing God
I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
Love for People Is the Overflow and Expansion of Joy in God
2 Corinthians 8:1-8
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints . . . I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
1 Peter 5:2
Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
Pride and Self-pity Are Overcome by the Pursuit of Joy in God
And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?" Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life."
The Words of David Livingston
On December 4, 1857, David Livingstone, the great pioneer missionary to Africa, made a stirring appeal to the students of Cambridge University, showing that he had learned through years of experience what Jesus was trying to teach Peter:
For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. (Cited in Samuel Zwemer, "The Glory of the Impossible" in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Ralph Winter and Stephen Hawthorne, eds. [Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1981], p.259. Emphasis added.)
There is Self-denial, but All for the Sake of Ultimate Satisfaction in God
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Suffering is Required and Sustained by the Pursuit of Joy in God
If [we are] children, [then we are] heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.
The Duty of Serving God is Sustained by the Joy of Being Served by God
God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.
If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains. Shall I eat the flesh of bulls Or drink the blood of male goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.
1 Peter 4:11
Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works for the one who waits for Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
7. How Then Shall We Fight for Joy?
Realize That Authentic Joy in God is a Gift
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
Realize that Joy Must Be Fought for Relentlessly
2 Corinthians 1:24
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy.
I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your advancement and joy of faith.
Faith has joy at its heart: it is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus (see above). Therefore, the "good fight of faith" is a fight for joy.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I finished the course, I have kept the faith.
1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called.
Because lawlessness is multiplied, the love of many will grow cold; but those who endure to the end will be saved.
Resolve to Attack All Known Sin in Your Life
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Learn the Secret of Gutsy Guilt – How to Fight like a Justified Sinner
Micah 7: 8-9
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.
Realize That the Battle Is Primarily a Fight to See God for Who He Is
Taste and see that the Lord is good
2 Corinthians 4:4-6
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God . . . For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord are being changed from one degree of glory to the next.
1 John 3:2
Beloved we are God's children now, but it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is.
Those who know your name put their trust in you.
It is not primarily a battle to do, but a battle to see. Seeing is becoming.
Meditate on the Word of God Day and Night
God reveals himself in his Word. What we see of God in the Word is the kindling of the joy of faith.
He restores my soul.
The Law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.
Your words were found and I ate them and they were a joy to me and became the delight of my heart because I am called by your name.
I have spoken these things to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.
His delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word . . .
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
These things are written that believing you might life in his name.
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and . . . do so by works of law for by hearing with faith?
Whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction that by the steadfastness and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Sanctify them in the truth . . .
You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.
The sword of the Spirit, the Word.
1 John 2:14
I write to you young men, because you are strong, and because the word of God abides in you and you have overcome the evil one.
Hudson Taylor (Illustrates Psalm 1:2)
It was not easy for Mr. Taylor, in his changeful life, to make time for prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital. Well do the writers remember traveling with him month after month in northern China, by cart and wheelbarrow with the poorest of inns at night. Often with only one large room for coolies and travelers alike, they would screen off a corner for their father and another for themselves, with curtains of some sort; and then, after sleep at last had brought a measure of quiet, they would hear a match struck and see the flicker of candlelight which told that Mr. Taylor, however weary, was pouring over the little Bible in two volumes always at hand. From two to four A. M. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the time he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God (Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret [Chicago: Moody Press, n.d., original 1932], p. 235).
The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit (Autobiography of George Mueller, compiled by Fred Bergen, [London: J. Nisbet Co., 1906], pp. 152-154].
Pray Earnestly and Continually for Open Heart-eyes and an Inclination for God
Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.
Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain.
Learn to Preach to Yourself Rather Than Listen to Yourself
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says,: "Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you" (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1965] p. 20).
Spend Time with God-saturated People Who Help You See God and Fight the Fight
1 Samuel 23:16
And Jonathan rose and went to David at Horesh and strengthened his hand in God.
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Be Patient in the Night of God's Seeming Absence
I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.
William Cowper's hymn: God Moves in a Mysterious Way
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.
You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
in blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
and scan his work in vain:
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.
Get the Rest, Exercise and Proper Diet That Your Body Was Designed by God to Have
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
Elijah's emotional need for sleep and food:
1 Kings 19:1-8
Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, "Arise, eat." Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you." So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Jonathan Edwards on the use of food for God's sake:
Sereno Dwight tells us that Jonathan Edwards "carefully observed the effects of the different sorts of food, and selected those which best suited his constitution, and rendered him most fit for mental labor" (Memoirs, p. xxxviii). Thus he abstained from every quantity and kind of food that made him sick or sleepy. Edwards had set this pattern when he was 21 years old when he wrote in his diary,
By a sparingness in diet, and eating as much as may be what is light and easy of digestion, I shall doubtless be able to think more clearly, and shall gain time; 1. By lengthening out my life; 2. Shall need less time for digestion, after meals; 3. Shall be able to study more closely, without injury to my health; 4. Shall need less time for sleep; 5. Shall more seldom be troubled with the head-ache (Memoirs, p. xxxv).
Hence he was "Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking" (Memoirs, p. xxi). (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995, Original 1834]).
Make a Proper Use of God's Revelation in Nature
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy. A day's breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours' ramble in the beech woods' umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs our of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind's face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is the next best. . . . The firs and the rabbits, the streams and the trouts, the fir trees and the squirrels, the primroses and the violets, the farm-yard, the new-mown hay, and the fragrant hops–these are the best medicine for hypochondriacs, the surest tonics for the declining, the best refreshments for the weary. For lack of opportunity, or inclination, these great remedies are neglected, and the student becomes a self-immolated victim. (Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954] p. 158).
Read Great Books about God and Biographies of Great Saints
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God
Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity
Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards, A New Biography
Jonathan Edwards, The Life of David Brainerd
Roland Bainton, Here I Stand, The Life of Martin Luther
Peter Brown,. Augustine of Hippo
Elizabeth Elliot, A Chance to Die: The Life of Amy Carmichael
Do the Hard and Loving Thing for the Sake of Others—Witness and Mercy
And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. and the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
Get a Global Vision for the Cause of Christ and Pour Yourself out for the Unreached
Psalm 67:1-2, 6-7
God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations . . . The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ's purpose toward the world he came to redeem. Fame, pleasure and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ's undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards (J. Campbell White, 1909, Secretary of the Laymen's Missionary Movement).
8. Addendum: The God-Centeredness of God
God’s Self-Exalting Purpose in Six Great Works of Redemption
1. Predestination: Ephesians 1:3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
2. Creation: Isaiah 43:6-7
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
3. Incarnation: Romans 15:8-9
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name."
4. Propitiation: Romans 3:25-26
God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
5. Sanctification: Philippians 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
6. Consummation: 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10
All Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible.
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.