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Life

Jesus is a Hedonist at Heart

From C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters:

He’s a hedonist at heart.  All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade.  Or only like foam on the seashore.  Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure.  He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are ‘pleasures for evermore’.  Ugh!  I don’t think he has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision.  He’s vulgar, Wormwood.  He has a bourgeois mind.  He has filled His world full of pleasures.  There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least — sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working.  Everything has to be twisted before it’s any  use to us.  We fight under the cruel disadvantages.  Nothing is naturally on our side.

O Lord, let all our pleasures be an ultimate delighting in You as our supreme satisfaction.  May everything we do be for your glory, whether we sit or rise, eat or drink, work or play.  Keep us from having our pleasures twisted.  Keep us from delighting in the gifts more than the Giver.  Be our complete desire, Jesus.  Be our true pleasure.

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Life

God’s Party and Our Praise

God is going to start a party with the best food and finest wine.  Isaiah 25:6 says, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine.” I imagine that there will be some decent music at this party as well (because every good party has good music).

One of the songs that will be sung is in verse 9.  God’s people will sing, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.  This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

This verse reveals 4 things about God and his people:

  1. God comes to us. We wait on him; we do not go to him.
  2. God saves people; we do not save ourselves.
  3. Salvation results in our gladness and joy.
  4. Our salvation is a reconciling of our relationship with God — not “getting into heaven.”

Let’s think about the fourth one for a moment.  Whenever Scripture mentions “the salvation of the Lord,” it is God bringing us to himself. God’s people are not simply rejoicing in the fact that God allows us to live in heaven and receive good things from him.  That is certainly part of it.  But it is not it. The redeemed are rejoicing because God has brought them from and oppressive enemy and destruction (which in the larger context of Scripture is sin, Satan, and death) to himself.    This is why they are singing, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him.”

Those who are truly redeemed wait for Jesus.  John Piper wrote, “Those who would be happy in heaven if Jesus wasn’t there, won’t be there.”  Is your rejoicing in God or in his gifts?  Is your gladness in the fact that God has brought you into relationship with himself or the fact that you get a lot of benefits from knowing him?  We need to examine ourselves daily and seek to make him our complete satisfaction.  Otherwise, we are making God out to be a divine genie and not the supreme treasure of the universe.

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Life

What Manna Do You Need Today?

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp.  And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.
– Exodus 16:13-18

God provided everything the Israelites needed to survive.  He gave them meat, bread, and water.  Yet they still complained.  In Matthew 6, Jesus taught us to pray like this: “Our Father…give us this day our daily bread.”  I’m sure for all of you, you have what you need physically.  We have a home, food, and clothes.  If we have these, we will be content (1 Tim. 6:8).  Yet we still complain.

Though God wants to and does provide physical needs, when Jesus taught us how to pray, I think he meant primarily manna for the soul.  I would argue that if our soul is fed, then our external circumstances will not be worthy of complaints.  Christian, what manna do you need today from the Lord?  Do you need strength to enjoy him?  Do you need comfort during afflication?  Do you need conviction for a habitual sin?  Do you need love for an enemy?  Do you need patience in trial?  Do you need thankfulness in bad circumstances?  Do you need courage in the face of death?

I know that I need these today — and daily.  I’m willing to bet that you do as well.  Go to your heavenly Father for your bread today.  He is more than willing to give it.

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Life Theology

Fighting to See and Savor Jesus

I have been really fighting to see and savor Jesus Christ since I’ve been in South Africa.  It’s been a battle.  The greatest thing I have ever learned to help in this fight is to preach the gospel to yourself.  I love to preach and most of my times in the Word are preaching sessions to my own self.  Here’s a paragraph from Martyn Lloyd-Jones that has been a huge help to me over the past few days.  He offers a wonderful perspective on how to handle times in our lives when we are unhappy in the Lord.

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 in 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 a moment, I will speak to you.

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Life Theology

Idolatry and Grumbling Are More Closely Related Than You Might Think

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul warns his Christian readers to not be idolaters (v. 7) and not to grumble (v. 10) in the same breath.  At first glance, these probably don’t seem like related sins.  But if we zoom in on the context, Paul is clear: you grumble because you are an idolater.

The story of the Israelites, Paul says, was written for us as an example (vv. 6, 11).  The Israelites did little right as they made their way through the wilderness.  Their perspective was limited.  Their hearts were not inclined toward God.  They constantly looked to creation instead of Creator — which is, in essence, idolatry.  Instead of looking to their future Messiah, they participated in pagan festivals (Ex. 32:6).  Instead of seeking pleasure in God, they sought pleasure in sexual relationships with Gentile women (Num. 25:1, 9).  Instead of looking to Christ as their sustenance, they complained about the manna and lack of water (Num. 21:5).  Instead of praising God for being delivered from slavery, they grumbled about wandering around in the desert (Num. 14:2).

Created things were never meant to satisfy our hearts and longings.  Created things, from the beginning, were meant to point us toward the Creator, who gives us life, breath, and everything (Acts 17:25).  If we worship idols (anything other than God), we will always grumble because they will always let us down.  Whether that idol is a sexual partner, food or drink, the American dream, or anything else you can think of, it will let you down.  And when you get let down, you will grumble.  I see it in my life — even in the smallest details.  When I put my hope in people, I get let down.  When I put my hope in organization or situations running smoothly, I get let down.  When I put my hope in my own merits and talents, I get let down.  When I put my hope in anything other than the person and work of Jesus, I am disappointed.  But praise be to God that Jesus will never let us be disappointed (Rom. 10:11).

Let’s look to Jesus.  If we do, our perspective will change.  We will be able to honestly rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thes. 5:16-18).  If we seek Christ, our hearts will find true satisfaction.  Creation was never meant to provide that.

Truly our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
– Augustine