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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Sent by His Joy and for Their Joy

You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13 Jonathan Edwards, whose preaching sparked the first Great Awakening in America in the 1740's, resolved in his college years, "To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of or can bring myself to exert in any way that can be thought of" (Works I, P. xxi.). Love is the overflow of joy in God which meets the needs of others.
- John Piper "The minister may lawfully appeal to the desire for happiness and its negative counterpart, the dread of unhappiness. Those philosophers who insist that we ought always to do right simply and only because it is right are not philosophers at all, for they are either grossly ignorant of human nature or else indulging in mere fanciful speculations" (On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, p. 117). - John Broadus 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. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves. - Blaise Pascal This afternoon I went with a friend of mine to the University of Louisville campus to hang out with college kids and share the gospel with them. Before we went out into the food court, we had a time of prayer which has stimulated this post. We were praying that the students would find joy in God in the fountain of living water and turn away from the broken cisterns of the world. Then I thought to myself, "How will they find this joy in God unless someone shares it with them? And how will someone share this joy if they are not experiencing it themselves?" In previous years I have been in accountability groups which ask certain questions like, "How's your quiet time?" " What are you learning from your Bible study?" Or "Have you witnessed to anyone this past week?" One question that I believe supercedes these questions and deserves primary attention is, "Are you enjoying your relationship with God right now?" The chief end of man (the central purpose in all of life) is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. As mentioned earlier, love is the overflow of joy which meets the needs of others. If ministry is not motivated and sustained by sheer joy in God, then laborers will get weary and the ministry will become a chore or obligation. There is a real practical lesson in enjoying God, and that is the extension of that joy into the lives of others. Jesus time and time again spoke of him as "the one whom the Father sent" (which I counted 64 references to this in the Gospels). And for what purpose was He sent? There were many but not the least of which is that his joy would be in us, and that our joy would be in full. Jesus' delight in the Father and the Father's delight in the Son ("This is my Son of whom I am well-pleased") was the thrust of the mission which was clearly manifested in love for mankind. The very mission of Jesus and the very mission of our lives (the gospel) is grounded and predicated upon joy in God. By joy are we sent, and for their joy we share. This is gospel, that we are called and commanded to pursue as much happiness in this life as possible, and that this goal is met only and supremely in the presence of God (in your presence is fullness of joy) and the person of Jesus Christ. The world needs to know that. Rather than giving them "laws" or a finely-tuned gospel outline, they need to see our joy in God and be invited to join us in enjoying God. "My joy" Jesus says is to be in us, and his joy in us should propel us to see that others find their joy and soul's satisfaction in God. Until our joy gets there, it is incomplete and short-circuited. One day we will all give a reckoning for our lives and prayerfully hear these words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:23). O what a day to enter into the Master's joy!

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