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Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

From Ray Ortlund:

“Be of good courage and cast these dreadful thoughts out of your mind.  Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. . . . When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Where he is, there I shall be also.’”

Martin Luther, in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Philadelphia, 1955), pages 86-87.

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From Of First Importance:

“When I say that God is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment. The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself. Since we are sinners and have no right and no desire to be enthralled with God, therefore God’s love enacted a plan of redemption to provide that right and that desire. The supreme demonstration of God’s love was the sending of his Son to die for our sins and to rise again so that sinners might have the right to approach God and might have the pleasure of his presence forever.”

– John Piper, God is the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2005), 13-14.

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My dad used to say to me, when I was a kid, “Listen, son.  Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all.  They know enough to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy.  Be wholehearted for him!”

I used to roll my eyes when you said that.  I don’t any more.

Wholehearted is a post from: Ray Ortlund

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From Tim Chester:

When our actions are not characterized by joy, it is usually because they are driven by false motives:

1. To prove ourselves to God
We obey so God will be impressed with us or bless us. We want to become our own saviours instead of looking to God for salvation.

2. To prove ourselves to other people
We want people to be impressed by us, to fit in or win approval. One result is other people set the standard. We live in obedience to people rather than to God.

3. To prove yourself to yourself
We want to feel good about ourselves. Sin becomes an offence against me, against my self-esteem rather than an offence against God.

What’s wrong with wanting to obey so we can prove ourselves to God or people or ourselves?

First, it makes obedience about me looking good. It is done for my glory. And that’s pretty much the definition of sin. Sin is living my way for me instead of living God’s way for God. Often that means rejecting God as Lord and wanting to be our own lord, but it can also involve rejecting God as Saviour and wanting to be our own saviour. Pharisees do good works and repent of bad works. But gospel repentance includes repenting of good works done for bad reasons. We repent of trying to be our own saviour.

Second, it denies the cross. Jesus died on the cross, separated from his Father, bearing the full weight of God’s wrath so that we can be accepted by God. When we try to prove ourselves by our good works we’re saying, in effect, that the cross wasn’t enough.

The justifying work of Christ on our behalf leads to:

humility (3:27) because we have all fallen short of God’s glory (3:23) and all depend completely on Christ

confidence (8:1, 31-39) because our hope is Christ’s finished work and not in us

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Sam Storms is the main speaker at this year’s Desiring God Pastor’s Conference – a conference devoted this year to the theme of joy. Two questions he addresses are helpful for us as a church:

Why Is Joy So Important to Us as Christians?

  1. Joy requires the engagement of the whole soul, unlike any other expression of the human heart. There are things I understand with my mind that I don’t enjoy. There are decisions I make with my will that I don’t enjoy. When I genuinely enjoy something my mind is engaged and my will is active, requiring the conscious engagement of my whole being.
  2. There’s no such thing as hypocritical or insincere joy. You can pretend to have joy but you can’t have fake joy. There’s something pure and serene about joy that you can’t have about any other affection.
  3. There’s a power in joy that isn’t true in other affections. Consider the many occasions that the Bible combines a description of suffering with joy. We know those circumstances refine us, but joy in God also empowers us to persevere amidst pain. That’s why Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, because your reward in heaven is great.”
  4. Joy most clearly reveals what the human heart values. There’s something about joy that magnifies God (not inflates or enlarges him) more than anything else.

What are some ways that we fight for joy in our lives – and the lives of those we lead?

  1. Weave into the spiritual and intellectual fabric of your people the awareness that God’s designs in the moral commandments of Scripture are to expand their capacity to enjoy him and not to inhibit it. (See Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Christian Happiness.”)
  2. Preach often on the bigness and the beauty of God.
  3. Labor to turn their eyes from the pathetic, little, transient pleasures of what can be seen and felt and tasted to the grand and eternal pleasures of the glory that is to come.
  4. Build into the mental, emotional, and theological framework of your people an understanding of how suffering serves joy. (For a good resource, direct your people to Matt Chandler’s videos about the brain cancer he is facing.)
  5. Be an example to them of joy in your own life and relationship with God.

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