Andrew Fountain - Delighting in God 1: Looking for Pleasure in All the Right Places

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  • Why is it that many Christians seem to struggle for years against chronic sins, with little or no progress?
    • lie: “Your only hope of being happy is to sin”

1. Is it wrong to want to be happy?

  • we are created to desire satisfaction and joy
    • This desire is not wrong
      • what is wrong is when we satisfy it in the wrong places
    • The lie of Satan is that
      • real pleasure is only found outside of God
      • God does not want us to have it
    • The truth: [“At your right hand are pleasures for evermore”] (Ps. 16:11)

1. First we will look at some People in the Scriptures that talk about delighting in God

Paul

Peter

  • Love and joy are closely intertwined
    • Peter writes about this in 1 Peter 1:8
      1. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
  • turn over to Chapter 5 where Paul begins to explain this love a bit more:
  • The main image in Scripture of Christ’s love for us is a bridegroom for his bride
    • It begins in the O.T. with the relationship between God and Israel being pictured in this way
    • God uses the metaphor husband and wife for the way he cared about the nation of Israel
      • [Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name;]
    • When then nation turned its back on God and went after false gods, he said
      [Jermiah 3:14 “Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your husband”]
  • This is told in a very graphic way in Ezekiel 16
    1. “ ‘Then I passed by you and watched you, noticing that you had reached the age for love. I spread my cloak over you and covered your nakedness. I swore a solemn oath to you and entered into a marriage covenant with you, declares the sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
    2. “ ‘Then I bathed you in water, washed the blood off you, and anointed you with fragrant oil.
    3. I dressed you in embroidered clothing and put fine leather sandals on your feet. I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk.
    4. I adorned you with jewelry. I put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck.
    5. I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.
    6. You were adorned with gold and silver, while your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidery. You ate the finest flour, honey, and olive oil. You became extremely beautiful and attained the position of royalty.
    7. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty; your beauty was perfect because of the splendor which I bestowed on you, declares the sovereign Lord.
    8. “ ‘But you trusted in your beauty and capitalized on your fame by becoming a prostitute. You offered your sexual favors to every man who passed by so that your beauty became his.
    9. You took some of your clothing and made for yourself decorated high places; you engaged in prostitution on them. You went to him to become his.
  • This image continues right through to the very end of the Bible
    • At the end of the book of Revelation there is a wedding between Jesus, the “lamb of God” and all his people
      • Rev 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!”
      • Rev 21:9 Then one of the seven angels... came and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb!”

2. Our Experience of this

  • Sometimes talk of God’s love for us can become very intellectual

David

  • Psalm 16:11 “In your presence is fullness of joy
    At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Paul

  • Phil. 3:7-11
    1. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
    2. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
    3. and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
    4. that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
    5. that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
  • Paul goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 5:14
    1. For the love of Christ compels us...
  • In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas are in prison

Moses

  • Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us that Moses
    • saw more enjoyment and reward in following God than all the pleasures of wealthy Egypt

Samuel Rutherford

  • A hymn was written from his words in prison
    O Christ he is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love.
    The streams on earth I’ve tasted, more deep I’ll drink above.
    There to an ocean fullness his mercy will expand,
    with glory, glory dwelling in Immanuel’s land.
     
    The bride eyes not her garment but her dear bridegroom’s face.

    I will not glaze at glory but on my king of grace;
    not at the crown he gives me but on his nail-pierced hand;
    the Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

  • Sarah Edwards, The wife of Jonathan Edwards:
    • “Last night,” Mrs. Edwards writes, “ was the sweetest night I ever had in my life. I never before, for so long a time together, enjoyed so much of the light and rest and sweetness of heaven in my soul, but without the least agitation of body during the whole time.
    • Part of the night I lay awake, sometimes asleep, and sometimes between sleeping and waking. But all night I continued in a constant, clear, and lively sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ’s excellent love, of his nearness to me, and of my dearness to him ; with an inexpressibly sweet calmness of soul in an entire rest in him.
    • I seemed to myself to perceive a glow of divine love come down from the heart of Christ in heaven into my heart in a constant stream, like a stream or pencil of sweet light. At the same time my heart and soul all flowed out in love to Christ, so that there seemed to be a constant flowing and reflowing of heavenly love, and I appeared to myself to float or swim, in these bright, sweet beams, like the motes swimming in the beams of the sun, or the streams of his light which come in at the window.
    • I think that what I felt each minute was worth more than all the outward comfort and pleasure which I had enjoyed in my whole life put together. It was pleasure, without the least sting, or any interruption. It was a sweetness, which my soul was lost in ; it seemed to be all that my feeble frame could sustain of that fullness of joy, which is felt by those who behold the face of Christ, and share of his love in the heavenly world.”
  1. Without knowledge there is no experience
    • Our relationship is based on facts: forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, holiness, repentance, faith
    • Without the knowledge of salvation, there is simply no relationship
  2. Knowledge is necessary to guard us against false experience
    • Timothy Leary: Celebrate the Lord’s supper using LSD. —Sure, you will get an experience!!!
  • Conclusion:
    • Knowledge is absolutely essential, but only as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.
    • The final goal must be true experience of a relationship with God”
    • For some Christians, knowledge can tragically become an end in and of itself

3. Application

  • First:
    • A deep and rich enjoyment of God will make us so satisfied it will be easy to resist sin
  • Second:
    • A joy in God will energise us to living lives for him
  • Ps 27:4
    • “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

Is there no place for self discipline?

But what if all this is totally outside your experience?

  • I don’t ever have that kind of experience of God
  • My spiritual life is dry and mechanical
    • How can I know more of God’s love?
  • Here are some suggestions for how you can enter into this joy:
  1. You have to be hungry. Be unsatisfied. There is so much more!!!!
  2. Seek his presence:
    • God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb 11:6)
    • Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8)
    • Spend time enjoying his presence. “In your presence is fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11)
  3. God has planned it so that we need one another and cannot get there alone
    • God is especially present when Christian gather in his name
    • “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20
    • be sensitive to God’s presence among his people and seek out such opportunities
  4. The greatest delight is to experience how much he love us (Eph 3:17f)
  • Let me read a more modern example than Sarah Edwards. John White’s allegories, as with Bunyan’s works, are full of his own experiences.
  1. Think especially about what Jesus did for you on the cross and how that is proof of his love
    • He gave his life so that you could be forgiven
    • When we think about what it means that we are forgiven and free, it can unlock the joy and allow it to flow
  2. Maybe you do not have a living connection with Jesus this afternoon
    • If Jesus is not living inside you, then you cannot experience any of this
    • You need to come into a relationship with him

5. There is no other way to victory in the Christian life

Updated on 2009-05-03 by Andrew Fountain