Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Running On Empty

Been thinking a little more on what drives us to seek pleasure. As I said before pleasure in and of itself is not wrong unless it is outside the principles and truth of God. Otherwise God is a God of pleasure. He meant for our lives here on this planet to be enjoyable. So why is it that so many people are unhappy? A Christian would say "Well it is because you don't have the Lord in your life." But when I look around I seem to see just as many Christians "Holding out for heaven. " and completely miserable. Is this our testimony? Is this the joy and contentment of a life in Christ?

One of the most difficult things I have found raising my 6 and 3 year old is teaching them how to be content. In this day and age with the constant barrage of consumerism it has proven to be challenge. Not only that but also the non stop stimulation. Television, computers, cell phones, portable DVD players in the car, video games, portable video games, ballet practice, girl scouts, PTA meetings, field trips, potlucks, karate practice, swim team, gymnastics...aaahhh!!! It's no wonder that kids don't know how to sit still anymore! Or just sit and play with blocks or something simple.

The same is true with adults as well. The constant stimulation and pleasure seeking rises to a fever pitch. Adults seem to have just as many toys as the kids these days! We cram our days with so much junk we have almost lost touch with the real world. We seem to think that if we pile enough instant gratification on top of one another we will be gratified. Yet look at all the total empty people we have in this world; Christian and non-Christian alike. Not to mention most of these people are living in first world countries with lifestyles far beyond the basic needs of a person. No wonder the third world countries are seeking help from us. The excess is almost embarrassing! Yet the kicker is people still aren't happy. Are you trying to find fulfillment in pleasure or is pleasure an overflow of your already fulfilled life?

"True not attained through self gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." Helen Keller
If you are anything like myself this should ring true for you. For years I thought backwards. I thought that I had to be happy before God could fill me. I thought that as soon as I got certain addictions out of the way, then God could fill me. I thought that I had to be happy myself before I could be a happy Christian. Then one day I came across a chapter in Psalms. It was one that I knew but God gave a different understanding this time.

"Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation; and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:10-12

King David wrote this after his "instant gratification" with Bathsheba. Now most of us know this verse, right? Here is what I love about this verse 1} Even after sinning David knows the presence of God is still with him 2} He asks God for a stable spirit, a willing spirit and the Holy Spirit. But what really stuck out to me this time was 3} David asks God to restore the joy of salvation. What is salvation? Deliverance, rescue, safety, prosperity, and victory! It comes with the Holy Spirit and is sustained by our will being in line with God's. This was to be my starting point. Repent, be happy and stay happy by being reminded of what God had saved me from. Being sustained through the Holy Spirit. It gets even better...

"You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand their are pleasures forever." Psalm 16:11

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Intimacy with God is the only thing that will bring true joy and fulfillment. Not to say others things won't make you happy or bring joy. But it is only with God that complete joy is possible. When you have the joy of the Holy Spirit it gives you strength. Strength for what? Strength for everything! This is the power of the Spirit. Think in terms of what we are discussing...pleasure, joy and being content. When you are filled with the Spirit you have access to the fruit. What are some of the fruit? Joy, patience and self-control {Gal. 5:22}. So if we walk in the Spirit we will have those things. Then there is no need to seek pleasure and fulfillment elsewhere. Better yet the Spirit gives us patience and self-control to not seek pleasures that could be damaging to us. Pleasures that bring emptiness as opposed to fullness.

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17

"And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

The Greek word there for excess means lacking restraint or wasteful. See how when we think with the mind of the world we think more is better. Not always true is it. The pleasures of this world need to only be an overflow of a life already filled with the Spirit. See when I used to read the verse above from Romans. I thought that I had to have the righteousness, peace and joy first, then I could access the Spirit. Nope! Get a hold of the Spirit first and he will give you the ability to be righteous, joyful and a peaceful person. This is the fulfillment that Jesus talked about to his disciples. This is the completion that he talked about. The cross is only part of the picture. You must have the Spirit as well to walk the cross out in your own life. Jesus said...
"Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remained in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:9-11

"...I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy...until now you have not asked for anything in my name, Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:22-24

Christians if we do not have joy right now or feel fulfilled and complete it is one of two things. 1} God did not anticipate how hard things were going to get for us; therefore the Holy Spirit is not adequate. 2} We are not obeying Gods commands by grace and strength of the Holy Spirit and not allowing the Spirit to fill us completely. I'm thinking it is number 2! Come on guys the joy of the Lord is in you and no one can take that from you. So we need to quit giving it away. We need to stop seeking fulfillment in the world. We need to trust in God for all our needs. We need to be content with what we have. Because we know one thing for sure...times always change. The world is not reliable, pleasures are not reliable, people are not reliable. So you must root yourself in the joy and fulfillment of the Spirit so that when all those other things let you down you will still be happy and content.

God has set a seal of the Holy Spirit in us. It is our responsibility to will with the Spirit so that it will fruit and the fruit will remain. Ask God everyday for joy and contentment if you have to. I The more you practice the presence of God the more easily it will come. Church on Sunday isn't going to cut it. Get in the word and get talking to God. The more joy and fulfillment we have as Christians the more our lives will be a testimony. The more we are filled the more we can overflow to others who are lacking. Multiply your fruit and it will sustain you and bless others. Remember the parable of the talents? Don't take your gift of new life in the Spirit and bury it in the ground until Jesus comes back. Invest in the kingdom. Multiply it and out pour the Joy of the Lord to others. In the parable it was then that the Master said...

"Well done good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Now enter into the joy of your lord. " Matthew 25:23


  1. What a gift from the Lord to wake me early and lead me to your blog. A wonderful reminder as I start my day : )

  2. Um just to add: where I live it is now 6:40, Not 3am : )


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