We Desire Joy

May 15, 2020

John 15:11

11  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Sometimes people think that what we really want more than anything else is we want to be happy. If you ask people, “What is the Number One desire of the human race?” the answer would probably be “Happiness.”

Let us all be happy and live within our means, even if we have to borrow the money to do it with. Artemus Ward 1850

We say we want to be happy above everything else.

I do not think that is true, and I’ll tell you why.

Let’s say that there was a pill that, if you swallowed it, would put you into a permanent coma. In this coma, you would have thrilling dreams. You would have uninterrupted happiness surges. You would have pleasure, delight and joy forever. You would be asleep and never in touch with anybody, but you would have never-ending happiness. Would you take that pill? NO! We wouldn’t do that!

What we want is that to which joy points.

We want joy in beauty. That’s why a scene, a mountaintop, or music sometimes pierces our hearts. We want joy in understanding truth. We want joy in getting lost in a great cause. We want joy in knowing and loving a person.

There is always a desire, an ache, a stab of pain in joy on this earth, because everything tells us, “Not yet, not yet.” No human joy satisfies.

I believe our chronic hunger for joy tells us we have been cut off from the reality for which we were made, and that reality is God. That’s why there is this restless bondage to joy in our world. That’s why the greatest joy that has ever been written about or sung or praised is what the Bible calls “the Joy of the Lord.”

I used to think that sounded like a religious expression that wasn’t very exciting, but if you ever get it, it will break your heart.

The Joy of the Lord is not that you are happy when you go to church, or when you’re singing worshipful songs, or when you’re quoting Bible verses. It is the joy that will come one day when you are not broken, and you finally see face-to-face, clear as a bell, that for which you were made.

That secret longing that you have carried with you like a wound your whole life long will be met. That’s the Joy of the Lord. You cry for that joy. You ache for that joy. You long for that joy.

Once there was a Man who had that joy. People saw Him. People knew Him. One time, He said to His friends, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Our quest for joy, our search for joy, our broken, messed-up, obsessive, endless pursuit of happiness tells us we were made for the Joy-Bringer.


We Argue

May 14, 2020

Romans 2:15

15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

This idea comes by way of a man named C. S. Lewis. How many of you have heard people arguing, or have actually engaged in an argument yourself? Sandy and I have had some really good arguments over the years. Now, if you want all the details, my wife would be happy to provide them to you because I was the one at fault in every one of them, but here is what is interesting:

In an argument, nobody says, “Do what I want, because I’m smarter and stronger and a better arguer and I can force you to do what I want!” We don’t say that. When people argue, here are the kinds of things they say:

 I do way more than my fair share of work around this house, and you do way too little! We call those people…“husbands and wives.”

 He got a bigger piece of dessert. He got a bigger allowance! He did fewer chores. He got a later curfew time than I did, and it’s not fair! We call those people…“brothers and sisters.”

 You’re a miserable boss, and this is a dysfunctional sweat shop, and I am grossly overworked and criminally underpaid. We call those people…“unemployed.”

Here’s the kind of thing that happens, and C.S. Lewis writes about it in Mere Christianity. When we argue, we say things like, “That’s not right! That’s not good! You’re not being fair!” In other words, we appeal to a standard that is independent and objective and higher than you and me. We appeal to the idea that there is such a thing as right and wrong.

In theory, many people in our day hold the belief that right and wrong are subjective—just preference—just vanilla and chocolate. You have yours, and I have mine. Everybody is different.

An author named Dinesh D’Souza points out that in our society we will often hear this statement: “Don’t impose your beliefs on me.”

De Souza says he finds it interesting that we don’t say

Don’t impose your Geometry on me.

Don’t impose your Chemistry on me

Why not?

Because we assume that science and mathematics are about objective reality. So, we don’t think they can be “imposed” on us. But we often believe that morals and values are simply subjective preferences. You have yours. I have mine. It’s all just arbitrary.

Every time you hear two people argue, it shows we know better. We believe that moral reality is built into the way that life is.

This is exactly what Paul was writing about when he said:

“in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,”

Every human being knows two things:

There is a way we ought to behave.

There is a code, a standard. We might be fuzzy on the details of it sometimes, but we have a general idea of what it is. We know there is a standard that we all ought to live up to, and

We don’t live up to it…  We all fall short.

We need forgiveness. We need grace. We need to get fixed.

Every time people argue, they are implying that the universe is not an accident, that there is a moral order, and that there is a law of right and wrong that is built into the way things are, because it was put there by Somebody, and that Somebody was God.

Every time you argue, it is evidence for the existence of God.


We Have Purpose

May 13, 2020

Proverbs 20:5

5 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Everybody you know, no matter what they say or claim about the afterlife, God or spirituality, everybody wants a way of life that has meaning, that has significance, and that has purpose.

When it comes to making a choice, you will need to ask whether a choice is rational. This week we’re looking at whether a choice to commit to God is rational?

Every choice we make has two components to it.

I have certain beliefs

I have a purpose, an intention, and a desire.

For example, I’m driving down the freeway and I come to a split and the sign reads Fresno stay right. If I believe that this road will lead me to Fresno, then I need to make a choice to go down that road.

Now if you ask, “Is that a rational, reasonable choice?” then I will have to look at two questions:

Is my belief rational? Is it rational to believe that this road is going to lead to Fresno? Maybe I have been this way before, maybe the GPS is guiding me to take this direction, perhaps I have a good map and that’s the reason I believe this.

Is my purpose rational? Is it ever rational to want to go to Fresno? That’s a whole other subject.

Here’s the thing: Atheism, materialism in general, would say that you can analyze the rationality of someone’s belief. It might be rational; it might be irrational.

But they would say that when it comes to purpose, there is nothing about rationality connected with our purposes. Purposes are not rational or irrational, they’re just whatever anybody wants to do. There’s nothing about the Universe or the nature of reality that says anything about whether one purpose is better, worse, truer, more false than another one.

Materialism says whatever your purpose is—whether it’s greed, pleasure, status, or “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”—whatever it is, it’s your deal.

But in our hearts, we know better. In our hearts, we know that to give our lives to unworthy causes is not just unsatisfying, it is irrational. It is not fitting. We all know this. What that means is we all know at some level we’re not accidents. We’re made for a purpose. That’s why we have a hunger for it.

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

I believe that to ask God to help you to know and fulfill your purpose is infinitely wiser, infinitely saner, infinitely more rational than to bet your one and only existence on the notion that the Universe is a random accident that does not care whether you are noble or evil, whether you live or die.

I don’t think to bet your one and only life on the notion that the Universe doesn’t care if you’re good or evil…I don’t think that’s smart.

Daily Devotions 2020