Truer Knowledge Brings Greater Joy

And all the people went their way . . . to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:12) John Piper: The only joy that reflects the worth of God and overflows in God-glorifying love is rooted in the true knowledge of God. And to the degree that our knowledge is small or flawed, our joy will be a poor echo of God’s true excellence. The experience of Israel in Nehemiah 8:12 is a paradigm of how God-glorifying joy happens in the heart. Ezra had read the word of God to them and the Levites had explained it. And then the people went away “to make great rejoicing.” Their great rejoicing was because they had understood words. Most of us have tasted this experience of the heart burning with joy when the word of God was opened to us (Luke 24:32). Twice Jesus said that he taught his disciples for the sake

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The Christian and Joy

Derek Thomas: “The Holy Spirit has exhorted the faithful to continue clapping their hands for joy until the advent of the promised Redeemer,” wrote John Calvin in a comment on Psalm 47:12. Paul would heartily concur! Writing from a prison cell from which he had no certain knowledge of escaping other than to his execution, joy is what came to mind. Joy is what the epistle to the Philippians is all about. So much is Philippians about joy that George B. Duncan once referred to it as “the life of continual rejoicing.” The opposite of joy is misery, and miserable is something we are not meant to be. The Reformers caught the centrality of joy in the affections of Christians when they insisted that our chief goal in life is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC, Q. 1). Christians are tempted, of course, to be discouraged and depressed by the force of overwhelming circumstances. But in such circumstances, we

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Obedience is the Secret to Joy

  John Piper: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). So we have a great promise: He will give you the desires of your heart. And we have a command: Delight yourself in the Lord. The command is the condition of the promise. So delight yourself in me, God says, and I will satisfy your heart. Somebody asked me one time: Should you pursue joy or should you pursue obedience? And I said, “That is like saying, ‘Should you pursue apples or should you pursue fruit,’ because if you obey the command — Delight yourself in the Lord — you are pursuing joy and so obedience and joy can’t be contrasted like that.” We are called upon to delight ourselves in the Lord. And here is a big glitch for a lot of people. You can’t enjoy a God that you are not sure is for you. If you have

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Fullness of Joy

  Paul Tripp in The Problem of Good: When the World Seems Fine without God (P&R, 2014), 133: The pleasures of the physical world are temporarily enjoyable, but the shelf life of their enjoyment is short. The taste of food is wonderful, but it does not linger long on your tongue. The delight of musical creativity is enjoyable, but the notes do not ring in your ears for very long. You sit on the edge of your seat during that powerful movie, but on the way home you are already planning for your next day at work. Pleasure is pleasurable, but the pleasures of this right-here, right-now created world can never give you fullness of joy. God graces you with pleasure not to satisfy your heart, but to point you to where your searching heart will finally be satisfied. Joy is found in pleasure, but fullness of joy is to be found only in the One who created pleasure for

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Walk with God for Joy

  Happiness is in the Sovereign Giver. George Whitefield preaches: “As it is an honorable, so it is a pleasing thing, to walk with God. The wisest of men has told us, that ‘wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace’. And I remember pious Mr. Henry, when he was about to expire, said to a friend, ‘You have heard many men’s dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in communion with God, is the pleasantest life in the world’. I am sure I can set to my seal that this is true. Indeed, I have been listed under Jesus’ banner only for a few years; but I have enjoyed more solid pleasure in one moment’s communion with my god, than I should or could have enjoyed in the ways of sin, though I had continued to have gone on in them for thousands of years. And may I not appeal to all you that

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Is it not because you are looking to yourself?

  Is not the forgiveness of all your sins– the full justification of your person– your inalienable adoption into God’s family– the complete payment of all that great debt you owed, and the assured and certain prospect of being where Christ is, and with Christ, beholding His glory forever, a well-grounded source of joy? Most truly! Why, then, are you not a more joyful believer? Why go you mourning all your days, without one gleam of sunshine, one thrill of joy, one ray of hope, one note of praise? Is it not because you are looking to yourself and within yourself, to the almost entire exclusion of Christ and of the great and complete salvation wrought for you in and by Christ? — Octavius Winslow The Sympathy of Christ (HT: Of First Importance)

The Joy of Calvinism

However the terms are refined, the main tenets of Calvinism are structured around the five-petaled acronym TULIP. But too often missing in this structure is the “sap of delight,” as Pastor John [Piper] calls it in his biography of Augustine. In the following excerpt from that biography, Pastor John explains why we need a delight-drenched theology like that of Augustine: R. C. Sproul says, “We need an Augustine or a Luther to speak to us anew lest the light of God’s grace be not only overshadowed but be obliterated in our time.” Yes, we do. But we also need tens of thousands of ordinary pastors, who are ravished with the extraordinary sovereignty of joy that belongs to and comes from God alone. And we need to rediscover Augustine’s peculiar slant — a very biblical slant — on grace as the free gift of sovereign joy in God that frees us from the bondage of sin. We need to rethink our Reformed view

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A great heart

“A man who is to do much with men must love them and feel at home with them.  An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living. . . . A man must have a great heart, if he would have a great congregation.  His heart should be as capacious as those noble harbors along our coast, which contain sea-room for a fleet.  When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship.  Such a man is hearty in private as well as in public; his blood is not cold and fishy but he is warm as your own fireside.  No pride and selfishness chill you when you approach him; he has his doors all open to receive you, and you are

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29 years old and hearing myself for the 1st time!

This is a wonderful clip. The emotion of hearing yourself (and everything else) for the first time after a life-time of deafness. I’m posting this with a prayer that this is the sort of response we get from the preaching of the gospel. Spiritually deaf (and blind) people hearing and seeing the good news for the first time, responding to the wonder of grace and the beauty of the Saviour with tears of joy and astonishment at the sound of the gospel. Severely hearing impaired since birth, Sarah Churman had long managed to cope in a world where sounds came as if they were under water. But now, a surgical implant lets her hear her own voice, the sounds of birds singing, her two daughters chattering… The 29-year-old Texan has became an internet sensation, thanks to a video taken by her husband, Sloan, as she heard her voice for the very first time last week. In the video, Sarah becomes

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How is Your Worship Life?

An excerpt from Marcus Honeysett’s EMA address: The question I most want to ask any Christian, but especially any group of Christian leaders is “how would you describe the state of your worship life at the moment?” Do you currently have the space, capacity and leisure to enjoy God? If not, something will have to go. The reason I say this is that biblical leadership and preaching are by-products of joy in God. They don’t work properly unless they spring from this source. You can’t say “I honour God in my preaching” if you heart is not bursting for him in your affections and adoration. You really can’t. The tasks of leadership and preaching centre around working with people for their progress in the Lord and their joy in the Lord (Phil 1, 2 Cor 4). And the strength to carry out the task, that ability to labour and struggle with God’s energy powerfully working in us, comes from the joy

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Created to share joy

Historian George Marsden makes a summary of what Jonathan Edwards thinks of why God created: “Why would such an infinitely good, perfect and eternal Being create?… Here Edwards drew on the Christian Trinitarian conception of God as essentially interpersonal… The ultimate reason that God creates, said Edwards, is not to remedy some lack in God, but to extend that perfect internal communication of the triune God’s goodness and love… God’s joy and happiness and delight in divine perfections is expressed externally by communicating that happiness and delight to created beings… The universe is an explosion of God’s glory. Perfect goodness, beauty, and love radiate from God and draw creatures to ever increasingly share in the Godhead’s joy and delight… The ultimate of creation, then, is union in love between God and loving creatures.” ~ The Reason for God, Belief in an age of Skepticism. Timothy Keller (Dutton, New York, 2008) P218 (HT: Rick Ianniello)

It Is Christ

“Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down.” (The Forgotten Spugeon, Iain Murray, 42.) (HT: Monergism)

God’s Pursuit of Praise, Our Pursuit of Pleasure

John Piper, Desiring God | “God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are one and the same pursuit. God’s quest to be glorified and our quest to be satisfied reach their goal in this one experience: our delight in God, which overflows in praise. For God, praise is the sweet echo of His own excellence in the hearts of His people. For us, praise is the summit of satisfaction that comes from living in fellowship with God.” (HT: Symphony of Scripture)

Beholding the Glory of Christ

“How, then, can we behold the glory of Christ? We need, firstly, a spiritual understanding of his glory as revealed in Scripture. Secondly, we need to think much about him if we wish to enjoy him fully (1 Pet. 1:8). If we are satisfied with vague ideas about him we shall find no transforming power communicated to us. But when we cling wholeheartedly to him and our minds are filled with thoughts of him and we constantly delight ourselves in him, then spiritual power will flow from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness, strengthen our graces, and sometimes fill us ‘with joy inexpressible and full of glory.’” – John Owen, The Glory of Christ, abridged and made easy by R. J. K. Law (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 115. (HT: Of First Importance)