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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"How Then Shall We Fight for Joy?"


Right now, a small group I'm part of is going through a really good book,

The Desiring God DVD Study Guide, based off the book Desiring God by John Piper,

Including some really awesome video recordings of a seminar Piper did.

This week's video was really good.

He answered the question "How then shall we fight for joy?".

As usual, his answer was amazing.


He gave the first six of what will apparently be fifteen points (last nine over here).

Considering what they were, I wanted to share them with you,

Along with the Scripture references I quickly jotted down that supported his argument:

(By "quickly jotted down", I mean I missed some and some of the ones I have might not be quite what he said - I am human, and I do make mistakes.  A lot of them.)
  1. Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift (Galatians 5:22-23)
  2. Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly (1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Corinthians 1:24)
  3. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life (Romans 8:13)
  4. Learn the secret of gutsy guilt - how to fight like a justified sinner (Micah 7:8-9)  (I'd better explain this one:  it means that we feel guilty about our sin, but we don't collapse because of it.  We know that we are in a secure position because of the cross.)
  5. Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is (Psalm 34:8, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, 2 Corinthians 3:18)
  6. Meditate on the Word of God day and night (Psalm 19:8, Jeremiah 15:16, John 15:11, Psalm 1:1-3)
~Emphasis Added~


I really liked a couple of them -

Really liked all of them, actually,

But a couple stuck out in particular.

Number one:  "Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift."

Wow.

It's so true, isn't it?

I can try and try all I want to be joyful in God,

But the only way it ever happens is by His grace.

All my striving can't really bring me joy in Him,

Only His grace can.

On the other side of that,

If I never strive,

He never gives me joy.

He blesses those who seek Him,

He allows the seekers to find.

So joy is a gift,

A gracious gift, straight from God,

But I can't get it or hold onto it if I don't put forth some effort.


The one that really, really caught my attention, though, was number five.

Did you catch that, any of you who are counting with me?

"Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is."

The battle for joy and the battle to see God for who He is are intertwined.

More than that - they're inseparable.

I can't have joy in God

If I don't know who God is.

And more than knowing Him,

It's a fight to know Him,

A war to see Him for who He is.

Again, it takes effort.


Did you notice, too, how it said primarily?

Not only are the battle for joy and the battle to see God for who He is inseparable,

The battle for joy is primarily fought in the battle to see God for who He is,

Like killing two birds with one stone,

I can fight for joy in God

And fight to see God for who He is

At the same time,

And I can fight for joy a lot more effectively

When I am doing so by fighting to see God for who He is. 

Isn't that cool?

It seems like a strange word to use, but the right one -

It's

so

cool

That God designed things this way.

He intentionally made it so that I could know Him and have joy in Him,

So that I could find joy in Him by knowing Him.

Isn't that incredible?

Isn't it something worth celebrating?


I kind of stumbled upon it myself, I guess -

Well, not really myself.

There was definitely a lot of guidance from God.

He led me to it,

This finding of joy in Him by knowing Him,

By His grace,

So He deserves the credit for this discovery that's changing me -

And the discovery is so much of why I'm counting.

I need to know who God is,

And knowing who God is

Brings

Me

Joy.


I am a Christian Hedonist,

(Or, at least, I'm striving to be one,)

And the fight for joy is one reason why I'm counting.

Reasons 482-587 this week:
  1. He allows His people to hear His voice speak out of fire and survive (Deuteronomy 5:26)
  2. He is living (Deuteronomy 5:26)
  3. He wants His people's hearts to fear Him and keep His commands so that it might go well with them forever (Deuteronomy 5:29)
  4. He promises that it will go well with those who obey Him, and they will increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 6:3)
  5. He is one (Deuteronomy 6:4)
  6. He is among His people (Deuteronomy 6:15)
  7. He destroys from the face of the land those who worship idols (Deuteronomy 6:14-15)
  8. He is not to be tested (Deuteronomy 6:16)
  9. He sends great and terrible signs and wonders (Deuteronomy 16:22)
  10. He commands His people to keep His decrees and fear Him, that they might prosper and be kept alive (Deuteronomy 16:24)
  11. He offers His people righteousness (Deuteronomy 16:25)
  12. He finds defective or flawed sacrifices detestable (Deuteronomy 17:1)
  13. He desires for evil to be purged (Deuteronomy 17:7)
  14. He knows what His people will ask for long before they ask (Deuteronomy 17:14-17)
  15. He wants His people to read His law that they may learn to revere Him and carefully follow His commands (Deuteronomy 17:18-19)
  16. He does not permit His people to practice sorcery or divination, nor listen to those who do (Deuteronomy 18:14)
  17. He raises up prophets from among His people (Deuteronomy 18:15)
  18. He commands that His prophets be listened to (Deuteronomy 18:15)
  19. He does what His people ask when He chooses to (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
  20. He puts words into the mouth of His prophets (Deuteronomy 18:18)
  21. He calls into account those who do not listen to the words He speaks through His prophets (Deuteronomy 18:19)
  22. He demands the death of prophets who speak in His name what He has not commanded to be spoken, or who speak in the names of other gods (Deuteronomy 18:20)
  23. His messages take place and come true (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
  24. He goes with His people to fight against their enemies and give His people victory (Deuteronomy 20:1-4)
  25. He commands that the land He gives not be desecrated (Deuteronomy 21:23)
  26. Anyone who is hung on a pole is under His curse (Deuteronomy 21:23)
  27. He turns curses into blessings (Deuteronomy 23:4-5)
  28. He moves about in His people's camp to protect them and deliver their enemies to them (Deuteronomy 23:14)
  29. He turns away from indecency (Deuteronomy 23:14)
  30. He demands that His people keep the vows they make to Him (Deuteronomy 23:21-23)
  31. He redeems (Deuteronomy 24:18)
  32. He detests anyone who deals dishonestly (Deuteronomy 25:16)
  33. He gives His people a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 27:3)
  34. He detests those who make idols (Deuteronomy 25:15)
  35. He sets the nation that obeys Him high above all the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:1)
  36. He blesses His people in the city and in the country (Deuteronomy 28:3)
  37. He blesses the fruit of His people's wombs (Deuteronomy 28:4)
  38. He blesses His people's crops (Deuteronomy 28:4)
  39. He blesses the young of His people's livestock (Deuteronomy 28:4)
  40. He blesses His people's baskets and kneading troughs (Deuteronomy 28:5)
  41. He blesses His people when they come in and when they go out (Deuteronomy 28:6)
  42. He grants that the enemies who rise up against His people be defeated (Deuteronomy 28:7)
  43. He blesses His people's barns (Deuteronomy 28:8)
  44. He blesses everything His people put their hands to (Deuteronomy 28:8)
  45. He establishes His people as His holy people, as He promised, if they keep His commands and walk in obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 28:9)
  46. He grants abundant prosperity to His people in the land He swore to give them, if they keep His commands (Deuteronomy 28:11)
  47. He opens the heavens to send rain in season and to bless all the works of His people's hands (Deuteronomy 28:12)
  48. He gives His people such abundance that they need not borrow (Deuteronomy 28:12)
  49. He makes His people the head, not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13)
  50. He curses those who do not obey Him in the city and in the country (Deuteronomy 28:16)
  51. He curses the baskets and kneading troughs of those who do not obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:17)
  52. He curses the fruit of the wombs of those who do not obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:18)
  53. He curses the crops of the land of those who do not obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:18)
  54. He curses the young livestock of those who do not obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:18)
  55. He curses those who do not obey Him when they come in and when they go out (Deuteronomy 28:19)
  56. To those who do not obey Him, He sends curses, confusion, and rebuke in everything they put their hands to (Deuteronomy 28:20)
  57. Those who turn from Him and do not obey Him will be destroyed and will come to sudden ruin (Deuteronomy 28:20)
  58. He plagues those who turn from Him with diseases until He destroys them (Deuteronomy 28:21)
  59. He strikes those who turn from Him with all forms of disasters (Deuteronomy 28:22-68)
  60. His name is glorious and awesome (Deuteronomy 28:58)
  61. He is never willing to forgive those who persist in going their own way (Deuteronomy 29:19-20)
  62. His wrath and zeal burn against those who persist in going their own way (Deuteronomy 29:19-20)
  63. He curses those who persist in going their own way, and blots out their names from under heaven (Deuteronomy 29:19-20)
  64. He singles those who persist in going their own way out for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant (Deuteronomy 29:19-21)
  65. His fierce anger burns against those who abandon His covenant (Deuteronomy 29:24-25)
  66. His anger burns against those who worship and bow down to gods they do not know, gods He does not give them (Deuteronomy 29:26-27)
  67. In furious anger and great wrath, He uproots those who abandon His covenant and worship idols and thrusts them into another land (Deuteronomy 29:24-28)
  68. The secret things belong to Him (Deuteronomy 29:29)
  69. He restores the fortunes on those who return to Him and obey Him with all their heart and soul (Deuteronomy 30:2-3)
  70. He has compassion on those who return to Him and obey Him (Deuteronomy 30:2-3)
  71. He gathers back the ones He scattered when they return to Him and obey Him (Deuteronomy 30:2-3)
  72. He gathers and brings back His people, even if they have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens (Deuteronomy 30:4)
  73. He circumcises the hearts of His people, that they may love Him with all their heart and soul, and live (Deuteronomy 30:6)
  74. He curses the enemies of His people, who hate and persecute them (Deuteronomy 30:8)
  75. He is life for His people (Deuteronomy 30:20)
  76. He never leaves or forsakes those who follow Him (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  77. He knows what His people will do before they do it (Deuteronomy 31:16)
  78. He reveals the future (Deuteronomy 31:16-18)
  79. He becomes angry with and forsakes those who forsake Him and break the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:16-17)
  80. He hides His face from those who forsake Him and break the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:16-17)
  81. He hides His face from His people because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods (Deuteronomy 31:18)
  82. He gives His people songs, as witnesses for Him against them (Deuteronomy 31:19)
  83. He tells His people to sing! (Deuteronomy 31;19)
  84. He gives His people a song as a reminder, a song that will not be forgotten (Deuteronomy 31:19-21)
  85. He knows what His people are disposed to do (Deuteronomy 31:21)
  86. He is great and worthy to be praised (Deuteronomy 32:3)
  87. He is the Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  88. His works are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  89. All His ways are just (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  90. He does no wrong (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  91. He is upright and just (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  92. He is the Father of His people (Deuteronomy 32:6)
  93. He is the Creator – of everything (Deuteronomy 32:6)
  94. He made us and formed us (Deuteronomy 32:6)
  95. He gives the nations their inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:8)
  96. He divides all mankind (Deuteronomy 32:8)
  97. He sets up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8)
  98. His portion is in His people (Deuteronomy 32:9)
  99. Jacob is His allotted inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:9)
  100. He rescues and cares for His people (Deuteronomy 32:10)
  101. He guards His people as the apple of his eye (Deuteronomy 32:10)
  102. He catches (Deuteronomy 32:11)
  103. He carries (Deuteronomy 32:11)
  104. He alone leads His people (Deuteronomy 32:12)
  105. He nourishes His people (Deuteronomy 32:13-14)
  106. He is Savior (Deuteronomy 32:15)

Part 2 of "How Then Shall We Fight for Joy?"
  
Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him:


<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>
Fighting for joy together,

And Linking up at A Holy Experience today, trying to share the way God's been changing me through this.  For more on how the 10,000 Reasons Challenge relates to sacrifice, read this post.


Also, please look at some of the other beautiful posts found at the bottom of this one.  Maybe bless the author with a comment?  It's a blessing to know that God has used your imperfect words to bless another.

Thank you for visiting.

God bless!

  

3 comments:

Laurie Collett said...

I love John Piper! And I love this post -- authentic joy is a true gift that comes not from external circumstances, but from His grace!
God bless,
Laurie

Sylvia Robertson said...

Good stuff here, in this post! All good points, but Number 5 stood out for me likewise. (Now I wonder why that is... ;) ) Looking directly at Him to find the reasons to worship Him does something inside, doesn't it?
(Sorry I linked up so late. My whole area was out of internet service for hours. Gave me a little break, actually. :) )

Mary said...

Oh, thank you, Laurie! I like John Piper a lot, too. His words have helped me to grow so much in recent months. And it's so true - joy really, really is a gift, all His grace, and I hope I never stop pursuing that gift. I want to be joyful in Him so that He will get more glory.
God bless you, too!

Thank you, too, Sylvia. It's interesting how that fifth one stood out, isn't it? I'm sure there wasn't a specific reason for that, maybe just the way he said it or something . . . kidding, of course : ). And you're so, so right - to look directly at Him to see why we should worship Him, it does something inside of me that I never though possible. It's such an incredible, priceless gift. I thank God for allowing me to find it and pray that I never, never stop pursuing it. And you don't have to apologize. You can link up whenever you want - or not at all, if you prefer. I understand that life gets busy and circumstances change, and I'm glad you got a bit of a break.
God bless you!

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