Posts Tagged ‘pleasures’

Go After Joy

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)

“Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11)

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.” (Psalm 45:7)

We speak of the joy of the Lord quite often as a strength in trouble or a fruit of the Spirit… but I truly believe it is a great weapon for spiritual breakthrough and freedom.

God is completely faithful, He is generous as our Provider and sensitive as our Healer. When we are in need, He wants us to recognize His love and allow joy to lead us to our breakthrough. The psalms remind us that God’s loving kindness is new every morning (Ps. 30:5). His mercies are like the rains that fall upon the fertile soil of the heart to bring forth the seeds of spiritual strength (Lam. 3:22-24). No question, God is the instigator of our breakthroughs; yet we are all called to walk in step with Him for the achieving of spiritual victory.

We are co-laborers in the Kingdom of Heaven for our breaking forth.

As Kingdom Agents, we can and must see the joy of the Lord as a spiritually anointed tool that releases us from the chains of oppression. Joy is a great weapon against fear and depression.

I still remember…

In Sunday School years ago, we used to sing about the power joy had to bring great freedom in the Spirit. We would sing “if you want joy you must laugh for it” and off we’d go with, “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”. Pretty soon we would all experience laughter that would cause us to see differently the rest of the day. Those little songs were a point of release, setting the atmosphere of joy that influenced our dispositions and changed our heart attitudes. In one sense we were taking our thoughts captive without even realizing we were having moments of breakthrough.

I truly believe that the supernatural life of the Spirit is more natural than we think… try it – laugh a little and see if it doesn’t lighten the load. The Joy of the Lord can be your strength for breakthrough! (Neh 8:10)

The Heart of Conflict

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:14-15)

Don’t you hate it when you see a little “pharisee” in yourself? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply renounce old habits and selfish behavior and respond to conflict in a gracious and constructive way? Let’s face it, as conflict arises peace is stolen and replaced by a spirit of strife! It’s not an easy task – staying clear of conflict. In order to break free and stay free, we need to understand why we react to conflict the way we do.

Its an Issue of the Heart!

Jesus provides us with clear guidance on this issue!

During His earthly ministry, a young man approached and asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. “Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Lk. 12:13-15).

Recognize the Traps:

This passage reveals a common human pattern. When faced with conflict, be on guard against all kinds of greed. Greed lives on the inside of us! We tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).

The Heart’s Central Role in Conflict:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (Jms. 4:1-3)

Conflicts arise from unmet desires in the heart – greed! When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, then that desire turns into a demand called greed. If someone fails to meet that desire – we judge, condemn and quarrel. We fight to get our way. Conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and fight with those who get in our way.

But the Heart has Power:

Love, honor & trust… these are words of worship! These are the words that overcome conflict when they are positioned perfectly in the heart of a fervent believer. Jesus calls us to love God, honor God, and trust God… and God Alone! (Mt. 22:37)(Lk. 12:4-5)(Jn. 14:1) Worship is a powerful tool to overcoming conflict… its an attitude of the heart!

Anytime we cherish, fear, or trust in something more than God, to make us happy; it is the worship of false gods… “idolatry”.

I know it sounds harsh, but greed is idolatry and it has levels of influence. It often goes unrecognized until we are knee deep into a quarrel. The quarrel itself is just a symptom of a deeper issue. That’s when we find ourselves wondering, “how did we even get into that mess!” Well, something was sitting in the heart waiting to be defended.

But, when our focus is on worship – rejoicing in Christ, walking in gentleness and prayerfully considering everything that gets in our way; then the believer has a greater platform of self-control. Greed and idolatry are diffused of their control and the heart is guarded by the peace of God that goes beyond our understanding (Phil. 4:4-7).

Delight Yourself in God!

Find your greatest joy in thinking about your loving Heavenly Father, meditating on His works, talking to others about Him, praising Him, and giving Him thanks for all that He has done. Delight yourself in Jesus and look into His eyes by faith, consistently and longing for His mercies to become fresh every morning. Wait on the Holy Spirit and listen before you speak… there might be a divine appointment in that moment of hesitation. Consider these powerful promises as spiritual keys to avoiding conflict.

  • “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4)
  • “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” (Ps. 71:8)
  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

Baptism of Fire

Wreckless Abandon

The Bible says: In the Presence of God there is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps 16:11)

That could make you wanna shout! Not only is it an amazing reality, but it strikes at the very heart of our sense of destiny and faith. Many Christians want to be in the Presence of God and want to learn the practice of living in the Glory Realm. It’s a natural desire, especially for those who have experienced it and tasted the goodness of God’s Presence. We all want to live in the reality of unspeakable joy (1 Pe 1:8). The sense of well-being and complete acceptance that comes with being in His Presence is more intoxicating than all that this world has to offer.

Complete Surrender:

Hear the call of John the Baptist, as he tells of the Baptism that Jesus will immerse us in when the Holy Spirit is poured out in Jerusalem. “I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I is coming… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire“ (Lk 3:16). God is a consuming fire, and He burns up all of our impure thoughts, habits and behaviors (Heb 12:29). Sin and rebellion in us is consumed in His flaming hot Presence. For us to walk deeper into Glory, we must be willing for unclean things to be burned up. We must surrender them completely in His Presence.

Giving Up Control:

Everyone seems to be so eager to run into God’s Presence, because they want the overwhelming sense of joy and freedom, but very few desire the unpleasant feeling of giving up control. This process of giving up sinful parts of our soul causes us fearful expectations of being left with nothing to hold onto. Yet that is the point of the fire! Its designed to break us free of those things, so that we grab hold of His truth and live by faith in Him personally and intentionally.

Proximity Matters:

If we want to grow closer to Him, we must be willing for God to burn those things up in us. The closer we live to the fire, the hotter it gets. The nice thing about the Presence is that we don’t have to do it ourselves. We just have to be willing to stay in the fire long enough.

It’s like when you put wood in a fire. You really are not the one burning up the wood, but you need to be willing to keep it in the coals, for it to burn. If we surrender all we have grown to trust to this Baptism of Fire, everything will emerge changed. That which is unholy will burn like the wood burns in a fire. As we come closer to Him, we sense our lives being touched by fire.

Fire Transforms Living:

We see the fire in His eyes (2 Cor 4:6) and we are consumed by His loving embrace (Eph 1:6). His immersion of pure, holy, flaming love captures the heart, transforms our vision and makes all things new, dependent and fruitful.

Its amazing and impossible, yet its also… just like God.

Roots by the River

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaf will be green; and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8)

This river is a fascinating and powerful theme that we see running throughout all of Scripture, from the opening chapters of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation. Beginning in Genesis 2: 8 we get the first picture of this river. The Scripture says, “The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the East [this is Paradise on earth] and there He put the man whom He had formed. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden.” When we get to Revelation, we see that tree of life again. This river that flowed out of Eden was designed to water the garden, and it divided to become four rivers that would flow throughout this entire region of the earth.

So, in the Garden of Eden, God creates this river to make a Paradise for man, lush and beautiful, and fruitful. As we see it running through Scripture, it is a picture of God’s Presence and God’s Glory for the sustaining of blessing and abundance.

It’s interesting that we read, “Our God is our refuge and strength… therefore we will not fear… there is a river [singular] whose streams [plural] make glad the city of God” (Ps. 46:1-4). So that is the river of God, a river of God’s provision, a river of His Presence that flows out from His heart and into every part of the City of God, reaching the People of God. The Church, established by Jesus Christ receives its resources by having its roots by the river. It flows out to where you live, to where your family calls home and your community rests secure. One river, that’s the Presence of God; but then it divides, distributes, and flows out to all the places in need of refreshing.

  • To the family who lives out in the cornfields of Iowa, the river of God has a stream that goes out there.
  • To the man who works on the stock exchange in New York City, the river of God is flowing there also.
  • To the woman who longs for more in the slums of Calcutta, the river of God has made a path.
  • To the child who waits in darkness along the streets of Kampala, the river of God is winding through the shadows.

Spreading out the Roots:

We read in Psalm 1 a description of the man who delights or spreads out his roots; in the law of the Lord… meditating, listening and embracing God’s voice. It says, “He’s like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:3). Here we see the refreshing, life-giving supply of God’s River that comes to the thirsty. How? …through His Word. Through meditating day and night on the Word of God, the Holy Spirit begins to flow. That is how you get the river to flow and bring refreshing to all the dryness of life.

“They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house. And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures (delights). For with You is the fountain of life. In Your light, we see light.” (Ps. 36:8-9)

“You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water… You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows, You make it soft with showers, and You bless its growth” (Ps. 65:9-10)

Abundance:

These verses speak of an abundant supply, a sufficient supply of God’s grace and precious resources. Sometimes we feel like the river of God is just a little, tiny trickle running through our lives. Sometimes we have even felt as though the river has run dry, because we have found ourselves in drought, barren and weak. But, we must go to the Scripture and be reminded that God gives us abundance, as we drink from the river of His delights. With Him is the fountain of life… and there is no dryness there! Meditate upon these words… God visits the earth and waters it; He greatly enriches it and this river of God is full of water – for your soul!

Listen, I’ve got some desperate circumstances in my life right now, and some of you do, too. I want you to know, there’s no lack to the river of God. Its full. Its always full. Its full when I’m empty. Its full when I run dry. Its available and flowing with fresh resource. And that river of God can run through my life by faith every time I have a need… if I will just set my roots by the river.

God is saying, “You want to be fruitful? You want to avoid spiritual barrenness? Then get planted by the river. Set your roots by the river of God!”

Experiencing Grace

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore, come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:13-16)

Prayer is the process of drawing near the Throne of Grace. It energizes our spirit like nothing else can, it releases blessing into our circumstances and transforms the way we see. It opens our spiritual perception to the mind of Christ and to the possibilities of God’s influence. When we pray, we are pulling on the promise of “daily bread” (Mt. 6:11), the provision of God for the season of need. Notice, the writer of Hebrews sets the Throne of God into a context of grace and mercy, rather than judgement and condemnation. This is how God wants us to see in prayer… with boldness and confidence that our High Priest understands our weaknesses. We have access by the Blood of Jesus and we should come boldly to the Throne.

The #2 Reason to Pray: To Experience Grace!

Prayer is the practice of experiencing grace. It’s difficult to understand grace without understanding the law. We see God’s perfect law as how He wants us to live and frankly we often don’t measure up (Rom. 3:23). The law is like a mirror for us. When you look into a mirror you may see a big smudge of dirt on your face that you didn’t know was there. The mirror is not to blame and it can’t get rid of the dirt, but you’re probably glad you looked at that mirror before you walked out the door. In the same way, God’s law reveals our shortcomings, our sins, and we are thankful to see them, so that we can bring them to God and deal with them through His grace. When we come to Christ we know we need a Savior. The fact is, for the rest of our lives, we need a Savior. We need Jesus, Our Great High Priest who understands and has an answer for our weakness!

“The law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24)

Coming in Truth and Humility:

We can experience grace when we come to the Throne of Grace in truth and humility. The Apostle James said, “you do not have, because you do not ask and when you ask you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your own pleasures” (Jms. 4:2-3). “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (Jms. 4:6). When we humbly come to God in prayer there is a waiting Father full of mercy and grace, to help in time of need. ”If any of you lacks wisdom, let Him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to Him, but let him ask in faith without doubting…” (Jms. 1:5-6). You see, God sees everything, nothing is hidden from His sight and His care. He is a jealous God, not for perfectionism, but for holiness that allows unhindered access to our relationship with Him.

Holiness is a Reflection:

Holiness is something imputed… something God gives, not something we acheive. Its a reflection of God’s “light” in us and upon us. We are being transformed by the Spirit of the Lord as we look into the law of Christ and begin to reflect His life and glory (2 Cor. 3:17-18). It just makes sense that the more we pray and look into His glory, the more we will reflect His character, love and power.

Prayer enables the grace I need to become like Him, in all of His beauty… I want to”be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Phil. 3:9)

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