Joy in His Presence
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

 

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.” (Ps. 16:11)

 

I spend a lot of “windshield time” during my weeks.  These are times spent driving up and down the roads of America.  Sometimes I do this in my pick-up and sometimes in a rental car, but either way, it is a lot of time.  I really enjoy this when I am in my own pick-up, because I have the ability to listen to the sermons I have downloaded on my iPhone.   I particularly like listening to John Piper, R. C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, and Ravi Zachariah.  These men plumb the depth of Scripture like few public speakers today.  However, I have come to despise the time I spend in rental cars – because in them I am forced to listen to “Christian” radio.  And let me be bold to say, “I hate Christian radio.”  I hate it because in reality there is little Christian about it.

 

Why would I venture down the road with such a sweeping statement?  Simple.   Almost without fail, when you turn find a Christian station, the message is one of three things:  How to manage your money; how to look better; or how to lose weight (or be healthy).  And for the random seeker of the Christian message, from listening to Christian radio (and many pulpits across our land), they would guess the Christian message is:  How to personally achieve a better life.  I will never forget a sermon I heard once when I was a very young man.  The preacher boldly proclaimed (and I bought it hook, line, and sinker) that the purpose of our faith is “to have a good day.”  And I repeated this self- serving theology for years. By maintaining this direction, I could avoid the painful tasks of reading Scripture, seeking God with all my heart and mind, or “setting God always before me.”

 

There is an old country song – “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” – and that title describes Christianity today.  We seek joy in money, good looks, and good health.  We seek love in sexuality and the perfect mate (thus giving rise to a 60% Christian divorce rate and the rampant acceptance of homosexuality).  And we define ourselves by our outward appearance and the success we achieve according to man’s standards.  And the end results are disastrous.  Christian suicides, divorces, adultery (most notable in our clergy), lawsuits pitting Christian against Christian, families torn asunder because of inheritance issues, unforgiveness, bitterness, covenant violations, and racial bigotry all become headliners for the world to see of the Christians who are on display.

 

The saddest commentary of all, is that all this self-fulfillment taught by the Church and its minions “Christian radio, television, and bookstores” is taking people away from the only thing that will bring joy to their lives.  (Just as an aside, walk into a Barnes and Noble bookstore and you will see acres of books covering thousands of topics.  But walk inside a typical Christian bookstore and you will find only a few shelves of books and acres of trinkets, gadgets, and diversions to make the gospel easy.)

 

The biblical solution to joy in life is never found in the self-help category.  It is found in lives committed to God.  This is so beautifully demonstrated in the 16th Psalm.  “I said to the Lord, You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.”  (v.2) He cannot separate his earthly blessings from God Himself.  He acknowledges without God he has nothing, is worth nothing, and as we will see, has no joy apart from God.  And to the modern self-seeking Christians he writes “the sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.” (v.4)  And other gods are anything or anybody (particularly ourselves) we put in first place ahead of God in Christ.  Other gods could be seeking self-fulfillment in wise money management; good relationships; or in outward appearances.  Jesus said, “Don’t worry about those things.  But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and God will take care of you.

 

So the psalmist states his case for living life.  “I have set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  (v. 8) We are shaken, because we have placed other gods in our pathway.  And when money, sex, pleasures, good looks, government, or power become your gods, prepare to have your foundations shaken, and the pillars of your life crumble in sight of the world.

 There is one place and one place alone where we can find joy – in the presence of God.  “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (v. 11) Everything we seek is found in the presence of God.  So to find what we are really looking for, we must seek first with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength the God of Scriptures, and there we will find joy for our souls.  As long as vulnerable Christians listen to the drivel of money, relationships, and health as the centerpiece of Christianity – we will have not joy and we will find none of the above.

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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