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I read Psalm 36 today and David mentions the love of God three times.

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The fountain at the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico

Verse 5 says, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens”.

Verse 7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!”

Verse 10, “Continue your love to those who know you.”

He mentions love in contrast to the wicked. David begins and ends this Psalm by talking about the wicked. The wicked do not fear God. They flatter themselves. The words of their mouths are deceitful. They plot evil and do not reject what is wrong.

God loves those who trust in Him and pursue righteousness. I always talk about how God loves us (those who trust in Him) and wants us to be happy. This is readily apparent in Psalm 36.  There are four results of God’s love that are listed.

One is a river of Delights. David writes, “you give them drink from your river of delights.” I love that. God doesn’t just throw His followers a bone once in awhile, but has a river of delights for them.  We sometimes sing a song here at the Home For Needy Children in Mexico, that says something to the effect that I don’t just want to put a toe in God’s river.  I don’t just want to go knee deep in God’s river.  I don’t just want to wade in up to my hips in God’s river.  I want to swim in God’s river.  One of the blessings of God’s love is that we get to swim in His River of Delights! One definition of delight is great pleasure; a cause or source of great pleasure. God wants His followers to enjoy great pleasure.

Second, He is a fountain of Life! The wicked just exist in their misery, trying to make others miserable, but the righteous have Life and joy and vitality and Shalom which come from the never ceasing Fountain of life. Here at the Mission,  we have a fountain in our courtyard. Every time I see it or hear the water splashing down, I think of the living water that Jesus talked about. I thank God that I don’t merely exist on this planet, but that I have Life that comes from the Fountain of Life.

The third result of Gods love is that He gives us light that allows us to see the light. The wicked meander in darkness, looking for delights in all the wrong places. Those who cooperate with God and His Kingdom plan, are able to do so because He has shown them the light, opened the eyes of their Spirit and understanding. They embrace truth instead of lies, which enables them to grow in truth and righteousness.

A fourth aspect of God’s love is mentioned in verse 6, “You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.”

I think that is great that animals are included in this Psalm. God’s great love that reaches to the heavens is not just for the preservation of people, but also for animals. I grew up on a farm and at various times we had pigs, sheep, cows and rabbits, not to mention the dogs and cats that were running around. I enjoy the animals in God’s creation and thank God that he looks down from heaven and not only cares for the people, but for the animals.


God loves us and wants us to be happy. He has made that abundantly clear. We are happy in Him when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. When we set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, then we are filled with joy. We swim in the river of God’s delights. We drink deeply from the fountain of life. We live in light and not in darkness. We are preserved and protected, us and Fido and Spot and the animals we love. How great is the love of God!

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God serves up drinks, from His river of delights. He lays out a feast, from the abundance of His house.

 

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happy9

 

“How much stuff do you need to be happy?

“I don’t know.  How much stuff is there?

(From VeggieTales – Madame Blueberry)

 

I have been reading Timothy Keller’s new book, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical.  Here are some quotes from him and others about happiness.

“Studies find a very weak correlation between wealth and contentment, and the more prosperous a society grows the more common is depression.  The things that human beings think will bring fulfillment and contentment don’t.  What should we do then, to be happy?”

 

‘Wealth, power, and security – the external goods of the world – can lead only to a momentary satisfaction, which fades away, leaving you more empty than if you had never tasted the joy.”

“Philosopher Alain de Botton says that loving relationships are fundamental to happiness.”

“People find more pleasure in working toward a goal than they experience when they actually attain it.” (Haidt – Progress Principle)

“The functional cause of our discontent is that our loves are out of order.”

“Augustine believed all sin was ultimately a lack of love.”

“The unhappiness and disorder of our lives are caused by the disorder of our loves.”

“The ultimate disordered love, however, and the ultimate source of our discontent, is failure to love the first thing first, the failure to love God supremely.  In his Confessions, Augustine prays to God: ‘For there is a joy that is not given to those who do not love you for your own sake ….This is happiness and there is no other.  Those who think that there is another kind of happiness look for joy elsewhere, but theirs is not true joy.  Nevertheless their will remains drawn towards some image of the true joy.’ ”

“We were created to know this joy by loving and glorifying God preeminently.”

“You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  Augustine

“If you love anything more than God, you harm the object of your love, you harm yourself, you harm the world around you, and you end up deeply dissatisfied and discontent.”

“Of course, not even the strongest believers love God perfectly, nor does anyone get close to doing so  Yet to the degree you move toward loving him supremely, things begin to fall into order, into their proper places in your life.”

“What matters most for pleasure is not the simple impact on our senses but what it means in relationship to other persons who matter to us.”  Paul Bloom – How Pleasure Works

“Attachment to God amplifies and deepens enjoyment of the world.”  It does not diminish it.     Miroslav Volf

“Don’t love anything less; instead learn to love God more, and you will love other things with far more satisfaction.”

pleasure

 

What did Jesus have in mind exactly when he said “deny yourself and take up your cross.”. Especially the deny yourself part.  He said that if you try to save your life you lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake, you gain it.  My big idea lately, my take away with those words, is that in one sense Jesus was talking about instant gratification vs. delayed gratification.  I think God loves us and wants us to be happy, so if we deny ourselves the instant gratification that most sin tempts us with, (Moses in Pharaoh’s palace for example) then we will be happier in the long run.  How could we be happier than to be filled with the fruit of the spirit?  It can take a while to get fruit from a newly planted sapling. We don’t get immediate gratification by planting a little apple tree or orange tree. We have to wait a year or two or three before we are gratified by a crunchy apple or a sweet orange.  We do experience immediate gratification when we give in to the lust of the flesh, best defined in Galatians 5:19-21 (sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies).  Following those verses  we are given a list of the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control). So we strive to deny the lusts of the flesh and instant gratification so that we reap the harvest of fruit that comes with waiting and abiding in Christ, and experience greater pleasure in the long run.

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Enjoying those eternal pleasures!!!