Pray BIG Prayers – Pleasure

Blaise Pascal said that

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”

This may sound like a distinctively un-Christian notion, that all you do is based on your own desire for happiness, but, at the core, I think he is right. 

Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to live a sombre, serious, and sullen life. In fact, D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones went so far as to say that this is, in fact, a poor witness to those who look at you and think ‘Wow, being a Christian is miserable’ (see his work ‘Spiritual Depression’, or our corresponding pieces).

We see time and again in the Word that we are to find delight, pleasure, and joy in the Lord (Psalm 37.4, Philippians 4.4, 1 Timothy 6.6, Nehemiah 8.11, John 15.11, for example). 

The crux of this, the potential problem,

is where we find pleasure,

in whom do we find pleasure;

ourselves or in God?

Our prayer today then is to find this, to find where we find pleasure. John Piper wrote that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. So, are you? Are you at your most happy, delighted, pleasure-filled, and joyous when you are closest to your heavenly Father?

Here’s today’s BIG prayer – Lord, I know I am created to feel emotions, to enjoy, to love, to feel joy. Today I pray that you would show me where I am wrongly finding these joys, and help me by the power of your Holy Spirit to find them in You alone, as the Lord Jesus did. 

Why Is Christmas A Time Of Great Joy?

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2.10-12

This is what the angels said to the shepherds that wonderful night 2000 years ago. The Good News that Jesus was born means many things to many people;

Liberation. Reconciliation. Restoration. Justification. Salvation.

First though, notice with me what the angels said, 

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Good news of great joyfor all the peopleGood news of great joyGreat joy.

The first advent of Christ, His first coming, which we are but three days away from celebrating, was a time of great joy.

The first three-quarters of the Bibles we carry looks forward to this very moment, all the way back to Genesis 3.15 looks forward to this moment, and it was a moment of great joy.

Everything that people had wanted and had struggled towards for hundreds of years was now here. Everything that people had tried and tried to work towards in their own strength was now here, and this meant it was a time of great joy.

For us now, it is still a time of great joy.

The gift of liberation from slavery to sin has been given.

The gift of reconciliation in our relationship to God has been given. 

The gift of restoration to the life we were made to live has been given.

The gift of justification and a right-standing before God has been give. 

The gift of salvation and eternal life has been given.

Christmas is a time of great joy because of what we are celebrating. Christmas is a time of great joy because of what came into the world. Christmas is a time of great joy because of Jesus. 

Joy To The World

Do you remember when you were a kid and Christmas Day rolled around? You tore into something lovingly wrapped and discovered that thing you had been wanting for so long…oh the joy you felt! You could not, at that moment, have felt any happier. The joy you felt was indescribable; that someone loved you enough to give you exactly what you wanted, exactly what you needed, and they willingly paid the price for you to have it.

Joy to the World describes, essentially, this feeling.

Joy to the world
Joy to the world
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing

The whole Old Testament in your Bible points forward to the coming of the Lord (if you don’t have a Bible read it here for free!). The New Testament documents the life and legacy of the Lord Jesus, and one thing constantly associated with Him is joy.

The song is filled with Scripture (Isaiah 9.6, Isaiah 11.10, John 12.15,  Revelation 17.14, Revelation 19.11-16, and Psalm 98.5-9 to name some!).

As we made room in our lives for that gift we ripped open on Christmas Day, possibly discarding old things to make way for it, this year let every heart prepare Him room, discarding old things and receiving our King


2 John 1.12-13 – Face to Face

Without trying to sound like an old sage dishing out advice, don’t you think that something that is no longer held up as important in our culture is face to face interaction? It’s so easy to text, message, call, video call, snap, tweet, or DM people that the art of face to face interaction seems to be slipping away. 

Nearly 2000 years ago, John knew that some things are just too important not to do face to face.

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

2 John 1.12-13

John knows that some things are too important to write down and says that even though have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. 

So far, John has mainly dealt with false teachers and false teaching in this short letter, and there is so much more nuance that he could have gone into that he didn’t in this letter.

Why? Because some things are too important to do via correspondence.

We even see a reason behind his decision – so that our joy may be complete. So, if John can go to talk to a church about false teachers and false teaching and still be assured of mutual joy, surely we can interact with those in our church family and beyond knowing that too our joy may be complete.

Today then, rather than sending a couple of Whattsapps, or even calling someone on FaceTime, perhaps we should make time to go and talk to someone face to face. It’s not the easiest option, it’s not the quickest option, but, in some situations, it’s the right option.

So, who can you encourage, face to face, today?

Prayer – Father, we thank you that we are made in your image, and that part of this is our desire for interaction. Help us today to see who needs our time, where we can invest our time, and where we can best use our energies to complete someone’s joy. Amen.