Sunday, January 20, 2008

Psalm 103:1-2

"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

Friday, November 2, 2007

Session 8: Suffering for the joy set before you Part2

John Piper started the session of how words as used by teenagers come and go. He observed that only the word “cool” has been used for a very long time. He narrated the lives of Jack Lucas and Ray Dollins, both of them lived their lives during World War II. Piper exclaimed that what both of these young men did was “cool”. Jack Lucas was only 14 years old when joined the marines, but in those days you have to be 18 to enter. Since he has a big body, the marines thought that he was already of age. During his combat with the Japanese, a grenade was thrown towards him and he jumped into it and was thrown by blast of the grenade. He was surprisingly found to be still alive by his comrades and was rushed to the hospital. He was the only teenager to be awarded a medal of honor. Ray dollins on the other hand was a pilot. When he lost control over the plane and was supposed to hit his other comrades who were at that time were on the ground, he maneuvered the plane so as not to hit them, thereby caused his own death. Before the plane crashed, he was heard singing “what a beautiful morning….”

Piper continued to explain that “suffering is not only the price you will have to pay in the pathway of obedience sustained by joy in God, suffering is also designed by God to intensify your joy in Him”. Never has he heard anyone said that God is most real in a bright and sunny day. For people would always testify to the fact that God’s presence and care had been real for them in the midst of a stormy life. The Lord’s purpose for pain and suffering is to refine us as gold that we be cleansed of our sins and things that would lead us to be satisfied in the world rather than to the most-satisfying person in the whold Universe, God himself.

Piper also used the life of Joni Eareckson Tada, author and speaker; steve saint, son of missionary nate saint who was speared to death along with other 4 missionaries including Jim Eliot, husband of author and speaker Elisabeth Eliot.; and the Backstromss, who losed their 3 children, killed by a drunken driver who was also a teenager.

The lives of these three Christians exemplified joy in God in the midst of suffering because of their unwavering faith in the Sovereignty of the Lord. Though they cannot explain what happened, yet they believe that God is in control and He reigns in every situation.

Personal Application and Reflection:

  1. There is no other explanation as to what occurs in our life, that explanation is the Sovereignty of the Lord. That He is in control of everything, even the minute things that occurs in our universe.
  2. A cool life is a life not wasted. A life well lived is a life that has a single, soul satisfying passion for the supremacy of God in all things. Perhaps you are wondering what is the chief end/ purpose of life. And the answer is that God created man, including you for His glory. Our search for joy and God’s glory are not in conflict. For God is most Glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

  1. People would sometimes hate the Lord because for them God’s love for man is to have a problem free life. However this is a man-centered and a wrong definition of God’s love. In our day and culture, man defined love as making much of the other person, meaning we let the person feel and know that they are important. Sad to say this is not applicable to the Lord.

    God’s definition of Love: “God’s love is not making much of us or making life easy. Love is doing what He (God) must do, at great cost to Himself (the cross) and often to us, to enable us (man) to enjoy making much of Him forever.”

    This means that God does everything in the world in order for us to see Him as the best and enjoyable person in the whole world which consequently would lead us to be joyful.

4. As Christians we are to said to be “dead to the world” or we are called to consider ourselves to be dead to the world.. ““Dying to the world” does not mean having no feelings about the world. What it means is that every legitimate pleasures in the world (may it be money, love life, a good career…etc) becomes a blood brought evidence of Christ’s love and an occasion of boasting on the cross. We are can only say that we are dead for a “higher salary” or a “good boy friend or girl friend”, when money or love life is not what satisfies you the most, but Christ crucified, the giver that satisfies you the most.”

Session 7: Suffering for the joy set before you Part1

In this session John Piper reminded the young people that in this life all of us will experience suffering. He further explained that God has a purpose for our pains in life and that as Christian Hedonist we can view sufferings from a vertical and horizontal dimension. The vertical dimension of suffering shows that God as our treasure as we go through the sufferings in life. It reflects our love for Him above all the things that this world has to offer. We experience joy in the midst of pain because our joy is in the Lord Himself and not from the world. As john Piper said it best, God is most Glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him most especially when we maintain joy in Him in suffering.

The horizontal dimension of suffering refers to how we relate to other people as we go through suffering. This shows our love for other people for love really shines as beautiful when you press on loving others even when it is really hard and really costly. In other words we are willing to go through pains and suffering as we serve and meet the needs of others. Only in such situation can love be really be seen and felt by other people.

John Piper also shared the principles on how joy sustains us in the midst of suffering as found in the book of Hebrews. He cited 4 bible passages from Hebrews and they are Hebrews 10: 32-34, where it can be seen that as Christians we have a better possession, his name is Jesus; Hebrews 11:24-26, that we are to consider Christ reproach as riches meaning we are to value obedience to Christ rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.; Hebrews 12: 1-2, that Christ faced sufferings (lashes) for the Joy set before Him.; Hebrews 13: 12-13, that on earth we have no lasting city, meaning things of this world are only temporal.

Personal Principles and Applications (some are based from the book self-confrontation)

  1. As Christians we do not just have happiness, we have joy. Happiness is an instinctive response to the outside world. If our situations are good and well, we consequently feel at peace and comfortable. But when the situations gets worse, then the person starts to be troubled. Joy on the other hand, is not based on the external but internal. It is the feeling of peace and tranquility in the midst of crisis. Even though the situation goes wrong still we are at peace because our peace and joy are not external based, they are based in our faith in Christ. Joy as we can see in Galatians 5 as the fruit of the Holy Spirit meaning only God can produce joy in a Christian’s heart.

  1. Our joy and peace during trials are not based on people, circumstances and things we have, but they are based on our continued intimate relationship with God.

    Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

    Isaiah 26: 3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.”

  1. Continue to obey God and fulfill your responsibilities in life regardless of your feeling. (Matthew 7: 24-26 ; 2cor4 :7-8, imagine if the Apostle Paul if he wallowed up in his suffering and failed to fulfill the Great Commission?)

4. Surrender your will to the Lord and learn from your mistakes. (Read Romans 8:28-29)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Session 6: Duty or delight? (Part2)

More biblical descriptors of love:
2 Cor.9:7-8 - Giving is loving if you are a cheerful giver.

John Piper insisted that if you're giving or making an offering without having the joy or cheer in your heart on what you are doing, then it is not acceptable to God. You should really be glad when you give something. It's like giving to other people is what makes you happy. The desire of your heart, the motive, the one that you really wanted to do that makes your heart joyful is to give.
  • The battle is not first at the level of behavior.
  • The battleground is what makes you glad.
1 Peter 5:1-2 - Love loving the sheep.

Heb. 13:17 - If I don't serve you with joy, you don't get any advantage from me.

  • Love is the overflow of joy in God that meets the need of other people.
Acts 20:35- The most controversial word in this verse is "Remember".

  • It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Luke 14:12-14 - Be motivated by the exposition of your joy as you draw other people into it.

Closing exhortations
  • Get outside your comfort zone.
You can't say that you love God without being obedient to share the gospel.
You can't say you love God and just sitting pretty at your home.
  • For love's sake say no to pornography.
You can't just continue to live your eyes watching dirty things and say you love God.. thats totally foolish! You're fooling yourself, not God.
  • Do something radical for the poor.
Have compassion for them. You indeed are so lucky to born with advantages in life. Learn to share them to the poor. It's not insane to give money to the poor, cause you know that it will benefit them. It's much insane if you're spending your money to things that may result in vanity.

Session 5: True Love: Duty or Delight? (Part 1)

If you pursue your joy in God you will be a loving person.
You cannot be a loving person unless you pursue your joy in God.
2 Corinthians 8:1-4,8 - Illustration of biblical love.

It originates in the grace of God - Grace has come down from God in power.
  • Poverty has not gone away.
  • Affliction has increased.
  • Abundance of joy is maintained.
  • The joy have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.
  • Joy arise from the grace of knowing Jesus.
Biblical reference: Hebrews 10:34; 2 Corinthians 6:10

John Piper's definition of biblical love:
  • Love is grace-enabled, grace-enabled impulse to expand your joy in God by extending it to others.
  • Love is the overflow of abundant joy in God that meets the needs of others. It should be love that overflowed from having the joy in God or else, our loving works are but filthy rags. If you do it with duty, it's not love.
I Corinthians 13:3 - What kind of motive we have defines our love.
Even if you sacrifice without the right motive it is hypocrisy and not love.

The Bible commands emotions.
Love involves more than sheer willpower!
God commands our emotions:
  1. Gratitude is an emotion. Psalm 100:4
  2. Hope is an emotion. Philippians 3:12-14
  3. Joy/Rejoice is an emotion. Philippians 4:4
  4. Sorrow/Weep is an emotion.
  5. Compassion is an emotion.
  6. Contentment is an emotion. Hebrews 13:5

  1. God's glory and man's gladness can be one.
  2. God is most glorified in you when you are satisfied in Him. You get satisfaction and God gets the glory.
  3. You can't be a loving person to other people when you don't pursue your joy in God.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Eight Biblical Arguments for Christian Hedonism:

1. God commands us to be happy and to pursue our joy.
* Joy is not optional, it is a commandment. In the Bible, God commands us to be happy in Him. (Psalm 100:2) Pursuing joy is a commandment from God.
* The bible says we must be glad in the Lord. If you don’t obey, you sinned.
* One must serve God with gladness. It is a sin to serve Him without gladness.
* Delight yourself in the Lord.
* Biblical reference: Psalm 37:4, Psalm 32:11

2. God threatens terrible things if we will not be satisfied.
* Biblical reference: Deut. 28:47-48
* If you are not serving God with joy, you are serving the enemy.

3. The nature of faith teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.
* Reference: Hebrews 11:6, Philippians 4:19
* You can’t please Him if you didn’t come to Him to get joy. Faith is coming to God to have all your needs met and trust Him to meet all your needs.
* The way to come to God is NOT to meet His needs but asking Him to supply your needs while He (the Giver) gets the glory.

4. The nature of evil teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.
* Many times, we tend to depend on ourselves instead on God. At the end, we find frustration.
* Evil is turning away from joy and embracing frustration by pursuing money, power, position, and fame.
* Biblical reference: Jeremiah 2:12-13

5. The nature of conversion teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.
* Accepting, believing, embracing Jesus as your Lord, Savior and Treasure in your life.
* Lord of your life – we have to follow Him
* Savior of your life – acknowledge that Jesus redeemed you from the punishment of sin.
* Treasure of your life – putting Jesus above all things.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Session 3 Pursue Your Joy: Isn't That Hedonism?

Hedonism means: Seeking own joy.

We've been trying to answer the question:"Do God's pursuit of his glory and my pursuit of happiness have to be at odds?

We have started in the hardest place:God's passion for his glory.


Because until we understand this, we will distort everything into a man's centered falsehood.

You were made for Jesus and the satisfaction of your soul will be found in him.

Our passion for God
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians1:20-21

How can I die so that the way I die makes Jesus look really good?
Pursuing God's Glory is pursuing our goal.
By counting death as gain because we will be with Jesus.

Christ is more satisfied on your dying when you are more satisfying on Him when you're dying.

Define Christian Hedonism:
A life devoted to pleasure BUT not in stuff or things of this world but pleasure in GOD.