Sunday, May 18, 2008

Today's Lesson

"Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!"

On Joy

This morning in class, it was all about joy. Finding true joy, fighting for real joy, and teaching people to search for true joy. The fact of the matter is that real faith and real joy are linked inextricably. You can't separate them. Faith without joy is like the sun being out but it still being dark. When faith is real and true and Christ-centered, it produces the best kind of joy.

That is why it incumbent upon us to heap up large amounts of joy. We ought to always be in pursuit of joy. And finding that joy means removing the things that prevent us from seeing God the way we ought to do it. The thing we didn't touch a lot on today is the fact that God is the giver of joy; and we must recognize that all our work to find joy is actually done with the strength of God working in us.

That's why I like the words to the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." It's set to the music of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Listen to what he says in the last two lines of the first verse.

"Melt the clouds of sin and sadness." - It's sin that keeps us from the joy that faith brings, and it's only God who can purge of us that sin, melting those clouds away.

"Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day." - God is the only one who can give true, lasting joy, and that joy comes from being able to see him better; hence the need for more light.

Spend some time meditating on the fight for joy this week, and start stalking it, like a lion stalks his prey. Make the pursuit of real, lasting joy, your main pursuit.'

Finally, a quote from our man C.S. Lewis on joy and the pursuit of it:

"(O)ur Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

Pursue the right kind of joy, the living water, drank from cisterns that will not break.

If you have any questions about what we talked about today, please feel free to post them, and we'll discuss them. Have a good week.


Juliet said...

Okay, so I was thinking on this idea of being joyful about obedience. As Wade said, the idea of being all "yay, I'm not allowed to gossip!" is kind of strange.

My thought was that I am a lot more joyful about obedience now than I was when I was younger. Maybe that's because I've seen more consequences of disobedience now than I had before? When I was younger, I either didn't understand the consequences or didn't care. Now I both understand and care. Just a thought?

Now, a question.. if that's true, how can we be better at getting this across to our youth and our children? More testimonies? More honesty with them? More communication about our own hard times and consequences.

Okay, rambling now...


Wade Phillips said...

Okay, looks like no one else is going to chime in, so I will.

I really think that when Reed gets older, I'm going to try to be pretty honest with him about some of the sinful things I've done, and what the painful consequences of those things are.

Sometimes I think we're afraid to talk about sins we've committed because we think it will make our kids feel like it's all right if they do it. But if they knew the trouble most of my sins caused me, maybe they wouldn't.

Let me add this: I don't think our kids can really understand the pleasure of righteousness until they have regenerated hearts and minds. A dead, unsaved person will never see righteousness and more pleasurable than evil. It just ain't gonna happen. They have darkened understanding and hard hearts.

Come to think of it, that's kind of what our Sunday School lesson is about this Sunday.

Juliet said...

I agree, and I'd add that saved children need to be gauged for maturity and ability to handle certain things. I know I have to tell my children certain things because I give my testimony publicly, and I'd hate for them to hear it from someone else. I'm already praying for discernment about when to tell them.

Oh, the joys of parenthood!