Greater Pleasure, Fuller Joy
Psalms For SummerPastor Jonathan Drake - August 19, 2018
Community Group Study Notes
- What does it mean for Jesus to be your highest treasure? What does this look like in real life?
- Why do we settle for “lesser pleasures” and pursue things that don’t satisfy us? What are some of the heart issues behind our actions?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday’s message?
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)
Good morning to all of our Chapel family, all of our guests at all of our campuses. We super glad that you're with us today. I'd ask you to turn to Psalm 16 as we're in our Palms for Summer series, get that in the right order, Psalms for Summer series, and we'll be in Psalm 16 in just a few moments. Have you ever have this experience, tell me if you've had this experience where you had maybe an expectation of about something that you were really looking forward to. Maybe that was a date night that was a long time coming, maybe that was a family vacation, and you had all these great expectations leading up to it, and then something went awry, something went wrong, and before you knew it, that expectation was detonated.
Maybe it was the date night you were really looking forward to, and then maybe you got into an argument before you even got to the restaurant, and you're like, "Well, we're here, so we might as well just eat in silence at that point." Not that that's ever happened to me, but hypothetically, right?
Maybe it was a family vacation that you were really looking forward to, and you had all these great activities planned, and you had itineraries for each day, and you were super thrilled about what that was going to be like, and then it rained the entire time, and so you got like one thing done on that list of 20 things. Your expectation was just blown up.
Or maybe it's another twist. Maybe those experiences did live up to the hype, maybe it was a great date night, maybe it was an awesome, perfect family vacation, but maybe it was just that that feeling of fullness that you had when it was over, it didn't last. You felt really full as you were in that moment, and yet, then it started to fade. It was almost like it was slipping through your fingers. You couldn't hang on to it. What do we say in those moments? We say, "I wish this would never end."
Or maybe it was a concert that you were really looking forward to, maybe like a Jay Z and a Beyonce concert or something like that, and so you're thrilled, you're looking forward to it. You go, and you have a great time, and then the music stops, the concert's over, and that feeling just slips right through your hands.
Maybe it's like great conversation you ... Remember, you know those times you have with your friends where you're just talking late into the night, and you just have five or six people, maybe you're around fire or something, you just have a great conversation, and then you realize that soon will end, and the feeling fades.
Why is that? Why is it that it seems at times like pleasure eludes us, why satisfaction, true-lasting happiness eludes us almost like we're attempting to hold on to it, but it doesn't last. "I wish this would last forever," we say, but we know that it won't. We know that it can't.
I wonder if sometimes it's like this where it's almost as if someone is pouring water into our hands, and the experiences of this life are represented by this water, and we're trying to catch this water in our hands and bring it to our lips to get ... just a couple of drops. That probably sounded great coming through the speakers, didn't it? Sorry about that. I won't do that again. We're trying to get just a moment of refreshment, but what happens? Most of the water slips through our fingers. Even though we're cupping our hands, it eludes us. It escapes us. We can't hold on to it. It doesn't last.
I believe that that's a universal experience for us, isn't it? I mean, that's not just something that one or two of us experience. That's something that all of us experience. In fact, Blaise Pascal said, "All people seek happiness. The reason for some going to war and some avoiding war is the same motivation: their personal happiness," so all people pursue these things, and I think we're all looking for that, but we find that this pleasure, this satisfaction is temporary.
But what if I told you, what if I told you that there was a secret to change all of this life experiences and indeed all of the next life's experiences so that joy and pleasure were not fleeting, but they were permanent? What if I told you that there was a secret to change and transform all of that for you? You might be thinking, "Jonathan, if you believe that, then I've got a bridge that I'd like to sell you as well. Just meet me in the parking lot," right? You might think that's impossible. No way can that happen.
But the truth is that we're I'm going to take us in Psalm 16 is that there is a secret to changing all of those experiences. We find this in the last verse of Psalm 16. I want to read that to us first. The last verse is Psalm 16:11. "You make known to me the path of life. You fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand. You make known to me the path of life. You fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand." We all want that. We all want that. David, the guy who wrote these words, says he has it, so what is his secret?
What's interesting if you have a copy of Psalm 16 in front of you, maybe your Bible is like mine or maybe your digital copy is like mine and that at the top of Psalm 16, there's just a small heading that says miktam of David. In my Bible, it has a little note at the bottom that says, "Probably a literary or a musical term," but the truth is that no one really is quite sure about the meaning of word. It was actually Charles Spurgeon though who pointed out that one strong possibly of what a miktam means, although it could be a musical or literary term, one possibility, a strong possibility is that it comes from a Hebrew derivative for the word to hide, so it would be right for us to say the hidden thing, the secret thing, the mysterious thing. In fact, actually, Charles Spurgeon called this psalm, The Psalm of the Precious Secret.
What is that secret? The secret is where this joy and pleasure are found. That's the secret. In fact, we might've missed it if we read verse 11 too quickly. Look again at Psalm 16:11. It says, "You make known to me the path of life. You fill me with joy in your presence." See this is highlighted? "You fill me with joy," where? "In your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand." The secret to understanding this fullness of joy and the secret to receiving these eternal kind of pleasures are where they are found.
We want all of these things. I mean, you fill me with joy, not like a slow drip from the faucet of God's joy, but you fill me with joy. I want that. And eternal pleasures? I've only been knowing the fleeting temporary kind. You're telling me there's a new and improved model that's available? Where do I sign up for that? We all want that, but the reality, the secret to this psalm, the secret to this truth is where these pleasures are found, where this joy is found, in God's presence.
Now, we need to be told that because in our human experience, we look for joy, and we look for pleasure, satisfaction, fulfillment, anywhere and everywhere. It's a part of each, I think it's a part of each relationship that we have. It's a part of our pursuit of a career, it's a part of our pursuit for a vacation or every transaction that we make. This is behind all of those things, and we're looking elsewhere for this pleasure and this joy.
It may even be a foreign concept for some of us to think about God as having that to offer. It may be strange for us to even think that God could be behind a greater pleasure and a fuller joy. That's not a universal understanding of God for many people. In fact, I know many people who grew up in church who have the very opposite idea about God, that God's favorite word is "don't," basically, and that if it's fun or makes you happy, it's probably sin. That's how many people grew up thinking of God, that his favorite word is "don't," and if it makes you happy or makes you smile, it's probably sin. That's how many people view God.
The idea that God has fullness of joy to offer and greater pleasure to offer, Jonathan, that's foreign idea, but the truth is, God is not against our desires. He wants to elevate our desires. God is not against our pursuit of these things. He wants to redirect our pursuit of these things. These things are not our desire, our search for pleasure, for joy is not sin, but when we pursue those things, and it's a deviation from where they are truly found, that's when it's sin.
I think C. S. Lewis put this better than anybody in his address called The Weight of Glory. Look at C. S. Lewis says here. "It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and 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 by the sea. We are far too easily pleased." What incredible words.
What that tells us is this: We have been settling. We have been, in our lives, in our pursuit of pleasure and joy, we have been settling for lesser things. We have not been pursuing the greatest pleasure and the fullness of joy. We've been settling, and that's a painful awareness that we've missed it. We don't really want to even admit that we could be that wrong because that would be a blow to our pride. It's a painful admission, but what we recognize is we've been settling for lesser pleasure and temporary happiness because it's all we've known. It's all we've tasted.
The analogy of a child who's playing in the backyard, playing in the mud because this seems fun, like a toddler playing in the backyard, and dad says, "Come on, dear. We're going to pack up. We're going to go. We're going to go take a vacation. We're going to go to the beach. Isn't that going to be great?" As a parent, I know when I extend an offer that I think is exciting and my toddler doesn't, the face I get. "No. I'm going to stay right here."
Why? Because the toddler has no comprehension of what it will feel like to have their feet in the sand, of what it will be like to smell the ocean breeze, to be warmed by the sun, and there they are in the cold, dark corner of the backyard playing in the mud because it's all they've ever known. We've been settling. We've been settling. We don't even know what we're missing. Even though infinite joy, infinite pleasure's available to us, we don't even know sometimes what we're missing because we've been pursuing that fulfillment in the wrong things.
But there is another way. David in Psalm 16 tells us how he arrived at the holiday by the sea. Look at versus 1-3 of Psalm 16. "Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, you are my Lord. Apart from You, I have no good thing. I say of the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones and whom is all my delight." These phrases are so powerful. Each of them is so important to our understanding of where true joy and pleasure should be found.
David says, "In you, I take refuge." That is to say, "You are my source of strength. You are my source of security. When I'm in trouble, I run to you. When I'm in trouble, I don't run away from you. I don't yell and say, 'Where are you, God?' and run in the other direction. When I'm in trouble, I run to you." The refuge is a place to flee when you're in difficulty and in duress. It's also a place to rest and to be healed.
David says of the Lord, "I run to you. You're where I go." Where do you run? He says, "I say to the LORD, you are my Lord," and we might miss this in our English Bibles, we might skim right over it, but the translators did a great job because they represent the first Lord in our text with all caps. "I say to the LORD," all caps. That's because there's two different Hebrew words that are at play in verse 2. "I say to the LORD," that is Gods, if we could say it this say, his proper name, Yahweh. "I say to Yahweh, you are my," and then the second Lord with lower case letters. That is the word, the Hebrew word Adonai. "You are my Master," implied is, "I serve you and you alone."
"I say to Yahweh, 'You are my Master." Anybody can acknowledge the first clause, that God is Yahweh. Yeah, sure. He's up there. He's in charge. Anybody can acknowledge that first clause, but not everybody can acknowledge the second clause, at least not with integrity. To go from the Lord to my Lord is a part of this precious secret. When he becomes the one that you serve and the one that you serve only, when he is your Master, you relinquish your rights to claim to be master over your own life. When David says, "You are my Lord, I serve you and you alone."
Who do you serve? "Apart from you, I have no good thing." That is to say, even if other people look at my life and see some things that they would call good, they don't even register on the scale for me because of how overwhelming you are in my life. I have everything when I have you, God. I lack nothing when I have you, God, and so every other good thing in my life pales in comparison to the point that it doesn't even register. A part from you, I have no good thing. You are all the good in my life.
I wonder just, as an aside, if maybe that was in Paul's mind, the apostle Paul, when he said in Philippians 3, "Whatever were gains to me, I now consider as loss, I reckon as loss for the sake of Christ. I've got everything in him." Same idea here. Really, David is making a statement of value. He's saying that God is his highest treasure. The things of this life? No. God is his highest treasure. Who or what is yours?
"I say of the holy people," verse 3, "who are in land, they are the noble ones and whom is all my delight." David looks out over the righteous people whose lives are oriented towards God, and they are surrounding him, and he doesn't delight in them in place of God. He delights in them because of God. Why? Because these holy ones who are around him whose voice have a platform in the life of David, he looks at them, and he sees them as another visual reminder of God's faithfulness and another visual reminder that God's way is always the best way, that he looks out at these righteous holy ones in the land, and he's encouraged, that he gives great weight to their voices. So whose voices do you turn up the volume for? Now, there's a contrast here. After David makes his case here in these first three verses, there's a contrast. Look at verses 4 and 5 of our text with me.
"Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup. You make my lot secure." The ESV renders verse 4 saying, "The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply, or those who run after other gods will suffer more and more." The idea here is that although they may seem happy on the outside, they are full of sorrow on the inside. As they abandon the one true God for another pursuit, as they abandon the truth for a lie, as they abandon what is truly great or for what will ultimately be something lesser, their sorrows are multiplied. Even if it looks like on their faces that they're having a great time, the truth is in what they and they alone know is the emptiness that they feel inside.
Now, you might think, "Jonathan, that's not really a common problem for me. Well, yeah, we're not running after gods of wood and stone and gold," but the other gods of this day are just as alluring. As C. S. Lewis said, "We're fooling about with sex and money and ambition and drink." We're pursuing all of the wrong things, and whether we act on them or not, or whether they live in our hearts as desires or not, that really is not the issue. The issue is what are we reaching out for and who are we not reaching for, but David makes this vow. "I won't go with the flow. I'm not going to go along with the tide, even if I see others deviating. I'm going to stay true to God's word because he is my refuge, and I serve him and him alone."
Maybe you today, you recognize in your own life, your own pursuit of other things, lesser things, maybe you recognize the fleeting happiness that has come from things that you thought would guarantee your happiness, and maybe even those things were in rebellion, you think, "Man, God doesn't want my joy, God doesn't want my ultimate pleasure, so I'm going to do life my way," and maybe you've even convinced yourself to put a smile on, maybe you've even convinced your face that you're happy, but inside, you know more than anybody how empty you are when you run after these other things.
You alone know the sorrow that you feel because it doesn't deliver on what it promised it can't. David says, "Lord, you alone are my portion," or "You alone are my cup." The contrast is astounding because although many people will search for pleasure and significance in things and will look for these drops of water to satisfy, and they can't, David can say with confidence, "The Lord is my cup."
What's the difference between drinking from your hand and drinking from a cup? You could be satisfied because that water doesn't seep through the bottom, it doesn't slip away through your hand, but instead, when you say, "The Lord and the Lord alone is my cup," you can drink and be satisfied. Your thirst can be quenched with the cup, but it'll run right through your fingers without him.
I think that gets at some of the heart posture behind what David is saying here in Psalm 16, but although David makes this covenant vow and although David pledges his allegiance to the Lord, the people of Israel as we track with them through the Old Testament, we know where they waffle and where they slip and where they rebel and where they walk away.
In fact, several centuries later, the Jewish people ended up in exile in a foreign land because of their sin, because of their rebellion, because of their lack of allegiance to God. In the midst of exile, God brings this word to them as the prophet Jeremiah records it in Jeremiah 2:13. This is God speaking, "My people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns that cannot hold water." Two sins. He doesn't mean that they only did two sinful acts, but rather, God is uncovering the underlying cause behind every sinful deed, every sinful thought, every sinful word. Rejection of him and an attempt to replace him with something else.
That's exactly what happened for the people of Israel. He says, "They've rejected me, the spring of living water and this overflow of living refreshment and have attempted to dig their own cistern that actually ends ups not being able to hold any water. It slips right through." It's as if Psalm 16:4 is playing out right in front of them, that those who run after other gods will suffer more and more or the sorrows of those who run after another God shall multiply. That's exactly what happened in the nation of Israel. They suffer.
But the Lord alone, when David said that, when David said, "The Lord alone is my cup," he's not attempting to dig a cistern, he's not attempting to look anywhere else because only someone who has experienced a greater pleasure and a fuller joy can make a statement like that, and only someone who has tasted and seen of the Lord's goodness can make a statement that would indicate they know everything else is lesser, everything else cannot satisfy.
But this isn't just a problem in the time of David. This isn't just a problem in the time of Israel. There have always been people who were looking for satisfaction of fulfillment, who were digging their own cisterns that could hold no water. That's a universal human experience.
In fact, in the time of Jesus, he encountered a woman in Samaria who was doing exactly that, was looking for significance, looking for fulfillment, looking for her identity, looking for some self-worth, and before I show you part of that story John 4, I want to give you a little bit of backdrop in the event that maybe some of you are here today, and maybe you're new to church or to the Bible. Here's the backdrop to that encounter, that Jesus meets this woman at a well in the land of Samaria, and this woman has had five husbands, and the man that she was living with now was not her husband, a sixth guy, so evidently, she was looking for something.
Then enter Jesus in John 4, beginning of verse 7. Look what this says. "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" His disciples had gone into town to buy food. "The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I'm a Samaritan. How can you ask me for a drink, for Jews do not associate with Samaritans,' so Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would've asked him, and he would've given you living water.' 'Sir,' the woman said, 'You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well and drank from it himself and as did also his sons and his livestock?' Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'"
Isn't this incredible? Jesus asks for a drink, but she's the one who has a thirst problem. Jesus is the one who asks for a cup of water, but she's the one who's been searching for fulfillment and satisfaction her whole life. I mean, in case you didn't hear me say this earlier, she had five, five husbands. Five. She was looking for something. I mean, honestly, what on earth could five husbands not have been able to do for her? Not good enough. Not enough. Never enough. I mean, there's no stretch of the imagination. You don't have to be a trained psychologist to figure out that she felt empty inside, that she would go from one relationship to the next to the next to the next searching for something to fill this void in her life.
You can imagine that this woman, I mean, she had no shortage of attention from guys her whole life. There was always somebody to pay attention to her and give her a compliment, maybe even buy her things, and it may be even, just judging by the circumstances, that perhaps she even used the temporary sexual fulfillment to give herself a sense of maybe control, maybe a sense of worth, maybe a sense of anything because she felt empty on the inside.
I mean, sure, she had her fair share of passionate nights and the newness of a fling that would mask this nagging emptiness in her heart, but the next morning, it was always back again. It could never last. It could never ultimately satisfy. She was searching. She was looking, but she had been settling, and when Jesus speaks, he offers her something greater. He offers her something better. He says, "If you come to me, if you come to me, you will never thirst again." What does he mean? "You will never have to look for another source of satisfaction in your life. You will never have to search for fulfillment anywhere else in your life. Come to me."
Jesus also told her, he gave her some information into her past in the past of the story that we didn't read. He tells her exactly what she's done, and instead of her walking away from Jesus, she becomes transformed by him. The story goes on in John 4 where this woman actually does something interesting. Look what it says in John 4:28. "Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?' They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony. 'He told me everything I ever did.' When the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days, and because of his words, many more became believers. They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said. Now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the savior of the world.'"
This woman becomes an early witness to the testimony of who really Jesus is. She goes and tells everybody, and you can imagine that they looked at her sideways when she showed up and started to say, "Come meet a man," and they're thinking, "Yeah, we know your story. What is this? Just another guy in line?" and it wasn't. They were changed as well. They came and saw Jesus, and he transformed so many of them that they were never the same, but there's something interesting about this story that I don't want you to miss, and we can easily miss it if we're just reading too quick. Look again at verse 28. Look at what this says, "Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people."
Now, when you read the gospels, and especially John, you gotta understand that there's always layers to what's being said. This is not just the inclusion of a random ancillary detail in the story, like John's just giving a good color commentary play by play. No. This is a powerful statement because she left her water jar and went and told people of a new source of living water. She left everything behind that was representative of her old life and ran and told everybody about something new that has been made available to her.
Now, yes, she did go back and pick that up, and she would have physical thirst again, but she'd been forever changed and transformed. She left behind symbolically representing a new change, a new chapter, a new page where she wasn't going to run after the lesser things anymore but that she was going to go to greater pleasure and fuller joy because that is what Jesus offer her.
If I could take everything I've said so far, everything that Psalm 16 and John 4 have told us and put it into one statement, it would be this: You will never know true joy and pleasure until Jesus is your highest treasure. You will never know true joy and pleasure until Jesus is your highest treasure. Where do I get that from?
Well, when the psalmist said, "Apart from you, I have no good thing," that's a statement of value. That's a statement of worth. I say treasure Jesus, not just believe in Jesus, although that would be 100% true. I could easily say you will never know true joy and pleasure until you believe in Jesus as savior, and that would be potentially true, but I think we can deceive ourselves when we use words like even words like "believe" because we could keep Jesus at a safe distance if we leave it in a mental acknowledgement of who he is.
Treasure demands a nearness. Treasure demands an intimacy. Treasure demands closeness. Treasure communicates that you would do anything to protect it, that it would almost be sacred to you. I think that's why Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who found treasure in a field, and he made a radical decision. He went and sold everything he had so that he could go and buy that field where the treasure was because it was of infinite worth to him.
That's what it means to say treasure because I talk to a lot of people whose connection about God or connection with God is left in a past event and not a present reality. If I start to ask about their relationship or connection to God, maybe I'll hear things like, "Well, of course. I grew up in such and such a church," or, "I made confirmation at that age and ... " or, "I recited these words with my Sunday school teacher when I was such and such age," or maybe others leave their connection with God as the hour and a half that they spend in a church building from Sunday to Sunday.
This casual indifference to Jesus is not going to lead to the discovery of true and lasting joy and pleasure. If it's just a past event, and it's not a present reality, if it's just a moment-by-moment and not a daily dependence, you will never discover this, but so many people settle for less. No wonder, no wonder then you struggle to understand how God could have this greater pleasure to offer. No wonder you don't, maybe you wonder with doubt sometimes, "Does he have this fuller joy at this disposal because I haven't seen it." Really, what you're doing with God even is trying to just get a couple drops through that kind of a connection with him, and you're like, "That didn't satisfy. I mean, I know I'm supposed to be here. I know I'm supposed to give God a shout out every now and then, but that didn't satisfy me," so we look elsewhere. No wonder we struggle to see God this way.
But when you think about this, if Jesus was your highest treasure, what difference would that make in your life? What difference would that make in marriages where a husband and a wife both who believe and trust and make Jesus their highest treasure and they receive from him true joy and pleasure. Then they won't be coming into the marriage relationships seeing what can that other person give me or what does that other person have that I can get, and I'm going to take as much as I can, and I will if you will, and when there's no more to take, then it's done. But what if two people were coming into a marriage relationship whole, able to give freely of the joy and the pleasure they receive from God.
Would that not revolutionize a marriage? Would that not revolutionize singleness where a person's identity as a single man, a single woman would not be measured by the latest sexual conquest but by their fidelity to Christ as a representation of Christ's fidelity to the church. Would that not revolutionize singleness? Would that not revolutionize our church where we don't just come and take a seat and consume, but like a family that contributes together, we're all joining together as one, seeing if we can outdo one another with honor. Would that not revolutionize a church? Would that to revolutionize a world, because, guys, we talk about reaching every man, every woman, and every child with the Gospel with repeated opportunities to hear and see the Gospel.
That's not just so that we can try to get them all into this building but so that the 5,000 people who call to the chapel home when they leave today, they go out, and they become the representation of the living water in every sphere of their existence because here's the reality, when you come to Jesus and you receive from him and you say, "The Lord alone is my cup," he doesn't just give you enough for you to drink. You know what he does because he's got an unlimited supply? "Your cup runneth over," and so that every encounter, every conversation, every interaction is such that the life of Christ within you would spill out into every relationship, into every facet of your being, into every workplace, into every neighborhood because the reality is, if we're going to reach every man, woman, and child, we can't rely on just pastors to deliver that message because I can't go to the places that you go. The conversation changes when a pastor walks in the room, not always for the better.
If it's just going to be, "Well, let's just get them to hear the pastor," or, "Let's just bring the pastor into the room," what if they saw that in you? What if they saw this in you? What if they saw that you were satisfied with a greater pleasure and a fuller joy, and it made them wonder why, because they would realize, "Wait a minute. I've been in the mud pile. There's something better? I've been over here in temporary pleasures, fleeting significance, empty pursuits. There's something better?"
What if they saw that in you? What if you could say with the psalmist, "The Lord is my cup. The Lord alone is my cup," and that refreshment is not just for you but those that you interact with. What if they saw that in you, so you will never be satisfied without him because you were made to be satisfied in him. You will never be satisfied without him because you were made to be satisfied in him.
Remember, Psalm 16:11, one more time, "You make known to me the path of life. You fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Remember this, but recognize something else, that although David who wrote these words never saw his descendant Jesus in the flesh because he preceded him by about a thousand years, all of David's words find their true and ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the Spirit of God who prompted David to write as such knew exactly where that fulfillment would be because listen to what Hebrews 1 says about Jesus. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty in Heaven." I need everybody at every campus for some class participation. Are you ready? I mean, everybody. Don't just think if I'm not in the room with you, I don't know. I know. Everybody everywhere, he sat down at where? The right hand of the majesty in Heaven. At the where? The right hand.
What did David tell us in Psalm 16:11? "There are eternal pleasures at your right hand." It's all in him. It's all in Jesus. That's why I say you will never know true joy and pleasure until Jesus is your highest treasure. What about joy? We talked about pleasure, what about joy? Jesus spoke these words in John 15. Look at verse 9. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love just as I have kept my Father's commands and remained in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you." Hold on. One more time. "So that my joy may be," where? In you, and that your joy may be what? Complete.
So that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. What did David say about joy? "You fill me with joy in your presence." If you want to find true joy and pleasure, make Jesus your highest treasure. Don't have a casual indifference towards him, but cherish him, carve out time for him, make radical choices for him because he has done so much to save us. This is all found in him, but what does it look like?
You might be thinking, "Okay, don't just speak to me in church language or pastor language, give me something to grab on to before we leave." What does it look like for Jesus to be your highest treasure? What does it look like for Jesus to be your highest treasure?
Three things. The first, sever ties with the old sources of fleeting pleasure. Sever ties with the old sources of fleeting pleasure, and by that, I mean the things that are driven by the sinful nature, the things that would take you away from a pursuit of God, not towards him. Sever ties with the old sources of fleeting pleasure. Why? Because you cannot have duplicate pursuits. You cannot have duplicate pursuits.
Remember when Jesus was teaching on money, and he said, "You cannot serve both God and money." Why? You cannot serve two masters. There's only one that you can call Adonai. Is he the Lord of your life? Sever all ties, and that may be a radical choice for you, but if you've been looking for fulfillment feeding into the heart issue of lust, as an example, and you've been looking for that momentary pleasure that comes when you feed into that, sever ties. If you've been allowing thoughts of greed to drive every conversation and every decision, and it's all about what will get you the next dollar and what will leverage you in position to that person and what your net worth is above that person, whether you have money or not, greed is a virus that infects all people of all kinds. Sever ties. Whatever you have to do to sever ties with that idea, with that pursuit in your life, do it.
Maybe you've been allowing bitterness to take root in your life, and it actually feels good to you when you feed the furnace of bitterness because it gives you one more reason to think you're better than them, it gives you one more reason to think less of them, and so you're allowing that furnace to get fed and fanned into flame hotter and hotter, and that bitterness just starts to consume you. Maybe it's all going on in your heart. Sever ties with the old sources of fleeting pleasure. Don't get any satisfaction from those things.
Maybe it's more blatant than that. Maybe you've actually been stepping out of your marriage, or maybe you've been running around with people that you're not married to. Maybe you've actually been doing some really, things that you're ashamed of, that if they were known, you would want to crawl in a hole. Maybe you've been lying. Maybe you've been actually stealing from your company because you think that this is going to satisfy you. "If I have this, then I'll be fulfilled." Sever ties.
A. W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God records a prayer of his that I've come back to from time to time, and it's this. "Father, I want to know thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys." He means there the things that he's cherished. "I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling but I do come. Please root for my heart all those things, which I have cherished so long and which have come a very part of my living self so that thou mayst enter and dwell there without arrival. God get rid of, root up all of the things that are trying to crowd out your presence in my heart. I don't want any rivals in my life between me and you. I don't want anything to compete from my heart's affection. I want only you."
There's a second thing. Discover or rediscover the God who offers greater pleasure and fuller joy. Discover or maybe rediscover the God who offers greater pleasure and fuller joy.
I say discover because perhaps there's some of you that have never thought about God in this way, and maybe even this text in Psalm 16 has challenged you in a good way because you never thought about God like that, so maybe you need to discover this, or perhaps you need to rediscover it because I would venture to say that many of you have this experience that when you first came to Christ, you were like on fire. You were so excited to be pursuing this God who has pursued you, and you couldn't get enough spiritual nourishment to ease your heart. You were just so hungry for truth, and you wanted to live for Jesus, and you were like ignited. I think that's been the experience of many, but maybe for some of you, it's grown cold. Maybe you thought that was just your younger years, and maybe you just, a little more immature and a little more easily excited and that kind of a thing, and you've allowed that love to grow cold.
Rediscover the God who offers greater pleasure and fuller joy. How does that happen? Well, you hear I say this often. It requires a daily dive into God's word because you need to reshape your view of him. If your view of him is that he's the cosmic killjoy, that needs to be changed, and it can only be refined and transformed by what God has revealed about himself and his word. This is where we find out who he truly is because if you don't believe that he has anything better to offer, you'll stay at a distance. You'll have that casual indifference.
Then a third thing, and this might sound the strangest of all. Embrace obedience as a pathway to pleasure and joy. Embrace obedience as a pathway to pleasure and joy. Now, you might be thinking, those are contradictory terms, and if our childhood taught us anything, it was if we wanted to obey, that meant no pleasure, no joy, we didn't want to do it, and if we wanted to have fun, that meant disobey. Sometimes, we even import that onto God and think that if God says, "Don't," it's because he doesn't want us to have fun, and if God says, "Do," it's because he wants to be a control freak.
We have a wrong view of God. Embrace obedience as a pathway to pleasure and joy. Remember Jesus' words again in John 15. I'm not just pulling this out of thin air. Look at what he says in John 15. "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."
You see how he connected keeping his Father's commands to joy and how now keeping his commands to our joy so that because God is not a cosmic killjoy, he is actually a loving Father who knows what is best in every situation. When he says, "Don't," it's for our ultimate good. When he says, "Do," it's for our ultimate good. When he says, "Don't," he's not just trying to keep us out of having fun. Instead, he's saying, "Don't. You'll hurt yourself, and I don't want you to continue on a path of self-destruction." When we believe this about God, we can see that obedience is anything but a begrudging, reluctant obligation but an opportunity for us to experience pleasure and joy. Why?
He says, "If you obey my commands, you'll remain in my love." What does that mean? You'll step into the full weight of the river of God's love rushing towards you. That doesn't mean God doesn't love you at other times, but that you will experience the fullness of that love in a totally new way. Embrace obedience as a pathway to pleasure and joy.
One last thing from the apostle John, this time from 1 John 5. Look what he says. "In fact, this is love for God to keep his commands, and his commands are not burdensome." We've talked so much as of late about love God, love the church, love the world. Here is one way to demonstrate our love for God out of his love for us to keep his commands. Here's the blessed word, "And his commands are not burdensome." They're not a heavy weight. They are for our joy, our pleasure, our ultimate good.
Let me ask you this in closing. What would it look like for every single follower of Christ to live this way? What would that change for you? What if you believe that God had greater pleasure and fuller joy available? What would that transform in your life? Well, how would that change your today? Would people be able to discern by looking at your life that you've experience the satisfaction that no thing in this world could offer? Would there be any uniqueness about your walk as a follower of Christ to a watching world around you? Will your kids be able to tell that Jesus is your highest treasure, because what message are you even passing along to them? Will they even see it in you, parents?
Listen, as a parent, I know myself, even the temptation is to invert this so that, in many cases, in many families, the kids become the highest treasure. Listen, they are a valuable gift from the Lord, but things get out of wack quick when Jesus is no longer the highest treasure. They won't be able to receive the message of the Gospel as you've hoped if they are in the wrong seat. Even that, what message are they receiving from you? Can they tell in your parenting and your love that Jesus is your highest treasure?
I challenge all of us to not settle, to not stay in the mud pile, but to be aware that there is a holiday by the sea, and it is available to us now in Jesus, and you and I will never know true joy and pleasure until Jesus is our highest treasure. Taste and see. The Lord is good. Let's bow together for a word a prayer. I'd ask that if you don't have to move right now that you don't. Some of our volunteer teams are getting into place as we prepare to leave this place today, but if you can stay where you are so that you're not a distraction to those around you, that would be so meaningful.
If you're here today, and you don't know God personally through Jesus, you've never before come to the place where he's actually your highest treasure in life, in fact, even just speaking about God that way seems strange or foreign, but if you recognize today an emptiness in your own heart because you've been searching for fulfillment, for pleasure, for satisfaction, and maybe you could agree with me that some of the things you've been looking for that end, it doesn't satisfy. It does last.
If you recognize today, perhaps for the first time, that Jesus is the only one that can fill that void, then here's what I'd give you as a challenge, that when we dismiss in just a moment, you'd come by the Fireside Room, which is just through the atrium, whether you're in the Worship Center or the East Worship Center, just come through the atrium, and you'll see a room labeled Fireside Room, just walk in there and say this: I need Jesus. There's some folks in there that would love to pray with you, give you a Bible if you don't have one, that would be our gift to you, and to send you home with something that will help you understand what it means to follow Christ.
God, I pray for all of us that you'd take this word, that you'd implant the seed of the Gospel in our hearts so that it would yield fruit, abundant fruit in our lives, that people who look at us would be able to see what we've experience as your followers, that we haven't been settling for lesser pleasure, but that we have received a greater pleasure and a fuller joy because of you, Jesus. Let that be evident in our lives in every decision and every conversation everywhere we go, that others may see and hear it in us and get a taste of the living water spilling over into the lives that we touch. God, thank you so much for this time and this truth. We thank you for your love, but we want to say you thank you for loving us first. We now love you in response. It's in Christ's name that we pray, amen.