The Pursuit of Pleasure

chocolate-devotional

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Pleasure’s benefits are brief and never as sweet as the lasting pleasure seeking God brings.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 1:1-2

“How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.”

Mmmm. The silky smooth milk chocolate glides through my mouth as I bask in the enjoyment of all its flavor. Unless, of course, it is cheap, generic chocolate, wrapped prettily but lacking in substance.

Ah, yes, I am a connoisseur of all things chocolate. Ok. * Sigh *  I am a recovering chocoholic.

But what drove me to this fascination with chocolate? The taste buds that God gave me, and the pursuit of the pleasure I feel when indulging in the sweet bliss of all things chocolate. This pleasure, however, is somewhat fleeting, as the scale reminds me the next day of the cost of that pleasure.

So why did God create tastes buds in the first place? Maybe if we did not have them, we would not delight in food. It seems the senses, in general, can get us into trouble.

Funny things is, God wants us to delight – He wants us to enjoy and experience – even pursue pleasure. The object of our delight often falls so very far of what He has for us, though. Everything around us was not meant to satisfy our deepest need, only our Creator could do that.

We hunger for this satisfaction of the soul and try to fulfill it with the outward senses, but when the temporary fix wears off, we are left wondering why it did not last and what will please us next. Like the Israelites, we hunger for the wrong thing and sometimes blame God when we don’t get what we want.

Then there’s this battle with gratitude. God gives us just what we need and blesses us so abundantly, but we tend to not know our limits. We like His blessing so much we want more and more and sometimes are not content with His provision and can complain when it is removed, as if we deserved it.

I am preaching to the choir here, people. Me, too. I confess that chocolate and I are close – perhaps a little too close, sometimes. But when I realize how I have allowed the creation to become my delight rather than the Creator, it brings me to a place of humble worship.

He alone is my soul’s delight. I have an inner thrill when I consider His incredible care and sovereignty. Wow. Instead of finding delight in things, we can ask God to help us delight in obeying Him and meditating on His Word. It is in this pursuit that we find lasting pleasure that the world can never take away.

Lord, You are our treasure, the delight of our souls. May we never search for satisfaction for our souls from an unspiritual world, but only find our complete joy in God.

Friday: It’s Party Time!

Party Time.png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

There is no more joy that can be found on this earth than in Jesus.

Scriptures:

Isiah 24:14-16

“They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. 15 Therefore in the east give glory to the Lordexalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea.  16 From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One.”

Isaiah 25:6-8

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;  he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken.”

The weekend is here … finally!  So many of us live for the weekend, for a break from the tortuous routine of daily living.  Hoping for an escape from boredom, we pursue relief, even partying as a refuge.

Maybe it’s hobbies or parties – drinking, maybe it’s drugs.  Maybe relationships.  But in all the human pursuits of this earth, eternity knocks on the door of all of our hearts and the longing for something more is not quenched by a momentary celebration or diversion. No, we need something – someOne more.

When I read the verses above, I can’t help but smile.  God is not a spoil sport.  He designed everything for our enjoyment and eternity with Him is going to be filled with joy and delight in His perfect presence.  Parties on this earth pale vastly in comparison to what God has in store for those who love Him!

Those promises the world offers?  Counterfeits.  We can let them go and find real, lasting answers in God alone.  He alone satisfies our soul’s deepest need and desire.

No more death, no  more sorrow.  No tears seen there.  Only perfect peace and joy, enveloped in His love.  Think on that this weekend.  You are loved with an everlasting love.  Right now we can seek Him and know Him and be filled with His Holy Spirit to overflowing.

Lord, thank You that we can know You and enjoy You now.  Thank You for the gifts you lavish on us each moment – Your peace, Your unconditional love, Your Joy and faith in troubled times.  Help us to find our joy in You and to spread it to all the world.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way.