May 14, 2014
As I work my way through David Platt’s Follow Me study, now in the 3rd week on Delighting in God, I realize that we have come to the heart of the matter. This is why I am a worship leader, and perhaps the greatest part of my role as a pastor, leading the people of God at Trinity Church to wholeheartedly delight in him. I can remember as a middle school student when my soul awakened to the joy of knowing and following Jesus. But it wasn’t until reading John Piper’s Desiring God (Amazon), that I was set free to joyfully seek pleasure in worshiping Christ. Piper’s thesis is that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him. Piper’s encouragement is toward Christian hedonism, seeking our greatest pleasure in God alone. This was revolutionary for my life as a worshiper, having been somewhat ‘holding back’ up to that point, all of a sudden I was set free to delight in God, even to the point where it might cause embarrassment. At that same time, through great biblical teaching, my eyes were being (and continue to be) opened to the Almighty God, the glorious gospel (good news of Jesus), and my soul began to sing like never before!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before, O, my soul
I’ll worship your holy name
~Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons, inspired by Psalm 103
Platt asks the question, “In what ways do you experience pleasure through your relationship with Jesus?” Certainly singing is one of those ways for me. The Lord designed all of us to find pleasure in singing; after all, it is commanded over and over in the Scriptures. It doesn’t take a great voice. It’s simply the joy of adding whatever voice we’ve been given to the choir of people singing God’s praise. Often during months of doctor’s prescribed vocal rest over the past few years, it was a joy to hear the ‘loud’ combined voice of the gathered people of God singing wholeheartedly to the Lord, something I’ve come to greatly appreciate about the congregation I’m privileged to lead! You better believe my soul was singing loudly even when I was only mouthing the words.
But there are many other ways I experience pleasure through my relationship with Jesus. In addition to singing praise, here are other ways I worship.
Serving the Lord by serving others. This is the heart of what it means to be a community of Christ-followers. We most follow Christ when we serve like he did. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Mark 10:45 ESV) We all have been given gifts for the purpose of building up the body (the church) in love. (see Ephesians 4) This is the most practical way I have come to know and delight in God – by working together with his people to serve. I also find this joy serving my wife, my kids, neighbors, friends & extended family. Serving is the defining activity of a Christ-follower.
Giving Sacrificially. Mark pointed out in his message on Sunday from Psalm 73 that extravagant generosity flows out of delighting in God above all things, specifically in this case, above the pleasures of wealth. I think it’s a two way street. Practicing extravagant generosity also helps us to delight in God. They both feed each other, although the inspiration and motivation to give extravagantly comes from realizing that this is what Jesus did for us! It’s in the Mark 10:45 passage above; he gave his life as a ransom for many!
Discovering God through reading, studying, listening to sermons/teaching. Discovery is intellectual, but it is so much more than that. There is adventure in discovery! An astronomer looks at the vastness of the universe through the lens of a telescope, taking what is immensely huge, infinite and magnifying it so as to see something he cannot see with the naked eye. In the same way a biologist looks through the microscope to magnify the intricate details of a cell. Another word for worshiping God is to magnify him. Magnifying God leads to discovery! To seek, gaze upon beauty and inquire, is what discovery is all about!
“One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalms 27:4 ESV)
Marveling at his Works. I love pausing to behold the beauty of God’s creation! All of his created works praise him and inspire me to praise him. But I’ve found a delight even greater: seeing the transformation he works in lives when he takes what was dead and brings life! “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4–5 ESV) Hearing stories about God’s saving and transforming work and experiencing it in my own life has become one of the greatest ways I delight in God.
Walking in his Ways. Psalm 119 has become a foundational mindset for me. This is a picture of delighting in God by delighting in his Word and walking in his ways.
“I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.” (Psalms 119:15–16 ESV)
Resting in Jesus. Simply enjoying a personal relationship, Father to dearly loved child, is too often overlooked in my driven spiritual life. Prayer and satisfied silence in his presence, like a child calmed in the loving arms of his mother or father, is how I rest in Jesus. The invitation stands, in fact, this is where it all begins. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ESV)
Singing, serving, giving, discovering, marveling, walking and resting are the main ways that I experience pleasure through my relationship with Christ. There is so much more pleasure yet to be had! May we truly seek our greatest pleasure in knowing and following Jesus!