Did you have a pleasurable Christmas?
I love Christmas. I love Christmas because it reminds me of the life-changing spiritual implications of the birth of Christ, and I also love Christmas because of created pleasures that accompany it! (Cookies, decorations, meals, spending time with family)
I want to close out this season of Advent devotionals by reminding you that the birth of Christ is deeply connected to pleasure in the heart of God. There's one verse in Isaiah 53 that says it all:
"Yet it pleased the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief." (53:10)
How could it be that God the Father would ever find pleasure in the crushing and the grief of his Son? If you're a parent, you know that you would never want anything like what is being described in this passage to happen to one of your kids.
The answer to the why behind Isaiah 53:10 is found in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
I'm sure you've heard this many times before, so why emphasize it again? Because, at some point during 2018, I'm deeply persuaded that you will be tempted to doubt the love of God.
Maybe it will be during a moment of physical suffering, and you wonder why God has allowed this pain to be your experience.
Maybe it will be in the midst of a very significant, relational disappointment - somebody that you love has turned their back on you, and you wonder why God has brought this into your life.
Maybe it will be in a moment of financial difficulty, and you've sought to obey God, you’ve sought to be a good steward of the resources he’s given to you, yet you've lost your job and it doesn't make any sense.
Maybe you're looking around at the world you live in, and all you see is evil is prospering, and you wonder, “Where is God? Where is his love?”
Isaiah 53:10 and John 3:16 provide your reminding argument. These two verses are the place to run when the enemy would whisper doubt into your ear.
God's love is so magnificent and faithful, so powerful and willing, that he would be pleased to give his Son to cruel suffering and cruel death so that you would know life.
And, if he would do such a thing, would he abandon you in your moment of need? Romans 8:32 says no, he will not! "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"
If you're anything like me, it's easy to find evidence of the love of God when you're experiencing pleasurable seasons of life. But neither God nor his love change when those physical pleasures are taken away.
During these moments of uncomfortable grace, your inner peace won't be found in understanding. No, your spiritual rest is found in the pleasure of the Father and in the willingness of his Son. There is no more clear-pointed, rest-giving demonstration of the love of God for you than the gift of his Son.
Now that's a reason to celebrate Christmas!
Outside of this holiday season, what brings you pleasure? If you were to look back at the end of a day and say, "That was a great day," how would you define a good day and a not-so-good day?
- Do the same things that bring you pleasure bring pleasure to God?
- What are two or three pleasures that you should share with the Lord, and how can you focus on pursuing those holy pleasures?