Fullness of Joy

Paul Tripp on Psalm 16 in The Problem of Good: When the World Seems Fine without God (P&R, 2014), 133:

The pleasures of the physical world are temporarily enjoyable, but the shelf life of their enjoyment is short. The taste of food is wonderful, but it does not linger long on your tongue. The delight of musical creativity is enjoyable, but the notes do not ring in your ears for very long. You sit on the edge of your seat during that powerful movie, but on the way home you are already planning for your next day at work.

Pleasure is pleasurable, but the pleasures of this right-here, right-now created world can never give you fullness of joy. God graces you with pleasure not to satisfy your heart, but to point you to where your searching heart will finally be satisfied. Joy is found in pleasure, but fullness of joy is to be found only in the One who created pleasure for your good and his glory.

Hold Your Dreams with Open Hands

From Paul David Tripp’s excellent new devotional of freshly written content, New Morning Mercies (Crossway), here’s the September 11 reading:

Life is all about to whom and where you look for satisfaction of heart. The shape and direction of your life are determined by what you tell yourself will make you content. Everyone in some way says, “If only I had this, I would be content and able to stop looking for the next thing.”

What sits on the other side of your “If-only”?

We are all dreamers. We all chase a vision of what we would like life to be. We all wish we were sovereign over our lives so our dreams would come true. We all fantasize and imagine. Now, this ability is not evil in and of itself, but combine it with the selfishness of sin, and it will surely get you and me into trouble.

Here’s what happens: it’s not just that you have a dream, but that your heart gets captured by your dream. It becomes your definition of “life.” You no longer hold your dream with open hands. What was once a desire has morphed into a demand, and it won’t be long before you view that demand as a need.

This thing that you once wished that you had becomes your nonnegotiable, the thing that you are unwilling to live without. Soon you’re unhappy, not because life has been hard or God has been unfaithful, but because this thing that is effectively and functionally ruling your heart lies beyond your grasp. You are despondent and discouraged. You envy people who seem to have captured their dreams. You wonder why you’ve been singled out. You wonder why God has forgotten you.

Dream? Yes, but when your dream becomes a ruling thing, it wreaks havoc on your spiritual life.

Pay attention also to what happens to your relationship with God as your dreams gobble up more of the turf of your heart. God is no longer the thing that motivates you and gives you courage and hope. God is no longer your source of sturdy joy. The glory of God is no longer the thing that you’re living for. Awe of God is no longer the reason you do everything you do.

Sadly, God has been reduced to a delivery system. If he delivers, you’ll worship and serve him, but if he fails to deliver, you will question his goodness and love, and you’ll have little motivation to offer your life to him.

I think there are thousands of Christians in this sad position. Perhaps this is what the Bible is picturing when it talks of those who have “abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4). However, there is grace for this struggle — grace that battles for your heart, grace that is more powerful than the draw of any dream. Own the dangerous dreams of your fickle heart and run to the grace that is yours in Jesus.

What Did You Expect?

I have yet to be disappointed by any book authored by Paul David Tripp. Some of his best works include:

•    Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands
•    Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy
•    A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble
•    A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You

So what did I expect from him? More of the same.

His latest book on marriage—What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage—looks very good. The teaching DVD and CD versions of his message have been available for a while now. The DVD series was very well done (and would work well as a video curriculum in a local church marriage retreat setting).

Don’t let Tripp’s walrus mustache, or the book’s clipart cover, fool you. This book is the fresh and pointed work of a soul surgeon. The book is structured around 6 core marriage commitments–

1: We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.
2: We will make growth and change our daily agenda.
3: We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.
4: We will commit to building a relationship of love.
5: We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.
6: We will work to protect our marriage.

Here’s a short video introduction to What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage