Revive Our Hearts Podcast

True Happiness

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So where do you find the greatest pleasure and where do you find fullness of joy and where do you find life to the hilt? You find it in the presence of God. You don't find it from eating more food. You don't find it from alcohol or drugs or illicit sex. Those things may satisfy for a moment but like sugar they give you a quick high and then a quick drop.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 6. All week we've been in a series called "Surrender: Facing Our Fears." Nancy has helped us think about what would happen if we truly surrendered everything to God. Maybe you've been thinking, "If I did surrender, I'd have to give up all happiness." Here is Nancy to help us think that through.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In our western world, the pursuit of happiness has become one of the highest goods and one of the things we most seek after. I think it's important that we understand as we're talking about surrender to the will of God that God does want us to be happy and that He does want to give us pleasure.

This is something I've had to wrestle with in my own life because I've had, I think, a view of God and His ways that says, "If you're trying to be happy, there is something wrong with you." I've grown up in this environment of thinking about walking with God and surrender to God but that happiness didn't necessarily matter.

The problem is not that God doesn't want us to be happy. The problem is that we try to find happiness and pleasure apart from God. In fact, the enemy convinces us that if you really surrender your life to God--if you have a life of abandon and surrender and commitment to God, that you won't be happy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The older I get and the more I walk with God, the more I realize that walking in trust and obedience is truly the only way to true happiness. I'm experiencing in this season of my life more happiness and joy and pleasure than I ever would have dreamed possible because I'm reaping the benefits and the blessings of years of getting to know God, getting to know His ways, testing Him; falling at times and finding Him to be faithful.

God is a God who wants us to experience pleasure. Now we can't deny the fact that pain is unavoidable in this fallen world. Suffering is a necessary instrument in our sanctification. Suffering is part of what God uses to mold and to complete and perfect the lives of those that He loves. So when we say, "God wants us to have pleasure and God wants us to be happy," we're not saying that that means "Therefore, no pain, no suffering, no problems."

The truth is that if you've never had pain and suffering and problems, you could never know true happiness. It is in the midst of the pain and the suffering and the problems that we can find Christ, who is our happiness and our source of true pleasure.

But I want us to understand that God created us to experience intense pleasure and joy. The problem is that we're prone to seek that pleasure in things and in people that cannot truly satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. So we end up settling for less than what is truly satisfying.

I love that quote by C. S. Lewis, where he is talking about the desires that we have. He said, "We are halfhearted 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 at the sea."

Lewis said, "We are far too easily pleased." Isn't that true? We find ourselves thinking we'll get our cup filled by shopping, by food or by alcohol or by an illicit sexual relationship. Our hearts can never be truly satisfied with less than God. It is so foolish for us to pursue the world's paltry pleasures when the truth is that God wants to give us His pure, infinite pleasures.

You find this theme all the way through the Scripture. Let me read to you several verses from the Psalms. Psalm 31:19: "How abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you." Just imagine--God has a storehouse of goodness. It's an abundant, overflowing storehouse. He has stored it up for those who fear Him. It's an abundant supply that He wants to lavish on us.

Then Psalm 16:11: "You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore." So where do you find the greatest pleasure? Where do you find fullness of joy? Where do you find life to the hilt?

You find it in the presence of God. You don't find it from another shopping expedition. You don't find it from eating more food. You don't find it from alcohol or drugs or illicit sex. Those things may satisfy for a moment but like sugar they give you a quick high and then a quick drop.

But God says, "I want you to have My infinite, pure pleasures. You find those in My presence. I want to provide those for you."

Let me say, by the way, that many, many women who thought that they could not be happy single, who thought that they could not be happy without mate, rushed headlong into a relationship that was not in the will of God. They didn't have their parents' blessing. The young man wasn't a believer. They were not sexually pure. Whatever the circumstances, they thought, This will make me happy.

Now they're writing us letters day after day, pouring out their hearts, crying and saying, "This is so miserable." They thought they would find happiness. They thought they had to have a husband. They weren't seeking the kingdom of God, the will of God. They were seeking the world's paltry pleasures, and they have ended up in many cases miserable.

Psalm 36:7,8: "How precious is your lovingkindness, O God; therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your pleasures." I love that verse. I love that concept--that God offers to us a river of pleasures.

I want to say to you that if you are not a child of God, if you are not surrendered to God, if you have not relinquished control of your life to Him, if you are not letting Him call the shots in your life, there is a river of pleasures from which you cannot drink. God has abundant satisfaction He wants to give to you. There is fullness in His house.

I sometimes think about my life. There have been ups and downs. There have been heartaches. There have been losses and deaths and pain and struggles. I've shared some of those with you in various sessions here on Revive Our Hearts.

But I want you to know, when you add it all up, what God has given me is abundant satisfaction and the fullness of His house. He is letting me drink--this side of heaven--He is giving me a taste of that river of His pleasures.

It doesn't mean life is easy, but it means life is blessed. It's blessed to the degree that I trust and obey. Trust and obey. Even fully surrendered saints sometimes experience sorrow and suffering and struggles. In fact, if you're not experiencing any of those things, you may well wonder if you're really a child of God. God has promised that we will have those sorrows and struggles.

But in the midst of this earthly journey, the joy that Christ offers us lifts us beyond the pain, beyond the hurt, beyond the circumstances and provides us with a river of pleasures, a river of delights. It is just a foretaste of eternal pleasures that we're going to experience in heaven.

We don't have here and now what we will only have then and there. But when God gives us a taste, He allows us to taste of that river of His pleasures. Therefore, we can have joy in every circumstance.

That's how the apostle Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 7 [:4], "In all our tribulation, I am overflowing with joy." Think about that! In all our tribulation, I am overflowing with joy. That's how Peter could say in 1 Peter 1 [:3], "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

"We are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice"--in what?--"in looking ahead to what you cannot see now, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

"These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold (which perishes, even though refined by fire)--your faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

And then 1 Peter 1:8: "Though you have not seen Jesus, yet you love him; and though you do not see him now, you believe in Him and you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your life: the salvation of your souls."

You say, "If I surrender control, if I relinquish control, will I be happy? Will I have pleasure?" You bet. With it, there will be sorrows. Those will shape and sanctify you. But in the midst of those sorrows, in the midst of the tears, in the midst of the losses, there can be an inexpressible and glorious joy found only in the presence of Christ--not found through any other means, in any other place.

You want true joy? You want the pleasures of a lifetime, the pleasures of God for eternity? Trust and obey.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. She has helped us understand that surrender to God and happiness can go together. Maybe until our current series you've never thought about the concept of surrender. Do you see how it is central to a life with Christ? When we surrender to God, it affects every decision we make. I hope you'll learn more about this important topic.

Nancy has written a book that can help you understand better what it means to live a surrendered life. It's called Surrender: The Heart God Controls. It's the second book in a trilogy that includes Brokenness and Holiness. When you order, we'll include a pamphlet called, Promises to Live By. You can get Surrender for a suggested donation of $10 when you visit our Web site, ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you've learned something new about surrender this week, would you write and tell us about it? Safety is one of the biggest issues on our minds these days. We'll talk about safety and surrender on Monday's program. Now let's pray with Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Lord, You are so good. Thank You for lavishing the abundance of Your goodness upon us. Lord, I don't deserve Your mercies and Your kindness and all the things Peter talked about in that first chapter that are such gifts to us who deserve hell and separation from You.

I thank You that You fill our cups. You fill us with Your joy, with pleasures that those who don't know You can only dream about, but they are ours through Christ. So may we not fear but trust. Trust and obey. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

 

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