pleasure

The Disease of Discontentment.

 

8 Woe to those who join house to house,
    who add field to field,
until there is no more room,
    and you are made to dwell alone
    in the midst of the land.
9 The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing:
“Surely many houses shall be desolate,
    large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.
10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath,
    and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.”

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
    that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
    as wine inflames them!
12 They have lyre and harp,
    tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord,
    or see the work of his hands.

13 Therefore my people go into exile
    for lack of knowledge;
their honored men go hungry,
    and their multitude is parched with thirst.
14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite
    and opened its mouth beyond measure,
and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down,
    her revelers and he who exults in her.
15 Man is humbled, and each one is brought low,
    and the eyes of the haughty are brought low.
16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice,
    and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture,
    and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich. – Isaiah 5:8-17 ESV

Judah, the vineyard planted by God in the fertile soil of Mount Zion, had failed to produce the kind of fruit God had expected. Instead of sweet grapes practically bursting with juice perfect for making the finest of wines, they had produced wild grapes, sour to the taste and unfit for anything except the fire. And that is exactly what Isaiah is trying to warn the people of Judah. God’s fire of judgment is about to fall on them for their unfaithfulness and lack of spiritual fruitfulness. Or, to put it another way, they had produced the wrong kind of fruit.

Now, Isaiah pronounces a series of woes against them. The word translated as “woe” is the Hebrew word, howy and it is an expression of exclamation that conveys pitty, sorrow, or lament. Isaiah is letting his readers know that what is headed their way will not be enjoyable or avoidable. The word, “woe” acts as an antonym to the word, “blessed.” Rather than enjoying the blessings of God that come as a result of obedience to His will, they were going to experience curses as a result of His judgment. And, long ago, God had provided them with ample warning that this would be their fate if they failed to remain faithful to Him.

“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.” – Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NLT

The first woe has to do with their insatiable greed. Enough was never enough. God had blessed them with land, but they lacked contentment, constantly desiring more. And the prophet, Micah, describes them as lying awake at night scheming of ways to take advantage of their neighbors and confiscate what rightfully belonged to them.

Woe to those who devise wickedness
    and work evil on their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
    because it is in the power of their hand.
They covet fields and seize them,
    and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
    a man and his inheritance. – Micah 2:1-2 NET

God had made it perfectly clear that the land in which they lived belonged to Him and, as a result, they were to live in it like tenant farmers, caring for the land on God’s behalf.

“The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me.” – Leviticus 25:23 NLT

And God had ensured that each of the 12 tribes of Israel was allotted their own portion of land, to remain in their possession for as long as they lived in the land. If anyone was forced to sell his land our of necessity, the buyer was to allow them the right to buy it back.

“With every purchase of land you must grant the seller the right to buy it back. If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and is forced to sell some family land, then a close relative should buy it back for him. If there is no close relative to buy the land, but the person who sold it gets enough money to buy it back, he then has the right to redeem it from the one who bought it.” – Deuteronomy 25:24-27 NLT

But greed had gotten the best of them. One of the greatest expressions of our love for God is our love for others. When Jesus was asked which ones of God’s laws recorded by Moses was the most important, He had responded:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

Yet, the people of Judah had exhibited a love for self that transcended their love for others and, ultimately, revealed their lack of love for God. They were unsatisfied with what God had given them and demanded more. And they were willing to do whatever it took to get what they wanted, even if it meant taking advantage of their own neighbors.

In their obsession to have more, they were actually sealing their fate and ensuring that they would never experience the joy they were seeking. Their larger estates would leave them isolated and alone. And they would learn the painful lesson that bigger is not always better. Because God warned them that their disobedience would bring His judgment.

“Many houses will stand deserted;
    even beautiful mansions will be empty.
Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine.
    Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.” – Isaiah 5:9-10 NLT

The greedy are never satisfied. Their appetite is insatiable because they attempt to meet their needs by seeking something other than God.

The second woe has to do with the love of pleasure. The people of Judah had become hedonistic in their outlook on life. They lived by the philosophy, “Eat, drink and be merry!” They lived to party and filled their days with the consumption of alcohol and the pursuit of pleasure. But Isaiah exposes the root problem: “they never think about the Lord or notice what he is doing” (Isaiah 5:12 NLT). Rather than looking to God to bring them joy and a sense of satisfaction with life, they were turning to physical pleasures.

And God predicts their fate: “Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge” (Isaiah 5:13 ESV). Their real problem was not drunkenness and partying, but a lack of knowledge of God. They didn’t understand that He was to be the sole source of their joy and the primary provider of pleasure in their lives. The apostle Paul would later describe his understanding of God’s role as his source of contentment and satisfaction.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

For the people of Judah, their search for satisfaction entailed more land and their quest for joy involved much wine. But they would never find what they were looking for. Instead they would experience poverty, hunger, thirst, and the humiliation of life as exiles in a foreign land.

But God would be perfectly just in His treatment of them. He would only be giving them what they deserved and what they had brought upon themselves.

But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice.
    The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness. – Isaiah 5:16 NLT

He had promised to bless them if they would only remain faithful to Him. And time and time again, He had proven Himself a God who keeps His word. They were blessed. They lived in a land that was abundantly fruitful and more than adequate to meet their needs. He had provided them with ample reasons to experience joy in life, but they had turned to pleasure, possessions, and even pagan gods in a vain attempt to discover what they could only find in God. And the Scriptures are filled with reminders of God’s faithfulness to satisfy every need that man might have.

Let them praise the Lord for his great love
    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
For he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things. – Psalm 107:8-9 NLT

The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring. – Isaiah 58:11 NLT

“Is anyone thirsty?
    Come and drink—
    even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
    it’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
    Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
    You will enjoy the finest food.” – Isaiah 55:1-2 NLT

God was more than enough. He was fully capable of meeting all their needs. But they had decided that bigger is better and the pursuit of pleasure is preferrable. Unlike Paul, they didn’t see godliness with contentment is great wealth (I Timothy 6:6). 

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

When God Is Not Enough.

1 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: 2 a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. 5 Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. 6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place?

7 All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. 8 For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

10 Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun? Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 ESV

From Solomon’s unique vantage point as king, he has been able to see and experience a great deal of what life has to offer. Some of his observations are more objective in nature, providing the perspective of an impartial outsider, viewing the lives of the people in his kingdom. He has been able to witness first-hand, the oppression of the poor. As a judge over his people, he has had to preside over countless cases involving injustice and abuse. He has had to listen to the cries of the destitute and needy, as they have begged for someone to help them in their time of need. But some of Solomon’s most powerful insights come from his willingness to look at his own life and share his more subjective and personal observations. In this chapter, he seems to be speaking from personal experience, revealing his own frustrations over what he sees and what he fears. First of all, he starts with what he describes as an evil or wickedness that he has observed “under the sun” or in this life. He writes from a human perspective, presenting his earth-bound opinion regarding of what he sees as a prevalent problem among mankind. There are those whom God has obviously blessed with great wealth, but He has also denied them the power or capacity to enjoy all that they have been given. These people have all that their hearts desire, except contentment and joy. And to make matters even worse, when they die, their God-given blessings are enjoyed by someone else. It’s all a grievous evil. Or is it? First of all, Solomon’s viewpoint reflects the commonly held perspective of his day. Anyone who enjoyed great wealth had obviously been blessed by God. And if they had been blessed by God, their lives must have been pleasing to God. Which is why it made no sense for God to withhold the one thing these people needed: The ability to enjoy what He had given them. Solomon was right when he concluded that all good things come from God. In fact, he would have based his view of the Scriptures themselves.

11 Truth springs up from the earth,
    and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
    Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. – Psalm 85:11-12 ESV

Even the New Testament author, James, echoes this view.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… – James 1:17 ESV

But where Solomon missed the point was in his assumption that wealth and material goods were to be the source of his enjoyment. In other words, he wrongly assumed that it was the blessings of God that brought joy, contentment, satisfaction and significance. He misunderstood the true nature of the source of those things. God was to have been his focus. Not just as the giver of good things, but as the only good thing anyone could ever need. God was to be enough. The apostle Paul expressed this viewpoint when he said:

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

It didn’t really matter to Paul whether he had a little or a lot. As long as he had his relationship with Christ, that was all that mattered. Solomon placed his emphasis on stuff and things. For him, the proof of God’s love was in the presence of material goods and the ability to enjoy them. And yet, what Solomon was experiencing was the very painful lesson that nothing can ever satisfy our inner longings like God Himself.

But for Solomon, the measurement of a successful life was based on both quantity and quality. He pessimistically observed that if a man ended up fathering hundreds of children (and he did), and lived a long life (which he had), but his soul was not satisfied with life’s good things (and his wasn’t), then his life was a waste. In fact, he would have been better off if he had died at birth. Notice what he is saying. He is measuring the significance of life based on a quantitative basis. He operated on the commonly held assumption of the more, the merrier. It was long life and lots of kids that brought joy. But having hundreds of children, none of whose names you know, will never bring satisfaction. Living a long life, but without a relationship with the One who gave you life, will never satisfy. Acquiring much wealth and accomplishing great deeds will never make anyone truly happy or content, if they fail to seek the giver of all good things.

For Solomon, nothing was more futile and frustrating than the thought of living a long life devoid of contentment. He states that a man “might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?” (Ecclesiastes 6:6 NLT). And, sadly, this is a description of Solomon’s life. This describes where he finds himself. He is at the end of life looking back, and while he can claim to have fathered hundreds of children and lived many years, he cannot say as Paul did, “I have learned to be content.” More was not merrier.

In his mind, it was all about satisfaction. Even the poor, who spend their days trying to scratch out a living and provide food for their next meal, only discover that they’re hungry again. The wise, the wealthy, the foolish and the poor are all faced with the same grievous problem: Enough is never enough. Satisfaction and contentment are illusive. And the only advice Solomon can come up with is “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have” (Ecclesiastes 6:9 NLT). But again, his emphasis is on the wrong thing. He is not recommending that we find our satisfaction in God, but that we simply resign ourselves to enjoying what little we have been given by God. He has missed the point.

And because he has missed the point, he misses out on the real meaning and purpose of life. It is not about gaining and getting. It is not about acquiring and accumulating. It is about learning to seek satisfaction, significance, joy and contentment from a relationship with the God of the universe. But Solomon had a warped perspective about God. He refers to God as “one stronger than he.” He doesn’t see God as Father, but as enforcer. He doesn’t approach God as the gracious giver of good things, but as a capricious tyrant who withholds the ability to enjoy what has been given. And while he rightly understands that God knows all and sees all, Solomon seems to resent the fact that God keeps the future fate of man a mystery. Which leaves man stuck in the here-and-now, trying to make the most out of what he has before his life comes to an abrupt end.

What Solomon describes in this chapter is the sad state of all men and women who refuse to see God as the central source of all good in their lives. He does bless. He does give good things. He is the author of life and the source of all that we can see. But God is not to be viewed as some disembodied purveyor of presents, like a cosmic Genie in a bottle. He is the gift. He is the good. He is the satisfaction and significance for which man so desperately seeks. The apostle Paul summarized it well when he spoke to the people of Athens, describing the nature of the “unknown god” to whom they offered sacrifices, but of whom they remained ignorant.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. – Acts 17:24-28 NLT

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

No Contest.

Proverbs 21

“No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:30 NLT

If God were the petty and petulant type, I could almost hear Him say, "Oh, you think you're so smart! Well go ahead, do it your way and let's see how that works out for you!" This would be His response on those far too numerous occasions when I have decided to follow my own advice or put my own plan into action, all while rejecting anything He might have for me to do. But of course, God is not petty or petulant. He is patient. He is long-suffering and He simply allows us to learn our lessons the hard way – through experience. The simple truth is that there is NO human wisdom or understanding or plan that can stand against the Lord. But wait, you say, who in their right mind would want to stand against the Lord? Who would be dumb enough to go mano y mano with their Maker? Just every single person who has ever walked the face of this earth. Every one of us have stood against the Lord every time we have done things our way, instead of His. We have stood against the Lord when we have refused to seek out His will through time spent in His Word. Each time we have made a decision without consulting God or seeking His input, we have stood against Him. To stand against the Lord does not require a raised fist, a defiant gaze, and a declaration of war. It is not just the atheist or agnostic who stands against God, but every individual who chooses to reject His sovereign will and replace it with their own. Whenever I know what God would have me do and I willfully choose not to do it, I am taking a stand against God. And I will learn that my wisdom, understanding and plan is no match for Him. I will discover the hard way that His way is the best way, bar none.

There is another way in which we stand against God. When we listen to the lies of this world and accept the prevailing wisdom of the day. It could be something as simple as subtly succumbing to the if-it-feels-good-do-it mentality of our society. If we give into the pleasure-at-any-price mindset that dominates our culture, we are standing against God. If we worship work, idolize entertainment, make money our god, or seek satisfaction in anything or anyone other than God, we stand against Him. This world shakes its fist in the face of God and says, "We will do it our way!" It rejects His will, His way, and His Word. It relies on a wisdom that is neither godly or good. It depends on an understanding that is faulty, flawed and highly limited in its perspective. It makes plans that are short-sighted and self-centered, ultimately designed to elevate man to the role of god, making him the center of the universe.

But ultimately we all will learn that God's wisdom, understanding and plan are not just optional, but mandatory. They are without match and incapable of being replicated or replaced. Regardless of whether our stand against God is subtle or arrogantly stubborn, the outcome is the same: We will fail. We will suffer defeat. We will discover our brand of wisdom is a cheap, unreliable knock-off of the real thing. We will find out that our understanding is limited and a lousy replacement for His. And we will become painfully aware that our plans are a poor substitute for He has sovereignly, lovingly created for us. It may take us a while, but we will learn.

Father, why is it that we so often have to learn our lessons the hard way? Why are we wired to have to do things according to our own plan, trying to depend on our own wisdom and relying on our limited understanding? All the while we have Your wisdom, will and Word available to us. Forgive us of our stubbornness and stupidity and thank You for Your unbelievable patience. Amen.

Focus.

Proverbs 4

"Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil." – Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT

The other day I got a text from my son who is a freshman in college. In his message, he talked about how difficult college was proving to be. One of the things he said to me was very insightful. He simply said that college was full of distractions. Oh, how true. And the same thing can be said of life in general. Every day, we all face circumstances, situations, and even individuals who can easily distract us from what really matters in life. There are fires to put out, problems to handle. difficult people to deal with, deals to close, opportunities to take advantage of, and a myriad of other things, both large and small, that can get our eye off of the prize. We can easily lose focus. We can become distracted and even disoriented, losing touch with what really matters. So Solomon warns us to keep our eyes straight ahead. He tells us to not lose focus and allow ourselves to get distracted by all that life has to offer. And this guy is speaking from experience. Remember, he is the wisest and wealthiest king that the nation of Israel every knew. Listen how he describes his experience with lost focus:

I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. – Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 NLT

Wow! Talk about distractions. Pleasure, wine, palaces, vineyards, gardens, parks, reservoirs, slaves, flocks, silver, gold, singers – but it was all like chasing the wind. Fleeting, ephemeral, meaningless and, ultimately, unfulfilling. Solomon had allowed himself to look in the wrong places for what he hoped would be the right solution to his problem. Instead of keeping his eyes focused on God, he got sidetracked and, ultimately, sidelined. Solomon's lack of focus wasn't just a short-lived event, but a lifelong obsession that cost him dearly. Take a look at this recap of the last days of his life.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. – 1 Kings 11:1-4 NLT

Solomon didn't listen to his own advice. He refused his own counsel. He didn't look straight ahead. He didn't keep his eyes fixed on the Lord. He strayed off the straight path and found himself wandering around in the high weeds along the road of life. And the same thing can happen to us as believers. We can lose our focus. We can become distracted. We can allow the things of this world to entice and entrap us, leaving us ineffective and a far cry from the victorious conquerors God intended us to be. Don't lose your focus. Keep your eye on the prize. Don't let God out of your sights. Make your pursuit of Christ your highest priority and greatest joy. Nothing else matters.

Father, this world can be a distracting place. We can be like kids in a toy store who find themselves surrounded with all kinds of tempting, tantalizing treasures that promise to bring us joy. But they can't deliver. Only You can bring us true joy, fulfillment and worth. Help us keep our eyes on You. Amen

 

The Source of True Pleasure.

 Proverbs 10

"Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible." – Proverbs 10:23 NLT

Pleasure is the treasure all men seek. Every man and woman, old or young, is on a perpetual journey seeking to find a reliable source of pleasure or enjoyment. And the world is constantly offering up a wide range of alternatives from which to choose. Some are innocent enough, like food or relationships. But others can be destructive to ourselves as well as those around us. Pleasure is a God-given reaction that is inherently good, but it can be perverted by sin and man's inherent selfishness. In this verse we are gold that "doing wrong is fun for a fool." The word translated "fun" literally means "sport" in the Hebrew language. It is exhilarating and pleasurable. It paints the picture of a child at play, smiling with pleasure and enjoyment as a result of whatever activity he is doing. You've seen it before in children who are laughing uncontrollably as they swing higher and higher on a swing set in the park. It is a child who smiles broadly at the sight of an ice cream cone or the news of a day at the zoo. But in this verse, the fool is smiling at the thought of doing what is wrong. He finds pleasure and enjoyment in doing what is ungodly and unrighteous. It brings him pleasure. It makes him smile. What a disturbing picture of the perversity of sin. It warps our minds and distorts our perspective. What is good becomes bad. What is bad becomes good. It is not how God intended it to be, but it is where we end up when we decide to live apart from His plan for our lives.

But the person of understanding, who has received wisdom from God, finds his pleasure from living wisely. He finds enjoyment from doing what is right, not wrong. Wickedness is repulsive to him. Living righteousness and obediently before God puts a smile on his face. Putting others ahead of himself is something he enjoys, not dreads. Serving selflessly makes him happy. Saying no to temptation brings him far more pleasure than giving in. Doing what is right isn't a burden, but a blessing. But it all begins with wisdom, with a healthy fear of God and an understanding that God's way is always the best way. He has learned to put his hope in God and His promises, not the deceptive offers of this world. "The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing" (Proverbs 10:28 NLT). Hoping in God results in true happiness. Resting in His promises produce real pleasure. Living life according to God's terms puts a smile on the face and joy in the heart.

Father, pleasure comes from You, not this world. Don't let me get sucked into believing the lies of the enemy and giving in to the temptations he offers up. They will never result in true pleasure or real joy. Only You can provide those things in my life. Amen