I am hoping that this week’s study will be a message that will call us to be People of the Presence, understanding the significance of living more and more so in God’s presence.
There is a difference between having the indwelling Holy Spirit, which
we get when we are born-again, and purposely putting ourselves in God’s
presence. It is easy to involve ourselves in activities that are not
necessarily bad, but that do nothing to generate an awareness of God. On the
flipside of that, it’s just as simple to involve ourselves in activities that
do generate a greater awareness of God.
Maybe one of the problems we have is that of not differentiating between joy and entertainment. I do a number of things for entertainment: I like to watch sports and I like to fish. Many of you even like Nascar (though, truthfully, I could live without it.) Sometimes, I watch TV – particularly the history channel and the discovery channel. I don't think there is anything inherently evil with any of those things. The problem is thinking that these things bring joy.
In Psalm 16:11, the Psalmist wrote, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy.” Depending on what a person does for entertainment, the only time it could be considered evil is when it replaces our pursuit of God. We justify so many things, all in the Name of God wanting us to be happy - which really removes us away from a living sense of his presence. We will even sometimes use God’s desire to bless us as His children as the justification to give ourselves to entertainment. Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Entertainment is the Christian’s substitute for joy.”
Allow me to reiterate: there are specific things I do things for
entertainment. I’m not saying we should not have some element in our lives
which allows us some relaxation. But what I’m seeing amongst Christians today
is a fetish with entertainment. If they aren’t being entertained, they simply
won’t participate, attend, or even watch. However, with that being said,
entertainment is not really the issue – the issue is that of being content with
entertainment versus a real, serious, determined, pursuit of God’s presence in
Recently the Assemblies of God hosted a conference in Springfield, MO called the Recalibrate Conference (I would have loved to attend). During that conference, George Wood (former National A/G leader) said, “There is a linkage between the small rules we violate and the lack of the big gains we need spiritually.” Our nation is in desperate need, our families are in desperate need, and yet we can’t be found in the prayer meeting – but we can however be found in every form of entertainment there is.
My goodness, what is the matter with us?! We have need of some major
spiritual gains in our nation and our personal lives, but we willing choose to
NOT make the connection between the small spiritual rules we violate and the
lack of the big spiritual gains we need!
In God’s presence is the fullness of joy. Therefore, if a Christian
does not have a pursuit of God (i.e. a consistent prayer life), he/she seeks
fulfillment outside of the Christian realm. The problem with that is that
fullness of joy is only found in God’s presence.
Entertainment is no viable substitute for joy. Entertainment is usually a diversion we resort to in hopes of distracting our attention away from our jobs, or school, or even family. At its most basic level, it’s escapism. There may be little or no joy associated with it at all. Often entertainment’s only redeeming quality is that it takes us out of the mundane.
But when we experience the fullness of joy, we are not living in the mundane. That fullness of joy comes only from HIS presence.