Isaiah 18-22, Psalm 113
My pastor, and for many who follow this site, our pastor, Lloyd Pulley, said these words in a message (paraphrase): "If your goal is to pursue happiness, you will never be satisfied; but if your goal is to pursue Holiness, you wind up getting happiness also." For those who don't listen to Pastor Lloyd's podcasts, through the Bible (on the CCOB website, on the app, on the commentaries sent out daily) you are missing out on a tremendous resource. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." I have mentioned my son Michael's testimony before. Before coming to the Lord, his sole purpose was to pursue his version of happiness. This often left him unhappy since happiness is based on circumstances, which often did not work out. For over a year I tried to reach him from a human standpoint, using primarily fatherly wisdom which fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until one night at dinner, when I explained Revelation 21:4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes...", to him and explained that if he were to die tomorrow we would never see each other again, because he had never given his heart to Christ and therefore was not heaven bound, and when I died and was in heaven that as devastating as it seems to me now, when actually there I would not be crying over it. This prompted him to agree to Bible study with me around 5 years ago. Through this process of discipling centered on God's Word, he sought Holiness not happiness, and slowly but surely his life fell into place. Though our Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Our founding fathers would have done better to make it the pursuit of Holiness.
Continually in Scripture we see as a nation is about to fall, the people seem almost oblivious, focusing on their good time rather than turning to God ( sounds like our nation now). For the Babylonians, so impenetrable did they consider their city that as the Medes and Persians were literally outside their walls, we see the prediction in Isaiah 21:5, "Prepare the table, Set a watchman in the tower, Eat and Drink...". We see this prophecy come to life 260 years later in Daniel 5 when they were literally partying, there Kingdom was taken in a single day. We see the people of Judah doing similarly in Isaiah 22:2,12-13, "You who are full of noise, A tumultuous city, a joyous city?...And in that day the Lord God of hosts Called for weeping and for mourning, For baldness and for girding sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" Not only did the men of Judah focus on happiness, they did some responsible things like reinforce their walls and establish a water supply to withstand a siege. But the most important thing they failed to do: seek God for deliverance. We will read a little later, not until Hezekiah brings it completely before God do they find deliverance from their impossible situation.
So, we must ask ourselves the question: what do we pursue? Is it happiness or Holiness. What do we focus on for our loved ones? Are we content to see them "succeeding" in life in reference to relationships, jobs, money, etc. fully knowing that they have no heart for God? What lengths are we willing to go through to reach them for Christ. Isaiah cared so much that he walked around naked for three years at the request of God (Isaiah 20:3-4), to get people to pay attention to God's message. What are we willing to do to get a loved one's attention in order to come into a relationship with Christ before it is too late? Lastly, do we limit our effectiveness for Christ by relying on our own skills and ingenuity, or do we empty ourselves so that we are vessels which can be empowered and used by Him. Whenever, anyone honors the turnaround in my son and my efforts, I correct them. My efforts failed, not until I got out of the way and let the Holy Spirit work through me did my son begin to change. We are so limited, but He is limitless. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: