We are all looking for a lasting joy. We had gifts as kids, “Weiny Whistles, Slinkies, etc.” that we knew that when we got “it”, we’d be happy forever. We’d laugh and rejoice forever once we got that. We all long for a laughter that lasts.
There is nothing like a belly laugh. An out of control belly laugh and time of joy. It’s always amazing to see the innocent joy and laughter from kids.
Belize, our teenagers go down and sense a contentment and joy from orphans who are trusting in God to meet their needs. We have groups of women heading to Monterey and Cancun, Mexico to celebrate Christmas with children. And each year the women return with stories of such joy that have come from watching the children laugh and play.
Around Christmas, you hear the innocent joy of kids laughing together while playing with the perfect gift. I remember buying my daughter one of those “Barbie Jeeps” to drive around in for her birthday, but the whole group of girls were laughing and playing hysterically with an old golf ball on our front porch. Present wrappings were everywhere from expensive gifts, and they were laughing and enjoying an old golf ball.
How can we get back to the contentment, innocence, joy, and laughter of a child? The older you get, are you more aware of pain, betrayal, cruelty, and the darkness of this world? Is it even possible to have a laughter that lasts?
There is an old phrase, “He who laughs last, laughs best.” Each of us can experience a joy and laughter that lasts. A lasting laughter comes when we realize 1) God Laughs. 2) God Laughs Best. 3) God Laughs Last
I. God Laughs
In Psalms 4:2a it says, The One enthroned in heaven laughs; … this passage speaks of the “One” sent my God who will be enthroned to rule the world. And as he sits on the throne, he laughs. This is a picture the Bible gives of the end of time. And the last thing we see is a God who rules. A God who reigns. A God who laughs. And He is the One who laughs last, and laughs best. God is pictured throughout the Bible as a God of joy and laughter who invites others to enter into his joy. When you picture God, do you see a ticked off God or a laughing God? Is Christmas about God sharing His joy and laughter with mankind? When God announces to Mary that His message is coming to earth, it’s described as a message of joy.
Luke 2:10 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Christmas is about Joy to the World! The Bible teaches us that God is a God of laughter and Joy. He made mankind to share His joy. When mankind wandered off into pain and difficulty, God went after them. He didn’t want them to miss out on the joy and Laughter. God laughs.
God not only laughs… He laughs best.
II. God Laughs Best
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
God is laughing at something specific. As a parent, have you ever watched your children make a mistake from lack of experience that you remember making? (PAUSE). You smile, don’t you. You smile because “you’ve been there.” You know that it’s not going to work. You’ve been around this block before.
The Bible says that God made mankind with a hole in his soul that only God can fill. God’s joy and laughter is the only thing that can fully satisfy our longings. And God laughs when we try to fill that hole with someone that doesn’t work. He smiles and says, “That’s not going to work.”
Jim Palmer, author of Divine Nobodies, tells of ways he tried to fill that hole with things besides God’s joy. “I spent many years seeking God. Actually, I was really seeking a life of well-being through God. Among other things, I wanted to get off the roller-coaster ride of all my misplaced dependencies and futile attachments for worth, security and happiness, and be free from the anguish this groping for fulfillment inevitably produced. It was more than just wanting these nice blissful experiences tossed into my life here and there to balance out the difficulties and disappointments of human existence. I wanted these realities to be infused into my very being—inhaling, exhaling and being love, being peace, being contentment and being freedom. My logic was that I could achieve these things through God, and more specifically by being a “good Christian.” Didn’t work. Go out and apply every formula for living a happy life: Become wealthy, accomplish great success, be devoutly religious, achieve the perfect body, save the rain forests, find Mr. or Mrs. Right, climb Mount Everest, purchase a Yamaha R6, double your Facebook friends — whatever floats your boat. Do it all! Doesn’t work. Won’t satisfy. It will never produce the life you want. The life not worth living is about seeking happiness out there—in people, places and things Even religion places God somewhere out there (technically, up there) to be sought through a system of rules, rituals, precepts, principles and practices. As the e-mailer said, “Nothing makes me truly happy.” That’s a truth to wake up to—nothing or no-thing outside yourself (as in stuff, people, circumstances, religion) can make you truly happy. Happiness is the temporary satisfaction of a felt need, and is dependent on all kinds of conditions or circumstances. I chased the carrot for many years through theological knowledge, ministry success, a daily regimen of spiritual disciplines, church commitments and social activism. It’s not that any of these things were wrong, or that they had no value, but what I was seeking to gain through them was still searching for eternal reality on the wrong frequency. A lot of people are trying to squeeze God into their current way of doing life through religion. God wants you to experience another life altogether with the Peace and Forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ. Jim realized that there are lots of joys you can fill your life with. But only God’s Joy is Best. God laughs. And God Laughs Best. Only his BEST joy can fill our hearts fully. God designed human beings with a hole. A Hole only He can fill. And he chuckles at us when we try to fill the hole with toys that we think will fill up the ultimate needs of our heart. But they can’t and won’t. Because whatever we try to fill it with… NEVER LASTS.
Two Toys That Don’t Last and Make God Laugh.
BATTLESHIP: Trying to Outwit God
“1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?”
Before God laughs, a few verses earlier, we see what He is laughing at. Look at those words… Conspire. Plot. We try to outwit God. Like Jim, we try to find away around God’s ways. God may say, “only I can satisfy the hole in your life…” We think, “That can’t be true, I’ll find away around that. I’ll fill my life with toys like Status, Money, Power, Influence, Happy Relationships. God may have a “plot” for my life. But I want to live out the “plot” for my life that I have written.”
To plot against God is to figure out a way to run your life without him. To think we can outsmart God. For many of us, we grew up BATTLESHIP, we try to outsmart, outwit and figure out what’s going on.
I remember playing Battleship with my family growing up in Illinois. I always thought I could outsmart my father. I used to try to put my Battleships on diagonally…even though they wouldn’t fit in the holes. My dad would smile and laugh knowing that my attempts to outwit him were relatively obvious. He almost always saw through my scheming, outsmarted me, and laughed at my attempts. My buddy Jim and I were playing cards once with my father. We were playing five card draw. Jim and I were conspiring together by cheating up a storm. We were passing cards, palming cards, sliding cards back and forth to each other. We had pulled the wool over my father’s eyes. We had totally tricked my dad? We went to lay down our cards, and my dad was smirking and chuckling to himself. I was chuckling to myself too. I had a four of a kind. I laid it down ready to pull in my winnings. Jim laid down a full house. My dad looked at Jim and I shocked at how good our hands really were. Just as I thought we had out-strategized my dad, I asked him, “What he had…” He smiled, laughed, and spread out his hand to reveal “half the deck” was in his hand. He had 4 four of a kinds. We all burst out laughing. The whole time we thought we had outsmarted and out-cheated my dad, he had watched us plot, and used that time to pick up half the deck while we were distracting my our plotting. My dad laughs last. And laughed best.
God is a loving Father who is laughing at our attempts to fill a God-sized hole with a toy. We think our intellect, our savvy, and our belief that “we can run our lives better than God” will bring lasting laughter to our lives God laughs at the sheer silliness of it. He tells us to put away our Conspiring game of battleship. These toys will never bring lasting laughter and joy. His Laughter is Best.
I had a couple share with me recently how many toys they have. Nice home. Beautiful cars. Lots of money in savings. Freedom in business to travel. Money to go out to eat whenever and where ever they want. They were thinking about “adding” a little church or God to their life, but as they sat in my office, they told me how unsatisfied they were. Despite a million dollar a year salary and all the niceties society told them would help them “find lasting joy” about what life was about.. They were not filled with joy. They are beginning to explore what the laughter and joy of God is like. They aren’t convinced yet that God laughs best… but they are seeing that their toys don’t laugh best.
The second Toy that makes God laugh is Mr Potato Head: Build Your Own God
The second toy that God laughs at is our attempt to build our own God. We try to make up our own God. We band together and say, “We will throw off this primitive God from the Bible and instead find freedom and hope and meaning without Him.”
2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
Look at the basic belief: We need to break off the chains and shackles that come from following God. This group thinks that God’s way leads to bondage, and doing whatever they want leads to freedom.
Post Enlightenment thinking as well as atheists like Richard Dawkins have claimed that Religion is a Controlling opiate. I run into people all the time who say, “I like this about God, but not that. I like this part of the Bible, but not that.” They are afraid that the God of the Bible is angry, mean, or will take away their joy and freedom. So they construct their own God.
What are they doing? They are doing what we all have a tendency to do… Build a Mr Potato Head God. You put on him what you want, you take off what you want. And the real God, in Heaven laughs. he laughs that you have invented a Mr Potato Head God… And make him your source of spirituality. He laughs because He (THE Real GOD) looks nothing like your Mr Potato Head. He laughs because if your source of strength and hope is something you’ve made… In the Mr Potato Universe, You are the Creator…. Your god is your Creation. Everything is upside down.
Fredrick Neitschze tells us in his poem The Madman that when we killed God and replaced him with our “Mr Potato head God” of philosophy, or science, or “spirituality” or self enlightenment, or education… we have unanchored the earth from the sun and will no longer know which way is up or down…
God laughs at our attempts to replace him. In fact the Bible says that the real problem in the human heart is sin. What is sin? Sin is “putting yourself in the place of God.” Or saying it another way, “Making up your own version of God and living for it.” God laughs at this. He laughs when you and I make up our own God and think He (the thing we made) made us….
Test and see if you are playing with Battleship or My Potato Head.
- Do I trust my ability to judge better than God’s by holding grudges?
- Do I worry thinking I can “control the universe” by fretting over things instead of trusting God to control the universe?
- Do I feel good when my savings and income are up, buy anxious when it’s down? Is Ben Franklin my security or is God my security?
- Does the God I believe it sound and look a lot like something I would make up? Does he challenge me, offend me, say things I wouldn’t?
- Do the things I think are important fully satisfy? Does my joy fully last? Do I have a laughter that lasts?
- Do I know about a God who both laughs out of joy, but also laughs at the silliness of my poor decisions and “brilliant” replacements for Him?
God is a loving father who wants us to have THE BEST. Don’t you want THE BEST for your kids? God laughs. God laughs best. He wants to share His BEST with us. Real joy and peace that comes from him. He wants us to find him as our source of Joy… God laughs, God laughs best, and God laughs last.
For a free first version of Godonomics, visit: http://www.godonomics.com/watch-session-1