Do you struggle with keeping in step with the Spirit of God? Do you find it challenging to keep God at the center of everything you do in this crazy busy world that we have created for ourselves? There are many great resources on the internet and in books to help drive us to Godliness.
I have been particularly blessed of late by listening to conference talks and oral biographies on great Christian giants in church history at the ministry site of John Piper known as Desiring God. It is a wonderful resource for all of us "Christian Hedonists" who want to learn deeper ways for our joy to be made complete in God's glory.
John Piper recently retired from about thirty years as senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. He is a popular speaker at Christian conferences and author of many best-selling books including Desiring God. This book was the inspiration, over 25 years ago, for the founding of the ministry by the same name. He has many helpful tools for helping us to better understand and live with sustained joy in our daily walk with God.
We are not talking about superficial happiness, as is spoken of in relation to the prosperity gospel that suggests God wants you to be "happy" and experience "your best life now" as it were. I am talking about joy unspeakable and full of glory(1 Peter 1:8). A joy that under-girds your faith at all times even when your life seems to be falling apart and things are not going your way.
A. P. T. A. T
John Piper and the staff have used this acronym at Bethlehem for many years now. It is useful for application any and every time you are beginning something and you feel it is beyond your ability. However, John Piper would say that this should be your approach to everything that you do.
1 Peter 4:11 states that we are to "serve in the strength that God supplies, that in everything God may get the glory." We are incapable of doing that on our own. In our sinfully selfish state, we will always corrupt everything that we try to do on some level. As the prophet Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it"(Jeremiah 17:9) Even if no one else sees it, God knows what happens on the inside. He knows the intent of our heart. That is why we must engage Him in everything, that He may get the glory in our hearts, even when no one else is looking.
So here is what APTAT looks like:
Admit you can do nothing without Christ's help (John 15:4-8)
Pray for assistance and help in everything. (Psalm 50:15, Matthew 7:7)
Trust a particular promise of God to provide what is needed.
(Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 40:28-31, Isaiah 41:10, Galatians 6:9, Philippians 4:4-7).
Act- Take action. Do something. Always remembering that it is in the strength that He provides by which we are even able to have the grace to act.
(Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Colossians 1:29)
Thank- Thank the Lord for the enabling power to obey. (1Thessalonians 5:16-18)
It's just that simple. However, just as the message of the gospel is simple, it is not easy. It requires work. It requires action. It requires prayer. It requires faith. It requires humility. This is what
A. P. T. A. T. is all about. We humble ourselves, rely on God, trust his word, lean into his grace with faith-filled action, and show abundant gratitude for His faithfulness. Then we rest in the peace that He provides. However, if we leave out any one of those steps, then we are prone to self-reliance, pride, doubt, and failure.
I encourage you to be a faithful disciple. Memorize this acronym, the general thoughts behind it, and memorize the related scripture references. The scripture references here are ones that John Piper uses primarily, with a couple of my own tossed in. But if there are others that are more relevant to any given point of the acronym, then substitute them and memorize those.
If you utilize this you will be one step closer to Christian Hedonism because you will find joy in depending on God and using the means of grace to do so. If you are doing so, you will also be bringing glory to God as you depend wholly on His resources and consequently, give him praise and glory for the results throughout the process. It is a God-centered joy that we, His children, get to experience.
The statement that exemplifies this whole concept was coined by John Piper and goes like this:
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him".
My friends, if you look to God's glory for your satisfaction, you will experience great joy. I pray you find this tool helpful.
In Jesus name,