Archive for January, 2013

The Joy of Your Neighbor

January 31, 2013

Sometimes in life, we will experience joy because of another’s fortune. Rather feeling envy or jealousy, we should feel joy. There is an inherent blessing in rejoicing the blessing of another especially when it involves some aspect of the Lord Jesus Christ. One  place we see this early on is when Elizabeth and her in vitro baby expressed The Joy of Your Neighbor. As Mary came to speak with Elizabeth, this is what she told Mary, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:43-45

Further in the chapter, we see another example of The Joy of Your Neighbor.

Luke 1:57-58

57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

When Elizabeth’s neighbors learned of God’s great mercy and the joy He gave her in having a baby in her older age, they shared her joy. We can always feel good about things that happen to our neighbors, but when we see God’s hand in the matter, our good feelings extend to joy.

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult for others to experience joy in the blessing of others? It is because they fail to see the blessings of God beyond their selfishness. When God blesses another and their isn’t rejoicing among those who supposedly care for that person, it is because those onlookers have allowed their feelings to shift toward themselves. In some distorted manner, they begin to feel they deserved something as good or better than the person who received a blessing from God.

It is much more of a joy to share in the great mercy or the blessing of God in another’s life rather than to be selfish seen in envy or jealousy. Look around your sphere of influence today, search signs or news of who has been shown the great mercy of our Almighty God then The Joy of Your Neighbor will be your delight as well.

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The Chosen’s Joy II

January 30, 2013

In the post The Chosen’s Joy, the elect or those chosen by God to know Him and experience salvation was presented. The Chosen’s Joy is knowing that God has made promises to them and that God keeps His promises. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, we learn that “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” There are promises in which the The Chosen are entitled to recall to God in order to bring glory to God as He responds to their call and cry for help/aid.

Let’s see what the psalmist has to say about this principle and fact.

Psalm 106:4-5
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people,
come to my aid when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may share in the joy of your nation
and join your inheritance in giving praise.

It is clear that the psalmist is completely convinced that God will help/aid His chosen people. The difference here is that the psalmist does not include himself as a part of The Chosen. As such, the psalmist asks (prays) God to allow him to embrace and experience the joy of God’s blessing reserved for The Chosen. I am not sure if any of us really understand the position of strength the people of God, The Chosen, really have. In this verse, favor is defined as pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance, will. It is clear the psalmist understood that The Chosen will experience the favor of God especially in salvation of the soul.

Matthew Henry described it as such: “Afford me (says Dr. Hammond) that pardon and that grace which I stand in need of, and can hope for from none but thee.” Let that salvation be my portion for ever, and the pledges of it my present comfort. 3. He has an eye to the blessedness of the righteous, as that which includes all good (Ps. 106:5): “That I may see the good of thy chosen and be as happy as the saints are; and happier I do not desire to be.” God’s people are here called his chosen, his nation, his inheritance; for he has set them apart for himself, incorporated them under his own government, is served by them and glorified in them. The chosen people of God have a good which is peculiar to them, which is the matter both of their gladness and of their glorying, which is their pleasure, and their praise. God’s people have reason to be a cheerful people, and to boast in their God all the day long; and those who have that gladness, that glory, need not envy any of the children of men their pleasure or pride. The gladness of God’s nation, and the glory of his inheritance, are enough to satisfy any man; for they have everlasting joy and glory at the end of them.”

The essence of The Chosen’s Joy II is that their souls have been saved from eternal damnation. They can rest in the fact that they will eternally be united with God not experiencing the eternal separation from God because of Christ’s sacrifice. Moreover, John 17:3 tells us “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life does not begin when we die physically; it begins when we die spiritually – when we yield our wills to the Almighty God’s. Eternal life is not a place; it is knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Knowing God is The Chosen’s Joy II.

If you want to embrace and experience joy, you must have eternal life. In order to do so, Jesus tell us “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3 If you aren’t sure how to be born again, read the rest of John 3 or ask me.

The Chosen’s Joy

January 28, 2013

The guys were standing at the court ready to get the basketball game going. The two “ballers” earned the respect of all the other players, so they picked their teams. As the selections go by one by one, the dread of the remaining players is evident on their faces. You can see the question looming in their minds ‘Why am I the last one to get picked?’ Almost every one has experienced the alienation of not being selected for something, or maybe you were selected, but you were the least favored person. This negative emotions derives from assuming that one is not worth as much as he/she assumed they were.

Did you know that God has picked His team? Those chosen or picked by God are called the chosen or the elect. These are the people who have and who will give their lives to Christ in order to receive forgiveness, the salvation of their souls. In our text today, we The Chosen’s Joy in response to God keeping His promise. In addition to knowing God, having his Word, assurance of answered promises is another joy of those who know God. We see it today in Psalm 105:42-44.

42 For he remembered his holy promise
given to his servant Abraham.
43 He brought out his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
44 he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—

I am sure most of you are familiar enough with Israelite history to know that God promised Abraham to give his descendants “The Promised Land”. This applies both physically and spiritually. The physical land is what is discussed in the psalm. The Abrahamic covenant included the promise that God would make Israel “a great nation” (Gen. 12:2) of which The Chosen are a part.

The Chosen’s Joy, once again, is in the character or person of God. It is joyful that God keeps His promises. Numbers 23:19 tells us “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” We should rejoice knowing that there is a promise for every circumstance or event in our lives. It is our responsibility to delve deeply in the Word to discover our God, our joy. Got problems? Find a promise and experience The Chosen’s Joy.

 

Make a Joyful noise to the Lord, All the Earth!

January 27, 2013

Okay, this website just failed. It typically saves your writing every few minutes. I had nearly finished writing today’s post before it froze. Upon returning to the site, none of the text was saved. The title was the only thing saved. I take that as a sign that God did not want me to post that which I had written. What a great opportunity for me to Make a Joyful noise to the Lord, All the Earth!

When things go wrong or not as planned in our lives, we have two choices. We can be upset or we can’t be joyful realizing that we are God’s people, and the sheep of his pasture as told in Psalms 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Through my faith in Jesus Christ, God has made me blameless in His sight. For that, I am grateful and will eternally express my praise to God. There will be many instances and causes in life that demand our attention and proclamation. God is the only worthy one. Read the Psalms and see why we are called to Make a Joyful noise to the Lord, All the Earth!

How to Fill-up on Joy if You are Running Low

January 26, 2013

Our lives are consumed with consuming. One reason we go to work is to earn money to replenish those consumables in our lives. At this very moment, my wife is at the grocery store in efforts to purchase food and other items that have been consumed or used up over the course of the week. In school, students are taught that man is atop the food chain. We can see our veracious appetite for other precious provisions such as oil for gas and other derivative products, coal for electricity, wool for apparel items, cars, boats and plans for transport. I could go on, but I think you get the picture that we are always seeking to replenish our sources of provision.

When it comes to joy? We have been exploring how one embraces and experiences joy. By now, I hope that we all have seen that the triune God is the true source of joy in our lives. While our verse for the day is much more complex that what I will present, it clearly shows that joy is given by God. It would behoove us then to make sure we position ourselves to gain what we can from God in order to embrace and experience joy, so do you know How to Fill-up on Joy if You are Running Low.

Let’s examine Romans 15:13.

“13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

We see that the believer gains access to not only joy but peace as well when we trust in the God of hope. God fills us as we trust in Him seeing the hope that we have in Him. We are filled by the Holy Spirit who is God living in us. Disclaimer: I believe it, but I can’t rationalize or explain it. The Word of God tells us the Holy Spirit dwells or lives in us.

We must trust in Him. This is true whether Jesus is not your Savior or if He is. Trust is the antecedent for joy, peace, and hope. As the God of Hope, God is the foundation of our hope. We learn from 1 Peter 1:3 that God is both the object of our hope, and the author of it. We also learning from Psalm 119:49 and other verses that our hope is also derived from the Word. Any hope not founded in God (as the goodness hoped for, and the truth hoped in) will deceive and disappoint us. If we are not trusting God, we will not experience any of those benefits of Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

Trusting in God, His Word and surrendering your will is How to Fill-up on Joy if You are Running Low.

The Judge’s Joy

January 25, 2013

In the post Joy in God’s Strength and Victories, the challenge of “If you want to experience joy, look for the battles and struggles in your life” was posed.  It was also proposed that “As you go through them watch for the Joy in God’s Strength and Victories.” In Psalm 94, we the psalmist reflecting on the battles and struggles in his life. He, like we all should, calls on the God as Judge to exact justice on arrogant evildoers who evidence by their consistent disobedience.

What is going on in this psalms? Jamieson, Fausset & Brown tells us that the psalmist appeals to God in view of the oppression of enemies, rebukes them for their wickedness and folly, and encourages himself, in the confidence that God will punish evildoers, and favor His people. Furthermore, we learn from Matthew Henry that it is an appeal to God, as the judge of heaven and earth, and an address to him, to appear for his people against his and their enemies. In this psalm, the appeal is for two things:—I. Conviction and terror to the persecutors (Ps. 94:1-11) II. Comfort and peace to the persecuted (Ps. 94:12-23).

The psalmist states that based on God’s promise and from his own experiences, that our troubles will end well, and God would, in due time, appear to their joy and the confusion of those who set themselves against them. While God does not want us to gloat in the misfortune or even judgement of others, He certainly wants us to revel in the joy He provides in keeping His promise as well as us delighting in the fact that He is our refuge, fortress and delivery. We see this here in Psalm 94.

16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your love, O Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.

The inquiry in verse 16 is more rhetorical than anything else. We see the answer immediately follows. The psalmist credits God, rightly so I might add, for being his help. He also gives us insight into how The Judge’s Joy fuels him through the ordeal. Of God he was convinced and stated,
“He will repay them for their sins
and destroy them for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will destroy them.”

The psalm has synergy with all God’s Word especially the verse shared most recently, Proverbs 10:28 –“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” ESV

The Judge’s Joy should not only fuel the psalmist through his ordeal but us too.

The Hope of the Righteous brings Joy

January 24, 2013

As I have endeavored to peer into the mind of God about joy, He has revealed many things to me but none as so succinct and poignant yet comprehensive as today’s verse. Proverbs 10:28

“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” ESV

There were so many thoughts that flooded my head as I read this verse. Please take the time to read this verse. Meditate on it. On the surface, there is a comparison and contrast being present. We have the righteous and the wicked – a common juxtaposition in scripture. I sincerely believe God wants to present to us the two paths of life. He wants us to be fully aware of how each ends. It is not so much the journey but the end. We will see that tomorrow in Psalm 94. Today though, we see God’s strength for the journey of life.

While I do not profess to be a master in English mechanics/conventions, I do want to venture into it a little. The subject of the verse is Hope. The object of the preposition is Righteous. It is modified by the definite article “the”. The action or verb is Brings. The Hope Brings what? To complete the thought. The Hope Brings Joy. Hope belongs to the righteous. Hope brings Joy. In contrast, expectation of the wicked will perish. There is a subtle and significant difference in the two words used to for hope and expectation in this verse. I could get into that, but I will not. Here is the link should you care to.

What I would prefer to delve further into is the subject of the sentence The Hope. Who is “The Hope” Jesus Christ is the Hope who brings Joy. There are many scriptures in the Word of God that affirm that, but I want to give you an excerpt from Colossians 1 that helps clarify that Christ is The Hope and our hope.  A Hope not necessarily centered in temporal thing, although, He is able for that to, but I want a greater hope – a glorious hope. I want a hope beyond the things in this perishing world. That’s the fate reserved for the wicked because their perspective is centered on the temporal not the eternal.

Let’s listen to what God tells us through Paul about The Hope of the Righteous brings Joy.

Colossians 1

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

Did you know those who don’t know Christ as Lord and Savior are considered as enemies of God? Well, there it is in God’s own Words. As an enemy, I used to be alienated from God, and my life and emotions reflected that loneliness. As an enemy, I was subject to God’s wrath, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation if I am “not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”

I could go on, but it would take so long. This is why I said Proverbs 10:28 stated it succinctly and poignantly yet comprehensively. All that I have said and more is inclusive in Proverbs 10:28. Now, do you see why I said to mediate on it. Do so and be blessed.

You Make Me Glad by Your Deeds, O Lord

January 23, 2013

As I have grown older, the things that make me glad have changed. Based on what my mom told me, a clean dry diaper made me glad. I remember when a cup of frozen kool-aid made me glad.  As I reflect, riding my bike all day made me glad. I remember when playing all day outside made me glad. Now, I am glad just to sit down somewhere and drink kool-aid. I remember a lot of things that made me glad, but for the last 30 years, the Lord is Him who makes me most glad. I have had an ever-increasing understanding of how God makes me glad. As I understand more about Him and more about my unworthiness, the depth of my joy only increases. It’s similar to the simple wisdom older folks used to talk about like having your health and strength but greater.

Let’s listen to the psalmist in Psalm 92 as he shares God’s message about being glad i.e. embracing and experiencing joy.

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
The senseless man does not know,
fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be forever destroyed.

For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.” This is the essence of this passage. The psalmist joy or gladness comes from God’s deeds or works of His hands. Not to over simplify the text, the primary point is that our sense of gladness or joy should solely be dependent upon God, His character, His deeds, His work. The depth of which we are not able to fully comprehend.

I marvel at how one can talk even praise anything except Jehovah or His Son, Jesus. People don’t want God to get the praise. Instead of acknowledging that God deserves praise, the people who are praising him are doubted, berated and demeaned. I could talk about how God gave me a job. I could talk about how God has given me good health or healthy children. I could talk about the countless instances where God rescued or helped me when I cried out to Him. For man though, the greatest work of His hands is redeeming man from the consequences of sin – that is the salvation of man’s soul. Colossians 1:13-14 tells us “13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” That deed, among all His others, makes me most glad, brings me the most joy.

Angles are currently praising and worshiping God for His character, His deeds, His work. The Word states that those who have surrender their lives in obedience to Christ will spend eternity praising and worshiping God for His character, His deeds, His work. Revelation 15:4 says, “Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

The Almighty God, the psalmist and I implore you to live in such a way that you cans emphatically say You Make Me Glad by Your Deeds, O Lord.

After the Love has Gone, Where is the Joy?

January 22, 2013

When I read today’s text, Psalm 90, I heard the chorus of Earth, Wind and Fire’s song After The Love Is Gone. Don’t ask me why. My wife often asks me where do I get these obscure thoughts of songs in many a situation. I don’t know the answer to that, but all I know is that I hear the lyrics to songs in situations all the time.

Here is the portion of the words from their song that began to ring out in my ears as I read Psalms 90.

Somethin happened along the way
What used to be happy was sad
Somethin happened along the way
And yesterday was all we had
And oh after the love has gone
How could you lead me on
And not let me stay around
Oh oh oh after the love has gone
What used to be right is wrong
Can love that’s lost be found

Here are the words from Psalms 90 that caused me to think of Earth, Wind and Fire’s song.

13 Relent, O Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.

Both the song and this Psalm is about a relationship gone awry. In both instances, one is calling about asking what happened. Why are things the way the are? Since I did not write the song nor have I spoken with one of the writers, I can’t give you the impetus for the song. Conversely, I know the writer of this Psalm. He spoke to me and others about this Psalm. In fact, He spelled it out for us.

In the song, the writer states Somethin happened along the way. What happened in the text is that man was enjoying a sweet fellowship with but now it has soured and is filled with gall. He asks After the Love has Gone, Where is the Joy? Here, as well as in Psalm 6:3, the writer boldly asks how long God will permit his suffering to continue. He desperately seeks relief from the One who is able to give it. As stated in the post If the Joy of God’s Strength was only Enough, the suffering happened because they would not listen to Him; they would not submit to Him. When we fail to listen to or pursue God, we invite hardship and suffering. Listen, God has already appointed enough hardships in our lives to purify our faith. We do not need to add any more because we are stubborn and disobedient.

Where is the Joy? It is with God. When we decide to do our own thing, we relinquish our hold on joy. We forfeit our claim to joy. Fortunately, we serve a forgiving God who, after we acknowledge our sin and repent of it, forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9). Both writers want a return to the love they once enjoyed. If you want to be mad glad, return to God. Remember, “24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24-25)

If the Joy of God’s Strength was only Enough

January 21, 2013

When are we ever satisfied? I am sure many a Falcons fans would answer that by saying if we had gone to the Super Bowl and won. Seriously, when are we ever satisfied? We are always craving for more.

In Psalm 81, it appears from the beginning of the Psalm that the answer to the satisfaction question was answered, but the Psalm does not end in the first few verses. If the Joy of God’s Strength was only Enough, the verses 8-16 would not have had to be written. Inherent in those verses is God’s indictment on the satisfaction of the Israelites and us.
In the first seven verses, we see the psalmist call for the people to “Sing for joy to God our strength.” If the Joy of God’s Strength was only Enough, the psalm would have concluded with singing, but unfortunately for them and for us, that is not the commentary. We are never satisfied with what God does for us. Listen to what the psalmist says

“Hear, O my people, and I will warn you—
if you would but listen to me, O Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not bow down to an alien god.
10 I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

11 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.

From the verse 8, we already know what our steps are going to be. God only warns us because He knows the trespass, the apostasy we will commit. We will not listen to God. I give you an example. In the post Selfishness is a Black Hole for Joy, it sprang from recent personal experience. Because something did not go my way, I had my butt on my shoulder. I failed to embrace and experience the joy God offers me despite my circumstances. From Philippians 4:4, I know God called me to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Always means always. I rationalize and say except when I am not getting what I want. Then, I am justified in being angry, resentful, vengeful and done right sinful.

This is what God says the Israelites did – they would not listen to Him; they would not submit to Him. As a consequence, God gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices or counsels/plans. Effectually, God is saying okay, I am going to let you follow the plans of your heart since you don’t value me and my plans enough. This is reminiscent of Romans 1:24. Trust me. We don’t want God to let us live out our plans. Proverbs 21:30 tells us “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” We will not receive the end we think when we say If the Joy of God’s Strength was only Enough.

I will say once more that our joy must spring from God himself. Our joy must be rooted in the fact that we know God and more importantly are known by God. When rejoice in that, we demonstrate our gratitude for God extending grace and mercy to an undeserving being, us. This humility leads us to thanksgiving and rejoicing, and that is truly enough. Listen to Him!