Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Revelation That Jesus is Lord

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
There are things of God that can be discerned from the natural world, as Paul said to the believers at Rome:

Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20)
But the revelation that Jesus is Lord comes only by the Holy Spirit. No one can speak it in faith except by the Holy Spirit. It is, in a very real sense, an utterance of the Spirit. And it is a powerful revelation. When we truly understand that Jesus is Lord, we realize that there is, therefore, nothing that can stand against Him. He is the Almighty Ruler over everything.

The Name Above Every Name
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Enthroned Far Above All
And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19-23)
The revelation that Jesus is Lord is that, in Him, the penalty of sin has been paid, and the power of sin has been broken. The devil no longer has any right to those who belong now to Jesus Christ. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Sickness and disease no longer have a right to be on us.
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:16-17)
The name of Jesus is far above every other name, including the name of cancer, heart disease, addiction or anything else that can be named. And God has seated the Lord Jesus at His right hand, far above every principality, might and dominion. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and earth (Matthew28:18).

What is more, all those who receive Him by faith have been seated with Him at the right hand of the Father, and by His authority he has delegated us to preach the Good News to all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. For that is how the revelation that Jesus is Lord comes — it is from the Holy Spirit, but it is through the preaching of the Gospel. That is why Paul boldly declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

This salvation is all-encompassing. It is forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with the Father, renewal of the spirit, deliverance from bondage, healing for the body, and abundant life in every way. There is nothing that stand against it or snatch it away.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
The revelation that Jesus is Lord is a powerful declaration that you can make over every thing and circumstance in your life.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Happiness of Divine Expectation

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God.
(Psalm 146:5)
There is deep happiness in knowing that there is One who will be a sure and certain help for you no matter what happens. Contrast this with what the psalm writer says in verses 3 and 4:
Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.
It is good to have friends and favor with those in high places. There may be many who are kindly intentioned toward you, and have wonderful plans about what they are going to do for you. But circumstances often change for them, as they do for you and me. Their plans fall through for various reasons, and when they die, their plans die with them. That can leave you hanging.

But “happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” The Hebrew word for “hope” does not speak of uncertainty, but of expectation. It is not wishful thinking: “I hope such and such will happen, but I just don’t know.” It is a solid anticipation, a joyful expectation. That kind of expectation can come only from trusting in God.

Faith and expectation go together. The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Like the Hebrew, the Greek word for “hope” means “expectation.” The word for “substance” refers to the underlying reality of a thing. So faith is the underlying reality of the things we are expecting to see happen.

Now, faith must be based upon something, and it can be no more certain than that upon which it is based. The apostle Paul said that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). When God says something, we can fully rely upon it and expect to see it come to pass.

There is great happiness in setting your expectation in God, knowing that you can always rely on Him to help you in any situation.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Happiness of a Full Quiver

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127:5)
“Behold.” In the Bible, this word often requires us to see something by faith, pointing us to an important truth we need to understand. Here, the truth is that children are a heritage from the Lord. They belong to Him; He gives them to us.

The psalm writer likens the children of our youth to arrows in the hand of a warrior. The Hebrew word for “warrior” refers to a man who is mighty and powerful. He is an archer who takes careful aim and propels his charges into the world to accomplish what is needed.

The children of one’s youth are like arrows in the hand of a mighty archer. Now here comes the happiness: “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.”

Children are not an interruption to our lives; they are a blessing given to enrich our lives. They extend the significance of our lives in the world to the next generation. God gives us children as an inheritance, and we instill in them the things God has placed in us. They are God’s blessing to us, and our blessing to the world. Our children are like arrows, but we must be sure to launch them well. Fortunately, God has made provision for that. He has given us His Word and His Spirit:
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Then Peter said, “Repent, and every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
We are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), and bring our children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Wisdom tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

If we will sow good seed into the lives of our children, the seed will do the work. Jesus told this parable about how things work in the kingdom of God:
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:26-29)
If we will be faithful on the sowing side, God will be faithful to bring forth the harvest. This principle holds true in everything, even in raising and sending out our children. When we train up our children in the way they should go, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they will not be ashamed or disappointed, but they shall “speak with their enemies in the gate.” That is, they shall prevail in the places of decision and become powerful influences in the world.

Oh, the deep happiness of having a quiver full of arrows to launch out into the world. The world will be changed, by our spiritual children as well as our natural ones.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Happiness of Being Wholly Committed

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart.
(Psalm 119:1-2)
The Hebrew word for “undefiled” refers to entireness or integrity. The “undefiled in the way” are simply those who do what is right. They live in the awe of God, believe His Word and do what He says. They know how to follow directions, the torah, the law, or instruction of the Lord. Their hearts are not divided between doing right and doing wrong, but are entirely committed to the way of the Lord.

Verse 2 emphasizes this by restatement: “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart.” A testimony is a witness. God has not left us without a witness, but has revealed to us how we should live. Indeed, the word is in the plural form, “testimonies,” because, in the Bible, a matter is established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). So the Scriptures do not speak of the testimony of the Lord, but of His testimonies. It is a way of saying that His Word is very sure. Those who keep His testimonies, who hear and obey them, will not be moved by the varying circumstances of life, but will live in stability and assurance.

Happy are those who seek the Lord with “the whole heart.” They do not dither, but stand firm in their commitment, because the Word of the Lord is firm and trustworthy. They have a diligent faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:60

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)

So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:22-23)
When your heart is divided between trusting in God and trusting anything else, there is no guarantee that you will receive anything. But when your heart is wholly committed to Him and full of faith, you can move mountains.

Oh, the deep happiness of belonging fully to God, of trusting Him implicitly and following Him completely. It is life and stability, peace and prosperity.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Happiness of Doing Right

Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
(Psalm 106:3)
There is great happiness in keeping justice and doing righteousness. For many, righteousness is a mysterious religious concept. They no more understand it than they understand holiness, and they wonder how either one can result in the deep and joyful happiness we have been considering. But it is really quite easy to understand. Let me break it down for you: Righteousness is simply doing what is right. That’s why I call it rightness.

True rightness is about God. Since He is the creator of all, He knows how everything is supposed to run. He knows what the correct calibrations are for achieving optimum performance in life, and He has revealed it to us in His instruction manual, a.k.a. the Word of God. Keeping justice and doing right is about believing His Word and following His direction.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with Your God.
(Micah 6:8)
David asked, “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1). Then he gave this answer:
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the LORD;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
(Psalm 15:2-5)
Sometimes doing the right thing costs us — money, opportunities, even friends. It means keeping our word even when doing so is to our detriment. But doing right is well worth the price. As David concludes in Psalm 15, “He who does these things shall never be moved” (v. 5)

Jesus put it very simply when He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In other words, if we will make God’s rule and reign our priority, and follow His way of doing and being right, everything else will be taken care of.

Many people think that we become righteous by doing what is right. But that is backward to the Bible way of thinking. In the Bible, we are made right so that we can do right. That is why Jesus came: “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus took our sin and gave us His rightness. Indeed, He became sin for us. That is, when God looked at Him on the cross, He saw our sin. In exchange, through faith in Him, we not only receive the rightness of God, we become the rightness of God in Him. When God looks at us, He sees the rightness of Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians, Paul put it this way: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are not made right by doing good works. No, it’s the other way around. We are made right by Jesus Christ so that we can do good works. We become right through faith in Him so we can then do right. We now operate out of the power of His rightness, not our own.

The psalm writer said,
Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people;
Oh, visit me with Your salvation,
That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance.
(Psalm 106:3-5)
The rightness of God at work in us releases the favor of God toward us, because He visits us with His salvation. The Hebrew word for “salvation” is yeshuah, which in name form is Hebrew for Jesus. This is the salvation that comes, not from us and our own works, but from God Himself, and it brings all the goodness of God to bear on our behalf.

Oh, the deep happiness of being made right and living out the instruction of God by the power of His rightness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Changing New York City

This week, Suzanne and I are in Clinton, NJ, where she is on business for her company. It is about a ten-mile bus ride from New York City. Yesterday, she finished early, so we decided to pop over to see a few sites and soak up a bit of ambiance. We took the bus out to the Port Authority terminal, got our bearings and walked down a few blocks to see the Empire State Building. Along the way we learned that all the traffic signals are merely suggestive for both vehicles and pedestrians.

It has become my habit now that wherever I go, I pray. Usually it is in my prayer language (a.k.a. “speaking in tongues”). If there is music in the air, I often sing along rhythmically in tongues, blending it in with the atmosphere. I expect that if anybody hears me, they think I am just singing along. And in NYC, I doubt that anybody will be surprised to hear someone carrying a tune in a foreign language — which, of course, is exactly what I was doing yesterday as we walked along.

New York City is an interesting place, to say the least, but what it needs more than anything is a revelation of heaven, a revelation of Jesus Christ. As a child of God, I am a fully-authorized agent of Jesus Christ and a distributor of heaven. So as we walked, I prayed as Jesus taught us and called for the kingdom of God to come and the will of God to be done in New York City just as it is being done in heaven.

We came to the Empire State Building and joined the tour up to the observation deck on the 86th floor. The view was, as you can imagine, spectacular. We circled the deck, taking in all the angles. I was prayer-walking, filled with a deep sense that God really loves that city and greatly desires to bring it into His wonderful destiny. So what else could I do but get into agreement with the heart of God? When we get into agreement on earth with the will of our Father in heaven, it is indeed a powerful thing.

As the day began to wane, we came back down and ate at the Chipotle Mexican Grill on the ground floor, facing out on 34th Street, and watched the passersby. God love ‘em, I couldn’t help but to pray some more, blending my song in with the music playing in the restaurant.

After dinner, we headed back to the Port Authority, crossing the streets now like New Yorkers. We walked past peep-show storefronts, praying for the glory of God and the superior pleasures of knowing Him to displace the weak and watery imitation of life that passes for pleasure inside those dingy doorways. Before we reached the terminal, we detoured, just a bit, into the middle of Times Square, where we found ourselves surrounded in a canyon of huge video screens rising high up the sides of the buildings. We were exhilarated by their colorful display. And, of course, I could not help but to stand there praying, in wonder.

We made our way up West 44th Street, passing the Shubert, where Spamalot is playing, and Les Miserables at the Broadhurst, and reached the bus terminal. As we rode the 192 back to Clifton, Suz turned to me and said, “You changed New York City today.” I thought a moment about how prayer truly does change things, and I remembered the parable Jesus told, about how the kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed. He sleeps by night and rises by day, and the seed sprouts and grows, though the man does not know how; he only knows that there will be a harvest. And I realized that Suzanne was right: we changed New York City that day by our prayers. We scattered our seed, and we know that there will be a harvest — that’s how the kingdom of God works.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Happiness of Being Coached by God

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD,
And teach out of Your law.
(Psalm 94:12)
The Hebrew word for “instruct” here is yasar, which literally means to chastise, as with blows. The word for “teach,” lamad, means to goad. These are the same words used used in verse 10: “He who instructs the nations, shall he not correct, He that teaches man knowledge?” Figuratively, these words mean to instruct and to teach by word. We see this in verse 12, because the means God uses to teach is His torah. Torah is usually translated as “law” but may just as well be rendered as “instruction.”

This instruction may come as correction, or even rebuke. Being corrected or rebuked are generally not pleasant experiences, but they are often very needful. It is discipleship. The English word “discipleship” comes from the same word as “discipline.” To be a disciple or have a discipline means that you are in training for something. Training involves breaking old ways and habits and developing new ones, so that one’s experience may be optimized. Athletes well understand what it means to be “in training,” and though they may not enjoy the experience itself, they greatly appreciate the benefits it brings to their performance.

To continue the sports metaphor, it is good to have cheerleaders, people who will tell us how good we are doing, but it is much more important to have a coach, someone who will tell us where we need to sharpen our game. They point out the difference between where we are and where we need to be, but if we will trust them, listen carefully and follow their direction, the will turn us into champions.

That is God’s plan for you and me — to make us into champions — and He does it through His Word. He teaches and directs us through His torah, His instruction. He does not do it through His Word alone, but also through the Holy Spirit, by whom He has given His Word. The Spirit ministers the Word of God to us, causing us to understand the things of God. Paul said that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17. When we are receptive to the Word, the Spirit of God quickens it — makes it “come alive” to us — and faith becomes a powerful force working in us. That is the stuff that will make you a champion, no matter what adversity you may face. “This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Oh, the deep happiness of letting God be your coach, of receiving His Word and yielding to His Spirit. It makes us champions.

(See also Let Wisdom Be Your Coach.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Happiness of Living in Awe of God

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
(Psalm 112:1)
God is not a terrorist, and the fear of the LORD is not about torment. It is actually the key to deep and abiding happiness. Instead of “fear,” think of “awe.” Here is how I think of it: fear of the LORD — to live in absolute awe of God, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to treasure His favor above all things and avoid His displeasure at all costs, to take pleasure in His word, His will, His ways and His works and to honor them in everything you do.

Notice how the Bible speaks of it in Psalm 112. But first, understand that the psalms are written in the form of Hebrew poetry. This poetry does not feature the rhyming of words. Rather, it uses a parallelism where the thought of the second line of a verse parallels the thought of the first, either restating it in synonymous language or elaborates on it. With Hebrew parallelism in mind, consider what Psalm 112:1 tells us about the fear of the LORD.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
Here we see that to fear the LORD is to delight greatly in His commandments. The Hebrew word for “delight” is the same one we find in Psalm 1:2, “His delight is in the law of the LORD.” It means to incline towards, take great pleasure in, to look forward to in anticipation, to enjoy something a wonderful, mouth-watering delicacy.

The commandments of God are the particular elements of His torah. Often translated as “law,” the word torah can just as well be translated “instruction.” God’s laws and commandments are not given to us as difficult, death-dealing burdens, but as wise, life-giving directions. When we live in the awe and wonder of God, His Word leads us in the path of life, prosperity — and happiness. See how the psalm writer describe it:
  • His descendants will be blessed, and mighty on earth (v. 2). The word for “blessed” here is barak and means to be empowered by heaven.
  • Wealth and riches will be in his house (v. 3).
  • The effects of his right living will endure (v. 3).
  • He will have light even in the dark times of life (v. 4).
  • His heart will be gracious, and full of deep compassion and tender affection (v. 4), just as God is (Psalm 111:4).
  • He will show favor and lend to those in need. He will have a soft heart, but not a soft head, because he will possess discretion and good judgment (v. 5).
  • Whatever may happen, he will not be shaken out by it, but will be able to remain stable (v. 6).
  • He will be well-remembered by all those whose lives he touches (v. 6).
  • When bad news is in the air, he will not be afraid, because he trusts in the LORD (v. 7). The word for “afraid” here is the same word for the “fear” of the LORD. When we live in awe of God, we do not have to be terrified by anything else.
  • His heart shall be sustained with the peace of God, and he will not be afraid of his enemies, but will rejoice in victory over them (v. 8).
  • He will have more than enough to meet all his needs, and plenty more besides for every good work (v. 9, see also 2 Corinthians 9:8-9).
  • He will give generously and consistently, and it will not be wasted, but will extend his influence for righteousness (v. 9)
  • His success and prosperity will confound the desires of the enemy (v. 10)
The author of Psalm 128 echoes these things:
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.
When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
[barak, empowered by heaven]
Who fears the LORD.
(Psalm 128:1-4)
That’s the good life! It is the happiness that comes from living in awe of God and delighting in His ways.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Happiness of a Heart Set on God

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
(Psalm 84:5)
This psalm is all about pilgrimage. In verse 4, we saw the happiness of those who dwell in the house of the LORD. In verse 5, we see the happiness of those who are heading toward that dwelling place. Oh, the happinesses of the one whose heart is set on pilgrimage! The NASB has it as, “In whose heart are the highways to Zion!” These are they who look to the Lord in everything and find their strength in Him. They want more of Him, so they have set their hearts on pilgrimage. His highway runs through the hearts of those whose strength is in Him, and that changes everything:
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
(Psalm 84:7)
Baca is a Hebrew word that literally means “weeping.” Here, it may refer to type of balsam tree that grows in arid regions. The Valley of Baca speaks of dryness, barrenness and sorrow, but when those whose hearts are set on God pass through it, it is transformed. It becomes a place of fountains springing up and becoming wells of blessing. The Hebrew word for “pool” here is berakah, and literally means “blessing.” When we set our heart to know God more, it blesses not only us but also everything around us.

Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 6:38). John tells us that He was speaking of the Holy Spirit. When we put our trust in Jesus and look to Him as our strength and all we need, the Holy Spirit will flow forth from our heart like powerful, life-giving waters.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
(Psalm 84:7)
Happy are those who find their strength in the Lord and set their hearts on Him. They go from strength to strength. That is, the more they get to know Him, the stronger they become. It is not a matter of will power, or some innate human strength; it is the flow of divine power at work in them. Because the strength comes from God, and not from ourselves, each one who sets his heart on this pilgrimage is going to stand in Zion to rejoice before Him. Oh, the happinesses!
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of Hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You.
(Psalm 84:10-12)
One day spent with God is worth more than a thousand spent in any other pursuit. Just to stand at the entrance of His house as a servant is far more rewarding than to dwell luxuriously in the house the wicked. For the Lord is a sun and shield to us — He gives light to our path and protects us on our journey. The Lord gives grace and glory, or as the NIV puts it, “favor and honor.”
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk in rightness. The Bible says that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be for us, that we might be made the rightness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we put our trust in Him, we receive that rightness — we become right with God, and He will not withhold any good thing from us. “He who did not spare His own Son, but deliver Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). As Paul told Timothy, God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Wherever you may be in your journey with the Lord, whether you are just starting out or have been traveling the way for many years, each step you take toward the Lord is a step toward greater strength and deeper happiness.

Happy is the one whose strength is in the Lord, whose heart is set on knowing Him more. Happy is the one who trusts in Him. Guidance, protection, favor, honor, and all good things belong to them, and they will be a blessing wherever they go.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Happiness of Dwelling with God

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah.
(Psalm 84:4)
This is not perfunctory praise, something we do because we ought to. No, this is heartfelt; it flows naturally from the happiness of living continually in God’s presence. What is this happiness? Dwelling in the courts of God. This is not just visiting God on certain occasions, but taking up residence with Him, to enjoy continual fellowship with Him. That has been God’s desire for us all along. It was also the cry of David’s heart:
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
(Psalm 27:4)
The highest purpose and greatest blessing of dwelling in the house of the Lord is to gaze upon His beauty. This is not a passing glimpse, but a lifelong contemplation of the divine, which satisfies all desires. The companion to gazing upon His beauty is to “inquire in His temple.” The Hebrew word for “inquire” literally means to plough, or to break forth. To “inquire in His temple” is to diligently seek out and consider all the things of God, to know Him more and more, and experience breakthrough after breakthrough with Him. God is infinite in all His aspects, and the true fascination of time and eternity is to know Him.

The Westminster Catechism says that the “chief end of man,” that is, why we were created, “is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” John Piper, a Baptist theologian of today who has carefully considered what it means to dwell with God, adjusts that to say, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” That is the happiness of dwelling with God.

It is the happiness of lovers. The story is told of an old man who, day after day, would go into a church and sit before a statue of Jesus for hours. After seeing this, a church worker finally came up to him one day and asked, “What do you do in all this time?” The man answered very simply: “I look at Him. He looks at me. We are happy.”

This great happiness is purely a gift of grace. You cannot work yourself up into it; you simply receive it from God — it is a revelation. You can meditate upon the Word of God — that will help — but even then you need the Spirit of God to “quicken” it, to make it “come alive” in your heart. That is why Paul prayed for the Christians at Ephesus, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17).

If you know Jesus, my prayer for you today is that God will give you wisdom and revelation by the Holy Spirit so that you may know Him more and more.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Son of Your Maid-Servant

Last month, Suzanne and I were able to take a few days to go visit some very special women in my life: my mother and grandmother. They are both godly women who represent an important part of our spiritual heritage, and that of our children.

My “Granny” is an evangelist. In 1940, she and her husband Garrette were commissioned to itinerant ministry and for the next 25 years served in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Bible. You can read more about their ministry together here. They were also involved in Jewish evangelism along the way, and Granny taught many “Good News” clubs for children. Garrette passed away in 1965, but Granny continued on with her ministry, passing out gospel tracts, singing at churches (she once sang “Amazing Grace” on stage with Dino Kartsonakis, but that’s another story) and working with various ministries for young women. Today she is 97, and doing well, living in her little apartment in Spartanburg, SC. She has taken on her apartment complex as her parish, and she regularly reaches out to the residents there with friendship, prayer and, of course, gospel tracts. The Lord regularly sends folks by who help her with her various chores and errands, and they end up being blessed as much by her as she is by them. Those who have spoken with her over the phone know that she is likely to sing them a little song or hymn — at 97, she’s still doing music ministry, and is in pretty good voice, too.

My mother is also a strong woman of faith. As the mother of four boys, she showed a lot of patience — and restraint — and later was very gracious to create annual beach retreats for us and our families (all together with thirteen grandchildren — talk about patience!). But we’ve also seen how God has used her in the lives of others to bring reconciliation and blessing. She is active in her church and enjoys the praise and teaching service with the younger crowd. Though the past few years have been very difficult for her, we have seen how she has risen up in her faith to meet the challenges. On our recent trip, she shared with us that one of her favorite Scripture verses is Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” She said it is good to know a few verses by heart for when you wake up in the middle of the night. We cannot tell you how many lives she has touched, and we know that the Lord is going to touch many more through her.

Mom and Granny are heroes to us, and since Mother’s Day is this month, we thought this would be a good time to say it. As I have reflected over the past few years on this wonderful spiritual inheritance, the words of Psalm 116:16 have taken on a deeper meaning for me:
O LORD, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Happiness of Being Chosen by God

Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.
(Psalm 65:4)
Here again is the gracious invitation of God. The initiative always belongs to Him. No one could ever presume to invite himself into the presence of the Lord. For one thing, He is holy and man is sinful. For another, He is sovereign and powerful, and does as He wishes; no one is able to come to Him unless He beckons.

But God is not only sovereign, He is love, and in His love, He was unwilling for man, whom He created in His own image and likeness, to remain separated from Him by sin. So in His sovereignty, He created a way for sinful man to be reconciled to Him and to once again enjoy His presence. That is why David begins this psalm with celebration:
Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.
(Psalm 65:1-3)
That is why Jesus came: to provide atonement for all our sin. He did not just cover them over, but completely removed them. The Bible says that He became sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took our sins and nailed them, in His own body, to the cross. And now the invitation can be given by a holy God, even as Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). Because of what Jesus has done, we can have access into the presence of God:
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
We can enter into the presence of God with boldness and confidence because of what Jesus our High Priest has done for us. For it is God, not we ourselves, who brings us near to Him.
What is this happiness? Dwelling in the courts of God. This is not just visiting God on certain occasions, but taking up residence with Him, to enjoy continual fellowship with Him. That has been God’s desire for us all along. This was also the cry of David’s heart, as expressed in Psalm 27:4.
One thing I have desire of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
This brings along with it many other benefits, as David describes in Psalm 65:
By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas …
You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.
You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
The pastures are clothed with flocks;
They valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, the also sing.
(Psalm 65:5, 9-13)
When we are set right within the presence of God, it not only brings abundance and prosperity, but it even affects the world around us. Our happiness in God begins to bring everything into proper alignment.

Oh, the deep, deep happiness of being chosen by God, invited to live continually in His presence, forgiven and set right in Jesus Christ. It not only changes your life — it changes your world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Happiness of the Nations

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
(Psalm 33:12)
Happiness is not just for individuals. An entire community, a tribe, a people, even a nation can know happiness and blessing. But just as it does for an individual, the happiness of a nation is not inherent. It comes from somewhere and is the by-product of something.

The nation God is talking about in this psalm is Israel, but He has issued a standing invitation to all the nations who will turn to Him. Psalm 2 begins with, “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?” (v. 1); the nations and peoples conspire together, setting themselves against the LORD and His Messiah (v. 2). But this same psalm ends with a wonderful opportunity for repentance and redemption:
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
(vv. 10-12)
Likewise, in Psalm 33 we read:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
(vv. 10-12)
As we see in verse 12, the counsel of the Lord and the plan of His heart is to bless with happiness all those who put their trust in Him, to make them His inheritance, His own. Psalm 89 details what this happiness is like for the nations and peoples who live in awe of the LORD:
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
Blessed are the people who know that joyful sound!
They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all day long,
And in Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And in Your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the LORD,
And our king to the Holy One of Israel.
(Psalm 89:14-18)
The throne of God — His rule and reign — is established upon righteousness and justice, and He brings mercy and truth wherever He goes. The nations that turn to Him will experience His mercy and truth, and the up side of His rightness and justice. The joyful sound is the jubilation of trumpets that call them to come and enjoy the feast of the Lord. The light of His countenance is His wonderful favor upon them. They shall continually rejoice (Hebrew, giyl) with spinning and twirling because of His name. They will be exalted by the rightness and favor of the LORD. He shall be their shield, and His glory shall be their strength. Psalm 144 adds even more:
That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;
That our barns may be full,
Supplying all kinds of produce;
That our sheep may bring forth thousands
And ten thousands in our fields.
That our oxen may be well laden;
That there be no breaking in or going out;
That there be no outcry in our streets.
Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!
(Psalm 144:12-15)
Even to those who have known Him but have turned away, God says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God is making from the nations of the world a people all His own. Before He ascended to His throne in heaven, Jesus commissioned His disciples:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
To all those who receive Him, He says,
You are a chose generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who call your out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
In the vision he received on the isle of Patmos, the apostle John heard this tribute sung to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God:
You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
(Revelation 5:9-10)
Happy indeed are those whose God is the LORD, even the nations who “kiss the Son,” the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Those who trust in Him will live in awe of God, and rejoice with whirling and twirling, and they shall be blessed with abundance and prosperity.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Happiness of Considering the Poor

Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
(Psalm 41:1-2)
It may seem odd to some people that one can discover happiness by considering the poor. But this points us to an important truth about happiness: You do not find it by seeking it directly; it is the by-product of other things. David, who was called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) learned this truth himself, and sang about it in Psalm 41. “Happy is he that considers the poor” (Jewish Publication Society).

To consider the poor does not simply mean to remember how blessed we are because we are not poor ourselves. No, it is much more than that. Young’s Literal Translation puts it this way: “Oh the happiness of him who is acting wisely unto the poor.” It means to act very intentionally toward them and for their benefit. It is considering how we might help those who are unable to help themselves. It is not just good words and thoughts — it is action:
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:15-16)

But whoever has this world’s good, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him (1 John 3:17-19).
God has always had a heart for the poor, the fatherless, the widow, the stranger in the land (we were all in such situations at one time or another). It has to do with what I call the “algebra of love: God is love; love gives and serves (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Mark 10:45).

God will always back us up when we give to the poor. “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17). We do not need a special leading to remember the poor — he has already given us a standing direction. We will never come up short when we give to the poor; God will always repay us — with interest.

What does the happiness of considering the poor look like? What blessing does it bring? David answers from his own experience:
The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive.
And he will be blessed [happy] on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed.
(Psalm 41:1-3)
The prophet Isaiah addressed the same issue with greater detail. This is an extended quote, but well worth the meditation:
Is this not the fast that I have chosen;
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To under the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.

If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday
The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;

You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
(Isaiah 58:6-12)
There is great happiness to be found in considering the poor to bless them. God is love; love gives and serves. When we give to the poor, we are being like God, and there are many benefits of that.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Happiness of Tasting and Trusting

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
(Psalm 34:8)
Trusting in the Lord is a major key to happiness. In Psalm 2, God sends out this invitation to the nations and kings who wanted to rage against Him and Messiah:
Serve the LORD with fear
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
(Psalm 2:11-12)
There is also:
Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
(Psalm 40:4)

O LORD of Hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You.
(Psalm 84:12)

He who heeds the Word wisely will find good,
And whoever trust in the LORD, happy is he.
(Proverbs 16:20)
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good. In other words, it is something you have to experience for yourself. No one else can do it for you.

Recently, someone gave my wife and me a recipe* for apple dumplings that were very delicious. I could spend all day telling you about it, but you will never really know how good it is until you taste it for yourself.

It is the same way with God. I could spend all day — and more — telling you just how wonderful He is and what a mighty God He has been in my life, but you will never really understand until you experience Him for yourself.

The LORD is good. In everything He says, everything He does, everything He gives, He is good. And He is ready to show you His goodness; that is what David offers this invitation so freely. God has a wonderful plan and purpose for your life, and He wants to lavish it upon you.

But in order to taste and see that the LORD is good, you are going to have to learn to trust Him. The Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

You might be thinking, “Oh, but I don’t have enough faith.” But here is some good news for you: God will you give you the faith to trust Him. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). The Bible says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

If you would like to experience for yourself the goodness of God in your life, begin by getting into His word. As you open your heart up to Him, the Spirit of God awaken faith within you, so you can believe all the promises of God and put your trust fully in Him. Happiness will follow.

1 18 oz can of crescent rolls
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and quartered
1 cup orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Unroll crescent rolls and separate. Wrap each apple quarter with dough. Place in a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish. Combine orange juice, sugar and butter in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and pour over dumplings. Stir the remaining sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over dumplings. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until dumplings are golden brown and mixture is bubbly.

Taste and see!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Happiness of Being Forgiven

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
(Psalm 32:1-2)
How good it is to be forgiven! It is being set free from a great and terrible weight. David understood very well what it is like to bear the burden of sin and moral failure:
When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
(Psalm 32:3-4)
When we try to suppress our guilt, it eats away at us on the inside. It can even make us physically ill, sapping our vitality. Though we may keep it at bay for a little while, our guilt always and inevitably catches us with us, so it is better to face it sooner than later. Selah — something to consider deeply.
But David soon recognized what he needed to do:
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
(Psalm 32:5)
Our sin can never be hidden from the Lord anyway, so we are fooling only ourselves when we try. The best thing is to bring it out in the open before Him. It is neither pleasant nor pretty, but it is necessary. It is like a boil that must be lanced before there can be healing. But God is the Great Physician, and there is nothing you or I could ever do that He has not dealt with before. In fact, He has already dealt with it all when Jesus took our sins and carried them in His body to the cross.

It is on this basis that God is able to forgive us. The truth is that forgiveness always costs the one who forgives, and Jesus paid that price for us. That is why the apostle John could confidently say, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In Jesus Christ, not only are we cleansed of all unrighteousness, but we also receive the righteousness of God Himself. “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). A great exchange has taken place: God no longer imputes sin to our account, but gives us His righteousness instead. We receive this righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. That is really something to selah about.

Even David, though he lived hundreds of years before Jesus came, was forgiven and declared righteous on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross, for God is not bound by time. When David confessed his sin to the Lord, God saw Jesus nailing that same sin to the cross.
When David finally confessed his sin, he discovered the great happiness of being forgiven, and he closed his song with these words:
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
(Psalm 32:11)
See how wonderful and exuberant this happiness is: The word for “glad” means to be light-hearted. The word for “rejoice” means to spin around, to whirl and twirl for joy. “Shout for joy” means … well, shout for joy!

Oh, the happiness of being forgiven, to know that God is not mad at you, and to stand before Him in His righteousness!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Oh, the Happiness

Blessed is the man. (Psalm 1:1)
Well, it’s a new month, which always brings me back around to Psalm 1 (150 psalms divided by 30 days in a month is 5 psalms a day, and day 1 is for Psalms 1-5).

Blessed is the man! The Hebrew word for “blessed” is esher, which comes from the word asher, which literally means to be straight, and in general usage describes a state of well-being that is level, right and happy.

The Jewish Publication Society version says “Happy is the man.” The Amplified Bible, in its expansive way, has, “Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable) is the man.” I like how Young’s Literal Translation puts it: “O the happiness of that one.” Actually, the Hebrew word is in the plural, so we can just as well say, “O the happinesses of that one” (of course, my spell-checker flags me on that).

Some religious people prefer the word “blessed” because “happy” seems … well, too happy. They want something more subdued and “dignified” so that people don’t get their hopes up more than is seemly. Of course, these are the same people who think that joy is supposed to be an inner knowing that is quiet and reserved. But the Biblical words for “joy” mean, not only to be light-hearted and glad, but also to shout, jump, whirl, twirl, spin, creak and squeak for joy. That all sounds pretty happy to me. And though such joy is very expressive, it is not superficial and transient. It is an abiding peace and happiness that springs from the deep wells of the heart.

Other religious Christians will complain that “God wants us to be holy, not happy.” And if we had to choose between the two, holiness would be the way to go. But I don’t believe that God is a crank or that we have to make such a dour choice. In fact, I would say that if a person is not very happy, he is probably not very holy either. Likewise, if someone is not holy, then I expect he is probably not very happy. That’s because, to bring it down to more of a street-level understanding, holiness is not about living some sort of stuck-up religious life, it is about being in on the best deal going: the life-changing, world-changing purpose and favor of God.

That’s exactly what we find in Psalm 1. The ecstatically happy man is not the one who walks in the counsel of the ungodly, stands in the path of sinners, or sits in the seat of the scornful (v. 1). That may bring a superficial appearance of happiness, but it vanishes pretty quickly. No, the person who is deliriously happy is the one who goes right to the source of joy — the Lord Yahweh, in whose presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). The truly happy man is the one who delights in the instruction of the Lord and is constantly pondering it (Psalm 1:2).

So what does that happiness look like? God gives us a picture. Imagine this:
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Who leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
(Psalm 1:3)
Do you see it? Perhaps it is a date palm. Watch how God carefully cultivates it, taking it from a barren place and planting it alongside His beautiful flowing river. See how strong it is, how firmly it is established. Do you see the leaf, how green it is? It will not wither, not even in drought — it is watered by the river of God. Can you hear the water babbling? Storms may come, but this tree will not cast off its fruit; it will come to a rich, full harvest in the proper time. Lie down in the shade tree and feel the coolness. Reach up and pluck the fruit, and taste the sweetness. It is the picture of prosperity and happiness.

Oh, what happinesses God has for you and me! What joy in His presence! What favor in His purpose! What delight in His ways! That’s something to shout, jump, whirl, twirl, spin, creak and squeak for joy about.