Showing posts with label Joy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joy. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happiness and Holiness

God is a joyful God. In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). God is not a choice between joy/happiness and holiness. He is not either/or about it; He is both/and. Nobody is truly happy apart from holiness, and a person who is living holy but has no joy in it is doing it wrong. Joy is, as C. S. Lewis said, “the serious business of heaven.”

No doubt, in times of hardship, it can be difficult to be happy — or to live holy. Yet the choice God calls us to make is not between happiness and holiness. It is the choice of happiness through holiness, to know the supernatural joy of the Lord and to experience, as Mike Bickle puts it, “the superior pleasures of loving God.”

Neither holiness nor happiness are necessarily instantaneous. There is an initial sanctification in which God sets us apart for Himself as His own people, and this it what it means to be “holy” — to be “set apart” for God. The Christian life is a life of discipleship, learning what it means to be holy and how to live that out. Christian discipleship, then, is a process of growing in holiness — but also in happiness. “God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness,” Paul says (1 Thessalonians 4:7) — but in the same latter in which he also says, “Rejoice always!” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Sometimes Christians have excused behavior they know to be unholy with the excuse “God wants me happy.” But the way to correct that error is not by suggesting that God is indifferent or may not want us to be happy after all but, rather, by telling the truth about holiness and happiness: God wants us to be both holy and happy, and the way to happiness is through holiness.

Often enough, I have heard Christians talk down on happiness, saying that God wants you to be holy, not happy — and as I consider their disposition, sometimes I think they really do believe that God does not want them happy! That way of thinking puts happiness and holiness in competition. But the truth is that they are not. God speaks often of happiness in the context of holiness. For example, notice how the book of Psalms opens. It sets the tone for the rest of the psalms:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2 NIV)
That is about divine happiness — it is an exclamation: “O the happiness!” or “O the bliss!” It is not about the fleeting thing that the world (the wicked, the sinners, the mockers) reach after and call “happiness,” but which turns out to be a pocketful of lint. It is about the joyful, godly life that God has for us, even in the here and now.

Those who do not understand holiness do not really understand happiness. And those who live holy lives yet are desperately unhappy have not adequately understood holiness. Holiness is a life of intimate fellowship with God, in all weathers. So is happiness.

What I mean by happiness is contentment, peace and joy. No doubt, the culture around us often gets it wrong. But I’m not giving up the word “happiness” for that reason. Rather, I want to show people the way to true and lasting happiness. Because what the world is really seeking is contentment, joy and peace — which is happiness, and what God longs for them all to have. They’re just looking for it in all the wrong places.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Surrounded by Faithful Love, Joyful Shouts

Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You
    at a time that You may be found.
When great floodwaters come,
    they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place;
    You protect me from trouble.
You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.
(Psalm 32:6-7 HCSB)

In Psalm 32, David expresses the deep happiness — the bliss — of being forgiven by God (v.1). There is no hiding out from God then, and no need to (v. 2). David had tried keeping his sin hidden, but it was tearing him up. Inside, he was brittle and dry, and his strength drained away “as in the summer’s heat (vv. 3-4). Then he turned to the Lord and acknowledged his sin, and to his joy discovered, “You took away the guilt of my sin” (v. 5).

Now he recognized that if God would do that for him, He will do that for anyone who quits hiding and turns to Him in faith. Though there is a time when God will bring forth justice into the world, there is still time for grace and mercy to be found. Then when calamity falls all around, those who are pardoned will remain.

There is a “hiding place,” a covering, a refuge, a secret place of safety. That hiding place is the Lord Himself. Before, David had been hiding from God but now he was learning to hide in God, for the Lord protects and preserves those who turn to Him. He watches over them like a shepherd, holding them near, to keep them in times of danger and guard them when adversaries and oppressors appear.

The Lord surrounds them with “joyful shouts of deliverance.” Not cries of fear. Not wails of despair. Joyful shouts of deliverance, the testimony of those who have seen the storm pass and find themselves still standing. They turned to the Lord and experienced His liberating power at every turn. They did not hide their sin from Him and they do not hide their praise from others — loud shouts and boisterous praise to the One who rescued them.

David did not hide his wrongdoing but confessed it to the Lord, and learned once again that “the one who trusts in the LORD will have faithful love surrounding him” (v. 11). The apostle John put it this way: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is no in us. If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7).

When we come out in the open with God, He surrounds us with faithful love and joyful shouts.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Joy of All Creation

In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11)

Joy is nothing more than the creation imitating its Creator.
—Rav Ashlag, 20th century Kabbalist

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
—The first teaching from the Westminster Catechism
Joy is all about God; it is at home in His presence. All creation was made to manifest His pleasure, and we were created to enjoy Him forever. The earth is longing for this fulfillment, which has been delayed by the rebellion of Adam in the Garden, but is now back on track in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The apostle Paul said
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
All creation groans and waits in anticipation of sharing in the joy of the Creator as it is revealed in the joy of His fully-grown sons and daughters.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Love and Trust Release Great Joy

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:11-12)
True joy is released into your life by loving and trusting God. To trust means to go to God for everything, knowing that it will be taken care of. Love His name means to love Him, because the divine name stands for the divine Person.

The Hebrew word for “rejoice” used here is samach and means to be lighthearted and glad. The word “shout for joy” is ranan and means to creak, to give out a ringing cry of exaltation. The word for “joyful” is alats and means to jump for joy and be triumphant. The joy David talks about in this passage is a joy that fills and overflows the heart, and becomes very expressive. It is like the joy he expressed when he danced before the Lord with great vigor as the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem. “Then David danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14). The word for “danced” literally means to whirl and twirl — his wife was mad because he “uncovered” himself (v. 20). Such was the greatness of his joy, he neither noticed nor cared.

Why such joy? Because when we trust in God, when we go to Him as our refuge, He defends us. When we love His name, He blesses us and surrounds us with His favor as with a shield. You see, the ones who love and trust Him are the ones who are considered righteous. It is not about us, but about Him. His favor is not something we earn but something we believe and receive. He surrounds us with it; it is His pleasure and desire for us lavished upon us.

God is looking for those who will trust in Him and love His name, to show them His protection and provision, and shower His favor upon them. When you make that connection, get ready for a download of joy in your life that cannot be contained.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How to Have Abiding Joy

Understand that the coming of joy into your life is actually a by-product that results from other things:

  • Joy is the constant atmosphere of the presence of the LORD. “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). If you find your joy is slipping away, it is because you are slipping away from His presence, so enter back into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4).
  • Joy is a fundamental element of the kingdom of God. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
  • Joy is the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and there is nothing that can rob you of your joy.
  • Joy is abiding in the love of God. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abiding in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:9-12).
  • Joy is knowing Jesus. “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4).
  • Joy is asking in Jesus’ name. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).
  • Joy is sharing Jesus with others. “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received form the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
  • Joy is trusting in God to keep you. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, Amen” (Jude 24-25).
In other words, joy is in Jesus.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Giddy With Joy in His Strength

The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD;
And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
You have given him his heart’s desire,
And have not withheld the request of his lips.
(Psalm 21:1-2)
In the first line of this psalm, consider the relationship between joy and strength:
The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD.
Now, compare it with Nehemiah 8:10:
The joy of the LORD is your strength.
Here we discover a wonderful reciprocal truth:
The joy of the LORD is your strength; the strength of the LORD is your joy!
[It is like what we saw in an earlier blog: Ordained Strength, Perfected Praise.]

The strength of the Lord is His power, the ability of God to do great and mighty things. We might think of the joy of the Lord as His goodness, His kindness — the willingness of God to show favor to His people and bless them. It is His will, His pleasure, His delight to do so. When I realize that God is ready, willing and able to bless me and show me good, that fills me with joy and gives me strength to keep going.

So who is this king who has joy in the Lord? Since David is the psalmwriter here, he is first talking about himself, but in the third person.

Second, it can apply equally well to any king who turns and trusts in the Lord; the strength of the Lord will be their joy and the joy of the Lord will be their strength. Now, the truth of Creation is that you and I were made to be kings of the earth; we were created in the image of God to represent God on the earth (see Kings of the World).

Ultimately, it applies to King Jesus Himself, who came to restore His kingdom, His domain, to righteousness. He came preaching that the kingdom of God is now here, demonstrating its power and presence by healing signs and miracles of deliverance. He taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven!” After His death, burial and resurrection, He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, where He rules and reigns forever. God also raised us up with Him, in the Spirit, and has seated us in Him in that place of ruling and reigning. His kingship restores our kingship.
And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
The word for “salvation” here is yeshuah, the name form of which is Yeshua, the Hebrew name for Jesus. Salvation, kingship and all the fullness of divinity and humanity are embodied in Jesus. No wonder there is gladness and joy for every king who understands this.
You have given him his heart’s desire,
And have not withheld the request of his lips.
God grants the heart’s desire of all who delight in Him (Psalm 37:4, see You Become Like What You Delight In). He did it for David. He certainly does it for Jesus; and He will do it for you, too. Jesus said,
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24)
The Father does not deny the Son, and the Son has authorized all those who belong to Him to ask in His name. The assurance is that those who ask in His name will receive what they ask.

Now, asking in Jesus’ name is not about tacking on “in Jesus’ name” to the end of your prayers. It is not some kind of magic talisman. Nor is it about asking Jesus to pray to the Father for you. For He said,
In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. (John 16:26-27)
By His blood, shed on the cross, Jesus has reconciled to the Father all those who believe in Him. We do not need to ask Jesus; we can ask the Father directly, in the name of Jesus. That means we come to Him on the basis of what Jesus has done for us. To ask in Jesus’ name means to ask as Jesus would ask on our behalf. When we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, He has promised, “You will receive, that your joy may be full.” That brings us back around to the beginning of Psalm 21:
The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD;
And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
The word for “joy” means to be lighthearted and glad. The word for “rejoice” refers to giddy joy, one that whirls and twirls and spins with delight. That is fullness of joy.

Take your place of kingship in Jesus. Let the strength of the Lord be your joy, and the joy of the Lord be your strength. Delight in Him and ask of Him freely, in Jesus’ name. He will not withhold the request of your lips, but will give you your heart’s desire—that your joy may be full.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Beginning of Joy

“You'll never realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you've got.”
~ Mother Teresa
Someone else said,
  • Brokenness is realizing that Jesus is all you have.
  • Hope is realizing that Jesus is all you need.
  • Joy is realizing that Jesus is all you want.
Following that logic, brokenness is the beginning of joy.

If you have come through brokenness to the place of hope, realizing that Jesus is all you need, why not enter into the fullness of joy and let Him be all you desire?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And We Are Glad

When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
And we are glad.
(Psalm 126:1-3)
The LORD has delivered our captive ones this year and we are seeing dreams come true. In our Faith Log vocabulary, a dream is a communication from a deeper realm, a vignette from the spiritual dimension. Dreams bring to light things thought impossible, or improbable, and bid us to follow on to the place of hope and gladness.

Our mouths are filled up with laughter, our laughter is filled up with joy, and the joy inside us is singing of the goodness of the LORD, which has become so evident in our lives this year that others around us say, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

As we pause in this reflecting place between Christmas and New Year, we agree that, indeed, the LORD has done great things for us — and we are glad!

Yes, there are more captives to be released, but we trust the LORD to bring them back as streams in the desert (v. 4). There is sowing in tears, but there is reaping in joy (v. 5). And those who go out continually sowing will certainly come home greatly rejoicing and with a rich harvest (v. 6).

Consider the great things the LORD has done for you and be glad. Keep sowing your seed and watch for you harvest to come in strong in the New Year — the fruits of salvation: freedom, health, prosperity and joy for you and your house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving — Entering Into His Gates

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God.
It is He who made us, and now we ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
(Psalm 100)
Here is an invitation to the nations — to all peoples, tribes and tongues — and to you. Come and be filled with joy. Hoot and holler and celebrate with singing. Enjoy the LORD — He is for you, not against you.

Enter into a personal relationship with Him and experience the knowledge that He is God. He is revealing Himself in covenant with all who will come to Him.

Come and know your Creator — He is Yahweh (the Hebrew name behind the word “LORD,” all caps), and He is our Maker. We come from Him. Not only that, He is our shepherd, and will take care of us forever.

So how do you enter in? By thanksgiving and praise, being thankful to Him and blessing His name. In other words, it is by faith, coming in complete dependence upon Him, recognizing that He is the source of every good thing, and blessing His name.

What is His name? He has revealed Himself as Messiah (Isaiah 53) and His name is Yeshua (literally, “Yahweh Saves”). He is the Word John talked about, by whom all things were made (John 1:1-3). He is the Good Shepherd, who gives His life for His sheep (John 10). In English, we call His name Jesus.

Joy and celebration in the courts of God belong to all who come with thanksgiving and praise, trusting Him for everything and blessing His name — Jesus.

(See also Invitation of Joy to the Nations)

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Enjoying God

The Westminster Confession says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Someone else has said, “The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever.”

In the book The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, there is a scene where two main characters, Celie and Shug, are walking through a meadow full of purple flowers:
“What do you think God wants?” Celie asks.
“He’s just like everything else — He just wants to be loved,” says Shug.
“Are you saying God is vain?”
“No, I’m saying that He wants to let everyone in on a good thing.”
God is great and God is good, and He wants to let us all in on His goodness. That is what the glory of God is all about. The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod and literally means “weight.” It was often used of the value of gold and other riches. The glory of God is the weight, or value of His goodness.

The good news of the gospel is that God greatly desires to share His goodness with all who will come to Him. Though Adam disconnected from the will of God in the Garden of Eden, Jesus freely submitted Himself to the redemptive will of God in the Garden of Gethsemane — so we could truly know God in all His goodness.

John Piper, a Baptist preacher who calls himself a “Christian hedonist,” suggests reading the Westminster Confession this way: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

If the reason we were created is to glorify God by enjoying Him, then what Andy Stanley says in Visioneering is true: “Spiritual Maturity is measured by how readily we respond to the person of God rather than the promises of God.”

In other words, it is all about God Himself. It is good to believe His promises, and very wonderful to experience His presence, but it is in loving His person that we experience the deepest joy.

That is why we were created, to fall in love with God and enjoy the goodness of who He is — forever. It is true satisfaction and abundance.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Invitation of Joy to the Nations

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
(Psalm 100:1-2)
God is not exclusive to one people or place. Quite the contrary. He invites all peoples and all lands to come and enter into joy with Him.

Make a joyful shout! The Hebrew word is rua and means to break out of silence with ear-splitting sounds of joy. It might be a loud “Yahoo!” or the celebratory blast of a horn. In my neighborhood, whenever our football team scores a goal, my neighbor runs out to his car and honks the horn — repeatedly! He is making a joyful noise.

To the LORD. It is a joy that is in honor of, and is caused by the LORD, Yahweh! God is the source of joy — His presence is full of it (Psalm 16:11). Joy is the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Serve the LORD with gladness. “Gladness” is the Hebrew simcha — lightheartedness, joy, mirth, gaiety and pleasure. And it comes from serving the LORD. Serving God is never just a matter of rendering service to Him, but of serving with Him. For God is love, and it is the nature of love to give and to serve. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

So the call to serve the LORD is actually an invitation to partner with Him. Yes, God invites all the earth to come and join in partnership — fellowship — with Him. No wonder it is joyful, lighthearted and full of pleasure.

Come before His presence with singing. Here is the invitation to come into the presence of the King of all kings. And the surprise is that it is not meant to be full or terror or even of sorrow. We come singing, not mournful tunes or sorrowful dirges, but songs of joy and triumph. The kingdom of God is a party!

The psalm writer continues:
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
(Psalm 100:3)
This invitation is to come and know God by His personal name, Yahweh (rendered in English translations by “LORD” in all caps). This is the name by which He reveals Himself in covenant with His people. Indeed, this is a call to come enter covenant with Him.

This is an invitation for all the peoples to know the God who created them. We certainly did not create ourselves — pulling ourselves together out of the ooze, generating for ourselves the vast library of our genetic code, instilling our own personhood and intelligence into ourselves. No, God is our Creator, making us specifically in His own image and breathing into us the breath of His spirit.

This is also an invitation to come and know God as our Shepherd. “The LORD is my shepherd,” David declared, “I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23). Here is the promise of rest, provision, protection, guidance, goodness and mercy — all the blessing of God to all who come to Him. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes to give us the life of God in abundance (John 10).
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
(Psalm 100:4)
Yes, come on in. Recognize the blessing God has for you and join the celebration. You cannot do for yourself. Let God to for you whatever you need and give Him thanks. Enter deeper into His presence with joyful songs of praise. Pull your head out and behold the wonderful gift that has been given to you, then lift your hands in worship and bless the One who has reached His hand out to you.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
(Psalm 100:5)
Yahweh is God and Yahweh is good! This is not a one-off, one-time celebration. What He is inviting the nations to is something that will endure forever. This is not just for the nations but for the generations. When you accept His gracious offer and step into His wonderful life, it will be a blessing, not only to yourself, but also to your children and your children’s children — even to a thousand generations.

Make a joyful noise — everybody! Everywhere! The fathers of the Westminster Confession understood this well. It declares the mankind was made for this purpose — to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

God is reaching out to the nations. Become aware of His glory manifesting all around you. Enter into covenant with Him. Partner up with the Servant King of the Ages and reach out with Him to love, give and serve. Intercede for all peoples in all places. Pray the Lord of the Harvest and let Him send you into all the world preaching the Good News, bringing forth signs and wonders of healing and deliverance. Then pass this great inheritance on to your children and your children’s children. For the LORD is good, His love and faithfulness will endure to all your generations. Come glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

Monday, August 8, 2005

Four Views of Joy

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:11-12)
Here are four words used for “joy” in the Old Testament:
  • samach — to be cheerful, light-hearted.
  • ranan — shouting for joy.
  • alats — jumping for joy.
  • gul — spinning, whirling, twirling for joy.
We see the first three in the passage above:
But let all those rejoice [samach] who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy [ranan], because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name be joyful [alats] in You.
We find the fourth one in this well-known verse:
This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice [gul] and be glad [samach] in it.
(Psalm 118:24)
The Bible says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:16). The word for “joy” there is simcha, from the same root as samach. God is all about joy. In fact, it is in His presence that joy originates and finds its complete fulfillment and expression.

In the verses above, we discover that joy comes from trusting the LORD, knowing Him as our defender, loving His name, living in the victory day He has made for us, and pressing into His presence.

Yes, we can rejoice mightily in the LORD. But did you know that He also rejoices over you? Its true:
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice [sus] over you with gladness [simcha],
He will quiet you with His love.
He will rejoice [gul] over you with singing [rinnah].
(Zephaniah 3:17)
Sus, like samach and simcha, means to be bright and cheerful. Rinnah comes from ranan.

Good news! God is not mad or sad at His people — He’s glad! He is lighthearted and cheerful over us. He comforts us with His love and whirls and twirls over us with shouts of joy.

You can get in on this wonderful celebration by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Mighty One Who Saves (even His name means “salvation”). He came to carry off everything that stands between you and a personal relationship with the Father.

Put your trust in the Lord and be lighthearted and cheerful. Shout for joy as you look to Him as your defender. Love His name and jump for joy. Whirl and twirl with joy because God has created this day to be a day of victory for you. Rejoice and dance with God as He rejoices over you — whirling, twirling, spinning and shouting with delight. The kingdom of God is a party!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

That Your Joy May Be Full

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:4)
That your joy may be full. The first reason John gave for writing his epistle was that we might have fellowship with the Father and the Son, and the people of God. Along with that is a second reason: That your joy may be full.

Whenever we get into deep fellowship with God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — joy is inescapable. As David said to the LORD, “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). The presence of God is all about joy. It is where joy dwells and is experienced in all its fullness.

Jesus, also, talked about fullness of joy. He said, “Until now you have asked nothing My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Here again, we see that joy is all about the Lord. When we ask in Jesus’ name we receive whatever we ask, and our joy is made full.

You see, asking in Jesus’ name means to ask as He would ask. We discover how Jesus would ask in any situation by getting into fellowship with Him and learning His heart. Those prayers will always be answered, for the Father will not deny the Son: “You have given Him His heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of His lips” (Psalm 21:2).

Fullness of joy always traces back to the presence of the Lord and intimate fellowship with Him.

God’s desire for you is to walk in fullness of joy. This is established by the mouth of three witness: David, Jesus and John. Enter into fellowship with the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, and the new birth by the Holy Spirit. Seek after His presence and get to know Him more and more intimately. Explore His heart in prayer and meditation on His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you that things that belong to Jesus (John 16:14). Spend your life with Him. Then your joy will be full.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Loud, Disruptive Praise

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
(Psalm 95:1-2)
Can you believe it? This is an invitation to party with the Lord. Come!
The word for “sing” (Hebrew ranan) means to shout aloud, to cry out for joy. Not at all vague or tentative — it is an overcoming sound, a sound of rejoicing and triumph.

Come and “shout joyfully.” The Hebrew word is rua and means to mar the silence, to split the ears with sound. It is a loud and clamorous noise. Maybe some people cannot carry a melodious tune, but is there anybody who cannot make a joyful noise? In my neighborhood there is a guy who, every time our hometown football team scores a goal, will either grab his trumpet and give a loud blast, or else run out to his car and lay on the horn. That’s rua, a joy-filled, unrestrained noise of celebration.

What’s all the clamor about? The Rock of our salvation. The Rock speaks of a stable and secure refuge, a place of strength and advantage, a superior position high above the enemy. “Salvation” is deliverance, safety and even prosperity. The Hebrew word is yesha. This is the salvation (yasha) that comes from the Lord (Yahweh), the equivalent of Yeshua (Yahweh saves), and that is the name of Jesus.

If that doesn’t prime your pump, you just need more revelation about Jesus, who He is and who you are in Him. [See Getting a Revelation of Jesus]

Come before His presence. That is, don’t delay a second, but hurry to meet Him. In His presence is the place to be. Come running, and bring your todah with you. Todah is praise and thanksgiving, the lifting of your hands in adoration toward Him. It is the attitude of a grateful heart turned loosed into the body. It is worship that doesn’t hold back.

Shout joyfully to the Lord! God says it twice — the second witness to establish the fact that God wants us to get loud and joyful, even disruptive in our praise. Bellow out to Him with songs of praise — break out your instruments and pluck, pound, blow, fram and frail. Bring all your best riffs. Don’t worry about being prim and proper — this is a jam session, so turn it all loose before Him. Get a Saturday night frame of mind and celebrate Jesus with all your heart.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Holy and Happy

In Your presence is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
Here is holiness and happiness together. The presence of the LORD is holy — always has been, always will be. When Moses stood apart to behold the burning bush, the Lord called out his name told him to take off his shoes. He was on holy ground — God was present in purpose and power.

God is holy and His presence is holy. That does not at all preclude joy, but is, in truth, the very foundation of joy. To enter into the holiness of God is to enter into pure happiness.

Many Christians fail to understand the relationship between being holy and being happy. Some are willing to do unholy things because, “God wants me to be happy.” Others believe you cannot truly be holy unless you are actually unhappy. Both ways are huge distortions and lead only to destruction.

God is holy, but He is not a crank. To be holy means to be set apart. God is holy because He is set apart from everything else — there is none greater than Him. He is Lord over all. He is totally unique — holy.

God’s people are holy because they have been set apart for God’s special purposes. Holiness is not what we do, it is what we are. It is about identity and relationship, relationship with God. Performing certain acts does not make us holy. But if we enter into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and begin to understand our identity in Him, we will begin to live in ways which are harmonious with God’s holiness.

The first question of the Westminster Catechism, an instructional guide produced for the Church in the 1600s, asks: “What is the chief end of man?” That is, what is the purpose for which we have been made?

Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” John Piper, Baptist pastor and theologian, thinks we should amend that to read: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. If we are not enjoying God well, be we are probably not glorifying Him very well either.

The Bible says that God is love, and that He is a consuming fire. Both are expressions of His holiness. As we get closer to God, His love will burn out everything that does not come from Him, everything that keeps us from fulfilling the destiny and purpose for which we were created, everything that keeps us from experiencing true joy.

Now, joy is not a quiet thing, but a very exuberant thing. Many times the Old Testament exhorts us to “shout for joy.” This is often found even behind the word “rejoice.” In the New Testament, one of the words for “rejoice,” agalliao, literally means to “jump for joy.”

Shouting and jumping—that’s God’s idea of joy!
The LORD your God in your midst,
    The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
    He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)
When are now in the time of which this passage speaks, the days of Jesus the Messiah. God is with us by His Spirit. He has come as a powerful warrior, mighty to save, and He rejoices over us.

The first “rejoice” used here refers to expressions of mirth, gladness, gaiety and pleasure. God not only rejoices over us, but He rejoices with gladness (simcha). The KJV says He “rejoices over you with joy.” It is joy multiplied by joy. But the extent of His pleasure is even greater than that, as God pours out His love over us.

The second rejoice (gul) means to spin with powerful emotion. God whirls and twirls over us with great passion and love. Pure joy!

Holiness and happiness belong together. Be holy, and happiness will follow. If you are holy, but not happy, you’ve gotten the holiness part wrong. Look to Jesus, and give yourself completely to Him. Holiness is not about you and what you have or have not done. As in all things in the Christian life, holiness is about Jesus, and happiness follows.

God invites you to enter into the holiness of His presence, that you may dance with Him in great joy and experience His deep happiness with Him. And that is the most holy thing in all the world.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Welcoming the LORD

You will show me that path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11)
This morning on Fox News Sunday, the “Power Player” of the week was Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat from Texas. The reason for this selection was because she always manages to get a center aisle seat for the president’s annual State of the Union address, where she gets to greet the president and enjoy some face time with him.

Of course, as a Democrat, she often disagrees with President Bush, but that matters little. For her, it is important to build the relationship. Chris Wallace, her interviewer, complimented her on her ability to make that important connection in her effort to get things done. She responded, “I know how to welcome the president.”
Jesus said, ‘He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:21, 23)
If only the people of God would learn that secret with the LORD, and learn how to welcome Him! We would not only experience more frequent visitation from the LORD, we would discover how easily visitation becomes habitation. Manifestations of His presence would proliferate and our joy would quickly increase.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

The Expression of Joy Godward

You have filled my heart with greater joy
Than when their grain and new wine abound.
(Psalm 4:7 NIV)

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
(Psalm 126:5)
The song of joy is inherently the song of thanksgiving. W. E. Vine defines thanksgiving as the expression of joy Godward (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).

Joy is the anticipation and celebration of harvest. The prophet Joel foretold a time of harvest joy for the people of God:
The LORD will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.” … Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice [shout for joy] in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. (Joel 2:19, 23-24)
This speaks of the time of Messiah, who releases Pentecost. Pentecost was the harvest festival of Israel, a time of returning thanks to the LORD and celebrating His goodness. The Pentecost of God, prefigured by all other Pentecosts, was the promise of the Holy Spirit being given by the Father to His people.

Before Jesus ascended to His heavenly throne, He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this promise to be fulfilled: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This happened ten days later — fifty days after the Passover, when Jesus was offered for the sins of the world. (The word “Pentecost” means “fiftieth.”)

Because Jesus came at Christmas, and went on to Calvary, we can now live in the great harvest celebration of God. It is the time of feasting on the Living Bread — Jesus, of drinking deeply of the new wine of His Spirit, and of living powerfully in the oil of His anointing. Sing the new song and release the expression of joy Godward.