Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Joy with Singing

Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.

The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. ~~ Zephaniah 3:8-17  (KJV)

Despite man’s unfaithfulness and despite the Lord’s anger, there is yet hope. Reading these verses we see that we are told to sing and rejoice.

This is because after the Lord’s day of wrath, there is a recalling of the remnant of the faithful. Those who have been faithful will survive the day of judgment and will be found victorious.

The Lord says He will purify the lips of the peoples. that all of them may call upon His name. This reminds us of the picture of Isaiah.

And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.  ~~  Isaiah 6:4-8 (KJV)

He found himself in the throne room of God, with all the angels. The glory of the Lord was so heavy that he fell on his face saying “woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips.” And an angel took a coal from the altar and touched his lips to purify them. Then he was worthy to speak the name of the Lord as an emissary of God.

Here too, God says He will purify the lips of the people. Those of us who are faithful to God should rejoice in this passage. It means that we will speak the righteousness of God to the nation. We are to be His emissaries in this hurting world. It is our duty and our privilege to speak for the righteousness of God, the love of God, the mercy of God and the wrath of God in equal proportion.

It is only when we tell the whole truth of God that we can be rightfully called His emissaries.

Just as any parent, God grieves over His wandering children. But when we are obedient, He can rejoice over us—with singing.

Father, God,

Open our ears and hearts to learn of You. Purify our lips to tell of You. Send us wherever You wish to spread the good news to all people. Soften our hearts to love all Your children. Give us the grace to be obedient so that You can sing over us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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God’s Mercies

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.
They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. ~~ Psalm 118 (KJV)

This psalm contains some of my favorite lines of scripture. It begins with “His love endures forever.” That is such a comfort.

When God loves you, He never stops loving you. If you are disobedient and willful, He loves you. Even when you reject Him, He loves you. When He has to let you suffer the consequences of your own actions, He loves you. When you love Him and obey Him, you can enjoy the fact that He loves you and revel in His blessings.

God’s love is the basis for all our confidence. If God be for us, who can stand against us? The ultimate victory is ours. The enemy may win a skirmish here and there, but the victory is the Lord’s. When we are on His side, we cannot lose.

The assurance that the Lord is always victorious give us the strength to go forward, singing songs of His praise. We can sing, even in times of trouble and grief because the victory belongs to the Lord, not to the enemy.

Man’s opinion does not count in God’s world. It is God’s opinion that defines who we are and what we can do. While we do not completely disregard the opinions of others, it is God’s word that must define our thoughts and actions. It is God who will reward the deeds we do.

Our job is to take possession of today. God’s mercies are new every morning. So today we will rejoice in Him and His provision for our lives. We cannot wallow in the regrets of yesterday. There is nothing we can do to change what has already been done. We cannot worry about tomorrow, we don’t have the leisure to speculate on what if this or that. It is today that counts. We need to go about our business, singing the praises of the Lord today. He knows what tomorrow will bring and has already made provision for that as well.

We do well to “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Father, God,

Help us to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for all that You are and all that You do for us. We forget that our next breath is a gift from You. Grant that we may always remember all Your mercies.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

All Joy… ?

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~~ James 1:1-8 (KJV)

The book of James is filled with practical advice for the Christian. It was written to the tribes of Israel in diaspora and conveys practical applications of the faith for Christians today.

The opening sounds like an oxymoron. Consider it pure joy when you face trials. My first reaction is “Bah, humbug!” Who enjoys trials and persecutions and difficulties? Certainly not me!

But having been through a few of them, I can tell you that the presence of the Lord is nearest when you need him the most. When you are about to face the totally unthinkable, He will give you the exact knowledge you need precisely at the moment you need it.

The presence and nearness of the Lord will give you the strength to persevere through anything – absolutely anything – that the world and the enemy can throw at you.

When you need to know what to do next, you simply ask Him. He will tell you the next step to take. But there is a stipulation here. You need to be so familiar with His voice and His thoughts that the enemy cannot lead you astray. Those who spend time in His word will know His voice. To them it will be almost as audible as if He were speaking aloud an entire room full of people.

At times when I have been driving in the car and mulling over something that needed handling, His voice has been as audible as if He were in the seat beside me, speaking directly into my ear. Actually, for the Christian, He dwells within your heart and speaks directly to your spirit.

Our job is to be so familiar with His voice that no one can counterfeit it. Consider it all joy that you know His voice at all times and in all circumstances.

Father, God,

Draw us ever closer to You. Teach us the nuances of Your voice so that we may ever be obedient to Your word and always edified by Your presence.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Braggarts

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.    ~~  Jeremiah 9:23-24 (KJV)

People are natural braggarts.

They love to brag about their accomplishments, their possessions, their skills, their powers. But these are not things to brag about. There will always be someone who has accomplished more in less time. Someone will possess more. Someone else will have greater skill in the same field. Another person will be more powerful.

All these things are vain and empty.

God asks us to be proud of only one thing: that we know Him.

So exactly Who is He?

He is the Creator of all things. He is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. He is loving and faithful. His love is shown by His willingness to forgive. He is righteous. He punishes the guilty. He is just.

It is only when we have a close relationship with Him and understand His ways that we have anything to boast about.

If we have accomplished anything, it’s only because we’ve had His favor. Anything we have acquired to possess has been a gift from Him, because He has made it possible for us to acquire it.

Any skills we have are the gift of God for the natural talents He has given us. Without that innate ability we could not have acquired these skills.

Any power we may have is through His grace. Physical strength is His gift from our birth. Political strength is His gift of favor. Financial strength is His blessing.

None of the things people boast about are theirs to brag about. They are all gifts from God. He is the only thing worth bragging about.

Father, God,

Let our mouths be full of Your praise always. Let our speech reflect Your power and might and majesty. Help us to speak of You, not our selves, that we may draw all men unto You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Hallelujah!

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.  ~~  Luke 24:51-53  (KJV)

After the agony of Good Friday…

After the silence and sorrow of Saturday…

After the amazement and confusion of the empty tomb…

We have the joy and gratitude and wonder of complete and eternal victory!

Father, God,

Help us to be continually in the temple, praising You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Love

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. ~~ Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV

Following God, we walk in love. Aha!  Twice in the Old Testament we are told of men who walked with God, first Enoch and then Noah.  But how do we walk with God?  We walk in love.

Now the love I’m talking about here is not a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is the concentrated dedication to the well being of another. It is not particular, either. It meets the stranger with the same dedication and purpose that it extends to friends and family.

In order to walk in this love, we need to see the other person with God’s eyes, eyes that see the other person as a beloved child of the Father.  Seeking the good and potential in others, we can overlook their foibles and shortcomings, especially as we recognize some of the same foibles and shortcomings in ourselves.

This kind of love will serve to keep us walking with God, in His purpose, and becoming a person after God’s own heart. How can we extend God’s love to those we meet today?

Father, God,

Help us to see with Your eyes and love with Your open heart. Grant us the patience to work toward this end. Thank you for loving us and teaching us to love one another.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Giving Thanks

2 Samuel 22:50 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Psalm 18:49 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Living in central Kansas, I am accustomed to seeing the hand of the Lord in things of nature. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets begin and end our days. The single petal of a rose exhibits wondrous veining and subtlety as well as exuding exotic fragrance. Myriad shades of green, gold, amber and russet clothe the trees of autumn.

Within 24 hours this week we have had blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes.  Things are never dull.

Our headlines scream of terror and tragedy perpetrated by an enemy who wishes to subjugate the entire world to a religious extremism.

And yet, we are enjoined:

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – First Thessalonians 5:16 -18 (NKJV)

Rejoice? When we have an enemy who can strike, serpent-like, from any place at any time. Yes! We rejoice that nothing surprises our God. He is before us, behind us, and around us. This world is not all there is.

Pray? Pray constantly. Brother Lawrence practiced the presence of God, communing with Him constantly no matter what chore occupied his hands. If we are aware of the presence of God with us at all times, there is no terror. God is in control, and we can trust Him with our lives and the lives of those we love.

Give thanks? Yes! We are thankful that nothing surprises our God. He knew our last breath before we took the first one. He is with us, around us, within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is our security, our source, our present and our future. We have much for which to be thankful.

Father, God,

Help us to take our eyes off the temporal and put them on the eternal. Grant us the grace to see through seeming tragedy to eternal joy. Fill our hearts and mouths with praise and thanksgiving for You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.