Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Joy’

Constant Joy

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not 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 unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

  ~~  Psalm 100 (KJV)

This is one of my favorite psalms. In the first place it says “make a joyful noise” not “sing sweetly on key.” The criteria for our singing is joy, not musical ability.

But no one can be joyful all the time, can they? That depends on where your joy lies. If the joy of the Lord is your strength, then you can be joyful all the time. God is always with you. If he is the source of your joy, nothing can change it.

When things seem blackest, we can praise the Lord for who and what he is. He inhabits the praises of his people. No matter what circumstances surround us, he is unchanging and always sure. If your security is in him, nothing can shake it.

This truth allows us to be grateful to God for who and what he is, no matter what happens around us or to us.

So at all times and in all seasons, we can bring a sacrifice of praise to him. Blessing his name for who he is.

That sacrifice of praise will hold you together in the roughest of times. It draws you closer to him and reminds you of all his power and righteousness.

In a time when I thought I would drown in grief, the old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, came bubbling up out of my middle. While the grief was still there, I had an assurance that it would not overwhelm me, that with God’s help I could get through it.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

For that I was and am mightily grateful.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace and our strength. Remind us at all times to come to you with praise and thanksgiving so that we may always be blessed of you.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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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.

The Christian Advantage

I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.  ~~  Job 32:7-8 (KJV)

Older is not necessarily wiser unless the wisdom of God informs it. People have no choice but to grow older day by day. They don’t have to grow wiser. We’ve all seen the perpetual adolescents who are fifty years old and haven’t yet decided what to be when they grow up. Or even decided to grow up at all. Heedlessness, recklessness, and thoughtlessness mark their actions. And when the consequences of those actions are negative, they cry “why me” incessantly. They hurry to place the blame on someone else.

But the Christian has a distinct advantage here. Jesus sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and to guide us. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully God, just as God the Father and Jesus Christ are fully God. Therefore he has the mind of God, all the knowledge and wisdom of our Triune God.

It is up to us to cultivate a teachable spirit, to listen carefully for the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In our busy, loud, hurried world, it isn’t always easy to hear him. He doesn’t shout. He nudges you with a fleeting thought “I ought to….” Sometimes we have these fleeting thoughts, and then we talk ourselves out of them. “That doesn’t make any sense.” or “What would people say?” or “I don’t have time and energy to take that on.” We have rationalizations for everything.

When in doubt, we can ask God for confirmation. If we are to pursue that action, he will confirm it. He may speak in your head again – or he may provide an external confirmation. Someone will say something to confirm what you’ve been hearing in your head. We cannot lean on what we know alone. The finite mind of man is not equal to wrapping itself around the infinite mind of God.

If we are to be part of his plans, we learn to step out in faith. We learn to hear him, to follow him, to obey him. That is the ultimate joy, to be in the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to learn from you so that our days may be profitable to the kingdom. Keep our ears tuned to your voice and our hearts tuned to your will. Let us be ever faithful which is the ultimate wisdom.

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.

The Sacrifice of Praise

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.   ~~  Psalm 138:1-3  (KJV)

If you have never experienced difficulty or tragedy in your life, you are among the very few. Most of us will go through turmoil and trouble at some point or at several points in our lives.

How you handle that trouble comes from who you are at heart. If your heart is set upon the Lord, you will spend as much time praising Him as asking for help.

Our lives may not be happy at all times, but we can still be joyous. As we look at God and Who He Is, there is every reason for a deep-seated, pervasive joy. That joy is multiplied when we praise Him in the midst of circumstances that are not in themselves joyous.

That is the definition of “sacrifice of praise“. We praise Him in spite of circumstances, not because of them. Who He Is and His power are the source of our joy.  He lives in the praises of His people.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  ~~ Psalm 22:3  (KJV)

When the day is black and circumstances are dire, we can praise Him for Who He Is and all He has done for us. This sacrifice of praise brings us closer to Him, focuses our attention on Him rather than the momentary circumstances of our lives.

Nothing surprises God. He knows all that will happen before it occurs. He knows us – knew who we would be before he called us forth. We can trust Him with everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that You are our only security in this uncertain world. Grant us the faith to see You in all circumstances rather than focusing on the distracting machinations of the enemy. Let us praise You with a full heart of gratitude for all You have done for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Power!

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. ~~ Genesis 17:1

When God says something, we are wise to listen to Him. Here He is talking to Abram in his old age. At ninety-nine years, Abram is no longer a spring chicken. But this sentence is the preface to God’s promise that Abram will be the father of many nations – as yet Abram is still childless.

I find it interesting that God proclaims His power in a setting that has nothing to do with battle. When I think of almighty, I think of conflict, combat and warfare. God doesn’t.

Here He is proclaiming His power over everything – even the conception of children. He is telling Abram to obey Him so that he will be perfect.  The word used for “perfect” comes from a root meaning “entire” or “whole”.

So essentially God is saying “I am the One who is fully powerful in all situations. If you walk in obedience to Me, your life will be complete, full, satisfying.”

How simple!  And how difficult. We seem to be a stubborn and stiff-necked people, always wanting to do things our own way.

I remember Frank Sinatra’s song, I Did It My Way.

Does it ever occur to us that our way may not be the best way? Hardly ever. Do we ever think that God might have a better plan overall? Maybe once in a while.

Reality check here. We don’t know all the ramifications of the things we are about to do. We do not know the plans God has for the people with whom we might interact. We are, in fact, totally limited in knowledge and understanding.

That’s why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us hear Him. If we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will avoid foot-in-mouth disease more often. We will be less hindrance to the plans God has for ourselves and others.

We are finite. He is infinite. We will never wrap our finite little minds around the knowledge, understanding and purposes of our Infinite God.

Once we understand this, we will cease striving to do it our own way and discover the freedom and joy of full obedience.

Father, God,

Help us rid ourselves of the arrogance that makes us think we can do it our way. Grant that we may hear Your Holy Spirit prompting us in obedience to You. Give us the grace to walk before you and be perfect.

In Jesus’  most precious name.

Amen.

Ripened Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

These fruits seem to me to fall into three categories as they relate to our relationships.  For example, love, joy and peace are truly interior to us. They are part of who we are. Despite any circumstance, we can choose to be loving, joyful and peaceable. These attitudes determine our outward actions at all times.

The next three, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, seem to be our actions toward others. Being patient, gentle and good to others are the mark of the mature Christian. There is no room here for loud voices, argument, and violence.

The last three, faith, meekness, temperance, seem to stem from our relationship with God. Faith is a gift of God’s grace. Meekness, also known as humility, stems from our understanding of our worth in the eyes of God.  Temperance is the result of our knowing that God is in control of circumstances and that we are not in control, therefore excessive responses are not only unnecessary, but also counter productive.

With this picture as our goal, we can only grow in faith and grace.

Father, God,

Help us to grow in these areas. Grant that we may always be loving, joyful and peaceable. Help us to be longsuffering, gentle and good.  Give us a measure of faith, meekness and temperance.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.