Joy to Us (Repeat from 12/14/08)
“And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might... King David leaping and dancing before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:14,16).
The above account is the example I think of with respect to someone truly enjoying God and the things of God. We need to remember that David was a grown, respectable, and powerful man, a fierce fighter and King when he was dancing before the Lord with all his might. I was not around to see David leaping before the Lord, but I do remember that in 1975, Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox hit a 12th inning home run that was barely fair (if you’ve watched baseball over the past quarter-century, you’ve seen the video of it many times). I remember him leaping with absolute joy, and that is how I picture King David. When I pick up the Bible I find many passages that stress the absolute, pure and overflowing joy the believer should have in his or her life. “To God my exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4; 66:1 “Shout joyfully to God”; “Keep on rejoicing” (1 Peter 4:13); “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). “Joy inexpressible": '"To which words are inadequate”(Thayer p. 44). “Denotes unable to be told out” (Vine p. 175); “Joy too great for words” (NEB). Joy for the Christian is not all in the future. This great rejoicing is supposed to be present in our relationship with God now! When was the last time we were so thrilled with our relationship with God that words were inadequate? One writer suggested that maybe this is one reason that God wants us to sing. Singing often is an outlet for joy that seems inexpressible (James 5:13; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Are we so excited and thrilled to be a Christian that we cannot fully describe how wonderful it is? “Full of glory”: “To make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe in splendor” (Thayer p. 157). This is a joy that surpasses every other joy, and this should thrill us, for all other joys are temporary. Consider the word “glory”. Very few people ever find glory in this life, but every Christian has found glory and it is a glory and joy that will last forever (Psalm 16:11).
Rejoice in Your Salvation
At times we become so preoccupied with those who reject the gospel that we forget to relish the fact that we have obeyed the gospel. Jesus said, “Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23); “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). “Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exultin hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). For many people, their greatest joys are past them (2 Samuel 19:31-35), yet for us, our joy is always fresh and new, “But we also exult in God…through whom we have now received the reconciliation”(Romans 5:11), and best of all the greatest joys are still ahead of us.
We Found The Treasure!
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). Do we revel in the fact that we have found the truth? Do we pause during the day and remind ourselves, “I am going to heaven!”, “I am saved!”, and “I am right with God!” Do we appreciate and rejoice in the fact that we are no longer in darkness (Colossians 1:13), no longer callous (Ephesians 4:18-19), no longer a servant and slave to sinful passions or the opinions of men (1 Peter 4:1ff; Ephesians 4:14), and no longer on the path leading to destruction? (Matthew 7:13-14) At this moment do we still rejoice that we did receive Jesus? “And he hurried and came down, and received Him gladly” (Luke 19:6).
We Are Going To Heaven!
“So that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13). “Triumphantly happy” (Gspd); “You may rejoice and exult” (TCNT). “And we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). The Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confident expectation that they cannot be anything else than true. “Glory of God”: “Of beholding the glory of God” (Nor); “Hope of the divine splendor that is to be ours” (NEB). To share such heavenly splendor, to behold the King in His beauty, to be like Him when we see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-3) all this is the inspiring hope of those who have been justified by faith in Christ. There are so many things in this life that seek to undermine our joy, but when we consider the fact that we are saved and that we are going to heaven, what really can possibly spoil our joy? “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). The eternal and omnipotent Creator is coming back to bring us to the place where He lives and to share in the quality of life that surrounds Him. How often do we think about heaven? Do we really ponder what heaven might be like? Do we think of the possibilities of life with God? We will spend eternity with God, to whom there are no mysteries, the God who does know all the answers. God is a God who truly rejoices (Luke 15:7 “more joy in heaven”), like someone who really laughs from his or her belly, (Luke 10:21 “At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit”). In this life people surround us who seem bent on not enjoying God’s blessings or who seem bent on turning everything into something negative. It seems there are people who are determined not to be happy and just as determined to keep others from being happy as well. Heaven is a place where people rejoice! We are headed for a place where pessimism and misery are not welcome.
Rejoice In Your Marriage!
“He shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken” (Deuteronomy 24:5); “Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18); “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
Do we really appreciate what God has given us in our marriages? I know that many marriages in the world do fail or are failing, but this does not mean that we cannot exult in our marriage. Rejoice that you have found someone who truly loves you, that you have found someone that loves you with a pure and real love. Rejoice that someone finds you more attractive and desirable than all others. Rejoice in the pure affection that you receive from your mate. Rejoice that you been delivered from the heartaches, pains and worldly games of relationships of “the world” (1 John 2:15-17). Rejoice that you are married to someone who has the heart of a servant and not the heart of a mercenary. Rejoice that their love and commitment is real.“I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her” (Ecclesiastes 7:26). The righteous man avoids such a woman in that he doesn’t date or marry her! Solomon knew what he was talking about, for he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). There is a type of woman (and man) whose heart is snares and nets (full of tricks), that is, a manipulator, one who destroys the souls of others. Whose hands are chains, that is, who develops such a hold and influence upon others that it is hard to escape, who influences others to do evil (like Jezebel did to Ahab-1 Kings 21:25). Some of Solomon’s wives had influenced him to go in idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-8). Such still happens! Now and then some young man, even a professed Christian, will give up everything: God, family ties, friendships with Christians, in order to hold on to an enticing woman. Be forewarned, when a woman or man wants you to compromise your relationship with God and personal morality, a future with them will be a bitter experience. Better to die right now than endure a marriage with such a person.
Live a Life of Joy!
“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16); “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4); “Go then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8).
Far from being depressed or discouraged by our own mortality, Solomon exhorts the righteous to make the most of the wholesome pleasures of this life. “Go then”: Go to it then. “It is a summons to be up and doing and is directed against the tendency to brood and to ponder over problems” (Leupold p. 213). Note that the righteous man has been delivered from so many of the worries that plague other people. How many people are so worried about their health, so determined to live long, that they cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of today. How many people cannot even enjoy a good meal, because they are trying to analyze everything to death? Isn’t it ironic that a world bent on ignoring God and doing whatever it wants to do, has forfeited the ability to enjoy the simple and wholesome pleasures of each day? (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Notice how being a Christian helps you to be relaxed. “For God has already approved your works”: Hence the promise of this verse and the following, only applies to the righteous. God is telling the righteous man or woman, “I know that good and harm happen to all, and I know that from outward appearances, there are typically no clear outward signs of Divine approval or disapproval, but rest assured righteous man, long ago God has accepted your course of conduct, so persevere in that course and joyfully use what God has given you”. “Let your clothes be white all the time”: Far from acting like the Amish or some ascetic group, God exhorts the righteous to enjoy their meals, enjoy their prosperity, refresh themselves with oil and wear white garments, which in Palestine would symbolize purity, festivity, and would reflect rather than absorb the heat. Clothing and personal grooming do reflect what is going on inside a man or woman. “The white garments are in contrast to the black robes of mourning, and thus are an expression of festal joy, of a happy mood” (Keil/Del. p. 363). It is really inexcusable for faithful Christians to be cynical or depressed. God has accepted your works! What greater motivation could you have for enjoying life?