Making a Habit of Joy

Tragedies, tornadoes, floods, fire, drought, earthquakes, wars, terrorism, violence, crime, economic crisis, gas prices, health

Full Moon over Smith Lake

Sunrise over Smith Lake

care, and agendas against Judeo-Christian values only begin the list of issues we face as Christians. With all that against us; what, on earth, do we have to shout joyfully about? Yet when we turn to Psalm 66 we read these words,

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah.” (Psa 66:1-4).

Again we ask, “What on earth do we have to shout joyfully about?”

We can Shout Joy for Yesterday. Read Psalm 66:5-7, 16-20. Come and See – Come and Hear – what the Lord has done!

Israel had a great heritage to rejoice over. The psalmist is reminding them of their past and how God blessed them. He wanted them to recall Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua. Maybe he was thinking of these words of Joshua,

“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” (Jos 23:14).

God took care of His people then.

God takes care of His people today. His people are those who Christ brings to God through the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:16). God’s people today are members of His Kingdom (the Church, the Body of Christ). We as Christians have a great yesterday to rejoice over. We can rejoice in the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of the Christ. We can rejoice in the writings of the New Testament witnesses (cf. Heb 1:1-2). We can rejoice in those who carefully copied these letters to preserve the Word of God. We can rejoice that men and women learn ancient languages and translate those ancient manuscripts into our own common language. We can rejoice for our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who taught us to love God and to think for ourselves. We can rejoice that a friend, teacher, elder, deacon, preacher, or youth worker taught us the good news about forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ. We can rejoice that they took to heart the words of Paul, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2Co 5:19). The successes of yesterday bring us joy.

We can Shout Joy for Today. Read Psalm 66:8-12. The little girl bowed her head and folded her hands as her parents knelt beside her as she began her bedtime prayer, “Thank You, God, for Mommy, Daddy, Gramps and Grams, for John, and Joel too. Thank You for whiskers, the cat, and the dog next door, even if he does chase Whiskers. Thank You for my goldfish, Bubbles, and thank You, God for me.” Like this little girl, we can rejoice in the present.

Too many times people (your parents and grandparents included) talk about the “good ole days.” Don’t tell them I told you this, but the “good ole days” never really existed. The truth is that as human beings, we tend to forget much of the bad things in life and focus on the good memories. When I started driving in 1983 gas was around $0.85/gallon. That sounds cheap until you realize my car averaged 8 mpg and minimum wage was $3.25. If you like math you can crunch the numbers and see that things have not changed much and maybe not even for the better.

The same holds true for the “good ole days” of the church. The congregations at Galatia and Corinth had issues Paul had to deal with in his letters. John, Paul, Peter, and Jude all warn against false teachers. The Restoration movement of the 1800’s in the United States had struggles. The Church grew rapidly in the 1950’s then split over different issues. The Church has different and similar challenges today, but also great opportunities. We can reach people with the message of the Gospel through Television, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. I know many young people, just out of college, who are currently entering the mission field fulltime. Today may be the best days of the Church.

Yes there are trials, but James would remind us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (Jas 1:2-3). God can bring out our best during the pressure of tough times. The past bring joy and we live in the best of times now. So shout for joy today!

We can Shout for Joy for Our Future. Read Psalm 66:13-15. You thought I was going to say, “Shout for Joy for Tomorrow.” We do not know if tomorrow will come. The world may end for us today. If there is a tomorrow, we know that God will be with us and care for us in that tomorrow.  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28). “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2Ti 1:12).  We can find joy today in our assurance of an eternal home in heaven. The apostle John tells us, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1Jo 5:13). When we are in a right relationship with God through Christ Jesus, His Son, we have a joyous eternal future waiting for us. So we can rejoice today, even when it rains.

Choose Today

Scott McCown – BSMc – 11.10.2010

Today is the day of decision.

Now is the time to choose.

There may be a tomorrow;

But why wait and chance to lose?

What you decide this moment,

Will impact the rest of your days.

Focus on what is eternal.

God is the One you should praise.

Many think too much of this life.

Forgetting that eternity waits.

Do not lose focus on salvation,

Live to enter the Heavenly Gates.

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