Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Responding to Exceeding Joy

Here is an excerpt from my Praise Patterns book, Chapter Three ("My Exceeding Joy"), Day Four. Each chapter's Day Four is focused on our response to God. Praise is not just a bunch of nice things we say to God; praise is responding to God in obedience and love.

I think it's impossible to talk about joy without talking about troubles, and finding joy within troubled times. Let's think again about that scene in the temple, when Mary and Joseph and Simeon and Anna were praising God together. The Jewish nation was expecting the Messiah to come and deliver them from Roman oppression. This little group probably had this in mind as they praised. They didn't know God's great plan of redemption in detail. They just knew He had arrived, so they praised Him.

I think there is a lesson here for us. In the midst of a situation with no solution in sight, God's presence is our comfort. When worry or grief or pain darken the sky, we can whisper the name of Jesus and remember that He is with us. This knowledge may not instantly produce a spectacular sunrise of joy, but it can light a tiny candle within the dark night, a gleam of hope within our hearts. Maybe our praises are timid, perhaps they aren't as eloquent or determined as Habakkuk's—but God accepts what we are capable of offering. Look at these Scriptures about joy and rejoicing:

...through Him, we have received access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith —more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy. (I Peter 1:6-8)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:12-14)
May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father who has enabled you to share in the saints' inheritance in the light. (Colossians 1:10-12)

When circumstances are bleak and grim, the Lord never leaves us, and we can ask Him to be our Exceeding Joy—our joy that exceeds our situation.

Praise Patterns
will be available to purchase in about a month.

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