“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!” (Psalm 100:1 NLT)
What brings you joy?
The term “joy” is used nearly 300 times in Scripture and the most common meaning is “gladness.” As we look at the joy of the Lord today, I’d like to approach it from a couple perspectives. First, the joy we bring to the Lord. Then, second, the joy the Lord brings to us.
How can we bring joy to the Lord? The Psalms, especially King David’s writings, are filled with joyful expressions of praise and adoration of the Lord. Psalm 100 is one of my favorites and outlines several ways our hearts and lives can bring joy to the Lord.
For example, the first verse of Psalm 100 instructs us to “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!” The KJV translates verse one as “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” The implication is that you’re so filled with gladness that you’re just making noise, similarly as you would when your favorite team scores the winning point.
There are times when things go so unexpectedly well that it’s as though our body can’t contain all the joy. We don’t have words to give expression to our elation. That’s the kind of joy-filled shouts of praise and thanksgiving that honor and bring joy to our Lord. But, on the other hand, there are times our hearts are so deeply burdened we’re unable to describe the heartache, sadness, and deep, unfulfilled longings that seem they will never be met. In those painful times, while it may only be a whisper, the Father’s heart is filled with joy when we convey our trust in Him even in the darkest valley.
It’s the words of Job when he said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” (Job 13:15a) Anytime we worship the Lord with genuine, heartfelt praise and expressions of joy-filled adoration, we put a smile on our Savior’s beautiful face.
David reminds us that singing with joy blesses the Lord, as well as acknowledging that the Lord is God. Realizing and remembering that “He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Posturing ourselves as “sheep” is to humble ourselves in our own estimation and by so doing, exalt and honor the Lord for His willingness to even take notice of us.
There are dozens of ways to bring joy to the Lord, but I’d like for us to consider a few ways the Lord brings joy to us. Certainly, answered prayer gives rise to praise, thanksgiving, and gladness. When a loved one or friend yields their life and allegiance to Jesus our hearts are full and it’s easy to sense God’s closeness and to experience joy.
But what about when our prayers aren’t answered? We’ve prayed so diligently and with what we believe to be complete faith, yet our loved one dies, the bills aren’t paid, the job doesn’t come through. Again, there are dozens of things that can cause the proverbial bottom to drop out, but are we to conclude when those things happen that God has abandoned us?
One source of great joy to me is the fact that God has promised us that no matter what happens: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) I love to worship, whether I’m by myself or among many others. And sometimes those times of worship have been when I’m alone and in deep pain. Those are the moments I cherish the closeness of my Savior. Those are the moments a smile may cross my face in spite of the tears, not because my circumstances have changed, but because my Lord has stationed Himself by my side. HE is my joy! HE is my cause for celebration! His presence means everything, in every moment!
Blessings, Ed 😊