Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing!
I love this carol. It is indeed joyous, and is rightfully sung as such. But is the world joyous? Will Earth receive her king? Will every heart prepare Him room?
And that greatly saddens me. There are those who worship other gods, and will find no joy in His coming. There are those who think Him a myth and will not receive Him. There are those who think Him irrelevant or undeserving, and will not make room for Him. For these there is no joy.
Part of reason there is no joy is our fault—the Church’s fault. Do we judge instead of love? Are we inconsistent? Do we preach legalism rather than forgiveness? And though we understand The Truth, do we wield it as a weapon rather than share it with grace?
For those who may have ended up on the receiving end of our hypocrisy, I am sorry. But don’t let our failings get in the way of you seeing a Loving Heavenly Father, and His Son, dying for your sins.
Scripture tells us that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11) So we will kneel and confess either because we love Him or because we have to.
Listen to the music; listen to the words; and discover The One who loves you this Christmas. He came for you!
What does it mean to be a man of sorrows? Would it be fair to say that the life of this man was defined by the sorrows he experienced; that the seminal characteristic of his life was sorrow? When people looked at Him, was sorrow all they could see? If sorrow not only describes but defines Christ, wasn’t there more to His life than sorrow?
Perhaps we can see the determination that got Him through this sorrow:
And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36)
Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”(John 12:27)
Was this world just something to endure? Was it something to just push through? Christ certainly had a grasp of the big picture, but He also had joy, and it was found in obedience. Something we too can experience.
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” ( John 15:9-11)
“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” (John 17:11-13)
How do you find joy in the midst of sorrow? Consider the opening statement of James in his New Testament letter: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Joy in the midst of sorrow may require the long view (see Hebrew 12:2 above). We need to see that the process, and the result of that process is being perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. That sounds like something to be joyous about.
What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)
I don’t want to draw an parallels between Israel as a nation and any other nation today or even in the ancient world. Israel has been and is unique. But the parallel we can draw is about the people He has chosen as an inheritance. Paul tells us in Romans:
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… (Romans 8:16-17a) For us, it’s not about a particular nation or nationality; it’s about being His Chosen People—the Church: And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (Revelation 14:6)
If the Good News has been preached to you, then you are indeed an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. And now here comes the question: How’s your joy?
If you were truly joyful, what would your testimony look like? Would people be asking you about that joy? Of course they would. And sharing Christ with them would be neither problematic nor inconsistent. The problem is, we are NOT a joyful lot; for we think there is little in us that would attract another to Jesus. But is that true?
The fact is we HAVE joy.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:9-11)
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. (Psalm 19:8)
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. (Psalm 30:11)
I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (Psalm 119:111)
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)
You received the message with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
It is one of the fruit of the Spirit: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control.
As you can see, there are is a multitude of reasons to be joyful. Joy is both a consequence and a gift. It’s time to exhume that gift, embrace that gift, explain that gift, exemplify that gift and export that gift.
I don’t see joy overtaking us as a nation. If it does. it will have be done one heart at a time—hearts that have received the inheritance of God.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. (Psalm 27:6)
We now see the result of being lifted up—in plain sight—on a rock. It’s not a matter of sight; rather it is a matter of power. He has been exalted, set on high, over his enemies. Yes they do indeed surround David, but it is of no consequence, because He is the one with power and authority, not they. And David knows full well where that power and authority come from.
So here’s David, being set upon a rock by the Most High, given power and authority over his enemies. And what does he do? Worship. This is huge.
There were at least two distractions here, but David fixes his eyes upon the LORD.
He could have been caught up in his position.
He could have been caught up in being surrounded.
But his enemies we not an issue, not a concern. Rather he worshiped the LORD.
So he turned his back upon the circumstances and turned his attention upon the LORD.
There were three things David did in worship:
This is the literal act of offering sacrifices. I suppose these sacrifices could have been either the Burnt Offering or the Peace Offering. The former for commemoration or celebration; the latter as a means of thanksgiving.
Shouts of joy.
These shouts could actually be a cry for help, or a battle cry, a trumpet blast. And it is quite likely the surrounding enemies could have confused these cries. But only at the outset, not at the outcome. David wasn’t signaling his troops, he was offering sacrifices. He wasn’t pointing his troops for attack, he was looking unto his God. There were no war cries, and if they listened carefully, even his enemies would have heard the joy.
This could be translated as to make music. Did David pull out his harp? Did he compose a new song on the spot? Maybe this Psalm? Did some of his warriors join in a male chorus? Or was he alone, singing a solo song of worship to the LORD? I suspect it was simpler rather than more elaborate. Just the king worshiping the King of kings.
Imagine the impact this should have had on his observers.
They had lost their advantage, had lost their power.
They see they are of no concern for David.
They see worship of the One True God.
They see the relationship that David had with the LORD.
They see the power of God.
What do you think their response might be? How many would understand, and how many would walk away in frustration?
Now, here’s the application for you and me. When you’re in the midst of a crisis, what do you do? Are you distracted by the disaster? Are you preoccupied by the predicament? Are you overwhelmed by the by the onslaught? Do not be. Intentionally choose to worship. Follow David’s example: turn away from the tribulation, and turn to worship. The following verse reveals that we too have been given the ability to turn away and also shows to Whom we should turn:
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”. (Isaiah 43:1-3a)
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1)
This Psalm was written by David, and it is one of 15 “Songs of Ascents”. And although there is no way to know the actual meaning of this term, many believe these were the Psalms the priests and pilgrims sang as they made their way through Jerusalem up to the Temple.
When David composed this, there was no Temple, just the Tabernacle. But don’t you hear his enthusiasm in this verse? I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Here is David with his family, friends, advisers, officers, etc., etc., and for a time, the intrigue, the infighting, the jockeying for position, the plans for peace, the plans for war—all have been put on hold because they are on their way to come before the LORD; and the worship begins when they start singing these Psalms. I believe David gave his whole heart when he went to the house of the LORD. That kind of example is infectious.
Are you glad to go to the house of the LORD? Are you excited to worship and exalt the Lord together with other believers? Or has it become Ritual? Habitual? All the joy and gladness has been squeezed out and replaced by the ordinary and routine.
Find the joy and gladness again. Understand that this enthusiasm which David exhibited and proclaimed was not about singing, or sacrifices, or service. It was about meeting with the Most High.
Unlike the people of the Old Testament, You have God’s Spirit within you. The Everlasting, Almighty, All-Knowing and Infinite God lives within you. He has given you eternal and abundant life. If all these limitless and unending characteristics and graces have touched you, are all around you, and abide in you, how can you be bored (or boring)?
May you be ignited by His glory and His presence. May others see you are glad to go to the house of the LORD.