NEW DAY – NEW SONG

Ps.96:1,2 – Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king”. The words penned by Isaac Watts almost 300 years ago still resound throughout the earth. Joy has come to fill the hearts of all who have opened up to Jesus Christ our King. His second Advent will overwhelm the earth with unspeakable joy. No wonder every picture of the angels is a picture of singing. In His joyous presence there is nothing left to do, “Ps.96:1,2 – Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.” As we prepare for Christmas this year our hearts are also bursting with songs of joy. Christ has come, death has been defeated, our sin has been washed away, and we have received a new life. Here is how Spurgeon describes today’s text.

“O sing unto the Lord a new song. New joys are filling the hearts of men, for the glad tidings of blessing to all people are proclaimed, therefore let them sing a new song. Angels inaugurated the new dispensation with new songs, and shall not we take up the strain? The song is for Jehovah alone, the hymns which chanted the praises of Jupiter and Neptune, Vishnoo and Siva are hushed for ever; Bacchanalian shouts are silenced, lascivious sonnets are no more. Unto the one only God all music is to be dedicated. Mourning is over, and the time of singing of hearts has come. No dismal rites are celebrated, no bloody sacrifices of human beings are presented, no cutting with knives, and outcries of lamentation are presented by deluded votaries. Joy is in the ascendant, and singing has become the universal expression of love, the fitting voice of reverent adoration. Men are made new creatures, and their song is new also.”

If you are a new creature in Christ you understand what the joyful singing is all about. If you have not made peace with God, I beg you, don’t let another Christmas pass in your present condition. Go ahead and sing some of the joyful Christmas songs. As you sing the songs of the “Silent Night”, open your heart. Before long you too will be shouting songs of joy to the Lord.

SINGING EVERY DAY

Ps.96:1,2 – Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

David was singing his “new song” every day. He had experienced more of God and His presence than just about anyone in history. Like he said in Psalm 23, “you anoint my head with oil, my cup is running over”. In another Psalm we hear, “my tongue is the pen of a ready writer”. Obviously, David’s joy was bubbling over. He loved what he had experienced of the goodness of God and wanted others to taste it too. What was the source of this overflowing joy? It is the river of the Spirit that flows out of the revelation of Christ. David had glimpses of His coming. He saw His birth, His eternal nature, His life and ministry, and His heavenly priesthood. What else could he do but lift up his voice and sing his new song. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s passage.

“At the very mention of his name it is meet to say, “Let him be blessed for ever.” Shew forth his salvation from day to day. The gospel is the clearest revelation of himself, salvation, outshines creation and providence; therefore let our praises overflow in that direction. Let us proclaim the glad tidings, and do so continually, never ceasing the blissful testimony. It is ever new, ever suitable, ever sure, ever perfect; therefore let us show it forth continually until he come, both by words and deeds, by songs and sermons, by sacred Baptism and by the Holy Supper, by books and by speech, by Sabbath services and weekday worship. Each day brings us deeper experience of our saving God, each day shows us anew how deeply men need his salvation, each day reveals the power of the gospel, each day the Spirit strives with the sons of men; therefore, never pausing, be it ours to tell out the glorious message of free grace.”

Spurgeon obviously had drunk deeply of this revelation of God in Christ. He said every day, day by day, we are brought deeper into this experience of Christ. We meditate on His incarnation, His sinless life, His supernatural ministry, His unthinkable suffering and death, HIs power revealed in the resurrection, and His ascension to the place of glory at the Father’s right hand and we too will be singing this new song. “Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth.”

NOT EATING AND DRINKING

Rom.14:17 – for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This verse sums up the Christian life. Paul is adamant, the kingdom of God is not about a system of rules and religious observances. The kingdom of God is spiritual and closely related to the Holy Spirit. The book of Romans has a theme connected to the righteousness of God that comes by faith. Being declared righteous by faith in the sacrificial death of Christ opens the kingdom of God up to us. Peace with God, peace in our own life, and peace with others is the fruit of the righteousness of God in our lives. Having been justified by faith we have peace with God. Joy is also the fruit of being right with God. It is in access to the kingdom of God that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and our joy begins to overflow. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this verse.

“Righteousness, peace, and joy, are very comprehensive words; and each of them includes much, both of the foundation and the superstructure of religion. Might I limit the sense of them, it should be thus:—As to God, our great concern is righteousness—to appear before him justified by the merit of Christ’s death, sanctified by the Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness. As to our brethren, it is peace—to live in peace and love, and charity with them, following peace with all men: Christ came into the world to be the great peace-maker. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost—that spiritual joy which is wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which respects God as their reconciled Father and heaven as their expected home. Next to our compliance with God, the life of religion consists in our complacency in him; to delight ourselves always in the Lord. Surely we serve a good Master, who makes peace and joy so essential to our religion. Then and then only we may expect peace and joy in the Holy Ghost when the foundation is laid in righteousness.”

Stepping into the kingdom of God by faith is what the book of Romans is all about. Today you and I have access into this kingdom life. We can step into the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Lord, being filled repeatedly with the Holy Spirit.

SPONTANEOUS JOY

Jn.15:11 – These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

I hated reading ‘Fox’s Book of Martyrs’ while in Bible School. I remember stories throughout history of Christians going joyfully to their deaths, often singing and even laughing as they faced their executioners. I was quite disturbed at this for years and really avoided that book. All of that changed for me in the summer of 1994. In a moment of time I understood. What was the change ? I tasted supernatural joy for myself. I was visited by waves of unexplainable joy. Joy came when I worshipped, it came when I read my Bible, it even came upon me in my sleep and in my dreams. I was filled with joy when preaching, singing, and especially when praying for others. Jesus told the disciples that they would be filled with overflowing joy when the Holy Spirit came upon them. That’s what today’s verse is about. John 15 is part of Jesus great teaching on the coming of the Holy Spirit He delivered to His disciples on the last night He spent with them. Supernatural joy sustained those early Christians even to death. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson on the joy of the Lord.

“There is a joy that springs spontaneously in the heart without any external or even rational cause. It is like an artesian fountain. It rejoices because it cannot help it. It is the glory of God; it is the heart of Christ; it is the joy divine of which He says, These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. And your joy no man can take from you. Those who possess this fountain are not discouraged by surrounding circumstances. Rather, they are often surprised at the deep, sweet gladness that comes without apparent cause-a joy that frequently is strongest when everything in their condition and circumstances would tend to fill them with sorrow and depression. It is the nightingale in the heart that sings at night because it is its nature to sing. It is the glorified and incorruptible joy that belongs with heaven and anticipates already the everlasting song.”

No wonder Jesus said to rejoice when you are persecuted for His Name. He said when that happened the Spirit of glory would rest on us. This supernatural joy is part of what happens when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit is infinite. That means that no matter how much you have received of Him there is always more; more than we can ever imagine.

STRENGTHENED BY JOY

Rom.15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

One thing I really love about the Holy Spirit, He is with us in our day to day life. He is not only there for ministry but also our source of joy in whatever our hand finds to do. Whether you are a student, an office worker, a gardener or a cashier; it makes no difference. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Often times we can tend to categorize our lives. We have our work part, family part, recreation part, and our spiritual part. The beauty of the work of the Spirit is He is involved in all of it. He is our life and source of joy in whatever arena we find ourselves in. Here is how Andrew Murray describes it.

“Shortly after his conversion a man said to me, “I always thought that if I became religious it would become impossible for me to run my business. The two things just seemed too diverse to me. It seemed to me like a man trying to dig a vineyard with a bag of sand upon his shoulders. However, when I found the Lord, I was so filled with joy that I could cheerfully do my work from morning till night. The bag of sand was gone! The joy in the Lord was my strength and power. This is an important lesson. Many Christians do not understand that the joy of the Lord equips them for their task….Today’s text testifies to the joy and peace available to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So what kind of adventure does today hold for you? The Lord will be with you satisfying, directing, empowering, and strengthening you for the task. He will be your word in season, wisdom to make right decisions, love to love the unlovely, and will strengthen you physically and emotionally for all of your labor. He has already gone before you so there is absolutely nothing for us to worry about. As a matter of fact He can make the most miserable circumstances and challenges an absolute delight. So take some extra time to stir yourself up in the Spirit before you head off today; after all, the joy of the Lord is your strength.

TOTAL AND PERPETUAL JOY

Ps. 16:11 – You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

David spoke of the resurrection of Christ and its ensuing joy 1000 years before it happened. Death, man’s greatest and final enemy, would be swallowed up in the joy Christ enjoyed at His Father’s right hand. The great mystery that is unfolded here is this; Jesus stepped into this heavenly joy as a man on our behalf. Think about it, He had always enjoyed this heavenly life and privilege as the Son of God. Now it was His by purchase as the Son of Man. He entered into this life of joy for us; now that place at the Father’s right hand is ours. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes it.

“Christ being raised from the dead ascended into glory, to dwell in constant nearness to God, where joy is at its full for ever: the foresight of this urged him onward in his glorious but grievous toil. To bring his chosen to eternal happiness was the high ambition which inspired him, and made him wade through a sea of blood. O God, when a worldling’s mirth has all expired, for ever with Jesus may we dwell “at thy right hand,” where “there are pleasures for evermore;” and meanwhile, may we have an earnest by tasting thy love below. Trappe’s note on the heavenly verse which closes the Psalm is a sweet morsel, which may serve for a contemplation, and yield a foretaste of our inheritance. He writes, “Here is as much said as can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and pleasures; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent whereat they drink without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God’s right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand; it is a constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is for evermore. Heaven’s joys are without measure, mixture, or end.”

I love Trappe’s comments, “heaven’s joys are without measure, mixture, or end”. That is absolutely unthinkably. David saw this by prophesy, Peter and the followers of Jesus tasted the edge of it on the Day of Pentecost. Peter was saying in his sermon that the outpouring of the Spirit is the beginning of this supernatural joy. We can now experience this joy for ourselves.

A ROSE, IS A ROSE, IS A ROSE

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“I AM THE ROSE OF SHARON, THE LILY OF THE VALLEY”

Song of Songs 2:1

Spring came loudly this year in Nola from the snowy winter we had. It caught me by surprise when it seemed every budding plant burst its banks with color shouting winter had past. MY ROSES! I just couldn’t get enough of them. Last year I was introduced to PeggyMartin roses named from the roses that survived 20 feet of water during Katrina. Having not too much success with other roses I planted these. They came back in vengeance from the winter we had in the most pretty pink I’ve ever seen spreading along my fence at a feverish rate. I couldn’t wait to buy more to plant them in my yard. Christ comes as the rose and the lily. There is just something to see in Christ. He has beauty that seems to cleanse deep on the inside of us.

For over ten years now Marysong has been operating for women that have lost their way. The stories go untold, their scars bury deep within their souls. Mankind weaves it’s wickedness into the very earth we live and the story keeps getting repeated. The girls’ eyes always speak so much louder than their voice. I thank God Christ comes as the rose. Yes, he is our bread and he is our drink but I thank God he is our rose.

Spurgeon says, “Christ compares himself here, not as in other places to needful bread and refreshing water, but to lovely flowers- to roses and lilies. What is the use of roses and lilies? They are of no use at all except for joy and delight. With their sweet form, their charming color, and their delicious fragrance, we are comforted and pleased and delighted; but they are not necessities of life. Jesus is all that, and more; he is far more than “a thing of beauty,” and to all who trust him he will be “a joy forever.” To you who are Christ’s people, he is your bread, for you feed on him, and he makes you live; you could not do without him as the sustenance of your soul. He is the living water, and your soul would pine and perish of a burning thirst if you did not drink of him. He means for you to have joy as well as to have life, to look upon beauty as well as to be in safety, and to have not only a healthy atmosphere, but an atmosphere that is laden with the odor of sweet flowers. You are to find in Christ roses and lilies, as well as bread and water; you have not yet seen all his beauties, and you do not yet know all his excellence.”

Let Christ come to you as the rose that will drench your sorrow with his fragrance, your scars with his beauty, and the black with his lily. There is beauty in the brokenness.

.

FAVOR AND VISITATION

Job 10:12 KJV – Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

Job recognized the source of His prosperity in life. He attributed it to the favor and visitation of the Lord. There are some very important things we can learn from this short verse of scripture that can help us in every arena of our lives. First, recognizing the significance of the favor of God. Favor is closely associated with grace. The favor of God rested mightily upon the sons and daughters of God by faith in Christ Jesus. It is because of the forgiveness we find through His blood that we have access to this favor of God. We also see the importance of looking to the Lord rather than to our own talents and resources for our success in this life. The Lord is the creator, possessor, and distributor of all things. Look to Him and experience his favor. Next, Job acknowledged God’s visitation in His life. Visitations center us. When God comes down in our lives, we see His greatness and our need for Him. Times of visitation are essential in all of our lives. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on today’s verse.

“Thou hast granted me life and favor. Thou hast brought me from my mother’s womb; given me an actual existence among men; by thy favor or mercy thou hast provided me with the means of life; and thy visitation-thy continual providential care, has preserved me in life-has given me the air I breathe, and furnished me with those powers which enable me to respire it as an agent and preserver of life. It is by God’s continued visitation or influence that the life of any man is preserved; in him we live, move, and have our being.”

The favor of God on our lives produces two major things. First, it glorifies the Lord. When we experience unusual favor and blessing on our family, business, and ministry people take notice. As we point them to the Lord His name is exalted. Secondly, we taste His goodness and experience unspeakable joy and satisfaction in our lives. Experiencing the favor and blessing of God is why we are created, discovering this finally brings us to a place of rest and contentment. What a blessing to be able to say with Job, “Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit”.

UNEXPECTED JOY

1 PETER 1:8 – Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Have you ever been caught totally by surprise? For me, the greatest surprise of all is when I was surprised by joy in a church service in 1994. By that time I had been a Christian for over twenty years and had been a pastor for sixteen years. But joy? Really? You must be kidding! Now I have to admit those first early years as a Christian had been quite an adventure and I guess I would have to say joy was part of it. But what hit me that summer day in Texas was something quite different. This was something that got all over me and wouldn’t let go (not that I wanted it to). I was stuck in what could only be described as a state of supernatural joy. I think it is funny that C.S. Lewis described his conversion as an encounter with joy. Here are some of his words from his testimony.

“It may be asked whether my terror was at all relieved by the thought that I was now approaching the source from which those arrows of Joy had been shot at me ever since childhood. Not in the least. No slightest hint was vouchsafed me that there ever had been or ever would be any connection between God and Joy. If anything, it was the reverse. I had hoped that the heart of reality might be of such a kind that we can best symbolize it as a place; instead, I found it to be a Person. For all I knew, the total rejection of what I called Joy might be one of the demands, might be the very first demand He would make upon me. There was no strain of music from within, no smell of eternal orchards at the threshold, when I was dragged through the doorway.”

I guess that was the surprise for me as well. I had never associated God or spiritual things with joy. Now I couldn’t separate God from joy. Actually He is joy, the happiest of all beings. Didn’t David say that God sits in the heavens and laughs. When the voice like thunder, trumpets, and many waters laughs it is something that could never be forgotten. So maybe you need a good surprise. Surprised by this person called Joy will drive the fear, lust, and depression right out of your life.

HAPPY GOD

1 Tim.1:11 – according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God (happy God), with which I have been entrusted.

The foundation of our Christian faith is joy. Now for some, that may sound strange or even doctrinally problematic, nevertheless at the end of the day our God is a happy God. He is happy because He is totally sufficient in Himself lacking nothing. In other words, there is nothing that He needs, nothing anyone can give Him or do for Him that would improve or add to Him. He doesn’t need humans or any rest of His creation to do anything for Him, there is completeness within the Trinity that can be described as complete or overflowing joy. Yep, our God is a happy God. Jonathan Edwards has been spun over the years as the guy who preached on hell. If you study Edwards for yourself you will find that that doesn’t tell the whole story. The underlying theme of Edwards was the happiness of God. He believed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were more than enough to satisfy themselves. Here is a quote from Edwards on the happy God.

“God is happy in beholding the brightness of His own glory; but this glory He beholds in beholding His Son, whom, we are told, is the brightness of His glory, the express image of His Person. In beholding this perfect, express image, He has an infinitely more perfect view of Himself and the brightness of His own glory than a man has who beholds his own image in a glass. And thus it is that God loves and delights in Himself, in that infinite and eternal delight that is between the Father and the Son. And because God’s happiness thus consists in the communion of the Persons of the Trinity, and the love and delight of the Father and the Son in each other, hence the apostle, when speaking of the special happiness of Christians, and how that therein they partake of the happiness of God, mentions the Persons of the Trinity and says, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

So the bottom line of the Father’s happiness was the joy He finds in His Son. This joy that flows from intimacy is what was purchased for us. We are brought into this oneness or fellowship that our joy may also be full. So there it is, heaven is a place of joy. We no longer have to be depressed, we have been called into the joy of the Lord.