First of all, I have to thank all of you…
Thank you for your outpouring of well-wishes, encouragement, great counsel, and most of all, for your prayers. I was humbled and blessed by the presence of all of you as you responded to my post from last week. It is a tremendous blessing to know that the journey of Christian faith is walked in community. And I am grateful that I share my steps with faithful soldiers in Blog Land!! Again, thank you!
Not only did your prayers help me with the anxiety, I believe that they also led directly to an important insight.
As I mentioned, my Word for 2014 is JOY.
And I believe that God gave me a nugget of Truth from His Word just the other day on that exact subject.
I bought a parallel Bible last week on a certain internet site – (Hint, hint: Some big river in South America…)
And when it arrived, I thought I would *break it in* by doing a Bible Pick 'Ems. (A "Bible Pick 'Ems" is when I randomly open my Bible and read the two pages I've turned to – and then wait to see what God has to say).
Well, at first I was discouraged, because once again I landed in Chronicles! However, God can speak anywhere in His Word, and I believe He did to me. Here's the passage:
"…it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD…and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,
'For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,'
…the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud…for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God." (2 Chronicles 5:13, 14, ESV)
At first I tried to imagine that scene.
Can you imagine it???
It says that the "priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud." God's awesome glory arrived, and everything came to a standstill.
Were people frightened? I think so. An almighty God is a force to be revered in humble fear and awe.
So I picture the roaring and thunderous arrival of God, and the people hushed. God had returned in full force to live among His people again.
Yup, glory is a good word for that!
But here's where God personalized the message for me.
He gave me an insight into the order of how this occurred.
1) WHEN the song was raised
2) IN PRAISE to the Lord
3) THEN the glory of the Lord arrived and filled the Temple
Here's what I got to thinking about, specifically as I've been wrestling with the concept of JOY, of what it means and how it arrives.
Is God waiting for my first move?
You see, that important word *when* kept jumping out to me. WHEN the people raised their voices in songs of praise to the Lord, THEN He arrived and filled the Temple.
Is this a key to the concept of JOY?
Of course we know that as believers we have the Spirit of God living within us. We are His temple now. So, He's there. But perhaps, just perhaps, His JOY cannot arrive until I open the door through praise.
Another word picture.
We live in the mountains, up a winding switchback road. But before you can come up this road, you have to enter a coded gate. (Trust me, I see the irony of living "out in the boonies" but still behind a gate…)
So, the road is there all the time. But, you can't get in unless you know the code.
Is it like this with the Holy Spirit and joy?
Is He there all the time, just waiting to arrive with joy, but waiting for us to open the gate? And is the *code* that opens the gate – praise?
I truly felt like the Lord spoke something wonderfully true to me here.
Yes, the key to joy is praise.
Now, in the midst of struggles and strife, it is sometimes near impossible to feel happy. But we're not asked for that. We are called to praise God, in the midst of everything.
But I am also seeing in these verses, what we are to use as the basis of our praise. I'm not sure that God expects us to be thankful for the struggles and strife. We don't have to like it much when we’re overwhelmed by life.
But, we can always, always praise HIS character.
And that's what the Israelites did.
"For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever."
Can I do this? Can you?
Yes, I can answer YES!
Even if I'm really nervous, or really afraid, or really hurting, or really anything…I can still turn to the sky and raise my voice in praise to the One who is GOOD, and LOVING, and STEADFAST.
The One whose faithfulness endures FOREVER.
The key to joy is not found in the surrounding circumstances, it's not found in WHAT'S going on. The key to joy is found in the character of our Lord, it's found in the WHO we turn to in the middle of all of it.
The unchanging One. The One who never slumbers nor sleeps. The One who sits on the throne.
So, Lord, here I am.
Raising my voice in praise to Your name for who You are, and for who You are to me.
I'm entering the code to the gate…
I can hear it open up…
And I am waiting eagerly for Your presence to fill the temple of my heart.
JOY is driving up the road…
Looking for JOY
in all the right places!
(*Look closely - I'm there in the middle of the road!*)
"Sing a new song to the LORD,
for he has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory;
his holy arm has shown his saving power!
The LORD has announced his victory
and has revealed his righteousness...
He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful...
The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout to the LORD...
break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the LORD...
Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!"
(From Psalm 98, NLT)
"Shout with joy to the LORD...
Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation."
(From Psalm 100, NLT)
"Sing praises to God, our strength...
I heard an unknown voice say,
'Now I will take the load from your shoulders;
I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.
You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you...'"
(From Psalm 81, NLT)
"Praise the LORD!
For he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
The LORD gives his people strength."
(From Psalm 28, NLT)
"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!" (Nehemiah 8:10, NLT)
What is something that you can praise the Lord for today?
Linked today with:
SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, UNITE, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WORDS OF LIFE WEDNESDAYS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, FAITH BARISTA, EVERYDAY JESUS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, THE FRIDAY FIVE, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, WHATEVER IS LOVELY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, STILL SATURDAY, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, GIVE ME GRACE, SUNDAY STILLNESS
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"