Devotionals

Psalm 19:8

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.
Psalm 19:8


Does our joy lack at times? Jesus spoke directly about this common difficulty of ours in John 15:10-11. His desire is that our joy “may be full.” We have many techniques to try and replenish our joy, yet inevitably we find drought. The Bible is clear that joy is to be found in a personal knowledge of God, His character and His ways. If you are in a dry-time perhaps it is time to reflect on God through His Word and His directives.

There is an interesting picture of this in the Old Testament. Three times the Jews were told to wear “frontlets” on their foreheads to remind them of the Scriptures and keep it in the front of their minds. It is intriguing and instructive the three times in which these occur.

The first mention of this custom is found in Exodus 13:9. The context is found in the surrounding events of the Passover, which illustrates how God would later pass over those whose sins were covered by the blood of Jesus. Oh the joy we always realize because of the doctrine of salvation through the shedding of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God whose precious blood takes away all my sin.

It’s second mention appears in Deuteronomy 6:4-8. Here we read of a summary of the character and requirements of God. This appearing doctrine reminds us of the nature of God and our privilege and responsibility to love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our strength. Are we lacking love because our priorities have become misplaced? Is our love for God cooled to the back-burner, or even forgotten? It is the wise person who give honest consideration to these words of Jesus—“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Finally, the third mention of frontlets appears in Deuteronomy 11:18. In this chapter God is setting forth the principle of His blessing. The principle is obedience. Obedience has an effect not only on our lives but those following us. Obedience is very difficult, sometimes impossible, when hypocrisy is present. In verse 19 we read

—“You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you are in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” The joy available in our own lives and the next generation when we choose to be a people obedient in the loving ways of our God!

As Christian brother or sister—draw close to God and feed on His Word, and God will “fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him” (Romans 15:13).

Maranatha!

Even Death on a Cross

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:8


None has ever, nor will ever step from the very highest to the very lowest as did Jesus. Paul presents seven steps of descent that Jesus traveled culminating at Calvary in verses 5-8. The reader can sense the horror of that final step from Paul’s pen — “even the death of the cross.”

There were countless ways Jesus could have been killed… beheading, stoning, hanging. But He was destined, and it was prophetic His would be a specific death — “death on a cross.”

Devised by the Persians or Phoenicians, it was the Romans who perfected crucifixion. Such a horrible form of execution was reserved for the lowest of criminals, slaves, and enemies of the state. Dizziness, cramping, thirst, starvation, fatigue, exposure, high-fever, shame, excruciating pain, long-continuous torment, an unnatural position with lacerated veins and crushed tendons all with absolute agony… all taken to the final point of endurance…all intensified, but just stopping prior to the point which would offer the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness. Because of its brutality Rome prohibited crucifixion for any of her citizens, no matter how egregious the crime. The Jews considered crucifixion to be a form of hanging, and because of Deut. 21:23 they could not fathom a crucified Messiah. Truly to the Jews such a demonstration was a “stumbling block” (see I Cor. 1:23).

But in the perfect plan of God, crucifixion for His Son was not only acceptable, but in fact, mandatory. Gal. 3:13 makes it clear that Christ became a curse for us, and such a curse is validated in crucifixion. Peter would later write “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by who stripes you were healed.” In the infinite wisdom of God, death and death specifically on the cross was the only way of redemption for sinful mankind. Crucifixion was bloody as were the old-covenant sacrifices which preceded as a picture. The Lamb of God was to indeed die a bloody death.

While reflecting on the plan of God for salvation in Romans, he exclaims —“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Rom. 11:33.

We must not fail to remember the truth of John 3:16-17—“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Let us be thankful for the humility of Jesus!

Maranatha!

Joy is a gift

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

–Philippians 4:4

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

–Nehemiah 8:10


Philippians is aptly nick-named “Paul’s Epistle of Joy.” From an earthly-point-of-view his circumstances were most discouraging. But Paul takes us into the lens of a godly, eternal and proper perspective. His letter is needful in reminding us of how to rub-out the fog of a very natural and worldly view into a view containing invigorating, encouraging and truthful clarity.

A believer is continually vulnerable to being robbed of his joy. Such joy-stealers can be:

1) Allowing Satan’s influence through sin ( Ps. 51:12; I Pet. 5:8)

2) Anxiety & doubt over God’s sovereignty (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 55:22; Jn. 14:1-3

3) Prayerlessness (Phil. 4:6)

4) A view of life’s circumstances from the values of surrounding culture (Jn. 14:27; Phil. 4:11-12)

5) Ingratitude & forgetfulness towards God (Rom.1:18-21; Ps. 103:2)

For the unbeliever joy comes from the outside, while the believer’s joy comes from within as it is a gift of the Holy Spirit (see Gal.5:22).

As Oswald Chambers noted—“Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not.”

But what follows might be something you’ve not considered. Scripture also teaches that believers not only graciously receive joy from God but also have the ability to give joy to God. Yes, you read that correctly… you and I have the privilege to give joy to God. Luke 15:7 reveals clearly our salvation… acknowledging our need for a Savior and accepting the gift of salvation offered through Christ results in a flurry of joy in Heaven. Another way to give joy to God is to live our lives in a way which is right by His standards (see Prov. 11:20).

Finally, prayer… God truly delights in the believer’s prayers. Prov. 8:20 “the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

This helps me appreciate Nehemiah 8:10 even more. I’ve always been perplexed how God’s joy could give me strength. In salvation, as a gift of God, I have certainty of my home in Heaven. I can live on this earth with a completely different attitude and perspective…truly this world is not my home, I have an eternal home in Heaven. Also walking in the ways of God always will result in ultimate joy. As my dear pastor brother likes to say “Holiness leads to happiness.”

And then prayer… not only does it delight God to hear from me, but it does my soul well to cast my cares upon Him, and to acknowledge He is God–I am not. From Him I have much to be thankful for. The very things which bring joy to God do indeed bless me with joy and strength for my brief time here on earth…truly “the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

Maranatha!