A reflection always looks back and reverses the image that is before you. When I reflect upon God’s Word, considering the effect it leaves upon my heart, I begin to see through His eyes what he can see in me.
Sometimes I see the love of a Father towards his child. Sometimes I see myself feeling awkward in the open assessment of a Holy God; I shrink back in shame. That is not what He asks of me, to shrink from Him. Though He is fully righteous, God’s Word reminds me that when He looks my way, it is always with love.
As I have been wandering through this book of praise songs and prayers to God this month, I have felt a little like I was standing in this great room of transparency with my soul bare before the King. So many of the words that the psalmist penned were the very echo my human heart. In nearly every Psalm I studied, I could identify with the feelings displayed before me. I could sympathize with the burden and the joy, although maybe not equally. In truth, it was the heaviness of life’s sorrows which seemed much easier to connect with, while the concept of joy tends to be a tad bit more elusive.
That is not what His intent is. His full purpose is to fill us with His Spirit, and in the fullness of His Joy, we have strength for every moment of our daily living.
The Joy of the Lord is my Strength. ~ Nehemiah 8:10
True Joy is only found in the presence of the Almighty. ( Psalm 16:11) He is the eternal source and the only lasting hope in our lives . God alone is our Joy, the ever present help when our countenance is low. He is our constant deliverer. Read with me from Psalm 43:2-4:
“For You are the God of my strength [ my stronghold in whom I take refuge];… O send out your light and Your truth, let them lead me: let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling. Then will I go to the altar of God , to God, my exceeding joy; …”
There is a woman in scripture is who represents the heart of women, you can find her in Isaiah 54. She is downcast and broken, filled with sorrow for the things she has missed or perhaps lost. Yet God describes her in beautiful imagery as one who is loved, protected, and provided for by His bountiful hand. I visit this chapter often and rest in the promises He has given to her, the barren woman whose soul is poured forth. He met her in her need… and He WILL also meet you and I in our place of emptiness.
The Psalms honor and testify of God’s amazing strength.
The author recognizes God’s authority, much like John did when Jesus came to be baptized. Though he wished to be baptized by Christ, in obedience, he submitted to the will of God. A miraculous display, which appeared to the servant of God in the form of a dove, revealed God’s pleasure. We will be honored with His joy when we look up and recognize His hand extended our direction and His Spirit descending upon us as we obey and serve.
The key to true submission, on every level is an absence of pride and self-exultation. True Joy is a willful surrender of ME to embrace God.
When we embrace God we grab on to Joy!
Like the healing virtue which flows from the hem of his garment, JOY is a river that flows. It cleanses and redeems brokenness establishing authority over the territory the enemy tried to steal. In Luke 8:38, a woman of faith pushed through the throng, clothed in her shame and her sickness, because she knew that even the atmosphere around Jesus was energized with healing. She knew immediately, as did the LORD, that virtue flowed from Him into her, and she was made whole and complete.
As a wave of JOY surges through the body, a feeling unexplainable replaces the deadness which is the absence of God produces.
Limited earthly joy is temporal – it is finite and will end.
Infinite is my God, immeasurable and uncontainable… unending. In His presence we, the finite, breathe a measure of true JOY. It is a taste of his fullness for which we begin to long for more and more.
He is the God who protects and vindicates in mercy.
He will cause us to hear his JOY and know the gladness of His heart. He will restore those barren places so that will be like the olive tree green and yielding fruit abundantly. He will remove our transgressions far from us allowing us to be white as snow.
In his presence, my consciousness includes my sin and my faults causing me to fall to my knees. He alone justifies the sinner through the work on the Cross. Jesus completed all that was needed to bring us to righteousness, all because of his mercy. He does this so that he can teach us His way and , in return, then we teach others.
Look at Psalm 51: 1-2,8-13; 52:8
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly and repeatedly from my iniquity and guilt and cleans me and make me wholly pure from my sin!
Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which you have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, preserving, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in and confidently rely on the loving-kindness and the mercy of God forever and ever.
Consider this: Joy is stripped away when we choose to trust in anything but God’s abundant, timely, and proficient provision.
JOY floods upon our soul in torrents when Salvation becomes a reality. A JOY which has no equal and contains a visage of a hopeful expectation for a positive ending. When His presence in our lives is depleted, through our sin … when we take our eyes and our trust off of God … it is like a covering is removed and we are bare, naked and exposed to attack upon our soul.
True JOY is found in His presence. Psalm 16:11.
WithGod Present, we can experience Joy in simplicity. Just like eating a piece of cake.
The unexpected provision in His Love answers the primal need of man to be known. When we act in obedience, out of faith in God’s fellowship and leading, we, too, become Joy Extensions because in His Presence, we become present and partake of the giftedness and blessing.
As I am ending this short study of writing my way through the book of Psalms I decided I wanted to end on Joy. So much of the book of Psalms is dedicated to praising God and RE-JOY-CING in who He is. My challenge this week is for you to write your own Psalm that mirrors the Joy Extensions you have received and have given in your week.
Here are a few of mine:
- A slice of my favorite cake
- A cup of coffee
- An unexpected note of grace
- The sound of birds on a February morning.
- Grass breaking through the snow.
- Being known and loved.
- A poem book, rediscovered.
- An invitation to be PRESENT.
- A Volume of Truth, long covered in dust, unearthed and presented.
- A Reminder of Faith
- A Promise of Hope
- Finding a Sale , Just for YOU!
- Color brightening the dullness
- Thankfulness for the mundane.
What Joy Extensions have you experienced this week?
Leave me a note in the comments and share the JOY!
Praying for you to feel His Joy in your Present!
Blessings and Prayer,
Enjoy this free download Joy Extensions , the last journal page for this series of Journaling through the Psalms.
If you have not been able to read the 1st 3 posts, you can find them here:
Linking up with Jen at the SDG Party tonight. Join her at Finding Heaven.She has a special raffle give away, and you will see my picture at the bottom with a scarf I made for the Retreat Fundraisier. 🙂